Archive for December 2011
I recently wrote a post about 7 NYE resolutions that will help you as a photographer to develop, hopefully over the next 12 months, well I decided to undertake one of the ideas that I talk about in the post, A Self Portrait Project and see what I come up with, if you want to read more about those resolutions I blogged about, click Here and if you are considering a 365 day project over the next 12 months, you may want to check out this two part series (Part 1 & Part 2) on the 365 day project written by Takahiro Yamamoto as it may provide you some insights as to what you are going to be doing plus these two posts contain some great tips to help you keep going, and also this morning I received an email from WordPress talking about the Project 365 and they have been kind enough to provide links to 8 inspiring blogs from people who have been doing it for the last 12 months. If that project is something that you are considering, these links are definitely well worth checking out.
I must admit that I have had fun doing this Self Portrait Project and I will continue with it throughout the year to improve my photography and how I direct people when they are in front of the camera because now I have a better understanding of how daunting or even scary it can be being in front of the camera. Everything that I have used in these shots is stuff that I have found lying around, Some of these shots are good and some are not but that’s the idea, to improve your photography. So these are the Self Portrait photos that I have taken over the last few days.
This is my profile photo that I use on the majority of social media platforms such as Google +, cough Facebook muttered under my breath, here on the blog. This photo is really what got me started with the Self Portrait project and as per usual, these ideas sooner or later develop a life of their own.
So give it a go, honestly what’s the worst thing that can happen, you may improve your photography without you knowing it.
Firstly let me say that I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas break and received everything they asked for and have dreamt of, if you didn’t get what you asked for, you can always save up for it and the buy it as a gift for yourself. Well hasn’t 2011 flown by and I must say that this year has been by far the busiest year that I have had in some time, I have managed to spend months away from home photographing ordinary people doing extraordinary things. With all of this time away I was really looking forward to the Christmas break to be able to collapse on the couch, enjoy a few quiet beers and spend some valuable time with family before 2012 kicks off. Now New Years Eve is literally just around the corner and you are probably starting to think about what your resolutions for 2012 are going to be and I bet the usual suspects will stick their heads up like they do every year.
Here are a few of those resolutions that are muttered on New Years Eve, this list is by no means endless, please feel free to add yours in the comments section.
1. Stop eating bad food and start eating healthy food,
2. Quit Smoking,
3. Save $5000 for a cruise or a holiday
4. Spend time with your Grandparents, and
5. Spend more time with your family, and that includes the annoying little Brother or Sister (if you are the little Brother or Sister, umm, sorry about that, I was hoping someone had told you by now).
Your resolutions may look very different than what I have listed but many people see New Years Eve resolutions that is something that can be broken very easily, in most cases there isn’t any harm done at all but these resolutions are more than just resolutions, they are goals that you set yourself for the next 12 months, some of these goals can be very easy and be achieved in a very short time frame or they can be something that you have to work at on a daily basis but have you ever considered what that photographer deep within you might have for New Years Eve resolutions, have you ever asked yourself what would you like to achieve with your photography over the next twelve months, either as a enthusiast or even as a Pro.
The following are some goals (resolutions) to give you an idea as to where you may want to take your photography in 2012 and please remember these are just my ideas, please feel free to delete and insert your own or leave a comment and suggest a few more, I am open to ideas and I may adopt a few myself for 2012.
1. Get off of Auto Mode on your DLSR.
This can be very scary for some people as their is some technical knowledge that needs to be learned, then you need to learn what your cameras limitations are and what your limitations are when using Manual mode. I understand as to why people don’t want to do this, I was there once as well but remember your purchased a DSLR to better yourself as a photographer and to hopefully take better photos. Using the camera in Manual mode gives you the power to use the camera as it was designed and you now have that power in your hands (or at your fingertips) as to what the photo will look like once you have taken it but remember this a learning phase. Most of the answers as to how to use your camera are in the instruction manual that come with your camera when it was purchased either by you or the person who gave it to you as a gift. This is a goal that can be achieved in a short period of time, such a 1 to 2 months possibly.
2. Take a Photography Class.
I have undertaken several classes for my photography and they are a great way to improve, they are fun and the hour or two that I have spent doing them has resulted in me learning a lot of techniques that I didn’t know before hand. Photography classes cover things like the basics of using your new DLSR through to composition, shooting weddings, landscapes, night photography and portraits. Do a Google search for Photography courses/classes in your area and you may well be surprised how many there are and how affordable they can be.
3. Shoot in RAW format
If you are not doing this already you should probably start shooting in RAW format. If you are currently shooting in JPEG and you take a photo, that image is ready for printing or sharing on social media platforms immediately however shooting in RAW Format requires you to have special software to process your images and is not ready for printing or sharing. There is a load of software available nowadays to process RAW files, and most of these programs are not overly expensive either, two examples that leap to mind are Lightroom or Aperture but there are many more available as well. You can do a lot more with your images when you are shooting in RAW format such as adjust your exposure, sharpen the image and provide you with ability to print in larger formats however there are many more options available. If you are not shooting in RAW format you should consider doing so as it can provide you with a lot more versatility that JPEG. I recommend doing some research on the subject to assist you in making your decision to/ not to switch. There are 1000′s of results when searching Google using keywords ‘RAW vs JPEG’.
4. Start a Project
These are a great way to improve your photography from when your start. These projects can be something like the 365 day project where you take a photograph a day for 365 days, sounds daunting I know but obviously this is a project that you need to dedicate yourself to undertaking everyday, regardless of how you feel or what the weather is doing. Please remember that when starting out on this type of project that the photos you take in the early stages don’t need to be full of awesomeness but rather this is a way of you improving your photography slowly over the course of 365 days, You will also learn the limitations of your camera and yourself. The best way to do this is to take your camera everywhere you go, and I do mean EVERYWHERE, for example: you walk to work or catch the bus to work, the camera goes with you (Street Photography), you go to dinner with friends, the camera goes with you (opportunity for long exposures, low light photography). By the end of the project you will see a huge improvement from when you started and if you don’t finish the 365 day project because Life got in the way, as it does from time to time, don’t beat yourself up over it, Have a look at what you have taken and see if there is any improvement. I would bet that if you managed to keep at it for 3 months (90 days = 90 photos) there would be an improvement that you hadn’t noticed before.
5. Do a Self Portrait.
This is similar to starting a project but the idea is to take a portrait of yourself either everyday or once a week/month and learn from how you did it and this increases your knowledge of photography, in particular portrait photography. However if you are like me, my creative side has been crushed and suppressed for so long now that I need to dig deep to find it but doing a self portrait project can be fun way to become creative and ultimately learn from it as well.
You will also learn how to direct people in front of a camera such as how to sit, look and where to look, have a good understanding of facial expressions, and from this you will start to see interesting expressions on peoples faces even when you are walking down the street and you will wonder how you are going to take their photo !
Note: These two photos are of me simply mucking around with my camera and a flash off to one side with the camera set on a timer, and the hardest part was coming up with something new every time I was in front of the camera. I still feel like a fool doing it every time but I did it and the results weren’t to bad at all.
6. Read/ Start a Blog, and
Starting a blog is very easy to do, especially with wordpress where this blog is hosted, however blogging gives you the opportunity to keep a record and the progress of your project. Blogs can also attract others who are undertaking a similar project and inspire you as you continue as well but remember that starting a blog and running it is a long term goal for the year. You can always learn by posting to your blog the results from your project and then search for other blogs that have similar content to yours which will help you gain inspiration or ideas for you to keep going. There is a wealth of resources out there on Blogs. WordPress started a project at the begininning of 2011 which encouraged people to Post a Day 2011 or Post a Week 2011 on their blogs. Guess which one I signed up for…..Post a Day 2011 and I failed but I am posting once a week which is pretty good.
7. Join Google+ and close your Facebook account.
What, what is Google +, My life is on Facebook and so are all of my friends!, honestly what are you thinking, are you off your meds, have you missed your regular appointment with your therapist? I hear you say.
Sorry Guys, to me Facebook is dead, I don’t nor have I ever found this social media platform to be in any shape or form inspiring or for that matter, easy to use, In fact I don’t like Facebook at all, I currently use it because its a necessary evil in todays world. My Wife and Son assist me with Facebook as I am unable to find all the required buttons to be able to navigate the site easily, it becomes rather frustrating at times. Further there are to many advertisements that run down the side of the page plus there is no Dislike Button for posts that your so called friends have put up, remember they are the friends that you didn’t like originally and now you are friends with them because both of you are on Facebook, Facebook should have a Dislike Button for all of those non-original content posts. Sorry I got side tracked there for a bit.
Something you should consider is having a good close look at Google +, this new social media platform has the worlds photographers walking past your door, not you walking past their door where you are unlikely to find them which is not the way it should be. There are a multitude of brilliant photographers posting original content everyday which you are able to view and commet on. Google + main page has a clean crisp look to it and it is easy to use as you group everybody into Circles which gives you the ability to see posts from that circle only. For example if I want to see posts from Street Photographers only and I have grouped photographers into that category, that’s the stream (news feed) I click on and thats all you but if you want to see all of the Stream, click on Stream (News Feed) and simply scroll down and gasp in awe at the amazing photography. Even if you don’t want to sign up for it, do a search using Google+ for Photographer or Photography and you will be pleasantly surprised by the content available and if Photography is not for you and you have something else in mind, say Politics (Boring) do the same and do a Google + search. Check it out as it certainly worth your time.
I hope that these 7 resolutions (goals) give you some ideas as to where you want to take your photography in 2012 and please remember that these are just my ideas, I would love to hear what other ideas you think of to help with your photography in 2012.
Happy Shooting in 2012.
Today is a pretty simple post. I would like to thank everyone who reads, subscribes, follows or simply stumbles across this blog for your support and your comments over the last 12 months. It has been a long year and in somecases a tragic year with all of the world events that have happened, one can only hope that the New Year brings peace and friendship amongst all of us.
Happy Shooting over the Christmas and New Year period, I hope you get everything that you asked for and have dreamt of.
Well Dear, there is less than a week before Christmas and thank fully you are not like me, I haven’t even started Christmas shopping yet, I must admit that I have sort of been shopping, if you could call it that, I seem to wander without any real idea of what I want to buy for you or the rest of the family but as usual I have left it all up to the very last minute, Where I fight the ever increasing crowds and find that I am followed on the way back to the car, only to realise that they only want my parking spot and not my wallet (Phew, huge sigh of relief, how surprised would they be after robbing me only to find its empty). Once I get home with all of the presents stashed where no one ever looks, in the car, I will do the same thing I did last year. Put the kettle on whilst complaining about the crowds and the lack of parking at the mall only to have you remark that I should have started Christmas shopping a lot earlier than leaving it all to the last minute. But with all of this mayhem that goes on every Christmas I wonder how you know what I would like for Christmas so I thought that I would write you, my dear Wife, a letter outlining what I want, I mean, like for Christmas.
Now what I would really, really like is Nikon to release either the Nikon D800 or D4 but I have to be realistic. Nikon won’t be releasing it anytime soon especially after the Tsunami that struck Japan, closely followed by the Nuclear reactor going into melt down and then Mother Nature threw in some floods in Thailand and both of these tragedies have surely put a dent in their manufacturing capabilities. I would think that they may be trying to maintain their current line of models rather than release new models. I am not really expecting any new releases from Nikon any time soon. This is something that I don’t think Santa or even you can help with.
So in lieu of Nikon releasing their new models, I would be more than happy to find a new Nikon D700 under the Christmas tree. Nikon may have been possibly targeting the semi-pro photographer market which has relatively been untapped for some time, for awhile there, there wasn’t a camera from either Nikon or Canon that was aimed at this market. I mean how many Full Frame DSLRs can you sell to Pro photographers to cover your costs of manufacturing them. At least with a camera aimed at the semi pro market that has the same sensor from the pro line up would certainly help cover those manufacturing costs. I will clarify for you my dear Wife what I believe a Semi Pro photographer is. A Semi Pro Photographer is some one who is transitioning from amateur photographer to full time Pro Photographer, some one who still has a paying job but that income is slowly being replaced by income from their photography business. This can happen either very slowly or very quickly.
Nikon have got some pretty good specs squeezed into the D700 which has been out for awhile and I must say that I was rather disappointed that I didn’t get it for my Birthday but you should consider that this camera from Nikon has a full frame sensor capable of shooting at 5 fps which is pretty good to catch those fast moving kids, which is a lot faster than me but sadly the Nikon D700 doesn’t come with a video capability, so there will be no filming of the kids, shoots very well with high ISO in low light conditions which I seem to find myself shooting more and more in and thats only because of all of the family gatherings are happening later and later in the day, honestly who has lunch at 3 pm, not me that’s for sure and it ruins dinner ! The Nikon D700 also has 51 AF points and 12.1 megapixels. However Canon have got their camera squarely aimed at this market as well, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II which is boasting a massive 21.1 megapixels, Canon developed CMOS sensor with a new 4 processor called DiG!C and the live view mode has some new features like Live Face Detection AF mode plus throw in 1080p HD Video with 30 FPS which is awesome for shooting video, the camera also comes with continuos shooting of 3.9 FPS and standard ISO from 100 to 6400 which will provide excellent detail in low light. All of these make for a formidable DSLR from Canon in anyones terms. I am still undecided if I want or for that matter need a video capability in a DSLR but what ever you decide I will be very happy with but please remember if you are going to give me a Canon EOS 5D Mark II for Christmas, I will need all new lenses to match because the Nikon ones that I currently have won’t fit. I know, I know, its silly.
Speaking of witch, I mean which not witch. Sorry, let me start that again. The love of my life, If a new DSLR is off the table for Christmas, I would certainly be interested in a new lens. I really like, not necessarily need, a Macro lens, and it doesn’t have to be Nikon lens either. It could be a Tamron or a Sigma Macro Lens but the lens must be capable of not only being used for Macro shooting but also for Portraits as well, I mean what good is it just having a Macro Lens for photography of small creatures (and that doesn’t include your nieces and nephews either) if I can’t use it to capture our beautiful family, so the new lens needs to be sort of two lens in one basically. Tamron has got one on offer, its the SP AF 60mm F/2 Di II and is pretty well priced at my favourite camera shop. You know the one, and yes before you ask it’s the one that I spend my Saturdays in with my face pressed up against the glass display cabinets. There’s nothing wrong with that you know !
Now if that’s off the table as well and I certainly hope not but Nikon recently released a new model for their flash guns which is to replace the SB900 flash gun which I have already got, the SB910 was released in mid December which is just in time to be placed under the Christmas tree. I know, I know, what would I want with another Flash Gun thingy I hear you ask. Well I could certainly become very creative with two flash guns and really get some amazing shots of the family….. alright and your friends as well. This flash gun boasts similar specs to the SB900 that I have already got but has some improvements like an overhaul of the menu system which should make it easier for me to use and they have upgraded those flimsy gel white balance filters to hard filters however having another flash gun could increase my creative side using flash and I can use my SB900 together with the SB910. So this is something that you should certainly consider as well. But remember though love, if you have bought me the Canon EOS 5D Mark II I will need a new Flash gun as well. Canon have got the Speedlite 580EX II as their top gun in Speed Lights. This bad boy can be wireless and has the E-TTL II Flash metering which can be set to 1/3 stop increments. So also another choice for you to consider.
I know that I always use Nikon but you have heard me say many times before that it doesn’t matter what camera you have in your hands, its what you do with it that counts. You are the creator of your vision not the camera, the camera simply captures your vision or your idea. Please when you are feigning interest when I talk about cameras and photography I would rather not hear ‘hmm’ but rather a response resembling words.
Anyway I started to get off track there for a bit but I know that this may seem a lot to undertake and even comprehend but I feel as though that I have to be quite honest, Jocks and Socks simply won’t cut it this year, or that awful thing you have been knitting with your friends for the last couple of months. That can go in the bin with all of the other “excellent presents”, sorry into the cupboard where I treasure those thoughtful gifts (they will never see the light of day). If all of this seems a little to much. I’ll just take a $500 gift voucher from my favourite camera shop, not the one in mall that you like to go to with your friends, the camera shop in the mall that I go to to avoid your friends that way I can still take photos like this one where I spent the day with MY friends at a Free Style Motor cross event.
Lots of Love
Your Photographer Husband.
I don’t know what keeps you motivated or your creative juices flowing especially with todays technology and social media, they can become real distractions, throw in kids, paying bills and this little old thing called life gets in the way of you getting out there and creating something regardless if its a photograph or a clay sculpture, and some of these things can literally put you on the side line resulting in you becoming an observer of whats going on around you instead of a contributor.
So to avoid this I like to try and give myself an assignment at the beginning of every month, something that I will hopefully be able to complete within that month with all of life’s distractions around me. Sometimes that assignment can be updating this blog, revamping my website or photographing a certain subject. This month was inspired by a photograph that really grabbed my attention as it
was full of colour and looked simple enough to achieve. This assignment did however have some challenges not only creatively but finding the time to actually get it done within the month especially with Christmas fast approaching.
I wish I could remember where I saw the original photo that gave me the inspiration for this assignment, it may have been on Google+ and there is loads of inspiraton on there as well, its like having the worlds photographers walk past your door. The original photo that I saw had three bottles of brightly coloured nail polish pouring out on to a mirror forming a neat pool at the base of the bottles.
I figured that if I wanted to do this I should try and do the shoot as cheap as possible because I had no idea if it would work or not, So I went in search of what I figured I would need to do the shoot. In my local hardware store I found a full length mirror for $10 which had a poor plastic border that I could remove with ease and at my local pharmacy I found a bargain bin full of cheap, brightly coloured nail polish bottles. The sales staff certainly had a laugh at my expense as I mumbled ‘wheres the blue nail polish?’ whilst rifling through it like a mad man. The sales girl certainly had a smirk on her face when I was forking out my four dollars. I did try to explain what I intended to do but I am pretty sure that she didn’t buy it and now thinks I’m crazy every time I go in there.
I needed a black back ground and for this I simply opened the garage roller door and faced out into the night. I removed the plastic border from the mirror and put it on a small table that I had laying around. Then came the hard part, originally I decided that I would glue the bottles of nail polish to the mirror and each other so they would be uniform and wouldn’t move when I tilted the mirror towards me. The issue that I had was that I purchased extremely cheap super glue and it had done as promised on the package, hardened before I could use it so I reverted to the old sticky tape method.
Once the nail polish bottles were stuck to the mirror using my ever so cheap sticky tape, I took a few test shots with the lids still on so I could get the exposure right and adjusted the flash gun into a good position so I could get a uniformed fill of flash across the shot. I was happy and decided that it was time to remove the lids and use a small wedge under the mirror to tilt it forward. This is when I realised that the square lids on the bottles wouldn’t come off while they were stuck down, so I had to remove them completely, re stick them back down, tilt the mirror backwards and away from me so the nail polish wouldn’t run out while I was trying to focus and compose the shot.
The next issue that I found was that once I started to tilt the mirror forward by jamming pens which acted as small wedges under neath the mirror the nail polish started to run very quickly and I had to act fast. I don’t know if it wad cheap nail polish or because it was hot and humid at the time but slowly down the flow was problematic. After thinking about it, possibly putting them in the fridge may have increased the consistency of the nail polish and slowed the flow down to a more acceptable flow rate.
Once I was happy with the 20 or so shots, I decided that I wanted to change some of the colours around to change the dynamics of the photo overall.
I changed the red nail polish for the white nail polish which meant that I had to go through the entire set up process again. I did find that the white nail polish ran very quickly and spread across the mirror almost uncontrollably, I added colour to it by getting the red nail polish and pouring it out directly into the white nail polish . I got another 20 or shots and decided that it was time to download these photos to see what I had and if I had achieved what I set out to do.
I don’t use Photoshop at all, in fact I have no idea how to use it. I use Aperture 3 so what ever I get wrong I must be able to either clone it out or repair it some how using contrast or Dodge and Burn. So everything I do, I try and do in camera by setting up the shot first. as you can see by the two photos the first one I haven’t cloned out the dust on the mirror nor the edge of the mirror that has shown because of the flash, and there is drops of nail polish in the corner as well. I also had to clone out the flash reflection in one of the bottles of nail polish which proved to be a little difficult. The second shot is one that I have processed using Aperture 3 and removed all of the blemishes from it to provide an overall clean image which is what I had wanted to achieve.
The third shot is one that I am also happy with as well, here you can see that the white nail polish has run pretty quick and the bottle is half empty. I did pour in some red nail polish as well to increase the contrasting colours. Overall I was happy with what I had created and I did enjoy doing this as I learnt a lot from it all. All I need to do now is find a new pharmacy where I don’t get strange looks and hushed giggles from the sales staff.
I have been out on many occasions photographing an event and on some of these occasions I strike up a conversation with other photographers that are also in attendance. One of the most striking responses I have had is “Oh you are one of those !”. At first I was a little miffed as to what they were talking about and then I realised that they were talking about me being a Nikon user. To me it didn’t seem to make any difference as to which camera you used, either it be a Nikon, a Canon, a Sony or a Pentax. Its what you do with that camera that makes the difference. Camera’s are like cars, designed to get you from A to B with comfort and safety where the camera is designed to take a photo regardless of the knowledge of photography that person holding camera has.
There are plenty of arguments out there as to why either a Canon or a Nikon is better than the other and I am sure that the camera manufactures love the debate and the loyalty to their brands, as this debate and loyalty more than likely drives some serious sales when they release a new model, much like when an Apple product is released. Huge line ups on release day and plenty of people talking about their latest product including news coverage. Just have a look at the Nikon Rumors and Canon Rumors websites. They are full of rumors what the new model is, what specs that camera will have and when it will be released. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing with either of these two sites, in fact not only are they full of great information but I seem to spend quite a lot of time on the Nikon Rumours site looking at what may be coming out in the future hoping that the new Nikon will delivered sooner rather than later.
Recently I was asked by a good friend who was going overseas on holidays for a month which camera should I buy and my response seemed to create a look of confusion especially being a Nikon user, maybe he was waiting for the typical response, Nikon of course but that’s not what he got. I gave him the following response:
Go to your local camera shop, don’t look at the brand (which is not that easy to do), hold the camera in your hands. The camera should feel like an extension of your body, you should be able to feel where all the buttons are with your eyes closed, you don’t have to immediately know what those buttons do but you should be able to feel them with your eyes closed. This provides you with an overall idea of what the user functionality of that particular camera.
Ask the sales attendant, if you can take a few photos with it, and it doesn’t matter if you take a photo of the guy behind counter or the rest of the shop, but you should at least take several photos to see the results even If you have to leave your drivers license or your wallet behind as security.
Is it in your budget range and what are you going to use the camera for? Happy snaps of the kids, to record your holidays or portrait photography.
Then after all of these questions have been answered have a look at the specs of that camera to assist with determining if it meets your needs or not. These decisions should help you choose the correct camera and hopefully you shouldn’t have purchased a camera based on brand loyalty.
I would love to hear what advice would you give to someone who is about to purchase a camera, either a compact or a DSLR? and would you be biased towards a brand such as Nikon or Canon?.