One of the ways to draw attention to a subject is to find—or set up—brightly colored objects in an environment of a muted or earth-toned background. The eye is immediately drawn to color, and this is a poignant way to make a powerful and dynamic visual statement.
On The Cover
This month we feature lighting tools, techniques, and tips from pros covering new gear, new lighting options, and some great lighting setups and ideas. Each of our product reviews contain tips as well and can help you decide which type of setup is best for the type of images you want to create. We cover lighting accessories as well, those modifiers that can help you make creative lighting decisions that bring a unique look to every image. Finally, we cover the wide range of wireless TTL lighting systems that can free you to make great shots in the studio, or on location. Our cover shot, by Lindsay Adler, shows just the kind of great effects you can achieve using the gear and tips featured in this special issue.
When I refer to window light, I am talking about the soft lighting that comes in through a window when it faces north or when the sky is overcast. This is one of the most attractive types of light photographers use, and it has been a source of inspiration for traditional artists over the centuries when they painted portraits of people, still life images, and the interiors of magnificent works of architecture.
One of my favorite color combinations is white on white and I want to introduce this approach to using color because the results can be so beautiful.
There is something ethereal and captivating about images that are devoid of the colors that we associate with the spectrum. Images that are primarily white seem pristine, intriguing, and they will complement virtually any type of home or office décor if you are looking to frame some of your photography.
Many photographers use the term white light without knowing its precise definition in photography. After all, there are many types of lighting that we could be talking about, such as the sun, the lamps in our living room, fluorescent fixtures, open shade on an overcast day, late afternoon sunlight, a mercury vapor street lamp, or flash. Which one of these should set the standard by which we judge all other light?
A “great” photograph isn’t necessarily a beautiful photograph. In fact, some of history’s most compelling images have been those that made a statement about contemporary culture or motivated people to support a cause. These days, the power of photography to instigate social change is perhaps most evident in documentary images of public protests here and abroad.
On The Cover
Renowned photographer Steve McCurry shot our cover image of a Rabari girl on the last roll of Kodachrome film ever manufactured. We are privileged to share with you the final frames taken with this beloved film. To see more of Steve’s images, turn to page 122. Aside from Kodachrome’s last windup, we have news about the Polaroid Collection of images being saved thanks to the Impossible Project and WestLicht Museum of Photography. In addition, we have D-SLR tests on the Canon EOS 60D and the Pentax K-5, plus an extensive roundup on backdrops and a lighting test on Booth Photographic’s parabolic umbrellas.
Ever since early man scrawled his thoughts and experiences on the inside of a cave, “journalists” have helped inform the public and shape the course of society. And never has the role of the reporter been more important than it is in today’s complicated, fast-paced world. While the Internet has opened the floodgates of news and information, it has also transformed how reporters, photojournalists and news organizations go about their business.
The concept of complementary colors refers to three pairs of colors that artists agree look good together and complement each other. They are based on the color wheel that arranges colors in such a way that the colors opposite each other represent the three pairs. They are red and cyan, green and magenta, and blue and yellow. This doesn’t mean that other colors don’t work together very well, but it suggests that if you use complementary color themes in your work, the images will be visually compelling.
The concept of color temperature is an integral part of photography, and yet many photographers are not really sure what it means. Color and temperature don’t seem to have a direct relationship with each other, but light sources are often defined in terms of their color temperature, which is allied with setting the white balance in digital photography. In addition, the measurement of color temperature is in Kelvin degrees. What does all this really mean?
Chromatic aberration is an inherent problem in the manufacture of lenses. It is the failure of the glass to bend the light in such a way that it focuses all the colors at the same point, and it occurs because lenses have a different refractive index for different wavelengths of light. It is characterized by color fringing, or unwanted colors at the edge of objects. The colors can be red, cyan, green, magenta, blue, or yellow. You usually can’t see this fringing until you magnify the image quite a bit, but at 100 percent and higher it’s quite obvious. I’ve enlarged (#1) to 300 percent, and in (#2) you can see what I’m talking about. Chromatic aberration is quite pronounced in wide angle lenses, and it’s most obvious in the corners. The picture of this famous pool in the Gellert Hotel, Budapest, Hungary was taken with a 14mm lens. The center of the lens is largely devoid of these unwanted colors. Telephotos also have chromatic aberration, but it is usually not as bad.
On The Cover
This month we are bringing you the latest image processing software updates. We are also updating you on new memory card technology as both speed and capacity are on the rise. In addition, we have a report on Ilford’s new black-and-white (silver) paper, plus lighting reports on Photoflex’s StarFire Kits and Interfit’s Super Cool-lite 455. Finally, reader Dj Boyd photographed our cover shot of a yoga session. We received her photo in response to our Picture This! assignment “From Above.” To view more readers’ submissions, see page 12.
It’s been quite some time since advancing technology finally took the teeth out of the old film-versus-digital debate, as most amateur and professional photographers have long-since switched to digital point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. That said, there still are a few diehard silver halide devotees, and we’ve even seen some new films introduced in recent years.
Photoshop is a photographer’s best friend today. It has given us unprecedented creativity and the ability to do things to pictures that heretofore were impossible. Some people claim that the emphasis has shifted away from superior picture taking, and in its place people now think “I can fix it in Photoshop.” While it is true that many problems can be corrected after the fact, good photographic skills are still required to take great images. While a full exploration of digital darkroom techniques awaits another volume of this Guide I thought I’d give you a sense of what can be accomplished with this type of after-exposure work. And while I concentrate on Adobe Photoshop techniques here there are many more programs and plug-ins that can do the job as well.
As much as I love to capture subjects with saturated color because of the powerful visual impact they offer, I also seek out the opposite end of the spectrum. Subtle and desaturated colors create impact in a very different way. There seems to be a magical quality in nature, for example, when you shoot in fog or low clouds. This is one of the reasons I like photographing at dawn and sunrise because if there is humidity in the air, this is the best time to find these conditions. The colors are so soft and muted that they are breathtaking in a quiet and contemplative way.