Defining photographic art
It is true many people do regard photography as merely a reproductive medium, and the photographer as simply the technician. And if this were just about your holiday snaps then it would be a valid point.
So let’s start with my definition of photographic art. I say my definition because there is no stock answer it means different things to different people.
For me it’s about creating a beautiful image that is an interpretation of the scene that I saw in my mind captured on film, rather than just a recording of what is already there.
It’s about the photographer being the choreographer of the various components; the composition is critical, as is the lighting, weather conditions and the colours at play.
It’s not just about pressing the shutter release, although timing is everything. Patience comes into play too, as you wait for all the components to be perfect all at the same time.
Some things you can control, but the weather well that constantly throws out surprises that can add that hint of drama to a picture or send you home disappointed.
It’s these uncertainties that add
First off, equipment. As much as the cheapo disposable camera beckons, get real. These cameras have fisheye lenses which I call “spam” lenses. They cram everything in, with equal blurriness and boringness. Good photos are sharp, unless you use blur for artistic effect. Sharp comes from an adjustable lens. It can be a fixed lens or a zoom, but it must focus specially for each picture. Fixed lenses are limiting for scenic pictures, where to frame the shot you may need to move long distances. Imagine using a fixed lens on the Washington Monument, when you’re half a block away! Zooms get my vote, even though they often don’t have as wide an aperture, which limits their capabilities in low light situations.
Practically speaking, an SLR is the absolute best. They are lightweight, and can be used with top quality lenses. Film SLRs tend to be less expensive, but have the limitations of film, meaning you have to get it developed and so forth. Digital SLRs are VERY expensive, so for the budget conscious either go with a film SLR or a high quality basic digital camera. With digital, resolution is also a critical factor, so look
There are lots and lots of choices available in the market today. The top three companies are HP, Canon and Epson. So, before you go and spend your money, here are some tips on what you must keep in mind while deciding on a digital photo printer.
Firstly, digital photo printers are available in two basic types. There are 4-color printers and 6-color printers. Nowadays, there are even 8-color printers available. So, the higher the number of colors the better will be the photo quality once you have hit the print file button. Using good quality photo paper and one of the 8 color printers will give you results that rival your photo lab.
Secondly, the printing method used by the printer is also very important. There are 2 main printing methods: inkjet and thermal. Inkjet is commonly used for taking photo prints but the quality of the printout is not excellent. You need to have at least a 6-color printer to get decent print quality. Also, the ink cartridges are quite expensive and the biggest disadvantage is that inkjet printing does not provide a waterproof coating to the images. Hence, the color fades after some
For one thing, my mentor taught me the Three Classic Elements to produce “salable portraits.”
“Salable” is an industry term every photographer quickly becomes familiar with to distinguish between the everyday reality of making money versus creating those “artistic competition” or “award winning prints” which don’t earn the money.
I’ve been in the business for over 17 years now and I’m still amazed that:
People don’t buy the award winning prints that you see wearing many of the ribbons at professional photography conventions.
When my clients are faced with the choice of buying an artistic pose of their child being demure and not looking directly into the camera or buying a pose smiling close-up straight into the camera, they buy the smiling close-up every time.
Not very original, but I’m telling you now so take note:
Happy people whose faces you can readily see are the most salable prints.
They’ll never tell you this at a photography workshop, seminar, Annual Convention or at a photography institute because their job is to create award winning photo artists rather than people whom simply make a living, but… if you haven’t learned all the
Film speed is a number that represents the film’s sensitively to light. The higher the number the more sensitive to light, in that the less light is needed to take a well exposed photo. The number is also an indicator of the detail you will receive from the negative. The higher the number the more likely that you’ll see a graininess to the print when enlarged. Film speed goes from 25 to 1600 speed film.
25 to 200 Best for still life and portrait work, in studio conditions where the lighting is controlled. This is not the film for family shots indoors even with a camera mounted flash. You’d really need a complete lighting set up to use this film effectively. 200 speed film is very good for outdoor sunny conditions when you’re trying to get a shot of a beautiful landscape. It offers excellent detail and color saturation.
400 Considered the all purpose film. Most films touted as all subject or general purpose are really 400 speed film. When in doubt use 400 speed film. Though you may still be using your camera mounted flash in room lighting conditions. Also good for outdoor conditions, will
Making The Unusual Usual
Friends with children often say to me “My child always pulls faces for the camera and I can’t get a picture without little Johnny sticking his tongue out and crossing his eyes.” Kids –and many adults as well– are prone to hamming it up for the camera, however, they will be more natural if the camera is a part of their everyday life instead of brought out once or twice a year. By making it a regular part of their lives, it will increase the comfort level and encourage portraits that are more natural. Try bringing out the camera once or twice a week and focusing it on your kids. They will become accustomed to having it around and it will give you a chance to practice your technique, too. And, if they still clown around for the camera, get into the swing of things and enjoy it. Little monkey faces are a part of childhood!
Kids’ Eye View
As adults, we look one another in the eye and photograph our friends at eye level. Do the same for your children. Bend down on one knee or sit on the floor
We have all seen them in a movie or a TV show, those very cool shots where they speed up time and capture a long segment of time and condense it into a very short amount of video. An example is many of the TV news stations nowadays have a camera that captures the day’s weather and then they process it down to a 20 second clip to show the clouds and weather racing by on screen.
Well this technique is not just a tool in the hands of the movie makers or the big TV stations. You can do this with your digital video camera gear too. I will go into two ways that you can accomplish this effect and get some cool results for your next video project. This one is worth playing around with in order to find the right settings to get the most dramatic effect.
Technique number one is to use the camera itself to do the time lapse recording for you. Almost all digital video cameras have the ability to do an interval recording. What this means in a nutshell is that you tell the camera how long you want
Wildlife photography is often assumed to be an exciting and high adventure genre of photography. In reality it is extremely challenging and wildlife photographers find themselves at the mercy of inclement weather and sometimes even face danger. Here are some suggestions for this specialized form of photography.
Understand the life form that you plan to photograph in terms of living habits, habitat and behavior. In other words you need a perspective on ‘a day in the life of’ your wildlife subject. Books and online research will throw light on your subject. The importance of getting acquainted with the behavior of the animal is a lot more important when you have to shoot dangerous jungle animals that can attack like lions or tigers or even bears. Animals will become aware of you when you enter close to their habitat but will usually not attack if you keep your distance. But you have to be clear on the distance at which an animal will begin to feel threatened by your presence and decide to attack you.
It goes without saying that you can’t expect any kind cooperation from your subject! You have to fit yourself
First of all, forget all the high-tech jargon. It’s mostly a lot of sales hype anyway. Choosing a good unit is pretty simple really…pretty much all you have to remember is that the higher the mega pixel rating on the front of the camera, the bigger picture you can make without it breaking up into little chunks (called pixels) and most likely the more cash it’s likely going to pry out of your pocket. Each model has an array of techno-widgets that go by different names but they all have the same basic focus, to help you take a better picture.
I have a quick (and admittedly simplistic) overview of the pixel story. The shot on the left on my web page
is one I took with a high pixel rating and the one on the right was with a much lower rating. They’ve been enlarged way beyond what you would normally do, but I do have a point to make here.
If you look carefully you can see there’s a terrific difference in the way they look or, in the ‘resolution’. The image on the right has already broken up into small pieces