Birthday Photoshoot

A couple of weeks ago I’ve got another family photoshoot. It was a very nice couple and a cutest little boy Leon who just recently turned 2 so they wanted some photos to remember this age. Parents wanted photos to be taken in the boys’ natural environment – their home and backyard. Therefore for me it was an “on location” photo shoot and I had to bring my lighting equipment.

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When shooting kids in studio you have time to set up all the lighting equipment before the session, but when you come to a family home, chances are you won’t have that luxury. There also might not be enough space for your light stands and stuff, which was exactly the case in this shoot. Lucky for me there was a large window with white curtains that provided a great light source. I also mounted a Canon 430ex speedlight on my camera and used it as additional light source, bouncing the light from the walls and ceiling.

For example, in the photo below I pointed the flash at the ceiling to get Leons’ beautiful long hair to be lit from above.

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With little kids most of the times you have first to earn their trust by playing with them and smiling a lot :), and then you have to react to their movements and catch those brief moments in which they forget about your presence and act naturally. I was also looking to capture various emotions and moods of the child.

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Another good idea is to give a kid something to play with. When Leon saw my large shoot-through umbrella, his eyes lit up with interest and he started to play with it, but it turned out to be too big for him. However his parents found a solution – they gave him a smaller umbrella, which kept him (and me) occupied for a while.

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At some point during the shoot Leon got so comfortable with me and my camera that he started intentionally posing for me. When kids pose for camera it is nothing like when adults do it. Kids are natural, they can’t look “posing for camera” by definition, and I can prove it to you. In the next two photos Leon was intentionally posing for me.

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Could you tell that he was intentionally posing?

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I didn’t think so!

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I enjoyed this photoshoot very much and most importantly – the parents loved my work!

Building Composition

In this post I’d like to talk about composing photographs “after the fact”. Wait, don’t jump to any conclusions just yet, let me explain what I mean.
About a month ago I had to fly to Sydney for work but got stuck at the airport due to bad weather. I spent about two hours sitting in front of the large viewing glass looking at the runways. The weather was indeed stormy, it was dark from all the clouds, and there was nothing to photograph.
But when the weather started to get better, clouds began to clear, and airport started to come back to life, I finally took my camera out and started to stock my prey. I wanted to capture this feeling of the “airport awakening” when the planes begin to approach the runways, and workers move to and fro. Unfortunately no matter how hard I tried or how long I waited, I couldn’t capture the picture I had in mind… at least not in a single frame. Needless to say that I was very disappointed.

Later, when I returned home and went over those photos, my imagination switched gears – I saw details in different photographs, that put together would be able to create that image I had in my mind while shooting. Since I know my way around Photoshop,  I decided to go ahead and try to do that.

I ended up with two images which both have two things in common – both of them I would call “airport awakening”  because they portray the clearing of the storm, and resuming operations of the airport. The second thing is the way in which I created this sense of awakening – with directions. I’ll explain this in more detail by going over the images.

In this first image I have three different “directions”, which go in zig-zag shape leading the viewer’s eye from one element of composition to the next. First is the direction of the two trolleys, which goes from lower right to somewhere in the middle left side of the image, next is the direction of the moving utility vehicle which catches the eye on its way to the left and redirects it towards the upper right corner, and finally the eye reaches the plane and again changes direction to the left ending up on the airplanes in the distance. The floor is still wet from the rain, but the sun starts to shine through, giving the feeling that storm has ended…

Melbourne Airport

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The second image is darker, as if there is still the danger of the storm, but the moving vehicles hint of a hope for good weather. And again, we have the directions theme – from right to left, then from left to right, and finally the plane takes us into the depths of the image.

Melbourne Airport

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The main thing that made the compositing easy was that I shot all the photos from approximately the same location and also I was using the same focal length.

As always your thoughts, suggestions, and critiques are welcome in the comments section below.

Old Cars Show in Mornington

 

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition
A couple of weeks ago Ira and I visited a collectible cars show at the Mornington’s racecourse. There were lots of beautiful old cars and we had lots of fun.There were also quite a few photographers taking shots of these beauties. But from my photographic perspective, I didn’t want to simply photograph the cars as I am sure there are already many photos of each model that was showcased there.
So instead I tried to look at the event not as “this is a car show, so I am going to photograph cars” but more as “this is a social event featuring nice cars, so there will be people interacting with them, and I want to capture this interaction”. And even when I photographed only the cars I tried to convey how I see them. For example when shooting the b&w Jaguar in the photo above I tried to show the “facial expression” of that car which was kind of “right in your face” 🙂 Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition


We spent about one and a half hours at the show, and just when I thought that I’m done photographing, the car owners began starting up their cars and drive away – it was the end of that day. During the show the cars were standing unattended, while their owners were sitting somewhere in the shadow chatting and drinking coffee, so now it was a great opportunity for me to capture the cars together with their owners, and I tried to make the most of it.

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

 Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

 

From the technical side the biggest problem was the harsh sunlight, which created deep shadows and sharp transitions from light to shadow, so it was difficult to capture both the car and its surroundings and the driver sitting inside the car in the shadow. My solution to that problem was to shoot in RAW and slightly overexpose my photographs. This way in post processing I could lighten up the shadows and darken the highlights (the RAW format gives you a bit of freedom in correcting your exposure).

 

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

 

Hope you enjoyed the photos, and as always – you’re welcome to leave your “creative responses in the comment section below” (© Equals Three) 🙂

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

Three Photos From Prague

When a person looks at a photo, he (or she) can almost immediately say whether he likes it or not. In rare cases it can take a while, but eventually you can either like the photo, not like it, or stay indifferent to it.

But have you ever tried to ask yourself exactly why do you like or don’t like the photograph? It is much more difficult to pinpoint the reasons for which you feel about the photo the way you do.

In this post I am going to present three photos that I made during one of my visits to Prague, and try to explain why I like them. It will be a good exercise for me, and also a good experience for you, my readers. You might agree with my observations, or might not, but in any case I hope to help you to be more conscious not only when looking at images, but also when creating them.

 

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I like the photo above for several reasons. Main reason being that it creates a winter-cold feeling, and gets me in the wintery mood. How it does that? Well, first of all the B&W helps – it emphasizes the lack of colors on a typical overcast winter day. The lonely figure also adds to the mood. Imagine for a moment that instead of lonely figure there would be bunch of kids playing with snowballs – would that add to the mood that I’m talking about? Of course not. Considering everything else in the photograph would remain the same, they would create a contradiction by adding playful joy and “bright colors” into pale surroundings. This is why lonely figure is much more appropriate for this photo’s aim. What else? The bare trees and the snow on the ground of course. In addition there is also a three-dimensional feeling to this photo created by the narrow gate at the front leading the eye to the stairs and further on into the photo – different planes create a feeling of space, and the small human figure looks even lonelier in this space.

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Here is another photo of a snowy winter day, and also with a lonely human figure 🙂 What can I say, these photos were taken in the winter, it was cold and I was in THAT mood. I didn’t convert this photo to black and white because I didn’t feel that it was needed. On the contrary, I wanted the snow on the wall to be distinguishable, and the wall being colored helped that. There are several rhythms in this photo – the rhythm of the street lights, the rhythm of the columns on the wall, and the rhythm of the stairs, all creating a sense of harmony. The human figure has strong visual connection with the statue and the viewer’s eye travels between the two. This connection also prompts us to “humanize” the statue, to think of it as if it was a human figure standing there. These two figures are located in the frame in a way that creates compositional balance. The statue in front “tilts” the balance to the left, but the human figure “counterweights” it by being in the center. The statue is bigger, but because it has snow on it, it is brighter, and bright colored objects are perceived as light by the human eye, while human figure is smaller but it is much darker and thus perceived as “heavier”.

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This last photo is my favorite. By the way, it almost didn’t need the conversion to B&W – the colors were missing from the world that day…

The arched walking path and the bare trees standing on its sideways create a sense of swirling motion around the city buildings with St. Vitus  Cathedral rising in the middle and being steady as a rock.  The horizontal lines in the middle background also add to the motion feel. It is almost a scene from fairytale with a mystical castle and enchanted trees.

Actually, besides what I wrote in the paragraph above, I find it hard to explain why this photo has such a strong impact on me, and maybe you can help me out here. How do you feel about the photos presented in this post, and this last photo in particular? And more importantly why do you feel that way?

 

How Ideas Come To Life

Thinking of it, maybe I should’ve titled this post “story of an idea” because I will be talking about creation of one particular image. But I eventually I decided on the current title because the way this creation emerged from the depths of my imagination is one of the most common ways.

A few weeks ago I had a photo session with Ira, in which my primary goal was to try some new lighting techniques that I thought of. In that shoot I decided to focus on close up portraits (chest line and up). I experimented with different backgrounds and asked Ira to put on a few different shirts.

At first nothing was working for me. The lighting was bad, and I didn’t get any interesting results… but then again, I didn’t start this shoot with a specific idea in mind – it’s like that phrase from Alice in wonderland:

– In which direction should I go?

– It depends on where do you want to arrive

But I felt inspired that day and just kept on shooting and trying to get some nice shots. At one point Ira suggested adding an accessory – a piece of white semi transparent white fabric that she had, and I agreed to try it – it is a good idea to listen to your model, especially when you are out of ideas 🙂

Trying different variations we came up with this photograph:

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I liked it, but quite frankly it lacks an idea behind it. I looked at this photo and thought “nice photo! but what am I trying to tell with it?”. And I couldn’t find an answer. So I forgot about this photo for a while and focused on other tasks.

After a while (a few days have passed since the shoot), when I was watching a Phlearn Pro photoshop tutorial (which by the way was magnificent!), suddenly an idea emerged in my mind. I remembered this photo of a spider’s web that I took:

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And it suddenly got layered, in my mind, onto that photo of Ira holding white fabric, as if she was holding the web itself. I rushed into photoshop to try it, to see how it looks in reality. It was nice but still something was missing… what was it? The spider of course. So I searched the net for images of spiders and chose the one I liked the most. Then I brought it as a layer into my working file, and converted the spider to be pure black.

Now I needed to find a meaningful placement for the spider. I tried different variations before I came up with the final result, which you can see below. I call this image “The Way Up” :

The Way Up...

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By describing my creative process on one particular image I wanted to show one of the many ways creative ideas come to life – they are not always pre-conceived, and sometimes, as it was in this case, they develop step by step over time, graduating slowly towards the end result.

What do you think about the final image? Your thoughts, comments, and suggestions are always appreciated!