Terms – Exposure 2

So what is the difference in exposure between photography fields? The answer may be more fascinating than you realize.

Without an in-depth knowledge of a science it seems basic and small. Thus it would seem incapable of containing enough product for very many markets. However they more the science is studied and further discoveries are taken the science’s markets begin exploding with possibilities. Within each market is a specialized way of dealing with the product for that market. Allow me to explain:

A coin to the founder is equal to his time, resources and product used in minting it. To a collector (still in the market of the numismatist) this coin no longer holds only the value of the coin upon its date of minting, but now any more historical and geographical significance, making its value increase (besides the rising value of precious metals).

To photograph such an item as marketed to a collector, he will be interested in seeing the coin’s condition, its inscriptions, distinguishing marks and a clear representation of the metal color. This suggests to the photographer a specific method of lighting, absence of artistic embellishment and being close up for the best view of the coin’s condition. Can we safely say this requires skill and vocational specialization? Yes, without a doubt.

Take the same coin but in a different market. This coin is not being photographed to a market focus on collectors but sold to a precious metals store who pays out cash to the seller. Photography in this market (if used) would most probably focus on damage detail, over-all likeness and any metallic tarnishing. While these shots are close enough in description, the execution and lighting set-up of the shots are quite different.

While the subject is lit just as well in both shots, the lighting is different because of the market’s push for equal, over or under exposure of the background in reference to the subject. The details of how this is accomplished is still a new topic of discussion.

Lighting – Part 3

Lights are not easy to work, however not impossible. Directly lighting an object without first being reflected or diffused should be carefully handled. We will get into the reason for this point in a moment but let us first remember what transpired bringing us to this point.

In the time this blog has been in operation, we have discussed contrast, highlights, shadows, elements, focus, scene design and light source positioning in preparation for this new level of photography design. Direct lighting will be harsh and bright; so what else around the object should be lit to make sense of the scene?

What elements are important to the message of your photo? Remembering to keep it simple and thus unifying the message, light the desired elements enough for the purpose. If this photo involves a model, be sensitive to their comfort. Natural poses may be comfortable for a short period but if continued may become an irritation.

Irritation can be something the model will have to fight through for proper facial expression, motion stability to prevent blurring with moderate to slow shutter speeds. None of these issues are worth battling when they are avoidable.

Take a look at some advertisement photos and notice how little they add to the photo. At the same time, notice how they add, what they add, why they add and where they add those extra elements. This is not to learn the style or technique of another photographer, but to learn a principle, “Too much spice can ruin the soup” and not enough means it is a good start though undesirable.

Light can change the focal point of shot by misdirection, improper power setting and poor timing with the camera shutter. Be sure to know your equipment. Acquaintanceship means nothing when you are entertaining a customer and simultaneously troubleshooting your lighting system. You are the expert of your equipment. Learn it well.

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?”

Lighting

This is all rather basic, although it is something key to remember when making the lighting more even. Surfaces range from being flat to randomly corrugated.

Just some examples of varied surfaces include but not limited to clothing, walls, faces, sporting equipment, grass, plastics and tree bark.

All of theses surfaces pose a great challenge when working to control the shadows. Please notice that I used “control” instead of “end” or “remove”. We do want some shadow for contrast, but we do not want the shadow to be uncontrolled.

The light spread in your direction is important for the fact that shadow a created at a low angle is going to be “darker”. Changing the angle should allow the light to spread more evenly across the surface. Lighting illustration Experience is one of the best ways to learn what is occurring and how to resolve the issue.

A large illustration of this topic is the sun against any semi-solid object. The shadow is cast  because the object stands in the way of the sunlight’s pathway to the ground. The direction and depth of the shadow changes as the earth travels its pathway around the sun.

This change of shadow depth and place is effectively the same as moving the light. I have said there is one good way of learning what is happening and how to resolve it, by experience.

Experimenting in available time will help. Give yourself some projects that emulate the same problem. Work out other lighting difficulties without over working yourself. I often will push too hard and run out of creativity when I should stand back asking questions. Questions should lead to answers, answers can lead to solutions and solutions make the way (specifically for us) to better photos.

Enjoy.

Showcase Lighting

Have you seen those pictures that take your attention and your will to look at any other photo dwindles? Maybe it is a picture of a young woman looking out the open window with the curtains blowing toward her.

The “best lighting” is directed from natural light source placement. This is what I mean by “natural light placement”, light should be coming through the window (back to the photo description above) and not around the window.

There is an important lighting technique which I refer to as “even lighting” or as others say “flat lighting.” “Flat lighting” means that the light is spread across the subject without creating harsh shadows or excessive amounts of light. Not meaning the shadow is absent but having control of the harshness or contrasted effects of the shadow is important!

I used to think that I needed no other light source but the ambient light of the outdoors; while the lighting is always perfect outside with the sun as the source, reflectors, diffusers and shades are great ways of flattening the ambient light.

Adding light with flash and strobe was my primary apprehension, because it is so easy to displace the natural lighting with one overpowering light source. This is not to say adding light with flash and strobe is bad, just a word to the wise that adding light in this way brings a lot more skill and thought to the table than anticipated.

“Showcase Lighting” is all about drawing the viewer’s attention to a specific place in the photo. This is to say, consider what your picture shows. Motion? Draw the viewer’s attention with the movement direction. Personality? Highlight the facial expression including eyebrows, eyes and/or mouth.

Lighting really is a way of communicating where you want people to look without words. Learning how to do this is not easy nor can it be reduced to a formula (at-least not to my knowledge).

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!

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.

Photographing Jewelry

I do not want to sound as if I were driven by spontaneity or a business owner who makes impulsive decisions, because that would not be accurate; however I will say that when it comes to writing blog posts my plans do change. When planning the possible topics for the blog, I sometimes form a temporary schedule for publishing which take on new priorities after some time away giving me time to reconsider their publishing order. So let me tell you why I think this post is better published today versus Friday: This post will inform you of many different ways for setting up the lighting for your photographic subject.

The photo you see below is one that I took as I found some good techniques on my own with the equipment I had available.

I will list here some of the best techniques to be used in the jewelry section of photography.

The best lighting set-ups:

  • Back Lighting
  • Diffused and Direct Lighting
  • Direct and Reflected Lighting

Shooting techniques:

  • High Aperture / Long Exposure (Larger Focal Plane)
  • Moderate Aperture / Short Exposure (Moderate Focal Plane)
  • Low Aperture / Fast Shutter Speed (Small Focal Plane)

Setting additions:

  • Wax to hold pieces in place.
  • Glass or Lexan (surface for reflection)
  • Modeling Services

Of course there is always the option of hiring me and my services. *Grin* Okay, enough of that. Get ready for the specifics on the lighting set-ups in the subsequent posts!

Getting The Most Out Of Your Camera

Have you ever found yourself in a situation and wishing you had a hot shoe flash with you? Well being the biggest “anti-flash fan” you know of (I’m just kidding! I’m not “anti-flash”. My concern and talking point is a caution against built-in flashes.) I have some things for you to look into if you are interested in getting just a little bit more out of your camera’s performance.

Having used my equipment in a lot of situations with varied amounts of lighting, I became very dissatisfied with blurry photos. So, in an effort to understand more about the performance of my camera and lenses, I began searching for methods of shooting without a flash and blur.

As I began my search I discovered that when shooting black & white (monochrome) pictures, my camera was more sensitive in lower lighted areas giving me the capability to shoot with a faster shutter speed.

At the same time, I did not want to only shooting black & white (monochrome) photos in low light, so how can I get around this problem? Some cameras come with editing software. Canon provides “Canon Utilities Software” with their SLR cameras, so there may be comparable software with other camera brands. In “Canon Utilities Software” post-exposure changes are possible by reading the EXIF data from the photo and altering the information in a new file temporarily stored in a separate data file.

However, before I prattle too far afield of my given topic, my point of shooting black & white (monochrome) photos to avoid needing to add light; the picture style can be changed in the editing process of “Canon Utilities Software”. What this mean is black & white (monochrome) shots can be change into color shots!

The camera takes the information of colors with each black & white (monochrome) shot, however not as it would when shooting in color. Do not be surprised when changing picture styles that the color is not as vibrant as when shooting in other pictures styles.

More on picture styles and black & white shooting in Part 2.

Construction Zone

This post is an over view of how the next 3 months could appear. I want to give you this warning or observation so that you do not get discouraged about the business blog.

My topics may be less about photography tips during this season of building than they have of late. During this process I want you (my readers) to get excited with me about the website, so while my focus is slightly altered I can share these exciting things with you so that when the website is open you will be able to browse it with ease and intuitive knowledge.

The Foetoss Light Photography Online Store is under construction and in such a state there are going to be a few problems and hurdles to overcome. Feel free to look around the website (foetoss.com), but as with all construction sites, please be very careful! *Smile* I am really just teasing about that. There is nothing that you could do to damage the Web Development process. Web Development is not that similar to Structure Fabrication. The real issue is that when viewing the Online Store, you realize things are changing and may not be the same from viewing to viewing. By changing I mean that I expect them to be improvements.

In fact, as I close this post; check out construction zones for unique photography opportunities! Please do so wisely and carefully, but contacting the safety officer and site manager, they will help you get some great shots if at all possible.

Do not be discouraged if they can not grant you access to the site, but think creatively of using telephoto lenses and shooting from a safe location outside the construction area. The center of the Construction zone will not make for an optimal scene for portraits because of safety issues. However with the right stock shots of the Construction Zone, shooting portraits against a green screen and proper lighting, you can piece the shots together! More on the green screen shooting to come!