- 8 Ways to Become More Comfortable with Your Street Photography
- How to Use Bokeh Effectively in Your Photos (Video Tutorial)
- SimpleSLR Photography Training Books Deal for May
- How to Improve Your Sunny Day Photography with Speedlights (Video)
- Passion and Politeness: The Keys to a Successful Photography Career (Video)
Posted: 21 May 2014 11:53 PM PDT
This article is written by James Maher – author of a popular in-depth guide for aspiring street photographers here: Essentials of Street Photography
I know many people who mention that they would like to get involved in street photography, but they can’t get over the initial hump, because they are too afraid to capture strangers candidly in the street.
This is a shame, because it is a wonderful and creative form of photography that everyone should try. If you are one of those people, here are eight tips to help you become more comfortable getting involved with street photography.
I am not going to go into a long analysis about whether street photography is ethical. Both sides of the issue have valid arguments, and I understand the points of the many people who are against it. Some countries do not even allow it in public spaces.
Use your personal ethics when capturing strangers. If you do not feel comfortable capturing a person, do not capture them. I know photographers who don't photograph homeless people and photographers who do. Everyone has a different level of ethics.
However, keep this in mind: when you look at images of the past, what are your favorite images? I bet most of you are going to say that they are images with people and culture shown in them. These are my favorite type of image, as well. These images have a place in history and society, and they teach us about ourselves. They are very important to capture, both for the present and for the long term.
Think about street photography with this frame of mind, and you will feel more comfortable.
2. Let People Enter Your Space
It is so tough to walk up to someone, enter their personal space, and take their photo without their permission. A lot of photographers do it, but it's tough, especially at the beginning. The true key here is to pick a spot and let people enter your space.
Pick a location with foot traffic and wait there with your camera ready. The same amount of moments will occur around you whether you are walking or stationary, but it is easier to see and capture them if you are waiting in place. Most important is that by letting the subject enter your space you will feel much more comfortable capturing them.
3. Smile and Look Confident
I cringe sometimes when I see how sneaky photographers can be. I take sneaky shots and shots without looking through the viewfinder when it is necessary, but I always try to look happy, calm, and comfortable.
If you look like you are doing something wrong, people will pick up on that and feel uncomfortable. If you look like you are confident in what you’re doing, people are more likely to ignore you.
If I’m in a situation where I want to put the camera to my eye and take a candid shot and I know the person will notice, I make sure to smile after. Sometimes I'll comment on how interesting the subject looks. A majority of the time, however, they will not notice or will just keep walking.
4. Disarm Them with Enthusiasm and Kindness
It's so rare that I have ever had a bad situation from taking a candid photo of a stranger. Sometimes people will come up to me and ask me if I took their photo and why. I tell them that I am a photographer doing a project on interesting New Yorkers; I thought they looked amazing and had to capture them. I will often shake their hand, look them in eye, and ask what their name is.
If you are complimentary and enthusiastic, they will most likely feel flattered. I’ve made a lot of people’s days by telling them this. Of course, occasionally someone will ask you to delete the photo, but after you sound so enthusiastic, they will do so nicely and will thank you when you do. Apologize and move on.
5. Bring Business Cards
For the people who stop you, it can help to have a business card printed up with your email and a link to your photography portfolio, even if you are not a professional photographer. This makes you more legitimate, and it’s a great way to further break the ice. Hand them your card and tell them that you will email the photo if they contact you.
6. Try Street Portraiture
Portraiture on the street is different from candid street photography, but it is a great way to take a step toward getting over your fear. Make a point to ask one or two strangers to take their portrait at the beginning of each photography session. Some people will say no, of course, but don’t let that get to you.
The more people you ask over time, the more comfortable you will become, and this comfort will follow into your traditional candid street photography.
7. Go to the Same Locations Over and Over Again
This is important for so many reasons, but becoming comfortable with the location will make you more comfortable capturing the people there. In addition, the regulars will begin to get to know you and will eventually stop noticing you all together.
8. Look at the Works of Other Street Photographers
This is my favorite tip. Look through the work of famous street photographers for inspiration. There is nothing better for building your confidence than seeing other people do this work well. They were once beginners, too, but they pushed through the problems at the beginning. Spend 20 minutes looking through the work of your favorite photographers before you walk out the door, and you will find that you will become much braver and more enthusiastic on the street.
For Further Training:
James Maher authored this in-depth 141 page eBook that covers everything about the genre even down to specific post processing techniques that can bring the best out of street scenes.
It can be found here: Essentials of Street Photography Guide
Go to full article: 8 Ways to Become More Comfortable with Your Street Photography
Posted: 21 May 2014 04:09 PM PDT
We’ve all heard of “bokeh,” though many of us are still insecure about how to pronounce the word (see the correct pronunciation here). We fawn over great bokeh in our favorite images, drool over lenses that produce beautiful, smooth bokeh, and scorn lenses that produce “bad” bokeh. However, even the best bokeh doesn’t guarantee an image’s success—that largely depends on the photo’s composition and other related technical factors.
Using his trusty Leica M9 Digital Rangefinder camera, Kai breaks down the concept of bokeh in this video and provides advice about how to effectively compose those blurred elements to create stunning photographs:
What is bokeh?
Widely known as “bokeh” in the photographic sphere, “boke” is the Japanese word for “blur.” Bokeh refers to the out-of-focus area in an image that contains soft focus, such as a portrait or a macro shot—in layman’s terms, we’re talking about the background. When lights are photographed behind the subject, the resulting bokeh appears as colorful circles, ovals, or pentagons, depending on the quality of the lens being used.
As a general rule, the human brain tends to appreciate the circular or oval-shaped bokeh spots provided by higher-quality equipment more than the pentagons you’ll get with lower-end gear. However, Kai’s humorous advice is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get great bokeh.
How to use bokeh
1. Lead the eye gradually into the “bokeh abyss.” Bokeh is best used when it gives an image a sense of depth, as in the image below where the focus gradually drops off into the cityscape.
2. Use Live View to examine bokeh before shooting. Though it does sap battery power, Live View will likely provide a better picture of what bokeh will look like at your current camera settings when compared with the bokeh rendering of your camera’s standard viewfinder.
3. Look at the background in focus before shooting. The human eye naturally moves to the sharpest elements of an image, so if you only look at the background when it is out of focus in your viewfinder, it is easy to overlook proper background composition. This is why photographers often kick themselves after photo shoots for not noticing telephone poles and tree branches polluting their images. Make sure to examine the background closely before beginning to shoot.
4. Avoid distracting backgrounds. Senseless clutter, lines, and non-complementary colors in the background do not make for strong images. Don’t think that just because background elements are blurred that they will not affect the image. Instead, make sure that the blurred shapes and colors add to your photograph or find some other area or angle from which to shoot it.
5. Don’t choose backgrounds that are more attractive than the subject. While interesting backgrounds are a must, your background should serve to enhance the subject, not distract the viewer from looking at it.
Go to full article: How to Use Bokeh Effectively in Your Photos (Video Tutorial)
Posted: 21 May 2014 12:59 PM PDT
SimpleSLR ebooks are 50% off from now until May 31. Simply remember to use the code AMAYZING at checkout. This code applies only to the Complete Bundle. Deal found here:
The first one is great for beginners and the others offer lighting instruction and case studies of complex scenarios which any level of photographer would find helpful. I really like how his case studies with incredible photographs explain the whole setup from start to finish with settings, lighting diagrams, and further explanations of techniques.
All these books also carry a 60 day guarantee, so if you check them out and decide they aren’t useful, just let them know to receive a refund—no questions asked.
Posted: 21 May 2014 12:48 PM PDT
You know the scenario: a nice, naturally-lit, mid-day photo shoot goes awry when you see your subject squinting with awful shadows cast across his face. What do you do?
Photographer Jay P. Morgan ran into this challenge when shooting promotional photos for world-famous trick roper Will Roberts. The obstacles he encountered on this shoot included: shooting in direct sun, requiring photos that both blurred and froze the rope, and wanting interesting light on the subject.
In this short tutorial, Morgan explains how a speedlight can be your best friend out in the field on a sunny day:
Morgan’s Equipment for Sunny Day Photography
Morgan knew it would be challenging to capture the image he wanted on a bright, sunny day with the sun directly overhead, so he decided to use the sun in his favor. He positioned the subject so the sun provided a rim light, then placed a Speedlight on a stand with an OctoDome around it to soften the light in front of the subject. Using the Speedlight as his key light, Morgan was able to evenly light the subject’s face and the background to obtain an ideal exposure.
Creating Motion Blur in Direct Sunlight
Morgan mentioned the other challenge he faced in this shoot was creating two different images of his subject–one with the rope frozen, and one with the rope blurred. He explained that using a Speedlight was key in obtaining these two different images. In his first image, Morgan put the Speedlight on manual, dialed it down to 1/4 power and took the picture at 1/200 at f/6.3. This combination resulted in the correct exposure to capture an excellent shot with the rope frozen in place.
To create a shot with a blurred rope, Morgan moved the shutter to 1/50 at f/13, and dialed the Speedlight up to full power, placing it slightly closer to the subject.
Morgan says the advantage of using a Speedlight over traditional lighting in this situation is its sync speed. The Speedlight has the ability to sync to the shutter at 1/200 of a second, allowing the photographer to freeze objects in motion while properly illuminating the subject.
Go to full article: How to Improve Your Sunny Day Photography with Speedlights (Video)
Posted: 21 May 2014 12:15 PM PDT
It’s not often that you find a person who is still just as passionate and involved in their career as they were when they started it four decades earlier. Most people retire or at least slow down with age, but photographer Albert Watson still maintains a full shooting and exhibition schedule and is easily one of the most talented and highly sought-after fashion and commercial photographers in the world.
In this short documentary by Phase One, Watson speaks to the secrets of his success and reveals the stories behind three of his most iconic images—his studio portraits of Alfred Hitchcock, Kate Moss, and Steve Jobs:
Watson spent seven years early in his career at a graphic design and photography school building a foundation for his career. After that, he worked his way up in the fashion sphere and began landing jobs with highly-acclaimed publications such as Vogue and Rolling Stone. Throughout his career, Watson created more than 100 Vogue covers alone and had the privilege of photographing some of the most famous and powerful people on the planet. He was even hired as the “official Royal photographer” for the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.
He attributes his success not only to his educational background in the visual arts, but also to his deep passion for making great images and his commitment to shower all of his photography subjects with the utmost courtesy and respect, no matter their station.
Here are a few of Watson’s most famous images:
Go to full article: Passion and Politeness: The Keys to a Successful Photography Career (Video)
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