Terms – Perspective

Taking a perspective on an object can show its many sides. I refer to a view as illustrated below as perspective versus squared.

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By perspective I mean that one part of the object is further away from the viewer than the rest. I have found that looking at an object from more than one of its sides gives me a better idea of how I best like to see it.

Learning how to take a photo of something from the angle I like to see it can be more challenging than first expected but it will come in time. Start by using one lens only and find its range of limitations. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of the equipment. Observe and learn how what you photograph may seem distorted or disproportionate as compared to reality. All of these things give a “perspective” and will help us learn what to avoid as well as how to make this look if ever we want to use it. Learning in this way teaches us a more thorough understanding of our equipment and technique than if we learned only by textbook. Experience is key. Schools and employers both know this so do not feel like you are cheating or being cheated. This is a natural learning process that some professionals wish they had more of early on in their career.

Have fun, shoot something straight on and then find a perspective that looks good to your eye through the view of your camera and lens!

History Records

Recording history via photography is something that may seem as a profession for the unskilled, however consider taking the challenge of recording the events of your family alone. The difference between recording the events for a city records and those of which concern a family are more quickly understood in an experience to which we can relate. A family’s social calendar maybe busier than a city’s but things occur on a greater scale in a 24 hour period within the city limits than a family.

Take the challenge of recording the events your family encounters through photography. It is may not be as easy as anticipated. Events may involve one person or multiple. Please also take notice of everyone’s right to privacy. I have heard stories of families taking snapshots of other at times that are extremely personal. The purpose of this challenge is not black-mail gathering but learning to discern between photo emphasis.

Every family I know has pictures of the firsts in the lives of their children or wish they did. I wish that I had more photos that surround my memories of the last few months I had with my grandparents. You see, there are many levels in photographing history than appears on the surface.

We have covered some basics to photographic records and I will take some time to list these levels (perhaps not in the best order).

  • Physical event and motion
  • Elements included and worn during the event
  • Emotions, communication and facial expression
  • Overall event (purpose and reason for gathering)
  • Accomplishments
  • Experiences (from a personal perspective)

There really are a lot of things to fill your time with family events. Now consider the skill required to put your talent in such a time crunch on a scale of 18,000 families. I think we just discovered a fascinating career!

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!

Learning Your Equipment – Part 3

Learning your equipment sounds really easy until getting out into the field and realize, “I never thought about how to evaluate the amount of light put out by my light source!” Now this opens up a new area for questions and learning. “How sensitive is my camera to light?” “How does my camera’s sensitivity measure against its shutter speed?” “How does my camera’s sensitivity to light change with each aperture stop?”

Some answers can be “too simple” or rather purely informational without direction as to the application of the information. So in this post I hope to bring you two options explaining their application to the best of my ability.

Option 1: Light meter. Handheld light meters get more expensive the fancier features they contain. There is an excellent article by B&H Photo on learning about handheld light meters and information to help you choose the appropriate light meter for you. Most digital cameras are equipped with light meters (if you will remember the light meter I referred to in my first post on “Learning Your Equipment”). However, there is one key difference between a handheld light meter and a light meter in your camera.

The difference in light meters held in your hand or in your camera is this, the meter’s location. Now what will help you most? A light meter showing you the amount of light surrounding your subject or the amount of light around your camera? Answer: You want to know the amount of light around your subject. That makes it a little difficult to measure the light around your subject with your camera when it is more efficient to have it set-up on your tripod.

Option 2: Requires a lot of experience and a trained eye and mind. Using your own vision to estimate the light around your subject is cheapest and builds your skill. I am still tweaking my own skill, so I am not much practical help at this time. Some practical pointers to come in Fridays post.

Back Lighting – Part 4

Lighting is an art all of its own. I think I have mentioned this in several ways previous in this series, however I want to impress you with the value of lighting well placed. “Good lighting” is not always “good enough”. I do not mean to make this a diatribe, just a way to help us break out of our routine lighting techniques and learn something more which will add to our photography value.

There are some unique uses of lighting and techniques equally as creative. One of these techniques is included in the category of Back Lighting, but it takes an odd form. In this illustration to the right, this set-up uses only reflected light. The advantage of using only reflected light from this set-up is this: Reducing the harsh lighting on the surface of the glass, or surfaces like it, provides the illumination required to see the glass as well as giving a wonderful view of the drink in the glass.

I have a fantastic imagination with which I can rationalize answers to pictures or illustrations. However, I want to explain some things which I know I have imagined: I have little experience with flashes, but I have imagined my light source in this illustration as a flash. I have other lights positioned in my mind to add light to the shot, but every other light is a non-flash studio light. Next, since I basically drew this illustration, I was not sure how to illustrate the opaque density of the background Styrofoam board, so instead I will tell you, this technique is based partly on the fact that no light will come through the Styrofoam background and relying on the side lighting from the reflectors.

Just because my illustration has only one light source, does not mean this technique is not valid with more. Have fun with this technique, learning from it and increase its versatility.

Back Lighting – Part 2

Specifics on soft-box set-up:

Lighting the space behind and around your subject requires a lot of care, patience and finesse.

Controlling the amount of light taken into the camera is another important concept to understand when trying to utilize the style of Back Lighting. We discussed controlling the amount of light your camera receives in “Camera Troubles” through “Part 6” and how it is based on the operation of the human eye, nervous system and brain.

Lighting for jewelry is a tricky occupation because of the many shiny surfaces we so enjoy not just of the metal but the gems too. Back Lighting jewelry uses the least direct lighting in my opinion. (I say in my opinion, because like any other profession you will find many an expert who: knows what others do not and used or has seen extremes which others have not. Yes, truly this is experience and opinion wrapped up into one statement.)

There are a couple of ways to back light a subject even in a “light-box”. The first way is to reflect the light off of the back drop. Another way is to light the object through the sheer fabric of the soft box back. I created a kind of soft box, only because I diffused the major lights in my set-up.

So my basic point is; there is no need to buy soft boxes if you are not focusing on staged macro photography. Have fun and improvise with the equipment you have or invest in basic equipment that you can re-use for other projects. Soft boxes are not designed to eliminate all shadows but do a very good job of softening them, especially since setting up proper lighting means more than one light source which the soft box technique so easily facilitates.

Step 1: Soften harsh lighting.

Stock Contrasting Portrait Photography

I titled this post with “Contrasting” being the comparative term because Stock and Portraiture are not competing in a common market, but rather completing the market with a whole new set of shots to be used where portraits may not and should not be used.

I would like to be clear that while Foetoss Light Photography is a Stock Photo company (or “Commercial Photography” for tax purposes), the Foetoss Light Business Blog is focused on providing tips, hints and helps to parents and hobbyist photographers who want to learn more about photography and taking those captivating images of people and things you love.

Here is my opinion of the difference between portrait and stock photography.

Portraiture as we well know is designed to center around personal recognition. With this basic description we understand that style and artistry also “enter the picture” to draw on the beauty and personality of the person or persons.

Stock is specifically purposed to display a product or experience without requiring personal recognition.

You will see stock photography everywhere in product advertising, wall art and topic based editorials. In fact, since I am a stock photographer, all of the photos I have used in my posts have been stock.

I am finding that even stock photographers will be asked to do portraiture even though it is not a specialty. I have taken portraiture contracts but carefully for several reasons. I do not see in my photography something specifically drawing out the beauty or personality of my customers and I want to keep focused on stock. Having written that, I do realize that I would not be asked to shoot these portraits for customers if they did not see in my photography something they want in their portraits. So thank you customers for your confidence and business! I appreciate you!

Snap shots

Snap shots are one of most rewarding and irritating events in photography. Allow me to explain.

Say I am on vacation and I take my camera along because anticipating you will see is impossible (even while planning your itinerary). Besides, who does not take a camera when planning to do so many fun things? I mean, that is a given. Even if it is the old Polaroid camera!

I carry my camera with me every where I go, so that means; hiking, flying, driving, activities (especially so), reading a book on the patio, camp fire, dinner meetings, museums, parks, monuments…I think you get the idea. In fact I carry my camera with me so often that in some department stores have asked me to keep my camera in my bag or leave the store. *Sheepish grin* (In addition I suggest never to make a scene in a store. It is not good for your business nor theirs and may even destroy possible future business relations.)

The main thing is to always have you camera so that you can capture that ever so rare moment!

Next: Learn to anticipate things. A parent is an expert at seeing possible dangers their children can walk into, mostly from experience. So, if you miss a snap shot because you lack this anticipatory experience, avoid condemning or punishing yourself! No one likes a “grumpy” photographer (parental or professional). Smile, laugh and enjoy the moment!

I think of snap shots as an art form all their own! Snap shots have no preparatory time, meaning you cannot clean up the living room before the moment passes, or that large field of uncut grass cannot be manicured. Take heart! You need not document the unkempt living room or the uncut field.

Friday, we will talk about some solutions in avoiding distracting backgrounds.

Camera Troubles – Part 4

With this basic knowledge we have built on the human Eye and how the camera lens was designed from the model of the Eye, I would like to venture into some observations of human vision.

Again please take note of my disclaimer from Camera Troubles, “I am not an Optometrist”, so I am not attempting to prove anything for or against medical science but observing our ability and capability.

We have some magnificent capabilities to see detail in deep shadows while focused on well-lit objects. It is in fact this ability that I find most fascinating, because I have tried to  figure out whether I had looked into the shadows subconsciously noting the detail or if I am seeing that wide a spectrum of detail. In either case, the ability to see the wide range of detail in light or shade is a characteristic that I have not yet found innate within a camera, but I find it most common in creatively thinking people.

There are some ways to achieve the look of detail in shadow while focusing on the lit focal point. Before going to the topic of how the camera see a scene, we would do well to better understand what and how we see.

I have a hard time discerning the varying degrees of light and how well the area is lit where I am shooting. This I know from experience and so now I take some test pictures before getting into the heat of the photo shoot. This tells me some amazing things about my Eye sight. The Iris opening so wide that I do not notice the slight shadows between light fixtures and my Brain filling-in details of the wall paneling. We have an awesome device in our Brain to automatically fill-in such detail! Thank God for giving us such magnificence to be used and shared!

Now we have not discussed the process in-depth of taking the photo after exposure from the Sensor to Storage. So in the next posts in this series, I plan to explore “The Data Transfer” and “What the camera sees of what I do.”

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!