- Street Food Photography Tips
- Interesting Photo of the Day: Very Close Encounter with a Massive Minke Whale
- Smartphone Photography: How Much is Too Much?
- How to Handle Catch Lights and Eyeglasses Glare in Portrait Photography
Posted: 09 Jul 2013 04:54 PM PDT
In the past decade, food photography has exploded more than any other discipline. Camera phones have improved rapidly, and now scrolling through a Facebook feed feels like reading Martha Stewart’s personal blog. Everyone has suddenly realized how exciting it is to capture North America’s great national pastime: Eating!
In this video pro food photographer David Loftus gives us some excellent pointers on guerilla food photography, and how to make the best pictures you can without any special equipment (for those of you reading this by email, the video tutorial can be seen here):
With the recent surge of crafty, home-made goodies and alternative diets, not to mention more widespread awareness of nutritional quality, food has once again become something to really celebrate. It’s getting easier all the time to do it with a beautiful flair that comes to represent you, your personality, and your values. After all, you are what you eat. Food has started to take on a meaning in our society that it never has before, and now carries connotations of health, social justice, and a sustainable lifestyle – all themes which can be addressed in a simple, well-composed snapshot.
With the evolution of the American diet, food photography has a chance to shine like never before; gone is the heyday of greasy pizza and Chinese food – meals which photograph about as well as a popped pimple. Nowadays, any Sunday farmer’s market is ripe with stunning photographic opportunities, featuring colourful produce and crumbly bakery treats pre-arranged in their ideal setting. Loftus displays in the video just how easy it is to get a delectable image, whether it be with a DSLR or a camera phone.
This video focuses mostly on creating the perfect on-the-go background, to which point Loftus gives some very useful things to think about. To quickly recap:
There are a few ways to change the background. You can move something (or someone) behind the object, as Loftus does, but you can also change your own perspective – get higher or lower, or come at the thing from the complete opposite direction.
Food is the sustenance of life, so having a human element in the image reminds us that the food doesn’t just look pretty, it’s enjoyable and satisfying to the stomach, too.
If you bought your treat from a small business, they probably put a lot of thought into packaging it in a way that complemented it. White tissue, a brown paper bag, or even a napkin can speak to the item’s meaning and purpose. It can also add shape and contrast, while framing the item without distracting the eye.
There are a few other tips hidden within the video that don’t pertain directly to backgrounds, but are very useful to remember when out shooting food in the street.
Posted: 09 Jul 2013 02:17 PM PDT
Have you ever heard the phrase “too close for comfort”? Well this is perhaps an apt situation in which you might actually use that phrase. While sea kayaking at Neko Harbour in the Antarctic peninsula, Andrew Peacock photographed a minke whale swimming within arm’s length below the surface of the water. Talk about an incredible experience. What was the whale doing so close to the surface? Who knows. Perhaps he was curious or lonely. I imagine not too many kayakers visit the great Antarctic ocean:
But aside from its content, Peacock’s image is also aesthetically beautiful. There are three aspects that really stand out to me that make this an amazing photograph. First is the contrast in colors of the pale sky/ocean/whale to the colorful hues of the kayaker and his vessel. Second is the minimalism of the photo. There are really only three elements: the whale, the kayaker, and the distant mountain. Their composition is fairly balanced too. Lastly is the leading line in the photo. This is perhaps the most dynamic aspect of the image and what really gives it that extra impact.
Basically you will look at this photo in one of two ways. Either you will look at the whale first and follow his mouth line up towards that kayaker and the mountain. Or you will spot the colorful kayaker and look below him and follow the whale’s mouth down to the bottom. It’s this leading line created by the whale’s mouth cutting diagonally across the frame that draws the viewer in and pulls their eyes across the image.
Now, I’m sure Peacock didn’t have all this planned out when he took the shot. But the fact that he managed to take a moment to compose the photo (without freaking out) resulted in a much more dynamic image than just a picture of the whale’s face. If it were me, I would have surely dropped my camera in the water.
Go to full article: Interesting Photo of the Day: Very Close Encounter with a Massive Minke Whale
Posted: 09 Jul 2013 12:08 PM PDT
Smartphones are everywhere. Go to a concert, and you’ll see thousands of glowing LCDs waving in the air as concertgoers try to snap a photo. Go to a museum and you’ll see people wandering from exhibit to exhibit, taking pictures of what’s on display, often at the expense of experiencing it firsthand. Go to a child’s school recital, and watch nearly every parent filter that moment through the 4-inch screen of their phone. Are smartphones replacing memories? That’s the question the BBC’s Stephen Smith asks in this video (for those reading this by email, the video can be seen here):
The explosion of smartphones and tablets among the general public has been quick and thorough. The BBC report shows a crowd at the Vatican in 2005 at an event memorializing Pope John Paul II. One cell phone can be identified for sure, there are maybe two or three others visible in the crowd. They cut to a photo in the same location in 2013, welcoming Pope Francis, and the difference is staggering. The glow of devices hovers over the crown like a swarm of fireflies; it’s just not possible to count how many there are.
Perhaps nothing in the video speaks more to the rapid propagation of smartphones than the interview with Jay McGuiness, a member of the boy band Wanted. At 23 years old, McGuiness laments to the BBC that going to concerts isn’t “like it was when I was a teenager.”
So, are we missing out on experiences in favor of recording and sharing them? Smartphones make it so easy to record any moment, at any time. I can pull my iPhone out of my pocket and in a matter of seconds it’s a camera, ready to digitally record my next cherished memory. That can’t be so bad, right? As with all things, moderation is the key. Sandy Nairne, the Director of the UK’s National Portrait Gallery, explains:
Here’s a case in point: last week, I gave a reading of my non-photography writing to a group of people, some friends. It was short—five minutes at the most—and when I had finished a friend ran over to show me the picture he’d snapped of me and put on Facebook while I was up at the podium. After thanking him for his act of guerilla promotion, I asked him if he enjoyed the reading.
“The parts I heard were really good,” he told me.
He’d missed most of what I read because he was too busy cropping the photo, uploading it, writing a caption, and tagging me so my other friends could see. And perhaps that’s the ultimate litmus test to see if you’re taking things too far. Look at the pictures you’ve taken at any given time and place in your smartphone’s photo library. Do you have specific and fond memories of the details depicted in those photos? If you’ve preserved a moment in pictures, you’ll have created an enhancement to the memory. Do you mostly recall the time you spent taking the picture and, possibly, editing and uploading it to share with your friends? Then you’ve just preserved the moment of preserving the moment in pictures, and your photos are a reminder of something you missed.
Posted: 09 Jul 2013 11:23 AM PDT
I’ve previously discussed the importance of catch lights. Without them, your subject’s eyes look dull and lifeless. They help add interest to portraits and are a very effective way to add depth to the eye.
Ideally, catch lights should be round. This tends to be the most natural and visually pleasing shape (reflections of the sun are round, and we are used to seeing the round shape). The shape of your catch lights is generally only a problem if you are using a square reflector or diffuser. If you are going for a contest winner, you will want to retouch your catch lights to make them round.
Be careful about the number of catch lights visible in the eye. Your fill light or reflectors will add additional catch lights to the eyes. You usually only want one in each eye. Retouch or adjust your lighting to remove any extras.
Lastly, the catch light (ideally, provided by the main light) often looks best at the 11:00 or 1:00 o’clock position within the subject’s eye. Knowing this will help you determine how high to place the main light. It should be at about 45 degrees from the axis between the camera and the model and high enough to be slightly above their head.
Every face is different, so watch the shadows and catch lights to determine the right placement for the lighting pattern–shadows to determine the light pattern, catch lights to determine the height of the light source.
Reflections in glasses can kill a portrait faster than just about anything else. Here are a few pointers:
The first thought that many of us have is to just take the photo with the subject not wearing glasses. This can work–or it can be a problem.
If the subject does not normally wear glasses (they may habitually go without them or they may usually wear contacts) go ahead and shoot without them. If the subject normally does wear glasses, and you shoot without them, no one is going to like the portrait. The person in the photo won’t look natural. Plus, their eyes might look slightly unfocused or even crossed.
Rule of thumb: if your subject shows up for the portrait session wearing their glasses, leave them on.
Since the lights are generally higher than the subject’s head, one way to avoid glare from the glasses is to raise the part of the stems going back to the ears. The hooked part will be raised half an inch or so above the ear. This tilts the lenses down and can eliminate glare.
If tilting the glasses doesn’t eliminate the glare, you may have to raise the lights. Be careful about tilting the glasses too far; it looks odd if you overdo it.
Lastly, you can actually take the lenses out of the frames and have your subject wear the empty frames. This is a method that’s been touted by photographers for decades! For most eyeglass frames, it is easy to remove and replace the lenses with an eyeglass screwdriver kit. It would be worth your while to get one and keep it in your camera bag.
Be cautious though. If you break or scratch your subject’s glasses, you could end up buying him or her some new ones. You will drop the screws, so have extras on hand.
Catch lights and glare prevention need not be complicated. Make sure your catch lights are the right shape and in the right location, watch for glare in your model’s eyeglasses, and you’ll be quick to improve your portrait photography.
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Go to full article: How to Handle Catch Lights and Eyeglasses Glare in Portrait Photography
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