Wednesday, December 28, 2005
It always symbolised something of the human condition to me and for a many years it resided in my photojournalism portfolio.
I'm fond of it. This was a real grab shot taken literally on the run as I saw the action unfolding in front of me. It was an icy day with low light and I was shooting with Ilford HP5 up rated to squeeze an extra stop out of it. Taken with my 70-210mm zoom at full extension.
But should it be in my portfolio? The feet of the one guy are are cut-off. Sometimes I like this because it looks as if he is anchored to the side of the frame making the task of moving even harder. Other times I wish I had it all in.
What do you think? Should it be in my portfolio or finally out? These are the questions I posed on a photographic site. The response was unanimous. The image is just too special to leave out. So it shows that sometimes the subject matter and other elements are strong enough to overcome the technical dogma.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Saturday, December 10, 2005
I've often heard photographers complaining that they just cannot find a subject to photograph, sometimes after going to extraordinary lengths to get to a location. In all honesty I've said it myself. But I've been thinking...
It's not what you photograph but how you photograph it that reveals the difference between a good photographer and an ordinary one. The key to being a good photographer is being able to make anything look interesting as an image. As a photographer you have to evoke emotion, communicate ideas and produce a visually exciting image no matter what the subject is.
Unlike 'art' photographers or amateurs, professional photographers have to produce saleable pictures that communicate, whether they're in the mood, able to 'see' it', inspired in front of a subject they like or once again photographing a cardboard box or a bottle (most advertising photographers tend to do an awful lot of shots of these subjects).
The point I'm striving to make is: don't ask yourself, what can I photograph, but instead ask how can I photograph any single thing around me in a way that is visually interesting and exciting? Look around you and pick anything you see and then ask yourself the question; how can I make a stunning image of this? Take a look at the photography masters. I'm pretty sure just about every subject has been photographed, often brilliantly , whether it's a cup and saucer or a burning match. The joy though is that there are thousands of ways of photographing every subject so just because Edward Weston produced an iconic black and white image of peppers does not mean you can't also create a brilliant shot of peppers.
About 10 years ago I was sitting in our apartment desperate to get out and photograph a landscape but it was raining relentlessly. I was determined to create a good image so I opened my eyes and really looked. There it was in front of me. I photographed the rain drops hitting the window pane with the building across the street forming an interesting slightly out of focus background. The shot was very well received and ended up in my portfolio for several years.
Ok, so I've made the argument that the difficulty in finding a subject to photograph is just a matter of perception. Anything can become the subject of a great image, it's just how you photograph it that makes the difference. But there is a rider.
It has always fascinated me how when you photograph something that you are emotionally involved with, that has captured your interest, this is somehow conveyed in the image. This applies to professional photographers as well, which is why they will tend to specialise in an area that they find interesting. So the rider on the initial statement above is photograph anything that you find interesting and try to communicate your own visual interest and excitement in the best way possible through the image.
Remember though that the key is not finding the subject, the key is finding the best way to photograph any subject.
Please feel free to leave a comment or email me.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Check out how Pulitzer prise winning photojournalist John Kaplan's students tackled the art of telling important stories with images. There's lots of terrific stuff to read and impactful images on the www.internationaljournalism.com site.
Here are some more photographers highly worthwhile checking out. They are all quite recent alumni from the University of Florida photojournalism department. UF churns out award winning photographers, proof that top quality teachers like Kaplan and Freeman make a huge difference.
Meggan Booker: www.megganbooker.com
Dave Cone: www.davecone.com
Bob Croslin: www.bobcroslin.com
Melissa Lyttle: www.melissalyttle.com
May May: www.mattmayphotography.com
Stephanie Sincliar: www.stephaniesinclair.com
Brian Tietz: www.briantietz.com
Eric Larson : www.ericlarson.com
As you know I will always do my best to answer your questions. Sometimes it's a bit of a challenge, especially when a comment is left without the slightest clue as to who made it or how to get in touch. So please do leave your email address (you can encode it as follows if you're afraidit may be picked up by an automated system trawling the web for email addresses to send spam to; here's how I do mine pauldotindigoatgmaildotcom).
Chris if you're out there reading this, thanks for you comment and please do send me an email so I can answer you.
Usually I sign-off with my name as a clickable email link.
Model having fun during a shoot in our studio.
Monday, November 21, 2005
I've yet to find a really good and easy way to organise my digital archives. I used to back everything up on DVD so it's a job trawling through them even with labels and descriptions.
From now on I've vowed to delete all the crap straight-away. Heard that one before, have you. I mean it. If anyone out there has got a good system that doesn't break the bank I'd love to hear from you.
All the best,
Sunday, November 13, 2005
As always if you have a question or a comment please do not hesitate to email me.
Electricity, domestic and natural together in a single composition. Lightning can discharge at 200,000 Volts while domestic supplies in Europe typically provide 240 volts. Nature's power is awsome.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
So why do I say I used to call myself a fine art photographer? Because I think that the label fine art photographer has become devalued by the rubbish that it is now used to describe. Images with no aesthetic value, poorly composed, technically pathetic and worst of all singularly lacking any semblance of communicating anything other than the complete lack of skill by the 'artist' in anything photographic are now published in books, hung on gallery walls and bowed down to by the same public that praised the emperor's new clothes.
In the days of Man Ray fine art photography meant something. It was an authentic artistic expression. Photographers were pushing the boundaries, expressing ideas in new ways, looking at the world with fresh eyes. Since then the label has steadily devalued and fine art photography has been in decline. Now any image can be fine art, no matter how poorly conceived and executed.
Don't get me wrong. I am certainly NOT saying that every photograph that is labelled fine art is rubbish but rather that far too many images given this title are not worthy of it. There is more craftsmanship in a well lit, beautifully composed food shot for an advert, and more meaning in an emotive editorial or documentary photograph than in an ever increasing number of images on the walls of galleries.
So I now prefer to be seen as just a photographer, an image maker, who takes pride in the aesthetics of his craft, rather than as a fine art photographer.
I always thought that fine art was something that should reveal a strong idea, a central concept or that it should be product of the highest craftsmanship, be beautiful even if the subject was something shocking. An art photograph should raise questions in the viewer, move them, produce a feeling, communicate on a deeper level, have an element of wonder about it. Without naming names there are several hip, well regarded fine art photographers who manage to do nothing more than produce trite, boring images supported by flimsey 'artistic statements' to which the only reasonable reaction would be to yawn.
If you have an opinion on this I'd like to hear it. Email me.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
The other connotations of the word professional include, learned, expert and skilled. I suppose what I'm really seeking to differentiate between is someone who works as a photographer and someone that has a wholly professional attitude to their photography.
A truly professional photographer cares about every detail and strives for perfection in everything they do, from dealing with customers, to models, to the quality of their work, to presentation, to doing business with suppliers and leading their team. Every aspect is handled professionally, with skill, expertise and the utmost care. Because the final image is the product of a long chain of decisions and actions. For example, the photographer who doesn't get a shoot organised on schedule and ends up being late and rushing will probably produce poorer quality images than the professional who takes care to ensure every detail is looked after.
There are amateurs who put more effort in, are more rigorous in their photography, more passionate and driven than many photographers who make a living out of their photography. But generally amateurs are quickly satisfied with their results. There's no economic incentive to perform to the highest level and that's fine.
But I do think that photographers who earn their living as professionals should always have a professional attitude and that they should carry it through into every aspect of their work. Being a professional photographer is a way of life, not just a way of earning a living.
As always your comments are welcome.
Email Paul Indigo
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
If the picture is poor, or even if it is good, here's plea from the heart. Please don't put elaborate frames and effects around it. They invariably detract from rather than enhance an image.
You don't believe me. Well take a look at just about any top professional photographer's website. What do you see? Maybe a discreet border, perhaps an edge that looks photographic like the negative of a film but not three deep layers of drop shadowed, semi transparent, selectively coloured, embossed mounts!
As always my message is... concetrate on producing good images and then enhancing what's there through Photoshop.
All the best,
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Nick Brandt is making quite a name for himself in the fine art photography world. He'll be exhibiting in the UK shortly, details on his site. I love his stuff.
Tom Stoddart is a really gifted photogjournalist. Well worth a visit.
Mika produces stunning colour photography and has started a whole trend in Japan and internationally.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
I've written before about the fascination photographers have with the technology involved in making an image. Judging by the latest trend of photographers turning to film, and praising it, I think that the ever present marketing spin has lodged firmly in their minds.
What's the spin you may ask? Well the heart of it is that using a different camera or medium like film or digital is going to improve your photography. Of course that's nonsense. I see many photographers not quite getting the results they want with their digital SLRs. So what do they do? Switch to film. If you are such a photographer my advice is stick to the minimum equipment you can. Travel light. Pick the right lens for the job and stick with it.
Switching cameras or from film to digital or the other way round is purely a question of workflow. Yes the fine aesthetics of the results are different. Each medium has it's own quality but you have to be a really exceptionally talented and visionary photographer to extract the benefits and play to the strenghts of the different media.
Concentrate on improving your images. Not on equipment. Time and again it's been shown that if you put a disposable camera with a crap lens in the hands of a talented photographer she'll get an interesting result, the product of a creative vision. So equipment really doesn't make one a better photographer.
There is a rider on what I've said above. Using new equipment can stimulate a photographer's creative vision. Any new technology can inspire. I remember when I first used a super wide lens. Mind you it took awhile of trying things before I got my first really good photograph. But yes, it can stimulate creativity.
To sumarise: the main thing is to concentrate on improving your images. All the best photographers know their equipment inside out. That's the answer. Not switching from digital to film. You'll probably switch back again in two months and upgrade to a more expensive digital camera, still chasing that elusive improvement in your photography.
As always, your comments are welcome.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Many of us have been there. We go to great pains to get an image and the final result is OK, but just not a hundred percent. The image goes into the portfolio and we keep it there because we know just how hard it was to get it. All the time it should actually have been binned. Just not good enough.
You've got to be ruthlessly honest, your own hardest critic and then you've got to go out and find tough experienced photographers, curators and picture editors, and subject yourself to their harshest critques. Not all of them will be right but you'll soon learn which are your weaker images.
Cut them out of your portfolio. No excuses.
You've also got to look beyond the merely technical. When I started I rejected many images in an almost mechanical way because they did not live up to technical dogmatic requirements. Yet they had something special, something that touched people. I've retrieved them from the bin of obscurity and they're now back in my portfolios.
So you've got to really look at every aspect of an image, but never consider the effort it took to get it.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
You could write a book to cover all of the aspects involved and of course each type of photography brings its own set of criteria. Instead I'll mention a few things here that should be considered. It's up to you do detailed research about pricing in your own field. Don't even think of taking on a professional commission without finding out more and it's vital that you should agree prices up front with your customer. Research your market.
The short answer to the question of how much to charge is that you should ask for what you can get without over charging or under selling your services. Most keen amateurs charge far to little for their work because they don't need to live from selling their photography, they're flattered that someone wants to buy their work, they're anxious to win the commission, scared of making an error, they don't really realise the value of a good image to their customer and they don't value their own skill highly enough. It's a sad set of circumstances.
Even professional photographers often under charge because they lack confidence in their ability and feel under pressure to win the work.
Yes, market forces do determine how much customers will pay for a photograph but there's absolutely no sense in complaining about how little you earn as a photographer in one breath and then in the next sell your work for an extremely low price. Both photographers and customers need educating about the value of images.
The age old market force of supply and demand also plays its role. If a customer can get the same quality from another photographer for half the price then why pay more. So at the end of the day it's up to the photographer to deliver more value to the customer and to explain how they are delivering more value so that the customer understands the specific benefits they're getting from hiring you do their photography.
I'd be delighted to hear your comments.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
There's a fine line between doing a parody, using an idea and copying someone else's image. Each case is judged individually.
If you'd like to take a more cynical line then something Franklin Jones said may appeal. He said, "Originality is the art of concealing your source." It made me smile. Still though, I do I try desperately hard to ensure everything I do is unique. There's nothing more devastating than discovering someone else has had a very similar idea.
I see 'fine art photography' which is technically, emotionally, conceptually and basically on every level absolutely terrible. Perhaps that's why some curators support it. Oh, it's a fickle world alright.
I've had moderate success especially among private collectors who just like what I do. Perhaps one day the mainstream will take to my work. We'll see. All I can do in the meantime is remain true to my artistic vision.
The picture below is part of a series. I think it is thought provoking. It's about bringing the outside world, particularly nature, into ourselves. Or it's about whatever you choose to see and discover.
I think art is 50% what's on the wall and 50% what the viewer brings to the experience.
Artwork all done in-camera.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Now here's the thought that once again struck me. Why are so many photographers continually chasing after the best and latest equipment? Do people really fall for the myth that they will make better images with more advanced equipment? Are the pictures that Ansel Adams, Cartier Bresson, Brassai, Matthew Brady, Francis Frith, or any of the other greats any less interesting, emotive, powerful or less brilliant because they used the technology available during their time? What's the difference between a beautiful image made on a glass plate, a 35mm piece of film or the latest CMOS chip?
Yet so many photographers spend so much time, effort and money pursuing technology. As far as I can see all that technology does is increase convenience and speed up the process from taking the picture to seeing the printed image. Both aspects have got nothing to do with making better images. That lies in the 'heart' and vision of the photographer.
A good image taken a hundred years ago on primitive equipment, by today's standards, remains a good image. I can understand that for a sports photographer a camera that shoots 5fps is going to give them the edge on someone using an 8x10 view camera. And still there are some wonderful sports portraits taken using large format (but perhaps not at the height of the action). So for different tasks new technology can be helpful.
Ultimately what really counts is the photographers ability to see, visualise the result and then capture the image.
I also find it quite amusing that so many photographers spend a fortune on the latest cameras and lenses capable of achieving the sharpest images and then they spend hours in photoshop blurring, manipulating colours and otherwise messing around with images until they look like they were taken with a toy camera and film that was 15 years out of date. Of course the people that usually resort to such drastic measures are the photographers who're trying desperately to get something out of an image which is truly awful in the first place.
So the moral of the story. Stop worrying about having the latest cameras and lenses. Start concentrating on producing superb and meaningful images, whether you're using a disposable camera with film or a Hasselblad H1 with the latest digital back.
I'd love to hear your opinion. Click on my name below to email me or the link below to leave a comment.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Saturday, September 03, 2005
There are websites which eloquently describe the history and attitude associated with being a lomographer but fundamentally what it comes down to is that this little camera, because of its lens and design produces saturated colours and it's own particular quirky visual style. The camera has been used to produce work for major advertising campaigns by top professionals but fundamentally it is, as was the original designer's intention, a camera for everyone to snap away with.
A friend, Dave Waters happens to be a great lover of this art form and his site on the Lomographic Society website is well worth a visit: an excellent introduction to lomography.
Have fun. That's the spirit of Lomo.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
If you write something that comes out of your own head or if you take a picture of something then you own the copyright. That means nobody can reproduce or copy what you've done without your permission. Simple right? Apparently not. I see the things people have written, for example the lyrics to a song, copied and placed in someone else's text without the slightest attempt to attribute where the original came from. Why do so many people try to pass other authors work off as their own? To get back to the crux of the matter. You make something of your own, then it's yours. But beware.
There are the exceptions. If your picture features someone else's image and it forms the major part of your image then you've probably infringed their copyright. For example if you photograph a billboard and a viewer can't see from your photograph that you've actually taken a picture of a billboard then you've infringed the original photographer's copyright. However, if your main subject is a person walking in front of the billboard then you will not have infringed copyright as the billboard is just part of the urban landscape and your picture is about the person walking past.
The best way in layman's terms to understand when you've infringed copyright is to ask yourself whether someone viewing your image would reasonably conclude that you're the author of the main subject matter of the picture. It comes down to common sense. Have you copied something from someone else or is what you've done completely your own idea? Or put another way, are you taking credit for someone else's work.
I've tried to explain it simply but if you want to get into the legal side then check out these sites:
You can register your works with this service to protect copyright but please note you do not have register anything anywhere to own copyright. Copyright is automatically yours by law when you create something.
USA readers may find this site helpful. The principles apply to the UK too.
This is one of the UK's official government supported websites containing a wealth of information on intellectual property rights.
Generally I steer well clear of advertising products but this book may be of use to UK photographers. I have not bought a copy so cannot vouch for it but take a look at their website and decide for yourself whether you think it would be of use to you.
If you have any questions I will, as always, do my best to answer them.
Friday, August 19, 2005
As a photographer I enjoy observing and in a sense ordering these events by choosing to push the shutter at the decisive moment.
When it comes to street photography you can broadly speaking adopt two strategies. Chase after a subject by keeping on the move and hunting for the right coincidence to occur in front of your lens. Or you can 'set the stage' by looking for an interesting background or scene, and then just wait for life to unfold in front of your lens.
I like doing both but I think that you stand the most chance of getting something valuable if you adopt the latter strategy. It allows you to consider the elements of composition and light carefully. You can even prefocus. Wait patiently and something will happen. The picture below is part of a series taken where I used this interesting slice of the city as my stage.
Capturing the decisive moment.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
The camera's shutterspeed was so fast it froze the propeller, which you can't see normally with the naked eye. It was reasuring to know we still had one.
Flying up the Humber estuary toward the Humber Bridge.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Everything has a purpose in the city. Some of it we discard and other parts we treasure and protect. There are images everywhere based on strange juxtapositions, vibrant colour, interesting shapes and so much more.
I'm overwhelmed by the wealth of material. All it takes is an eye for such things and the technical ability to capture the image.
Most of my stuff is pretty straight but the image below was manipulated. Some people like it. Others are less keen. From a photographic point of view I think manipulation can work if it helps to free up something from within an image and evoke an emotion.
What do you think?
Urban guerilla photography. Overhead structure and lines on railway station in Leeds.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Each website has it's own audience and character, although I have noticed that like me there are other promiscuous photographers who upload to more than one site. I may upload the same picture to different sites and the reaction will be completely different.
Some sites, like altphoto are open about their preferences. They want to see 'alternative' photography and warn photographers not to upload sunsets and flowers - two subjects that are very popular on ephotozine.
In many ways these websites for photographers to showcase their work and get feedback play the role of amateur photography clubs, albeit on a much bigger scale.
Conforming to any of them, in the sense of pandering to the predominant taste on the site, can be detrimental to your photography. This is especially true if you take photographs to please a specific audience rather than pursuing your own artistic vision with integrity.
One of the most important things to realise about the camera club mentality is that in order to get members to conform, or measure their progress against their peers it is necessary to follow a set of dogmatic principles. They try to get you to fit a mold. It is easier to measure people against pseudo objective criteria, the received wisdom of photography classes than it is to judge each work by the artists intention. So they hammer on about things like keeping your horizons straight and various other criteria all to do with presentation rather than content.
Beware and remain true to your own vision, no matter how many clicks, ratings or whatever else the online camera club deals out. Don't let yourself get pushed into their way of thinking. Rather seek the audience that suites your work.
I think that there are many different audiences each with it's own set of values and preferences. Art directors, marketing executives, picture editors, amateur photographers, professionals, art critics and museum curators will all look at the same image in a slightly different way and their judgment will reflect their viewpoint.
The thing that really surprises me though is that so many truly great photographs get ignored by the masses. I try to judge pictures in terms of how effective they are at achieving the photographers intention. Do they really communicate something? Do they evoke an emotion? Ultimately I think the judgment of whether a photograph is good or bad is not very useful. Images should instead be looked at in terms of whether they are interesting or not, and this will often depend on context and content.
Your feedback is always welcome. Click on my name below to send me an email.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I'd advise anyone considering using the service to read everything carefully, including the forums. It seems to work for many people, but not everyone is a happy customer. I may give it a try, after doing some more research.
The advantage of using the site is that they will help you market your book on the net. You only pay for the copies that get printed plus a commission on the copies that get sold, but you can set your own price.
Check it out at www.lulu.com
If any of my readers has tried the service I'd love to hear from you.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Buy a colour card. Photograph it. Print it out using the same settings you would for your photographs. Choose the paper you like and stick to it. What you are trying to do is limit the variables so that you can predict results in the future.
Now instead of adjusting the printer settings to get the colours right, use Photoshop and tweak it until the colours in your test prints match your target (the colour card) as closely as possible.
Your monitor is probably not calibrated so don't worry that it doesn't look right on screen. You're aiming for the best print possible. Once you've worked out how you need to change the colours in Photoshop to produce a good print on the particular paper of your choice you can take the process a step further and create an action (see Photoshop's help file to find out how to do this).
Then when you want to print your pictures you open them, choose the action, print and then close the image without saving the print specific tweak ie the effect of the action.
My advice is to choose two or maybe three paper types and develop the unique set of actions for each of these.
There you go. The simple and inexpensive way to get consistent prints with your printer, particular inks and paper. If you change any of the variables you'll have to go through the trial and error process again.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
In the meantime, this site is worth a visit. It provides a lens calculator which displays the angle of view of all the lenses in the Nikon Nikkor AF Lens range. It is compatible with all the 35mm film SLRs and all the digital SLRs from Nikkon (like the Nikon D100), as well as the camera bodies that take a Nikon-fit lens (such as the Kodak DCS 14n or the Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro).
Hope you find it helpful too: www.sweeting.org/mark/lenses/nikon.php
Saturday, July 02, 2005
I use Lightroom to develop my RAW images and shoot using the most neutral setting. I'm happy with the results and I don't use custom curves when shooting anymore. Still the information below may be useful and the principals of science apply as they always will.
ORIGINAL START OF ARTICLE
I often use tone, or as they are also known, custom curves on my digital slr. Other photographers have asked me to explain what they are. So here's my brief overview.
I do most of my digital photography nowadays with a Nikon D70 digital slr. It's light, doesn't cost the earth and does all I need it to. The quality, if you know how to extract it is superb and can happily be used for everything from magazine covers to superb large prints. This explanation of tone curves is based on my experience with the D70.
Back to basics
Each film has a characteristic curve. Kodak explains a characteristic curve: "It shows the relationship between the exposure of a photographic material and the image density produced after processing."
So what about digital
The same principle applies to digital photography. Here, unlike film, a large part of the processing is done in camera, even when you are shooting raw. You cannot duplicate a digital tone curve, as far as I am aware, during post processing because it relates to how light captured is handled directly after it hits the sensor, ie digital film.
Nikon explains it as follows: "As photographs are saved to the memory card, they are processed to adjust the distribution of tones in the image, enhancing contrast. Tone compensation is performed by means of tone curves that define the distribution of tones in the original image and the compensated result."
Simply put tone curves can:
- increase contrast
- reduce contrast
- alter the way colours behave under different lighting situations
- brighten mid- tones
- extract more detail out of highlight areas
- brighten shadows
But a word of warning. Getting them right is not easy. The adjustments have to very subtle or you'll spoil the colours and tonal balance. The curve has to be kept as linear as possible in the mid-tone areas.
Custom curves are by no means always the best solution. In high contrast scenes you'll probably want to try the Nikon's low contrast curve and in misty scenes you'll no doubt want to boost contrast with high contrast curve. The D70 also has built in curves for landscapes and portraits. No doubt other DSLRs will have similar options. But the benefits of using custom curves will be the same.
The key thing to remember is that unlike film, digital photography requires some of the normal darkroom lab work to take place inside the camera.
Nikon's D70 requires the custom curve to be loaded into the camera while it's tethered by usb cable to a PC/Mac running Nikon Capture 4 software . At the moment you can only load one custom curve at a time. As with all things the custom curve business is, if you'll pardon the pun, a rather steep learning curve. Just something you've got to keep trying out in different circumstances.
Please let me know if you've found this article useful.
This site features mainly people. They don't want boring photographs. Lots of good art stuff.
Loads of features and stuff on this site. Well worth a look.
Top tips are:
- Make sure all your equipment is in perfect order
- Take a backup camera if you can
- Test your flash beforehand and do a few shots in similar lighting conditions to check that all the settings are right.
- Remember if you're shooting digitally and relying on flash to set the white balance for flash/daylight not auto
- When photographing get people's attention and get them to look at the lense. Be assertive. Don't be afraid to ask them to pose for more than one shot but remember you also can't keep them hanging on waiting for you.
- Get everything set, then go in and take the shot as quickly as you can, 30 seconds per shot.
- Try some innovative angles. Stand on a chair or shoot down from a stage or whatever is available
- It is really important to watch your backgrounds. Keep them clean. Avoid light sources in the background that can be distracting
- Have fun. If you look like you're relaxed and enjoying yourself it will put your subjects at ease.
- Use a high enough aperture to ensure that people in the foreground of the group are as sharp as those at the back - typically f8, but depends on the focal length of your lense.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
The point of departure for these image makers is to use the subject as the start for their own 'artistic' interpretation. The traditional portrait photographer works the other way round. They use their photographic skill to uncover a 'truth' about the subject.
To put it another way. The traditional portrait photographer focused on revealing more about the person in the portrait. The digital artist is focused on revealing more about themselves through the way they portray their subject.
Both are legitimate approaches, so long as every step has a purpose and contributes to the meaning of the image, ie not just manipulation for it's own sake. The only true measure of success is whether the image really connects and communicates with the viewer.
Monday, June 20, 2005
By the way. If you're interested in all things Nikon you may find this site of interest. Here's a link to the digital section which traces the full development of digital SLRs based on Nikon bodies (so it includes Fuji S pros and Kodak [now discontinued]).
Sunday, June 19, 2005
And then when you get home, if you shoot digital, seeing what you've captured that day. Waiting for film results back from the lab adds a tremendous feeling of anticipation and excitement.
Both film and digital have their own unique appeal. For me though the absolute high point is actually making the image, when you're in that zone, almost zen and you realise as you press the shutter that it's going to be good. For the most part this only happens when I've previsualised an image, although as a photojournalist when you spot something and know it's going to make a fantastic picture you also get a tremendous kick.
For my more artistic photography though, I'll often have thought about making a picture for months, sometimes years before all the circumstances are right and I can actually take the image. The idea for the photograph below was conceived ages ago. It's a work in progress. Still not quite there but I'll be returning to this idea again.
Magda Indigo out photographing in Yorkshire.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
What makes a photograph appealing to an audience? It's a huge question. But there's one aspect I'd like to quickly cover here: photographic websites where people post pictures and other enthusiasts and photographers comment on them.
I've noticed something. They seem to be in danger of repeating the blinkered view that many amateur camera clubs suffer from. Too many pictures that are just about creating an overwhelming visual impact - highly saturated, oversharpened, simplified compositions, unrealistic colours and images that don't communicate with the soul of the viewer. You open them and go WOW, blink your eyes twice, click onto the next one and forget what you've seen 40 seconds later.
I like images that make you think. That raise questions. That go beyond the obvious and the visual cliche or a characture of a landscape, or any of the other over-manipulated photoshop experiments that one sees.
Everything in a picture should have a reason for being there, but to be really good it, for me, has to touch something deeper in the viewer, and it has to leave an impression as lasting as an archival print.
Given these criteria, I reckon I probably take 2 or 3 good images a year. Next time you look at a web gallery, a simple landscape perhaps, really look and let the image speak to you. It is worth everything and more than something which is overcooked and abuses visual manipulation to give itself unworthy impact. Try to understand what the photogapher is trying to say, rather than letting yourself be wooed by flashy technique, and judge a picture by how successfully it communicates with you when you open yourself up to it rather than pure 'slap in the face' visual pyro-techniques.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Here are a few worthwhile websites which provide information on cleaning your camera's sensor. And in the great tradition of covering one's backside, I'll have to add the usual clause: I do not officially endorse any of these methods. The links in this blog are purely for your information. What you do with that information is up to you and I certainly can't take responsibility for your sensor cleaning practises. Backside covered - read on...
Rob Galbraith - Sensor Brush
CameraHobby.com - Visible Dust's Sensor Brush and Chamber Clean
Petteri's Pontification - The Pixel Sweeper
Pbase.com - CCD / CMOS Cleaning (Copperhill Method)
The Luminous Landscape - Visible Dust Review
The Luminous Landscape - Understanding Digital SLR Sensor Cleaning
Ultimate SLR - How to clean your Digital Image Sensor - this is really good
Does "Visible Dust" cleaning system really work ?
And here's some new news (May 2005). Many photographers think that the Sensor Brush is too expensive. Nicholas R. of the Copper Hill cleaning method fame is now offering a much cheaper brush for cleaning your sensor. Follow this link to find out more.
Good luck. As always your feedback is welcome. How do you clean your digital camera's sensor?
Thursday, June 02, 2005
I explained about World Photo Day and they were more than happy to have their photograph taken. Now I know it's nothing arty or spectacular, just daily life with ordinary people doing their thing. After all, that's what the whole thing was about.
Hope you enjoy it and if you want to see all of the pictures from 1 June 2005 from across the whole world click here.
Couple on bus in Leeds this evening.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Really busy time at the moment but there is loads of new stuff in the pipeline.
I'm writing a piece on bokeh. What is good bokeh? Find out next week.
Monday, May 23, 2005
If you want to upload and share your pictures try:
- www.photo.net - this one is a bit hard to navigate but does feature some excellent photography and has loads of useful information
Are you interested in portraiture? Then a visit to the National Portrait Gallery is a must
This site contains some interesting intervews with leading portrait photographers and of course you could enter the 2005 Schweppes Photographic Portrait Prize.
And if you've got some deep technical questions you could do a lot worse than visiting http://photonotes.org - This outstanding site has tons of well organised information to answer the most obscure photographic questions.
I've got hundreds of other valuable photography sites, more than you could shake a stick at, but for now I'll leave it at that.
If you find any of this information useful then please email me to say hi. I get no payment for my research other than to know that you value my efforts here.
Thank you for reading.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Any type of camera can be used. But Drew says, "Keep in mind that if you are not using digital, you need to make time for development, scanning, and submitting of images within the 24-hour period allotted after the project's time frame of: June 1, 2005 00:01 - 23:59 GMT."
To take part in this wonderful initiative visit www.worldphotoday.com. To my knowledge nothing quite like this has been attempted before. We look forward to seeing life in every corner of the globe.
I've already signed up! But you'll need to be quick.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
When you're out wandering the streets with your camera there are basically two ways you can relate to your subjects. Either you try to capture them unaware or you make them aware you want to take a their picture. Both approaches have their own challenges of course.
In my previous article I dealt with trying to seize the moment, usually with the subject being unaware of you. Now I'll talk about making the subject aware that you want to take their picture.
Working in foreign countries and relating to people when you don't speak their language can be a challenge. On the other hand people will often cut a visitor more slack than they would someone from their own country, so you can 'get away' with more. The key to approaching people is those first few seconds. You have to appear non threatening, friendly, willing to explain why you want to photograph them, have a sense of humour and above all find a way to immediately engage the subject.
The greatest sensitivity you need is to know when the moment is there to take the picture. Waffle on for too long and they'll think you a bore and you're holding them up. Be too abrupt and they get upset with you 'cause you've imposed on them. That kind of sensitivity is hard to teach. It comes with experience, researching the culture and basic knowledge of people. Understanding body language is also key. Study up on these things and approach people with confidence. You're in charge of the situation, you're the photographer and you know what you're doing (without coming across as arrogant of course). Be firm and persuasive, and never too shy to ask someone to move to a spot or turn in the light, or something like that. People who you approach on the street are generally willing to help once they've agreed you can take their picture. They expect guidance and help from you.
Basically you're asking people to becoming partners in the creation of the image. And if anyone asks you for a print...please do send them one. It means such a lot to people if you do what you've promised.
Good luck. As always your feedback is welcome.
The man from Turkey with the turkey.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Saltwick Bay on the Yorkshire Coast. An ethereal place at dawn with Black Nab rising from the waves.
Location: Saltwick Bay, near Whitby
Photographer: Keith Henson
(This picture is copyright of Keith Henson. Any form of reproduction is illegal without the prior written permission of the author)
Celebrating the beauty of the Northern England landscape
I can highly recommend a visit to this brand new website featuring the work of talented photographers Keith Henson and Andy Dippie. Both photographers have produced phenomenal imagery capturing the unique beauty of the landscape of the Northern British Isles.
Keith and Andy have their individual styles. As with all great photographers they show us the landscape filtered through their own unique artistic vision.
I can highly recommend a visit to their userfriendly web site. You can buy images online at very affordable prices. Now's the time to buy before these guys get too famous and galleries push their prices through the roof.
But even if you're not a fine art photography buyer the site is well worth a visit. It's a celebration of light, form, nature and beauty in landscape.
I really enjoy the creativity and diversity of the images on this site. Click here now to visit www.northscape.co.uk .
As always your feedback is welcome.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
I think that helping aspiring photographers is important. If you have a picture that you would like a detailed critique on then please email it to me. Depending on the number of requests I get I may not be able to critique everyone' s image in detail but I will certainly reply with at least a paragraph.
This offer is open for the next two weeks. After that I'll evaluate it again. Looking forward to hearing from you.
I may want to publish some of the critiques and your picture of course but will naturally ask your permission first. Please don't email high res images (500 pixels at 60k is fine)
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
I've been highlighting the joys of street photography and in my previous post you'll find some links to other sites that I've found valuable.
Street photography is about being alert to the potential for making an interesting image and then seizing the moment. A fraction of a second hesitation and the composition won't work. I love that challenge and hope that the virtue of timing and anticipation is illustrated below.
I saw this scene then waited until the worker was in exactly the right place.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
If this is a form of photography that interests you, then you should take a look at www.in-public.com. This site also has a host of links to other interesting resources and websites to do with street photography. Check out www.ak47.tv, an online magazine for documentary and art photographers, which has some excellent street stuff.
Many of the greatest photographers of our times were street photographers; notably Henri Cartier-Bresson and Brassai. Sometime in the future I'll do a small article with handy hints and tips for getting that special image when you're out there hunting with your camera.
As always I'd love to hear your feedback. So please email me.
On another matter my wife Magda and I have just launched our May exhibition on our website. Please take a look. Magda has an exhibition of exquisite flowers from A to Z and I'm exhibiting a series of portraits. You can see our exhibition by following the links from here. Please sign the guest book too. Your feedback is always valuable to us. Thanks.
Boy with his balloon - by Paul Indigo. I love his carefree attitude.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Monday, April 11, 2005
For those of you interested in learning, Betterphoto.com with Jim Miotke, provides some good articles. The site's got a selection covering the basics as well as more advanced elements. Hope you find it useful.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
If at this point you're a Canon owner sitting there shaking your head then scroll down to my
Sunday, March 20, 2005 entry, where I've listed a site for you.
If you've any questions please don't hesitate to click on my name below to send me an email.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Hope to add more soon to my blog, but got so much on at the moment I don't which way is up.
Monday, March 28, 2005
- Obviously it's vital the room looks presentable and there's nothing distracting lying in view. A bouquet of flowers, a colourful cushion etc, can lift the room and provide a good focal point.
- Think of leading the audience's eye through the image from one point of interest to another.
- Unless you're using it deliberately to create an effect make sure walls are perpendicular and the horizon straight. A door frame or wall at an angle can be quite disoreintating.
- Putting all the electric lights on enhances the atmosphere and creates a warm image. Table lights etc, usually look better even in daylight when they're lit.
- Candles should also be lit if they are present.
I use a variety of techniques. Here are some:
- Studio or off camera flash for fill light balanced with daylight.
- I generally always try to photograph during the day as window light is very important to the character of a room.
- Sometimes use tungsten lighting to fill in but if you correct for it you have to watch out because any daylight will be too blue.
- ND graduated filters used vertically are a great help in coping with balancing shadow and window areas.
- You can also try double exposures. First expose for the room with the outside of the window covered with black velvet cloth. Then take a second exposure for the window. This works well when you've got a small window and a large room, and you want to show detail outside.
I hope you find this useful. Please let me know and see my previous post in search of feedback. Many thanks.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
But there's not really been enough interest to warrant me carrying on. So here's the deal. If you'd like to read more then please email me. In a week's time I'll let you know if I'm going to continue.
Hope to hear from you.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
There are loads of interesting websites out there. The site photoblog.org has over 9,300 member sites from 84 countries, featuring some amazing photography.
If you're into outdoor photography then take a look at the digital outback photography website. It's jam packed with useful information for professionals and amateurs.
I'm off to learn some more but will be back with lots more later in the week. Have fun.
As always your feedback is important to me.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
The sites that I review will tend to feature other photographers creative efforts rather than being about equipment. However, if you're interested in all things to do with Canon then you may find Christian Rollinger's website of interest. (Thanks Barry)
Prompted by a forum thread I've had a thought about the way photographers are often forced by the apparent inability of different audiences (public, curators, art directors) to accept that a creative image maker can be expert in more than one type of photograhy.
I hate the idea of being forced into a particular box as a portrait, landscape, reportage or some other classification photographer. The key questions are how can you express yourself best, how do you see the world, what do you want to show others?
I've also found that when you do have a favourite area and you go away and photograph something completely different you learn something new that can be applied to your original area.
If you dig deeper you'll find that the great photographers created an enormous variety of images. Ansel Adams known for his wonderful landscapes also photographed graffiti for example.
It's always commercial pressure ie marketing that drives creatives down the route of having to 'sell' themselves as experts in one or other field. To deal with this I use different portfolios for different areas.
Of course there are those photographers who really are just interested in expressing themselves in one particular area.
Feel free to email your views to me.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
If anyone has any comments about my blog please email me. Thanks.
I've also asked fellow ephotziners to send me urls for any photography sites they find worthwhile. I'm always interested in new sites and plan to review the best so that this blog becomes a really useful resource like one of my favourites, concientious. Joerg Colberg offers an amazing resource on his blog.
Off to bed now. See you soon.
Friday, March 18, 2005
So why not pop along to my website and check out some of my work? Every month I will have a brand new online exhibition. Here is the link to the online exibition for March to April. My wife, Magda also has an online exhibition every month. She's showcasing an amazing series of sky images, well worth a visit.
I've also just introduced a guest book. It would be wonderful if you visited and dropped us a note.
I'm introducing other new features on our website too such as the ability to create and send greeting cards online using our photographs - all for free. I hope to get the free ecards system set up by next week.
Comments always welcome.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
My main interest is photography. I hope that you will join me on my journey as I share new discoveries, start some interesting discussions and bring you a wealth of ideas and information.
In this blog I will discuss photographic techniques, both traditional and digital. And I plan to provide links to sites that I think will be of interest.
Drawing from years of experience, both in life and photography, I will try to provide something for anyone who is inquisitive about what makes an interesting image - both from a technical and an aesthetic point of view.
Please visit regularly. This blog will be updated a few times a week. Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment.