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!

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?”

Reflections – Surface

So you want reflections, but under instead of on your object?

Mirrors – Shoot into or on mirrors is an amazing technique which not only gives reflection but adds more light to the scene.

Plexiglass – Being reflective yet it is not as strong a reflector as the silvering coat of a mirror. So while providing a great reflection, it will not add light to the scene as would a mirror.

Besides plexiglass comes in various colors. Take a minute to search the options manufacturers offer in plexiglass color.

Plexiglass can also add a density to shadow and reflection unlike other translucent materials. It is one of the most versatile materials I know of within the uses of photography.

Glass – A great reflector as the mirror and not as direct in adding light to the scene as plexiglass, glass itself in a great surface for reflections. One drawback to using glass is that it is fragile. That is only a drawback if you intend that your pane of glass remain intact throughout your photo shoot. Some photographers will use reflections in broken glass which brings up a whole new realm of ideas.

Water – Perhaps one of the most powerful, difficult and predictable substances on the earth, is also one of the cheapest and most accessible substances to capture reflections.

Considering the weather and time of year when planning a photo session is a good idea, even if only to verify that your annual day of rain is not schedule in the same day.

Possibilities are only as limited as my imagination! I love the study of light! Have fun as you learn and grow!

A parting thought: “We only have this moment once to enjoy, so I choose to enjoy it with this foundation; faith, on which to build the structure of physics as I soar into the realm of freedom, liberty and true creativity!”

Cameras & Light

Light is an incredible “force” in creation, and just in case you do not believe me, study the effects of light on plants (Photosynthesis), or the ability to permanently transfer the image of an object onto paper with light-sensitive photo paper. Even more so our fragile camera sensors demonstrate just how easy it is to get too much light in a shot, reminding us of the awesome power that we often take for granted.

I should have begun to realize just how powerful light is when most if not all of the camera settings and accessories work to shade the camera from full light or regulate the amount of light so as to properly expose the object in focus. The purpose of photography is not to fight light, but to work with it. Now I am not talking about anything zen or mysterious, I am talking about practical actions and changes to technique so that you will not feel as if you are swimming up-stream but letting the river carry you to your destination.

So how do I work with light? Slow down you exposure settings. Bring your ISO down from 1600 or 800 down to 100 or 200. Raise your aperture from f/1.8 to f/13 and breathe. Yes, it is true you will not be shooting very often at 1/250 of a second anymore. On the other hand, you will begin shooting higher quality photographs and have the opportunity to see possibilities for new shooting styles! When I started making this switch, I began getting more compliments on my pictures than ever before.

Quality is not something someone will always point out as a reason they like one photo over another, but when higher quality means the difference between eyes being out of focus or in, I am certain we all would choose higher quality and in focus!

Keep learning! It is the best way to grow.

Lighting Is Not Everything

I keep bringing everything back to light from almost every post. So perhaps some illustration  and explanation are in order on how lighting is important but “is not everything.”

You may ask “I don’t understand! If lighting isn’t everything, what is lighting?” Without light shots are practically impossible yes. Lighting is important, however just adding light is not the “cure-all” for poorly lit photography. The key to added lighting is its positioning. Light positioning came up in our 6 part article on “Back Lighting” and “Jewelry Photography” single, but how about “simple scenes”? What can be done to improve a shot with “house-hold lights”?

I want to caution anyone who may consider scenes “simple”. It may not  be difficult to see or understand, although a “simple shot” is exactly the photo with which you will come away. Simple shots often do not have depth, intrigue or definition, thus they appear “flat” and are not “interesting”. Lighting properly placed can change this in seconds.

Photographers who specialize in portraiture are aware of the technique “3/4 (‘three quarter’) lighting”; if not by name, I am certain they do in practice. A brief explanation of “3/4 lighting” and I will show you how I applied it in my illustration.

3/4 Lighting is strategically placing your light to the side of your subject and no more than 45 degrees below. From the starting position for lighting directly in-front of your subject’s face, pivoting the light around the side of your subject and then lowering the light in that plain to achieve your desired effect. Positioning a light in such a way will light about 3/4 of the face, thus “3/4 lighting.”

Lighting is not just a catalyst for capturing a photo, but also the important ingredient for making an image which has intrigue, contrast, clarity and definition.