Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2009

How much photographic equipment do you need?

Part of our old Hasselblad system in its case

Many of us photographers get a little carried away with all the cool gadgets, equipment and cameras. We end up with lots of stuff – sometimes causing mild distress to our partners. Fortunately my wife is also a photographer although she takes a very practical approach to equipment. I’m definitely the Magpie in our family.

So I’ve ended up with truck loads of cameras and gadgets. And guaranteed when I open a photo magazine tomorrow I’ll see something else that ‘I need’. I’m sure that many of my readers will be nodding their heads wistfully at this stage. All sounds a bit familiar eh.

But sometimes all of this stuff can get in the way of good photography. I remember seeing a photographer in the street a while back with a backpack, a camera bag in each hand and a tripod, and two cameras dangling round his neck. The poor chap could hardly move, never mind capture the action on the street. He decided to go for a tripod shot and then spent 15 minut…

Beware of wide-angle distortion in portrait photography

The traditional wisdom is to shoot portraits on lenses ranging from 85mm to 120mm focal length when using a 35mm film or full frame DSLR camera. The reason is simple. You avoid distortion, and because of the slight compression produced by a telephoto lens the portrait tends to be more flattering.

However, in the world of photojournalism and reportage style photography wide-angle lenses are commonly used to give the viewer a feeling of being right in the middle of the action.

Nowadays in everything from weddings to corporate work, photographers reach for their wide-angle lenses and because we see so many images in magazines, books and online most people have grown accustomed to wide-angle distortion. It has become more acceptable to see celebrities, politicians and people featured in news stories looking slightly distorted.

I say more acceptable because we’ve gotten used to it. But at the same time I’d like to urge you to be cautious about how you use your wide-angle when it comes to phot…

Do you speak light?

The prow of a fishing boat is caught in evening sunlight, as dark storm clouds approach. Note the warmth of the low sunlight, the contrast against the sky, the texture of the hull and the interesting shadows on the mast. This is a straight shot from the camera, without any enhancement in image manipulation software.

Light is the language of photography. To express yourself well and communicate you need to be able to speak with light.

Light determines what you see (and what you don’t see); the mood of an image; colour and tone. Light can be loud and brash or soft, gentle and soothing. It can wrap around something or cut across it as hard and sharp as a Samurai sword.

People have probably been writing about the qualities of light and how to use it in relation to photography from the moment the first print was made. Google “light in photography” and you will get millions of hits (well actually 68,800,000 hits to be entirely accurate).

In the past I’ve been complimented for explaining things …