Photography Tips

Photographing Men

Photographing Men

I find there is quite a difference photographing men to photographing portraits of women.  The way I shoot and approach my subjects anyway.  Perhaps I’ve changed over the years and become a bit seasoned with age.  Don’t know for sure. 

Posing, editing, lighting, all these I do a little differently.  It has been said that one should first learn the rules extremely well, and only then one can or should be able, if one wants, to break them.Read More

Female Artistic Nudes here

#headshot #portrait #blackandwhite #portraiture #serious

Posted by photo-photo in Blog, Photography Tips, Portraits, 0 comments
Lightroom Workflow

Lightroom Workflow

Lightroom

This is my workflow for portraits/headshots. I’m sure that I do other stuff than this but here is a general outline:

  1. If needed, lighten exposure to see enough detail
  2. Crop to desired shape.  Use the Golden Rectangle.  Use Command-O  to change overlay.  Place a key element at ‘cross lines’.Or have one of the vertical lines go up through centre of face, for example in a portrait.
  3. Overall: I play with Exposure/Contrast/Clarity/Saturation to get the balance the way I like.  If I up the Clarity and Contrast almost always drop the Saturation. 
  4. I’ll also play with the Highlights/Shadows/Whites/Blacks.  This can open up shadows and tone down the highlights if necessary.
  5. Eyes: Adjustment Brush (I bought Sean Archer’s Lens Lab add ons  for the Adjustment Brush.  They are really handy.  https://lenslab.com/products/sean-archer-collection)
  6. Iris enhancement: If the eyes are pretty much evenly lit, I do both with same overlay.  If they have different amounts of light, I click ‘new’ for each iris.  Don’t overdo them but bring them up so that they can be seen.  If you are shooting outside and there is no ‘glint’ in the eye from a reflector, this will help with that. 
  7. Dark edge of iris: Click ‘New’ on Adjustment Brush and go to ‘Darken’.  Use your mouse to make circle small.  (You can also use the square brackets for this [ ] to make bigger or smaller.  Sometimes better control of the size this way.) Go around the very edge of the iris, not going onto the white of the eye. 
  8. Whiten eyes: Click ‘New’ on Adjustment Brush and click on ‘Lighten’.  Go over the white parts of the eyes.
  9. Click ‘New’ again and use ‘Lash and Brow Sharpen’ 
  10. Now but often later when I have done some other stuff, I may use ‘Lighten’, ‘Sharpen’ or ‘Clarity’ or a combination of more than on using a larger ‘circle’ over the whole eye/lid/brow area. 
  11. Whiten Teeth with Adjustment Brush.  You can customize.
  12. Lips: Use the LensLab colour of your choice.  Or just use Sharpen or Clarity
  13. Spot removal brush to get rid of blemishes.  This can be done in PS as well but pretty easy to do in LR
  14. Adjustment Brush: Soften skin or Soften Skin (light).  Depends on the skin.  Often ‘light’ is plenty.
  15. Adjustment brush: Lighten - use this to highlight/accent hair.  Don’t over do.
  16. Adjustment brush: Darken - Usually darken the background on portraits. Gradiently darker as it gets to the edges.  Do the whole background then hit ‘new’ leaving it on Darken and do further out in steps toward the edge.  You can also use Post-Crop Vignetting but using Darken Bruch gives you more control.
  17. Detail: For sharpening the image.  Hold the Option button down on your Mac keyboard.  Then slide the ‘Masking’ slider to the right.  This will sharpen just the edges.  Once you have got that over to 60-70 or so, you can slide the ‘Amount’ over to the right.  You may not want to use this on all photos but it’s a good tool to have.
  18. Make any other adjustments to Exposure/Clarity/etc like you did in step #3 and #4.
  19. I will then sometimes use Clarity/Sharpen/Lighten in Adjustment Brush for some piece of clothing or something in the background I may want to bring out a bit. 
  20. Photoshop: Go from LR to PS.  Use Liquify Tool to billow out the hair a bit on some of the ladies photos.
  21. PhotoShop: Get rid of any background items that are distracting.

Some more samples at my Portrait Page

#lightroom #lightroomedits #portraits #headshots #workflow #lightroomworkflow

Posted by photo-photo in Blog, Photography Tips, Portraits, 0 comments
The Art of Photography

The Art of Photography

How to “Art” Your Photos

I was asked recently the most important things I consider when taking photographs of models.  Kind of like ‘What makes a good photograph?”  Ask a hundred photographers and you will get some answers that are basically similar and many that are different as you will get what has worked for that particular photographer.  But there are basics.  

There are things that you need to know about your camera and how it works; the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture and what happens to a photo when you change these things in ration to each other.  (All this was discussed in my last blog article.) You need to know how different lenses ‘see’.  

That is only a part of the equation. Read More

Posted by photo-photo in Blog, Photography Tips, 0 comments
3 Basics My Mother Taught Me About Photography

3 Basics My Mother Taught Me About Photography

3 Photo Basics My Mother Taught Me

Photography 101: 

Or 

3 Things My Mother Taught Me About Photography

Mom was a pretty decent photographer.  She was first a single mother of 4. In 1978 when she was moving to Denmark and getting remarried, her very talented friends threw a going away party for her.  It was a ‘song and dance’ skit that ran a good hour.  Her friends were a bunch of very talented people.  I still have the cassette tape of it around somewhere. The theme was ‘Courses’.  My mother was always taking courses in something or other.  Whether it was French, photography, or taking up skiing when she turned 50!  

I asked her once about the fact that she volunteered to drive cancer patients, people she didn’t know, a couple of times a month.  She would drive them to and from their treatments. She told me she felt she “needed to give something back to society”.  !?!?

She obviously learned something in her photography classes as she won a couple of contests for her art. One was for a naked grandson when he was about a year old - I don’t think that would go over so well in this day and age!

As a youngster I’d carry a camera around with me a lot - an old Brownie 127, I think it was.  Not sure the exact model but it was 2 1/4” negative.  Much later I got SLR cameras but as kid it was the Brownie with the black and white film.  I got some great ‘horse’ photos even then.  Learning with a large negative camera was kinda cool.

Here are a few things my mother would constantly remind me of, as I learned photography.

Rule #1: Watch Your Background

This one was hammered into me.  Almost often as the poke in the shoulder to stand up straight!  The idea here was that you didn’t want a telephone pole or church spire sticking out of the top of someone’s head when you got the photos back.  Taking pretty photos of flowers in the back yard, you didn’t want the neighbour’s laundry hanging in the background.  Well, I didn’t anyway!

There was more to it than this really.  It made you look at the complete photo as opposed to focusing on just the person or cat or dog that you were trying to capture.  As a result, I would move to one side or the other, up or down and sometimes closer or further.  This had the added effect of seeing light and how it lay over the whole image.  How it changed.  As a child I could see that there was more than one way to shoot that object or scene.  Something as simple as crouching down as you are taking photos of small children.  It completely changes the intimacy of the relationship between child and photographer.  I find that now, I will walk the extra ‘mile’ to get a different perspective on scenery without thinking about it.  They always don’t turn out but I’ve had exclamations from enough people about my photos over the years by applying this one rule.    

This also would allow you to look at the photo as a whole.  I watch tourists in even in Niagara Falls concentrating on one part of the photo - either the person or the Falls.  They don’t ‘stand back’ and see the whole photo.  You might have someone standing by a tree.  If a large overhanging tree, you could use it to frame the person.  Or have them lean against it, having them interact with the tree, making it part of the photo instead of just another thing cluttering up the picture.

Rule #2:  “Add some red.”

This ‘rule’ made sense to me in that I could see in photos that had something red - that colour became the focus or there was at least something about it that gave perspective to the overall image.  The color red could draw you into the photo or give some depth to an otherwise bland image.

Warmer colours like red, orange, yellow and the in-between shades of these come forward or appear to be closer.  Cooler blues and greens will generally appear further. 

 

This tends to mimic the reality of the fact that things in the distance tend to fade to pale blues and greys.  

And to belie that rule, brighter, intense and more vivid, of whatever colour, will appear closer. 

Try putting certain colours in an otherwise monotone photo to see what happens. 

Rule #3: Don’t Cut Off Their Feet.

This by itself is a simple but important rule.  When the feet are cut off at the ankles, it makes a standing subject or subjects look as though they are going to fall over.  It looks terribly unnatural.  When shooting a full body photo of someone standing try and make sure that you include the feet.  If you want to cut things short of the feet try above the knee or the waist.  If you are trying to include background try changing the angle, how high or low you are shooting from.  

Part of the issue with photos like this, where you have someone standing at attention facing you, well, it makes for an incredibly boring photo anyway.  It doesn’t lead you into the photo.  There are numerous ways that you can make it more interesting many of which only take an extra few seconds.  

If you are trying to get your subject in front of Niagara Falls, have them turn sideways and look at the Falls.  It will likely be easier for them to have a relaxed visage and smiles will be more forthcoming.  You can also have them sit or lean against the rocks that hold the railing.  This as I mentioned earlier with the tree, the overall look will have them interacting with the environment as opposed to be just standing there completely separated from it.  This has an added benefit of distraction.  When people are just standing there, they often don’t know what to with their hands, face, etc.  Have them leaning, pointing, or touching something or someone.  This can be used to help pull the viewer into the photo as well.  (Eye Trail)  Create different moods with expressions at the same time, even in the same series of photos.  Smiling, puzzled, serious, moody….  

So, to recap: 1. Watch Your Background; 2. Add Some Red; 3. Don’t Cut Off Their Feet.  These all pretty much add up to observe what you do.  Try different things, change the angle, change the pose.  Then take a look and compare the different photos to see what you like best.  

Some Horse Photography

#beginnerphotography #skills #novice

Posted by photo-photo in Blog, Photography Tips, 0 comments
Dynamic Posing Guide By Craig Stidham, Jean Harris

Dynamic Posing Guide By Craig Stidham, Jean Harris

Came across this excellent text on posing models.  The go into a lot of the 'why' behind various ideas about posing.  Some great artistic ideas and technical stuff.  Great read for a model as well as photographer.  Download from the library to check out if you want to keep a copy.  If you are buying, a digital copy is about half the price of an actual book.  Get your models to read this to very easily increase their knowledge of posing.

Go here to Amazon.com:

Posted by photo-photo in Blog, Photography Book Reviews, Photography Tips, 0 comments
Critique and Comments(CC) Welcome – NOT!!

Critique and Comments(CC) Welcome – NOT!!

Should you Critique someone else's work?

A Rant

I’ll take NOT!!.  And I’ll explain why.

I saw a picture posted of a park bench(empty) on an Autumn day.  Was done in Black and White.  I liked the starkness of the picture with the dark, thick clouds.  It communicated to me.  The artist said in the post “CC Welcome”. One person commented that it would be a better shot with someone sitting on the bench.  For me it would have ruined the shot.

It is all about communication.  Really.  What are you trying to communicate. Someone may want to show the starkness of a shot like above where another photographer may want to show the loneliness of a person or juxtapose a cheerful, colorfully dressed individual on the bench.

If you post a picture or show it to someone and you are getting some kind of emotional response then I think you have done a decent job.  Some critics are going to be more interested in certain technical aspects of a photo than whether or not it communicates.  Or elicits some emotional response.  I have seen some very mediocre(technically) pictures that could make me laugh or cry endlessly.

Now, I’ll give you that as one’s expertise increases so does his or her ability to create effects.  And thus communicate more clearly or easily.  That doesn’t mean one has to always use every tool at their disposal.

Sometimes, I take certain pictures and way over-process them.  I have one selfie that I took where I’m smoking a cigar, squinting against the sun.  Shows me all wrinkled and old looking.  My girlfriend hates  it.  I feel the photo communicates a part of me.  Lots of people like and lots don’t.  I like it.  I think it is a great shot.  So there!

If I were to ask for C&C I would be very specific.  For example, if I were trying to get a wider range of tones in my black and white photos, I might post a picture and ask for ideas on how to do this.  Other photographers will have tried different things and some of your responses will be simple and some not so.  Often you are looking for something you can do within your means.  Starting out many don’t have the money to spend every time they need to try a new technique.  So, this is a good way to gets some cheaper, workable ideas.

The shotgun aspect of asking for general critique and comments covers too much.

I’ve seen more artists destroyed by criticism.  I think it is rarely, if ever, useful.

Now if I don’t like a particular communication - that is a different story.  Not every piece of art is for every public(audience).  Years ago, I was at a very public venue near Queen’s Quay in Toronto.  There were markets and stores and on the walls in one section there were framed photo prints of a couple of local photographers.  They were borderline porn.  This was a family venue. There were a huge number of people walking around with their children. Some very upset moms and dads.

I’m not commenting on the quality of the photos or anything of the sort.  I’m questioning the audience.

I’ve met few artists that don’t have some kind of idea of the quality of their art.  It isn’t that difficult to compare what you have done to a photographer you are trying to emulate.  Though we are often our own worst critics.  And saying that, if we are questioning something that we have created, and someone slams us, that is not going to do much for our willingness to continue to create.

Some will say this will make us a better artist.  I vehemently disagree.  Doing more of your art and increasing one’s expertise will make one better.  As a photographer, one can now do volumes and volumes much more cheaply than 30 years ago.  This has its pros and cons.  One has to actually learn techniques and pay attention to what they are doing.

Here is a simple example.  A million snapshot portraits are taken at Niagara Falls where the photographer ‘cuts off the feet’ of the people in the picture.  Reading a beginner photo magazine will make sure that someone learns not to do this.  If you asked for C&C on a picture like this you may get a hundred different opinions: ‘the falls were out of focus’, ‘you need to use your flash’, you need to not use your flash’ … The point being one could improve the quality by just not cutting off the feet.  Reading, observing, learning and most of all doing.

I tend to ask my market audience if they like or don’t like rather than other photographers.  Why show your head shots to another to another agency where he or she may hate them or suggest all sorts of changes but the actors agent may love them!

So, in a word, Comments and Critiques not welcome.

(Thanks for listening.)

Posted by photo-photo in Blog, Photography Tips, 0 comments
A Model’s Job vs a Photographer’s Job

A Model’s Job vs a Photographer’s Job

I've read numerous articles and comments about who should bring what to a photoshoot.  I read a comment recently where a model was asking about poses.  The comment was that the photographer will tell you what he or she wants.  That can be true to the extent that a photographer may have an exact vision of what he wants and will give very specific instructions and direction.

Often, though, if the two are doing a model shoot(testing - TFP) there may not always be something specific planned. Either way a new model should learn some basics.  Years ago when learning I had a chance to work with a professional model where previously I had been working with people who were learning.  We were shooting a wedding gown for a client.  Once finished, we had a bit of time and so we decided to a couple of rolls of regular film.  (Yes, this was before the digital era.)  I shot two rolls of 24 (48 pictures).  She gave me a different pose and look after each click of the shutter.  Every shot was fantastic and it took us all of 15 minutes.

I asked her afterward about this ability.  She said it was hours of practicing in front of the mirror.  This was for her facial expression and her body pose.

So, I suggest as a model or soon to be model: get a full length mirror if you do not already have one.  Look in magazines for poses that will work for your body.  Get at least 10 poses that work for you.  More if you can remember them.  And try different facial expressions.  I have seen what otherwise would be a great shoot but the expression on the model's face is exactly the same in every photo.

For a genuine smile that gets all the way to the eyes, check out this video by Peter Hurley about the 'Squinch':

Now, if you are shooting a model in an evening gown, poses would likely be different from the poses used for a bathing suit photoshoot.

Spend time in front of the mirror.  There are tons of samples of poses online - try Pinterest.  Work it until you have several standing, sitting or laying down.  The photographer may ask you something to tweak the pose but by bringing a number of good poses that you already know work well for you, the photographer can work on light and shadow and getting these perfect for the shot.

Another video that needs to be watched by anyone getting their picture taken is this one:

It is also by Peter Hurley. Practice this until it is second nature.  Again, I've seen more pictures ruined by a double chin where the person is trying to look cool or sexy and they have not looked in a mirror to see what it looks like ahead of time.

All this observation of yourself in front of the mirror will also help you get a better idea what type of clothing works for you; what hides curves you want hidden and what enhances curves that you want enhanced.  What poses make your legs look smaller or larger depending on what is needed.  A little bit of side advice here: don't ask your friends to tell you what looks good or doesn't.  This is your job; you are the professional; you need to get your judgement to the point where you are certain. And that comes from observing and understanding what works and what doesn't.

If it is your first photo shoot or so just start with a few and try and increase your list of poses as you go.

The photographer should be bringing his or her skills of lighting, framing and knowledge of the camera and similar tools.  Make each shoot a collaboration.  This may change if the photographer has something very specific in mind.  In this case he has likely hired you for a specific skill set or look.  But have some 'stuff' up your sleeve so you can contribute if asked upon to do so.

Posted by photo-photo in Blog, Photography Tips, Portraits, 0 comments
Peter Hurley video:  Headshots and the Jaw

Peter Hurley video: Headshots and the Jaw

This is a great video by Peter Hurley that should be watched by anyone taking or getting their picture taken.  Any kind of portrait.

Posted by photo-photo in Blog, Photography Tips, Portraits, 0 comments
“Common” Knowledge about Model and other Releases

“Common” Knowledge about Model and other Releases

One of the things that keeps me from going to Facebook is the huge amount of false information that gets forwarded by people without checking validity.  Then there are the deeper, more entrenched urban legends.  Here is a fantastic blog post on the subject of model releases and property releases.   Great article - lots of good research.

Model Release Myths

"While it's true that model release are necessary for certain situations, the actual laws about these issues are deep and complex. As rumors and hearsay perpetuate on the net, the over-simplification has resulted in virtually all the "advice" and conventional wisdom about model releases to be entirely wrong. And the reason why these myths perpetuate is because they cause no harm. No one ever got sued for having a model release. So, people follow the advice because they (and others) seem to be safe, perpetuating the myths."

 

Do couple this information with manners.  Even if you do have permission, you won't get invited back if you piss people off.

 

Posted by photo-photo in Blog, Photography Tips, 0 comments

Peter Hurley and ‘The Squinch’

I've been looking to improve portraits and have been watching Peter Hurley videos.  

This one about the 'squinch' is great:

Posted by photo-photo in Blog, Photography Tips, 0 comments