Tag Archive for 'light'

Pro Photo Podcast #93 – Fiasco’s, Fishing and Photography

Video_ Selling Wall Art – Photos as Fine Furniture-1

It’s road trip season. Check out Gavin’s road trip article for a huge list of resources.

Click To Listen>>

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Direct Podcast FeediTunesPodcast Alley

Today’s Panel… Gavin Seim Bary HowellScott Jarvie

This week Gavin and Barry talk about the latest topics and then dig into some stories of past photography adventures.

This episode brought to you by the Seim Effects and the award winning EXposed Workshop.

PPS #93 Forum Discussion HERE.

Main Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introductions.
  • 01:40 Barry Speaks
  • 17:55 A bit of video discussion
  • 24:30 News and LR5 talk
  • 34:30 The Stolen Facebook Photo Fiasco
  • 52:20 It’s Story Time
  • 1:18:47 Picks and Fishing
  • 1:37:25 Scott Jarvie Joins in

LINKS…

EXposed Workshop win’s a hot one award.

Gavin Road Trip Journal

Gavin’s road trip article with a list of gadgets.

VIDEO: Selling Photos as Fine Furniture.

Canon C100

Graphene Camera Sensor.

The Stolen Facebook  Photo Fiasco.

Jarvie’s Faith in America Project.

Picks…

GAVIN –

SLR Pro Dot

Bucket Boss Jumper Cable Bag.

Epic 25ft Jumper Cables

Barry –

Stool with tool storage.

Air Display – iPad

Rapela Scatterrap.

Scott –

Jumper Power  Box
(Here’s a heavier duty version)

Five Essential Elements to Mastering Photography:

This is an article I was originally asked to write for Professional Photographer Magazine, a good read – The problem was that editing department hacked it up so badly that it was barley even my words anymore. Such is life, but I opted to not have it published. Below is the full version of the article with a few extras since I didn’t have a word limit here. Enjoy – Gavin Seim

____

I’m going to share a few things that can fundamentally change how we make images. NONE of them are new –  Sometimes it seems we arrived at digital and left behind a hundred and fifty years of photographic knowledge. I spend a lot of time studying classic techniques. Why? Because it’s not new – It’s time tested. It works. In this digital age we can get so caught up in gadgets, software and tools that we neglect how to make images beautiful from the start. I’m from the digital generation – So while I fully relate, I’ve learned to stop looking for buttons and start looking for light.

1. The Tones:

Ken Whitmire once taught me that “Tone” may be the least understood and least utilized factor in composing and finishing images.” He was right. With digital it’s easy to think “that’s easy”. But as a lover of film and digital, I’ve learned they’re not so different. A great photograph is light and shadows – We must see in terms of tone and how it relates to what we want to capture. Exposure, burning, dodging, finishing  – Proper use of tone can literally take the viewer anywhere we want them to go. Now that’s power.

Ken Whitmire on the Oregon coast – I photographed this portrait of him while he was photographing a family. The Tone is essential here. Control of the dynamic range while retaining rich blacks gives balance to the scene.

2. The Zones:

The Zone Scale – A representation from black to white in one stop increments. The language of light.

I’ve been trying to decide how to discuss Ansel Adam’s Zone System in few words. Zones may be the most neglected tool in photography today. They offer a core to how we communicate and photograph light. Zones are not just for film or black and white. Once you truly understand them you never see the same again. The Zone System is broad reaching. But it’s core is the beautify simple Zone Scale, a representation from black to white. Combine Zones with a simple understanding of metering and there is no over, or under exposure. There’s only your exposure. Your intent. I can’t explain it all here, but there’s a free video covering the basics that I posted over at exposedworkshop.com. It’s an excerpt from my EXposed series and will get you started. Don’t ignore Zones because they will change your photography. You can also read my article on using Zones here.

Lost Oasis – I was using large format film here and took advantage of camera movements. Line, tone, space and position were all critical and while in retrospect there’s things I could have improved, taking my time paid off. I took in the full tonal range from black (Zone 0) to just shy of clipping (Zone 10). More on this image here.

The Zone System – Here is an exposure sequence metered on the highlights from Zone 1 to Zone 9. More on this in the Zone System discussions on my site.

3. Space, Position, Line:

Ken Whitemire, the pioneer and master of the wall portrait, showed me the value of tones in relation to space, position and line. He has an amazing lecture he gives about this at the Wall Portrait Conference each year – Essentially we need to think about the aesthetics of our image. For this reason I love studying masters like Bierstadt, Sargent and others. We must start by truly seeing our scenes. Think about the subject. How lines lead. Where are they positioned? Why? Is anything distracting? Should it be lighter, darker? Really – Truly – See!

Morgan’s Song – I had a lot of things happening in this riverside portrait. Controlling the aspects of the scene, the position and the tone allowed me to show a beautiful scene while still keeping the viewers eyes on Morgan.

4. Visualize – Again:

Are you really “seeing” in the minds eye? It’s easy to let this slide in an age of instant previews and post production fixes. But nothing replaces visualizing. Ansel reminds us that “The whole key lies very specifically in seeing it in the mind’s eye”. Regardless of our subject, we must stop, if only for a moment. See what’s in front the lens and decide what the subject needs. Then use space, position, line and tone to make that happen.

This was my turning point in visualizing. I used 4×5 film for this wall portrait that we printed at 40 inches. I needed to keep away the distractions in the space. I only used one frame of color film, but I took a breath first. I truly saw the portrait in my mind before I released the shutter. I’ve added a zone scale for the purpose of tone study.

 5. Finishing:

The image is captured. Win lose or draw we’ve done it. I’ve learned that slowing down throughout the entire process makes me a far better craftsman. That includes finishing. It’s easy to raise the bar in post if we stop worrying about making countless “decent” images and start thinking about how to take the “best” and make them sing. Fulfill that visualization, right up until the print is on the wall. That is mastering the photograph.

Until next time… Gavin Seim

This image was a PPA Loan Collection print in 2011. It’s actually a tone-mapped piece, but more importantly, it had careful attention to detail. Focus on line, tone values and finishing made it work. Planning and execution.

Pro Photo Podcast #89 – Christmas 2012 & The 33 Tips of Christmas

Gavin is hitting the road again for an early 2013 tour. Visit his website for details. More travel talk in the after show.

Click To Listen>>

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Direct Podcast FeediTunesPodcast Alley

Today’s Panel... Gavin Seim Nina BeheimKerry GarrisonBrady DillsworthMark TeskeyJohn Cornforth

We wrap up 2012 with our annual Christmas roundtable featuring loads of photography tips and gear favorite gear and gadgets of the season. Join the discussion on the PPS forums.

Brought to you by the Seim Effects. And the EXposed Photography Workshop.

Use code: PPSCHRISTMAS to save $30.00 on EXposed before Dec 31st.

PPS #89 Forum Discussion HERE. Share Your Opinions.

Main Time Indexes:

  • 000:00 Introductions.
  • 005:30 – News Highlights
  • 023:45 – The 33 Tips of Christmas
  • 01:12:05 – A Visit with John Cornforth
  • 1:23:55 –  Picks of the Year
  • 1:59:30 – After Show. Sailing & More.

LINKS…

Nikon D5200 looks good. Also the Nikon D600.

The wall portrait article.

Gavin’s LIGHT LETTER

Lytro Light Field Camera

Sony NEX Series

Sigmas 35mm 1.4.

Zone System
Gavin’s articleFree videos.
Crash Plan Backup

Film is Coming Back.

Gavin’s article on signature and branding usage.

Picks…

Kerry
NEX 6
Sticky Filters Lighting Gels
Tripad Laptop Tripod Tether TableDojo Review

Continue reading ‘Pro Photo Podcast #89 – Christmas 2012 & The 33 Tips of Christmas’

Why So Many “Professional” Photos Look So Bad!

by Gavin Seim (rev 03/14): I’m seeing so many bad photos posted as professional these days. People are trusting us with their time, dignity and money as they are photographed looking awkward, uncomfortable and often downright foolish. I am genuinely embarrassed. Not only for my industry, but for people and their families. They look ridiculous.

I’ve realized why these poor images are often even worse than snapshots: A snapshot is not pretending to be something artistic, creative, or edgy. It’s role is simply to be a memory, and it fulfills that role quite well.

I post this to remind those with experience to make sure we’re offering quality to our our clients. We are supposed to produce art they will want to keep, but I see and endless stream of bad images. Sometimes so-called professional images are so bad that a child could do better. People are pointing cameras and thinking they will do the work for them.

We cannot simply pull ideas for posing, lighting and composition out of thin air, with no aesthetic understanding of our subject. That is like builders throwing hammers at a pile of wood and expecting a mansion to appear. I see mothers who look fat, babies who look like Oompa Loompas, kids who look angry and dads who look like slobs because someone who was poor at their craft propped them up like badly drawn cartoon characters.

I love helping people learn. I’m not posting this to be hurtful, just to be real. It’s important that we’re honest with ourselves and clients. A doctor does not open their practice until they’re trained. A carpenter that opens a home improvement business without knowing how to improve homes is doomed to failure. Digital has not made great photography easier. It’s only made taking pictures easier.

These days it’s not easy, no matter how much experience you have. But some the best advice I can give to people starting out is don’t become a professional photographer until you are professional level. Having that camera means nothing. I’m not defining exactly when you become experienced enough. For most of us, it takes years, just like it does to become a doctor, a carpenter or just about anything else. You learn the basics first. Then it becomes your job and you keep learning.

This applies to all fields. A person should not be in business until they can make the product they claim they can. They should not have a website with prices offering services they are not qualified to give. They should not claim the title of those who spend years and decades mastering a craft, when they have no experience in that craft. There are different levels of professionalism and we don’t need to be perfect to go pro. But we do need to actually be photographers before we call ourselves photographers. We need to know the fundamentals of how to make quality images of whatever our subject might be.

If you don’t know the difference between f16, ISO800 or 1/160th, if have no idea how to light a 3:1 ratio or how to key strobes for a blue sky at noon, if you don’t know how to make your subject sharp enough for a thirty inch print, how to pose a woman so she feels beautiful and a man so he feels strong, if you don’t know what to do with the clutter in the background or how to compensate your exposure value, chances are you’re not ready to be a photographer professionally – There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with snapshots. There’s nothing wrong with being an amateur. You’re learning and that’s just fine. Keep at it. If you want to call yourself a photographer, take the time to learn how first.

You don’t start as a photographer. You start learning to become one – Gavin Seim

Further Reading…

 

EXposed Videos Will Having You Seeing Light Like Never Before.

It seems the months of work were worth it. It’s finished and the new EXPosed series is  now available as a download or a DVD. It’s like no workshop you’ve seen and it can take your photography to a whole new level. But rather than listen to us chatter on, just take a peek at the trailer. EXposed is as good as it looks and it’s finally available. Don’t forget to use code PPS when you pick up your copy. It will save you 15%.

EXposed – The Light Workshop

3 Things You Must Master to be a Great Photographer.

by Gavin Seim: We all see differently and that’s good. We should never stop working to improve. One might even contend that you can never really “master” photography. But perhaps you can get pretty close, if you really nail down these and perhaps a few other essentials, taking control of the way you plan and capture images.

 

1 – Your Tools – A camera does not a photographer make and neither does fancy software. But don’t underestimate how important the tools are. Some sluff off knowing their gear, settings, apertures, shutter speeds, lights, software another tech stuff. That’s usually a fatal mistake. Don’t fall into the crowd that says “I’m an artist, so I just don’t get into that technical stuff.” Photography, like most arts, is both art and a science. And if you don’t master both, you’ll never be a master of the art.

2 – Storytelling – A great image has to have a subject and a story that can reach out and grab people. Uninteresting subject matter, too much clutter, messy composition, bad details, distracting lighting, the list goes on. Fail at any of these and you’ll never be great at photography. It’s hard to nail all these elements down with anything but years and years of practice and experience. But then, no one said this was easy. Until you can start clearing out distractions and really convey feeling. You’re just making snapshots. Those are fine, but remember. Everyone else it making them too.

3 – Tone Control – This may be the biggest of all. And yet it’s finer points are the most ignored. It’s the one most will never truly master. Everything needs to lead to the subject. And mastering tone gives you that power. Tone control is about seeing light in your head, understating how to manipulate it, and understanding how to control tones to make your subject and your story, sing like the sound of music. Even most professionals have not nailed down tone control, but until you do, you’ll never be fully able to control your light or the impact of your photographs. For more on controlling tone check out this article.

____

If you’ve mastered all these things, then you should be writing this instead of me, because I’m still working on them. But working I am and getting closer each day. Just remember that a camera is no more an artistic tool than a typewriter. It’s knowing how to tell a story with light, tone and line that matters. Like nearly all arts, there’s an aspect of science and an aspect of art you must master. Otherwise you’re just another person with a tub of paint or a ream of paper. For more

So lets get to work. Science + Knowledge + Vision = Art