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!

Workflow – Part 3

Workflows as we discussed in Workflow – Part 2, is supposed to be a logical progression from start to finish. No worries if you do not understand the process outlined in Workflow – Part 2. While the principles will work in whatever project you apply them, the logic or thought process may not be yours. Allow me to give another perspective of this process so that you can break it down for yourself.

A workflow is “a process designed to stop detail loss; to produce the best quality product in the least possible amount of time.” This is my working definition of “workflow”; a dictionary definition gives this meaning: “progress of work: the progress or rate of progress of work done by a business, department, or person”. I have described this at the level of a personal project but will become business if you use it for your photography studio and departmental if your studio hires employees. See how quickly this expands?

Let the progression be your own, but be careful to include the details. In my experience working in the corporate world, one practice run on a workflow is good and two is better but three is wise. I have run it through on paper the first time, working out the major problems. The second time I run it through with friends, explaining to them the details: I ask for their questions, understanding and critiques. Third time through, I take a test product through my process making notes of snags and problems.

Make no mistake, by this time I am tired and ready to quit. This is the point at which you are closest to letting the workflow do your heavy lifting. You are doing a great job!

One of the best ways of making certain your workflow has everything you ought to have in your completed product is to write these details on paper. Documents are your friends!

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 – Perspective

In the field of Photography, the word perspective comes up every now and again, but what is it and how can it better my photos? Good questions! I will answer one at a time.

What is “Perspective”? For an example I would like to illustrate an a subject with an immovable object like a tree. For illustrative purposes say this tree is a sapling about your height with strong and well-formed branches. Now a practical explanation of “Perspective” is looking at the tree from the side, below, top or anywhere in-between. Please do not misunderstand, “Perspective” is not only speaking to the “X” or vertical axis (from top to bottom) but also the “Y” or horizontal axis (side to side).

Now a tree does not so well show good reason for taking a different perspective side to side, but what if this tree were replaced in your viewing frame with a human subject? A human is not symmetrical like a tree and because of this fact, moving to one side or another can add or subtract from the viewers interest.

This leads into the second question, “How can ‘Perspective’ better my photos?” Take as an example a simple, straight on portrait as compared to a portrait taken slightly from the side with their head turned toward you. Not that there is a problem with the straight on portrait, however the perspective change can be a useful addition to the photographer’s tool-box.

This is one of the reasons that photographers will have subjects sit at a funny angle to them and then have the subject turn their shoulders one direction and have the subject look toward them. Now perhaps the strange “contortions” or poses will make some more sense at your next portrait session. *Grin* Enjoy!

Snap shots – Part 2

Have you ever had one of the best snap shots ever, but something in the photo distracts you from what you originally saw? You are not alone! At the end of this post I will show you two of my images, one original one edited. However it is not completely on our topic today.

As we talked about in the original “Snap shots” post, anticipating the action will give you a  head start on getting the camera up and ready or even as much time as getting a different perspective on your subject. Be careful of too much enthusiasm by “over composing” the candid snap shot. I suggest being able to take a different perspective on the snap shot; if you are able to anticipate that far in advance; to avoid photographing undesired objects.

My next suggestion is, if while reviewing your snap shots you see a distracting object surrounding the subject or in the background, crop the photo to exclude the distraction.

Crop definitions:

Passive cropping – is removing an undesirable object from the photo without cropping out any part of your subject.

Aggressive cropping – to remove part of your subject from the photo to direct attention or remove distraction without removing vital elements.

Please never be afraid of cropping “too close” to your subject. You camera only sees a small portion of what you see. So take advantage of it by getting in even closer! The less surrounding your subject, draws more of your viewer’s attention to your subject. Aggressive cropping can be bad, but I have not seen anyone over crop their own photo, because they know their intended subject.

So the two suggestions being:

  1. Get closer to you subject physically or with a zoom lens.
  2. Crop the digital image.

Now for my little “mess-up”:

Oh well! We cannot win them all! Those we lose, we just edit. Right?

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!