Simplicity – Made Complicated…

I am just kidding about simplicity being made complicated.

My goal as a photographer is to capture images that make a clear statement. My integrity, character, skill, morality and intent respectively should not/cannot be with-held or disguised. This is not a case for a lack of discretion but rather the purpose of clarifying our visual communication.

Visual communication is vital to many areas of life, like business, self-preservation and interaction (both personal and professional). Communication by hand signs is called Sign-language. Sign-language combines motions or gestures that give intuitive and definitive meaning as well as a visual alphabet. These signs are simple and distinct from any other sign making its meaning clear.

This is purpose we want to have in photography, so several things should be brought to its least complicated form to communicate well.

Glass trinket box

First, what is my object or subject? What about my object or subject am I communicating? What draws out the subject? What clarifies my point of communication? What distracts from my subject? What obscures my point of communication? These questions seem tedious and a waste of time, however I can assure you that as soon as these questions become sub-conscious and your actions to correcting these issues are instinctive your image quality will rise with all haste.

The picture above of a glass trinket container is an example of keeping the setting simple. This image communicates the object is the glass container and that the design is important because of the glass clarity.  The surrounding set-up is designed to support the showcasing of the glass container and its design. The lighting of the object is important or there would be no exposure to see the container or its design.

A simple surrounding, focus on the object, light the object well and if necessary add intriguing lines. Enjoy!

Portraits – Versus ? Part 2

Stock Photography is a field of scope more broad than portraiture because it does not cause an emotional attachment alone.

Stock (at-least in my opinion) includes styles Commercial, Product, Scenic, Wildlife, Botany, Oceanic, Astronomic, Architectural and Historical opportunities giving objects to be the primary focus in the photo.

Portraiture ought to emphasize the person over their surroundings, even if the photograph is not designed to prominently showcase the subject.

The difference between Stock and Portraiture is in the photograph’s use. For instance, a company selling a consumable product will use a photograph of the product for visual communication is a use of stock but meant to sell a different product than the photograph.

The Stock Photography industry is designed to sell photographs, rather than photographs being used to sell other products.

It is important to consider the purpose of the photograph whether displaying it in home or sale. Just as a photographer is critiqued for how they captured the subject and displayed the photo’s purpose, so an image out-of-place or incompatible with its surroundings is important to consider when placed.

If a portrait is placed in a photo frame intended to be used as a stock photograph but is an obvious portrait of the subject, it looks out-of-place as it sits on the store shelf. There are aesthetic changes that can be made to the portrait to show the commercial use, but without these changes it would seem that someone had left a framed photo at the store as they shopped for a new picture frame.

The same principle applies to stock photography. If a person or an object is in the photograph distracting from the photographic statement, it is better to change perspectives or wait until the person leaves the frame and not “shoot around them”.

One of the best investments in a shot is time. Do not be afraid to invest!

Architecture

An architect looks to a photographer to match the environmental mood to the structure of the building he/she designed.

Architectural photography takes time and more than one trip to the designated site. Time of day will make or break the success of your photograph. There are 2 key times to take a photograph of a structure; sunrise and sunset. If you want to photograph the outside of a building, you must be very dedicated. First, you must watch where the light falls on the structure. When is the main entrance illuminated? Maybe there is a statue that highlights a dominant area. What is most significant? Maybe you can’t get the key places illuminated in only one session. Visit the building and document where the light falls and how quickly it changes. Proper planning will save you much stress and decrease the unknown when the day of the shoot happens.

Weather and time of year are also major factors. If you live in Texas, like me, expect the unexpected. More than once, cloud cover has caused me to revisit a site 3 to 4 times. The weather channel will become your best friend. Even then, meteorologists are never 100% correct all the time. Don’t get discouraged. It happens to the best.  You may think that you can sleep in and just head out a day late, but you can’t afford to take chances. Depending on a deadline or if it is for your own portfolio, consider the vegetation surrounding the structure. Maybe green grass or fully bloomed trees will emphasize the beauty or geometry of the building. Maybe without it, the area looks cold and desolate. What is the site used for and what feeling are you trying to portray? Maybe you want to capture a few people walking in the area to show usage of the establishment.

Be ready for all sorts of conditions and prepared to wake up at the crack of dawn. It may be tough work and the planning may become extensive, but you will see a major improvement of your images quality. If you want to “wow” your audience then play with sunlight and let it work to your advantage.

Happy shooting!!!

Keeping It All Straight

When I started actively building the paper existence of my photography studio I was asked a lot a questions by interested friends and acquaintances. They were not trying to pry or be rude by asking questions, but I often would find myself silent or stammering in an attempted reply to their questions.

I find it necessary to have a goal, or perhaps more accurately described as a mark on the horizon toward which I am moving. This keeps me moving consistently forward in one direction. Since I am one person, owner of one business, it works out very well.

I couch this topic a little in the aspect of a corporate vision. Hobbyists and parents, don’t be discouraged; this post is still directed for your benefit. By the way, please understand I do not intend to be condescending when I say “hobbyists” or “parents”. I am still a hobbyist myself in differing activities and I am the son of parents. I love and respect you both.

Parents, in my opinion you have a blessed and unique position to raise and teach your children according to your desires and standard.

Hobbyists, you too have a unique ability to spend time at your leisure doing the thing you love without the requirements of deadlines or financial pressure bearing on your expertise in the field of your hobby. The only difference between you and me is that I have the added stress of selling my expertise and photos, whereas you are free to enjoy and share both.

So parents and hobbyists, please enjoy as you read the hard learned lessons of a “working grunt”.

Vision: (It may be best to leave this broad definition to answer last while you answer the specific things below.)

Goal: (What do you want of your photography. Style? Signature work? Memory Keep-sake?)

Success: (What does success look like when you achieve a goal?)

  • Having something in hand to show off?
  • A party with your pictures displayed in slide show?
  • Decorating your house with your photography?

Focus: (What is important for you to remember as you pick-up your camera and adjust it for each shot?)

As you define these things, not only are you setting yourself up for success, but I find it so much easier for me to articulate my aspirations and desires to friends and acquaintances in answer to their questions.

Foetoss Means – Part 3

So why “Foetoss”? “I get the whole photography and light connection, but what is with the whole light source and verb tense stuff?”

This is my theory in strategy for photography: a vision must be large, almost extravagant, inexhaustible and full of practical, achievable steps to each plateau of success.

Now with my theory published, I will disclose the connection between the studio name and  theory.

My vision is centered on God. From my viewpoint everything I am; everything I have and everything that exists around me has far too much order to happened by random “chance”. I believe that everything about us and around us points to Creative Intelligent Design. Therefore I put “chance” aside as a source of creative power and find no other possibility for  a source of creative power than an intelligent being whom must be far more intelligent than me.

There have been massive amounts of time, money and energy expended to find some or any sign of life within our universe besides our own with no substantial proof in return. This is not intended to be a criticism of anyone who is or has invested their time, money and/or energy into this search. I have many friends who are or have been involved in these searches and I will not offend or slander them in any way.

With an intelligent design by a being more intelligent than I am, responsible for creating the universe can only describe one; God. The center of my photography vision. Now the Greek word “Foe-toss” meaning “of light” means that “Foe-toss” is only possible because of “light”. Direct application to photography, without light there would be no way that we could photograph anything.

How does this tie back to God other than my belief that He created everything and light by which to see it all, He actually is spoken of as light Himself.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

I John 1:1-5

Camera Troubles – Part 5

There is one more part of the human Eye and camera that we have not covered. This is the process of the Data Transfer from the Sensor to the Storage media via the Processor.

The Data Transfer:

The human capability for vision is amazing because we think we understand it enough to duplicate the process, only to realize our duplication is much less efficient than our inspiration.

As soon as our Retina receives the light of our surroundings, beginning to send the neurological impulses to the Optic Nerve there is a process of Data Transfer initiated. The amazing thing about this Data Transfer is the amount of detail that can be recalled, or amounts of certain information which one can be trained to receive and recall.

Illustration of information recall: Military branches train their personnel to acquire a target and discern in an instant if it is friendly or hostile. After an operation, begin the reports from each member and with it the lists of information that is most important; number of personnel on the operation, enemy patrols encountered, branches to which the patrols are affiliated, shots fired, number of injuries…etc. There is a lot of information to take in with precious little time to do so. This information is primarily accumulated by sight and secondarily with the other 4 human senses.

The same for public servants. Police officers require the use of sight in making reports besides assessing the threat to the public and their own safety. Paramedics make reports with vital statistics of a patient from many different senses at the same time. Firemen and women are trained to take verbal queues before getting to the scene of an emergency to take their own assessment of the situation.

This is all gathering data. These mentioned public servants and military are trained not just to gather information but to recall it for the purpose of reporting the events as they happened. This Data is what I draw upon in likening it to the Data a camera receives.

When the sequence in a camera is initiated, the light received by the Sensor is converted into Data which is transferred  across thin metal conductors. However, here is where Data loss becomes a problem. The Sensor is made up of millions of little pixels which receive light. There is not adequate space to give each pixel its own dedicated metal conductor for Data Transfer, so there ends up being about 100,000 or more pixels attached to 1 metal conductor lead.

Even still it is incredible that with so much Data being Transferred there is not more Data loss in digital cameras.

In the next and last post for the “Camera Troubles” series, we will discuss the specifics of the digital camera limitations so that we can learn to capture the detail we want.

Camera Troubles – Part 2

I can be quickly angered with myself because I lack the understanding of how my own camera sees the same scene I do. Not only that, but if I did have the understanding of how my camera see the scene, I do not anticipate that I have the dexterity to change the camera settings in the time it takes to raise the camera to my Eye once I see a shot. Although, because I know why I am angered, I can learn what I do not know. So, let us get to it!

In Tuesday’s post “Camera Troubles” we talked about how our Eye receives light and the path it takes through our Eye to the Brain. Now I should tell you that your visionary organisms are so magnificently fashioned no camera can compare to its spectrum of strength, complexity and ability.

Cameras are doing some amazing and spectacular things today, but the camera which outputs the most fantastic images is only at a basic level able to capture 1 out of the 100 things the Human Eye sees. Amazingly, even giving it a 1 out of 100, is being generous.

The camera is fashioned after the organisms that give us the capabilities to see. By displaying the inspiration for the first camera prototype I will list and correlate the major devices of the digital camera to the human capability of vision.

Major camera devices:

  • Lens – The lens containing glass for focusing and diaphragm for measured light control.
  • Shutter – The shutter is a part of an SLR camera which covers the sensor and only opens for the purpose of taking a picture.
  • Sensor – The sensor receives the light which surrounds the scene.
  • Processor – The processor receives the information from the sensor and sets it in order for storage.
  • Storage – The storage is a memory card that can produce any or all of the images you have taken.

Cameras, film and digital, are wonderful devices we can use to remind us of those specials times and events. There are some limitations of camera technology as compared to our visual capabilities.

“So how do I learn the difference between what my camera sees and what I see?”

“What settings ought to be change, and what is the proper setting level?”

These and other questions will be answered in our first two posts of April. Please join us as we explore how to get the most out of your camera!

Lists of shots

This post will not be as in-depth as others but if you take it seriously, can leave you with a very large load of homework. *Grin*

It has been my experience that I have all of these great shots in my head that I can either set-up or capture in theory. (In other words all of the elements I see in my imagination have been seen together at one time, at the same time.) However, when I find myself in a place that I have imagined a shot, I can not remember the elements I previously envisioned! Perhaps you also have experienced that disappointment and  horror of not being able to provide the photos I had in mind for my customer, now feeling like I will have to sell the shots I currently have twice as hard to make up for my lost enthusiasm. (This photo was taken in October of 2011. This is one of the times when I saw the shot, remembering it was something I had imagined without requiring me to add extra elements before immortalizing the scene.)

Here is how I am changing that costly error.

I have begun making a list of shots to compose by category, location, priority or time of day. (A time-saving tip is to input all of this information into a spread-sheet and then when I am ready to print a hard copy of my list I can prioritize them in the order that I will be shooting.)

I do not know about the rest of you, but I think about the next better shot all the time. My imagination especially runs wild after a shoot and I have just taken some exceptional shots. After I come down from the high of “a job well done”, I catalog the position and settings of the equipment set-up asking “What made the difference?” and every other question “9 ways from Sunday” about how it can be made better.