No, I'm not talking about additional jobs that help you sustain the many expenses that you tend to incur on your wants. ;)
The title is all about where I tend to be in most of my day-to-day life as a photographer. Sure, I would sometimes make my presence known to anyone if it means to properly carry out my job as an event/portrait photographer, but most of the time I merely shoot in the sidelines, letting the events flow out as natural as possible.
It's just like the one time I covered a lovely couple's pre-nuptial event a couple of weeks ago:
Consider this photo:
Camera Settings - 1/160th. sec. shutter speed, f/5.6, ISO 400, at 50mm.
It took me almost a couple of years to decide on whether or not I should post this online, since personally, I saw too many "things" I don't normally like in a shot. Sure, there's the rumpled curtain, the leg of a lightstand at the lower left corner, and the comb underneath Jazz's legs (which I easily took out via photoshop). But I overlooked these things simply because my eyes were pulled to her almost silhouetted body, a stark contrast to the highly exposed background. What made this photo stay for a few days in my archives was actually something more technical than that: her face wasn't properly in focus, and this gave me a lot of trouble. Yes, believe me. I can be stopped at times with little hiccups like this, only to realize that I can only see the flaw when I'm looking at it at a 150% crop.
Short answer? Whenever you want to.
Photography as an art goes beyond the restriction of the fundamental tenets our photo teachers tell us to follow, like creating proper exposure, avoiding loss of details caused by clipping, following the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, etcetera, etcetera... Yes, these are rules, but the same rules can be bent - others broken - all for art's sake. The same principle goes to deciding whether a photo should be rendered in its natural colors, or you strip it off instead by pulling down the saturation levels on your photo editing software. Again, there are rules to follow (which we'll discuss after the break), but you decide what to do with them in the sole purpose of expressing the photo's message and visual impact however you see fit.
Of course, actions reap reactions, and there's always a chance that deviating from the norm might not fare well with your photo's final outcome. You've been warned.
Consider this photo:
Of the lighting modifiers I use on studio, I normally juggle between the venerable softbox and the ol' reliable umbrella (shoot-through and reflective). Depending on the situation, I like to use either of the two because of the soft and flattering quality of light they produce with my strobes, and my subjects would come out nice in the shots. The thing though is that these produce mainly soft lighting with a very gradual light-to-shade transition. I wanted to try something else, something that modifies the characteristic of the light into something that's not that soft, but not that hard either (as opposed to using direct flash). Something that produces a dramatically distinct yet still flattering lighting effect that boxes or umbrellas couldn't (arguably) deliver. So after searching online I came across a 22-inch pre-owned beauty dish: a bargain for only less than $50.
So how does it fare?
One of the things a photographer would tend to avoid in photography is to have any clipping (the presence of absolute blacks or whites due to too much under or overexposure, resulting to lost detail) involved in his or her images. A good example that we can all relate is when we take a photo of a backlit subject under a mid-afternoon sky. Suppose that we took the said shot without any other artificial lighting to aid us, we can only choose three options: obtain proper exposure on the subject and blow-up the background (sky) in the process, take a proper exposure of the sky and leave your subject underexposed, or obtain a proper average exposure on both subject and background, which leaves us with a somewhat overexposed background and a somewhat underexposed subject. For us who are acquainted with Photoshop, we would normally choose the last option for two reasons: there is no clipping (or at least clipping is minimized) which thus preserves the details of the overall picture, and that the colors, though at times undetectable by our eyes, are still there, and with the aid of Photoshop, we can still bring them all out.
Now that we’re familiar with clipping, then comes this question: do we really have to avoid clipping as much as possible?
Let me show you two examples:
It is always a pleasure for me to take portraiture shots, since I get to mix up various elements (subject, background, lighting, etc.) to create effective and evocative images whenever I could, and at the same time create a lasting bond with the people I work with whenever I would engage in activities such as this. However, since I usually do my shoots beyond the confines of a studio, some of the said elements can also be beyond my control. The subject's not much of a problem for me, as all it takes is some effective communicating to let them do the poses you wish them to do. Same goes for the lighting and gear, as I'm deeply familiar with their abilities and limitations that would allow me to produce the shots I need. The background is the one element that usually gives me the most trouble, especially if its design would do nothing more than to hinder the effectiveness of a photo, particularly in terms of bringing out its intended message or flavor.
One concrete example would be this shot:
A lot of people have been asking me questions regarding certain photos that I have shared to you here on this site, as well as on my Facebook Page. The questions would normally be concentrated on topics like the kind of gear used, settings chosen, and lighting conditions involved. In line with this matter, I have decided to establish a Blog Mini-Series called "The Photo in Question", wherein I will try my best to give thorough yet easy to understand explanations and descriptions in line s to how the photo was created. The series will also have its own category on the right side of the page, as you can see here.
Let's start with this photo...
As readers may notice, there was quite a lack of activity in my site lately, and this is because of the recent non-photographic works and activities that I must attend to. Nevertheless, even though I haven't updated the site, I've lots of topics already prepared in mind, and will share them to all of you as soon as I can.
For the moment, let me just share this (somewhat) cliché photo of a hair-flip-in-a-pool, courtesy of Jazz, my faithful Assistant. (yes, she gets to relax once in a while, while I still hold a camera in my hands. Okay, we're both taking a dip here, but only to keep our minds sane from the tolls of work and whatnot.)
Gear Used - Nikon D7000, SB-900 Speedlight, Sigma 85mm. f/1.4 Prime Lens
Camera Settings: 1/250th sec., at f/5.6, ISO 100, with off-camera flash
Will return to this photo on my next entry.
I'll be busy for a whole day event tomorrow, so I might as well share this now while I still have the chance to do so. ;)
Oh, about the background? Well, that's just a set of lights hung on a Christmas Tree (this shot was taken last Christmas Season). As for the way they look, I only slapped a cut-out of a heart shaped hole on a round cardboard in front of my lens, and the out-of-focus lights became just like that. A few tips to remember though: this method is best done using a prime lens, as the cardboard will block some of the front element, causing less light to enter the camera sensor. A Speedlight is also recommended to make your subject "pop" a bit. Also, you can try other shapes for your cardboard cutout, or you can even cut out an outline of your name. The possibilities are quite endless.
Happy shooting, and Happy Valentine's to all! :)
IMHO, in every wedding event, one of the best and fun moments is the part where the bouquet gets launched into the air.
Wait. What bouquet? Where is it? If it's not there, what are they doing? A little practice run before the actual thing?
Not really: it just so happened that the bride threw the bouquet a bit too high. :)