Learning DSLR Photography with Guha Shankar

Learning DSLR Photography with Guha Shankar

On Monday, May 13, eleven folklorists congregated at the New York Folklore offices in Schenectady to learn the ins and outs of DSLR photography. The two-day workshop was led by Guha Shankar of The American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, who explained to us the interrelations of aperture, exposure, and ISO, as well as techniques for managing light and flash photography. We also explored the nuances of ethnographic photography, and strategies of photographing tradition bearers in natural settings in a non-intrusive yet engaging way.

The workshop had a healthy mix of instruction, hands-on fieldwork, and review and critique of our efforts with the unfamiliar DSLR cameras. After the initial overview of photography from Guha, we carpooled to Armando & Sons Ironworks, and were treated to a fascinating tour of the shop.

Folklorists photograph at Armando & Sons

A folklorist paparazzi! Workshop participants practice photography at Armando & Sons Ironworks

Our goal was to practice photography in a natural ethnographic setting, and develop our own photography skills rather than adjust the environment to pose less challenges for us. I found that the two most challenging aspects of photographing at Armando & Sons were the multitude of light sources (each requiring a separate white balance in order to appear true white) and the fast pace of a metalworker in action. Each photographer experimented with their camera settings in order to compensate for the environmental factors.

Later during the workshop we visited and photographed the Electric City Barn in Schenectady, an impressive space designed to enable a variety of artists (carpenters, studio photographers, theater actors, dancers, textile artists) to practice their craft. Next was Perreca’s, a 105 year old authentic Italian bakery, with its wooden work surfaces covered in flour and texture from decades of nonstop use. Each of these locations provided their own challenges of lighting, space, and motion, to be overcome by the photographers’ wits and camera settings. Each provided an intriguing look behind-the-scenes into the history of the businesses and the stories of the people who run them.

Guha Shankar assists Beth Bevars with her camera

Guha Shankar assists Beth Bevars with her camera at Armando & Sons Ironworks

After our photography sessions in the field, all returned to NYF for critique, review, and photograph analysis. We examined how different camera settings were successful or unsuccessful in specific situations, and considered how to improve in future ethnographic photography situations. By the time the workshop wrapped up, we had absorbed lots of information and had taken a great leap ahead in the ongoing process of learning DSLR photography and its application to ethnographic fieldwork.

This photography workshop was sponsored by NYSCA Folk Arts through its Mentoring and Professional Development Program. We are indebted to Guha Shankar and the Library of Congress, and Robert Baron of the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts.

2019 Folk and Traditional Arts Touring Performances

2019 Folk and Traditional Arts Touring Performances

Many talented folk music groups are touring New York State in 2019. Below, find a sampling of upcoming performances, and get your tickets before they’re gone!

 

Flyer with information about upcoming Pickers Paradise performances

Click to view.

Picker’s Paradise: From Balkans to Bluegrass | featuring Tamburaški Sastav Ponoć (Pittsburgh, PA) and Danny Knicely’s Next Generation (Virginia)

5/10/2019, 7:30 pm and 5/11/2019, 7:30 pm at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY
6/22/2019 and 6/23/2019 at Lake Placid Center for the Performing Arts, Lake Placid, NY
General Admission: $15
Student Tickets: $5
Check with performance venue to confirm dates and times.

Dust off your best dancing shoes and join us, in partnership with the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, for a fun-filled evening of dance and music that celebrates two virtuosic string music traditions—bluegrass and old-time from the mountains of Virginia, and Balkan music known as tamburitza from the urban community halls of Pittsburgh. Whether you are a beginning-level dancer eager to learn, active in the local contra scene, or a Balkan dance enthusiast, this special evening presents an exciting opportunity to learn traditional dances from master dance teachers and try the steps you learn to the playing of two great bands.

 

Country Blues and Dance | featuring Phil Wiggins Blues House Party (Takoma Park, MD) and The Harris Brothers (Lenoir, NC)

Music groups Phil Wiggins Blues House Party and The Harris Brothers performing

5/31/2019 and 6/1/2019 at Flushing Town Hall, Flushing, NY
Check with performance venue to confirm dates and times.

Throughout the Piedmont and Appalachians, shared musical traditions have existed for centuries that were equally popular among rural blacks and whites. This program explores the roots and connections of these regional rural music and dance traditions as expressed in the artistry of contemporary masters of tradition. Phil Wiggins, the nation’s foremost player of acoustic blues harmonica, leads an ensemble featuring Piedmont blues sounds that were once a staple of rural dance parties. With master dancer Junious Brickhouse, they “reconnect the dance with the dance music,” now most often experienced in concert (without dance). North Carolina songsters extraordinaire, The Harris Brothers, a delightful two-man band with a suitcase drum, draw from the many currents of vernacular music, including old-time, bluegrass, country, and mountain blues, that they were exposed to growing up in the North Carolina foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a hotbed of traditional music.

 

Welcome to Our New Website!

Welcome to Our New Website!

New York Folklore is excited to announce the launch of our brand new website! This website is part of a new look for New York Folklore, previously called the New York Folklore Society, and is just in time for our organization’s 75th anniversary in 2019.

This new website features updated menus and simple organization so that it’s easy for visitors to find their way around. We’ve trimmed down the content so that only the most useful information and functions remain. The significant reduction in number of pages means navigating is simple and intuitive, and keeping the site updated with the latest news about folklore and folklife is much more doable for us.

New York Folklore’s website is designed for simplicity and usability across all platforms, whether you’re at your desk or on the go. You can find up-to-date information about our organization, including staff, programs, and upcoming events. Easily sign up for a NYF membership or make a secure donation through PayPal – both of these processes are now fully digital. Already a member? Check out the login portal on the website and access special benefits, including an archive of historical Voices Journal back issues in PDF form.

This blog will showcase a great variety of subjects and be updated weekly with news, folk artist portraits, guest posts from folklorists and tradition bearers, Voices Journal excerpts, and more. Follow the blog for weekly folklore snippets in your inbox!

We’re excited about this website, but we acknowledge not everything will work perfectly right out of the box. Please let us know if you experience problems with the site or have other comments, whether you love something new or notice something’s missing. Enjoy exploring!