Archive for Shooting
Being so obsessed with photography, friends and family tend to think of me as an expert in the field. I’ve got the gear, they love the pictures and I live and breath the medium, so the credentials as far as they know add up. With this perceived status comes the occasional question regarding the craft from folks who are just getting into it and being that I love to geek out talking about photography, the question will be fielded with the utmost respect and interest. Let the perception become reality, even for just a moment!
Last week a friend at church asked a good one; one that tied him up with me for a good 10-20 minutes that he’ll never get back for sure. He had some experience with film in the past but had been away from photography for a while. Earlier this year he purchased his first DSLR (a Canon Rebel I believe) and along with it bought a book on composition. He liked landscapes, portraits and macro. His question: “How do I get started?”
That was a first for me. Some folks say they want to learn more about their camera or ask how to take great pictures, but this question was totally different. How do you start? Where to begin? I don’t think he expected me to ramble on like I did after asking the question, but I was really sort of feeling for the answer – it was not something you chalk up in the front brain shelves like, “get down low” or “add a strong foreground element.” It required me going back to the beginning, filtering things forward and seeing what was left. After thinking about it a few days, I thought it would make for a great topic here at Current Photographer, so here goes. Read More→
Every photographer I’ve met has gone through what is generally referred to as ‘creative block’ – we struggle to see creatively when out with the camera. If you ask ten photographers how they get out of a creative block, you’ll likely get 10 different answers, or close to it, because there is no one correct answer – what works for one person may not for another. Personally, I use a couple of methods to try and snap out of the block and one of them is panning.
In simple terms, panning is following a moving subject with the camera. At higher shutter speeds, this technique can freeze action, a method used by sports photographers covering events, like football games, cycling and auto racing. At lower shutter speeds, panning can give a sense of motion to a frame, which is the method I prefer. This can also be used in sporting events, but when the creative juices need help, I like to use it for street photography, like the image below.
Presenting a sense of movement in a photo can really add life to it and that goes very well with street photography. Take the image above. Just standing there watching this Cooper Mini drive by is pretty much a ho hum deal, but blur all of the objects around it and give the wheels some movement and you turn this lady into the one from Pasadena that Jan and Dean used to sing about! Now that’s dating myself! Here’s how I go about taking panning shots. Read More→
One of the best pieces of advise I can give to someone who’s trying to improve their skills as a photographer is to get involved in social networking and start looking at other people’s work. First of all, the social part of it can be very rewarding, meeting and getting to know the really great folks in this industry and being able to get your work out there in front of other people. But the real benefit in looking at other great photographers’ work (and not so great ones, too) is that you can learn what aspects of an image you really like or dislike and apply them to your own product.
When I first started taking pictures, my images would look like nearly every other new photographer. We plant the tripod up fully extended, compose the frame and take the shot. This didn’t change for long time, until I saw an image from my friend Brian Matiash that really had an impact on how I would take pictures in the future.
My son was working on his spelling the other night and he was trying to perfectly write his name, ‘Sam’. His ‘S’ and ‘a’ were pretty much on the money, but his ‘m’ was a bit off. The problem was not with legibility, it was clearly an ‘m’, but instead of rounding the humps, he treated them as if they were points, or direct lines, so it looked like a miniature upper case ‘M’ instead of a rounded lower case ‘m’.
From a communication standpoint, there was no problem, his name was clear and easy to read. But when writing the ‘m’, I could imagine his mind saying, “…point, to point, to point,” making straight lines to limit distance and ‘technically’ get the letter correct.
As I thought about how to help him conquer this, the thought of a stiff, straight up dancer moving from point to point on the floor came to mind and it was mentally compared to a dancer with grace, flow and curves (think the good dancers on Dancing With The Stars versus the very bad ones). Even though they both move from one point on the floor to another, the one who is loose and graceful would look so much better and comfortable than the stiff, upright dancer, counting the least number of steps it takes to get there. Read More→
In today’s competitive photography world, it’s a must that the professional photographer carefully select the best images to give to the client and to process each of those photos to their very best. But for many photographers, especially photographers new to the market, or even just the hobby, dealing with a huge number of images can be, well, daunting. Many underestimate the importance of developing and adhering to a workflow that will help them remain efficient with their time and energy. After all, if you charge $300 for a 1 hour portrait session, but take 6 hours to sort and edit the photos, you’ve severely diminished the value of your time. If you’ve read Angelo Stavrow’s outstanding article, “Three Reasons You’re Not Ready to Shoot a Wedding”, this article aims to help you get past number 2.
When I first started my business in 2003, scheduling was difficult because it was hard to estimate how much time I’d have free for shoots and processing of the resulting images. It also added significant challenge to forecasting profits and establishing reasonable pricing structures that made the money worth my time and energy. Over time, we have developed a mature and consistent workflow which all photographers we work with adhere to. It helps to keep us consistent and timely in our delivery of images. As well as helping to ensure that those images are safe in the event of a disaster.
So, in the interest of helping newcomers work out their own strategies and start working on the important stuff as soon as possible, here are some of the things we’ve learned and you might want to keep in mind. At the end, I have also included a quick sample of a workflow using Adobe Lightroom. It’s fairly basic, but a good place to start if you find yourself stranded in a sea of awesome photos you don’t know what to do with.
I think that photography as an art has taken a pretty big hit since the widespread acceptance of digital cameras. Hipstematic takes an arbitrary picture of a coffee cup taken with an iPhone and turns it into “art”. Bigger memory cards mean there is less and less risk in pressing that shutter button. Like never before, “art” in photography is largely an accident. But is it art at all? I think not.
I define art, not by what is produced, but by what the artist’s mind was doing when it was produced. By that definition, art must be intentional. You cannot simply fire off 10,000 pictures to find those 2 works of “art”. What you found wouldn’t be art at all, it would be a series interesting coincidences. Think about it this way—imagine that you could record everything your eye sees in brilliant high definition and at any point, pull out a single frame and publish it to Flickr. You probably wouldn’t consider that art. Yet this is often what digital photographers do. They point their camera in a thousand directions and find a few images that are interesting enough to share. Anyone can do that.
So, as digital photographers, how do we find our status as an artist? I submit that we find that status by learning to be intentional; by making calculated decisions about the things we photograph; by refusing to press the shutter down before we’re sure that what we’re about it capture is what we intend to capture.
Now, before I move on, let me interject briefly. Photography has a great history of accidentally capturing incredible moments. In fact, some of history’s iconic photos were total accidents. And that’s okay. Because at that time in history, skilled photographers routinely and intentionally captured beautiful images. And sometimes, they caught beautiful accidents. But it was the exception, not the rule. And that’s part of what made those photos so remarkable. Today, it’s often the other way around. So, while there is a place for incredible coincidences in photography, as photographers we should once again aim to make them the exception, not the rule.
So, in the interest of learning to become true artists, here are six techniques to stretch our intentionality in the creation of our images and heighten the artistic integrity of our work. It’s all about thinking more, and shooting less. Read More→
If you read last week’s post you saw some tips (hopefully helpful ones!) I plan on continuing that this week and at least next week also. I have a Droid and I use to it take a lot of my photos, but these tips can help you with improving your photos with any cell phone based camera. We got to be Zombie extras in a feature film shooting locally in Pittsburg TX called Humans vs. Zombies and will be using some shots from today as our examples.
5. Keep it Clean – If you are like me and have a cell phone with an abnormally large case, it gets stuffed in a pants pocket, backpack, or purse on a regular basis. In doing so you can gather a lot of FUNK, for lack of a better word, on your camera lens. Therefore it is very important to clean it with a regular camera lens cleaner, cleaning cloth, or some other approved method. Be careful as many cell phone lenses are plastic and can scratch easily. Blow lightly first to remove any surface FUNK. Just removing the buildup of dirt, hairballs, and other assorted FUNK can go a long way toward improving your photos. Also if you have any cases on your phone that will remove easily, do so often to remove any FUNK buildup between the case and the phone. WARNING: Do not use water or any harsh cleaners to remove the FUNK from your phone. This can kill it! Trust me on that.
Using a fast shutter speed will freeze motion in its tracks, and using a slow shutter speed with moving objects will spread the image over time. This creates a sense of motion. There are many methods to achieve this motion blur, such as panning on a moving object, shooting from a moving platform (train, car etc), using the zoom feature while the shutter is open, moving the camera on a still subject, or keeping the camera fixed while the subject is moving. Here we will focus on the latter.
I am a sucker when it comes to darn near anything retro. Old cars, older video games, bad sci-fi movies from the 80s, and vintage photos are all on that list of things that will stop me in my tracks too take a moment and enjoy. For this article, I’m focusing on my love of old photos. There is something about a grainy, scratched, vignetted, and overall imperfect photo from the past that really floats my boat. Perhaps this is why so many of my photos are trying to replicate aspects of this retro look.
The camera that tends to be the culprit of growing retro style photo popularity is the Holga film cameras. These are cheap plastic cameras that take some great photos with vignettes, light leaks, multiple exposures, and so much more. The issue is that you always had to buy these “toy” camera bodies and film to enjoy the Holga effect. That is until recently!
Holga has released two lenses that are specifically made to fit the Nikon and Cannon DSLRs. The HL-N is, obviously, for the Nikon while the HL-C fits a Cannon. These lenses promise great Holga effects with the convenience of your digital camera. When I heard about this, I immediately jumped all over the opportunity to snag the HL-N and take it for a spin.
When I received the box with my HL-N, the first thing I noticed was how extremely light the box was. I have ordered small Lego sets that weighed more than this. The reason for this lightness is due to the Holga lens being made out of plastic with the exception of the small front piece of glass. There are a few holes drilled out on the back to send the image to the sensor, but that is it. Even the part that mounts to your cameral is plastic. This truly brings the toy camera feel right to the DSLR world. Read More→
We just returned from our 2011 senior portrait conference (spa) in Palm Springs California. We had our 3rd model winner in a row from across the country and she won the Top Model award! We are so proud of Kristen!
There were some great images out at spa but this year I “observed” a lot more than I have in the past. We followed Kristen and her mom around on day #3 of spa where she has session with other photographers to see them work and teach.
One of the things that spa celebrates is the best of the best in high school senior photography. And the best of the best senior photographers are all there. A consistent theme that I saw with these photographers was the “connection” they made with the subject, the speed at which they connected with them, and the ease in which they did so. This, of course, translated to a an incredible experience for all the seniors chosen to attend, the photographers, and allowed for some gorgeous images to be created. Read More→