Monday, October 29, 2012

seeing the light.

I came across the photo work of David A. Reeves about a month ago and immediately got in touch with our photo instructor about the possibility of doing a project based on his work. Miss Danielle was totally down with it, and we put the lesson into action last week with our 4th grade classes.

David creates cut paper scenes and then spreads them out in his studio and takes photos of them. He is able to play with the depth of field of his camera to create a deeper sense of space than that of the set up in his studio. The results are pretty striking. He often bases these scenes on movies, video games, or graphic novels that he enjoys.

Miss Danielle and I co-taught the lesson. I started by introducing the concept of atmospheric perspective to the class. I used a computer illustration by ponderosa to identify the use of size change, value change, vertical placement, and diminishing detail to create a scene that has a strong sense of depth and 3d space.

I then shared examples of David's photos and his studio set up that I had pulled from his blog. We identified the presence of atmospheric perspective as we checked out his work. The kids LOVED his stuff. Great subject matter for the season:)

I then showed the classes a cut paper example we had done in the vein of David's work. However, instead of using a "fancy" camera to take our photos, students would be using pinhole cameras made out of everyday containers like tea or chocolate boxes.

At this point Miss Danielle took over and did a presentation on how the human eye works, a camera's similarities to the human eye, and the general 411 about pinhole cameras.

Finally, the kids could get to work:) They drew and cut out two layers for their scene. They were responsible for the foreground and middleground. Miss Danielle created several backgrounds for students to choose from when they shot their scene.

The subject matter was up to them. The main rules were that the black paper layer had to have big characters and both layers had to still be attached to the rectangle of paper that was their ground.

Most students were able to get their scenes drawn, cut, and supported (tall pieces needed to be supported by capri sun straws taped to the back, so they wouldn't flop over during the lengthy pinhole camera exposure time) in the 45 minutes we had left after we had introduced the project. Those who did not are finishing up this week when I see their class again.

This week Miss Danielle is pulling groups from my class to set up, shoot, and develop their 3d landscapes while I work with the rest of the class on a new project. 

On the last couple the kids moved their camera a couple times to create a multiple image effect.

Miss Danielle is also having the students take digital pictures of their scenes. Our hope is to get the classes into the computer lab at a later date and manipulate the images digitally as well:)


  1. Wow, so impressive! I love your examples of David Reeve (the first one is very Halong Bay-ish) and your kids have done marvelous work.

  2. Thank you so much for introducing me to this artist. I had not found his work before but it was a perfect artist to add to my student blog. Also I love your examples, I think your kids did a great job.

  3. Hey D,

    I bet your 4th graders were so STOKED when they saw their final images!Remind me sometime to tell you about a workshop I participated in where we sat inside a LIFESIZED pinhole camera!!Another day, another story........Love your students' work!


  4. Holy smokes this is such an amazing project- so many possibilities. You're lucky to have a photography teacher to work with; pin hole cameras? Wow!!

  5. a few kind words from david-

    Hi Don-

    WOW! I am so impressed and very honored! They are so cool! I posted a link to my facebook to share their great work and have gotten so much positive feedback. The pinhole camera really makes those images unique- how everything in the print is literally handmade, even the print!. They offer a summer course at my school, NSCAD, for making pinhole cameras that I would love to explore. Eventually, I'm going to teach photography, so sharing and inspiring others to create is the reason I got started in the art world in the first place. I couldn't be more proud to see the next generation of artists' works, regardless of where the inspiration is from... but what a treat! thank you thank you thank you!

    I'm up in Halifax, NS for the moment, but have been keeping contact with my parents and fellow Rhode Islanders and haven't heard of anything overly terrible with the exception of the flooding of course and some fallen trees- at least nothing major, thankfully.

    Also, I was considering San Diego for grad school- a few of my friends relocated their. Are their any universities that you could recommend looking into?

    Please let the class know how much I love their work!

    All the best,
    David A. Reeves