Category Archives: PHOTOGRAPHY

all bloggers den – Photography

The dPS Ultimate Guide to Fine Art Photography.

Download Digital Photography Resources.

One of the contentious topics in the world of photography these days seems to be what exactly is fine art photography. Ultimately it is what the photographer deems it to be, but in the world of art, there is a lot more to it. If you want to get recognition as an artist that uses the medium of photography, then there are certain expectations of what your body of work should be like and how you go about executing it.

Galleries and collectors are not going to collect work or invest in art when there isn’t a lot of consistency within that body of work. One fine art image is not enough to make you a fine art photographer. The work needs to be done with intention, with a direction, and have a consistency over all the images. A style is developed that is recognizable in all the images.

It is important to look at other famous artists, not just photographers, but painters and sculptures, to see how their work has evolved. See how you can do something similar with your photography. Photography is no different to those other mediums and the same definitions that apply to them are also applicable to fine art photography.

Who can be a fine art photographer?

01 leannecole fine art photography

A long exposure that was taken during the day, but the light in the image has been manipulated to make it look like it was taken at a different time.

Anyone can be a fine art photographer; there are no hard and fast rules about it. Though it does demand a fair amount of dedication. There are no rules or special qualifications that a person needs to follow or have before they call themselves a fine art photographer.

Some of the things that help define a fine art photographer

Perhaps the best way to describe how you can be a fine art photographer is to look at how they work. There is a lot more to it than simply creating beautiful images. We can all do that, but an artist works towards something. Their work is done with intention, and they have a direction they are following. Finally, there is a consistency to their work. Let’s take a look at each of these points individually.

Intention

Often when you go out to take photos, you pick a place because you think you might get nice images at that location. That is most likely never going to be a problem for you. But if you want to be considered more of a fine art photographer then you need to go to places that you know will help you create images that will further your work, and build your portfolio. There has to be some intention behind why you photograph things.

2420 leannecole fine art photography

The cityscape that has some differences, but it is quite effective and if I was short of images for an exhibition this one would be included.

For example, a fine art portrait photographer who does images of people in certain scenes, like dark moody beach scenes, is not going to go and take photos of a baby in a park. Well, they might for a friend, but they wouldn’t include that work in their portfolio.

Artists are always trying to take photos that work with what they already have. They go out with the intention of photographing subjects that follow the direction of their work.

Direction

This is a lot like intention, but it means the photographer has direction. If they are taking photos somewhere, they are being directed by their previous work. This helps them to get images that will continue to follow that style.

06 leannecole fine art photography

Before processing.

07 leannecole fine art photography

After processing to give it my signature style.

Consistency

For the same reasons as intention, that same portrait photographer is not going to photograph a baby because it won’t give their workflow any consistency. For a fine art photographer, you need to have work that is fairly consistent and looks like it all belongs together.

That doesn’t mean it has to be the same subject all the time, it can also be a similar processing style. All the images are processed in a similar way so they look consistent when a gallery or investor is looking at the portfolio.

The more consistent you are the more galleries and investors will be interested in your work.

This is definitely the case. I asked the curator for Stills Gallery in Sydney, Josephine Skinner, about how important it is that there be consistency in a body of work. This is what she had to say:

It’s very important. If an artist were contacting us, I would hope to view a resolved body of work, both conceptually and materially. Of course, we’re used to working with artists as they develop new work for an exhibition, but a cold submission won’t pique my interest unless you establish your capacity to deliver.

What is a body of work and how do you create it?

A body of work is where you have several pieces that show the consistency and intention that was spoken about earlier. When you have a body of work it should have a similar style and look as though one person created it all.

The subject matter should be all the same or very similar. There needs to be a number of images in the body of work so you can have an exhibition. The actual amount will depend on where you are exhibiting and how many are needed.

This is a selection of my work, notice the similar processing style, subject matter, and mood across all the images.

Contact sheet 02

Contact sheet 01

Artist Statement

Whether you want to believe it or not, an artist statement is very important. It doesn’t have to be an essay, but putting what you are trying to achieve with your photography down on paper is a great way to help with those areas that we just discussed; intention, direction, and consistency.

When writing one you want to be clear about why you are doing what you are doing. What is important about it and why you have chosen the medium of photography?

Here is what Josephine had to say about artist statements:

An artist statement is helpful: be brief, clear and use accessible language.

Some statements can waffle on and not make much sense. It is good to sound professional, but it should be concise and leave the audience of your work with a very clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve.

03 leannecole fine art photography

The final image. Many aspects were changed so this image would look like it was taken at night with just one light shining.

Look at some fine art photographers that are practicing now

Have you ever been told that if you want to be a good writer that you should study and read the writing of those in the same field? The same can be said for fine art.

If you want to be an artist then you should study and look at the work of other great artists, in this case, fine art photographers. Though, you should include a wide range of artists as photographers can also learn a lot from painters, drawers, printmakers, and sculptors.

08 leannecole fine art photography

This image of the 12 Apostles doesn’t really belong with most of the work, but it still has the same. The light has been manipulated, so it almost belongs. But, the different subject matter would make mean it would probably not be included in an exhibition.

You really need to look at what your work is and find similar photographers. There is such a large number of photographers working at the moment, that it’s hard for me to tell you who to study. But here is a list of a few fine art photographers to give you a starting point.

What is an Artist CV?

15 leannecole fine art photography

A cityscape image before processing.

16 leannecole fine art photography

The final image showing how the light has been changed to create this look.

This is very similar to a work CV (curriculum vitae) or resume. But instead of listing all the jobs you have had, you list everything that galleries and other people in the art world might want to know about you.

They usually start with your education, where you have studied and when. Then you list what solo exhibitions you have had if you have had any. The goal is to end up with a massive list of those. Then you follow those with the group exhibitions in which you have been involved. Then you might add what prizes you have won.

Finally, comes a list of places where your work has been published. For example, if you have had work published in a magazine. You can also include collections and in this section, you will mention if you have sold work to important places like a major public gallery, for instance.

09 leannecole fine art photography

Another image that has the same look and processing, but doesn’t belong. It does belong more than the image of the 12 Apostles though.

Every time you approach a gallery you will be asked for your Artist’s CV. If you don’t have one, it is time to start working on it. They are usually one page.

Here is a link to my CV as an example.

Do you need to study Fine Art at a Tertiary Level?

The simple answer to this is no, you don’t have to study at a tertiary level to be a fine art photographer. But the long answer is that if you do, you will gain a greater understanding of the many aspects of being an artist. The really good places also give you studio space and impose the need to work in that space like a professional artist would.

10 leannecole fine art photography

Another one of the power stations, that could work, but wouldn’t be included in an exhibition.

There are so many other things you learn as well, for example, how to develop your style or your body of work. Or, how to create the consistency we talked about earlier. You begin to understand how the gallery system operates and how to approach them. Often you are given opportunities to exhibit your work so you can get an idea of what it is like. These can help you to get a start on your artist’s CV.

The lecturers are usually artists themselves, so they can guide and mentor you. They understand what you are going through and their advice can be invaluable.

Getting a Bachelor of Fine Art is never a bad thing. Many other artists and galleries will take you more seriously because you have shown a commitment to your practice.

12 leannecole fine art photography

This one is a little different, but it still fits the artist statement.

Where to study it if you so choose

There are places all around the world and where you study will depend on where you live, the cost, and if you are accepted. Look at other artists and see where they studied. Do your research to find out what is available near you. Find out how many graduates of that institution have had successful careers when they finished.

Not all art schools are equal. Some have very good reputations, while others will get you the degree, but not necessarily the prestige. For example, in Melbourne, you can get a Fine Arts Degree from many places, but two are more sought after, University of Melbourne, Faculty VCA, and RMIT University. People take more notice if you have attended and graduated from those schools.

14 leannecole fine art photography

This image appears as though it would work, but since the rest of the images are more cityscapes and not close-ups of anything, it would not be included. If more similar images were made, I may have to reconsider that decision.

Keep in mind that this type of degree will not lead to a paying job, and you are being trained to be an artist. It is expected that you will work at it full-time when you finish. Of course, most artists end up doing other jobs to supplement their income until they are making enough from their art. Though this appears to only happen for a few. Nearly all teach or have other jobs to pay the bills.

I had a lecturer once that told us if we were still doing art and exhibiting our work 10 years after graduation we would make money from it. Unknown if this is true, but it is a nice sentiment.

Visit galleries and see what others exhibit

2220 leannecole fine art photography

This was taken near a marina, but it is too different and I couldn’t make it look like the other images, so it would never be included in an exhibition.

To get a great understanding of what fine art photography is one of the best things you can do is visit art galleries, both public and commercial. You can see how the artist works, look at the consistency and also how the work all looks when it’s put together in an exhibition.

Look for commercial galleries that are exhibiting photography works, or better still find ones that specialize in fine art photography. If you can’t visit them in person, then look on the internet. They all have websites and usually show the works of the artists they represent.

Study the work and the artist. If you find some whose work you really like, pay a lot more attention to them. Find out what motivates the artist, look at their artist CV, and see if you can find an artist statement. That will really help you to understand their intention, direction, and the consistency.

Public galleries often have some of their collection online, but you are usually required to go and look. Don’t be disappointed if the photography section if very small, other artworks often get more wall space. You can look for galleries that specialize in photography, for example in Victoria, Australia there is a place called Centre for Contemporary Photography and that is all they show. It’s a great way to see what other photographers are doing.

18 leannecole fine art photography

Like the ocean image, this has the same look and feel, but the subject matter doesn’t match.

Here are a few others:

Study about all art, its history and what is happening now

Part of being an artist is keeping yourself informed. As previously stated, you should be going to galleries and seeing other exhibitions. It is so important to read and study other artists. It can help you understand what their lives were like and what drove them to create their art.

It is also good to keep up to date with what is happening in the world of art. Who is winning awards, what work is really popular right now, and how you could fit in. Look at who is being exhibited and which galleries are showing their work.

Look at painters, sculptures, and other mediums

Don’t limit your photography study to just photographers. You should also look at painters, sculptures, printmakers, and drawers. You can learn a lot from them as well.

Rembrandt lighting is a type of lighting pattern that portrait photographers strive to create. It involves a triangular spot of light on the cheek of the portrait subject. Photographers have been trying to replicate that style for years, but it came from a painter – Rembrandt.

13 leannecole fine art photography

The image is similar, but it probably wouldn’t be included in an exhibition. It doesn’t quite fit.

In some ways, painters were our earliest photographers as they tried to paint what they saw. Looking at their work is very important. You can learn a lot about subject-matter and more importantly, about composition. For those artists, the composition was key and they would have spent a great deal of time working on that element of their craft. Study how they put their paintings together and learn.

Sculptors create compositions and often work conceptually. If you are interested in conceptual photography then looking at how these artists work can help you find direction. See what lengths they go to in creating their sculptures.

Living an artist’s life and what that means

There is a myth that many creatives were “suffering artists”. That to be an artist you had to be in some kind of struggle. The other myth is about being the “starving artist”, so if you are going to be an artist you have to also be very poor.

The first is a myth, you don’t have to be on some internal struggle to be an artist. It has been said that you have to go through disasters in your own life in order to help you create masterpieces. It isn’t true, of course. Very normal people create the most amazing artworks. There is a lot more to it than some emotional suffering.

In the past, many artists were starving. Even in today’s world, making money as an artist is incredibly hard. There are more people wanting to be artists than there are people wanting to buy the work. The reference to starving was more to do with making no money and not having enough to buy food.

The reality is that most artists live very normal lives. They often work part-time jobs to survive and live in ordinary houses. They are often very normal people. There are some eccentric artists, but they are more the exception to the rule. Many have studios and workspaces, and every free moment they get, they work in their art practice.

11 leannecole fine art photography

A cityscape that would work in an exhibition, it has the same feeling as the others.

Exhibiting your work

There are various different kinds of galleries and if you want to exhibit your work then you need to start studying them. Find out which ones are the best for you to approach first of the several different types (large public and private).
First, you need to find out what the galleries are looking for. Once again, Josephine has some advice for those wanting to approach galleries:

The first piece of advice I would have is to do proper research into which galleries you approach and be selective with those you do. We get submissions from painters, for instance, who haven’t even looked on our website to find out we exhibit photomedia and video. In the process of narrowing it down, bear in mind that if a gallery has an emphasis on photomedia that doesn’t mean that all forms of photography will fit with their broader aesthetic and focus. Also, be conscious that each artist brings something unique to a gallery so diversity is desired – they probably won’t want someone whose practice mirrors an existing represented artist. Lastly, each gallery has a different policy for receiving submissions, so a good idea is to call and ask what they prefer. Don’t just show up and expect to sit down with the Director!

17 leannecole fine art photography

A cityscape taken from an observation deck. While it is a cityscape it also would not be included. It really does not have the same look at the others.

That is great advice and a good idea for all artists. Do your research and study the galleries you are interested in to see if they are a good fit for you. You can also ask questions to see what they have to say. They will often be more than happy to talk to you about what type of work they are looking for, and how to submit your work.

Josephine has provided some information on how they find new artists:

Our focus is contemporary photomedia and video, so we tend to look at art prizes that are often interdisciplinary, such as the Hatched Graduate exhibition at PICA, and keep an eye on what’s happening in ARI (Artist Run Initiatives) spaces. These platforms provide an initial filter because the work has already undergone a process of competitive selection. Galleries with a more traditional or commercial aesthetic would probably look elsewhere.

Most galleries will have information and guidelines about how to send in proposals for exhibitions; you need to follow those closely. They get a lot of submissions and if you don’t do what they ask then you could be eliminated straight away. Do everything you can to get them to look at your artwork.

Preparing your work to exhibit

2320 leannecole fine art photography

The subject matter fits with much of what the fine art work is about, but it’s the wrong colors and sends a different message than the others.

Having an exhibition of their work is the ultimate goal for most artists. It is where they develop a name and reputation. If you want that too, then you have to make sure your work is good enough to show.

There are so many decisions to be made before you do a show. You have to decide who will print your work and how it will be printed. Part of the reason for exhibiting is to sell your work and if it doesn’t look good then people won’t buy it.

Before the work is sent to be printed you need to make sure that there aren’t any defects in the images. When they are blown up, sensor spots or other unwanted items in your scenes will be enlarged as well. They could end up standing out so much that they take over the image. Magnify the image on your computer (view at 100% or 1:1 size) and look very closely for any mistakes or faults.

20 leannecole fine art photography

Work in an exhibition.

19 leannecole fine art photography

Work that is packaged and ready to be sent to an exhibition.

Find a professional printer who will work with you. Look for one that you can rely on, and who knows their business. They should be able to help you figure out the best way to present your work. There are so many options for photographs these days. You can do canvas prints, put images on fine art paper, and even have them on metal, which is very popular right now.
Then you are faced with the option of framing or not. Most galleries will answer that question for you.

Read my article: How to Prepare a Photography Exhibit of Your Work for more on this topic.

Editioning your work

This is not compulsory, but one thing that many photographers do is edition their work. This means they will only sell a certain number of that image or a limited edition. The artist sets the edition to what they think they might sell.

2520 leannecole fine art photography

A cityscape that is very similar to many I do, but I wouldn’t include this image as it doesn’t have the impact that many of the others do.

For many artists starting out, the number of editions is usually small, around 10 or 20. The more successful an artist becomes, the more expensive the images get, and often the edition number increases as. Some will do editions of up to 200 photos.

For most of us though, especially starting out, it isn’t necessary to do editions. You may only sell one or two copies of an image. As sales pick up and you begin to make a name for yourself it is good to consider putting out editions of your work.

If you die your work will double in price

This is probably the biggest myth out there about fine art photography and art in general. While it is true that when some artists die their work becomes a lot more valuable, it isn’t the same for everyone. If the artist had a successful career and was being collected by a lot of people then there is some truth in this.

2120 leannecole fine art photography

Image with similar colors and a long exposure, but it is not an image I would include in an exhibition.

When they die their work gains in value because it becomes rare. As no new work will be produced, all of their previous work becomes more valuable. That’s all there is, a finite amount, so it will increase in value.

For most artists, our death will only matter to those around us and our artwork will only increase in sentimental value. It’s sad, but you dying likely isn’t going to cause an increase in the value of your work.

Being a fine art photographer

There are many steps you can take that will make you a fine art photographer. There are many different paths and it is up to you to decide which ones you will take. In the end, being an artist is about doing work with intention, having a direction and working consistently.

2620 leannecole fine art photography

This would very definitely be included. The light has been changed and it works with the artist statement.

Artists usually exhibit their work with the idea of gaining a reputation so collectors will purchase it. This, in turn, leads to their work increasing in value and they can sell more. Being an artist is a noble profession and one that dates back hundreds of years, who doesn’t want to belong to that group?

Download Digital Photography Resources.

Advertisements

all bloggers den – Photography

How to Find Good Locations for Family Portraits.

Download Digital Photography Resources

We all do, of course, but if you take every portrait client to the same location, your portfolio will develop an undesirable, repetitive consistency. So, it’s important to thoroughly scout the area where you live and work, to build a list of go-to spots for any scenario, circumstance, and style.2015 12 26 0002

Think about your city, and build a list of these places where you can shoot:

  • A field or shoreline with broad vistas to capture the aura and glow of twilight
  • A similar outdoor venue with features like tall grass or trees to provide backdrop
  • An outdoor area with full shade, appropriate for shooting midday
  • A covered outdoor space like a gazebo or covered porch, for shoots in inclement weather
  • An indoor space with high ceilings and lots of windows for natural light

Because most family portrait sessions will include a variety of backdrops and poses, the perfect shooting location contains all of these elements. But that’s rare to find.

Finally, make sure that you have the required permits, permissions, and licenses to shoot in your desired locations, whether they’re public or private (many municipalities require a business license to shoot in public places like parks and beaches).

2015 12 26 0003

Once you’ve built your list of go-to locations, you’re ready to schedule a session with a client. Here are the two scenarios that could play out:

1 – The client has already chosen a location

It’s surprisingly rare for a client to be dead set on a location, but sometimes there’s a family home, or a special place with memories where they’d like to be photographed. Or perhaps there’s extended family gathered together already, and they’d like to keep the photo shoot as easy as possible by having you come to them. If you’re shooting for next year’s holiday portrait or another special event, they may also choose a place that fits the theme, such as an evergreen forest or a snowy landscape.

If you’re not familiar with the location, ask questions about it while confirming the shoot. You may discover that you need to bring extra equipment like lighting to fill in shadows, if they’re hoping for a family portrait underneath a moss-strewn oak tree at two o’clock in the afternoon.

Likewise, indoor shots — such as people gathered around the fireplace or the Christmas tree, for example — may present difficulties with lighting that you’ll want to work out and be prepared for, prior to the actual shoot. When feasible, visit the site of any shoot before arriving for the actual job.

2015 12 26 0005

2 – The client is open to your location suggestions

This is the more common scenario, where you pull out that list of locations you’ve already scouted.

Start by getting a sense of the feeling the family wants to capture in their photos. If it’s a holiday family portrait, they may prefer a warm and rustic theme over something bright and urban, for example. Or they may want a look that’s relevant throughout the year.

Timing will also have a lot of influence over your decision on where to shoot. When possible, schedule sessions for an hour, to an hour-and-a-half before sunset, giving you time to arrive and chat, get the family comfortable with your presence and style, and then be fully ready to capture beautiful, stunning portraits just when the changing light is at its peak.

 2015 12 26 0004

Sunset (and sunrise) shoots

For golden hour sessions, just after sunrise and before sunset, choose a location that ideally has both broad vistas, and objects of interest. For example, if you’re shooting on the beach, don’t just choose a spot with wide open beach (plus houses and passersby) – aim to find a section of beach with sand dunes, tall grass, driftwood, or even distant trees. These objects help frame the image and make it more interesting, without distracting from the subjects of the photograph. The same rules apply in a desert, lake, or city park scenario.

Midday shoots on a sunny day

The challenge with shooting at midday is shadows. You don’t want your subjects to squint in full sun, and you don’t want shadows from tree branches, or manmade obstructions, blocking portions of their faces. The key to shooting in midday on a sunny day is to put your subjects fully in the shade.

2015 12 26 0006

When a client wants to schedule midday, I often lean toward urban areas with architectural interest. If your city or town has a historic neighborhood, seek out alleyways, parks, cobblestone streets, or even sidewalks that are shaded at midday, but present a beautiful surrounding for subjects.

Cloudy day shoots

It’s a huge misconception that overcast days are bad for family portraits. Clients may be discouraged by the threat of rain, but encourage them with the news that even cloud coverage actually makes for beautiful outdoor shots — there’s no squinting and nice even light.

But, if there’s no drama in the sky (dark clouds swirling on the horizon), an overcast day may be less exciting when shooting with broad vistas and open spaces. Turn to your surrounding objects (trees, historic buildings) to provide the intrigue in the photograph. Or bring in a pop of color with balloons or other props.

2015 12 26 0007

On an overcast day, a local mural can actually make a perfect backdrop — just make sure your subjects wear muted tones (black, white, gray, beige) rather than colorful attire that might clash with the art.

2015 12 26 0001

Final tips and tricks

Start by putting together your list of places. Keep the same principles in mind that helped you choose those spots, when giving feedback to a client on their suggested locations. In addition, make sure that wherever you decide to shoot won’t be crowded at the time you’re there — the last thing you want is a bunch of strangers in the background.

Finally, be flexible. Not every shoot will be perfect, but it’s your job as the photographer to ensure that your clients have an enjoyable experience. Have confidence in your skills, and work around obstacles as they arise. If you are engaged and the subjects are happy, it’s possible to create gorgeous family portraits that your clients can share on cards, calendars, and gifts throughout the year.

Do you have any other location scouting tips? Please share in the comments below.

 

Download Digital Photography Resources.

 

all bloggers den – news

The Most Shared Music Video on Facebook 2017.

View Digital Photography Resources.

 

all bloggers den – Photography

How to Find Good Locations for Family Portraits.

Download Digital Photography Resources

We all do, of course, but if you take every portrait client to the same location, your portfolio will develop an undesirable, repetitive consistency. So, it’s important to thoroughly scout the area where you live and work, to build a list of go-to spots for any scenario, circumstance, and style.

2015 12 26 0002

Think about your city, and build a list of these places where you can shoot:

  • A field or shoreline with broad vistas to capture the aura and glow of twilight
  • A similar outdoor venue with features like tall grass or trees to provide backdrop
  • An outdoor area with full shade, appropriate for shooting midday
  • A covered outdoor space like a gazebo or covered porch, for shoots in inclement weather
  • An indoor space with high ceilings and lots of windows for natural light

Because most family portrait sessions will include a variety of backdrops and poses, the perfect shooting location contains all of these elements. But that’s rare to find.

Finally, make sure that you have the required permits, permissions, and licenses to shoot in your desired locations, whether they’re public or private (many municipalities require a business license to shoot in public places like parks and beaches).

2015 12 26 0003

Once you’ve built your list of go-to locations, you’re ready to schedule a session with a client. Here are the two scenarios that could play out:

1 – The client has already chosen a location

It’s surprisingly rare for a client to be dead set on a location, but sometimes there’s a family home, or a special place with memories where they’d like to be photographed. Or perhaps there’s extended family gathered together already, and they’d like to keep the photo shoot as easy as possible by having you come to them. If you’re shooting for next year’s holiday portrait or another special event, they may also choose a place that fits the theme, such as an evergreen forest or a snowy landscape.

If you’re not familiar with the location, ask questions about it while confirming the shoot. You may discover that you need to bring extra equipment like lighting to fill in shadows, if they’re hoping for a family portrait underneath a moss-strewn oak tree at two o’clock in the afternoon.

Likewise, indoor shots — such as people gathered around the fireplace or the Christmas tree, for example — may present difficulties with lighting that you’ll want to work out and be prepared for, prior to the actual shoot. When feasible, visit the site of any shoot before arriving for the actual job.

2015 12 26 0005

2 – The client is open to your location suggestions

This is the more common scenario, where you pull out that list of locations you’ve already scouted.

Start by getting a sense of the feeling the family wants to capture in their photos. If it’s a holiday family portrait, they may prefer a warm and rustic theme over something bright and urban, for example. Or they may want a look that’s relevant throughout the year.

Timing will also have a lot of influence over your decision on where to shoot. When possible, schedule sessions for an hour, to an hour-and-a-half before sunset, giving you time to arrive and chat, get the family comfortable with your presence and style, and then be fully ready to capture beautiful, stunning portraits just when the changing light is at its peak.

 2015 12 26 0004

Sunset (and sunrise) shoots

For golden hour sessions, just after sunrise and before sunset, choose a location that ideally has both broad vistas, and objects of interest. For example, if you’re shooting on the beach, don’t just choose a spot with wide open beach (plus houses and passersby) – aim to find a section of beach with sand dunes, tall grass, driftwood, or even distant trees. These objects help frame the image and make it more interesting, without distracting from the subjects of the photograph. The same rules apply in a desert, lake, or city park scenario.

Midday shoots on a sunny day

The challenge with shooting at midday is shadows. You don’t want your subjects to squint in full sun, and you don’t want shadows from tree branches, or manmade obstructions, blocking portions of their faces. The key to shooting in midday on a sunny day is to put your subjects fully in the shade.

2015 12 26 0006

When a client wants to schedule midday, I often lean toward urban areas with architectural interest. If your city or town has a historic neighborhood, seek out alleyways, parks, cobblestone streets, or even sidewalks that are shaded at midday, but present a beautiful surrounding for subjects.

Cloudy day shoots

It’s a huge misconception that overcast days are bad for family portraits. Clients may be discouraged by the threat of rain, but encourage them with the news that even cloud coverage actually makes for beautiful outdoor shots — there’s no squinting and nice even light.

But, if there’s no drama in the sky (dark clouds swirling on the horizon), an overcast day may be less exciting when shooting with broad vistas and open spaces. Turn to your surrounding objects (trees, historic buildings) to provide the intrigue in the photograph. Or bring in a pop of color with balloons or other props.

2015 12 26 0007

On an overcast day, a local mural can actually make a perfect backdrop — just make sure your subjects wear muted tones (black, white, gray, beige) rather than colorful attire that might clash with the art.

2015 12 26 0001

Final tips and tricks

Start by putting together your list of places. Keep the same principles in mind that helped you choose those spots, when giving feedback to a client on their suggested locations. In addition, make sure that wherever you decide to shoot won’t be crowded at the time you’re there — the last thing you want is a bunch of strangers in the background.

Finally, be flexible. Not every shoot will be perfect, but it’s your job as the photographer to ensure that your clients have an enjoyable experience. Have confidence in your skills, and work around obstacles as they arise. If you are engaged and the subjects are happy, it’s possible to create gorgeous family portraits that your clients can share on cards, calendars, and gifts throughout the year.

Do you have any other location scouting tips? Please share in the comments below.

 

Download Digital Photography Resources.

all bloggers den – Photography

The dPS Ultimate Guide to Fine Art Photography.

Download Digital Photography Resources.

The dPS Ultimate Guide to Fine Art Photography

One of the contentious topics in the world of photography these days seems to be what exactly is fine art photography. Ultimately it is what the photographer deems it to be, but in the world of art, there is a lot more to it. If you want to get recognition as an artist that uses the medium of photography, then there are certain expectations of what your body of work should be like and how you go about executing it.

Galleries and collectors are not going to collect work or invest in art when there isn’t a lot of consistency within that body of work. One fine art image is not enough to make you a fine art photographer. The work needs to be done with intention, with a direction, and have a consistency over all the images. A style is developed that is recognizable in all the images.

It is important to look at other famous artists, not just photographers, but painters and sculptures, to see how their work has evolved. See how you can do something similar with your photography. Photography is no different to those other mediums and the same definitions that apply to them are also applicable to fine art photography.

Who can be a fine art photographer?

01 leannecole fine art photography

A long exposure that was taken during the day, but the light in the image has been manipulated to make it look like it was taken at a different time.

Anyone can be a fine art photographer; there are no hard and fast rules about it. Though it does demand a fair amount of dedication. There are no rules or special qualifications that a person needs to follow or have before they call themselves a fine art photographer.

Some of the things that help define a fine art photographer

Perhaps the best way to describe how you can be a fine art photographer is to look at how they work. There is a lot more to it than simply creating beautiful images. We can all do that, but an artist works towards something. Their work is done with intention, and they have a direction they are following. Finally, there is a consistency to their work. Let’s take a look at each of these points individually.

Intention

Often when you go out to take photos, you pick a place because you think you might get nice images at that location. That is most likely never going to be a problem for you. But if you want to be considered more of a fine art photographer then you need to go to places that you know will help you create images that will further your work, and build your portfolio. There has to be some intention behind why you photograph things.

2420 leannecole fine art photography

The cityscape that has some differences, but it is quite effective and if I was short of images for an exhibition this one would be included.

For example, a fine art portrait photographer who does images of people in certain scenes, like dark moody beach scenes, is not going to go and take photos of a baby in a park. Well, they might for a friend, but they wouldn’t include that work in their portfolio.

Artists are always trying to take photos that work with what they already have. They go out with the intention of photographing subjects that follow the direction of their work.

Direction

This is a lot like intention, but it means the photographer has direction. If they are taking photos somewhere, they are being directed by their previous work. This helps them to get images that will continue to follow that style.

06 leannecole fine art photography

Before processing.

07 leannecole fine art photography

After processing to give it my signature style.

Consistency

For the same reasons as intention, that same portrait photographer is not going to photograph a baby because it won’t give their workflow any consistency. For a fine art photographer, you need to have work that is fairly consistent and looks like it all belongs together.

That doesn’t mean it has to be the same subject all the time, it can also be a similar processing style. All the images are processed in a similar way so they look consistent when a gallery or investor is looking at the portfolio.

The more consistent you are the more galleries and investors will be interested in your work.

This is definitely the case. I asked the curator for Stills Gallery in Sydney, Josephine Skinner, about how important it is that there be consistency in a body of work. This is what she had to say:

It’s very important. If an artist were contacting us, I would hope to view a resolved body of work, both conceptually and materially. Of course, we’re used to working with artists as they develop new work for an exhibition, but a cold submission won’t pique my interest unless you establish your capacity to deliver.

What is a body of work and how do you create it?

A body of work is where you have several pieces that show the consistency and intention that was spoken about earlier. When you have a body of work it should have a similar style and look as though one person created it all.

The subject matter should be all the same or very similar. There needs to be a number of images in the body of work so you can have an exhibition. The actual amount will depend on where you are exhibiting and how many are needed.

This is a selection of my work, notice the similar processing style, subject matter, and mood across all the images.

Contact sheet 02

Contact sheet 01

Artist Statement

Whether you want to believe it or not, an artist statement is very important. It doesn’t have to be an essay, but putting what you are trying to achieve with your photography down on paper is a great way to help with those areas that we just discussed; intention, direction, and consistency.

When writing one you want to be clear about why you are doing what you are doing. What is important about it and why you have chosen the medium of photography?

Here is what Josephine had to say about artist statements:

An artist statement is helpful: be brief, clear and use accessible language.

Some statements can waffle on and not make much sense. It is good to sound professional, but it should be concise and leave the audience of your work with a very clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve.

03 leannecole fine art photography

The final image. Many aspects were changed so this image would look like it was taken at night with just one light shining.

Look at some fine art photographers that are practicing now

Have you ever been told that if you want to be a good writer that you should study and read the writing of those in the same field? The same can be said for fine art.

If you want to be an artist then you should study and look at the work of other great artists, in this case, fine art photographers. Though, you should include a wide range of artists as photographers can also learn a lot from painters, drawers, printmakers, and sculptors.

08 leannecole fine art photography

This image of the 12 Apostles doesn’t really belong with most of the work, but it still has the same. The light has been manipulated, so it almost belongs. But, the different subject matter would make mean it would probably not be included in an exhibition.

You really need to look at what your work is and find similar photographers. There is such a large number of photographers working at the moment, that it’s hard for me to tell you who to study. But here is a list of a few fine art photographers to give you a starting point.

What is an Artist CV?

15 leannecole fine art photography

A cityscape image before processing.

16 leannecole fine art photography

The final image showing how the light has been changed to create this look.

This is very similar to a work CV (curriculum vitae) or resume. But instead of listing all the jobs you have had, you list everything that galleries and other people in the art world might want to know about you.

They usually start with your education, where you have studied and when. Then you list what solo exhibitions you have had if you have had any. The goal is to end up with a massive list of those. Then you follow those with the group exhibitions in which you have been involved. Then you might add what prizes you have won.

Finally, comes a list of places where your work has been published. For example, if you have had work published in a magazine. You can also include collections and in this section, you will mention if you have sold work to important places like a major public gallery, for instance.

09 leannecole fine art photography

Another image that has the same look and processing, but doesn’t belong. It does belong more than the image of the 12 Apostles though.

Every time you approach a gallery you will be asked for your Artist’s CV. If you don’t have one, it is time to start working on it. They are usually one page.

Here is a link to my CV as an example.

Do you need to study Fine Art at a Tertiary Level?

The simple answer to this is no, you don’t have to study at a tertiary level to be a fine art photographer. But the long answer is that if you do, you will gain a greater understanding of the many aspects of being an artist. The really good places also give you studio space and impose the need to work in that space like a professional artist would.

10 leannecole fine art photography

Another one of the power stations, that could work, but wouldn’t be included in an exhibition.

There are so many other things you learn as well, for example, how to develop your style or your body of work. Or, how to create the consistency we talked about earlier. You begin to understand how the gallery system operates and how to approach them. Often you are given opportunities to exhibit your work so you can get an idea of what it is like. These can help you to get a start on your artist’s CV.

The lecturers are usually artists themselves, so they can guide and mentor you. They understand what you are going through and their advice can be invaluable.

Getting a Bachelor of Fine Art is never a bad thing. Many other artists and galleries will take you more seriously because you have shown a commitment to your practice.

12 leannecole fine art photography

This one is a little different, but it still fits the artist statement.

Where to study it if you so choose

There are places all around the world and where you study will depend on where you live, the cost, and if you are accepted. Look at other artists and see where they studied. Do your research to find out what is available near you. Find out how many graduates of that institution have had successful careers when they finished.

Not all art schools are equal. Some have very good reputations, while others will get you the degree, but not necessarily the prestige. For example, in Melbourne, you can get a Fine Arts Degree from many places, but two are more sought after, University of Melbourne, Faculty VCA, and RMIT University. People take more notice if you have attended and graduated from those schools.

14 leannecole fine art photography

This image appears as though it would work, but since the rest of the images are more cityscapes and not close-ups of anything, it would not be included. If more similar images were made, I may have to reconsider that decision.

Keep in mind that this type of degree will not lead to a paying job, and you are being trained to be an artist. It is expected that you will work at it full-time when you finish. Of course, most artists end up doing other jobs to supplement their income until they are making enough from their art. Though this appears to only happen for a few. Nearly all teach or have other jobs to pay the bills.

I had a lecturer once that told us if we were still doing art and exhibiting our work 10 years after graduation we would make money from it. Unknown if this is true, but it is a nice sentiment.

Visit galleries and see what others exhibit

2220 leannecole fine art photography

This was taken near a marina, but it is too different and I couldn’t make it look like the other images, so it would never be included in an exhibition.

To get a great understanding of what fine art photography is one of the best things you can do is visit art galleries, both public and commercial. You can see how the artist works, look at the consistency and also how the work all looks when it’s put together in an exhibition.

Look for commercial galleries that are exhibiting photography works, or better still find ones that specialize in fine art photography. If you can’t visit them in person, then look on the internet. They all have websites and usually show the works of the artists they represent.

Study the work and the artist. If you find some whose work you really like, pay a lot more attention to them. Find out what motivates the artist, look at their artist CV, and see if you can find an artist statement. That will really help you to understand their intention, direction, and the consistency.

Public galleries often have some of their collection online, but you are usually required to go and look. Don’t be disappointed if the photography section if very small, other artworks often get more wall space. You can look for galleries that specialize in photography, for example in Victoria, Australia there is a place called Centre for Contemporary Photography and that is all they show. It’s a great way to see what other photographers are doing.

18 leannecole fine art photography

Like the ocean image, this has the same look and feel, but the subject matter doesn’t match.

Here are a few others:

Study about all art, its history and what is happening now

Part of being an artist is keeping yourself informed. As previously stated, you should be going to galleries and seeing other exhibitions. It is so important to read and study other artists. It can help you understand what their lives were like and what drove them to create their art.

It is also good to keep up to date with what is happening in the world of art. Who is winning awards, what work is really popular right now, and how you could fit in. Look at who is being exhibited and which galleries are showing their work.

Look at painters, sculptures, and other mediums

Don’t limit your photography study to just photographers. You should also look at painters, sculptures, printmakers, and drawers. You can learn a lot from them as well.

Rembrandt lighting is a type of lighting pattern that portrait photographers strive to create. It involves a triangular spot of light on the cheek of the portrait subject. Photographers have been trying to replicate that style for years, but it came from a painter – Rembrandt.

13 leannecole fine art photography

The image is similar, but it probably wouldn’t be included in an exhibition. It doesn’t quite fit.

In some ways, painters were our earliest photographers as they tried to paint what they saw. Looking at their work is very important. You can learn a lot about subject-matter and more importantly, about composition. For those artists, the composition was key and they would have spent a great deal of time working on that element of their craft. Study how they put their paintings together and learn.

Sculptors create compositions and often work conceptually. If you are interested in conceptual photography then looking at how these artists work can help you find direction. See what lengths they go to in creating their sculptures.

Living an artist’s life and what that means

There is a myth that many creatives were “suffering artists”. That to be an artist you had to be in some kind of struggle. The other myth is about being the “starving artist”, so if you are going to be an artist you have to also be very poor.

The first is a myth, you don’t have to be on some internal struggle to be an artist. It has been said that you have to go through disasters in your own life in order to help you create masterpieces. It isn’t true, of course. Very normal people create the most amazing artworks. There is a lot more to it than some emotional suffering.

In the past, many artists were starving. Even in today’s world, making money as an artist is incredibly hard. There are more people wanting to be artists than there are people wanting to buy the work. The reference to starving was more to do with making no money and not having enough to buy food.

The reality is that most artists live very normal lives. They often work part-time jobs to survive and live in ordinary houses. They are often very normal people. There are some eccentric artists, but they are more the exception to the rule. Many have studios and workspaces, and every free moment they get, they work in their art practice.

11 leannecole fine art photography

A cityscape that would work in an exhibition, it has the same feeling as the others.

Exhibiting your work

There are various different kinds of galleries and if you want to exhibit your work then you need to start studying them. Find out which ones are the best for you to approach first of the several different types (large public and private).
First, you need to find out what the galleries are looking for. Once again, Josephine has some advice for those wanting to approach galleries:

The first piece of advice I would have is to do proper research into which galleries you approach and be selective with those you do. We get submissions from painters, for instance, who haven’t even looked on our website to find out we exhibit photomedia and video. In the process of narrowing it down, bear in mind that if a gallery has an emphasis on photomedia that doesn’t mean that all forms of photography will fit with their broader aesthetic and focus. Also, be conscious that each artist brings something unique to a gallery so diversity is desired – they probably won’t want someone whose practice mirrors an existing represented artist. Lastly, each gallery has a different policy for receiving submissions, so a good idea is to call and ask what they prefer. Don’t just show up and expect to sit down with the Director!

17 leannecole fine art photography

A cityscape taken from an observation deck. While it is a cityscape it also would not be included. It really does not have the same look at the others.

That is great advice and a good idea for all artists. Do your research and study the galleries you are interested in to see if they are a good fit for you. You can also ask questions to see what they have to say. They will often be more than happy to talk to you about what type of work they are looking for, and how to submit your work.

Josephine has provided some information on how they find new artists:

Our focus is contemporary photomedia and video, so we tend to look at art prizes that are often interdisciplinary, such as the Hatched Graduate exhibition at PICA, and keep an eye on what’s happening in ARI (Artist Run Initiatives) spaces. These platforms provide an initial filter because the work has already undergone a process of competitive selection. Galleries with a more traditional or commercial aesthetic would probably look elsewhere.

Most galleries will have information and guidelines about how to send in proposals for exhibitions; you need to follow those closely. They get a lot of submissions and if you don’t do what they ask then you could be eliminated straight away. Do everything you can to get them to look at your artwork.

Preparing your work to exhibit

2320 leannecole fine art photography

The subject matter fits with much of what the fine art work is about, but it’s the wrong colors and sends a different message than the others.

Having an exhibition of their work is the ultimate goal for most artists. It is where they develop a name and reputation. If you want that too, then you have to make sure your work is good enough to show.

There are so many decisions to be made before you do a show. You have to decide who will print your work and how it will be printed. Part of the reason for exhibiting is to sell your work and if it doesn’t look good then people won’t buy it.

Before the work is sent to be printed you need to make sure that there aren’t any defects in the images. When they are blown up, sensor spots or other unwanted items in your scenes will be enlarged as well. They could end up standing out so much that they take over the image. Magnify the image on your computer (view at 100% or 1:1 size) and look very closely for any mistakes or faults.

20 leannecole fine art photography

Work in an exhibition.

19 leannecole fine art photography

Work that is packaged and ready to be sent to an exhibition.

Find a professional printer who will work with you. Look for one that you can rely on, and who knows their business. They should be able to help you figure out the best way to present your work. There are so many options for photographs these days. You can do canvas prints, put images on fine art paper, and even have them on metal, which is very popular right now.
Then you are faced with the option of framing or not. Most galleries will answer that question for you.

Read my article: How to Prepare a Photography Exhibit of Your Work for more on this topic.

Editioning your work

This is not compulsory, but one thing that many photographers do is edition their work. This means they will only sell a certain number of that image or a limited edition. The artist sets the edition to what they think they might sell.

2520 leannecole fine art photography

A cityscape that is very similar to many I do, but I wouldn’t include this image as it doesn’t have the impact that many of the others do.

For many artists starting out, the number of editions is usually small, around 10 or 20. The more successful an artist becomes, the more expensive the images get, and often the edition number increases as. Some will do editions of up to 200 photos.

For most of us though, especially starting out, it isn’t necessary to do editions. You may only sell one or two copies of an image. As sales pick up and you begin to make a name for yourself it is good to consider putting out editions of your work.

If you die your work will double in price

This is probably the biggest myth out there about fine art photography and art in general. While it is true that when some artists die their work becomes a lot more valuable, it isn’t the same for everyone. If the artist had a successful career and was being collected by a lot of people then there is some truth in this.

2120 leannecole fine art photography

Image with similar colors and a long exposure, but it is not an image I would include in an exhibition.

When they die their work gains in value because it becomes rare. As no new work will be produced, all of their previous work becomes more valuable. That’s all there is, a finite amount, so it will increase in value.

For most artists, our death will only matter to those around us and our artwork will only increase in sentimental value. It’s sad, but you dying likely isn’t going to cause an increase in the value of your work.

Being a fine art photographer

There are many steps you can take that will make you a fine art photographer. There are many different paths and it is up to you to decide which ones you will take. In the end, being an artist is about doing work with intention, having a direction and working consistently.

2620 leannecole fine art photography

This would very definitely be included. The light has been changed and it works with the artist statement.

Artists usually exhibit their work with the idea of gaining a reputation so collectors will purchase it. This, in turn, leads to their work increasing in value and they can sell more. Being an artist is a noble profession and one that dates back hundreds of years, who doesn’t want to belong to that group?

Download Digital Photography Resources.

all bloggers den – photography

Download Digital Photography resources Here

4 Tips for Beginners to Food Photography

4 Tips for Approaching Food Photography

The work that goes into food photography is no small feat and usually starts with a story. Is it something you are trying to sell? Is it food you created and want to convey that it is your best recipe yet? Does your food story have a cultural side or is it a moody, artistic piece? Food photography is a vast intricate topic, but if you are just starting out, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Light to accent the food’s character

Controlling light can elevate your food photography easily as it helps you take charge of your end result. A good starting place to set up is near a window with lots of natural light – a look that is often simulated when shooting food in a studio – with light skimming across at an angle.

4 Tips for Approaching Food Photography

This scene evokes feelings of food just made and laid out, waiting to be consumed. No matter what light source you use, keep the subject in mind and modify the light if needed. Modifications can be as simple as changing color temperatures to be more flattering or diffusing your light.

Back or side lighting usually works well for food, so try them both and see what works best for your subject.

2) Textures and Layers

While textures and layers are two different aspects of food photography, they sometimes have a symbiotic relationship.

Textures are an easy way to add personality and character to your image and layering helps you tell the story. Textures range from using your work surfaces, contrasts in the food itself or even by bringing in a prop or two.

4 Tips for Approaching Food Photography

Your composition can benefit from layering elements in the photo that portrays your food – props and ingredients for example. Further, introduce textures and layers by using contrasting backgrounds on your work surfaces, e.g., a metal baking tray on a tiled counter top or wooden table.

By building up layers you give the final image interest and depth. You want the food to look delicious and interesting, not lifeless or unappetizing.

4 Tips for Approaching Food Photography

A nice rule is to keep layering and styling your subject until you want to eat it.

Keeping the previous tips in mind, a good starting place is a neutral background to build on. It can be plain or even textured, but when you start neutral you can create many different looks with a few simple changes.

Use the food and layers to introduce color, shapes, lines and more texture. The background is not intended to be the main focus but is used to add interest and enhance your final image.

4 Tips for Approaching Food Photography

If you are creating food image for stock photography, you will see many images done on solid white or black backgrounds. This is done intentionally so that the food is the focus and not the storytelling element.

4 Tips for Approaching Food Photography

4) All about the angles

The most recommended angles for food photography are directly above, straight on, or at a forty-five degree/three-quarter angle (can vary slightly). Determine how close you want to get to the food. Do you want to show something specific or an entire scene?

Keep the subject in mind – some food looks very good close-up, while others benefit from the environment and story.

4 Tips for Approaching Food Photography

Bonus Tip

When you start doing food photography, it will not take you long to realize that it is not as easy as it looks. Many food photographers use a food stylist to help them materialize their vision, as styling is a skill in its own right.

Conclusion

4 Tips for Approaching Food Photography

Food photography is an extremely satisfying genre because of all the attention to detail it requires. It is an expansive topic with many tips and tricks needed to create that perfect delectable shot. These are just a few to consider as you start your journey. Feel free to share any tips you have come across or used in this delicious genre in the comments below.

Check out some of our food photography video tutorials tips as well.

Download Digital Photography resources Here

 

all bloggers den – Photography

Download Digital Photography Resources Here.

5 Tips for Better Winter Landscape Photography

I haven’t always been a fan of winter photography, though. In fact, it took me several years after purchasing my first camera before I brought it with me on skiing and hiking trips. Needless to say, it didn’t take many trips before I was hooked and began looking forward to next winter. I quickly realized that photographing during winter is in many ways different than any other season.There are several new challenges you need to handle and, quite often, everything is white. How do you handle that? Here are five tips to capture better winter landscape images.

5 Tips for Better Winter Landscape Photography

1 – Look for Color Contrast

After a few days of heavy snowfall, the landscape here in Norway is completely white. White trees, white lakes, white mountains and normally a white sky. When everything is white, it’s quite challenging to find a focal element as nothing really stands out.

During days like this, you should be searching for elements of color that stand out in the otherwise white landscape. Here’s an example of a house captured the morning after a heavy snowfall.

The red cabin is what makes this picture interesting. Without it, the scene lacks a focal element and the viewer’s eyes have no place to rest.

I find red to be a particularly pleasing color in situations like this but search for any dominant color. Perhaps there’s an autumn leaf laying on top of a thin layer of snow, or maybe it’s a few skiers wearing red jackets. Just find a dominant color in the otherwise white landscape and use that as your focal element.

2 – Bright is Better than Dark

When you’re not able to find a colorful focal element that stands out in the frame, overexpose your image. If it’s snowing and there’s no contrast in the sky, winter images can often benefit from being a stop or two brighter. Just avoid clipping the highlights.

5 Tips for Better Winter Landscape Photography

This isn’t something I always do but whenever it’s a whiteout I tend to lean that direction. The slightly overexposed image enhances the whiteout and helps convey just how cold you were when taking the picture, yet it still shows a sense of calmness.

3 – Choose a Cold White Balance

You can either choose White Balance in camera or in post-processing if you’re photographing Raw, a cool color balance is often the most suitable for winter scenes.

Unless it’s a colorful sunset, there’s no reason to use a warm White Balance. Snow is white and the shadows are cool. Using a cold White Balance will help enhance the winter mood while keeping the image more realistic.

5 Tips for Better Winter Landscape Photography

4 – Photograph During Bluehour

Winter is a season with lots of opportunities throughout the entire day; even a sunny winter day is worth taking your camera out for. However, during the last years, I’ve begun to appreciate the blue hour more and more.

The moments before the sun rises or after it sets creates a magical, soft light in the winter landscape, especially near the mountains. This is a time where you should be out with your camera. Even if it’s freezing cold and you’d rather stay at home underneath a blanket, you’re doing yourself a favor by going out with the camera at this time of day.

5 Tips for Better Winter Landscape Photography

If I was only able to choose one time of the day to go photographing during winter it would be the blue hour (well, night-time and aurora chasing might be preferred…)

5 – Bring Extra Batteries and Keep Them Warm!

The last tip is perhaps the most important when it comes to photographing cold climates in general – bring extra batteries. Batteries drain much quicker in winter and if you’re like me and use Live View for most shots, you need to bring at least a few extra batteries – just in case.

I tend to keep at least one spare battery in an inner pocket of my jacket to keep it from draining or failing in the cold temperature. I’ve also found that doing so will result in the battery lasting longer when you do start using it.

5 Tips for Better Winter Landscape Photography

Lastly, related to keeping the batteries warm, you need to stay warm as well. Always be prepared and rather bring a layer too many than too few. You always want to have the opportunity to dress down, especially if you’re going on a hike.

 

Download Digital Photography Resources Here.

 

all bloggers den – Photography

 Get Photography Resources here.

7 Photography Myths Exposed

North Algodones Sand Dunes, California - 7 Photography Myths Exposed

1. Full frame cameras are better

A full frame camera has a larger sensor than a crop sensor camera. That means you might get more megapixels or you might get larger megapixels or even both. But there are many more important factors to consider when choosing a camera than megapixels.

First, crop sensor cameras are generally smaller, lighter and much less expensive. Second, if you like to shoot wildlife, you’ll get extra reach with your telephoto lens on a crop sensor camera. A 400mm lens on a full frame camera is equivalent to over 600mm on a crop sensor camera. Also, if you like to photograph wildlife, a more important factor to consider above megapixels is frames per second.

 

A few years ago I went to Africa to photograph wildlife and took two cameras: a full frame Canon 6D and a crop sensor Canon 7D. I learned that the 7D was much better for my purposes because of the frames per second rate it was capable of shooting. The 6D (at the time) did 4.5 fps and the 7D did 8. That was a huge difference in the field.

Lion and cub at Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania - 7 Photography Myths Exposed

tripod is an essential piece of gear for any photographer and usually, you will notice a huge improvement in image quality when you start using one. However, “always” is one of those blanket statements that doesn’t always make sense (see what I did there?). I often notice photographers arrive on a scene, set up their tripod, and then try to find a composition they like. That tends to limit their possibilities since they are already stuck on the tripod.

A better approach is to go free hand until you find your composition. Then, when you find it, try to make your tripod fit in the exact position necessary. Sometimes you’ll find it won’t fit. Either the angle is lower than your tripod will allow you to go, or the tripod is not tall enough, or the position isn’t stable. When that is the case, ditch the tripod in favor of getting the composition.

Plateau lizard by Anne McKinnell - 7 Photography Myths Exposed

3. To make better photos, you need better gear

Undoubtedly, you will reach a point in time when you need better gear to carry out your vision for what you are trying to achieve with your photography. But the most important thing is to have that vision. Before getting new gear, make sure you exhaust your current gear. Use every single function and feature it has and know exactly what it is you need that your current gear doesn’t have before you move on. Blaming crappy gear is just a crutch. A really good photographer can make great images with pretty much any camera.

4. Never put your subject in the middle

Ah, the rule of thirds. The golden ratio. The fibonacci spiral. All good tools when it comes to learning composition. But don’t forget about the beauty to be found in simple symmetry.

When you think about a person’s face, the most beautiful face is the most symmetrical face. It’s all about balance, equality of proportion, and harmony. The key to making a compelling symmetrical composition is in the perfection of the symmetry. A composition that is almost symmetrical will seem off, but one that is perfect will seem awe inspiring.

Baobab tree in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania - 7 Photography Myths Exposed

5. Manual is the best shooting mode

It’s beneficial to all aspiring photographers to learn to shoot in manual mode so you have independent control over every factor in making your exposure including aperture, shutter speed and ISO. It’s no doubt that it’s one of the best ways to learn how your camera works. However, once you’ve learned how to use manual mode, why not let your camera do what it’s good at? Cameras these days are smart and the fewer things you have to do manually, the quicker you will be at responding to a changing scene.

When you are on a scene, decide which factors are important to you before you select your shooting mode. For example, if you are trying to intentionally blur a subject, shutter speed is important. You can use shutter priority mode and let the camera choose the aperture and ISO. That way when you want to shorten or lengthen the shutter speed, you only have one thing to change and the camera will figure out the rest. Similarly you might decide that depth of field is most important, and if you’re using a tripod, shutter speed might not matter at all. In that case, aperture priority mode is most convenient.

Summer flower in Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia - 7 Photography Myths Exposed

6. RAW format is better than JPEG

This refers to the image quality you select in your camera’s settings. You can choose to have your images saved as either RAW files, JPEGs, or both.

RAW is better than JPEG only if you are planning on post-processing your photos, which most people do. A RAW file contains more data and therefore you have more leeway in your post-processing. However, if you are just starting out and you haven’t gotten to the point where you’re processing your photos yet, it’s probably better to shoot JPEGs.

In JPEG mode, your camera will make some decisions for you when it comes to color and contrast and your photos will look better straight out of the camera. Ultimately you’ll likely come to the point where you want to make those decisions yourself. That’s when it is time to make the switch to RAW.

7. Good photography requires good light

All light is good light. The trick is to know what kind of images to make under the lighting conditions that are available. Do you have harsh (hard) light? Look for interesting shadows or photograph in the shade. Soft light? Perfect for macro shots. Looking into the sun? Find subjects with interesting shapes for silhouettes.

Saguaro in silhouette at Tucson Mountain State Park, Arizona by Anne McKinnell

Conclusion

Remember, as an artist, you are free to go about making your art any way you like. You can use your tools any way you see fit. The most important thing is to have a vision and then use your tools and techniques to help you achieve it.

Do you know of any other photography myths you want to expose here? Please share in the comments below.

 

Download Photography Resources Here

all bloggers den – Photography

Download Photography Resource.

Beginner’s Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

Let’s jump right into this beginner’s guide to metering modes.

Beginner's Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

What is metering?

This is vital to understand before you learn about your camera’s individual metering modes. “Metering” means taking a light reading. A properly exposed image is made up of three tones of light: the shadows, mid-tones, and highlights.

The image below demonstrates these three tones well. The forested hills in the foreground and dark cloud represent the shadows, the temple roof and figure represent the mid-tones, and the bright clouds represent the highlights.

Beginner's Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

Your camera has an ingenious tool called a light meter that enables it to determine a correct exposure with a balance of shadows, mid-tones, and highlights. You’ll see it at the bottom of the frame when you put your eye to the viewfinder.

 Taking light readings from the scene

Your camera’s metering modes control which part (s) of the scene your light meter uses to take a reading. Consider the example below. If you were to meter only off the dragon and take the photo, the dragon would be correctly exposed. However, the sky would probably be too bright.

Alternatively, if I was to meter only off the sky, the sky would be correctly exposed but the dragon would be a bit too dark. However, if I metered from a wider section of the scene, I would get a more balanced exposure.

Beginner's Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

The four main metering modes

Now, let’s get down to the crux of the article. Here, I’m going to explain what each of your camera’s four metering modes does and how this affects your images.

But before we begin, a note about how your camera meter works. Very bright and dark tones can trick your light meter. Why? Because it is designed to bring every tone to something called “18% gray.” Imagine a snow-covered mountain or a jet black car. Would you want your camera to correct these tones to appear 18% gray? Or would you want their tones to be rendered as truly as your eye sees them? The answer is obvious, but not to your light meter.

So it is your job to review your image on the histogram and decide if it is correct for your scene or not. If it’s not you can use Exposure Compensation to adjust it (when shooting in Aperture or Shutter Priority modes).

Evaluative (or Matrix) Metering Mode

Evaluative metering is the natural mode to explain first because it’s the one your camera uses as standard or default. Your light meter takes a reading from across the whole scene. With that information, your camera’s onboard computer makes multiple calculations to determine a correct exposure with balanced highlights, mid-tones, and shadows.

Beginner's Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

Beginner's Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

Center-Weighted Metering Mode

Imagine that you’re now zooming into the frame slightly. Whereas Evaluative Metering mode reads the light from across the entire scene, Center-Weighted Metering mode reads light with a preference towards the middle. It still reads from a large proportion of the frame, just not the whole thing. This varies between camera manufacturers, but it’s usually between 60 % and 80 % of the frame.

Beginner's Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

Beginner's Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

Partial Metering Mode

If Center-Weighted metering meant zooming in a little, Partial Metering is a huge jump inwards again. This time, your light meter will read the light from an area the size of 6-15 % of the center of the scene, depending on your camera manufacturer.

Beginner's Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

With the Varanasi boatman above, I was shooting in Aperture Priority mode. I aimed my center focus point at his face before composing the shot. This allowed my camera to read the light from 10 % of the frame around his head.

Then, I used the exposure lock button (read that article if it’s the first time you’ve heard about it). Note that this is for use mainly with Aperture or Shutter Priority mode. With this button held down, you lock in the exposure and can recompose the shot without the settings changing.

Beginner's Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

Spot Metering Mode

The final push inward; Spot Metering mode reads light from between 1-5 % of your scene. I personally use Spot Metering mode more than any other, but it may be more challenging for you if you are just learning about your camera and metering.

It is particularly useful to use spot metering in conjunction with the exposure lock button and the center AF point selected. Aim the center point of your viewfinder at the subject or light source to meter from it. Lock in the exposure and recompose, then focus and shoot.

I find that spot metering mode is goodfor portraits and getting the correct skin tones. Also, I use it for specific light sources, such as a beam of light through a window, but only when I’m also happy for other regions of the photo to be underexposed. I do not recommend using it for landscapes unless you are looking to experiment with silhouettes.

Beginner's Guide to Metering Modes on Your Camera

Conclusion

The next step on from here is full manual mode, in which the exposure lock button is not required. But first, master metering modes using Shutter and Aperture priority modes.

Now that you’ve learned about each metering mode, get out your camera and go practice. Don’t forget to share your thoughts and images in the comments.

Download Photography Resource.

all bloggers den – Photography

Download Digital Photography Resources.

3 Tips for Experimenting with Shutter Speed Creatively

3 Tips for Experimenting with Shutter Speed Creatively

You may already be aware that shutter speed is one of the three elements of the Exposure Triangle that work in tandem. Thus changing your shutter speed leads to changing one of the two other elements (aperture and ISO) to compensate for your exposure.

Of the three, shutter speed is the one that allows you the most creative versatility. If you want to use shutter speed to make more artistic choices, let’s start with some basics.

1) Freezing Motion

Freezing action or motion happens at faster shutter speeds and literally captures a moment in time. If the shutter is open for a long time and your subject is moving, it looks blurred. On the converse side, when you have a faster shutter speed, any movement (blur) is less noticeable as it’s more frozen.

3 Tips for Experimenting with Shutter Speed Creatively

Sports photographers especially, take advantage of freezing motion techniques. Capturing that moment a player strikes a ball, crossing a finish line or just as that knockout punch is delivered is important in that genre of photography.

2) Panning

Panning is a technique where your moving object appears in focus, but the background appears to be moving at a higher speed. When using this technique, pick a subject that moves across your field of vision from side to side and not coming toward or moving away from you.

3 Tips for Experimenting with Shutter Speed Creatively

Pre-focusing at the distance where the subject will be when you shoot is a good habit. This is because autofocus can easily switch your camera focus to the background, instead of keeping it on the subject.

Lastly, your follow-through is a very important aspect of panning.

3 Tips for Experimenting with Shutter Speed Creatively

For example, if you are shooting a car, pre-focus on the road or area where the car will be. Then aim your camera in the direction that the car is coming from, and when it is almost in front of you, hold down the shutter button (make sure to set it to high-speed burst mode) and move your camera with the car’s movements.

Note: Pre-focusing helps you minimize shutter lag.

3 Tips for Experimenting with Shutter Speed Creatively

This technique takes some practice but is a lot of fun. If you find that your background is still sharp, use a slower shutter speed and retry. For best results, try and match the speed at which you pan with the speed of the object.

3) Slowing it down

Slow shutter times are when you leave the camera shutter open for much longer than normal. This is a highly creative effect and helps you show motion like movement in a crowd, light trails or fast flowing water. With slower shutter speeds, a tripod is an essential asset to avoid camera shake. You can also invest in a remote trigger or cable release to minimize shake even more.

3 Tips for Experimenting with Shutter Speed Creatively

When your shutter is open for long periods of time, you risk having too much light enter your camera. To help with this, you can use a smaller aperture (higher f-number), shoot at a low ISO, or cut the amount of light using filters.

Neutral Density (ND) filters are a landscape photographer’s best friend when it comes to shooting long exposures during the day. Slower shutter shooting is more widely known as long exposure photography.

3 Tips for Experimenting with Shutter Speed Creatively

3 Tips for Experimenting with Shutter Speed Creatively

Bonus: light painting with the shutter opened

This technique, also called light painting, is where you make images in a dark place (usually) by moving a hand-held light source (or by moving the camera), while your shutter is open. If you are moving the light source, you need the camera to be steady.

3 Tips for Experimenting with Shutter Speed Creatively

As in the previous tip, a tripod is recommended, but nothing is wrong with embracing blur as part of your creative technique. Once you are ready, dial in a slow shutter speed and set up a timer. Now use any handheld light source (e.g. torch, flashlight, light-stick or cellphone) to “paint” in your scene. It’s a cool approach you can use when storytelling.

Conclusion

Do you have a favorite way to use shutter speed creatively? Are you a fan of freezing motion or do you prefer long exposures? Have you ever tried panning or light painting? Share some of your work with us in the comments below.

Download Digital Photography Resources.