I have a great appreciation for creatives. I know so many amazing photographers it’s not even funny. I know even more amazing designers who have taught me more than I ever thought I could learn. It’s a rare thing when great photographers are also incredible designers and Glyn Dewis is both – and more because he’s also an inspiring instructor.
Great photographers and great designers know the secret to realizing their vision is to see the final image in your mind and then use the tools at your disposal to fulfill that vision. Cameras and software are tools but having vision is something you need to find within. What Glyn has created with his first book, appropriately titled: “the Photoshop Workbook”, is an instruction manual to using one of the most important tools that can help you start thinking about your final images in a whole new way.
Recently I had a chance to photograph Syd in my portrait studio. With a majority of my portrait work happening away from my studio I thought this was a great opportunity to share some of my thoughts, some behind the scenes shots of my gear and how I like to set things up.
Today I want to talk about Flash Grids and why they are a must have accessory for controlling your light. Getting the most from your flash involves taking control. It’s important to place your flash where it will create the best illumination and shadows. On my hot-shoe flash I almost always keep a Sto-fen difusser attached to help soften and scatter the light for more pleasing results. Another great accessory I use often is a flag (also called a bounce card, flash bender or 80-20). People who follow me on this blog also know that I’m a huge user of colored gels to create unique looks or to match my flash with the available light. But another way to take control of your flash is to use an accessory called a grid. In this blog I’ll talk about the hot-shoe flash grid system I use.
I’ve been creating images for a long time now and one of the things I’ve come to appreciate is the importance of post processing. There’s more than one way to process a digital image and there’s no one result that is always the right one. When we share our pictures with others they represent our own unique vision of an image (our photographic style) and I’ve used post processing on all of my images to create my own “signature style” of photography.
I’ve changed my thinking about what my final images should look a number of times over the years. And if there’s one form of photography where my post-processing has evolved the most it’s HDR photography. In this blog entry I want to talk about how I can take a single set of images and use them to create three or four different looks. Once I have a few options I can choose the best one or I can use layers, blend modes and masks to combine what I like most about different versions into a single final image.
Some of my favorite shots over the years have involved movement. I started shooting movement when I worked at Ford Design and I continue to explore new ways to capture a feeling of movement in a still image.
On my last trip into the Shenandoah Mountains to photograph the fall colors I decided to capture some shots of the colored leaves from my car (while driving 30 mph on Skyline Drive). For this blog entry I’ll share some of my current techniques to capture these kinds of shots in camera.
After two early mornings and one late night shooting the stars in the Shenandoah Mountains I’ve captured some shots that are among my favorites. My longest shutter speed exceeded 20 minutes of exposure time (the above shot is just over 18 minutes) and the best images were captured after 1:30am on a Sunday night. This kind of shooting requires serious camera technique since I’m sharing the shots pretty much out-of-camera (meaning they’re not getting much attention in Photoshop).
The Sunday night I ventured into the Shenandoah Mountains was the third trip I took and I was there only to shoot the stars. I wasn’t worried about the sun coming up before I was done and I wanted to see if any differences existed between shooting in the the early morning (starting at 4:30am) and shooting in the late night (starting at about 10:30pm). It turns out there are huge differences between the two times and those differences will be the subject of the blog entry. Along the way I’ll also talk a bit about the settings I used to get my favorite star trail shot to date.
Unintended consequences (also called unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) can be defined as an outcome that is not the one intended by a purposeful action. Unintended consequences, for my photography, is when I am exploring one idea and I discover a whole new idea.
During my first early morning trip into the Shenandoah Mountains I wanted to photograph the sunrise and some fall colors. When I planned my arrival I thought I’d be sitting in my car for an hour waiting for the sun to come up. I arrived that morning and I saw the stars above me for the first time and I didn’t spend a single second in my car waiting for sunrise. I Jumped out of my car and began photographing the stars and learning a whole new form of photography (for me).
I’ve never tried to shoot the stars before from a location like this and once I started I knew I was going to run out of darkness (which was happening fast with sunrise quickly approaching) and that meant that I couldn’t do everything I wanted in just one trip. I proceeded to learn as much as possible on that first trip and I started thinking about a follow up trip. For this blog entry I’ll talk about my second early morning adventure into the Shenandoah Mountains and how I captured some of my favorite shots to date.
For this blog post I want to talk about personal projects and exploring new forms of photography. I love being out in the scary unknown places that other photographers might try to avoid. I used to stay safely in my comfort zone but when I ventured outside of that safe place I grew as a photographer and I became considerably more creative not just behind my camera but in Photoshop as well.
I think it’s pretty easy to find safety in our photography. When I became serious about my location portrait work I quickly discovered it was anything but safe. My success as a photographer comes from being completely comfortable whenever I’m in a situation filled with challenges. I have confidence and I’m able to show leadership to my team and whoever is in front of my camera no matter what complications a location throws at me. To be at my best in these situations I embrace the unknown and put myself into new photographic situations as often as possible.
To get more comfortable with new situations I like to give myself personal projects and I like to get creative for the last shot of a shoot that is completely different from what I’ve done in the past. For this blog entry I want to share the story about an “end of the shoot” image that wasn’t like any shot I’ve ever taken.
Part of my recent engagement photo shoot with Tom and Julie involved some very special wine bottles. You see, Tom used two bottles of wine he had made with custom labels including one that was his marriage proposal.
While planning the shoot we talked about using the bottles in a few shots but I also knew that these bottles had plenty of potential for other uses (like save the date mailers). So when the shoot ended Tom and Julie agreed to leave their special wine bottles in my care so that I could give them a proper photo shoot. But like all product photography, getting a killer shot of a wine bottle is a lot trickier than it sounds. For this blog entry I’ll talk a bit about the challenges I faced, my solutions to common problems, and I’ll share my thoughts on this unique form of photography along with some behind the scenes looks into my product photography area.
Recently I had a great engagement photo shoot with Tom and Julie. I had a few ideas and I knew that they had some ideas as well. Together we put together a nice mix of traditional studio pictures, some outdoor shots and some really fun shots. For this blog post I’ll share some pictures from the shoot and I’ll talk about the process I go through when I’m photographing new clients.