October 14, 2010
finding the perfect background for photographs
Photographers and clients alike regularly comment on this photograph in my portfolio, and the question invariably asked is whether this is a Photoshop effect. Far from it – this image is straight out of the camera …
September 19, 2010
wedding day portraits – simplifying composition for effect
With this article I want to reinforce the idea from a few recent posts about being very specific about your composition. By simplifying the image, we have greater impact. We include only what we need to include in the frame to enhance it. Just as important, is what we exclude:
September 7, 2010
photographing the bride and bridesmaids – location and direction
One of the series of photographs that I like to “have in my pocket” are the individual photos of the bride with each bridesmaid. This is the kind of photograph you can hammer out very quickly, one after the other. The bride with a bridesmaid, hugging each other. I always make time for this. One stumbling block might be a lack of place to do this. But there is usually somewhere to do this, by isolating your subject with a long lens against an out-of-focus background …
July 22, 2010
photographing people – available light portrait
While unloading lighting gear from the van to shoot a last few images for a certain section for my next book, I turned around and noticed the way the light fell on Anelisa. Beautiful portrait light. The (cropped) pull-back shot will show why ..
July 18, 2010
improve your composition in photography – be specific about your background
The impact in this photo of Jessica relies equally on her looks and pose, the lighting, and the background. The background was very specifically chosen by how *I* position myself in relation to my subject. The background was out of focus neon lights in Times Square. I composed the photo very tightly with a 70-200mm lens, set to 200mm. With this, I can select exactly what I want to include in the image.
June 26, 2010
dynamic composition – changing your viewpoint (model – Carrie)
Near the end of the recent photo session with Carrie, I walked across the street to find another angle. Walking back, I noticed the sun just dipping behind the roof of this old train station. I thought it might flare interestingly if I caught the sun just on the edge there.
The problem was that I had to step into the street a few times when there was a lull in the traffic. The angle was a tough one since I had to, or rather, wanted to keep my camera at ground level to shoot up. I wanted the flare, and I wanted this angle to accentuate Carrie’s legs.
I resorted to stepping into the road, crouching down, pre-focusing, and then holding my camera away from my eye at ground level. There was no way I was going to lay down in a busy street! It took three tries, each with a series of images, until I “blindly” got the composition the way I wanted it .. with the right amount of flare.
Playing around with the controls in ACR (similar to Lightroom), got me to a retro- faded look I liked. The processing hopefully complements the sun-kissed image and add to the overall feel of the photo.
Settings: 1/250 @ f5.6 @ 200 ISO // no additional lighting
Equipment used: Nikon D3; Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S … at 24mm
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June 17, 2010
Green Point Lighthouse is the oldest Lighthouse in South Africa. I liked this juxtaposition of the older colorful lighthouse, against the drab blocky modern building. The tight composition reduced the urban landscape to geometric patterns. This was shot on slide film (Fuji RDP 100) at sunset, hence the bold golden colors.
This photo is my entry this week in the Alive for 365 project.
Nikon F90x; Nikon 80-200mm f2.8D // Cape Town, South Africa; ca. 1998
June 4, 2010
composition in photography – framing the shot
In composing a photograph, what you exclude from the frame, is as important as what you include. With this portrait of Anelisa, I noticed that at this angle, the light reflecting off the black-painted wall created a warm glow of light behind her. With the receding lines of the bricks, I immediately composed the photo to exclude everything but our model and the specific background. A very specific background. Looking at the edges of the camera’s viewfinder, I eliminated everything that could distract or didn’t add to the image, such as the shop fronts in the background. (This image could perhaps still be tightened up with a minor crop in the edit. But this is the full frame as I had it in the camera, so I had to go with the usual 2:3 ratio.)
Just the sunlight reflecting off the sidewalk that flooded the area with warm soft light.
May 26, 2010
composition in photography
In composing an image, it isn’t just a matter of placing your subject somewhere in the frame. This is true for whether you go by the rigid restrictions of the Rule of Thirds, or whether you like a more central composition .. or a composition with a lot of negative space .. or whether composition is more in the way you instinctively react to the scene and subject in front of you.
Equally as important as where you place your subject, is what you include and what you exclude in the frame. With photographic composition you have to look at the edges of your frame.
I really prefer getting it right in camera – composing for that 3:2 ratio. But it isn’t always possible. Sometimes a different crop works better .. say a square crop. With this image of our model, Catherine, standing inside this massive sundial, it made visual sense to use the shape of the sundial to dictate what the final composition should be.
(This was photo taken during the most recent workshop on flash photography
held in New Jersey and New York.)
So let’s look at what was excluded in the crop …
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March 22, 2010
effective on-location portraits, with off-camera flash
When I photograph someone on location, I rely on a simple, yet effective method that will ensure that at the very least, I will get portraits that work. Looking at this method, step-by-step:
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