Reflections – Part 2

As you attempt to stay out of the reflections in your photographs, it is important to wear colors that will blend with your surroundings as I mentioned about shooting the Christmas ornaments in the window of Neiman Marcus.

For instance, I wore a red shirt one day and in image review I saw a brilliant red reflection in the product! Your face may be well hidden but be careful to also hide bright colors.

While this is a negative for color in reflection, this brings up something I often say with the phrase “Think outside the box”. If a bright-colored shirt appears in reflections, why not learn the effects of using black, white and gray cards?

Gold objects will brighten when reflecting light colors like white and pick-up richer tones when reflecting black. Your purpose will dictate which color fill card should be used, so outlining colors to products will put you back into a box more than helping you out of one.

As the reflective object is exchanged with another of a different color tone, the fill card color may also change. Keep your purpose in mind and use the proper color of fill card.

Engraved surfaces have better contrast reflecting one color over another, and while I have my opinion of which color it is, another viewer may see the engraving better with another. If I see the engraving plainly in both reflected colors, I will defer to the other viewer, however this gives reason to pursue other options for better visibility for all viewers.

For creative shooting, perhaps you want bright and unusual colors! Just because colors outside the grayscale are not used in product photography does not mean it is “taboo” or even unacceptable in your form of art, thus your purpose being my qualifying phrase.

Enjoy!

Portraits – Gravity

Since we just talked about Perspective in our last post, perhaps it is a good time to discuss some ways of using gravity to our advantage and slowing our shutter speed.

Yeah, that is right. Using gravity can slow your shutter speed. Allow me to explain. As a photographer, I had some ideas of how other professional had created some amazing shots of hair seeming to float in mid-air, but without having been at the photo shoot I could not be certain and I was almost convinced that speaking with the photographer was as impossible as being at the photo shoot.

For instance, imagine a model who is demonstrating the effects of a hair product for a public relations campaign for the company. The point of the company is not to prove their product’s ability to hold their customer’s hair in mid-air but the soft and static-free beauty of the hair. How can that be demonstrated in a photograph?

First we should discuss using gravity to our advantage. Fast shutter speeds mean that we need to open up our aperture and raise our ISO thus dropping out quality a bit and losing our ability to keep the face in focus at the same time as the hair. Sacrificing quality for speed in this case is not acceptable.

Using an evenly lit and solid color background makes it worlds easier when editing the shot in the post-production process so lay down a sheet of bright white paper on the floor keeping it clean for the model.

Mount your camera above the bright white paper and pose the model on the bright white paper, making sure her hair falls in a natural looking direction giving the illusion that gravity is pulling her hair down but also giving a light “silky” appearance that you see in advertisements. Using your studio lights to over expose the background while properly lighting the model’s face will give you the flexibility you seek without sacrificing quality for speed.

Portraits – Color

It is not every time that a portrait will look best in color. There can be many reasons for this, however let us begin with the fun we can have with color portraits.

Q. How can I use the fall colors in my portraits?

A. Fall color is brought to the fore with fall fruit, vegetables, leaves and more subtly flowers that bloom in fall. City maintained gardens may decorate with large gourds, pumpkins and fall blooming flowers which surely bring the visual cue of fall to viewer.

Q. Shooting up at my subject is not an option. How can I use the fall colored leaves in the portraits?

A. If the colored leaves or nuts as acorns have not fallen to the ground there are always optical “tricks” to play. One of the quickest and easiest ways to bring in that fall color still on the trees is to bring your lens to a wide-angle view and get very close to your subject. This will give a high angle view into the trees for the color and your opportunity of shooting a level portrait of your subject’s face. Possibilities are endless!

Q. How can I simulate the look of fall and fall color?

A. Bringing in elements which pictorially describe fall will help a lot. Jackets, a wrap if your subject is a woman or even little things like having her hair styled so that she can wear it down to gently flow in the wind. One of my personal favorites is a lite scattering of colored leaves on a thick carpet of grass and the subject looking up from the center of the scene.

For what it is worth, I have found a cooling statement which helps draw the visual effect of fall with prominent shadows behind the subject and sun light illuminating their face. Enjoy!

Light Has Color? Part 2 – White Balance

Have you noticed some shadows have a little bit of color to them? Clouds for instance; some clouds on mostly clear days have a sort of blue hue to them. I can not help but wonder in noticing this and with the understanding of the how and why rainbows are made we can understand the process of a camera’s White Balance.

Looking at pure light as a simple harmony of ROY G. BIV producing a brilliant “white”, we have laid the foundation to working with camera White Balance. Now camera are not charged only to filter natural sources of light but also other forms of light produced by man-made light sources. Since we have seen that light can be divided into 7 color forms, the basics of our study tell us that we will be dealing with more of 1 color than the other 6. It is possible that we would be dealing with a sever lack of 1 or more colors, but since our color pallette is only based with 7, our filters can be adequately limited.

White Balance is the effort of compensating for the lack of or overdose of a specific color through the use of filters. This is also the job of Image Specialists. One of their most common jobs is “color correction”. So software is outfitted with the ability to manipulate the colors which may lack or overwhelm the captured photo.

For interest sake I have made a list of ways that light is produced, natural and man-made.

Element (Metallic element made to conduct enough energy to glow without quickly exhausting the element’s lifespan.)
Vapor (Gases – Fluorescent, Mercury Vapor and Fire are uses of vapor in proper conditions to yield the production of light.)
Chemical (Liquid – Phosphorescence and Glow sticks)
Electronic (LED)

Take care and do not be afraid to ask questions. Learning is a wonderful opportunity!

Light Has Color?

I can go into a lot of technical terminology and “geek speak” about light refraction contrasted to camera White Balance. However, I want to take this post and use it to discuss the magnificence of the creation around us and another role that light plays in it. Light is an incredible source of science, energy and to me is one of the most interesting subjects of study.

This post was started with the connection between light and color, so let us turn to the topic of the post.

Refracted light is a very specific process of splitting the light ray into exact color bands. While this process is highly scientific in how it is accomplished; it does not require expensive equipment or a high degree of education to verify and study as a curious lay person. Refracting light rays can be tested and demonstrated quite easily with a water hose, water supply and bright sunny day.

With the water hose connected to the water supply open the valve to pressurize the hose with water keeping it to a manageable level for an individual holding it and placing their thumb over the hose connector creating a fan of spraying water. (Appropriate attire for playing in the water maybe preferred as the child in all of us enjoys this simple pleasure.) As the individual with the water hose in-hand maintains the spraying water, turning slowly right or left; the sun will reflect off of the spraying mist and cast a rainbow in the spray.

The water droplets act as prisms, receiving the light and splitting it into the color bands I mentioned above. The light rays are split into 7 bands; Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. It may help keeping the colors straight if you put it in this for “ROY G. BIV”.

So, are there colors in light? Most definitely! Before I sign off, updating the blog with this post, I would like to add the definition of “refraction”: “the change of direction of a ray of light, sound, heat, or the like, in passing obliquely from one medium into another in which its wave velocity is different.”

Happy studies!

Getting The Most Out Of Your Camera – Part 2

Call me “Obsessive Compulsive” if you wish, but shooting without a flash has taught me so much about the “ins” and “outs” of my camera that I cannot neglect its value. This education is worth more than any other for which I could have paid or sat under another photographer’s instruction. These things are what I wish to give you by inspiration as we continue to learn together how to better capture the moments in time which we live and see.

I do apologize that all of my information bits are based around Canon equipment, but I have not yet be awarded with the donations of Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus and Sony equipment to learn and write about. Hint, hint. No, I only wrote that in jest! I would be humbled to receive such gifts, but I am not sincerely asking for them. I would be truly embarrassed to do so.

In the post-production process of photo editing within “Canon Utilities Software”; changing a picture from black & white (monochrome) to color is the final last step. If the colors do not come out in an acceptable shade, I often will increase contrast and lower saturation. If this look does not apply to the photo, vibrancy and hue are possibilities within moderation.

All of these terms and solutions are based on Canon equipment and software leaving a large number of readers in the dark, I apologize. This is not intended to be a sales pitch for Canon, even though it turns out to be quite a good one. All other brands will want to bring you the same or greater options for editing photos although they may not call them by the same names.

If you are interested in finding the equivalent adjustments and terms that I have listed for Canon in you own brand, please pass them along to me and I will be more than happy to share these helps with the rest of the readers.

Happy low-light photography shots!

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!

Personality

Have you ever been around people who always make you feel welcome and valuable? They just seem to exude an appreciation for your company, a genuine interest in your thoughts and statements.

Some people would call them a “Type A” personality.

There are times that I see the personality of the subject perfectly captured in a photo. I take a long, hard look at those pictures while asking myself questions similar to the following:

  1. What element say “personality” to me?
  2. Why do these elements communicate “personality” to me?
  3. How can I re-create the element?
  4. How can I distinguish between elements and the personalities they portray?
  5. What color tones were used?
  6. How do the color tones in this photo add to the subject’s personality?
  7. What clothing colors bring out subject personality?

As you can see there are a lot of things that can add to or take away from personality. In the blog post “Simplifying The Message” I mention that it is important to keep the message uncluttered and intentional. It is possible the only thing that shouts “personality” is the pose they assume as the shutter opens. Sometimes the simplest things are what makes the shot rather than the complicated set-up or costuming.

There are a lot of options at your disposal when displaying personality and be free to explore them!

Color Obsession

I take so many things for granted. Then when is lost something I frequently use, I pretend to myself that everything has ended!

I believe that creativity comes from looking at our surroundings with a different view while still maintaining those tangible means to define the different perspective.

Take for instance, vision or sight; “the ability to see.” What would change had I not the ability to distinguish color because of monochrome sight? Photographers call this a style of art, formed in “Black and White”.

Perhaps you have previously seen “Black and White” images, never noticing before that they were “colorless”. I continue to be amazed how our brains will add color to something with which we are familiar when there is not any such information being given by our eyes!

This actually is another option in our discussion of “creativity rejuvenation”.

There are a great number of things that are typically one color. For instance in the United Kingdom police cars are, in majority, colored with blue and yellow squares. Fire engines in the United States of America are almost always red. Quite often universally, taxi cabs are yellow.

Shoot your favorite color until your creativity is once again filled and be amazed at what you find in the process!

Photographer’s block

You have heard of writers getting “Writer’s block”; well, have you ever experienced “Photographer’s block”? It is the most uninspiring feeling and demoralizing experience for a photographer to perceive no new ideas or creative takes on classic genius. Take heart! You are not that first to come to this dilemma, so there are people with experience to help you nor will you be the last to experience this seeming lull of creativity!

Photographing your children often prolongs the creativity because you are not required to supply all of the creativity, but simply play off of the child’s cute antics. Posed shots require more creativity in finding the right surroundings and the most flattering positions. There are times when you feel creativity waning that even pointing the camera in the right direction with the children in view and opening the shutter does not produce the desired end.

This is where I have a suggestion that has helped me through some awful “slumps”.

Take one item, an object, color, letter, number or brand and shoot it for a period of time. Choose something far from the style you have been shooting. I have found focusing on this new style for a period of time helps to rejuvenate my creativity.

It helps to think of creativity as a renewable substance. It is not completely used once you see nothing more, but simply a call for you to step away and begin to take awe in a new interest of creation.

This post is short and sweet, but I hope it provides you with some ways to renew your God-given creativity! Enjoy and God bless!