- 5 Landscape Photography Tips for Photographing Mountains
- Breaking Portrait Photography Rules with a Split Light Pattern
- Character Portrait Photography Techniques in Very Low Light (Video)
- Civil War Reenactment Photos Taken with Wet Collodion Plate Camera (Video)
Posted: 31 Aug 2013 04:59 PM PDT
After graduating from photography school, I spent a good deal of my 20s photographing the city scapes of New York. In my 30s, after I relocated to upstate New York, I discovered a new muse–the landscape. What’s so nouveau about the landscape? You’ll only understand this after living in a cramped, fifth floor walk-up apartment–with views topped only by brick walls–for years.
Anyone who went to photography school is familiar with “the golden hour”–that gorgeous time right before sunset or right after sunrise. It’s by far the best time to shoot landscape photography. Everything–and I mean everything–is gorgeous at this hour.
When I moved to the Adirondacks, I sought inspiration from the area’s numerous mountains and lakes. Though I’d attended various photography schools, studied with different photographers, and shot a good deal of (non-mountainous) landscape photography in the past, nothing prepared me for photographing mountains.
I’ve since met other photographers in the area who concur that the terrain poses unique and significant challenges that affect not only neophytes, such as myself at the time, but also more seasoned area photographers.
I was relieved to discover this. After all, the thought had occurred to me that my urban environs had deflowered me in the most vulgar of ways. Or that my years attending photography schools, and the long hours of inhaling photographic chemicals, left me so ill-equipped that I couldn’t even properly take a simple nature photograph.
But it wasn’t photography school, nor my many years in an urban environment. It was that photographing certain elements of nature can be even more mysterious and baffling than the human element, which I had, at least to some degree, come to readily understand. So, here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned while wrestling with such subjects.
1. Know Where You Are
I’m not talking about bringing a compass with you wherever you go, unless of course, you have a habit of getting lost, in which case it might be worthwhile. But, more so, you need to understand your lighting and position. Remember before when we were discussing “the golden hour”? Well, one of the things you’ll soon discover when photographing mountains is that there often isn’t a golden hour, or if there is, it can be diminished greatly–very disappointing when you’ve spent hours waiting for a particular shot.
2. Shadows Haunt You
It’s the shadows of nature I’m referring to here. Until you’re out in the middle of nature, you don’t realize how shadows can–and will–get in the way of your shot. Think about light and shadows and the way they play upon each other; if you’re not looking for a highly shadowed shot, this will be a problem.
When I first started to photograph mountains, I’d set up my shots so my back was to the sun. But if you’re familiar with pine trees, you’ll know that’s when their shadows get particularly frisky. You can work around this, however, by setting up near a creek or lake, which will decrease the amount of shadows in the picture.
3. You’re Not a Mule Horse, You’re a Human
If you’re used to hiking long stretches of terrain with heavy packs on your back, then maybe you can skip this one. But those of us who range from average to flabby, consider that we aren’t mule horses, and not in the best of shape. It’s best to accept this ahead of time, because in the process of seeking out your shots, you’ll climb many a steep and arduous mountain, and for this reason, it’s best to leave the heavy tripod at home.
After a few trips carrying my full-weight tripod, I thought it was time to give myself a gift–a travel tripod. Invest in one. It’s worth it.
4. For the Love of Contrast
There is no even keel when it comes to lighting the landscape evenly in the mountains. A bright sky might just be sitting above a group of mountains that are totally in shadow. With most cameras, the dynamic range is too low to capture the detail of both. To overcome this issue, you will probably want to invest in a graduated neutral density filter, which will allow you to do things like darken the sky, so that you can get more precise detail in the mountain ridge and sky you’re photographing.
5. Nature’s Not Always Quiet
In fact, it can be pretty darn busy, which can pose a problem when you’re looking for a good foreground element. This is something you can’t bypass, as a good foreground element not only captures your viewer’s eye but also gives the shot depth. In nature, this can be a serious challenge; the terrain is full of hundreds of different elements (refer to the shadows point above), competing for your attention. It can be difficult to set up a shot where you actually have something in the foreground.
There’s no easy way to get around this one. You’re probably just going to have to search for a while to find a foreground element. But the search will be worth it in the end.
I know I said five, but there’s another point I want to mention, and that’s that when photographing in the mountains, keep in mind that you’ll need to go very wide to get a complete and well-composed shot.
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Go to full article: 5 Landscape Photography Tips for Photographing Mountains
Posted: 31 Aug 2013 03:21 PM PDT
In a prior photo tip article, we started talking about lighting patterns in portrait photography. Today we’ll continue our lighting pattern discussion with split lighting! This photo lighting pattern tends to go against most of our portrait photography posing “rules”.
We began our lighting patterns discussion by talking about broad lighting and short lighting. While they are technically lighting patterns, we can think of them more as stylistic approaches to be used on top of our additional patterns. In other words, decide on whether you want a broad or short lighting style, then decide on a lighting pattern that will make the subject look best.
As covered in previous articles, when posing a person for portrait photography, you don’t usually want their face to be straight on to the camera. It tends to make the face look wider, particularly if you are using a flat light and evenly lighting both sides of the face (as with an on-camera flash). In most cases, the ideal is to have the face turned about three-quarters to one side. Done well, this can be a very dramatic pose and in some cases it is the best option.
We can use split light to put one side of the face in shadow to eliminate the widening effect. To the viewer, a shadow visually recedes in the portrait while highlights come forward. Even though both sides may be an equal distant away, it appears that the brighter side is closer. So it actually does add a bit of depth.
Split lighting is a very easy pattern to set up. To create this lighting pattern, place the light source at 90 degrees to the side of the subject. This will light the side of the face closest to the light and put the other side in shadow. When seen from the camera, the face should be split exactly in half.
Caution, one of the most vital elements in any portrait photo, whether it is human, animal, reptile, bird or whatever, you need a catch light in BOTH eyes! In split light, obviously you are going to get a catch light on the brighter side of the face, but if the light is positioned incorrectly you will not get a catch light on the shadowed side. The ideal split light pattern has half of the face in highlight, half in shadow, and both eyes have a catch light.
Set the light at 90 degrees to the subject to get the split (in a few instances, you may need to move the light slightly behind the subject to get the half and half split), if there is not a catch light in both eyes, inch the light forward until there is.
See split lighting in action in this video demonstration:
While using a split light portrait photography lighting pattern goes against most posing rules, there are times when it is the perfect choice. Practice this technique and add another photo lighting pattern to your arsenal!
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Go to full article: Breaking Portrait Photography Rules with a Split Light Pattern
Posted: 31 Aug 2013 01:26 PM PDT
Impressing commercial clients involves scouting out unique locations and working expertly with lighting equipment. Photographers who go the extra mile are rewarded with clients who return to them again and again.
With only three hours to to complete a commercial shoot in the darkness of an abandoned Tube station called Aldwych, photographer Chris Gale had to work quickly and efficiently. Learn about his gear and technique by watching the following video:
Since the tunnel did not have power and was nearly pitch black, Gale had to bring in his own power sources and extensive lighting gear. His gear included six Profoto battery generators, a long-range Profoto Air Sync for triggering the flashes, a flash head, numerous reflectors and modifiers, and eight lamps just to light the set properly.
All preparation for the shot had to be carried out by flashlight and was the most time-consuming part of the process. To set up the shot, Gale lit the model with a strobe inside a gridded beauty dish. For lighting the tunnel, he placed one lamp head behind the model at about four meters. The other lamps were placed at intervals down the length of the tunnel to illuminate it as far as could be seen in the shot. With all lights in place, he captured his images using a Phase One 645DF+ with an IQ180 digital back tethered to a laptop. This way, he could get immediate feedback from the art director.
Because Gale had the right gear, a great crew, and the technical knowledge to carry out this challenging setup, he finished capturing the main shot with time to spare. By using reliable equipment and knowing how to make the most of his short time in the tunnel, Glen was able to go above and beyond his client’s expectations.
Go to full article: Character Portrait Photography Techniques in Very Low Light (Video)
Posted: 31 Aug 2013 12:55 PM PDT
Photographer Rob Gibson loves to do civil war reenactment photos. But unlike most of his fellow photographers, Gibson’s decided to shelf the digital camera and go with something a little more era appropriate. Just like the clothes and props Rob Gibson‘s models wear reflect the 1860′s, so does his method of photography. He is one of the few people practicing wet collodion plate photography today. Using this method since 1993, Gibson has learned the intricacies of the chemistry and photographic technique needed to capture wet collodion photographs:
The Challenges of Wet Collodion Photography:
Go to full article: Civil War Reenactment Photos Taken with Wet Collodion Plate Camera (Video)
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