A couple of days ago, we looked at the inexact science of color and emotion: I don’t think anybody is going to argue that the mood and feeling of an image is influenced heavily by the dominant color palette, both in terms of the color of incident/reflected light and the color of the subject elements themselves. But how does this translate to black and white images? Obviously, it’s very possible to do since not every monochrome image feels the same. Even within the same sort of general lighting – say low key – it’s possible to produce variations in mood. How? As usual, the answer to this question goes back to light. Specifically, quality of light: diffusion, direction, primary and secondary sources, fill or reflection from surrounding objects, and the texture of your primary subjects themselves: what are they reflecting or absorbing? As you can see, there’s a huge amount of possibility here for variation – and control. The two main things to consider are direction and diffusion. A backlit image will feel very different to a side lit or front lit one; or worse, one lit from direction along the same axis as the camera (think direct flash)……..
This small tutorial has little to nothing to do about camera gear. I’m on a bit of a rant these days about photo forums. The inane banter that goes on there does little to help photographers who wish to improve their craft. In most cases I find the loudmouths are have to be right trolls and there simply to be….right. At least in their own minds. For seven years I taught men and women how to navigate their motorcycles around California racetracks. I’d hear similar things like “Oh if I buy these pipes/Powercommander/520 chain/blah blah blah it will make me faster.” Invariably those same individuals would leverage their credit cards to buy the latest titanium bits to lighten their bikes. Did their lap times fall….uh not much if at all and why? Because they’d rather BUY and brag about their gear than learn and practice. How about getting in better cardio shape and losing 15 pounds instead of spending thousands on titanium parts to save 5 pounds of sprung weight? How about listening and implementing what your instructor/coach is telling you instead of justifying why your BIKE is holding you down? Oh well….
Months ago I wrote a post called Photographers and Money, We Should Talk. The blog post seemed to get a lot of traction and generated a lot of comments and questions. Since then I’ve wanted to get my friend Zack Arias on the line and record a conversation about this stuff, because Zack’s made almost as many mistakes as I have, and has learned from them and spends his days making a living with the thing he loves. He is a man of integrity and, like me, a fan of the amateurs and anyone trying to do this for a living, whether that’s full-time, part-time, or some time in between. Between his chaotic schedule and my travels it’s taken 5 months to make this happen, but sat down this morning and had a conversation. I recorded it. Skype dropped us a couple times and the sound has some flaws, but I hope you’ll sit down with us and listen to this 55 minute conversation about money. Even more, I hope you’ll learn something, or be encouraged to make some changes. Getting your house in order financially, running a business, trying to do this for a living, it’s not easy – but I wouldn’t have it any other way……..
Full frame cameras, as we well know, are the craze among mirrorless users these days, particularly after Sony released a string of quite affordable models during the last year. If we try to be concise and to the point, these are the main arguments in favor of “Full Frame” superiority:
- Inherent ability to achieve shallow DoF
- Better “light gathering” capability, resulting in superior ISO performance
Other advantages such as increased dynamic range and color depth are rarely mentioned in relevant conversations. First of all, let’s state it again, just in case Full Frame Junkies weren’t paying any attention the previous one million times this was mentioned: sensor size by itself has no effect whatsoever on DoF. Nada. Zilch. Please re-read the excellent article about different formats at Photographylife. What’s meant by the DoF statement, is that, the bigger the imaging surface (i.e. the sensor, in digital terms), the easier is to achieve shallower DoF with a wider angle of view, at a given aperture. A 50mm lens will provide the same DoF for any sensor, but the larger sensor will give the coveted blurred background effect at a wider angle of view. So, in essence, we have better control of DoF with smaller focal lengths. “Light gathering” had emerged as something akin to quantum physics’ “spooky action at a distance” statement, but let’s try to keep it simple: among similar technology sensors, the larger size ones will demonstrate better results at the same signal amplification (“ISO”) values. Which means that, e.g. for a APS-C sensor to reach a comparable image quality, it has to “claim” approximately one stop ISO over a full frame one………
What do you think is the possibility, when you are choosing and sorting images based on the JPEG previews, that you are going to discard the better-quality image, and keep the lesser-quality one? Let’s take a look at a typical “training” shot for a holiday – noon of a sunny day, blue Ionian sea, bright white limestone pebbles, bushes with dark-green, high-detail leaves (which lose all detail if the shot is underexposed), deep shadows under the bushes. These types of scenes typically have a very wide dynamic range. We will see later, however, that the real range of the shot we are examining is pretty much only 8 EV, if the exposure is technically correct. Let’s shoot in RAW, bracket the exposure, and try to choose the best shot picking the image the “old” way, which is based on the built-in JPEG, using the JPEG histogram, and the brightness on the screen……..
The idea of making a few quid from your pictures has got to appeal to virtually every photographer. This wonderful hobby of ours isn’t the cheapest on the planet, so wouldn’t it sweeten it that little bit more if you could turn some of your pics into pounds? With that thought in mind, we came up with the A-Z of Making Money From Your Photography. In this PDF download, we’ve packed in as many moneymaking tips as possible, covering a wide range of subjects from Assisting to Magazines. Read and act upon the advice within these pages and you could soon be making cash with your camera……
Many of you will recall that I wrote a blog some months ago entitled ‘5 reasons why your DSLR is obsolete in today’s world’ and that, to say the least got a lot of people talking. It also drew much comment. We saw the hard line DSLR users spitting feathers, others crying ‘clickbait’! Clickbait? Isn’t it all just that? Well, all I can say is … darn, you clicked it though didn’t you? In fact, almost half a million of you did. Shouting clickbait on the internet is like running out into the street and shouting ‘don’t breathe air cuz they want you to’ it’s obvious and slightly moronic. This is just discussion, that’s all, its not important. Anyways, the piece really was sincere and the reactions were expected. But we listened to your voices and today in the good name of balance, I write my own response … to myself. If you will excuse me I shall feel free to contradict. So, why are all these CSC users so smug? …….
Last week we shared some interesting data about the most popular cameras on Flickr over the course of 2014. Today Flickr released some new charts that offer an inside look at camera trends over the past couple of years. While Canon and Nikon usage hasn’t changed much, Apple and Samsung both grew in their shares (1.9% and 2.1% increases, respectively). Kodak also dropped off the map in 2014, going from 1.5% of total usage to very close to 0. In general, smartphone photography has grown quite a bit in the past couple of years. Finally, the mirrorless camera industry has also seen quite a bit of action. Sony and Fuji have both seen their usage increase, Olympus share has somewhat held steady, and Panasonic appears to be losing some share to its competitors……..
Street photography isn’t the easiest discipline. The idea of bringing one’s camera into an uncontrolled situation, where anything can happen and the scene is never the same, can be intimidating, and that’s understandable. What we thought would be helpful is a collection of experiences from several prominent street photographers about this very topic. So jump in and hear from some of the biggest names today. What is street photography? To keep it short and sweet, street photography is photographing people (although some may argue it does not need people) in their everyday lives who aren’t posing for you. If you take a photo of a street…this is not street photography. You just have to try and tell a story or capture something exceptional. It’s the biggest challenge: to make your photo interesting to the viewer. But I’m not too keen to discuss the in-depth definition as it’s just another rule / barrier to stop you shooting. I prefer to think of myself as an urban photographer rather than a street photographer. Being pigeon holed into street photography is a little too limiting considering it’s only a part of what I do, which I like to refer to as London Urban Photography. I shoot London’s diversity, in urban landscape, in people, architecture…….
Learning to Love 35mm Lenses.
When I started taking pictures the conventional wisdom was to shoot with a 50mm equivalent lens (on a full frame camera or film). I stuck with that for years. It helps that good 50mm lenses are cheaper and have less distortion than other lenses on every camera system I’ve found2. This makes 50mm a natural place to start. 50mm lenses are good for learning because they force a photographer to compose pictures more tightly than 35mm lenses lenses. If you’re reasonably close to your subject there’s almost no space in a 50mm frame to cut content later. So 50mm was the easy choice and I had Henri Cartier-Bresson as ideaological support. If the most famous photographer in the world spent most of his life only shooting at 50mm then why would I need to try anything different?…….