- Perfect Light, Stretch It
- 5 Top Tips for Capturing Key Moments in Wedding Photography
- Interesting Photo of the Day: Neil Armstrong After First Setting Foot on the Moon
- Master Portraits and Action Sports Using Speedlights (Video)
Posted: 15 Mar 2014 11:45 PM PDT
Nature and outdoor photographers the world over have long recognized and worked hard to take advantage of the soft, seemingly magical light of early morning, regardless of their location or assignment. Natural light definitely is different in the first hour or two after daybreak. Although many wild creatures tend to be more active during the first and last hours of a day this is only a happy coincidences for photographers. Just as often, other birds and mammals will be up and moving all hours of the day, despite what the light may look like for photographer. The solution is learning to stretch perfect light so you can still come away with usable and often truly outstanding images throughout the whole day.
You're not changing the sun's brightness, rather only using it differently, and the techniques are not hard to learn. Sport and new photographers have to utilize these methods every day, and they are easily applied to outdoors and nature shooting. Here are five techniques you can begin using the next time your out in the field; you may have been practicing one or more of them already, and the longer you continue as a nature photographer, the more tricks you'll use. These five are closely related, so you can combine them as you photograph.
1. Concentrate on color- Although bright light under a clear sky does seem to wash out colors; you can work around this by composing using contrasting colors. For example, place a bright red or yellow against a lighter brown or green. The key is having a brightly colored subject with a lighter background, rather than vice versa. Black or dark brown backgrounds can work, but if your brighter subject is small, a dark background may simply overpower it. At times, polarizing filters can help you, be careful and learn to use them correctly. Their primary function is to reduce glare, which frequently does result in richer color saturation. Some of today's professional film does not always yield pleasing polarized results because their emulsions already offer excellent color saturation.
2. Shoot tight- This is one of the most critical techniques in making successful midday photos. Using a telephoto lenses isolate your subject so you can eliminate backgrounds brightness or contrast. Don't Hesitate to choose a telephoto even when you're already close to your subject; used in this manner, the result is almost three dimensional when you have strong side lighting and you use a large aperture to further reduce depth of field. This is when the zoom lenses in your bag really earn their keep because you can vary your composition without changing your physical position, plus fixed focal length telephoto also work well.
3. Change directions- Quite often, angled light or back-lit scenes are far more dramatic than those with front lighting. In fact, even experienced photographers usually express surprise at how much a photograph can be changed simply by repositioning you a few feet one way or the other.
4. Try fill lighting- Using a fill flash, even in midday, can and will add surprising result when shoot a subject within 10 feet. Flash photography has never been easier than rule governing their use has not changed: a fill flash is used to complement natural light outdoors, not to override it. In other words, don't shoot into the sun in the belief the plash will eliminate a shadow-covered subject, because it won't. Instead, use the flash to reduce contrast between bright areas and shadows and create more even overall light. Think small, too, as in subjects like birds or squirrels; a single hotshoe-mounted flash is not going to help much if you're trying to light up a bison at noon in Yellowstone's Lamar valley, but conversely, it can certainly help add detail if you're photographing a small animal. At close distances, regular fill plash can be used successfully with telephoto lenses, too without having to resort to special accessories.
5. Avoid harsh light contrasts- Don't confuse contrasting light with contrasting colors, because even the best films made, can not handle the F-stop difference between bright light and dark shadow. With professional color transparency film, the exposure latitude you have even on uniformly lit subject is only about one-half stop and practically never more than one full stop. Thus, film doesn't always capture color the way you see it, especially in high contrast conditions. In many instances, it's easy to avoid harsh contrasts. Scenes that include land and sky, for example, often present this problem, but it might be solved if your composition includes a long, brushy tree limb as a framing device to eliminate much of the sky. Maybe the sky or the ground isn't needed at all; reposition your horizon line or change your camera angle to emphasize another aspect of the scene. As you can see, all five techniques are closely related, and with experience you'll be shooting more and well, so stretch the perfect and shoot all day long. See ya in the field.
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Posted: 15 Mar 2014 11:30 PM PDT
We frequently see photographs of magic or decisive moments, as Cartier Bresson called them. We often marvel at just how the photographer was in exactly the right place at the right time to get the shot. It seems that almost impossible luck is needed or lightning fast reactions combined with an ability to instinctively know when and where to point the camera in order to get such spontaneity and split second timing. This is certainly sometimes the case, but a majority of such images are the result of a much more considered approach, using a number of skills and strategies. Here are a few tips to consider:
1. Envisage the final image.
Usually there is very little benefit in running around looking for photographs hoping to catch a one off moment purely on speed and luck alone. Such opportunities do happen, but you can never be ready for them and you will miss far more than you will capture. A far better approach is to wait! Find a spot where an image might work. The lighting should be good, and there should be some basis for a good composition. Then wait for something to happen. It might be an interaction between people in the frame or the juxtaposition or convergence of several variable elements, but the chances are that the resulting picture will be much more coherent and powerful with this approach rather than randomly hoping for something to happen! The timeframe between envisaging the image and capturing it could be seconds or several minutes (or often never!) but this is a successful and proactive mindset to have.
2. Take several frames.
As you see a moment unfolding in front of you, make several exposures. It is unlikely that you will get the perfect moment in one shot, so take several in close succession. Also, if there is time, look for different angles and interpretations of the same scene. In my early days as a professional photographer I really struggled with this by thinking that I should be able to get the perfect photograph the first time. I was determined not to become a "machine gun" shooter, and it wasn’t until I saw the contact sheets of other photographers that I realised that I was wrong! Going back to Cartier Bresson, he often took six, eight, or even more exposures of the same scene, only choosing one from the contact sheet for final printing.
Learn to look and, equally important, to listen to what is going on around you. With practice you will be able to guess what is possibly going to happen and position yourself to be ready. This type of photography can be as much about understanding human behaviour and body language as it is about photographic technique. Also, think beforehand about exactly where you are likely to get the type of image you want. This goes back to envisaging the image. Plan ahead and increase the odds of getting the perfect shot by being in the right area at the right time. Also, try to think out of the box: where might you be able to get the right image where nobody else would ever have thought of taking pictures?
It sounds obvious, but perseverance and practice really do pay dividends. In fact, for this type of photography the longer the amount of time put in the the more likely you are to come away with the shot. It might be possible to photograph for hours or even days before creating something that is truly memorable. It’s important to keep a positive mindset and be open to all possibilities. Go looking for the image, work hard, look for different ways of achieving the image, and keep an open mind.
5. Set it up!
If all else fails then, against all the ideals of photojournalism, take control of the shot and intervene. Some of the most famous "decisive moments" have apparently been staged, including Robert Doisneau’s "The Kiss" and Capa’s dying soldier. It is possible to keep some artistic integrity by asking people to interact or carry on their activity for you whilst you photograph away rather than simply staging the shot, and this can still result in some authentic and spontaneous imagery.
I hope this has given you some inspiration to go out and make magic moments rather than purely wait for them.
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Go to full article: 5 Top Tips for Capturing Key Moments in Wedding Photography
Posted: 15 Mar 2014 10:40 PM PDT
Here’s a twist on an old story: On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to ever walk on the moon, cementing the United States as a global powerhouse and exploding the minds of Star Trek fans everywhere. This, we know. We’re often subjected to the standard shots taken by Buzz Aldrin of the grey, rocky surface with a few faceless spacemen standing still and posing. That’s why this photo, rarely seen, is such an impeccable piece of history:
Aldrin snapped this shot of a teary-eyed Armstrong moments after he returned to the spacecraft and removed his helmet. His ecstasy is palpable; it is the face of a man so clearly awe-struck that all he can do is grin and cry. Armstrong would later describe his emotional state as ”elated, ecstatic and extremely surprised that we were successful”–and we see it all, right here.
Go to full article: Interesting Photo of the Day: Neil Armstrong After First Setting Foot on the Moon
Posted: 15 Mar 2014 01:46 PM PDT
Understanding how to properly use and set up speedlights to effectively freeze the action in sports photography or create flattering light for portraits can be complicated. Luckily, photographer, Tyler Stableford, who has mastered the art of speedlights, shares with us his insights and knowledge on the subject in the following presentation:
If you look closely enough, you can see the Speedlites on the lower right side of the image. The light you see behind the skier is actually the sun, which Stableford had the foresight to plan–he pressed the shutter release when the skier was perfectly framed in the sunlight. He notes in the video, however, that this can easily be done using an additional speedlight.
Go to full article: Master Portraits and Action Sports Using Speedlights (Video)
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