Saturday, December 22, 2012

more snow and better light

In a recent post, I went to take photos in the snow and was disappointed.  Since then, we have received over 20 inches of fresh heavy white stuff...but more importantly, we had good light.  The dull, cloudy day that I had before made an already flat looking landscape (because of the white on white) even flatter.  With direct light (especially from the side) we now have dimension and depth because we have highlights and shadows.

I think I still like a human element in my photos though.

Lesson learned: mix a little fresh snow (so it is still on the trees) with some good light, and your photos will look more like the scene you remember.  The great thing about winter here in the upper Midwest, is that even when it is 12:00, the sun is still low enough to be pleasing!  But the sooner you get out in the day, the more the snow will be fresh.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

snow plowing

A week or two ago, we got our first snowfall.  But really, today was our first REAL snowfall; 18 inches in less than 24 hours.  Oh, and it was heavy.  Heath called me up and asked if I wanted to ride with him as he plowed the church parking lot.  Foolishly I accepted, thinking it would be fun to see what it is like to plow.  Little did I know that the back a forth is sickening, especially because you can't really see out the windows...and when you can see out, the landscape is all white anyway so you have no reference for your movement.

It was still worth it.  Brought back California memories of digging out 4x4 stuck in the mud...except this time is was colder...

It was also just fun to get out, the first major snow really makes things magical.

And thanks Heath, for not only letting me tag along, but for taking so much of your time to do this for the church.

Monday, December 10, 2012

first snow - and a little philosophy

We finally had our first snow, little late but we will take it.  It is funny how before it snows, I want the great white stuff to fall for interesting photo opportunities  but after...I just feel like it can be very...blegh.  I guess you still need good light to make it work.

But I still decided to go out, despite the fact that I thought the images would turn out like they did.  Also decided to call a friend to torture tag along with.  Dan and I talked a little bit about how to expose for snow, and a little about composition, but very quickly we started talking about what is a good image.  Many times, other people seem to like some of our photos that we ourselves do not see as our best. We started talking about how everyone brings their own personal experiences when they view your photos.  Many times reading into an image with more than what was intended.  And conversely how people may not see what you saw.

I was trying not to feel depressed (weather didn't help) but soon realized that it doesn't really matter what everyone thinks about my photography.  Especially the photography that I do for my own enjoyment.  I starting thinking about what I do like, and what does make me think.  After the photo below, I remembered I still like a human element in my photos.  For me it grounds the location with a scale and shows the meaning of the place.  But that is just my philosophy on photography.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

hike challenge - shoot like its film

Digital is a great tool, and probably one of the reasons I am still into photography.  I love that it doesn't cost $0.40 each time the shutter fires, so I can ditch 80% of my my photos without cringing.  But sometimes I have found myself machine-gunning away and "choosing the best photo" later.  Not entirely bad (sometimes) but not entirely good either.  So I revisited a practice I once had, a more methodical and intentional approach to photography.  Emma and I took a hike in the morning and I decided to bring along my camera and treat it as it if had film in it.  Here is EVERY photo I took...usually I only display 80-90%.

This was an exercise in craft, not an attempt to create the best body of work that I could.  (Keep in mind, I had a 4 month old on my back too.)  So these will not be heading to the portfolio...but I might have learned something in the process, and that was really the point

Friday, November 23, 2012

a photography post without any photos

This may or may not become an actually blog post…so if your reading this, I got gutsy.

So, why have I not posted in a long time?
I was one of those well intentioned photo bloggers that decides to post 3 times a week; have to little success and then drops off sharply.

Can I blame the fact that I just had my first born? Can I blame an international video trip and a major conference at work steeling my thoughts and energy?  Can I blame the fact I can’t think of anything else to say, or I wonder if what I have to say is relevant?

Not sure.

I have been thinking a lot about photography; don’t get me wrong, but mostly in the realm of how images are used in other mediums for story telling purposes.  How a set of images can be more impactful than a standalone image, or how a sequence of images can be used to reveal an idea.  Some of the examples I have been working with are still top secret, but after Urbana, I hope to.

I have also been thinking about simplifying my photography.  Carrying less gear, shooting less frames to get it right, and streamlining my storytelling abilities.

I have been thinking about what kind of images I really like to make.  If you look at this blog, you would think that I only shoot weddings and portraits.  While I do very much enjoy this, I am not sure if that is the only type of photography I want to show here.  That is one reason why I have not posted several of my latest weddings.  Probably an unwise choice, but I was hoping to space them out with more verity in-between.

I have been thinking about what type of photographer I want to be.  And to be honest…I don’t know.

But should I know?  I mean, every blog out there that talks about “vision” seam to say that you should pursue your one faction of photography and do it well.  Yes, I really do agree with this.  Specializing is the best way to become really good at something.  But I don’t know what I want to specialize in.

I know that I tend to be drawn to people in places.  I know I like nature and macro, but only for fun…and I never feel compelled by those images.  I know I am not a candid street photographer or an artsy/abstract shooter either.  So, I guess that is why portraits and weddings work seems to be a focus, but that is not necessarily what I want to specialize in.

I guess this is turning into a rant.

I was talking to a friend of mine about Golf (you know, Badger Vance) and he said, "It's a game that can't be won only played."

I have been thinking the same thing about making images.
There are a lot of other pithy quotes out there about similar things: like "its the journey not the destination." And such like that...maybe that is where I should take comfort, that I am on the journey and I am not designed to feel like I have arrived.

Monday, September 24, 2012

swaziland gear

InterVarsity's twentyonehundred productions sent me to Swaziland for a 10 day shoot.  I was to direct a film crew to produce several videos, as well as create 25 family portraits.  The specifics and reason for the project is still top secret, so I can't tell you until after Urbana 12.  Below is the camera gear that I took.

As I was unpacking I realized how little actual photo gear I had taken, and how much support and living gear I needed.  Things like chargers, power adapters, Malaria meds, main and backup hard drives, a notebook, and audio capture equipment...and more that is still packed.

There are so many "what in my bag" posts on the internet that seem to celebrate how much a photographer likes to carry, when in reality there is so much more to 'photography gear' than lenses and camera bodies.

Monday, September 10, 2012

clear filters

This is why you use a clear filter on your lenses.

Camera and lens are fine, because the filter took the brunt of the fall off my desk.  So, make sure you have a clear filter on all your lenses.  UV will work, but SkyLight will not because it adds a blue cast.

And while we are on the subject, a lens cap would not have helped much here...I do not believe in them anyway, they just get in the way.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

wendy and ed wedding

"Are you here for the Carnival Wedding?"  That is what the museum attendant asked me upon arriving at Ed and Wendy's wedding (they were married at a small Art Museum in Milwaukee.)  I think it was in response to the fact that they had lawn games, face painting, a costume filled photo booth, and a charactercher artist for their reception.  Even with all of that, this was one of the best locations I have shot a wedding at; with lots of character in the building, and great settings like a terrace, gardens, and big (since it was outside) I had a great quantity of light, that's good if used right.

Figuring out how to use the harsh noon light was something I have been working on for a while.  Proof that practice before pays off when you need it.  I knew that I needed to keep my subjects in the shade as much as possible.  To do this, I utilized parasols, garden foliage, and overhangs.  It was also helpful that by the the time we got the the reception, the balcony that we were using was in open shade (shade created by a building, but nothing above.) 

Some more great light came in the evening, when I could use back light to create drama.  Below is natural back light from the setting sun, and for the dancing I used my flash for a similar effect.

You may remember their pre-wedding portraits: their first "fun" set here, and then the "serious" set here.  These two are a joy to photograph, and a joy to spend the day with.  "Carnival Wedding" probobly doesn't explain it right, but it was a lot of fun!

Thanks again Ed and Wendy.