Category Archives: Shooting

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Editor’s Picks Module 6 Heart Shaped Shadow

A simple thing can be tremendously creative.

That’s the only thing I can say with last week 6’s module “Heart Shaped Shadow.” The limits of the assignment–fixed lighting, fixed set up–did not deter the Tribe from producing some poetic images of hearts.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Ker GL 2012.

My heart aches when I look at this image. Ker used an unusually shaped ring, producing concentric shadows.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

Einstein wins creative lighting award of the week with his rendering of this assignment. He used a flashlight, itself having a circular light, to make a heart shaped light haloing the shadow heart.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Schalk Ras 2012.

Schalk is beginning to show a signature in his images–he abstracts the background with the undulations of the edge of the book he used, contrasting the lines pages of the diary.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Cynthia Swidler 2012.

Finally, Cynthia uses the page of the book to balance her composition.

 If you want to join in making weekly photography projects with some cool people in 2012, (and learn lots of things), head on over to our new Facebook page (and like us!), where you can participate in project modules, get some feedback, talk photography, and have your photography featured in a monthly roundup!

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Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the orange RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
6 Ways to Start Your Photography Hobby
Easy Way to Dodge and Burn Photos without Destroying Pixels
5 Myths about Creativity a Photographer Should Bust
Does Gear Really Make You a Better Photographer?
10 Small Things that make a Big Difference in Your Photos

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Tips and Tricks from Module 5 Editor’s Picks: “Time”

The camera can be told to take a picture of time.

That’s what the Imagine That Photography Tribe proved this week with their images. The assignment was to use shutter speed to create photos of motion, implying the passing of time. We used the techniques of panning and slow shutter exposures to make our images.

Here are the highlights of what we learned.

1. Panning can be done in bright light, with some adjustments.

 

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

These two photos, above and below, show some shadows, and the shadows indicate where the light is coming from.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright David Ng Soon Thong

The first photo shows a shadow directly below the subject, so this photo was taken during the middle of the day, when the light is brightest.  In the second photo, the shadows are in the foreground, telling us that the light is directly in front of the camera, behind the panned subjects.

Panning during the middle of the day might result in a photo with blown out highlights. The slow shutter allows so much light in, since the shutter is left open longer, that the highlights are able to reflect too much light into the lens.

How could we use the panning in the middle of the day? To reduce the light coming into the lens, we can do these things:

  • Use a Neutral Density filter to block out some of the light, resulting in a better exposure.
  • Use a polarizing filter, which has the same effect, except the filter is blue instead of gray.
  • Convert the photo to a black and white, to hide the blown out highlights.

2. Water is hard to expose with a slow shutter, except when you can control light.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Ker Geok Lan 2012.

These two slow shutter shots were taken when the light was still bright. We can see that the cameras had a bit of trouble holding on to detail in the whites or highlights. This is also because the shutter is left open for longer, allowing more light in, resulting in the whites in the scene reflecting too much light.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Einstein Lavina 2012.

The solutions would be to use Neutral Density filters, a small aperture (f/22 if possible), and a tripod.

3. Panning can be done in a non- linear motion.

Cynthia made a comment about her photo of the skater, How could she have panned this shot when the motion was not linear?

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Cynthia Swidler 2012.

Vincent gave us the answer to Cynthia’s question. Changing the point of view and using a slow shutter for the same motion as the subject can result in a non-linear technique.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

4. Different shutter speeds are necessary for panning different moving objects.

In the Module, it was suggested that all things being equal, walking people usually render sharp in the image at around 1/15s, and motorbikes or slow moving cars around 1/30s. Schalk’s photo of a fast moving car is a little blurred because probably the shutter speed was a little slow for the subject. This teaches us to experiment with different shutter speeds for different subjects, to make the subject sharp in the photo using panning technique.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Schalk Ras 2012.

 

Sarah’s photo of the swinging boy shows us that she focused on his face as she panned back and forth. The boy’s face is the sharpest part of the photo.

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Copyright Sarah Darr 2012.

5. Panning and slow shutter make colors pop in low light.

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Vincent Ng 2012.

Vincent’s photo of a parade at night is bursting with color. The slow shutter allowed the night lights to blend in the blur as he panned the people.

6. Change the lens, change the image.

Finally, we learn that a particular focal length can change the image. This photo of star trails (during a very cold night!) was shot with a zoom at the long end. The long lens caused an effect that seems to ‘flatten’ the elements in the frame.  Had Sarah chosen a wider frame by using a different lens, she might have got a different effect in the photo.

 

Imagine That Photography Tribe

Copyright Sarah Darr 2012.

What I learned from the Tribe from Module 5 is to constantly experiment with techniques and equipment, to get different results. Then, learn from the results. Yay to the Tribe! I hope you will continue to practice your slow shutter technique and panning, and have fun with your interpretations of motion and time.

How would you like to learn photography one module at a time? Head over to our Facebook page and Like us so you can be updated every time a module is posted. Share your photos and get some feedback. And get a chance to have your photos featured in Editor’s Picks posts and a monthly wrap up of lessons!

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Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage.

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11 Ways to Build a Better Photo
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sunset at Huntington Beach California copyright Aloha Lavina

10 Things About Light that will Make Your Photos Pop

In a completely dark room, you can take a 24-hour exposure and get this photo:

 

Your camera needs light, no matter how little, to make an exposure.

So knowing that light is the most important ingredient for you to cook up your photo, it’s important to know some things about the behavior of light. You can learn to see how light affects your subject, and use that knowledge to make your photos pop. Here are ten things about light that can help you see the light and make your photos pop.

1. Light on a subject can be direct.

Light from a source directly shining on your subject is called direct light. Say you make your subject face the sun. The whole subject will be lit, creating no shadows.

2. Light on a subject can be reflected light.

You can also have reflected light on a subject. This is when the light source hits a surface which does not allow the light to pass through it. That light will bounce off the surface and hit the subject.

Quality of light copyright Aloha Lavina illustration about light source and how it lights a subject

Light can be direct or reflected back to the subject.

 3. Light is directional.

Light is like water in that it spreads as far as the space it hits. But if the light source moves, that light will also move. You can choose different light directions for a subject depending on the effect you want to achieve. Sometimes, you might want backlit photos. Other times, you might want side lighting, where the light is coming from one side of the subject.

4. Light produces shadows when it hits a solid object.

If you use a light source that is shining on one side of your subject, that side lighting will create shadows on the opposite side of the subject if your subject is solid.

surfers and shadows copyright Aloha Lavina

Light from the sun produces shadows when it hits the surfers.

5. Shadows produced by light define your subject’s shape.

Shadows create the illusion of shape in a two-dimensional photograph because shadows help to define shape. Without a contrast between light and shadow, all you’ve got is something like this:

A flat image, two dimensional to our eyes. No shadows define the shape.

6. Light is softer when it’s from a bigger source.

Light that is from a big source is softer because it loses intensity as it moves through space to hit the subject. (There’s a mathematical way to compute how size affects the intensity of the light, but that’s another tutorial for a whole different blog.)

portrait in natural light copyright Aloha Lavina

Light on the model's forehead is directly from the window and is harsher than the softer reflected light on the blue part of the scarf.

7. Light is harsh when small.

When the light is focused around a small space, its intensity increases. So if you could funnel a light toward a subject, the light on the subject will be very bright.

open hands faceless portrait Balinese woman copyright Aloha Lavina

Midday light makes both light and shadow intense.

 8. Soft light produces soft shadows.

Because shadows are direct products of light hitting solid objects, soft light also produces soft shadows. So in the early morning when the light is soft, shadows are soft.

soft shadows on hills Batanes Batan Island Philippines copyright Aloha Lavina

Soft morning light means soft shadows, too.

9. Harsh light produces harsh shadows.

Conversely, as we increase the intensity of the light, the intensity of the shadows will also increase. At noon when the light is directly over us, shadows are normally harsher than they are in the early morning.

10. Reflected light carries the color of the surface on which it bounces.

If you reflect a light on a surface that reflects one color, the light will take on the color of that reflective surface. That means if you stand close to a red car and we take your photo, the parts of you that are lit by the light reflected off the red car will have a red tinge. This is partly the reason why it is so exciting to shoot during the times when light has a lot of yellows, such as early morning. The hues in the sunlight bounce off everything and there is a glow in the things that you photograph.

sunset at Huntington Beach California copyright Aloha Lavina

Reflected light on the sand and water at sunset.

Seeing the light and understand how it affects your image is something that you can learn. Try this last tip—go out without your camera with the goal of finding direct light or reflected light. Without the pressure of having to take a photo, your eyes will learn how light hits different things.

I promise you’re going to want to take your camera with you, next time.

If you want to journey with me as I rekindle my love for all kinds of photography in 2012, and learn lots of things along the way, head on over to our new Facebook page (and like us!), where you can participate in project modules, get some feedback, talk photography, and have your photography featured in a monthly roundup!

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Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
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Drying squid in Pran Buri, Thailand copyright Aloha Lavina

Composition and the Use of Color

Some days, it’s better to think in black and white.

If you are learning how to use lines and shapes to create great compositions, shooting for monochrome images is a great way to hone those skills.

Black and white photography is a great way to learn composition because it concentrates on techniques that emphasize content, contrast, and most importantly, form.

Forms in the frame, like what the Photography Tribe‘s Module 3 is about, are emphasized in BW photography—those shapes and lines that combine to make the composition.

Documentary Style

Documentary style photography, of which photojournalism and street photography are part, focuses mostly on content. Photos that document events tell stories within the frame, so color may or may not be that important in the image.

Fishermen in Pran Buri copyright Aloha Lavina

Documentary photography focuses on content.

If the colors add to the image, such as in this photo of a fishing boat setting out to sea, taking a color image may be a good decision. In documentary imagery, shooting in color is as much a decision as what to include in the frame. If the color adds to the image, it is better to use color.

Colorful fishing boat, Pran Buri Thailand copyright Aloha Lavina

Color was a must here with the fishing boat, reflection and blue sky and water.

If I had converted this photo of drying squid against a blue sky to a monochrome image, it would not have had the better effect. The contrast between the warm colors of the drying squid and the sky makes for a pleasing combination. It also gives extra information that’s pertinent—that it’s a hot day, perfect for the business of drying squid.

Drying squid in Pran Buri, Thailand copyright Aloha Lavina

Color added contrast and context in this photo of drying squid in Thailand.

 

But sometimes, a lack of color is a better choice.

When I took the photo above of the two fishermen with their almost empty net, I realized that although it sort of works as a documentary style image, the composition itself lacked impact. The background interfered with its clutter. If my goal is to improve composition, I had to zoom in and work only on lines, shapes, and contrast to make compositions that worked better.

Shooting Form: Lines, Shapes, and Textures

Filling the frame with a set of lines and shapes is a technique used in black and white photography. Black and white photography works when the forms in the frame are the main emphasis.

In the photo below, the geometry of the basket acts as a background for the cluster of fish. The lines of the basket lead the eye to the fish. The harmony of the uniform linear shapes makes a good contrast with the more curvy lines of the fish at the nexus of the composition.

Fish in a plastic basket in Pran Buri Thailand copyright Aloha Lavina

Geometry in a composition without distracting color.

In this next photo, the rough texture of the net gives a good contrast between the smooth ones of the fish. The tones in the net are dark, setting off the highlights in the fish, creating a contrast that serves to push focus on the main subject, the fish.

Fish in net, Pran Buri Thailand copyright Aloha Lavina

Tonal contrast, lines, shape and texture without distracting color.

 

Shooting Form: Light

Another advantage of shooting in monochrome is that you can shoot during the times when most people consider the light ‘bad.’ I shot this image of the hanging cuttlefish at around one in the afternoon, when the light is directly overhead. But I noticed that the patterns of the wooden drying racks made some nice patterns of light and shadow on the hanging squid, and made the squid on top of the rack seem almost luminescent.

Hanging squid to dry, Pran Buri Thailand copyright Aloha Lavina

Form, shapes, contrast and light without distracting color.

The other reason why this worked better as a monochrome image was the presence of a very distinct pattern in the hanging squid, a pattern in the squid that was flat on top of the rack, and the natural frame of the drying rack itself.

Finally, the colors present in the image as it was originally shot did not add anything to the image. The sky was blue, but the squid was white and the background included a pink boat and a smattering of dark, water-stained wood. None of these colors really added to the image, so it made sense to make the final image in monochrome.

With today’s cameras where you can switch from color to monochrome easily, it might help to shoot in monochrome sometimes. It certainly helps you zoom in on content, focus on spotting contrast, and shoot for composition using forms in the frame. You can also convert easily to black and white using this method in Photoshop.

 

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Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
Hey Photographer! Who are You and What do You Believe?
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Are You Paying Attention?
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Voodoo queen photoshoot copyright Aloha Lavina 2011.

Gotta Believe in Magic

Sometimes, makeup makes it difficult for the model to stand out. Other times, the location might overpower a portrait.

But there are times when everything together creates a special magic.

Last month, my good friend and very talented MUA/Hair/Stylist Hilde Marie Johansen and I were fortunate to collaborate on a special shoot. The theme was “voodoo queen,” and Hilde really outdid herself with the styling. It was so exciting to watch her make the styling pieces for the shoot; it was like we were making a music video for Lady Gaga or something.Voodoo queen photoshoot copyright Aloha Lavina 2011.

The styling and makeup were very elaborate. Feathers, skulls, rope, shoulder pads, leg warmers made out of fake hair.  For the last set, Hilde glued hooks to the model Jasmine’s mouth and wove black thread in a criss cross pattern through them, creating a look that seemed as if her lips had been sewn together.Voodoo queen photoshoot copyright Aloha Lavina 2011.

Jasmine’s hair was perfect for the shoot—wild, thick and curly in a cloud around her face.

When you have a shoot for this type of elaborate styling and makeup, it’s important not to lose the model in the image. The styling and makeup is so powerful that the model really has to push through it all and still show emotion. Directing Jasmine was not difficult, as we had worked together for years. But I still had to be alert and give her a lot of feedback on how her poses and facial expressions affected the shot.Voodoo queen photoshoot copyright Aloha Lavina 2011.

Another concern I had was to choose backgrounds that would complement the portrait instead of cluttering the image and competing with the complicated styling and makeup. When I chose the locations for this photo shoot, I mostly looked for maximum two colors in the background, and if possible, a drab background. We were lucky to have found three different places that worked. One had tall grass and sky, another was a dark wooded area, and another was a small cluster of trees beside a country road.Voodoo queen photoshoot copyright Aloha Lavina 2011.

It’s not every day that you get to have a photo shoot when everything seems to work together, but it helps if you plan it well.

Here’s some things we did before the shoot:

  1. We discussed the concept together and made sure we understood the look were looking for.
  2. We agreed on a budget.
  3. Each of us interpreted the concept according to our roles in the collaboration. Hilde went to buy the styling items, and we shared photos that became our mood board, or a sort of storyboard of sample lighting, styling, poses and backgrounds that put us in the ‘mood’ for the shoot.
  4. We discussed the location (we had been there before) and what type of light would suit the shoot.

We had also wanted to shoot some behind the scenes video footage of our process, so here is the resulting video.

 

 

 

 

Floating mosque, Penang. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Let the Rain Help Your Photography

After months of monsoon rains in Asia, we have grown tired of the water.

But there’s always a positive side to everything, and rain has a positive effect on photography.

In Penang for a break from the stress of flooding in Thailand, I was in the Ko Si Lak temple when it started to pour. You could see the rain in sheets from the high vantage point, drenching Georgetown below the hill.

Later near Tanjung Bunga, storm clouds threatened ominously in the horizon while I watched a couple of fishermen replace a defective rotorblade on their boat.

Stormy weather can help add drama to photographs.

Rain clouds over Georgetown, Penang. Copyright Aloha Lavina.The itinerant photographer can use the signs of an impending storm to capture this drama in their photography.Storm approaches near Tanung Bunga, Penang. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Here are some things I’ve learned about shooting in the rain:

1.  Protect the camera and lens the affordable way.
While cameras and lenses are supposed to be weather proof to some extent, it’s best not to risk destroying them in your quest for great rainy day shots. Protecting your camera and lens using a plastic bag, tied at the opening with a rubber band, is a simple way of waterproofing your gear.

2. Get a waterproof bag for the rest of your stuff.
Kata and Lowepro which I have used, have these nifty raincovers that fold out over the bag. I pull them over the bag at the first sign of a drizzle, to protect the lenses and other equipment in the bag.

3. Watch out for lightning.
Great shots are good to go after, but not if you put yourself in danger. If you’re photographing in open space, say a field with little shelter, you might want to leave that place at the first sign of lightning.

4. Wipe down your gear as soon as you get back to your home or hotel.
To avoid getting moisture in your equipment, wipe down your camera and lenses with a cloth as soon as you reach the hotel or your home.

5. Keep a rain parka, or a large trash bag in your camera bag.
A rain parka is not expensive and can be tucked away in your camera bag. Similarly, if you’re winging it in a foreign country where it rains a lot, you can get large garbage bags and tuck a couple into your camera bag. If you desperately need to keep dry, you can cut a hole in the sealed end for your head, a couple holes for your arms, and you’ve got a ready rain poncho.

Floating mosque, Penang. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Floating mosque, Penang. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

If you stick around while it’s raining and wait it out, you will enjoy an aftereffect of rain on the place where you are taking pictures. Water over a surface actually increases the saturation of its colors. This is beautiful to behold and even more beautiful to capture.

So don’t leave at the first sign of rain. If you hang around, you’ll have plenty more shots to make.

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Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
6 Ways to Start Your Photography Hobby
Easy Way to Dodge and Burn Photos without Destroying Pixels
5 Myths about Creativity a Photographer Should Bust
Does Gear Really Make You a Better Photographer?
10 Small Things that make a Big Difference in Your Photos

Monk framed by doorway in Bhutan copyright Aloha Lavina.

10 Small Things that Make a Big Difference in Your Photos

I was watching my students at a recent workshop for emerging hobbyists. Walking around with the group, I noticed some images that they just walked past. In one instance, I saw a leaf no bigger than the diameter of a 50mm lens, perched precariously on an old piece of wood, with afternoon light making beautiful shadows across the dried up leaf. My students walked past it. It got me thinking how differently you see, after you learn how to see images. There were some behaviors that I knew I would do, which I noticed my newbie class did not.

Little behaviors can make a difference in what the lens captures.

When you’ve been making images for a while, there are a few things you forget you learned, to make your photos better. These little things might make a big difference in the way your photographs turn out.

1. Large scenes are the first things we see, but don’t forget the small details.

It’s easy to see everything in a scene, all at once. It’s harder, and more beneficial, to zoom into a more limited space around the object, and capture that. Often, details within a scene make for better compositions because you have one focal point of interest and make it easier for the viewer to enter the image, and exit the image. The easier it is for the viewer to interact with your image, the better the experience for them.

BW leaves copyright Aloha Lavina.

Walking closer and taking a detail of a scene can sometimes be better than the entire scene itself.

2. Declutter the composition.

Decluttering the composition means including only the elements that you absolutely have to have in the image to make it work. It means excluding things that only serve to distract the viewer from the subject you’re focusing on. Half the work of making an effective image is looking at the space around the subject. If this space is not interfering with the attention the subject is getting, it is probably going to be an effective photograph.

Bhutan morning with mist and mountains copyright Aloha Lavina.

Simplify and make your composition cleaner.

3. Move in small steps around the subject.

It’s easy to get distracted and make dramatic sweeps around a subject. But it is more effective to take small steps around the subject to see the changes in the light and how a slightly different point of view would alter the resulting photograph. Moving in small steps allows you to get used to noticing nuance in your imagery—those small things that might make an image tell a more compelling story.

Bicycle headlight copyright Aloha Lavina.

Walk around the subject slowly and learn to see small changes when you move the vantage point.

4. Look for the light.

Light can make the difference between a snapshot and a stunner. Often, we are dazzled by the content of a shot—what’s in the picture. A funny looking dog, a beautifully rusty car, a cultural moment that seems mysterious. But these situations can be more beautiful if we find them in good light. Conversely, a mundane situation can actually be stunning when it is lit well. Since we most often encounter ordinary scenes (unless we are NatGeo photogs on assignment), we need to look for the light to make our ordinary scenes look extraordinary in our images.

Novice watching television in Divine Madman Temple, Bhutan copyright Aloha Lavina.

Light can make the simple more attractive.

5. Look for naturally-occurring frames.

There are elements everywhere that naturally frame a shot. Walls, doorways, foliage, and other objects around us often can serve as natural frames for our shots. Looking for these frames can give your photos depth, making your composition look three-dimensional.

Monk framed by doorway in Bhutan copyright Aloha Lavina.

Natural frames occur everywhere. Learn to see them and use them in your compo.

6. Don’t forget to look up.

It’s easy to keep your eyes in front of you, looking ahead. But the thing is, you will find some images are hiding above your head. Don’t forget to look up once in a while on your search for things to photograph. You never know what you might find.

lights in baskets copyright Aloha Lavina

Look up. Some photos are hiding above your head.

7. Keep your eyes focused on the subject while taking the picture.

Slight movement of the camera while it records the image on the sensor can result in blurry photos. Aside from learning a breathing technique and how to hold your camera properly, something you can practice is how to keep your eyes focused on your subject, through the viewfinder, until the sensor has completely recorded the image (which is estimated to be around two heartbeats). This helps you get a sharp photo.

Burmese dancers in Rangoon. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Keep your eyes on the subject, and give the camera time to record a sharp image.

8. Be patient.

Sometimes it takes a long time to focus a lens, or to finally get the one shot that will work. Be patient. I tell myself, Just because you show up with your lens doesn’t mean the universe is miraculously going to arrange itself into glorious harmonies. Anything that made you stop and think of taking a shot is something worth waiting for.

dragonfly at rest copyright Aloha Lavina.

Patience is a great teacher.

9. Get to know your camera well.

It’s important to get to know your camera well. Which buttons and what they do and where they are, are things you need to know well so you can change settings quickly as you respond to changing light or changing vantage points. Being able to change settings without having to peer into the camera every time is an advantage.

sunburst near Shwe Dagon Pagoda, Burma copyright Aloha Lavina.

Know your camera well, and catch a lot of shots you might miss by peering into camera controls too often.

10. Wake up early sometimes.

Photographers are crazy because we do anything to get a good shot. People get swept away in tsunamis, get knocked down by typhoons, and get hit by race cars because they are after a shot. Waking up early is less extreme, and it’s something that you can do if you want to get some amazing shots and enjoy the soft light of the day’s beginning.

Monk and alms giver in Ampawa Thailand copyright Aloha Lavina.

Wake up early and capture a surreally softly lit world.

What advice would you give to an emerging hobbyist?

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
Using the Background Effectively in Your Portraits
When You have to Wing it
From Idea to Image Part I: Planning
From Idea to Image Part 2: Lighting Clothing

How Different Lenses Help You See Creatively

Krystal Vee portrait by Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

8 Things that will Inspire Your Next Portrait Shoot

If you make portraits all the time, where do you get inspiration for a varied, exciting portfolio?

Many might say it’s one thing—their favorite face, a specific lighting type, or concepts. But if you really want to keep inspired and keep making beautiful pictures of people, it’s important to take inspiration from the photo shoot itself. If your favorite thing is missing from a shoot, you can still get inspiration from other factors that go into an awesome photo session.

Here are eight sources of inspiration for your next photo shoot.

1. Motion

portrait by Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

Add motion into a portrait and make it pop. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

We take still photos, but there is no reason why the results can’t be dynamic. One of the easiest ways to evoke this dynamism in your photograph is to ask the model to move. A slow series of motions can help you create fluidity in the image, especially in situations where your background or clothing may not be that colorful. The flavor of a movement can spice up a photo, giving it more impact.

2. Emotion

Krystal Vee portrait by Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

Evoke emotion from your subject. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Not all models are great actors, but there are techniques to bring out emotion in your subject. Playing music during a photo shoot, or talking about memories, can trigger emotion in the model. This is sort of delicate; you don’t want to have a model turning despondent on you during the shoot, so it’s important to be sensitive while directing a model’s emotional response. But you can evoke emotion that translates into a facial gesture that makes a portrait stand out.

3. Shapes and Lines

Krystal Vee portrait by Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

Shapes and lines can help you compose a portrait, even close up.

Sometimes, something as simple as circles and arrows or lines can make a portrait pop. Using these shapes to add contrast or texture, or using lines to lead to the face can help you get a good portrait.

4. Poses

Krystal Vee portrait by Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

Change up the poses and find some inspiration in your model's flexibility. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Changing it up during the shoot, directing the model to contort or show the extent of their flexibility can help you create unusual portraits. Constantly trying new directions for poses helps you learn versatility in your own direction skills, too, plus trains your model to visualize what their body is doing for an image.

5. Lighting and contrast

Krystal Vee portrait by Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

Contrasty lighting can help you make unusual portraits. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

If you are practicing making portraits with natural light, you can create situations that utilize the high contrast, harsh light that streams in even at midday. Because the light is so contrasty, your portrait will pop with the hard light and shadows. The trick here is to use exposure compensation well, as well as metering. Metering on the middle values (grays) can help you make sure both the shadows and light are delineated well, and underexposing a bit can help, too.

6. Location

portrait with foreground texture copyright Aloha Lavina.

I've never met vines that didn't inspire a portrait. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Some locations are better than others. Even if you have never been to the location before, spending a few minutes scouting around for things you can use to add texture, depth, or interest to the portrait can help inspire your portraiture.

7. A prop

Krystal Vee portrait by Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

A prop can help create frames, leading lines, and depth in a portrait. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

In case the location and lighting are not that amazing, you can always bring a prop. When using a prop, it’s often inspiring to challenge yourself—how will it enhance the photo? Is it the positioning, the texture? Can you use it to contrast the skin? To add a frame to the image? Using a prop can inspire creativity during a photoshoot.

8. Simplicity

Krystal Vee portrait by Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

Simple compositions can be inspiring. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

No matter what the situation, at times going back to basics can be a way to inspired portraiture. Simplicity often gives you a clean composition, a graphic quality to the photo, and an uncluttered result. If your background and clothing for instance are both gray, you can still create a pleasing portrait using lines, curves, and a fierce pose.

The next time you schedule a photo shoot, pay attention to these eight things. One of these might just be the inspiration you need to make stunning portraits.

 

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
Using the Background Effectively in Your Portraits
When You have to Wing it
From Idea to Image Part I: Planning
From Idea to Image Part 2: Lighting Clothing

How Different Lenses Help You See Creatively

tall dry grass copyright Aloha Lavina.

Using the Background Effectively in Your Portraits

Background is always part of image design. Incorporating a background effectively into a portrait is something that can enhance your image and make it unique.

Pay attention to geometry.

Because the brain likes to organize things into patterns, geometry is something that can enhance your portrait and make it pleasing to the viewer. Lines straight or curved, that lead to the subject can help to isolate the focal point of an image from all the other information that is in the design. Here the curve of the pool brings a variation into the square tile design that serves as the background to the image.

wedding portrait copyright Aloha Lavina

A curve can accentuate a portrait with a textured background.

Grunge can give an image a textured effect.

Grungy backgrounds look cool, but there’s actually an artistic purpose to using them. A grungy background helps to contrast, say, a subject with smooth skin. Placing the subject against a background with grunge and texture makes a portrait pop with contrast.

Nick Sotavongse Jewelry Design image copyright Aloha Lavina.

Grunge can give the added contrast to a model's smooth skin.

The background colors can give a portrait atmosphere and mood.

Especially at a shallow depth of field, say f/5.6, a portrait with a lot of texture in the background can help to separate the subject from what’s behind her. In this portrait, the green foliage is blurred by the shallow depth of field, rendering the outline of the model sharper in contrast. Although the background has texture, it doesn’t take away from the subject because it has a limited color palette.

portrait copyright Aloha Lavina.

A textured background can be less distracting at a shallow DOF.

The background can add dynamism to a portrait.

Even a background with lines that intersect the model’s figure can work to make a portrait more interesting. In this portrait, the grill pattern behind the model might seem to clash with the model especially in the complicated patterns of her clothing. But the lighting serves to separate the model from the background just enough to make her stand out. In addition, the background helps to ‘point’ to the Gaga-esque shoulder pads she’s wearing, giving the image the purpose for its design.

Vachini Kraikrish for Muse Hotel copyright Aloha Lavina.

Lines in the background can add a dynamic tension to a portrait.

A uniform texture in the background can help to make a portrait interesting and give it depth.

Even with the interesting colors of the sky, this portrait would have been less interesting without the tall dry grass behind the model. The grass serves two purposes, to create textures behind the model, and to give the image layers that give it visual mass. Without the grass, the portrait would have only had two visible planes, making the negative space of the sky less interesting.

tall dry grass copyright Aloha Lavina.

The background can add visual mass and depth to a portrait.

If you’re looking or a place to shoot this week, why not try to find similar backgrounds and try your hand at textured design in your portraits?

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
When You have to Wing it
From Idea to Image Part I: Planning
From Idea to Image Part 2: Lighting Clothing

How Different Lenses Help You See Creatively
Finding Good Photos Where They Hide

House of Jarvis jewelry Copyright Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

When You Have to Wing It

What do you do when you have to wing it during a shoot and you have little or no prior information?

Making it up as you go along is one of the most pressure-filled experiences you will have as a photographer. But remember, travel photogs and photojournos do it, so if they can, so can you.

The key is to be open and prepared for all the possibilities. One key to being able to wing it on location is to have all your gear ready. If it’s a portrait photoshoot, you need to pack all the light equipment you think you might need, something which you learn from experience, and once you’re on location, you need to summon every ounce of your creative problem solving to make your images work.

Here are some tips for when you have to make it up as you go along.

Don’t pack light.

I mean, weight-wise. For a shoot I did for a magazine cover, I brought six lights, so I would have twice as many as I needed in case something happened and some units failed. In the middle of the shoot at the location, a half-finished boutique hotel, there was a tour of the premises for a group of about ten employees. As they walked through the room where we were shooting, one of them knocked down one of my lightstands and the strobe and receiver attached to it broke into pieces as they hit the floor. I didn’t have time to stop except to glare at the offending person; I quickly removed the broken equipment to look at later, and replaced them with backup items.

Bring all kinds of light shapers, just in case.

I also brought a lot of light shapers. Good thing, because I had to do a reasonably wide portrait including the environment. The walls were dark, especially the black granite with the hotel logo which absolutely had to be in the shot. I couldn’t use a softbox because it would create a large reflection on the black granite. Also, I wanted to use the mirror in the shot, and had to have lighting that included the clothing, face, and everything else in its range. To light the subject’s face and clothes and have some nice fall-off around her, I attached a honeycomb grid to one strobe and used the mirror to reflect some of that light to light the environment.

Vachini Kraikrish for Muse Hotel Copyright Aloha Lavina.

A honeycomb grid made this shot possible. Copyright Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

Create the look using the environment.

For another shoot, I had never been to the location. All I knew was, the client wanted the photos to look ‘mysterious.’ So while the model was going through makeup and hair styling, I walked around with a flash unit and lit it at various rooms in the location. Even the bathroom. The bathroom had a ledge with some candles on it, so I decided to light the candles to create separation between the subject and the wall. Then I used one light to light the model and the jewelry for which this image was a branding shot.

House of Jarvis jewelry Copyright Aloha Lavina. All rights reserved.

Scouting the location on the spot with a flash unit helped with this one. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Bring a range of focal lengths.

I’ve preached about the advantages of using just one lens, but at times when you have to wing a shoot, you don’t want to be caught without a focal length that will give you the images you need. Bringing a range of different focal lengths makes sure you have the right lens for the shot you want.

One of the questions I always ask before a shoot is, what type of shots does the client need? Usually you will be asked to do a variety of shots, for example, some wide full body shots with environment included, half-body shots, and closeup shots. This range means you might be using from 24mm to 85mm. When I am shooting for a jewelry company, I always ask if they want product closeups as well. If they do, I remember to pack my 105mm macro and 60mm macro lenses along with the 24mm-85mm range.

Aysha with necklace copyright Aloha Lavina.

Bring a range of focal lengths when you don't know the types of shots you'll be making. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Bring useful accessories that have nothing to do with lighting or lenses.

I always bring safety pins, hairpins, double clips of varying sizes, and clamps, and bungee balls with me. Safety pins are useful for clamping down dresses that are too big. Hairpins take care of hair that’s stubbornly distracting in a shot. Double clips are good for holding up reflectors if you don’t have an assistant. And the most useful accessory for me is the bungee ball. It’s elastic and attaches around objects, so I can place flash units onto poles, branches and other objects when it’s awkward or impossible to use a lightstand.

Winging it might not be advisable for a portrait photographer, but if you absolutely have to make it up as you go along, it is not impossible. With thorough preparation, you too can create on the spot.

 

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
From Idea to Image Part I: Planning
From Idea to Image Part 2: Lighting Clothing

How Different Lenses Help You See Creatively
Finding Good Photos Where They Hide

Mono Lake another photographer moved into my shot. She knew I was there. I was there 2 hours before she got there. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

If Miss Manners were a Photographer…

Imagine having the time for one sunset at a park to shoot a landscape.

Imagine you flew to the country where the park is, 8,263 miles from where you live, a 16-hour flight. You booked a hotel nearby at (higher) summer prices. You rented a car.

You spent months dreaming about that sunset.

Finally you are there, set up with your tripod with a decent composition, finger on the remote trigger for your dSLR.

At the perfect moment, you’re going to take the shot.

Then another photographer moves into your frame and sets up her tripod smack in the middle of your viewfinder.

The sun sinks. So does your dream of getting an uncluttered sunset at this park, an experience you paid thousands of dollars to photograph.

If Miss Manners were a photographer, what would she say about other photographers who deliberately or inadvertently insert themselves into our frame?

Mono Lake another photographer moved into my shot. She knew I was there. I was there 2 hours before she got there. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

I got there two hours before you. And here I am photographing your behind.

Be attentive to what’s going on around you.

It’s very easy to get lost in your head when shooting, especially with a beautiful setting and a sunset. But because there may be more than one photographer around, it is good manners to check if you are stepping into someone else’s frame. Even tourists wait their turn to photograph each other in front of one tourist site or other. This courtesy is something that can only be practiced if we pay attention to what others are doing around us.

Know how much a lens can ‘see.’

The person who stepped in front of the shot had a long lens. The photographer who set up her tripod first had a 16-35mm lens. The person with the long lens (if she knew her stuff), just looking at the photographer who already set up before her, would have known that she would be in the other photographer’s frame.

She would still have gotten good frames with her own telephoto even if she did not intrude on someone else’s frame. The lens was long enough to make images even if she was standing behind the other photographer.

Who got there first.

Shooting over someone’s shoulder. Really?

You can’t buy a photographic eye. You can’t steal it, either.

Shooting over someone’s shoulder is basically stealing their composition, especially if you are intruding on their personal space. There are folks who pay someone to ‘teach’ them in a workshop and end up just shooting over the instructor’s shoulder if the instructor has their own camera held up to their face.

News bulletin: you can’t get better if you have to depend on someone else’s eye to create a good image. There are no shortcuts to getting better at photography. There is only the hard work of finding your own point of view.

Portrait session kept walking and posing in the frame.

Another sunset, another person's butt in front of the wide angle lens.

Later on the photographer who traveled far for the foiled sunset went to another location for another sunset.

There were three portrait sessions going on at that location. One of the three portraitists for hire kept posing their clients wherever the wide-angle lens of the landscape shooter pointed. Total aggravation.

So tell me, should photographers develop some manners, or is this rude inattentiveness something we should teach in photo workshops in future?

Burmese man and cheroot copyright Aloha Lavina

10 Things to Shoot When You Have Absolutely No Clue

Some days, it just sucks to be out with a camera.

Content is unexciting. It seems like there’s nothing to shoot.

When days like this happen, it causes you despair. Here you are, with a fully charged camera battery. Your memory card is poised and ready for harmonies to happen in front of your lens.

And nothing.

Or is there really nothing?

On days when you’re absolutely clueless what to shoot, go outside and find some of these situations that could very well be what you need to get those creative brainstorms.

1. Look for lines.

Because humans like order, we build things that have linear features. We also attribute linear features to things that aren’t really lines, like the stream of clouds that seem to form when we tilt a wide angle lens. People form lines; there are ropes and wires and structures that form lines. You never know where lines may lead you: they might lead to inspiration.Balinese morning copyright Aloha Lavina.

2. Go to a show.
Some dinner shows, like this dance show in a restaurant in Bangkok, have performances where they allow tourists to use their cameras. Enjoy a nice dinner out, and when the show begins, try to capture beautiful parts of the performances. The artistic expression on the performers may just nudge your creative spirit into making some great imagery.Dancer copyright Aloha Lavina.

3. Look for emotion on faces.

People are constantly interacting, even just outside your street. Go to a crowded place, have your camera ready, and snap away at a respectful distance when people begin to show emotion on their faces. You never know the portraits you might make when people show emotion.Burmese girl with thanaka and smile copyright Aloha Lavina.

 4. Look for shapes.

Geometry is a great subject because it’s everywhere. Especially when the light is coming from one side of a scene, shapes can become beautiful.Rocks on roof in Bhutan copyright Aloha Lavina.

5. Shoot a simple theme.
Sometimes, all it takes to focus your creative energy is a simple theme, like “sticks.” It will amaze you how much you can find on one theme, just by focusing on it. You will also discover that a simple theme can be expressed in so many different ways, and this discovery just might inspire you.Inle Lake in duotone copyright Aloha Lavina.

6. Look for texture.

Texture is everywhere—on a man’s face, on someone’s hands. Texture is found in almost every surface on earth. Finding textures and ways to show them can inspire the most mundane day.Burmese man and cheroot copyright Aloha Lavina

7. Look for action.

Like emotion, people are constantly in action. Practice your camera shutter priority settings, and capture action. You don’t have to go to a sport stadium to find action, either. You can find children playing, people rushing from one place to another, just outside your neighborhood.Burmese boy diving into lake copyright Aloha Lavina.

8. Find reflections.

Reflections are great to photograph. You might find inspiration in beauty reflected on a surface, and make some imagery that has story and impact.Burmese woman on lake and reflection copyright Aloha Lavina.

 9. Shoot numbers.

Like themes, numbers can guide your shoot, and become a focal point toward inspiration. Take the number 3. For some reason, our brains love things that come in threes. You could practice your composition and photographer’s eye by spotting this number in your subjects.Three rice farmers in Burma copyright Aloha Lavina.

10. Play with the camera’s timer.

Setting your camera down at a café or restaurant table, and then using its timer to capture images on slow shutter can yield some interesting results. You might wait for an interesting moment to move into the front of your lens before you press the shutter.Selling silver rings in low light copyright Aloha Lavina.

Once in a while, you might feel some despair that you don’t know what else to shoot. Maybe you can try some of these tips, and start getting back into seeing images. As someone once said, it’s not really what’s in the image that is important. It’s how you make the image out of mundane things.

What do you shoot to get your vision back?

15mm lens portrait copyright Aloha Lavina.

How Different Lenses can Help You See Creatively

Watching Zack Arias’ video blog for the Kelby site inspired me yesterday. One of the questions Zack asked in the introduction of the video is, “What do I bring to the table that countless others have not already served up on this massive platter of visual pollution that we create each and every day?”

Zack’s question is probably something we ask ourselves as we try, each and every day, to get better at our craft. How do we interpret a vision with the tools we have? There is no button that says, “Joe McNally” on our dSLR that we can push if we want a photo worthy of a National Geographic feature.

A teacher once told me, When you’re in doubt about something abstract, go back to the concrete. I’m still trying to follow that advice; it’s helped me learn daily.

When we think about seeing creatively, and creating from that vision, it’s such an overwhelmingly large topic that we need to break it down into concrete modules, things we can do today that adds to and strengthens that vision.

We can begin with our tools.

The lens you have attached to your dSLR is an extension of your vision. Through that lens, you can create an interpretation of what you see before you. This interpretation is your vision, the way you say things that you see. How does the lens you use affect that vision?

1. Your lens determines how you frame an image.

Your lens can help you include things in the frame, or exclude things from it. Try going out with a couple of lenses to photograph a single scene. How does a wide angle’s inclusiveness change the story? How does the story change when you photograph the scene with a telephoto? The differences between what we can include or exclude using different focal lengths of lenses determines a lot of the story we present in a resulting frame.

2. Lenses change your point of view.

Because the focal length of lenses can include or exclude, using a different lens to take a photo changes your point of view. A lens that sees the same way the eye can see, namely the 50mm ‘normal’ lens, allows you to take photographs that echo what you see without the camera pressed to your face. A wide angle, say a 24mm lens, gives you a wider view; you can see more background, more foreground. The environmental details around your subject that you capture with a wide angle lens changes your point of view because you now have the ability to use these environmental details to add to the story.

Manila Bay at 50mm Copyright Aloha Lavina.

At 50mm, the lens 'sees' the way our eyes do. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

3. Different lenses affect an image in different ways.

At the different edges of the spectrum of focal length effects, different things happen in your frame.

A wide angle lens like the 24-70mm can distort the subject. For instance, if you use a wide angle lens for a portrait where the subject leans toward you, their face shows up much bigger than their hands. Wide lenses can ‘see’ what’s closer as bigger, and what is farther as smaller.

15mm lens portrait copyright Aloha Lavina.

15mm lens renders visible distortion in a portrait. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Telephoto lenses, such as a 70-200mm, tend to ‘flatten’ elements in the frame against each other. When you’re stacking elements in a frame deliberately, this helps you to create planes that the viewer can easily identify, and with good light, you can create a photo that has depth.

Inle Lake at sunset copyright Aloha Lavina

Long telephoto 'flattens' elements. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

4. Some lenses can render tilt better than others.

Tilting lenses while taking photos is a great way to discover what happens to the image when you change the way you point your camera.

Some tilt can be done on the same plane. What this means is, tilting the camera left or right, but keeping the lens pointed on a plane parallel to your subject. In the photo below, I tilted the camera to change the background, but the camera lens is parallel to the model.

Natalie Glebova for June Fifth copyright Aloha Lavina.

Tilting the lens without changing planes. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Other tilting can use distortion to effect. Here, with a wide angle lens, the camera was tilted to change its plane relative to the subject. I tilted the camera lens down and produced the effect of the clouds ‘marching’ across the sky. This sort of tilt helps you create perspective and depth in a shot.

Balinese sunset copyright Aloha Lavina.

Tilting the lens so it is pointed at a different plane than the one parallel to the eye. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Note on tilt: if you are using a normal lens, or a long telephoto like a 70-200mm, tilt doesn’t work for effect that well, since the focal length gives you a very narrow field of vision.

5. Lenses can help you use depth of field creatively.

portrait in f/2.8 copyright Aloha Lavina.

Shooting at a wide aperture renders the background blurry. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

We’ve all seen stunning images that use depth of field creatively. Lenses with large apertures (f/1.2 all the way to f/2.8 for example) produce very shallow depth of field in the images. Portrait photographers love to use very wide apertures because of the ‘creamy’ effect it produces in the background. If you use a very wide depth of field on a portrait with a forest as background, the background is rendered a blurred blob of soft green without much detail. This de-clutters the background and gives a pleasant dreamy quality to a portrait.

You can also use this effect for the foreground.

using blurry foreground for creative effect. copyright Aloha Lavina.

Shallow depth of field can be used to blur foreground for effect. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Seeing creatively—an abstract concept—can be made concrete if you begin practicing it through a concrete tool, like the lens you have on your camera right now. With these simple tips, you can build a visual collection that hopefully, doesn’t “pollute” but beautifies your portfolio.

_________________
Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That!

If you like what’s on the blog, let us know by commenting! Even if you don’t like what’s on the blog, leave a comment any way, but please keep it nice. :) To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage. It would also be cool to be friends with you on Facebook, or connect with you on Twitter.

You might also like:
Confessions of a Photoshop User
Are You Paying Attention?
Finding Good Photos where they Hide
Why You Should Shoot Like Johnny Depp
Sell an Experience, Not Just Photos

 

 

 

 

 

one in 365 he said copyright Aloha Lavina

Finding Good Photos where they Hide

We already learned that super saturated color is not going to save a boring photo.

But how do we bury boring and evoke expressiveness? How do we give our imagery a chance to speak instead of mutter?

Where do those good photographs hide?

If we look at paintings that are considered pieces of mastery, we find that the subject of the work isn’t really all that sensational. I mean, look at Van Gogh’s works we admire. A starry night and silhouetted skyline. A vase of sunflowers. A flock of blackbirds wheeling over a wheat field. From the painting masters we can see that subject selection might not be the crux of an effective image. Many beautiful images have been made with content that was everyday and ordinary.

Every day we are surrounded by the ordinary. We rarely have the option of jetting off to an exotic location to photograph exciting subjects that somehow arrange themselves in pleasing harmonies when we point our lenses in their direction. How do we coax good photos from an ordinary life?

1. Change the vantage point.

from the lighthouse copyright Aloha Lavina

I climbed the lighthouse and liked the compo better.

When you’re shooting, move around. Looking at something in a new way begins with a physical reference point, which is probably tied into the way you perceived things. If you moved from the vantage point that felt immediately comfortable, you’ll also be challenging the way you see. Sometimes the best discoveries are made when you take a risk by looking at something in a whole new way.

2. Wait for the right moment.

one in 365 he said copyright Aloha Lavina

My guide said only 10 out of 365 days have great sunsets in that place.

Maybe today isn’t the right day for that shot you wanted. Rarely does a photographer have total control over a situation. Cultivate flexibility. This enables you to set aside your expectations and engage creatively with the subject. You can find beauty even when things don’t go the way you expected them to.

3. Look for shape, value, patterns, design.

You don’t have to walk around with your camera looking for the meaning of life. There are so many more things to love in an image. The way patterns form and repeat, the way light and dark blend and contrast, and the geometry of objects are just a few of the things that could become images.

forgotten

Stuck at someone's house without a car, I found these forgotten old bottles in the backyard.

4. Use another technique.

Reinterpret the world in a way you haven’t tried. If you’ve never taken slow shutter images before, set up a session with a tripod and the camera on timer mode, and make some images you have never tried to make. The novelty and the learning you experience might spark some inspiration.

Convict Creek copyright Aloha Lavina

I don't do landscapes. But I did. It was a lot of fun.

 

5. Don’t leave until the magic happens.

It’s easy to give up when the photos don’t seem to hold any luster.

Stick with what you’re trying to do. Focus on composition, technique, perspective, time of day–change it up until the magic begins to happen.

last light huntington beach copyright Aloha Lavina

The beach was cold, windy, crowded. But the sunset made it worth waiting.

There are no shortcuts to good photographs. There is only hard work, patience, perseverance, and commitment. And you can’t just Photoshop those things in.

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Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage.

You might also like:
Would You Resort to Oversaturating Color in a Boring Photo?
Why You Should Shoot Like Johnny Depp
Sell an Experience, Not Just Photos
Nine Things Rupert Murdoch can Teach Photographers
Cut the CRAP–Just Take Pictures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

huntington beach early morning copyright Aloha Lavina

You Need to Get that Backup Camera

I was shooting surfers on Huntington Beach this morning. After I changed from the 50mm to the 70-200mm, I looked through the viewfinder and found to my horror that the mirror of the 5DMkII had somehow gotten loose and was now obscuring a large part of the viewfinder. I quickly ran off a shot of the HB pier: the image was clear. But imagine composing a shot with a big black blob covering a large part of the view.

Because I was shooting handheld and did not want to lug my entire equipment inventory down to the beach, I only brought the one camera body and a couple lenses.

But it’s my first shooting day on assignment here in California, and my Nikons are back home in Bangkok. I am supposed to shoot this assignment with Canon equipment.

Luckily, I have a backup Canon body, courtesy of my editor. (Thanks, D!)

huntington beach early morning copyright Aloha Lavina

Copyright Aloha Lavina.

It’s been my luck that I’ve had mirror problems on important jobs. In 2008 while shooting in Malaysia with my then-new Nikon D3, my mirror locked up and I couldn’t see through my viewfinder. So I did the shoot like a film shooter would—paid attention to my settings rather than rely on the LCD, and thankfully the images came out OK.

Then in 2009 while riding a horse to the Musi Wada in Jordan, I had the Nikon D300 around my neck on a galloping horse. You guessed it, a particularly big jolt knocked the D300 to the saddle horn and jarred the mirror out of place. I didn’t have a backup then, either, so I composed by guessing what the lens could see.

You may not be riding horses through rocky landscapes, or changing lenses on a windy beach, or have my luck, luckily. But there are times when that backup camera body will save your skin.

If you do get that extra body for backup, here are some options you might consider.

1. Get the same camera body.

This is the option if you have the money to splurge on two of the same super duper bodies. Hopefully both will not have mirror problems or other problems, at the same time.

2. Get a less costly body, but make sure it’s compatible with your lenses.

I am fortunate that the EF lenses are compatible with the Canon my editor sent. If the 5DMkII has to be in the repair shop for a few days, I can still meet my deadline with the backup body.

junior lifeguards training copyright Aloha Lavina

Copyright Aloha Lavina.

3. Get another platform, and an adapter that can mount your lenses to it.

Some people cringe when this mixing up is mentioned. But I’m not a ‘purist’ because I don’t like spending money needlessly, so I do mix up my Nikon equipment with my Canon stuff. For instance, I use the SB-900s with the MkII on portrait shoots. If I had my Nikon D3 right now, I would use the EF lenses on it. I would lose autofocus, but I’d get great full frame performance with the Nikon D3 plus enjoy the beauty of the lenses from Canon.

I am still a little p****** off that the MkII’s mirror couldn’t survive traveling to three countries in six weeks. After all, it’s supposed to be the camera of choice for photogs that trek Antartica and other extreme terrains. But the assignment must go on, and I’m glad I got this backup camera.

It’s going to save me.

 

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Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage.

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So You Want to be a Travel Photographer…Can You Handle It?
Shoot Themes When You Travel

Keep Your Camera in Motion
Don’t Put Your Camera Away after Sunset
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