Friday, June 29, 2012

a sunset is only a background anymore

After 2 separate portrait sessions, I had to quickly turn the car around as I passed these views.  Pays to have the camera with you sometimes.

It wasn't just the sunset that made me stop (those are not as exciting to photograph anymore) it was the foreground.  The water and the trees add enough to make the sunset worth stopping for.  Without the foreground, the sunset is boring.  OK, not boring to look at, boring to photograph, get yourself some context and it is amazing!


Monday, June 25, 2012

franny and ray portraits

Setting is important in the photography I choose to make.  But the subject is more important.  The evening that I met up with Franny and Raw turned out to be a beautiful evening for a walk in the woods.  Didn't know that when we scheduled it, but things work out sometimes.  I was actually having trouble finding good locations because everywhere I looked had potential.  As soon as we got into the swing of things I realized that it really didn't matter, Franny and Ray were having so much fun that the setting became secondary and I started to try and capture them.

The photo shoot turned into an observational documentary at times.  I would tell them to stand over there, walk away, and by the time I turned around there was a fun moment happening.  I shot a couple frames, had them look at me for a portrait, and we moved on.

This last photo is a great example of how a scene just falls into place, and each frame gets better and better....might try and talk about this more later.

Friday, June 22, 2012

camera button friday - seeing light

At our last Photo Group, I talked a little bit about light, but we spent most of our time walking around and photographed in good light.  The main points of my ramblings can be found here, but you really need to get out and play with light to really understand it.  That is what I tried to do in this workshop. For example here: different angles of light on the same subject.  Why and how does it look different?

You can search all over the internet for it and everyone is in agreement that the 'golden hour' is the best to shoot in, and it is not just because it looks golden.  It has everything to do with direction.  There are no harsh shadows underneath the subject, making it look like a black hole of shadows.  (Just a heads up, the 'golden hour' is not really an hour, it is the 30 minutes or so before sunset, or after sunrise.)

Another benefit to the direction, is how it renders shapes that are normally flat looking, like here, where the light was creeping over these hills.  At another time of day, the entire field would be lit, creating less drama on the landscape and not accentuation the rolling hills.

I also talked about how clouds effect your subject.  If you are in full sun (nothing between the sun and your subject) you have to watch out for floating clouds.  If they pass in front of the sun right as you take your photo, it will change how the object looks.  This is obvious, but not to many people are aware enough to think about it.  Similarly, on a cloudy day, you have to watch out for including the sky in your shots, it will often lead to white, unattractive sky's.

As I walked around, I started to play with shafts of light.  Below are two photos in one to show how I found the light; the top image of the entire scene, the bottom is the photo I was going for; just the shaft of light.

I started to realize that I really like the drama that these shafts of light create.  If I expose for the highlights, I know the shadows will go black, creating great contrast and therefore drama.


I started also playing with backlight more.  I have become a fan of it (if you havn't noticed) and really wanted to experiment more and see how far I could push it.

All of these examples here are of one evening, in one setting.  There are a lot of ways to see light in many different scenes, and different conditions.  So, the main point is that you have to go and practice.  This is mostly because you have to train yourself to see light the way your camera does.  Observe the light, and wonder how to create an image with what is in front of you.  Sometimes this means intentionally going out to find great light at the right time, and place something interesting in front of your camera.  But you have to see the difference between what your eye sees and what your camera sees, so that when you see something you can know if it will be worth taking the time to pursue

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

max's senior portraits

I love portraits that use the environment that they are taken in to tell something about the subject.  So I was having a little too much fun with Max's senior portraits, because we met at his family farm for the shoot.

There were great, big, beautiful clouds rolling through the farmland we were in, which really makes it hard sometimes to take advantage of the good light when you are trying to balance several variables (exposure, flash, and what to do with the shadows.) So, we often setup and waited.  Just have to be patient I guess.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

mr eddies story - lessons on story telling

A couple months ago (see first post here) I took a solo trip to New York City to shoot a video for InterVarsity.  I was privileged to meet Mr. Jones and Mr. Eddie, the coordinator and cook for the NYC Love Kitchen.

Many times when we tell stories, we include the many little events and milestones that have brought us to where we are now.  While that is important and interesting when sitting down for coffee, it is actually really hard for a film to convey (let alone a 3 minute video that i usually do.) Taking a look at some of my favorite stories (Finding Nemo, Wall-E, Darjeeling Limited, Moulin Rouge) you may get a glimpse into what happened before the film starts but the film is more about a short period of this persons grand story.  Talking with a friend who teaches high school English, Christian stated, "A story is about a character, in a setting, in a moment."

This made me rethink the normal way I tell a story through video.

So I started think more about what I should NOT include in the video.  I no not need to include all the back story of how we got to now...but I can let is influence the conflict of the current story if it is relevant.

Another added element came when I took a story telling seminar by Nate Clarke (Film maker.) We were talking about visuals in a story when he said, "Don't think of it as B-Role, think of it as part of the story."  I started to wonder what would it would be like if there were actually 2 story arks, one visual, one thoughtful narration, that when combined are better than one trying to do both.

In aplication for Mr. Eddies story, I asked myself, "what would it look like to ask him about what hunger is instead of how he became homeless?"  Below is one of the videos that emerged from this trip, a promotional video for InterVarsity’s Urban Project Ministry.

Urban Project promo - Mr Eddie from InterVarsity twentyonehundred on Vimeo.

We are now planning more stories like this for Urbana 12, this character driven story telling has been dubbed, the Mr Eddie Style.  I think I am ok with that.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

corn at the brat fest

The Wisconsin Brat Fest is claiming that they are the larges in the world... probably because no one else has one.  But we usually go every year as a symbol of our attempt to be like a Wisconsin-ite.  We have tasted some great Brats over the last couple years so this year at the Brat Fest we were disappointing by the generic brats they served.  We got fire roasted sweet corn in stead.  Awesome!  

Going with friends also makes it a blast.

And an impending storm.