I have not posted in quite a long time. I have been working on a few new projects. Here is link to a presentation I put together. This presentation looks at using the self-portrait as a learning tool. Hope you enjoy it
So in my last post I talked generally about style in photography. As I develop as a photographer I am noticing my style in portraiture is a combination of lighting and post-production. I light using speedlights. I enjoy speedlights because they are versatile and very portable. My general setup if using a white backdrop is one light to illuminate the background and then 3 lights for the headshot or portrait You can see a basic diagram here. I do not have two striplights at the moment so a use one striplight and a Rogue Flash Bender XL or another Westcott softbox.
This is a general idea of the type of setup that I use. You need to illuminate the background to get a pure white. I find the three light setup on the model provides nice even light and good catchlights in the eyes. Here is a sample of a self-portrait.
Now let’s talk a little about style here. Part of the style is the high key pure white background. One thing I am sure you will notice is the cut off head. I always cut off the tops of the heads. Check out Peter Hurley, professional headshot photographer, to find out more about this particular style. Also note that this is a portrait shot in landscape orientation. I really like this for portraits. Again this is part of a particular style. Now I posted this on a couple of sites and on one I got the comment that the colours were too cool and blue. Now that is exactly what I was going for so that made me happy. I did not want this photo to have warm tones at all. I was thinking of headshots for medical professionals, doctors, nurses, chiropractors etc. I wanted the “scrubs blue, antiseptic type look”. This look was achieved in Photoshop. I also took out some of the wrinkles from the shirt and did some minor skin touch ups to the face. What I was going for here was a headshot for a working professional. I will definitely keep on practicing and trying new lighting set-ups. After all that is what photography is all about – lifelong learning. Next up the dark, moody style, fine art portrait.
So what is style in photography? Style can be defined as, “A particular, distinctive characteristic mode or form of execution, construction, appearance of a visual work which can be associated with a particular person or group of people.” (dictionary.com). In his article Defining Style and Finding Your Own, Ming Thein lists those elements that he believes make up style. Continue reading “Style in Photography”
When it comes to portraits and headshots, post-processing and retouching are often hotly debated topics. Some prefer their portraits straight out of camera with little to no retouching or post-processing while others retouch extensively. We have all seen those before and after post where a number of people will state that they like the before photo better. Often this is a result of over-processing and giving the model a plastic or unrealistic look. Continue reading “Portraits, Headshots, Fine-Art, and Post-Processing.”
“There is a giant chasm between the taking and making of an image. This notion is what sets apart the amateur from the professional in my mind.
Anyone in today’s world can take a picture or a video clip. You point the camera, hit a button and see what the processor pulls up for you. The art (for lack of a better word) of taking a photo is being in the right place, at the right time, and getting lucky. Continue reading “From Enthusiast to Photo Maker”
A photography enthusiast is just a hobbyist on steroids! It is someone whose hobby really has become a passion. These are some of the traits that I think an enthusiast has. By this time they have a really good understanding of the basic fundamentals of photography – exposure, composition and lighting. They most certainly shoot in Manual mode most of the the time and experiment with different creative exposures. Continue reading “So what is the difference between a hobbyist and an enthusiast?”
When you get your first camera you are a photo taker. Most likely you will set your camera on Auto and just snap away. At the very beginning, setting your camera in Manual or one of the semi-automatic modes would probably be a frustrating experience. You want to have fun and take photos. Taking photos has been made easy with the new range of DSLR’s and point and shoots, and the various camera phones. Continue reading “From PhotoTaker to Hobbyist”
The above slide is my take on how someone develops as a photographer. And with each step on this journey your skills as a photographer continue to develop. Now as I have mentioned before, some never get beyond the photo taker stage. Perhaps it is because they don’t want to. They are happy just snapping away on special occasions. There is also the possibility that they are just not very good at it no matter how hard they try to improve or they just don’t know what to do to improve. But let’s just say that the photo taker wants to improve and develop photography as a hobby. What does he/she have to do to get better? Continue reading “Photography: What Do I Need To Do To Get Better?”
More than once I have had people tell me my camera takes great pictures. Of course there are a lot of comebacks to that – yes and your stove makes great meals, or yes I taught my camera everything it knows etc. Now to be honest I don’t really ever take this to heart or take it as a comment on my ability as a photographer. As photographers we have to understand that to a certain extent that gear does matter. I think that as photographers we must realize that a great photograph is often a combination of good gear, good technical knowledge, a good understanding of the basics of photography and creative vision. And I also believe that if you have good technical knowledge, a good understanding of the basics of photography such as lighting and composition and a creative mind, that the better the gear you have the better the results you will get especially when you get into specialized photography such as food photography or architecture or portrait photography etc. Now if all you have is top of the line gear and none of the above skills your photos simply won’t be very good.
Here is a photo that was taken by my son using his i-Phone. To me this photo is all about the story – an uncle with his nephew on the beach. Could it have been better using a top of the line camera and lens? Of course, but for me this photo is all about the story, it is a moment in time caught by the camera and the photographer. To quote another cliché, “sometimes the best camera is the one you have with you”.
So next time sometime tells you that you must have a great camera, just smile and shrug it off but also remember that when you have acquired the necessary photographic skills, better gear will mean better photos.