October 17, 2011
camera settings: 1/50 @ f8 @ 800 ISO … lens zoomed to 35mm; available light
shooting promotional photos for a band
Anyone who knows me well is probably very aware that my first true love is music. I live my life to a music soundtrack. There’s always music playing. Not the radio, but music of my own choice. I love music … however, my sense of rhythm isn’t all that it should’ve been for me to be a natural muso. But still, I love music. All of which meant that one few non-negotiable rules for my daughter was that she had to take music lessons. So she plays bari sax in the high-school’s Jazz band, and she’s also been taking guitar lessons for a few years now with a guitar teacher, Gerard.
All of which brings us to this photo session – promotional photos of Gerard’s band. That is Gerard (right) and Ed (center : piano) and Joe (left : guitar). I met up this weekend with them in Hoboken. Perfect for the urban feel to the photos. Hanging out with them for a few hours coming up with ideas and places for photos, was great fun. The camaraderie between them will be familiar to anyone who has ever played in a band. You connect. That all too short time I played tenor sax in a rock band back in South Africa circa 1999, just before we emigrated to the USA, was one of the best times in my life. But I digress. It was cool to hang out with these three musicians for the afternoon.
Here are some of my favorite images, with some details …
September 20, 2011
Jessica, a portrait in Dublin
Hovering somewhere between a snapshot and a candid portrait, I really like this photograph. We were hanging out in the Temple Bar area in Dublin, late late in the evening after the recent workshops in Dublin. When it started to rain, we took shelter under the canopy in front of one of the many pubs there. As Jessica took the first drag of the cigarette, I playfully lifted my camera as if to take a shot, and she reacted with this suitable sneer. And I like the result. I even think it is the kind of image that would’ve worked on an album cover by The Smiths or Morrissey. Just one of those timeless vignettes of life. A moment and gesture that draws you in for a second look.
August 28, 2011
exposure metering & observing the available light
As a photographer you’ll often hear instruction to just “look at the available light”. Great. But this advice is also often given without clear examples of what we’re actually supposed to be looking at. So let’s explore that a little bit using a sequence of images of our model, Aleona, photographed during a recent individual photography workshop.
This is also keeping with the loose theme over the past few weeks, that for a photographer “using the available light” is not a random thing or just a meaningless catch-phrase.
August 10, 2011
photo session (available light) – Ekaterina
Ekaterina, (or Kate, if your tongue trips over her name), was the model at the top of my recent review of the Canon 8-15mm f/4L fisheye zoom lens. Since the fisheye makes everything bendy, and it must be the least flattering of lenses for portraits, I wanted to show a handful of images from the rest of the photo session with her. These should portray her graceful beauty much better.
July 20, 2011
to use available light is not a random thing
Since I often use flash or additional light, there was some surprise in the (favorable) comments in the Facebook album when I mentioned this photo was shot without any flash. Not even fill-flash. Just the available light. But where I posed the bride, was a specific decision. It wasn’t just random.
Now, I often get the feeling that when someone boasts they only use available light, that it is meant to disguise that they don’t know how to use additional lighting. My thought here is that unless you find yourself in great light, or alternately position your subject so that the light works in your favor … you’re very likely to find that the available light just isn’t as flattering as it could be. Ultimately, this comes down to the point that using light – whether found (ambient) light, or light added by the photographer – is best as a conscious decision by the photographer.
July 18, 2011
technique – using lens flare for effect
While lens designers try to minimize lens flare, and we use lens hoods, we can often use lens flare for special effect. Shielding the front element of the lens from direct sun and other strong light sources helps giving a more contrasty image. But letting the lens flare take over in a controlled way, can really give impact. That golden, sun-drenched summery feel to a photograph enhances the mood.
During this recent photo session in Central Park, New York, with a couple, Alli and Scott, the lens flare was quite intentional. But as is usual, there’s a certain progression towards the final images …
July 4, 2011
photographing the 4th of July fireworks display, New York
Braving the crowds (and insane traffic) in Hoboken tonight, I had a good view of magnificent 4th of July fireworks display on the Hudson River. From this viewpoint, Manhattan is to my right, and barely visible on the edge of the frame. I wanted to include the reflections in the water as well, since the surreal blend of colors helped anchor the intricate fireworks. The photography technique was simple enough – a slow shutter speed, a low ISO … and a tripod and remote release for the camera.
April 29, 2011
random found available light as portrait lighting
With the recent trip to California for the workshops, I was also keen to meet up with another favorite model, Bethany. We were allowed to shoot in a night-club on a Sunday afternoon when it was all quiet with no one there. It’s an interesting place to work with a beautiful model, finding interesting spots and then figuring out how I might adapt my flash setup. I had 4 speedlights with me and 2 softboxes and a slew of the new PocketWizards.
The first series of photos of Bethany however, was shot with just the available light there. But first I had to recognize the light as being interesting light for a portrait. I had to “see” it first. As it happened, I only saw that this might be useful light for a portrait when I did a few test shots while Bethany was having her hair and make-up done.
March 7, 2011
photo sessions - Shawna – using a variety of photographic lighting options
Shawna is the delightful model I used while I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. She helped us out during the mini-workshops I offered, as well as some photos of my own. I’ve posted a few photos from these already, but thought it might be interesting to show a further selection of images and discuss them …
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February 22, 2011
photography: direction and quality of light
While in Las Vegas for a few days, I had the opportunity again of working with one of my favorite models – Shawna. This striking photo of Shawna illustrates something that I want to underline: at some level, our consideration of the light that we’re using remains the same, whether we’re using available light, or flash, or video light or some other continuous light source.
We need to consider the direction and quality of the light we have or are creating.
We then either need to adapt our lighting, or adapt our way of shooting our subject, to complement our subject. So let’s look closer at the light / lighting used for this photo …
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