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Showing posts from 2009

2010 - celebrate your unique vision

Well here we are on the brink of 2010 and I wanted to wish you all a Happy, Creative, Prosperous and Healthy New Year. You may have noticed that my blog has been a little quiet lately. All the usual excuses apply; been incredibly busy including doing two business films. Looking back at the article I wrote on 31 December2008 , it seems just as relevant today. As I had predicted 12 months ago, video has become increasingly important and integrated in the photographers armoury. Twitter really took off, but as a marketing tool I have yet to be convinced that for most photographers it can generate sales and seriously impact the bottom line. As with everything there are of course a few exceptions but for most photographers... the verdict is still out. The message I have for this year is that fads come and go. Photographers, creatives and marketers will keep chasing the next big idea. But the things that really matter, still matter and always will; authentic vision, individuality, clear crea

Rememberance day 11 November

This summer we came across a remembrance ceremony in Flanders where some of the bloodiest fighting during the World War One took place. I photographed Magda as she listened to the speeches, the Last Post and a moving rendition of the Belgium anthem. We remembered our friend killed in Afghanistan as well as all those men and woman lost in wars around the world. Magda has written a blog illustrated with her images taken during the ceremony. Till soon, Paul

Boost creativity by focusing on a single idea

Here's some high level advice which will strengthen your photography and boost your creativity. There are so many things to keep in mind when you take photographs. To help you I've tried to distill the essential elements. If you keep four things in mind all the rest should fall into place. And these four elements come from just two things: creativity and execution. Before discussing creativity, let's take a look at execution; visualizing your image and then making it happen. The three things you need to keep in mind are: light, composition and colour (LCC). I include grey values under colour here although black and white are not scientifically speaking colours. In most circumstances photographers are reacting to what they see in front of them. You can't run through a mental checklist of hundreds of items before taking an image. So just keep LCC in mind. Simple right? How you execute the image - shutter speed, aperture, point of view, use of flash etc will all be determi

Are you a photoshopper or a photographer?

Candid portrait of Willy. Click on the image to see a large version. Before working on the portrait of Willy above I spent an afternoon desk bound carefully retouching another portrait in Photoshop. It got me thinking about how many hours I spend working on images in front of the computer. The conclusion: way too many! All around us we are inundated with images that strive to portray human perfection, from the sublime to the ridiculous in some cases. Just take a look at Photoshop disasters to see what I mean. How many books, articles, tutorials are there showing you how to smooth skin, remove the faintest wrinkle, whiten the eyes, change the jaw line and the list goes on till nobody looks like themselves anymore in a photograph. Well I'm declaring myself out of that particular race for unnatural perfection. Keep it real, raw and natural. If you've got laughter lines it's because you earned them and you should be proud of them. As for the photography: get it right in camera

Using histograms on your camera

The Abbey ceiling on the Mont St Michel, Normandy, France presents and extreme exposure challenge. Do histograms on your camera's LCD really matter and what benefits could you derive from understanding your histogram? First though, what is a histogram? At it's most basic level it is a graphic representation that uses a bar graph to show the proportionate distribution of the pixels in your image, ranged from black on the left to pure white on the right. In other words the bars that peak the highest in your histogram show that there are a lot of pixels with that particular tonal value in your image. If most pixels are on the left of your histogram your image is mostly dark. If on the other hand the longest bars are on the right then most of your picture is bright. Simple. So if the bars are all heaped up on the right hand side then your image is 'clipped' in the highlights, which means there are tones of pure bright white. Another phrase commonly used is that you have are

Book covers

Book covers featuring photographs by Magda Indigo. Click on the image to see the large version. Today publisher Harper Collins officially launched three books, Romeo & Juliet, Pride & Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, all featuring book cover photographs by Magda Indigo (aka my dear wife). Needless to say I'm rather proud that her images were chosen for these classic novels. In the last three months Magda's images have been chosen for seven different books by a variety of international publishers. With the quality of her work she deserves every success in my opinion, and it seems that some pretty renowned art directors in the book publishing industry agree. Anyway I wanted to share this little bit of news with you and take the opportunity to brag about my favourite photographer, who I just happen to be married to. If you'd like to see more of her work head over to our website and there are links from her portfolio page to a lot of her

Most interesting articles on photography

Sunflowers in the wind. Autumn is here in the Northern hemisphere and the days are getting shorter. Time to catch up on some reading. To help you discover something of interest I've compiled a list of some of my most popular articles that get read every day. Maybe there'll be something here that you find helpful or interesting. Photographer's need people skills The standard lens Practical tips and basic dos and don’ts of camera gear The difference between digitally manipulated portraits and traditional portraiture There are two types of photographers Is professional photography still a viable career? Don't use your camera on manual settings Linux photography What is copyright in photography? Overcoming creative block and self doubt Has the internet affected our appreciation of photographs? Beware of wide-angle distortion in portrait photography Do you speak light? Indigo2 website revamped That's all

Indigo2 website revamped

Honfleur, France. Finally had some spare time and got round to revamping our website , updated our bios, added new galleries, pruned the links page and added a page listing some of our clients. I would welcome your feedback which can be sent using the contact form on our site. Till soon, Paul

Practical tips and basic dos and don’ts of camera gear

I meet a lot of photographers and often the same questions come up so I decided to write this little guide of practical wisdom gleaned over many years as a photographer. Always make sure your camera is set to standard settings at the start of a shoot. I call this zeroing my camera. For me that means IS0 100; AWB; single shot; centre autofocus point; F4; Aperture Priority; matrix metering; RAW etc. When I arrive for a shoot my camera is always set up in the same way, and batteries are fully charged and memory cards formatted. From the standard setting I then set the camera up to suit the particular requirements of the photo shoot. Lenses Always keep a UV or skylight filter on your lens. Replacing a scratched filter is a lot cheaper than replacing a lens Leave the lens cap off when you’re at a shoot. Putting it on and taking it off will just slow you down, causing you to miss shot Use a lens hood. Lens flare seriously reduces image quality. Only take the hood off when storing the came

Has the internet affected our appreciation of photographs?

Seaside, Whitby, UK. An invitation to discover the subtle details from the crack in the paving to the pink crocs. Click on the image to see a larger version. Seaside conversation - interrupted, Whitby, UK. Click on the image to see a larger version. Most photographs are viewed on screens at low resolution and quite small pixel sizes. Is this affecting the way we look at photographs in general and in particular our ability to appreciate the finer nuances in images? The way we experience images in different media affects our perception. When viewing photographs on the internet we click through very quickly to the next image. Pick up a large beautifully produced photo book and you are likely to spend a lot more time looking at each image. High resolution prints entice the viewer to look at the detail and explore an image. Large photographs hung on a gallery wall invite the viewer to spend even more time discovering every aspect of the image. Nothing beats a beautifully produced original

Photographer's need people skills

Leanne, actor and dancer, UK (click image to see large version). In every walk of life the way you deal with people is incredibly important and can determine how successful you become. Photography is a people business. Even if you primarily take pictures of inanimate subjects – cars, food and architecture – you will still be dealing with a lot of people to make your shoots work. When it comes to photographing actors and models your people skills are even more important. I’d like to share a story with you that made me quite sad and inspired writing this blog. We’ve recently been doing headshots for actors, like Leanne above, and I kept hearing the same thing. Most actors wanting headshots need them for a casting, for their book and their headshots have to be regularly updated. This means they experience different photographers. Sometimes they work with a photographer provided by an agency and other times they search for a specialist headshot or portrait photographer who knows what agent

Do professional photographers love their job?

Pierre, framer and artist, Ostend, Belgium. “Photography is my passion,” is an often used phrase. I’ve noticed that many amateurs are particularly enthusiastic about being photographers and dream of turning professional. But when you look at a survey like the one done by the reality of being a professional photographer hits home. You may be forgiven, after reading professional photographer’s blogs that every single one of them is as happy as pig in the mud. However in the survey which rated the top 200 careers photography only came in at number 125 behind jobs like bookkeeper (39), librarian (43), typest/wordprocessor (54), cashier (110) and telephone operator (115). “Moving further down the rankings reveals an eclectic mix of jobs which either suffer from intense physical demands, such as veterinarians and construction machinery operators, or, as in the case of photographers, post mediocre scores in work environment and stress while offering exceptionally low pay,” w

Achieving success through improving communications

It’s never been easier to communicate; phone, email, text, instant messaging and traditional post. Information flows freely back and forth in blogs, magazines, tweets, forums, websites, podcasts and videos – the channels are many and varied. However when I look at what is communicated I wonder about the real value of much of this information. When someone announces on twitter that they had a cheese sandwich and cup of coffee for lunch, I have to ask, “Who on earth cares?” I certainly don’t. By the way I plucked this example from thin air, so if you tweeted about your lunch please don’t take it personally. Then there’s the endless regurgitating and recycling of information. I just did a quick search on Google for the ‘golden mean in photography’ and got 1,280,000 hits. Anyone who thinks they can add anything of value by writing about this topic again needs their head examined – total waste of time. But I bet right now there are people researching the golden mean by reading some of those

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 min

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 ph

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 thin

Over use of image processing from RAW

In view of my comments in my previous blog , this is an interesting articl e. Danish judges in a prestigious competition have rejected a photographer's images as being over processed from RAW. The images were changed dramatically from the original versions. The judges have raised an interesting debate about RAW processing, especially regarding photo-journalistic images. Read the article here and see the images for yourself. Cheers, Paul Follow me on twitter

The photographs I hate looking at

When I visit just about any photo sharing website I am confronted with all manner of photographic horrors that induce in me anything from mild irritation to out-loud swearing. Everyone has their own taste. Overall my blog is nice and warm and positive in tone but for once I’ll let out the dark side and tell you which types of photographs I hate and why. Within each category there will be exceptions of course, because the first rule of photography is that there are no absolute rules except the first rule. In no particular order then... Bad HDR Over 90% of HDR images are absolute rubbish. They’re flat, lacking in contrast and it often looks like someone has smeared black pixels across the highlights and mid-tones. HDR generally looks unnatural and cartoonish. It produces bland pictures with no sense of light; without mood. Everything is on display, depriving the image all quality and character. In contrast (no pun intended) non-HDR images do not give up all their secrets. The viewer

What is copyright in photography?

Police helicopter keeping an eye out for trouble in the city. I photographed this through our studio skylight. What is copyright? Despite numerous articles spread across the internet, discussion in books, on TV and in magazines some people still do not seem to understand copyright. So in a non-legalistic jargon free way I am going to explain it again - because judging by how many pictures get stolen many people still do not seem to get it. How do you get copyright? The moment you take a picture you automatically own copyright to that image. You do not have to register it. You do not have to do anything at all. It is yours. There are no exceptions. But you can choose to give up your copyright by for instance signing a contract with your employer, an agency or an individual to pass copyright over to them. The point is you have to enter, or have entered a legal agreement, to give up your copyright. What does having copyright mean? It means that nobody can copy your image and use it witho

Recommended reading

Bedouin with camels. Well I don't know if he was smoking Camels but he certainly had camels with him. Met this chap along the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba while on assignment. There are some really great blog posts out there and I'd like to refer you to a few which I've enjoyed recently. Joe McNally is one of my favourite photographers. He's not only good with a camera, he can write very well too. This blog post touched me. Read the story at the end of the post. Chase Jarvis wrote a post which every editorial photographer should read. This is sound advice. Push your art director . Comedian turned photographer, David duChemin shares the parallels between being a comedian and being a professional photographer. His portfolio is also well worth a visit too. Lots of smiling faces guaranteed to cheer you up. I'll be back with more soon. Thanks for the great reception to my previous two posts and the emails. Feel free to comment too! Do we violate people when we photogra

The three key elements of good photographs

Photography is about three things: light, colour and action. Think of it as the tripod that supports all good images. As you know though it is still possible to take a great image on a monopod so at the risk of straining the metaphor, you need at least one of the following elements to make an interesting image. Light is the essence of photography. It tells the story in your image by connecting directly with the emotions of the viewer. Harsh light and soft light, shadow that hides and sparks the imagination, bright light that shows every detail – all have their characteristics. To be a good photographer you need to learn how to speak the language of light and use it to tell the story you want to communicate to the viewer. Colour, and in black and white the tonal range and values, also connect with the viewer's emotions. Colour provides the inner energy of the image. Vibrant and bright colours have a profoundly different mood to soft muted colours. Warm colours come forward while coo

Do we violate people when we photograph them?

Whenever you pick up your camera and take a picture of someone you have to realise that your image is a record of a moment that will be passed down through history. Your picture can have a profound effect on the life of the person you have photographed, their family and the public. One example that illustrates this is Dorothea Lange's iconic photograph “Migrant Mother”. Jeffrey Dunn has written a great article about the affect of this picture on all concerned. I find it fascinating when people who played a prominent role in a famous photograph are rediscovered, often unaware of the role the image made of them played in history. A recent example was revealed in the BBC Wales TV documentary where Professor Dai Smith traced a miner who described how he and two colleagues had met renowned photographer W. Eugene Smith on their way home from work at the pit and had been instructed on how to pose for one of the photos published in Life in 1950. The miner remembered the day he was photogr

The inside story on this shot

Mowing down everything If you look back over the last month or two I've been sharing the stories behind some of my portfolio images. I will continue this series of articles, dipping into my work every now and again. I hope you find them interesting and if you want to know more just leave a comment or send an email . This guy was mowing the grass with tremendous determination. The shot was taken on a Cambo 4x5" technical camera with a super wide lens. A large technical camera on a tripod is not exactly made for capturing fast action, and believe me this guy was moving at quite a speed across the lawn. Although it looks like he is in full action, I had to pose this shot. The film was Ilford's beautiful FP4 100 ISO. I printed and developed the negative in the darkroom. The image won praise at exhibitions and I have sold a number of prints. I've kept a print in my general portfolio ever since and it has always had a good response. A few years ago I scanned the full large

Photo sharing site grabs rights to sell images

Photographers are concerned their images posted to a group of social photo-sharing sites will be sold without their consent following a change in the site owners terms and conditions. Internet Brands which acquired Trek Lens , Trek Earth and Trek Nature has used its Terms and Conditions to cynically grab the rights to sell and adapt the work of photographers who upload images to its photo-sharing sites. Here is the relevant paragraph from their T&Cs : By displaying or posting content on the Site, you hereby grant us a nonexclusive global license to publish the content submitted by you to the Site. You also grant us global nonexclusive adaptation and resale rights over any content and material submitted to the Site. These nonexclusive publishing license and resale/adaptation rights extend to any materials submitted "for publication" within the Site, including both message board postings and content submitted for uploading and subsequent publishing within non-message board

Story of the railway worker picture

Click on the photo to see large version. Railway worker - Grahamstown, South Africa. This is another image that has remained in my portfolio for many years. I took it while I was a student studying for my Postgraduate Higher Diploma of Journalism at Rhodes University. I was crossing the railway bridge when I looked down and saw this worker walking along the tracks. Immediately I saw the potential for a graphic composition using the structure of the bridge railing. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the worker to walk into the right position in the composition. All I had time for was one shot. My heart jumped when I pressed the shutter and I instantly knew I had captured something worthwhile. It's a good example of anticipating the moment. Famous South African photographer, Obie Oberholzer, my teacher and mentor at the time, praised the image when he saw it. He suggested I print it on a high contrast paper to add more impact, which is of course exactly what I did. I followed h

Eye return

Keeping an eye on you , originally uploaded by paul indigo . I photographed this fish eye in the studio using my Horseman 4x5 technical camera with a 6x9 film back on Fuji colour negative. The neg was then scanned and converted to black and white in Photoshop. It looked a bit grim in colour with the blood in the eye. This way it becomes more abstract. I used one overhead softbox with a Godard flash head. Luckily the job was completed relatively quickly and after opening the windows the smell of fresh fish soon left our studio. I know I've not been around for awhile now. I've been swamped with work. However, I'm ready to take up the blogosphere again and normal service will resume. Cheers, Paul