Welcome back. Last time out I wrote about the first part of a model portfolio shoot with Katie. I'll write today about the second half of the shoot.
It's not unusual to divide a portfolio shoot in two or more parts, doing very different styles in each part. Usually, these all happen on the same day, with a short break in between. In Katie's case, we did part one in the late afternoon and part two in studio the following morning.
I've already taken you through the process of deciding what poses we'd use and the lighting for the shoot. I've also covered choosing outfits, hair and makeup in my previous blog, so there's no need to go through it again.
We decided to base this shoot on promotional images of actresses from the golden era of Hollywood. Mostly from the work of George Hurrell. The shot above is based on a Marlene Dietrich shot. It took a bit of acting on Katie's part to get the expression but she was well able to do it. Low key portraiture was new to her and she was surprised at how dark the studio was.
Moving about required huge care as there were cables leading from the lights and stands holding the lights and gobos. The centre of the studio was kept clear but we still had to be very careful. In between shots I put on extra lighting but that was only while we discussed the next pose.
I find it a good idea to have the sample shots open on my laptop to show my subject. It makes it much easier for a model to assume a pose or expression when they can see how others have done it.
Some of the shots from this shoot are used else where on the site, so they may not be new to you. It's worth including them here, in any case, so that you can see how well Katie achieved the poses.
I find that the majority of people can achieve even the most complicated pose, as long as they have seen what it is they are trying to get. That is why I send samples in the first place and keep them available to view during the shoot.
While we got less shots from the second part of the shoot, even though it was the same length, it wasn't a problem. These poses and the lighting were more difficult to achieve. Often the light would have to be moved a little to have it fall exactly where I wanted or to prevent it falling where it's not wanted. It would be moved in increments, one light at the time. I would take a shot after each move to see if I got it correct. Having sorted one light, I would then move the other, again in increments.
Katie had great patience during all of this, having to take a pose several times to just get one finished shot. I think that it was worth it and as she used some of these shots in her portfolio, I think that she did too.
As it happened, the studio shoot took place on one of the hottest days of the year. Sealing out the very bright sunshine was a problem but when achieved, it sealed in the heat and air. We had to take several breaks, to let air into the studio and go out for some fresh air ourselves. Lots of water was needed also.
Just as a point of interest, if you ever wonder what lights were used and their position, look into the eyes of the subject. There you will see the lights reflected out at you. Some photographers edit out one or all but I don't. If you look close you can also make out the modifiers used. Hair and rim lights won't show, as they are behind the subject.
In the last shot you can see that I used two lights. The key (main) light was to Katie's left and the fill light was on her right. There was also a light on her hair but set at it's lowest setting, to just barely illuminate her hair. The purpose of the fill light was to soften the shadows and it was set at half the level of the key light.
So, that's it. Thanks for reading my blog. Until next time, take good care of yourself and those you love. Keep shooting.
Hi and welcome to my blog. This time I'm going to discuss a shoot that I had recently.
Katie was aiming to build up her modelling portfolio and wanted to show a range of styles and poses. So, we decided to divide the shoot in two parts, one on the water front in Limerick and the other in studio. One of the studio shots is on my home page.
To begin with we had to decide on poses and styles. That's when Katie decided that she would like to do an outdoor shoot as part of the overall project. I suggested O'Callaghan's Strand in Limerick because of the range of backgrounds there and the modern look of the buildings in the area, something Katie had expressed an interest in having.
I selected a range of shots to use as a base to plan from. I sent these shots to Katie, in a OneDrive folder and she selected the poses that she liked. I usually send about 40 shots and the model will select about 12 to 15 of these, indicating her preferred six or seven. The model can add some samples of her own as well, she doesn't have to choose from what I suggest. We work on the preferred ones first.
The next stage is where the model will choose outfits to suit and accessories to match. I have a selection of accessories which are often used. You may have noticed certain hats, gloves, shoes and jewellery popping up in more than one set of shots.
Some models prefer to sort out their own makeup. Many have friends who are qualified makeup artists or are training and would like a few shots for their portfolio, so a deal is struck. Other times I book a local makeup artist, Victoria Tautke, who has done excellent work for me in the past and gets on great with the models.
Now that all of that has been sorted, we set a date and time. In Kate's case, we did the outdoor portion of the shoot at 4 pm to avoid the brightest part of the day. Strong, direct, overhead sunlight doesn't suit any kind of portraiture.
Most of the shots were taken using an off camera flash and soft box. The sun acted as a hair/rim light.
Like most inexperienced models, Katie was quiet stiff and nervous looking in the first few shots. I usually handle this by telling the model that these are test shots and that there's no need to pose, I have to check my lighting. Sometimes, we get good shots at this point but most importantly, the model relaxes and gets into the flow.
The reason that we choose so many possible poses is because the model may not want to do one of her choices on the day or for some reason it's not an option that day. Depending on how things work out, we could get six poses done, on occasion, more.
Katie settled in very quickly and we got quiet a lot of work done in a relatively short space of time. It's not simply a case of her striking a pose and me taking a photo of it before moving on to the next shot.
No matter how good a model is, she will never get it spot on immediately. So, I talk to her and work her slowly into position. Turn your head a little to the right, drop your chin a little and other instructions like that. Each stage is photographed because it may actually look better than the target pose.
I may also have to move my lights a little because it's not falling correctly on the model. For example, in the first shot of the pose above, my light was set a little too high and there was a strong shadow across the top of her forehead.
All of this requires great patience from the model and the ability to interpret instructions. Models must be able to act, as expressions are very important to the success of the shot and must match the mood being created.
For this part of the shoot, Katie brought three outfits and had very definite ideas of the looks she wanted to achieve. While every shoot is a collaboration, the model must get images that will fit in her portfolio, reflect the work she wants to do and her personality. It's my job as a photographer to ensure that she gets what she needs.
Our relationship is very important. I must set her at ease from the very start, guide her into poses and maintain her confidence. Many inexperienced models think that each pose should be perfect at the first attempt. That's not the case, even for the most experienced models and it's the reason most shoots are timed for a half day or longer.
As we went through outfit changes and moved locations along the waterfront, Katie adjusted with ease. Her intelligence came through, something a successful model needs. Modelling is considered easy work but it is in fact very demanding. Holding a pose, following instructions, creating a look and expression, all require concentration and the ability to interpret quickly and successfully.
When shooting in public there will always be an audience. It's important that the model is aware that it will happen and is ok with it. If the model becomes self-conscious with a group watching, the shoot is ruined. Katie was perfectly at ease with her small audience. As usual, some people watched as they passed by, some stopped for a minute or so and others stayed a good while and even commented. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as they don't interfere with the process. The model has to ignore anything that is said and concentrate on the conversion between herself and I.
As we were shooting on a public walkway, people were regularly walking past and we had to pause, as Katie was on one side and I on the other. Again, this is not usually a problem, as people pass by quickly and Katie can hold the pose. On one occasion though, a couple were passing by, the guy was transfixed by Katie and his partner didn't like it.
She decided to express her thoughts just as they came into the middle of the shot. Another audience member wasn't long telling her to get out of the way and the couple slinked off but I imagine that the woman was still a little upset.
Luckily the shoot took place during the very hot weather that we had this summer. There was no fear of rain, the breeze wasn't strong enough to knock anything over and we had great light to work with. In bad weather shoots often have to be rearranged or cut short. I usually select a number of venues when the weather isn't too promising. One will either be indoors or a very sheltered location. The others will have shelter on at least one side, each one a different direction, so regardless of the wind direction, there's an option.
Most model portfolio shoots that involve outdoor shots take place between mid-spring and mid-autumn but I've had some in winter too.
Many of my model portfolio shoots are not with beautiful young women, like Katie, who aspire to be successful models but are with more mature women who want to experience being a model for a while. Some had entertained the idea of becoming a model when younger and for some reason didn't follow up on it, others only thought about it in later life. They put it on their bucket list.
Regardless of whether you're 22 or 52 if it's something that you would like to try, even just for a day, you should. Life is short and we all change with it. What ever you want in life, go for it, as long as it doesn't harm you or someone else. Otherwise, you'll live to regret it.
You can be a model at any age. It's unlikely that you'll strut down the catwalks of London and Paris at 60, especially, if you're a beginner but only a very small proportion of models get to do that anyway. In my experience, models enjoy the shoots and are glad to have done one. Take a leap.
I'll be back next week with part two of this blog. In the meantime, take good care of yourself and those you love. Keep shooting.
Hello and welcome to my blog. This is just a short one this time.
Here in Ireland we've just experienced a long, hot and mostly dry period but it's coming to an end. This shouldn't finish your photography. All you need do is change what you photograph and how.
The obvious one is to shoot more indoor portraits. Low light levels may require the use of flash but unless you have the means of shooting off camera, try and avoid this. Window light should work for a while more, as the sun is still high in the sky.
North facing windows are often recommended for indoor portraits. This is a good idea when the sun is strong but on a rainy day, with lots of clouds in the sky, any window will do. The clouds will act like the baffle in front of a soft box and soften the light, by spreading it widely.
When you photograph in direct light, the light comes directly at your subject, with most of it hitting the subject on the bright side and causing strong shadows on the other side. When light passes through clouds or a baffle it bounces off the particles in the cloud and goes in all directions, landing on your subject from many directions and the shadows are not as strong.
This shot of Cathy was taken using light coming through a glass door and nothing else. To achieve the shot I had to use ISO 1250 to get a shutter speed I could hand hold, without camera shake (1/100 second). Avoiding camera shake is vital and it's one mistake you can't correct in your editing programme. I explain more about this in other blogs, here http://www.eddieguiry.com/blog/low-light-situations and here http://www.eddieguiry.com/blog/shutter-speeds.
The weather itself can also prove to be a great subject.
Once again, high ISO ratings are necessary to avoid slow shutter speeds and camera shake. In shots like this you should also underexpose a little to avoid the bright areas burning out and losing details. Use the +/- button and select -0.3 or -0.7 but experiment to get the best level and one that's to your taste.
You could also decide to take images of your hobby, house decorations and plants, toys and much more. Bright sunlight is not necessary for photography nor are wide open areas.
So, keep shooting and enjoy your hobby regardless of the weather.
Until next time, take good care of yourselves and those you love.
A low key portrait is one where light levels are low in almost all of the image. Shadows and low light levels are used to make the main subject stand out and optimise curves or facial features. The image of Katie above is a prime example of this style.
The style was very popular during the Hollywood Golden Era and has, to a large extent, disappeared today. Modern portraiture tends to use high levels of light, filling the image with detail. I'll do a blog on this style at another time.
I like the combination of mystery and class that low key lighting evokes. The setting completely disappears from view in most examples. Our eye concentrates completely on the main subject and the photographer can manipulate the shadows to accentuate the sitter's features.
Low key portraits are much better at conveying mood also. In the shot of Katie she looks deep in thought, watching something in the unknown distance, while in the shot of Christina, above, the mood is one of disinterested, thoughtfulness, almost sadness.
Most low key portraits involve only one light, the key light. Shots like this one of Lee Anne, above, involve more. In this one I chose to use two hair lights, one from either side. All involve a darkened or black background. In each of the shots you've seen so far I've used a black background.
The final example, also of Katie, has much more light but it is highly controlled to ensure it only fell on Katie. The background is a good distance away from my model and no light falls on it. To make sure that I would get full effect of the low light I used a strong light on Katie that allowed settings that would not register light from the background.
While this is from the same session as the first I didn't use the black background, it's behind me. I wanted to experiment to see how dark I could get the room by using the settings in my camera. There would not have been a need to get it this dark under normal circumstances but there is a lot of equipment against the wall behind Katie.
So, there you are. I hope I've ignited an interest in you in low key portraiture. Many famous artists, like Rembrandt, used this style, as did film noir. It's much more evocative than other styles.
Until next time, take good care of yourself and those you love. Enjoy your photography and keep shooting.
Welcome once again to my blog. This one will be a short one and will be in the form of advice for anyone who wishes to be an independent model.
I regularly do portfolio shoots for models and actors and I also use models when I want to try out new ideas or new equipment. I've been dealing with models now for over fourteen years and I've noticed some mistakes that beginners often make. I hope that the following advice will help you in your bit to start out as a freelance model.
It's not easy to get that first job, especially if you don't have any professional photos to show. Facebook on it's own is not good enough to catch the eye of photographers or others who may book you. Use Instagram and portfolio sites like Starnow, Purpleport, Model Mayhem and others. Make sure to use good tags and keywords. Model as a hashtag or keyword will not get you attention but #Limerickmodel, #blondemodel, #tallmodel, #Irishalternativemodel or similar specific ones may. If you join any of the sites I mention above there will be plenty of blogs and form discussions to help you out.
For the first few shoots you must be willing to shoot TFP or TFCD. That is Time For Prints or Time For CD. These are not free shoots but a collaboration between you and a photographer and perhaps makeup artists, stylists, etc. Castings for these style of shoots will be listed on the sites but you can also list one yourself. See how others word their's and learn from that.
The deal with these is that you pose for the photographer and he or she provides you with an agree amount of images in print form or on CD to use in your portfolio. This should all be agreed beforehand. Don't expect too many, I usually provide between eight and twelve, depending on the range of outfits and locations we use but some photographers only supply three or four. So you pay him with your time and he pays you with images. Both of you get something for your portfolios.
If you don't get any offers you have to do the chasing. Do a search on the site and find a local photographer whose work you like and contact him. Try several and one of them may agree to work with you.
Make sure beforehand that you both agree on the style of shots to be taken. This applies whether you are making the first contact or the photographer is. It's vital that this is very clear. The last thing you want is to turn up to your first shoot prepared to pose in sports gear and the photographer has a lingerie shoot planned.
Check out the photographer before you agree to shoot. Sites like Starnow has a system of recommendations where models recommend photographers they have worked with and vise versa. If someone has recommended the photographer contact her and ask a few questions. Not all models will answer but some will. If the photographer has no recommendations it doesn't mean anything, as models are bad at following up on them. Instead, look through his portfolio on the site and check if any of the models are also on the site, then contact them.
Model Mayhem has a system where photographers list models they have worked with and recommend. Feel free to contact any model listed but again not all will respond.
Check out the photographer's website and do a search for him or her on google, see what comes up. If the photographer is local to you one of your friends may already know him and could tell you what he's like. You may even recognise someone in his portfolio. Contact them, do your research.
A lot of beginner models tend not to do background checks on photographers but instead turn up with an escort. Many photographers will immediately cancel the shoot because escorts interfere with the shoot, the equipment or both. It's not unknown for an escort to break or steal the photographer's property. Camera equipment and accessories are expensive and wanting to protect them from a stranger is normal.
If you still want to bring an escort let the photographer know in advance. Generally, boyfriends, brothers and fathers are a big no no. Very chatty friends are too. Anyone wanting to take their own photos, even on camera phones are also out. An escort must remain in the background and not interfere in any way. One that sits in the car or reads a book while the shoot progresses is fine.
If you do your homework you shouldn't need an escort. Tell someone where you are going, how long you will be and the name of the photographer. Have them phone you at a particular time, for example, if you expect to finish at 5 pm have them phone you at 5.15 pm. When you arrive at the shoot and when you're leaving the location, text your friend. Let them know to expect those texts.
It's very unlikely that anything will happen to you, if you do your research but it's no harm to take precautions.
When you get professional photos get rid of the selfies. A portfolio full of selfies is not taken seriously. One, perhaps, to show how you look without make but no more should be the rule. If you have professional shots with selfies beside them it tells the photographer that you don't know the difference in quality. You're putting equal value on a quick snap and a photo that too expertise and time to produce. Why would anyone put effort into giving you something you put so little value on?
Wherever you are listed you must indicate the genres that you are willing to pose for. Don't list anything that you won't do. If fact, I would advise going on the safe side. If for instance you are willing to pose in a bikini don't list it until you have some experience of the scene.
Don't go to your limit until you have done several shoots and are very comfortable in front of a camera. Your boyfriend may have taken lots of beautiful shots of you on the beach last summer but posing for a stranger is a different thing. Especially as a professional.
The other thing is that GWCs will see it as an invitation and will try to get you to go further. Guys With Cameras are those who only do shoots with the intention for getting some girl to take her clothes off. The photos will never be processed and you'll get nothing from the shoot. Along with that you will feel uncomfortable throughout and will be under pressure to go further than you are willing.
For a GWC a bikini shot reads as "possible topless or nude". When you're new they will check you out and pressure you to do what they want.
Don't give in and as soon as you feel uncomfortable, leave.
Never pose for anything that you are uncomfortable with. Every shot is likely to end up on the internet and you or someone you know well could come across it at anytime. "Just this once, no one will know about it" never happens. If you allow the shot to be taken it can't be untaken. The photographer may genuinely not intend putting it up on the net but he drops his laptop in for repair and the technician finds it, sends a copy to a friend and he posts it. Don't take the chance.
If you have posed for a shot and are not willing to do that type of shot anymore, don't post it in your portfolio.
Going back to those bikini shots your boyfriend took last summer, they may be beautiful and show how confident you are in front of a camera and your great figure but if someone sees it in you portfolio it says that you do those type of shots. For a GWC it's an indication that you may take off more and an invitation to try.
Start out conservatively and expand your range as your confidence and experience grows. Never go beyond the limits you have set yourself, for anyone.
When you're offered work and you're interested in it, respond quickly. Any follow up emails you get at least acknowledge them, even if you can't give an immediate reply to questions it contains. "I'll get back to you at the weekend" will do, as long as you follow up.
Many new models set up a separate email account for modelling and forget to check it regularly. Don't do that. It's vital that you keep communication going. If a photographer is planning to shoot with you and wants to know your dress size but you don't answer for a week or two, he has already moved on.
The photographer may have booked a studio and makeup artist. If you haven't answered for a week, how is he going to know that you're still interested? He's not going to take the risk of loosing all that money and will either have found another model that he can be sure of or have cancelled altogether.
Keep in contact.
Hello and welcome to my blog. If this is your first time here I suggest that you take a look back on what I've written in the past, especially if you're new to photography. I think that you will find several blogs that would be of aid to you.
A very common question that I get asked is "I want to buy a camera, what should I get?" This is not as straight forward a question, as many people seem to think.
The first thing you need to ask yourself before you make a decision is "what do I want it for?" Taking photos may seem the correct answer but what kind of photos? For example, do you want to take some snaps of your family around your home, maybe a few landscapes when on a trip and photos of your friends when out at the pub or on holiday? Perhaps you would like to take a lot of photos at matches or rallies or maybe, you would love to produce some very classy portraits. Wildlife photography may be your thing or flowers may be the love of your life. The answer to this first question will determine what type of camera you should go for, compact or DSLR.
You can get an answer to this by looking back on photos you have taken in the past and looking at your hobbies. The snap shooter, who rarely uses the camera should go for a compact but then, many phones now have cameras every bit as good as a compact camera, so is there need to trade up?
If you find that your phone or compact camera is not allowing you to take the type of images that you want it's time to consider getting a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera (DSLR).
Most brands of DSLR come in three grades, beginner, prosumer and professional. The beginner grade speaks for itself and should be purchased by anyone who is a beginner at photography. Apart from the fact that it will satisfy your needs it's not a huge investment and if you later decide that photography is not for you, you haven't lost too much.
The prosumer grade camera is for the more advanced amateur. If you've reached the point where the beginner level DSLR is holding you back it's time to move up to a prosumer camera. These cameras are much more advanced, better built, have more features and have much of what you'd expect to find in a professional grade camera.
You have a choice between purchasing the traditional mirrored version or the mirror-less version, which shouldn't really be called a DSLR, as the R part isn't there. There was a time that I would have told you to stay away from a mirror-less camera, as the range of lenses and accessories was very limited but that is more or less sorted now. If I was starting out again, I would go for the mirror-less version because of it's smaller size, lower weight and ease of handling. As things stand, the cost of also replacing my lenses and other accessories make the change over very expensive, so I'm sticking with the traditional DSLR for the present.
The last grade is the professional camera and I suspect that if you are ready for one of those you wouldn't be reading this blog. They are much more expensive, have much more features, are better quality and require a much greater understanding of photography than either of the two other grades, before you can get value from one. Unless you are ready to go professional the investment required can't be justified.
You may have a budget of x and can find a DSLR that matches your budget but that doesn't mean that you should buy it. All DSLRs allow you to change the lens, so you need to allow for that. They also use speedlights and you have to budget for one of them. The beginner models usually come as part of a package that will include a standard zoom and sometimes a speedlight or flashgun, as they are sometimes known.
Again, if your budget is x the camera you can buy may be too advanced for you and you would be better buying a cheaper one and spending the savings on going out there and getting experience. Then again, it may not buy one that is good enough for your level of skill and I would suggest then that you save for another while and buy the correct one, rather than buy one that you will want to replace again in the near future.
You also need to allow money for at least a second lens. The best arrangement is one lens at 24 to 70 mm or similar and a second at 70 to 300 mm. This gives you a huge range of coverage without breaking the bank. You may also want to get a much longer lens, 500 mm for bird watching, for example or a macro lens.
It doesn't end there. Now that you know what type of camera you want and the grade, if a DSLR, you still have to find a camera that matches your requirements within all the choices still available. You'll need to compare the brands, the range of accessories they make, the backup service provided, etc. Most likely they will have more than one model for you to consider, with slightly different features, which one matches your requirements? One will suit a sports photographer, another would suit a portrait photographer, for example.
You have a lot of research to do before you make that final decision but there's one more question that you must consider even before doing your research. "Am I ready for an upgrade?" Regardless of the quality of camera you have or it's age, is there any point in investing money on a new camera if you still have a lot more to learn about photography?
Perhaps you should be out there taking more photos, getting to understand the settings better and exploring your tastes in photography. When you've learned more you may decide to purchase a completely different camera to the one that you would purchase now or may even decide that the one you have at present is more than enough for you.
Regardless of what you decide, a new camera will not improve your photography, experience and experimentation will. Go out there and take lots of photos, try new things and be prepared to take bad photos. When you do, ask yourself what went wrong and learn from it. That should be your priority.
I hope that I've given you some food for thought and helped you make the correct decision. Until the next time take good care of yourself and those you love.
Welcome once again to my blog. I hope you have been getting value from reading it and that it has helped improve your photography. This time I'm going to answer a question I was asked in an email, "when should I use my lens hood?"
The simple answer to that question is "always". There are a few occasions when you may wish to leave your hood in the bag but for most people they are very rare.
There are two main reasons to keep your lens hood attached to your lens, the first is to reduce the risk of flare and the second is to protect it.
In the image above there are no very strong sources of light but there are still many different sources, coming from all angles. Light coming through the window, just out of the image on the left or light from behind the counter, just to the right, could have caused flare. So, even though it's a low light situation, the potential for lens flare exists.
There are occasions where you can't completely avoid flare, for example, at a rock concert but you can reduce it. Your lens hood is a vital piece of equipment and should be used at all times, even when you think that there may not be a need.
The other use for a lens hood, as I've already stated, is to protect your lens. It creates a buffer between the front element of your lens and anything that may strike it. In crowded areas, for example, people may brush up against the front of your lens. Studs, metal parts of handbags, rings, etc. all have the potential to scratch the front element of your lens. The cost of repairing these scratches can be very high and are an unnecessary expense.
When you have the hood on your lens only objects coming directly at it are likely to strike the front element. Anything coming at an angle, which in practice is most things, will hit the hood instead of the glass element at the front of the lens. Even if it damages the hood it's not a major problem. A good hood will cost you about €5 or less, depending on the lens it fits. Repairing a lens will cost considerably more.
There will be a few occasions when your lens hood will get in the way. My only experience of this is when shooting macro images. This involves focusing on an object just millimetres from the front of the lens and the hood will not allow this. For this type of photography my camera is on a tripod and both of my hands are free. I set up the lighting to avoid flare but I also place one or both hands to shade the lens from the light.
So, in summary, you should use your lens hood in almost all situations. If it's not needed it does no harm but when needed, it improves your image hugely. You may decide from time to time to use flare for artistic effect but even then a lens hood is useful to ensure that you get the flare where you want it and only just get the amount you want.
Well, I hope that has been of use to you and helps improve your photography. Thank you for reading it and feel free to make comments or ask questions by using the comments section or by emailing me at [email protected]
Until next time, take good care of yourself and those you love.
Hello and welcome to my blog. Today I'm going to talk about the use of shadow to create effects in your photos.
When we start out as photographers we imagine that we need lots of light and that everything must be fully light up. However, we begin to notice that in certain images it's the shadow that gives us the effect we want.
What we are inclined to forget, at the early stages at least, is that we mostly photograph three dimensional subjects, the image is recorded onto a two dimensional chip, edited on a two dimensional monitor and printed onto two dimensional paper. To avoid our images looking flat and uninteresting we must try and create a three dimensional effect in our images. We do that by including shadow on our subjects.
Sometimes we look at a photo and see immediately that shadow is what makes the image. In this photo of the Desmond Banqueting Hall in Newcastle West we see a lot of shadow in the clouds. This is the main focus of the image and without it we would have a plain image of a building.
It's not always as obvious as this however and we often overlook the shadow in the image and don't realise what it is that gives it it's three dimensional result.
This image of detail from a stone wall on the Burren in Co. Clare would not work without shadow. When I arrived at this scene first I was facing a wall with the sun shining directly on it. It looked flat and uninteresting. I found a section of wall that was running at an angle to it and this is the result. The shadow gives the feel of the texture of the stone and the shape of each one. Without the shadow, the roughness of the stone and the sharpness of the edges would not be obvious. All it took was to look for a different section of wall, just five meters away, to change from a flat uninteresting image to one of depth and texture.
Shadow is just as important in portraits. We can use shadow to make our subject stand out from the background or to give three dimensions to our her. Either way, we must be conscious of where we place the shadow and how much to include.
With all portraits it is vital that we can see at least one eye clearly and that our subjects eyes are sharp. It doesn't matter how well we've done on all other aspects of the portrait, if the eyes are not sharp or not clearly visible, the photo fails. There are exceptions to this, as always but 95% or more of the time we need the eyes visible and sharp.
In this image of Sinead shadow slims her face, while giving it form. You will notice that both of her eyes are in the light and sharp. Our subconscious plays an important role in how we interpret images. Large bright areas are seen as big in real life also. When we turn our subject fully towards the camera and light her face fully, our subconscious tells us that the person is large. By turning her at 45 degrees to the light we are reducing the bright area on her face and tricking our subconscious into seeing her as slimmer than she actually is.
This is easy to do with a single person or indeed a small group but it's not so easy with larger groups. In a natural light situation you may find yourself unable to fit a large group into the space available unless you turn them fully into the light. Sometimes we have to make compromises and don't get the image we want. In this case it's better get an image that satisfies most of the rules rather than get none.
In general, you should work to include shadow to give shape to your subject. As already mentioned you can also use shadow to make your subject stand out. Sometimes we get a dark subject and are tempted to add light but this is not always the thing to do.
In this image of an alter the shadow keeps attention on the alter and creates a nice triangle around our main subject. I could have used a speedlight and filled the area with light but it would have taken away from the image. Instead, I used a high ISO rating and took the image as you see it. There are more items in the shadow area in the background, including plants and religious items, that would have taken your attention. So, by exposing for the light on the alter and using only the natural light, I let the shadow hide the distracting details.
In portraiture we can do something similar. For example, if using window light, place our subject on the edge of the light, close to the window and expose for that. Unless you are in a very well light room, with several windows, the room will fall into shadow. You may need to throw some light back on your subject from behind, so as not to lose detail in her hair or clothing. This can be done using anything white and that's large enough.
The image on the left shows what I mean. I used a large reflector to throw the light back on Chrissie and it helped to separate her from the background. The difference in the lighting levels on Chrissie and the background allowed the background to go completely dark.
This effect can be used on a bright day, using a window that is not facing directly into the sun. Artist's studios have what's known as "north light". This means that the window is north facing, to avoid direct sunlight, giving a lovely soft light. We can get a similar effect with an east facing window in the afternoon or a west facing window in the morning.
Bright cloudy days give a similar effect. However, on a bright cloudy day the light is bounced about the place by the cloud and comes in the window in all directions, often lighting up the entire room evenly. Closing the curtains so that there is only a narrow gap open will usually solve this problem.
So, that's it for today. I hope I've given you food for thought and that you'll try using shadow to improve your photography.
Until next time, take good care of yourself and those you love. Enjoy your photography.
Hello again and welcome to my blog. Today I'm going to discuss what to do when you can't get a well composed shot on site and what to consider before you take that shot.
It's not always possible to get exactly the image you want, for various reasons. Lighting conditions is one of the most common reasons but I'm not going to deal with that now. Perhaps in a later blog. Sometimes, it's not possible to get close enough or to avoid having an obstruction in the image, a pole on the left side, for example.
The first thing you must do is frame the image you want, in your mind's eye. Then figure out the best angle from which to take it. These are two steps you should be doing before every image you take but it's especially important in this situation.
Things to watch out for are how the light is falling on your subject, what the background is like, will there still be unwanted objects in the image and does it show your subject from a good angle.
Now position yourself so that you are taking the shot from the angle required. The image above was taken with a 450 mm lens but the plover is still small in the image. I had already moved so that the background wouldn't compete for attention.
I had been over to my right, in line with the bank she is standing on. This would have given me a very complicated background and the bird would have been lost in it. In the low light conditions, the brown of her feathers would have blended in with the many shadows in the bushes that would have formed the background.
The bird had seen me moving and was watching me nervously. I could have moved closer but the possibility was that she would fly away before I got my shot. As it was, she flew away almost as soon as I took this one.
In my mind's eye, the area framed in red was the image I hoped to get. However, as explained above, I couldn't get close enough for that. However, by positioning myself correctly, I got the image, within a larger one and just had to crop to size in Photoshop.
The final image may now be on the small size but it can be resized, also in Photoshop. Open Image>Image Size or press the short keys Alt+Ctrl+I, a dialogue box opens. In this box, select Per Cent. If you are using an older version of PS, this will be in the top section of the box, where you will have the option of selecting Pixels or Per Cent. In CC, the sections of the box have been combined and there is a drop down menu, in line with width and height, where you select Per Cent.
It's important that you don't increase the size of the image in one step, unless you are increasing it by a very small amount. It is recommended that you increase it in size by no more than 10% at a time. So, when you've selected Per Cent, the number in the digits box will be 100. Change this to 110 and press OK. Repeat this step until you have it at the size you want or a little larger.
It's possible also to set up an Action for this, it's much quicker. Click Alt+F9 to select your actions panel. At the bottom of the panel there are a number of symbols. One looks like a page, with the corner turned down, click on this. If you're unsure, hold your cursor over it for a couple of seconds and the description will pop up.
A new dialogue box pops up. Here you can name the Action, I've named mine "10%". It's best to choose something obvious. You can also select a Function Key to launch the action. Doing this makes like even easier. I've select F10 but you can select anyone of them. If it's in use already, you may need to combine the Shift or Ctrl key with the Function Key or both. Press Record and go through the action once. Then at the bottom of the action panel, click the square button and this stops the recording. Next time you want to use the Action, click the Function Key you've selected for it and it happens automatically. This is time saving when you have to repeat the action a few times.
Hello and welcome to my blog. This time I will discuss the problem of theft of images, especially those online. For most photographers, it's not a major problem and policing your images online may be more effort than it's worth.
If you have a particularly salable image it's worth protecting it by not uploading at all, except to the library selling it for you. Our everyday pictures are different and we often like to place them in galleries or enter them in competition. There are ways of discouraging theft but a really determined thief will still get them. Here's the information that you need to know.
Metadata; Metadata is information that's included in the file of every digital image. The first part of this is implanted in the image file at the time of taking it. This includes details about the camera, it's make and model, serial number, lens used, etc. It also includes the settings you used to take the photo and details like whether the flash fired.
All of this information is permanent and can not be removed. It's useful to you, if you want to review a photo and see how to repeat an effect. The serial number of the camera is possibility the most important piece of information, if trying to prove ownership.
IPTC Core; This sounds very complicated and advanced but it isn't. This is the section where you fill in your own name and other personal details. At the bottom of this section there's a place where you can claim copyright and the terms of that copyright.
When you upload a folder of images, open your browser, Adobe Bridge for example and select all. Fill in the details in the IPTC Core panel and it will be applied to all the images. There is the option, under Tools, of creating a template for your metadata, which will save you having to fill in your personal details every time.
Start at the top and work your way through the various headings. There are a few that you won't fill in as an amateur, for example, job number but fill in any information that you can.
Keywords; The image above shows you the personal data that I've included with the image on the left. This makes tracing me, for permission to use the image, very easy.
Also included is a set of keywords, which makes finding any image, at a later date, very easy. If you enter keywords that are descriptive of the image and as many possible ways of describing the image as possible, the image can be quickly found by your browser, simply by entering some of the keywords in the search panel. I'm digressing a little but it's worth it.
If, for example, in five years time I was looking for this specific image, I could enter bollards, chrome and footpath in the search panel, at the top right in Adobe Bridge and this image will be found. Any one of the keywords that I entered, when filling out the metadata, can be used to recover this image. I may be looking for images that include paving bricks or that were taken in November and a simple search will recover this image and any others with similar keywords.
Filling in the keywords takes a few seconds and can save hours searching, at a later date. It also saves time when uploading your image to certain sites. Some online galleries require that you provide keywords with your image, to make finding it easier for visitors. You can enter the keywords manually but many sites can read the keywords that are already included in the metadata.
Finally, you can go back to your browser at any time and alter the keywords. When you edit the image, it's also possible to alter the keywords and other metadata. In Photoshop, this can be done by clicking on File and then on File Info. All of the same sections will be included in the pop up dialogue box, except this time they will be in tabs. Any information that can be entered and altered in your browser, can be altered here.
Using a logo; Many photographers place a logo or watermark on their images, when uploading them. This seldom works as a form of protection and is usually used as a way of advertising. Professionals place their logo on an image so that a viewer who likes it can trace the photographer and book him.
Unless you place your logo or watermark right in the middle of the image, it can be edited out by re-cropping the image or with a little careful work in Photoshop. If you decide to place one on the image anyway, Photoshop and many other editing programmes, have a filter for doing it. There are also a number of plug-ins which will do it for you, some are even free.
An easy way to create a logo file and paste it onto an image is as follows. Assuming that you already have a logo, open Photoshop and open the logo file. Then go to File, then New and select an appropriate document size. In the Background Contents box, make sure to select Transparent.
Click OK and a new blank, transparent document will open. Next bring your logo file to the front, click Ctrl+A to select it and Ctrl+C to copy it. Now bring the new blank file to the front and click Ctrl+V to paste your logo. Shape and alter your logo to suit your taste. It's now possible to use a Layer Style on your logo, for example, a drop shadow or outer glow. When you're happy with how it looks, click Ctrl+Shift+E to merge the layers and save to where you will find it easily and with an obvious name, for example Logo 2016.
When you want to place your logo on an image, open Logo 2016 or whatever title you gave it. Then click Ctrl+A to select it and Ctrl+C to copy it. Open the image you want to place it on and click Ctrl+V to paste the logo file. You can now resize your logo and place it where you want, within the image. Merge your layers and save the final image as a copy of the original. Always keep a copy of the image without the logo on it, you'll never know when you may want it.
If you don't have a logo, open the transparent document, as explained above. Type your name on it, using the font and style that you like. Then add any layer style you wish and merge the layers. Save this as your logo and use it in the very same way.
Care is needed; Be careful where you post your images. Some sites offer great protection, while others don't. Many online galleries, 500px for example, put a blank, transparent layer over your image. This means that when someone tries to save your image, they will save the blank layer instead. Others put the site's logo on the image, in a way that can't be seen while viewing on the site but will be very visible, once downloaded. Different sites have different ways of protecting the images uploaded to them. Generally speaking, the bigger the online gallery or photo library, the better the protection provided.
When you upload an image to a site that is not dedicated photo library or gallery, you usually don't have any protection at all. Indeed some will claim copyright over your image, once uploaded or at least claim the right to use if for free, even after you have deleted the image or your account.
Copyright; If you live in the USA, it's possible to register your images and your claim of copyright. I don't know how this is done, as I don't live there but it's worth looking up, if you do live there.
In Europe, you automatically own the copyright of all images you take, even when someone is paying you to take the photo. There are a few minor exceptions but unless you're taking commercial images, they don't affect you.
At the end of the day, if someone is determined to steal your image, there is little you can do. If you make it more difficult for them, many will move on and find another image. Filling in as much metadata as possible and making sure it's included in your files, will discourage thieves and help prove ownership.
If your image is stolen, you'll have to consider the costs of recovering it. Usually, the best you can do is have it removed from whatever site is using it but that can be difficult and costly, at times, although many will remove your image immediately. There are sites, Tineye.com, for example, that will find where your images are being used. It may be that someone has copied your image to a gallery of images he or she likes and makes no other use of it and even credits you. Do you want to tell them to remove it?
It could also be the case that it's being used to make money by a business, that's worth chasing down, most of the time or it may be that another photographer has claimed credit for it.
Sometimes, a photo editor or photographer will edit your image and claim copyright on the result. This breaks the copyright law in two ways. It is a breach of copyright to edit an image without permission and also to claim copyright over an image you did not create.
So, for example, if someone was to take the image above and crop it tightly around the flowers, without my permission but didn't claim copyright for themselves, that's a breach of the law. If they let the image as it is and claimed copyright, that's against the law also. If they changed some of the colours in it or made it black and white, that's against the law also.
Would any of the above be worth pursuing? That would depend on what it costs and what benefit would accrue to you, as a result. Only you can decide.
I've had one instance of a photographer putting an image by me up on an online gallery, under his own name. He had gotten several likes and a few comments but there was no means of him making money from it. I sent an email to him, first and got no response. Then I sent an email to the gallery controller and he removed it. Was it worth doing any more? I didn't think so. Had he made money from it, it may have been different, depending on how much. There would be no point going through the hassle of court cases and paying legals fees to recover a small amount of money, especially as he was in a different country.
When you put your images on line, it's a bit like the guy who places vegetable for sale at his front gate. Most people are honest and if they take something, they will put the money in the box but there will be one, every now and then, who will take a bunch of carrots and put nothing in the box. The gardener could stand by his table all day every day to prevent the loss of €2 once a week or he could carry on doing what he enjoys, gardening. Where he strikes the balance is an individual decision.
I hope that I've given you information of use to you and some food for thought. It's a complicated subject and much of it has to be decided on a case by case basis.
Enjoy your photography and until next time, take good care of yourself and those you love.