Appeal

Since I know that asking questions about a photo will help me get answers to how the photographer was able to get the look I see, I can ask some similar questions of my photo set-up to get the appeal I want.

What are these questions? Well, they do not change as much as my photo changes. Starting with the basics;
“What is my object in focus?”
“What have I used to draw the viewer’s attention to it?”
“What style am I using (leading line, lighting, suggestion)?”

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?”

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 – Posing

Posing for portraits can be a unique skill of its own when taking portraits. However it is not impossible, so take heart; you will find your niche?

“Posing” as I am using it for this post is meant as “A particular way of standing or sitting, usually adopted for effect or to be photographed, painted, or drawn.” Some would say posed shots can be organized by looking at the camera or not, but that is not totally correct.

Before going on I would like to define candid to clarify more of the differences to posed and candid shots.

Candid:

  • Truthful and straightforward; frank.
  • (of a photograph of a person) Taken informally, esp. without the subject’s knowledge.

Basically, it can be a little difficult knowing a posed photo from candid if the photographer  and subject or model are good at directing and holding a pose. Poses can seem candid and in reverse a candid shot may even seem posed. The difference between posed and candid lies in the knowledge and participation of the subject or model.

We want the pose to look natural and comfortable as if the subject or model is supported. Tension is noticed by a viewer most often subconsciously, and tension is created by the appearance of the subject’s discomfort.

While choosing a pose which accentuates your subjects beauty, take care to make your support visible. For instance, if you have your subject prop themselves on one arm, make sure their arm is visible through the camera. I want to leave you to use your own creativity in methods of support, but illustrating tension, the subject will seem to be performing an isometric crunch on the front lawn. This obviously is not our intent.

Turning the shoulders to one side or the other from the relative position to the hips will show a slimmed abdomen.

A bent knee (in a seated position) will draw muscles tighter in the thigh and hip for contrast to the extended leg.

Drawing the shoulder back and down will show a relaxed chest and shoulders.

One of the main visual queues for poses is the positioning of the subject’s head. If they are not comfortable their head will be pushing forward or resisting a fall backward. Keeping the head in a neutral position will certainly cut the visual signs of strain, offering the best start for positioning.

Candid shots will be our topic for Friday’s post. Looking forward to another visit then!

Portraits – Color

It is not every time that a portrait will look best in color. There can be many reasons for this, however let us begin with the fun we can have with color portraits.

Q. How can I use the fall colors in my portraits?

A. Fall color is brought to the fore with fall fruit, vegetables, leaves and more subtly flowers that bloom in fall. City maintained gardens may decorate with large gourds, pumpkins and fall blooming flowers which surely bring the visual cue of fall to viewer.

Q. Shooting up at my subject is not an option. How can I use the fall colored leaves in the portraits?

A. If the colored leaves or nuts as acorns have not fallen to the ground there are always optical “tricks” to play. One of the quickest and easiest ways to bring in that fall color still on the trees is to bring your lens to a wide-angle view and get very close to your subject. This will give a high angle view into the trees for the color and your opportunity of shooting a level portrait of your subject’s face. Possibilities are endless!

Q. How can I simulate the look of fall and fall color?

A. Bringing in elements which pictorially describe fall will help a lot. Jackets, a wrap if your subject is a woman or even little things like having her hair styled so that she can wear it down to gently flow in the wind. One of my personal favorites is a lite scattering of colored leaves on a thick carpet of grass and the subject looking up from the center of the scene.

For what it is worth, I have found a cooling statement which helps draw the visual effect of fall with prominent shadows behind the subject and sun light illuminating their face. Enjoy!

Shooting In A Low-Light Situation

I do not often have the opportunity to shoot with other equipment other than my Canon SLR camera body and lenses. However this week, I was asked several times at a convention to use other people’s cameras for differing shots. Now that I have some experience with other cameras I have a few tips that will help you take better pictures in low-light situations.

First off, I would like to define what “low-light” means. Very often “low-light” is any situation indoors. “Low-light” is not having enough light for your camera to shoot a well exposed photo at the following settings:

  • ISO 200
  • 1/30 of a second or faster
  • At your preferred Aperture setting (I prefer to shoot at an average of 13)

(I understand that not all of you, my readers, have cameras which allow you to set each of these settings independently of the others or options such as Aperture. If your camera does not give you the option, disregard the information and work with shutter speed and/or ISO.)

Cameras as we have discussed see things differently than we do even though they are based off of our visual capability. If you wish to understand more about this, please refer to the blog posts “Camera Troubles through Camera Trouble – Part 6“.

Here are the tips that I have promised will help you capture better photos with less motion blur and camera shake.

Say you are in a hall with a person on stage who is lit with a spot light. You subject of the photo is the person on stage and you are currently in the darker corner of the hall.

  1. Get closer to you subject (physically).
  2. Zoom away from your subject (using a wider viewing angle).
  3. Step into the light of the spot light.

Hint #1 is a practical help by the principle of object relativity. For the rest of us non science majors, motion is more easily seen and anticipated when the viewer is more closely located to the viewed object or person. Yes the object will more quickly leave you viewing area, but movement is more fluid and easily tracked in closer proximity than further away.

Hint #2 is a light receiving issue. The more light that your camera receives the faster your shutter speed. The further your lens is extended means the less light is being received within the same shutter speed as if you were to shoot at widest angle. This works because if forces you to get closer to the light source.

Hint #3 allows more light into your camera lens and will adjust your shutter speed.

Enjoy!

Coming Soon!

If you read Tuesday’s blog post, you may have caught a back handed announcement. Yes, that is right. A website! I have been working quite a while of different pieces of the website which will have its grand opening soon and we hope it is useful and naturally intuitive to use!

It has been under revision and the planning stages were laborious sometimes even tedious. I can tell you this; it will look very close if not exactly like this blog.

I apologize that this is not much of a photography post for tips and helps. Although now, you will be able to look at my work and see how much of my own advice I take! *Grin*

Since I have dedicated this post to talking about the soon to be Grand Opening of the “Foetoss.com” website, I will take the time in this post to tell you a little bit of the services I plan for my images to fill.

Fine Art: Including things such as Wall Art for home decor, Wildlife, Flowers, Scenery, Weather Occurrences, Architecture, Oceanic/Beach, Events and Modeled Poses.

Web-safe: Pre-sized to fit common website image placements such as WordPress/Website Header Images, Facebook Timeline Covers and Blog Covers. Other Web-safe images will include blog Topic Visual Aids (Food, Drinks and Side dishes for the  Active blogging Home-Maker & Chef). We hope to continuously expand our topic base to cover all of your blogging uses.

Our third and last service will be in Contract shooting for Real-Estate Brokers and Local Businesses.

I very much appreciate referrals of any kind, just to build a reader base for the blog, or even customer referral for the website Grand Opening! You have been a very kind and generous reading audience. Thank you for reading and giving me your encouragement through your “Likes” and “Comments” on posts!

Camera Troubles – Part 6

What can I see that my camera does not?

There is not an easy way to answer this question, although I will say to say that our visual capability can not be directly and equally compared to the output of film or digital cameras.

Our sight is taken in motion whereas photographs are still images possibly showing movement by blur or subtle indications of motion. So while we may remember a certain pose, facial expression or scenery of a person or place we appreciate as if the memory were a still photograph does not mean our Eye and Brain receives these memories in just such a way.

Video recorders are truly much like cameras in this way that they capture motion or movement in 72 still frames a second or more. A video recorder more closely resembles our vision in that it records motion in so many frames.

Beyond multiple frames to give the illusion of complete motion, our vision is affected by the ability to change so quickly between seeing detail in the shadows from previously inspecting the details lit by broad daylight.

From observing myself and questioning what I see and how I see it, I believe now to better understand the difference of what I see and how I can operate my camera to photograph a scene as I see it.

I see: the bright sunlight streaming through the ceiling of tree leaves, illuminating the grass and garden floor in a brilliant array of color. As I continue to observe and breathe in the wonder of the contrast and illuminated detail, I begin to notice more detail which remained hidden until I had gotten close enough to notice for the first time.

This is done in photography in several ways. Let me begin with the best and quickest being the first.

  1. Simplicity – Photography studios will set-up the portrait studio with solid color backdrop and lighting to evenly light the subject while still allowing some shadow to remain but lighting enough to see detail in both shadowed and lit areas. This is the effect of many additional flashes.
  2. Specific detail – Scenery which cannot be reproduced or moved in-studio must be shot as is. This requires additional flashes or shooting 3 or more photos  from the same place and position of varying shutter lengths and putting them together in HDR format. (For more on HDR, please see our blog posts “High Dynamic Range” and “The Make-up Of An HDR Photo“.)

So it is not that our cameras cannot reproduce something similar to what we see, but that we have some understanding of how we can enable it to see. There are no quick and simple steps to follow for every camera to shoot fantastic photos. I wish there were! Though if this were the case I believe we would have lost some of the adventure in photography.

It can be this simple though, to know that the camera does not as quickly adjust its Lens Diaphragm and Sensor to see detail in shadow and light as do our Iris and Retina. Thus we seek to separate detail we want captured per photo by the varying amounts of light in its surroundings.

Photography truly is an amazing art. The amazement is not intrinsic to itself, but because it is base off of our visual ability which we are blessed to have received from the kind Providence who created us and the world we love to photograph.

Thank you for reading! I pray you have learned and enjoyed reading as much as I have in writing!