Lighting – Part 2

Lighting can seem as fickle as a fair weathered friend, although gratefully lighting can be manipulated as friends should not (fair weathered or committed).

I have written in earlier posts that lighting should be “flat” or even meaning without noticeable variation. Well an announcement: not all photographs should use flat lighting. Some photographs may need lighting in three dimensions than two and incidentally completely changing the rules of the photography game.

I would duplicate the work of others if I explained the process of three-dimensional lighting and far less than adequate. However to be fair I will give a few things to consider as well some research sources.

Digital-Photograly-School.com provides some excellent tips and tutorials on photographic art. Equipment reviews are also available when you find more equipment or replacements necessary.

DPReview.com offers a Photography Forum, Equipment Buying Guide and Challenges to keep you sharp and learning new techniques.

I urge you to make a list of websites like the Digital-Photography-School and DPReview (hopefully mine, foetoss.com included) that gives you the profitable resources and attainable steps to improving your technique which is already suitable for your desires, making it to an exciting skill for you and your family. Photography is an art based on science, so there is always room to learn and grow but also a sure foundation that will not change even if our understanding of it does.

Something to consider: How should your subject be lit? Am I looking to give it a look of mystery? Am I trying to display it for the purpose of visual description? Am I simply wanting to tell a story of life events? The answer to each of these questions have many answers, some good, some poor and many others which simply suit one person’s taste over another.

After your question is answered, the next begs answering, “Where then should I place the light?”

Skin Tone

People can become upset when ethnicity is brought up, which is not my intention in this post. This post simply is to draw out the courtesy which photographers should extend to others whom may have preference to their appearance.

Skin tones vary from person to person and it is not so much the slight variations we will discuss here, but the contrasting tones.

Photography, as we have been discussing on recent posts, is in general terms the art of capturing the subject in the “perfect lighting”, or as I have put it “properly exposing” your focal point.

An interesting point of history quickly; the use of the word “expose” comes from the time when film was the standard medium product for transferring current events to two-dimensional record because of the chemical reaction begun as the film comes into contact with light and the heat created by it. Thus the film was “exposed” to light and heat.

Light sensors in our cameras can be tricky especially when in this case we want to be sure that we show-off the face of our subject. If that means taking a darker shot so that our subject is not “washed-out” or adding light so that our subject is not a silhouette, we know what should be added to make that great shot.

Family photos are always more appreciated too when mom can see the each face of her loved and ever irritating children. (Oops! Did I just type that?) It is important however to realize that art is not void of science and utilizing the foundation of science for artistic creativity in your family photos, is exactly the inspiration we desire for you. I may sound like an expert, but please remember an expert is only a drip, under pressure. So please, enjoy your leisure!

Photography; Art, Science & Fun

We have spent a lot of time discussing specific parts of photography and different aspects of art and science; but now I would like to take some time and step back for a moment to say “Do not forget to have fun!” If photography has become “a job”, “a chore” or “the daily grind” then change things up. Find something you are passionate about. Research its details, study it and find a way to capture what you learn in photo.

For instance, I love history. So when I get stuck on the routine tasks I begun reading about a century of time past; researching the pieces of equipment used in that time, learning their manufacturing process and where I might find a replica or historic artifact of the time today. If all I can do is find it in a museum that will do, but it is even better if I can capture it in the surroundings of the period!

Have you ever considered going to Mid-evil or Renascence re-enactments? What about finding a re-enactment group in your area who practice sword fighting or falconry? They do things up to the “Nth degree” and more than likely would give you an intriguing perspective of this period from their own studies of history.

If you focus on portraiture, you will have plenty of opportunity to get portraits from that time period, or you may find a member of the re-enactment group willing to suit-up your family/children in period costume for portraits! How fun that would be! If you descend from European familial ties, you may be able to connections to your family crest, Scottish Clan or Irish Clan. That would be the ultimate vacation or photography experience to be able to record family ties at the same time as studying the surrounding events of their day!

Remember, Photography is a skilled Art and it ought to be fun, so work to keep it fun!

Camera Troubles – Part 6

What can I see that my camera does not?

There is not an easy way to answer this question, although I will say to say that our visual capability can not be directly and equally compared to the output of film or digital cameras.

Our sight is taken in motion whereas photographs are still images possibly showing movement by blur or subtle indications of motion. So while we may remember a certain pose, facial expression or scenery of a person or place we appreciate as if the memory were a still photograph does not mean our Eye and Brain receives these memories in just such a way.

Video recorders are truly much like cameras in this way that they capture motion or movement in 72 still frames a second or more. A video recorder more closely resembles our vision in that it records motion in so many frames.

Beyond multiple frames to give the illusion of complete motion, our vision is affected by the ability to change so quickly between seeing detail in the shadows from previously inspecting the details lit by broad daylight.

From observing myself and questioning what I see and how I see it, I believe now to better understand the difference of what I see and how I can operate my camera to photograph a scene as I see it.

I see: the bright sunlight streaming through the ceiling of tree leaves, illuminating the grass and garden floor in a brilliant array of color. As I continue to observe and breathe in the wonder of the contrast and illuminated detail, I begin to notice more detail which remained hidden until I had gotten close enough to notice for the first time.

This is done in photography in several ways. Let me begin with the best and quickest being the first.

  1. Simplicity – Photography studios will set-up the portrait studio with solid color backdrop and lighting to evenly light the subject while still allowing some shadow to remain but lighting enough to see detail in both shadowed and lit areas. This is the effect of many additional flashes.
  2. Specific detail – Scenery which cannot be reproduced or moved in-studio must be shot as is. This requires additional flashes or shooting 3 or more photos  from the same place and position of varying shutter lengths and putting them together in HDR format. (For more on HDR, please see our blog posts “High Dynamic Range” and “The Make-up Of An HDR Photo“.)

So it is not that our cameras cannot reproduce something similar to what we see, but that we have some understanding of how we can enable it to see. There are no quick and simple steps to follow for every camera to shoot fantastic photos. I wish there were! Though if this were the case I believe we would have lost some of the adventure in photography.

It can be this simple though, to know that the camera does not as quickly adjust its Lens Diaphragm and Sensor to see detail in shadow and light as do our Iris and Retina. Thus we seek to separate detail we want captured per photo by the varying amounts of light in its surroundings.

Photography truly is an amazing art. The amazement is not intrinsic to itself, but because it is base off of our visual ability which we are blessed to have received from the kind Providence who created us and the world we love to photograph.

Thank you for reading! I pray you have learned and enjoyed reading as much as I have in writing!