Sometimes we forget about all the factors that go into lighting a portrait. We might focus on the direction of that beautiful window light, the color of the fleeting sunset, the dim light in a church or that wall of light created by sun light bouncing off a building. Gaining skill in lighting means taking all four factors into consideration with each photo you take.
On The Cover
This month’s issue continues our report of the new products of 2012 based on our coverage of the annual CES/PMA trade show. In this issue we cover new tripods, bags, lenses, and lighting. We also have an in-depth report on new tech that is beginning to revolutionize how we capture images, as well as Image Tech reports on the Sony A65 and Fujifilm X10. Plus there are some new photo stamps coming, this set honoring aerial photography, that we trust all of you who still send letters will use!
Jack Robinson was a prominent American photographer throughout the 1950s and 1960s when his career was cut short by a drinking problem and he faded into obscurity—until a former boss visited Robinson’s apartment and discovered a veritable treasure trove of iconic images.
The computer needs of a digital photographer are different from someone who just wants to check e-mail and surf the Web. In this article, I’ll take a look at some of the features you should look for when considering a new computer. You can look at these suggestions as being divided into two categories: Essentials and Options. Essentials will provide the basic needs for the advanced amateur—not the pro—while Options covers those who use their camera to record video and their computer to edit it.
Photographers are always concerned that their pictures turn out as sharp as possible. Photography has a seemingly endless number of challenges, but sharpness is number one. No matter how incredible your photo opportunity is, if the images are not sharp, nothing else matters. The pictures will be worthless. Too often images are almost sharp, and this is particularly vexing because if only you had paid attention to one tiny detail or two, they would be perfect.
If you have a window with thick or dark curtains, then you have the recipe for stunning dramatic lighting. You don’t need any special equipment—just your camera, the window, and curtains. This light is great for men and women, and can emphasize the mood and the form of your subject.
Natural light is stunning and is a great way to get an intimate portrait of your subject. You do not have the distraction of bright flashing strobes of the studio or having to make large modifications to natural light using diffusers or reflectors. Instead, window light helps you keep it simple, and allows you to connect with your subject more easily and keep the mood relaxed.
On The Cover
This month’s issue features the work of a number of photographers who have created their own personal projects and applied great energy, effort, and skill to them. The owl photo is by David FitzSimmons from his Curious Critters book. We also kick off our US trade show coverage this month by highlighting the battle of the D-SLR titans and their new flagship cameras, plus continue our Image Tech series with a lab review of two fascinating mirrorless cameras.
The Future of Photography Museum Amsterdam (FOAM) recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with an exhibit and series of activities reflecting upon the future of our craft. The organization’s mission is to enable people throughout the world to experience and enjoy photography—whether it's at their museum in Amsterdam, on their website (www.foam.org), or via their internationally distributed magazine.
When shooting portraits, just setting the color balance on Automatic or one of the Temperature “modes” is not the most efficient way of capturing natural skins tones. Instead, take a manual white balance reading of your subject in the environment and then make adjustments from there.
With all of the portraits I shoot, there are a few constants: low ISO (200–400), mid range f/stop for more lens clarity (f/5.6–f/9), telephoto lens for narrow depth of field (70–120mm) and the sharpest part of the image being the subjects’s eyes. The last “given” when I shoot is to always capture the image in Raw—knowing I can easily manipulate it in editing if needed.
We don’t normally speak of soft drinks and flowers in the same sentence, but there is a very cool technique that brings these two unlikely subjects together. Actually, you can use any kind of seltzer water or flavored water that is carbonated. Put the carbonated clear liquid in a glass or plastic container with clear and flat sides, and when you submerge the flowers in the liquid the bubbles cling to the petals. This is a unique subject matter for macro work, and with dramatic lighting the results can be quite beautiful.
I’m sure you have been intrigued by the rainbow colors you can see in CDs and DVDs. As a visual person, it’s hard not to be attracted to these intense, supersaturated colors. I’ve tried to photograph them but was never happy with the results until I experimented with placing drops of water on the surface of the disc. That changed everything. The colors of the CD combined with the defined shapes of the drops in amazing ways, and this was even more captivating than just seeing color in the disc.
On The Cover
In this month’s issue we cover wedding and portrait topics, including tips on lighting, posing, and gear. We also have bonus lighting gear tests, as well as a look at a new Canon 13” printer and a test of a new breed of a Nikon interchangeable lens camera, the 1 series. We also have a new series of camera lab tests, Image Tech, starting with the Olympus E-PL3. Look for more Image Tech reviews to come in future issues.
I photograph natural subjects without manipulation when possible, but there are many instances when it is necessary to control a situation to show a subject in an artistic and beautiful light. Indeed, many times it is necessary to manage a subject specifically to make it look natural in the photo. Technical and practical issues are often present that make it virtually impossible to take the kinds of pictures we really want to take and that we can see with our eyes.
Photographing small birds is extremely difficult because we can’t get close enough to them to fill a significant part of the frame and they are often so fast that it’s impossible to focus quickly enough. Autofocus is a great tool, and the AI Servo feature works sometimes, but neither can keep up with fast-flying birds.
There may be times when you need to capture the action in a performance for a local newspaper, publicity shots, a memory of a child’s concert or simply because you want to capture images of the event. The first step is to make sure you are allowed to photograph during the performance; that’s easy if you’re hired to do so, but always check and find out the ground rules. Shooting during the actual performance has challenges so it is always a good idea to shoot the dress rehearsal—if you can. The shots here were mostly made during rehearsals of a dance recital, but the tips can apply to other types of performances as well.