Some photographers may have been fortunate enough to obtain professional guidance in their early endeavors at serious photography. I, on the other hand, belong to the camp that had to do on their own. I built most of my photography knowledge through my stock photography experience. My stock work and the associated challenges helped develop my photography grammar.
Rather than taking a deeper look at an image, those of us who are just getting into photography might get carried away with thoughts of major post-processing. If given enough consideration, most photos do not need major editing or hardly need any editing at all. Before venturing into piling on every single editing trick you’ve learned on the photo of your choice, I call you to consider these basic tips to make your workflow faster and hopefully easier.
You have heard it said, “Shoot first, ask questions later” but when it comes to wildlife photography, if you will ask questions first, you will get to shoot more later. This quick tip for the beginning wildlife photographer encourages you to ask questions. While you might go to a park to find wildlife, some photo ops might be in your own backyard, literally, and if not your own backyard, maybe in your friend’s or neighbor’s backyard.
Some time ago, I was busy frequenting a local park looking for a bobcat that was being seen. I made at least 20 visits and spent considerable time there looking for that bobcat. I found tracks and evidence of its kills but I never found the cat. On one particular day I had been out to the park for about 4 hours hiking and looking, all to no avail. I got home and my wife asked, “Did you see the pictures of the mountain lion that so and so posted on their Facebook page?” I asked where she had seen the mountain lion and it turned out that it was in her back yard. When I heard this, I was a bit frustrated, as I had been within a few minutes of their home when I was looking for the bobcat and had I known that there was a lion there, I would have made a trip over there to try and see it. By this time however, I knew that realistically, it was long gone.
In my opinion, street photography is a significant craft, geared towards preserving human history and history of any given society. It helps us preserve once-in-a-lifetime moments and capture truly authentic imagery. As many of us start getting weary and tired by the polished, glossy magazine looks we encounter daily, random portraits photographed in streets preserve that originality a lot of us crave, once again reminding us of real subjects and objects around us. Street portraiture is a big chunk of street photography and documentary. Today, I want to concentrate on giving you some tips on street portraiture. I should also warn you that the pointers I give today may work better for female photographers, rather than for boys with cameras :)
1) Brush up on your people skills
Photographing people close-up is a little different than photographing street architecture or doing documentary style street photography. While the main reasoning behind street photography itself is to get away from posed, artificial and repetitive, photographing random people provides a great opportunity to work with the raw beauty. But it is a challenging task for many of us – those people on the streets are not your paying clients, they do not know who you are and most of them do not wish to be photographed at all!
As photographers, light is something we are constantly concerned about. We need some sort of light source coming in, but from where and how much is always the question. A soft sun glow during the early hours of the morning or right before sunset is ideal, but often times wedding ceremonies or a client’s schedule does not allow for those prime shooting times. Light can take a normally plain image and transform it into a powerful and exciting picture, but what happens when you are dealing with harsh midday, overhead lighting? Luckily, there are a couple ways of dealing with this problem while still achieving beautiful pictures that both you and your clients will be happy with.
1) Shade – Even Lighting
The best way to avoid distracting facial shadows from midday lighting is to bring your subjects into a shaded area. That shade can be provided by a large tree, a building or really anything that is casting a big enough shadow to fit your subject. What we want to do is create even lighting where no direct sun is hitting the face or body, allowing the subject to be evenly lit. Make sure you are not using patchy shade where spots of light are coming through. This will cause uneven lighting and your subject will have spots of light hitting their face and body.
2) Backs to the Sun – Back Lit
If no shade is available, position your subjects with their backs to the sun. Doing this will block most of the direct light and cause their faces to be evenly shaded. This is called back lighting. This is sometimes easier to do with one subject because you can position them perfectly to make sure no sunspots are making their way onto the face. With two or more individuals it can be more of a challenge. Keeping their faces closer together can help eliminate some of the light spots coming through or you can use the taller subject to block the sun off of the shorter person. Make sure to expose for the subjects’ faces or they will be too dark to see any detail. Something to note is that the background will be overexposed when metering for the face in a situation like this.
If you took workshops and coursework on photography, chances are you’ve heard every mentor talk about understanding composition and learning to crop within the camera. Doing so will yield greatly composed photos and will limit your time in post production. But from time to time, you will come back with badly cropped photos which might have distracting elements in the background and the composition may not look spot on. If you are photographing portraits, even the slightest distraction may draw the viewer’s attention to something else than what you originally intended the viewer to concentrate on. At times like these, instead of deleting the photo, I want to give it another chance. Memories are precious and I do not mind cropping the photo to preserve what is important. Cropping images in post production will give you another chance to re-frame your shots and there are a number of different ways you can do this to achieve desirable results.
If you love astrophotography, today (06/23/2013) you will witness a unique event called “The Supermoon”, where the moon will not only be full, but will also appear larger than normal. If the skies are clear and you are lucky to see the moon, this will be a great time to get out and try some moon photography. If you have never done it before, you might be wondering what camera gear and settings you should use in order to capture the moon in its full glory. In this short article, I will give advice on how to photograph the Supermoon and explain some of the steps involved in the process.
What is a Supermoon?
A Supermoon is a name given to a somewhat rare event, when the moon is new or “full”, and it is physically at its closest point to our planet. As the moon rotates in its elliptical orbit around the Earth, there are two points that astronomers marked with names: “lunar perigee”, which is the the point of the closest distance of the moon to our planet at 363,104 kilometers, and “lunar apogee”, which is the point of the farthest distance of the moon from our planet at 405,696 kilometers. So when lunar perigee coincides with a new moon, which normally happens several times a year, the “Supermoon” can appear up to 13% larger and 30% brighter compared to a full moon at lunar apogee. Although the Supermoon can be seen several times a year, only one of those is usually the most “super”, meaning it is the fullest and the closest of them all. And that date for 2013 happens to be June 23.
How to capture the Supermoon
Without going into all kinds of unnecessary details, let’s get down to business and talk about how to actually photograph the moon.
Summertime for wedding photographers in the northern hemisphere can be quite hectic! Since the beginning of May I have been shooting 3-5 portraits sessions and 1-2 weddings per week – that means before I have little time to process, edit, and complete a session/wedding before I am already onto the next one. It goes without saying that good time management is crucial for not falling behind. In this article, I will share a few time savings tips for busy photographers like me.
Many photographers prefer to have second shooters to help them out during events, especially big weddings. Hiring or becoming a second photographer to work along with you on a job might be very complicated, tricky and sometimes downright nightmarish. You hire a photographer to come and help you out during one of the biggest weddings of your season, and the photographer shows up late, completely unprepared, with empty batteries, no flash and a completely different camera system. If you wish to avoid such situations, read this post up and make yourself thoroughly prepared. It sure is a hard job to let someone else represent your business. But when you are ready, you can make the experience both pleasant and even memorable for all parties involved.
1) The difference between a second shooter and an assistant
First things first, without diving into semantics too deep, I want to clarify the difference between a second shooter and an assistant. A second shooter is a photographer that is called/asked/hired to work alongside the main photographer for a particular event. An assistant, on the other hand, is not necessarily a photographer – it could be anyone that is hired to assist the main photographer in carrying his/her gear and perform simple tasks like holding lights, reflectors, etc. While second shooters can also perform assistant roles (if agreed upon earlier), keep in mind that they could be skilled professionals, just like you. Assistants, on the other hand, can be interns or student photographers, who are hired to assist and who are there to learn. Regardless of who you choose to work with, a binding contract with clearly stated duties and dues should be put together and signed in advance.
We are continuing our education series from some of the best photographers in Colorado and this time we are proud to feature Mario Masitti, who is without a doubt, one of the most successful high school senior photographers in the nation, not just Colorado. In this article, Mario will shed some light on high school senior photography and share his technique, style, gear and provide some sound advice for aspiring photographers. We hope you enjoy reading this article and learning from him.
Canon 1Ds-II | 85L at f/1.2 | ISO50 | 1/400s | Existing Light