"Anyone who listens to an artist needs their eyes examined" -Claus
to comment on anything
us an email
You can track this page with Google reader, firefox add-on
Update Scanner or others Click
here for page
|Stealing the light
PDF file, click here
|Oct 15, 2015
|Photography and Gadgetry
Time to get working on the next issue of 180mag.ca and so it's also
time to check out the net for the artists for the next issue. Having
spent an hour or so moving through a few blogs and emailing a few
photographers I returned to the mailbox to find a message from a photo
site. Opened it up and it was all about the newest camera equipment.
Yay, of course camera magazines and
camera websites are all about the cameras, absolutely, so what can you
ask? But wow did I delete that message fast. I just don't want to know
about the latest iso achievement, or the latest megapixel boost or who's
got... you know what, I was going to say who's got the biggest flash
but it's not about accessories anymore is it?
Anyway, go look
at some current photography, I mean in the galleries, in the art blogs,
in the upscale fashion mags. It's not about the equipment because a
photographer who is looking to extend the form is all about perverting
the camera-ideal. It's about black and white not foveon sensors, it's
about blur not in-camera vs in-lens shake reduction, it's about shadows
not hdr (or as I like to call it, compressed light range).
Instagram filters have more to do with an avant garde style these days.
Anything to avoid looking like the local garage glamour guys with
five-light setups and the pore-invading, tack-sharp, 16-bit-colour
Back to black and white, to lens flare, to what it used
to look like with a bit of grain, all in an effort to capture something
that doesn't look like Barbie with baby-oil on. Which of course, means
back to something that goes a bit beyond pretty to something that has a
bit of emotion and that's nothing to do with the latest camera or the
newest instagram filter. No amount of gadgetry can make up for a dead
image, only the ability to get something out of the model, or the
landscape, or the food for that matter. I think we've proved to
ourselves that food shots might want to be left to the specialists.
Anyway, it's not as hard as you might think to go through a million
photography sites and come up with 10 artists you want to publish. On
the other hand, it's a given that each month I have some trouble with
some of those same photographers. It seems simple to me but... put your
email address somewhere easily found! Somewhere that I don't have to
jump through hoops to get in touch. Flickr Tumblr or any other dooflr
place where I have to sign in to send a note is not going to get you an
invite to 180, let alone a paying gig. First rule of commerce, folks
gotta be able to get in touch. Second is they gotta know you're out
there which, if you think about it, might just be related to the first.
|Mar 20, 2014
Hey, one of the old photo sharing sites just
showed up again, if anyone wants to check out some of my work from ten
years ago it's at http://www.imageopolis.com/photographer.asp?id=15642#.UuJx3rROlhE
|Jan 24, 2013
So What Can We Shoot
I see that yet again there is a big kerfuffle about photoshopping. This
time it's an underwear model for goodness sake, who posted a photo she
grabbed off the net. Seems someone photoshopped her waist a bit thinner
than her post-baby size actually is.
I had to look for five minutes before I spotted it. That of course proves that I'm not very critical when I look at bodies, which
might seem a bit strange if you assume that my nude work is done
because I want to look at perfect bodies. It isn't and I don't, it's
about light and play, but never mind. I was impressed that people could
get worked up over the photoshopping of a model. She's a model folks, of
course there's photoshopping!
There is another "dove video"
making the rounds. You take an ordinary person and do the photoshop
makeover to create a perfect image. The problem with those things is
that you get an ordinary person and you work very hard and expensively
to create something that is already there. An "impossible standard of
beauty" that isn't impossible at all. These beauties exist folks, walk
into any high level model agency and you'll find them. Does anyone
really think that a photographer would spend 50 hours on a single image
when they can call an agency and shoot that image in ten minutes? There
isn't that much money in the photography world any more, hire the best
level of model you can afford, then spend the minimum time at the
computer to create the image you need. It's all a monetary balancing act
for the low budgets, but with the big ad jobs, you can just hire the
ideal you want.
Yes, those professional models are the top 1%
of lookers in the world, but there's 6 billion of us. The impossible
standard is out there walking around, I know a couple or six of them in
Guelph. Don't need massive photoshop to make them what they are, but of
course even at this level there's photoshopping going on, 16 year olds
have zits, so do 30 year olds. The flawless skin starts to show some
wear around 25, we deal with it. Oh? We aren't supposed to cover up the
zits? Fill in the wrinkles? Can we do it with the makeup artists we hire
to do that? OK you stop buying makeup yes?
Way before the
"healing brush" that took lines out of the face we had softboxes on the
lights. (One of my favourite questions is "how do I get a nice sharp
shadow with the softbox?" The answer is of course to crank the output on
the light to it's maximum and pull it away from the model about a
hundred feet). Before that we had umbrellas, and back when we used
fresnel spots (a really hard light for those not old enough to have ever
seen one) we had diffusion filters on the lenses and wide open
apertures. We had scalpels to scrape negatives, and pencils and
dodge-and-burn tools, real ones for when we printed pictures on paper.
In other words, photographs have always been 'shopped, always. From the
very first images ever made the photographer has tried to make their
subjects look their best, better than their best. Slow exposure times?
How about the dishonesty of head clamps to keep people
during a 30 second exposure? That's OK? But it's not what would actually
be seen in that situation, people twitch, you should be seeing a blur
for a face. Tripods? OK for an 8 by 10 with glass plates that's too
heavy to hand hold, but once you get to the Box Brownie you should never
use a tripod to create an artificial stability for that extra sharpness
in a landscape should you?
So please, all those who worry that
the photoshopped ideal images of unrealistic beauty are causing you to
become phsychologically damaged because you figure you're too fat... and
those who believe that of others since of course you are perfectly
self-empowered and uninfluenced by advertising imagery but... Please,
tell us poor photographers just what we can use. Tell us what equipment,
what techniques, what lighting and editing we are allowed to use to
take a photo of a model.
Once we have that information we can
start figuring out ways to make better looking photos using those rules,
and more importantly, we can start saving up to hire even better
looking models (whose salaries will skyrocket).
You see, the
guys with the best looking images will still "win", the images will
still get made. Photoshopping toward an ideal doesn't really do anything
except make more models available, and drag down the pay rates for all
of them. It certainly didn't make you any more self-conscious than you
are now. When the ideal was Marilyn Monroe young girls craved big
sweaters, now they want a gap in their thighs when their knees are
Since we're speaking stereotype, you all know that
husbands don't notice new haircuts on their wives right? Then just who
notices that 'shopped waist on a supermodel between two other
supermodels? If the common knowledge is correct, us guys haven't got any
lower than their boobies by the time the real noticers are starting the
tweeting chain that some journalist sees and reports. Then us guys go
back after we're told there's a problem and we're given the before and
after and we spend four and a half minutes getting past the boobies
again we may notice the slightly thinner waist.
Photos lie, all of them. You know this.
|Nov 25, 2013
Photo Blogs: Just Say No
I'm sitting here in the Photo Arts Club office at the University of
Guelph doing my office hour. The club is probably the last publicly
available darkroom in Southern Ontario, certainly one of the few. I was
first here in the 1970s where I'd spend three or four days a month in
one of the two darkrooms developing film and printing my month's work.
Now I am here for the studio, but I still love the darkrooms and watching the students come out with their treasures.
But right now I'm sitting in front of the computer going through some blogs because I figure I should keep up with the field.
Stop reading this now.
Go take pictures.
I need to stop reading the blogs, my desire to take pictures is leaking
out of my ears as post after post of "what it is to be a photographer"
and "fun photo based jewlery" and "don't be a guy with a camera" force
their way in through my eyes.
If I'm not reading I'm looking
at images.... thousands and thousands of images taken with camera phones
and put through digital filters so that it ALL LOOKS THE SAME. Listen,
in "my day" it all looked the same, I grant you, but there just wasn't
this enormous mountain of it.
I love digital imaging, I take
an average 600 shots in a single studio shoot, but you'll never see 590
of them, and I don't want you to. In fact for many of those shoots you
won't ever see an image. It's called editing, I suppose it's kind of
like not saying the first thing that comes into your head, something
that doesn't seem to happen in the age of twitter and flickr.
Why do all these social networks sound like some sort of sexual innuendo?
I think I'm happiest when I'm not checking out the modern aesthetic and
reading the blogs... I know I'm happiest then. I get the urge to go
Talk about it or do it. There's the traditional decision.
|Oct 19, 2013
|Photography: Invasion of Privacy
On the way to the cabin I listened to an interview with a photographer
who took portraits of families and the subject of privacy came up. It
was assumed that taking a photograph was a revelation somehow of the
private lives of those photographed.
How do we come to this idea? If the photographer were to write a story and changed the names it would be fiction. She
could write a quite specific story, but it would still not be
considered an invasion of privacy, so why a photograph? Why is it that
even without names in a caption a photograph is a problem?
Consider that recently a man was seen in a Toronto neighbourhood in a
public space taking photographs of children. The occurance seemed to
deserve a newspaper story and the reporter duly reported the folks in
the area saying that they would "run him out of the neighbourhood".
Really? For taking photographs in a public park? If he were writing a
story there would be no story, but somehow again, we are seeing a
photograph as something entirely different.
Is our image so
private? Is it just that a photograph can be recognized, while a
descriptive short story can be denied? If I write about your bad habits
but leave out your name is this less of a problem than if I simply show
the world your face (again without a name).
A leftover prejudice from a religious prohibition of graven images?
I have no conclusion to present here, I am simply wondering why it is
that the image of your face, the thing you show the public every day, is
somehow more deserving of privacy than a written description of your
activities and interests. Personally, I would much rather you stick a
camera in my face than a tape recorder.
|Oct 11, 2013
Ran across yet another article in a photo magazine where the author
pulled out the old observation: "That's a really nice picture, you must
have a good camera". Of course as photographers we're offended and are
encouraged to reply "This is a really nice cake, you must have a good
Problem is, the oven helped, and so did the camera.... a lot. Try to take a poorly exposed, badly
focused shot with a modern digital slr. Really? Did you have it in
manual? I've got several digital cameras around, seem to accumulate
them, and not one of them takes a bad shot especially when you compare
them to my first rangefinder with its busted aperture and its out of
adjustment light meter. I needed some serious technical chops to expose
that thing, and some skill in the darkroom to compensate when I blew it.
When you had to cook with a wood fired oven you had to be a good
kitchen technician, and when you had a film camera with manual controls
and a light meter in your back pocket you had to be a good photographic
technician and that was worth paying for. Not any more. A while back I
did a photo workshop for a bunch of scientific types who needed to
record information on the farms they visited. Half way through an
explanation of the relationship between aperture, time and iso I
realized I should be saying just one thing. Set it to auto and make sure
the autofocus is on, that's the autofocus there and that's the auto
setting. Oh, and put the sun over your shoulder.
It IS the
camera if you're talking about a nicely exposed and tacksharp image. An
image from an slr compared to a point and shoot might look different but
not all that much, they're both going to blow away your old film
camera. However, if you're talking about a commercial job you may have
to worry about being able to deliver a raw 18 mp file to your employer.
In that case it is still the camera that makes the sale since the point
and shoot isn't likely going to give you a raw file. It could I suspect,
if the company wanted to enable it, but it won't.
going to do weddings and you want to get paid, you'd better be doing a
better job than Uncle Leo with his digital slr. Good luck if all you've
got is a more expensive camera that uses the same sensor, because you're
not going to beat him on the quality of your exposure or your focus.
You've both got great tools and the bride's mom isn't going to want to
pay you for the same shot Leo just took.
You have to compete
on conception, composition and control of the wedding party. Your shots
have to look like they were taken by someone other than Uncle Leo, they
have to be creative not "street" (Leo is doing street), they have to be
composed (Leo probably doesn't know about the rule of thirds... then
again maybe he does since his camera will give him a thirds grid) and
mostly they have to be controlled. You can yell "everyone look at me",
but then again, so can Leo, but you get to take the wedding party to the
special location you've scouted for the official shots. Hopefully you
won't have to wait too long for the other wedding parties to clear out
of the old ruined mill...
Well, try your best, you've all got
the same tools and they are amazing. It takes so much work to take a bad
shot with your good camera that there's a whole industry out there for
digital filters that make good files look bad, and a whole social media
network for those shots. In fact, there's a market for leaky plastic
cameras and film... hmm
Maybe I'll dig up a 4x5 camera and a
big-assed tripod, in fact, maybe I'll see if I can find a magnesium
flash pan! Now that would be a wedding shoot worth paying for.
I suggest that we tell all the budding photographers out there to take a
few art classes, maybe an art history too, rather than that photoshop
course they figure will make them a mint. You can bet Unkle Leo has the
latest version on his laptop and I even bet he paid for it.
|Oct 9, 2013
|Patterns of Thought
I have been messing around making ebooks lately and as a learning
exercise I have put together Patterns
of Thought with some of my coffee shop poetry and projector
pattern images. These shots were done with "sneaky photographer" the
little Pentax point and shoot that I set to take shots every 20 seconds
while I'm working.
Enjoy, let me know what you think of it, and how it works in your
|Feb 13, 2013
Chance favours the prepared, and I often set up a the point and shoot
in the studio while I'm working. It takes a shot of whatever it can
every 20 seconds and looking at it later is just like looking at a roll
of film just back from being developed at the drugstore.
As I write that I just remembered that my Grandmother worked as a film
developer in the local drugstore when she was young, that would be the
1930s or 40s I suppose.
This shot is from yesterday, it's a crop but nothing else was done, the
settings ended up as 800iso, 1/4s and f3.25. I put the camera on pan
focus and auto and let it go. I'm not entirely sure now that I think
about it that this shot would happen on a film slr, just from the way
the shutter moves across the film plane, as vs. the sensor being
entirely exposed for 1/4 second... Something to think about, but I
really like the liquid light quality of this shot.
|Jan 23, 2013
|Shoot in Projects
If you check out the 180mag text you'll find that most of the artists
featured each month will advise new photographers to shoot often. It is
a good idea to set things up for yourself in a way that you are more
likely to shoot more often. This means having a reason to snap that
Can't figure out what to shoot, work on one of your projects. If you
don't have one at the moment, I'll give you this one, it's called
Rolling White Balance. First, check to make sure your camera has a
custom white balance, then figure out how to use it. Now go shoot
something, make a nice shot. Pick a solid-colour part of that subject
and set your white balance on that. Now go shoot something else, then
set your white balance on a colour in that shot. Keep shooting and
Here's a quickie sample from last weekend's wandering around a tourist
town in winter.
If you never get a decent shot you'll at least get an idea of what the
white balance is doing.
|Jan 17, 2013
|From The Camera
I love this stuff
and a single LED bulb
|Jan 15, 2013
|Turn Off the
I'm a photographer, so I look at photo magazine articles but every so
often I'm startled into thinking about what I'm reading. I was part way
into yet another item on how to get the most out of your SLR... you
know the type:
In other words, buy a camera that has millions of dollars worth of
technology designed to make taking photos easier, and turn it into a
mechanical brick circa 1965. Then take the files and make them as much
like film as you can by forcing yourself to process them manually from
raw to finished photo.
- Turn the dial to manual
- Turn off the auto-exposure
- Turn off the auto-white balance
- Turn off the... well this one said keep the autofocus on.
- Shoot in Raw
I'm sorry, I spent the '60s with my spotmatic II wishing for auto focus
and auto exposure and a motor drive and unlimited numbers of shots with
no chemical stains or stench and all the other wonderful stuff we've
got now so that I didn't have to spend all my time futzing around with
the mechanics of taking a photo.
Of course I shoot manual, of course I mess around with the white
balance and all the other settings, but not out of an automatic desire
to mess around with the equipment. I'm not in love with the equipment,
I mess around because I want a certain result and I've figured out how
to get it. Most of the time I'm as automatic as I can get because I
want to be looking at the subject and not the camera. As for shooting
raw and processing the images myself later... no thanks I've got a
couple of nice darkrooms available to me at the studio so I'll spend
time with real paper and silver if I want to have fun developing
What I'm saying is that most writers of articles in photo magazines are
interested in the camera. Most photo magazines are interested in
cameras because camera ads pay the bills. Fine art photographers are
lousy sources of ad income.
It's a scale with two ends, those who want to make images and want the
equipment to get the hell out of the way and those who are fascinated
with the latest megapixel counts and sharpness ratings.
I shot HP5 on a wide open 1.4 lens because I didn't want to mess with
lights and I never repaired a meter that overexposed every roll because
I liked the washed out look. What can I say? I was always more
interested in the big picture than the size of the grain.
I was never a silver peeper.
|Dec 31, 2012
|Happy New Year
|Last Day For Matching
Year and Month
So, 1212 is over in a few hours and the new issue of 180 is online as
1301. If I live to be around 150 I'll be able to do 0101 I suppose,
won't count on it though. It's not all that interesting this matching
month and year sort of stuff, it's what some folks call the "tyrrany of
small numbers". Strangeness happens when you've got few items to mix
and match with each other, patterns seem to appear but it's really not
meaningful in any important way.
But thinking about that next 0101, I also think about my models and the
many many interviews I have with them asking if they mind their face on
the net, or the effects of appearing nude on their possible future
I find it rather sad that I have to mention that because the next time
it's 1212 nobody will care at all whose nude body showed up on the net
a hundred years ago, and if that's so, what's the big fuss now?
Yet fuss there is, and will continue to be. Praise be to all the
Bluestockings who still believe in original sin. As for me, I'm hoping
that as we get toward the 2020s it gets more like the 1920s.
|Dec 31, 2012
Chance favours the prepared camera or some such thing. I just found
this shot from "sneaky photographer" as one of my models calls him, my
Pentax W30 set to record a shot every 20 seconds. I just set it and
forget it during my sessions and then look at what it finds afterward.
For my style of photography the damned thing is as good as me most of
the time at finding unexpected movements and unguarded, unposed
This time it caught my camera at work.
|Dec 10, 2012
or The Point and Shoot Rides Again
|Great Happiness and
the Kindness of Students
I mentioned that I had lost my point and shoot camera to the waves of
Lake Huron. Well it seems that whining works as some of my martial art
students got together and found me another camera of the same model on
I took the camera along with me to Uraguay last month and even managed
to do a photo shoot between teaching and judging.
Thanks guys, it was appreciated, and the next couple of stories from me
in 180mag.ca will be from Uraguay using my third Canon A590.
Using the Point and Shoot
Montevideo on the flight in, Manual exposure got this shot at 1600iso.
Automatic modes were frustrating, if not entirely useless. Hey, just
like an instamatic wingtip shot!
Old Montevideo from a new perspective, shot through the bubbled plastic
over the van window. Wish I'd looked at the shot and done more of these
but I have to admit I totally missed the effect, found it when I
returned home. Still, a classic tourist view done in a new way.
By the fourth or fifth day the tourist shots are out of the system and
the artist should be coming alive. My impressions of Montevideo from my
youth were a sort of sepia-coloured albumin print world from my
Grandmother's travel books. On the camera is a sepia filter, combine
with an overexposure through the EV adjustment and stick your arm out
the van window as you drive from dojo to hotel.
|Dec 6, 2012
A Quiet Riot from Willem Vleugels on Vimeo.
|Dec 6, 2012
On 13 December Galerie
180 will open the new exhibition ‘Demophobia’ with works of the Ukrainian artist duo
Synchrodogs and Dutch photographer
Isolde Woudstra .
the work of Synchrodogs as
that of Isolde Woudstra is
about the loner, the dreamer, about identity and body language. The
relation between the person being portrayed and its surroundings play
an important role in the images of these photographers. Synchrodogs
focuses on the extravert, while Woudstra’s focus is more on the
introvert side. Their pictures share a mysterious and sometimes ominous
aesthetics, and invite the viewer through surrealistic suggestions to
submerge oneself in a dream state.
originate from Ukraine, where in 2008 Tania Shcheglova (1989) and Roman
Noven (1984) fell in love and started working together in the fields of
art and fashion photography, blurring the boundaries between the two.
Their work includes collaborations with Neon magazine, Urban
Outfitters, Vice and Harpers' Bazaar Ukraine. In 2011 they won the
Harpers' Bazaar art photography award. With their quirky vision, the
artist duo Synchrodogs realizes ideas and fantasies inspired by the
ever-changing ambience of their environment. Tania Shcheglova and Roman
Noven mainly use themselves as a showcase for their studies,
deconstructing personality and producing images that dig deep into the
core of human nature itself. Their main interest lies in bringing
primitive instincts out of a viewer, allowing one to embrace their
natural beauty, encouraging one to be free from any predispositions and
fear of being misperceived.
Spoon bending daily-life with her images,
and with the constant appearance of her editorial work in several
magazines, Isolde Woudstra shines through the latent relatable darkness
of her autonomous vision. Her work is posited on the interface of
reality and dream-world, while always maintaining its functionality and
clarity. The images of her slightly sinister world are raw and natural
but cause confusion at the same time. Woudstra graduated from the
theArts in 2007,
after which she started working for a variety of magazines while
continuously pursuing her personal work. Her work was published in
magazines as Dazed & Confused, Vice, Glamcult and the Word, and
exhibited at Unseen Photo Fair, Foam and Nova Cultura Contemporanea.
‘Demophobia’ – Isolde Woudstra &
Synchrodogs – 13 December 2012 until 25 January 2013
Thursday 13 December, 8.00 PM
17 January 2013, 8.30 PM
180, 3311 ES Dordrecht, The Netherlands
0031-78-631 89 13
www.sbk.nl of www.sbkgalerie.nl/galerie180
|Dec 6, 2012
My name is Karen Zhu and I´m reaching you from the independent
publishing house SAUNA, a fresh and independent project currently
linking editors, curators and artists living and working in Berlin,
Frankfurt, Porto, Barcelona and New York.
I would be delighted to invite you to visit SAUNA´s website, introduce
you to the project and let you know all about our releases and
projects. We just launched SAUNA W/ Magazine with the first issue fully
dedicated to the fashion photographer César Segarra. I would be pleased
to let you know all about SAUNA and this release and in case you find
it interesting to consider, we would be more than glad to contribute
and be featured on 180degree Blog.
All the best,
S A U N A
|Dec 5, 2012
||Transparent Roses from
It has been an exciting start to the week as the first pieces
from 'Glass' arrive
in the studio. In this new body of work Alexander James has developed a
process that naturally removes all the pigment from the capillaries in
rose petals. It is a complex process that over time replaces the
pigment with highly purified water leaving behind only the skeletal
fibre and plant structure visible; all while the plant still lives and
grows. These beautifully detailed and painterly photographic works are
captured underwater and presented 'as shot' without the use of post
production either traditional or digital.
© 2000-2012 Distil Ennui Studio
|Dec 4, 2012
What if you were asked to write a book titled "An Introduction to
Photography". What would you write?
Your chapters might include a history of photography but that would
really be a history of the technological developments. To write a
history of the uses of photography would be an exercise in frustration,
photography was used for "everything" as soon as it was invented.
So a history of the technology. Start with... what, the image? The
lens? The chemistry? OK let's not get into the camera obscura stuff,
instead let's define photography as the creation of a... not permanent,
a persistant image on a medium through the use of light, lens and
chemistry... no that doesn't work for digital. Light, lens and
information storage medium. Of course that lets out photograms (put
leaves on sensitized paper or on a scanner). Image by light and storage
medium... damn no that is still a problem for digital since there's no
image on a hard drive, only information that can be used to create an
The creation of a persistant latent or actual image using light and a
storage medium. There, now start with Wedgewood or Bayard or Niepce or
Daguerre or Talbot as you wish.
So as soon as we had these technologies we had landscape and nude and
travel and documentary and portrait as quick as someone could get
equipment and subject together. Maybe after the technology we should
split the book into chapters on the uses of photography.
Wow. That's like making a book on the uses of drawing, or painting or
See that's the thing, photography isn't an object, it's a process, it's
a medium of communication and so we now have to explain Marshall
McLuhan's hot and cold media and medium as message... although that's a
bit finely divided for an introduction so we can put off trying to
explain McLuhan a while longer.
We could look at various media to see where photography is similar and
different. Media defined as communication between people includes
writing, speach, and paintings of bison on cave walls. Information
exchange between environment and us expands a bit into all the five
senses, but I know of no particular information exchange between people
using taste, touch or smell. At least nothing very sophisticated since
a punch on the nose could be said to be communication of a sort, and
the exchange of bodily fluids containing genetic material is certainly
an information transfer, but it's a bit beyond our book on photography.
What is photography most like? Painting I would suspect, and we can use
the mechanical production of the image as our difference between the
two. We won't argue about splitting the two since we were asked to
write about photography not visual imagery yes?
What's photography least like? Writing I would suggest, with speach
somewhere closer to writing than to visual imagery. A visual image is
subject to interpretation. If it wasn't we wouldn't have all these
critics and professors writing books on how to read a photograph or a
painting. Writing? Speach? not so easy to interpret. See that doesn't
even sound right, we would usually say misinterpret if we talk about
speach or writing. Further proof of the assumed exactness of writing
might be our common frustration with English teachers who insist we
interpret short stories or poetry their way. We resist that much more
than we resist the art teacher telling us the cave paintings in Spain
are appeals to the Gods. They were done 40,000 years ago, how do we
know that? They might be directions to the nearest McDonald's
equivalent for all we know. It's this very ambivalence that allows us
to accept the different interpretation with ease. Prof says Gods, we
put down Gods and pass the course, but I'm damned if I'm going to
believe that Leonard Cohen's Susanne was a princess!
Mesopotamian writing is about keeping track of the goats, we're pretty
sure about that, and when the Egyptians wrote about the gods on the
pyramid walls, we're pretty sure that's what they were writing about,
so our 5000 year experiment with writing seems to be more accurate than
our 40,000 year experiment with imagery and I rest my case. A
photograph needs a caption if we want to be sure folks get the same
message we intend when we shoot it. Otherwise we have to be satisfied
if we can communicate general feelings and emotions. Accuracy isn't a
So now we may have a way to get at our introduction to photography. We
find the structure by looking at the other media that have been written
about and use that template. We go to a book that is an introduction to
painting. Or an introduction to speach or an introduction to writing.
You write it.
|Oct 29, 2012
Bonjour à tous !
J'ai l'immense plaisir de vous
présenter mon premier livre "Rêvalités",
édité dans la collection "Voir
naître le talent" aux éditions KnowWare,
qui rassemble soixante-trois
photographies accompagnées de textes (français/anglais) !
Il est dès à présent disponible
en pré-commande au lien ci-dessous, et sera en librairie à partir du 14
Très belle soirée,
I'm thrilled to introduce my
very first book "Dreamalities",
which is edited by
and composed of 63 pictures and
texts (written in English and French)!
You can already order a copy
online (link below)!
Have a beautiful day,
Juliedewaroquier.com • Facebook
|Oct 26, 2012
|Point and Shoot Cameras
I'm in mourning. I lost my
beloved point and shoot to a Lake Huron wave. Not just any point and
shoot, this was a Canon A590, the second that I've owned, the first
being the one I took to Japan and left there with one of my instructors
because he liked it. I found a second camera in a discount department
store and was happy to have it. The best damned point and shoot camera
Canon ever made and one they or someone else should remake!
This camera had an 8mp sensor (two more than are needed, work on light
gathering rather than resolution people! Go for big sensors and low MP
counts rather than just buying megapixels. How many of you display your
shots at 24 by 36 inches on your hallway walls?)
The thing had full manual control, a decently slow shutter speed (could
have used a bulb setting), an optical viewfinder, a really cool
digital/optical lens multiplier thingie that I don't understand but
seemed to boost the range without cropping. Look, it had most of the
fun things I wanted, including the most important, a ring you could
take off and install an adapter that allowed me to put a fisheye lens
that screwed onto the filter ring.
Sure it was plastic, sure it turned out not to be very weather-sealed,
but it went to Europe and back with my daughter and I didn't mind if it
got scratched up in my bag. I carried it everywhere, so I want somebody
to make this camera again, with the following extra demands... and
don't tell me to buy a G15, I want a $150 camera not a point and shoot
that costs what my SLR costs. As for the modern versions of the A-line
from Canon, they have done nothing but take functions away, no manual
control, no optical finder... I really hate it when I'm looking around
for a used camera because the "new and improved" ones are less than the
My ideal point and shoot:
So you see, this "obsolete and discontinued" camera had pretty much
everything I could ever ask for, and yet they left it all behind in
their "improvements" to the line. Loyalty be damned, anyone who builds
this camera again will have my business.
- 6 megapixel, with really good low-light shooting. Make it a
- A short zoom (4x is fine, like this one) with a constant
f/2.8 or lower (I have an ancient 2mp Fuji with a long zoom that is an
f/2.8. Damned nice lens!)
- Full manual controls, including manual focus
- I also want a pan-focus, a fixed focus setting for when I'm
not going to mess around with the glacial focus system of a point and
- Macro focus mode of course, I don't have the patience to
wait for a focus search from infinity to minimum and back again.
- Long shutter speeds, preferably up to 30 seconds plus
bulb... bulb being push once to open, push again to close, or else put
a thread on the release button so we can use plungers again.
- An adapter ring so I can use my cheapie filter-ring-thread
- AA battery power. I'm not kidding about this, I'm so tired
of having six chargers lined up on my shelf. The AA batteries fit in
the grip and gave the thing a bit of weight, very nice.
- Skip the on-board flash and put a hot shoe on it. Who uses
the onboard flash? Not me but I'd love to be able to use a small swivel
flash or a radio trigger.
- I was just starting to use the movie function with the
fisheye... that's what killed the little dear, I was doing fisheye
movies of the waves. So a movie function is fine.
- All the picture styles and white balance and colour
settings were fine (as long as there's a custom white balance, which
there was on the 590).
Using a Point and Shoot
Well, on to the lesson in point and shoot photography. In this case, we
will assume that we're talking the lowest common denominator of cameras
so no manual controls, no aperature or time controlled exposure, just
the usual stuff.
When I started my photography career I used a point and shoot camera
named a Brownie Hawkeye which was a medium format camera made by Kodak.
It was owned by my mother and by thousands of other mothers and it had
no controls at all. You pushed the button and wound the film on. It was
fixed focus (it had a depth of field from about three feet to infinity)
and fixed exposure (depending on the film speed, you used it best
outdoors during the day). Mom's loved it because once you learned to
load and wind it you were right there taking photos of the kids. Dads
soon had a 35mm rangefinder with lots of controls and maybe even a
light meter, but they were so busy messing with the controls Mom
usually got the shots that we look at today. Even that Brownie could be
messed with though, you could click the shutter without winding for a
double or even a multiple exposure. Coolness. You could also buy a
flash for it, the flashbulbs were a lot of fun for a kid let me tell
From that time on camera companies have been schizophrenically makeing
cameras with more controls and then trying to take those controls away
again with automatic modes or cameras with no modes at all. Dad buys
the really expensive stuff but Mom is usually happy with the cheap,
easy to use models and guess where most of the money comes from?
Nowadays, if you spent $400 on a point and shoot camera expecting $400
worth of photographic fun, it is often a frustrating exercise in trying
to get more manual control of something that was not designed for it.
Still, the companies often slip up and by careful use of the controls
they do give you, you can sometimes get something out of the camera
that approximates "control".
Let's start, here's your first steps along the way.
1. Read the manual. Seriously, I know you can get it to work by putting
in the battery and pressing buttons until something happens, but if you
wanted the default settings you wouldn't be reading this. Read the
manual and find out what your camera can do, then go do all of them
just to see what it looks like. You may never again use some of the
stuff you try but that's fine, at least you will know just how much
extra functionality your camera has.
2. Find the menu command to turn off your flash. Turn it off. Nothing
is more sad than watching a dozen flashes go off in a stadium during a
sports game. The flash reached about two rows forward of the camera and
then faded to nothing. Got it turned off? Good now you can ignore all
the information about red-eye reduction and removal from now on. Don't
worry, we'll turn the flash back on in a while for one type of shot.
3. Find the auto setting, or preferably, the P(rogram) setting. Put it
there. This will put your camera on "fixed focus fixed exposure but
always good" mode. In other words, P does the exposure and focus work
for you, it won't matter if you're on the beach or in candlelight
indoors, your camera will likely get a decent shot in either place.
Appreciate the auto exposure of your camera, you'll get decent shots
without thinking about it, and so you can concentrate on what you're
shooting rather than on what's in your hand. Please, no jokes about
shooting what's in your hand OK?
4. Find the iso setting control and put it on auto. This will select
the lowest iso for the light available. Lower iso means less digital
noise in the shot. If you miss grain, crank the iso up to the top end
of where your camera goes, you'll get "grain" which may or may not look
good. Some of my cameras make grain that looks great, some not so much.
For now, auto.
Right, that's you sorted for most shots you'll be doing on the street.
Now for a bit of technique. First, point your camera at something you
want to shoot and push the shutter button down half way. In a short
time the camera should focus and the lines around your focus square in
the viewfinder screen will go green. Keep your finger there, compose
your image and push.... squeeze the shutter button the rest of the way
down to take the shot. This pre-focus step also sets the exposure and
vastly reduces the time between shutter press and picture snap.
Now, for some fancy stuff. Find a shot with lots of bright sky (with
clouds or a tree or something) and some dark stuff by the ground. If
you're on a street, face the light, step into the shadow and shoot the
shadows and the sky.
Depending on what you've focused on some of your shot will be blown out
(too bright) or hidden in shadow. it may be the wrong part of the shot
so here's a trick or actually, two.
1. Focus on something the same distance away as what you want in focus,
but either in the shadow or in the light. Your camera will adjust for
the shadow if you focus there, or the sky if you focus there... you
need something to be in the sky to focus the camera, the sky isn't
"there" as far as a camera focus tool is concerned.
2. Find the EV button and learn how to move the exposure to the plus
side (if you want the shadows to show up) or the minus side (if you
want the sky to be exposed so you can see it. EV stands for Exposure
Value and is measured in f-stops. We'll talk f-stop a bit later, for
now just understand that plus f-stop means more light coming to the
sensor which means blown out sky and shadows you can see.
Next step is to figure out how to control the shutter speed. Remember
the P mode? That lets you dial the shutter speed up and down while
keeping the exposure correct (by adjusting the aperature usually).
Don't worry too much about this, just play with your camera and figure
out how to move the shutter speed up or down. If you want to freeze
action, use a faster shutter speed, if you want to blur motion, use a
You've just learned how to adjust the exposure and the shutter speed,
so you don't need to
mess around with all the picture modes, trying to figure out what all
those little icons mean or "shudder" reading the manual to find out.
You're ready to go forth and photograph stuff to see what it looks like
photographed. (See Garry Winogrand)
Ah, back to that onboard flash. Get your friend to stand in front of
the sun and take a shot. Now turn the flash on and take another shot.
Cool huh, it's called fill flash and you could do the same thing by
reflecting some of the sunlight back onto your friend's face but who
carries a reflector around with them? Unless of course you're wearing a
white jacket or have a nice silver emergency blanket in your back
Now you're thinking. Go read some stuff on composition and learn how to
shift your camera to frame in an interesting way after you get that
focus point nailed.
|Sept 26, 2012
|Red Bull Illume Image
Red Bull Illume is back! The world’s greatest action and adventure
sports photography contest is to return this year. Submissions open in
December 2012 and photographers can start sending in their best action
shots via the official website www.redbullillume.com.
The Image Quest 2013 will be the third edition of the competition after
2007 and 2010. By the time entries close at the end of April 2013,
thousands of photographs will have been submitted. The 50 best images
in 10 categories and an overall winner are then selected by a team of
judges — photo editors from prominent international publications. These
50 finalist images then travel around the world as a unique and
stand-alone night-time photo exhibition. The overall winner will
receive the new Leica S camera while category winners will receive the
The contest consists of 10 categories: lifestyle, playground, energy,
spirit, close up, wings, sequence, new creativity, experimental and
illumination. Last edition a total of 22,764 images were submitted by
4,773 photographers from 112 countries. Chris Burkard’s ‘Perfect Day’
shot of surfer Peter Mendia riding the waves off Chile's west coast won
2007 & 2010 judge Paul Sanders, former picture editor of The Times,
says: "Red Bull Illume is one of the best competitions in the world.
The standard of photography and talent is amazing, the imagination of
the photographers is incredible. I find looking at the images
The entries feature not only dramatic images such as kayakers plunging
off waterfalls or climbers scaling impossible cliffs, but
behind-the-scenes images of the lifestyle around surf, skate and other
The submission phase is open from December 1st to April 30th, 2013.
Visit www.redbullillume.com for
FREE IMAGE LIBRARY:
All our images are free for editorial use in the context of Red Bull
Illume. We only ask that you credit the photographer and send us a link
or copy of the article.
The 50 finalist photos can be viewed on our website, www.redbullillume.com.
High res versions, videos and more can be found on the Red Bull Content
You can also download the 50 finalist photos at the following link:
You can also create your own custom gallery of action shots for your
website, selecting the sports that are of interest to you here:
Or download one of our custom-sized photos for your Facebook cover
For all media enquiries contact:
Tarquin Cooper (zooom productions)
Phone: +43 6226 8848-25
About Red Bull Illume:
Red Bull Illume is the world’s premier international photography
competition dedicated to the world of action and adventure sports. Its
purpose is to showcase the most exciting and creative action sports
photography on the planet as art and bring the public into the world of
Leica is the official partner of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest for
the second time, following on from the successful 2010 edition.
|Sept 19, 2012
I've a few minutes to write something and noticed this shot so I
thought I'd paste it up here. First motion blur I ever did was by
accident, I was shooting my girlfriend back in the early '70s while she
was skating in a dark arena. The old spotmatic had a 1.4 lens and it
was wide open and tracking her as she went past. When the shots came
back from the drugstore that blurred image really impressed me.
Simple in concept, you adjust so that you need a long exposure and then
swing the camera with the subject as it moves by. In this day of
massively high iso digital cameras it is a bit hard to do this. I
bought a $20 variable density filter and used it to cut the noon-time
beach light back so I could do a... just looked at the exif info... 1/8
second exposure at f5.6 (probably the widest aperature I could get on
this kit zoom.)
The specific technique isn't important, just get the shutter slowed
down somehow and track the movement. This is even more fun with digital
cameras because you can see what you're getting right away.
|Sept 13, 2012
|The Nude as Genre
If the nude is, as Kenneth Clark says, a genre in itself, rather than
the subject of the art, we can start to think of categories of nude
- The shameful nude: Take photographs of people who are
deeply ashamed to be naked.
- The embarassed nude: Shots of models so obviously
comfortable naked that the viewers are embarassed.
- The covered nude: Underneath this I am naked!
- The male gaze nude: High heels and stockings of course.
- The implied nude: Work using models who want to be paid but
don't want to admit the only paid model work for girls of their size is
- The classic nude: Snapshots of naked women.
- The edgy nude: Snapshots of naked women with a red gel on a
- The abstract nude: Shots resulting from cameras dropping
from sweaty hands just as the shutter is released.
- The landscape nude: We couldn't afford the studio rent this
- The environmental nude: Green gel.
- The narrative nude: Shots done with a telephone, a glass of
spilled wine and a crying model.
- The journalistic nude: Got a new remote controlled webcam!
- The subconscious nude: Click the shutter, click the
shutter, click the shutter. Otherwise known as the
|Apr 24, 2012
|Who Can You Name?
Shooting Artistic Fine-Art Nudes
I'm looking through a lot of how-to books on the nude that I acquired
recently, and sadly, one of the common features of the genre is a whole
lot of really forgettable photographs. Each and every one talks of
artistic fine art and what they show is garage-level glamour.
There's nothing inherently wrong with the sort of nudes you will find
in these books, but it's forgettable, gone in 30 seconds. The images
are as bog-standard as the advice. Some folks go to a new town and eat
at a chain restaurant because they don't want to be surprised...
Now, far be it from me to say "get a style" but really, at least hunt
for something that isn't what every local photographer does when she
shoots "boudoir" for the woman next door who's looking for something to
give the husband on their ten year anniversary.
Eat at Joes Diner, home of the 50cent bumbleberry pie once in a while.
Can you name 10 nude photographers off the top of your head and picture
OOOH, a LIST! .... Yuck it up folks.
I'll list them, top of my head so no particular order or even a
complete list. I'll correct the spelling later and provide a shot found
on the net and repeated here in the interest of fair use and
education... although in the age of tumblr why bother trying to be
Below you'll find the word "partner" in places, this means wife, lover,
otherwise involved romantically and or businessly. Go look these ten up
on Google Images and see if you can't detect a certain point of view, a
certain unique flavour you won't get at the local mall food-court.
1. Alfred Stieglitz: Shots of Georgia O'Keefe, his partner. The one
that sticks in my mind is O'Keefe in front of a screen door.
2. Bill Brandt: A wide angle police camera, a nude and a rocky beach.
3. Andrez Kertesz: A fun-house mirror.
4. Man Ray: Are you kidding, what hasn't he done, what to pick? Let's
pick solarization and Lee Miller, his partner.
5. Harry Callahan: And Eleanor, his partner.
6. Helmut Newton: Big Nudes and big supermodels. This is what most
glamour guys have in their heads when they're shooting internet models
7. Erwin Blumenfeld: Wet silk.
8. Frantisek Drtikol: Shape and Form
9. Jan Sudek: A true "garage-studio" shooter who worked in his basement
on images that would have got him thrown in jail if the authorities
knew he was doing it. Partners and neighbours and others he trusted
were subjects of his hand-tinted explorations of the human condition.
10. Rudolf Koppitz: Probably one of my very favourite nudes of all
time, a real story-image from some dancers in 1926.
So the first ten that popped into my head, what can we say about them.
Many of them shot those they know well, their partners. It's difficult
to come up with risky images with a stranger you've met on an internet
modeling meetup site, about the best you can do is say "I want to shoot
stuff like this picture on your portfolio" since you know he or she
will do it. Stretching a little? Something risky? Best know your model
a bit better than an email trail.
All the guys up there in the list shot women mostly, is this how it
goes? Guys shooting girls they're sleeping with? That's what it needs?
Of course not, but it needs models who trust the artists because
they're artists, not guys who use cameras to try and get laid (there's
websites other than the modeling sites for that) or want to see real,
live nekkid wimmin (go to the strip joint for that). As for only women
models, how about men who shoot men?
Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, Greg Gorman, Horst P. Horst, Robert
Wow, those guys are as guilty of shooting the young and beautiful as
any other fashion-related photographer. Access to the cut and the cute
seems to mean cut and cute models. A Helmut Newton female looks a bit
like a Herb Ritts male to me... all hail the white seamless! Irving
Penn is one fashion photographer who resisted this temptation when he
did his "Earthly Bodies".
Women who shoot men? Sally Mann and her partner Larry, Imogen
Cunningham and Roi, her partner.
Look these names up and examine their work, is it memorable? What are
they shooting? Obviously what interests them, but you shoot what
interests you right? Interest might not be enough, finding something
new to say, that's the ticket. OK I'll fill in the shots above so we
can talk about them specifically.
Oh, I see that shot sold for 1.3 million plus in 2006. I'm obviously
not the only one who likes it. Stieglitz is a giant in the history of
American photography, one of the folks who took photography out of the
baby-photo-studios and into the art galleries. He was also influential
in bringing Modern Art to the USA through his gallery 291. His life is
worth a read if you have any interest in American Art, at least check
out the Wikipedia
entry. Torso was shot in the kitchen of a rural house with a hill
in the background beyond a screen door. You don't need dozens of lights
to do a memorable nude.
On the other hand, Steiglitz was as capable of cheesecake as the next
guy with a camera. Check out this photo which, I suspect, will not sell
for as much as Torso.
Only on the net would that one float to the top.
Who would have thought of using a police crime scene camera, almost a
pin-hole, to get a "mouse-eye view" of the nude? Brandt shot for 16
years with an antique camera to create his series of nudes in the '40s
One burst of nude work in 1933, in a lifetime of photography, but what
a burst. Taking a couple of funhouse mirrors, Kertesz produced one of
the best-known series of nudes.
A lot of the notable nude photographers you'll see here have a large
body of work outside their nudes. Having a wide range of subjects, and
much experience will give a photographer the confidence to experiment
while facing a nude model.
If ever there was the bohemian artist, May Ray might fit the bill,
American ex-pat moved to Paris in the '20s and living the life that so
many movies depict. In fact I can't believe there isn't a movie about
this man who was a member of the "lost generation", photographer,
painter, cinematographer and writer. Lee Miller left New York as a
model and arrived on Man Ray's doorstep to become his assistant, model
and partner before moving on to become a photojournalist in her own
Harry married Eleanor in 1936 and photographed her for the rest of
their 63 year marriage. What further lesson do we need?
Tight bodied supermodel in high heels on a seamless white background
being tough for the camera. It was done supremely well by Helmut 30
years ago, why am I still seeing attempts at this shot? One who did
manage a good comment on the original was Leonard Nimoy who has been
featured in the 180mag story This Is What I'm Doing.
Yes that Leonard Nimoy.
If anyone carried on the experimentation of Man Ray into the next
generation of photographers it was Erwin Blumenfeld, his work is well
worth a look for those who think that fashion/art photography is a new
Drtikol is becoming better known but he languished for many years in
obscurity, at least in my experience. If you look at my work for the
past decade or so you may find some resonance here, I've long been
fascinated by his combinations of simple shapes on the stage combined
with models. I keep working at it, trying to find my own take. As Uncle
Miltie once said, "If you're going to steal, steal from the best."
Is Saudek really the only living photographer in this list? Surely we
should not get the idea that we need to be dead to be great, or even
from Central Europe, as I look again over the list. Remember these were
the first ten that popped into my head, but they have all made a big
impression on me. One of my greatest delights was finding a well-worn
copy of a book by Saudek in Czech behind some how-to silliness in a
used book store. As for male nudes from my original list, Jan
I didn't know which of his shots of dancers and nude to include so
here's the second.
Now that you're at the end of this article, think a little and see if
you can't recall a few of the shots you just looked at. Now think if
you can remember ten more shots from different photographers. Are any
of the remembered shots what you might see on that modeling website?
Stop looking at the mediocre and start stealing from the best. Above
all, don't listen to what you "should be doing" with regard to
lighting, posing or what have you. Look at these shots again if you
like them, or find ones you like better and look closely at the
lighting. If you can "see" the lighting ask what that means. I like
lighting, I make a lot of my shots all about the lighting. I should
stop that if I want to do work like these we've looked at today.
|Apr 23, 2012
Humans love lists. The top ten, the new year's resolution, the
classification of life on earth, it's all lists.
How can we classify writing? Scientific, fiction, non-fiction, adult,
teen, fantasy, philosophy, religious?
OK I just pulled those out of the air, can we do the same with the
classification of the animal kingdom? How about photography?
Scientific: The classification of animals into genus and species of
course, we're homo sapiens.
Fantasy: Pegasus (or purse dogs)
glamour photography (or porn yet again)
Philosophy: Orwell's "Animal Farm" or veganism
surrealism or dada
shroud of Turin
So it's not too hard to find equivalances to these classification
schemes in photography, that means we can take any theoretical analysis
of writing or of animals and probably just substitute.
Ought to be a few dozen easy post-grad theses in there somewhere.
|Apr 21, 2012
I was reading a book at the studio today, and the author joins a long
string of folks trying to explain what a photograph is, and how to look
Honestly, I'm not sure why I keep reading these essays. We've
been looking at photographs for over a hundred years and at paintings
for hundreds before that, we certainly know how to do it. I've been
exposed to images for my entire life, about five or six more than I
exposed to written language so interpreting images isn't really a chore
or for anyone else.
Images are a language, a two dimensional "written" language that is a
bit more universal than English or Chinese, but subject to the same
local interpretation. By that I mean the word combinations or the image
will mean a slightly different thing to someone in one social area
compared to another. To be clear, swear words in England are not the
same as those in the USA. Local slang will differ and so will the
interpretation of various elements of a photograph. But every person on
the planet can see a photograph and interpret it. Written language is
more restricted in that only a certain subset of humans can read a
Thinking in a different language is supposed to engender a different
set of ideas. I'm unilingual so I can't say if that is true or not, but
if it is, it's a wonderful thing and I wish I was fluent in French as
my daughter is. Funnily enough, my daughter can't tell me if she thinks
differently for having two languages, she's had them so long she can't
tell if there's another way of thinking from the way she does it. I see
what she means, I can't tell you if I would be thinking different
things in Japanese as compared to now even if I learned the language.
Here's the theory for anyone interested http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity
I doubt photography would be as
useful as language for seeing different things, (assuming language is
of course). A photograph of a Cambodian kid is
pretty much the same as a photograph of a Canadian kid if it's taken by
the same photographer. More likely would be to see a different world
view if a Chinese kid was photographed by a Cambodian photographer and
Canadian photographer. The different viewpoint would be in the
photographer rather than in the image content, the "text" of the
photograph would more likely be different from two photographers rather
than from one.
Rather a "duh" moment there I suppose.
We had a photo contest recently and the winner was a nude in nature
with some mud-like substance on her. The theme was "balance" and I
immediately said "nude in nature is not balance, it's reality, mud on
girl is a bit obvious (messy/clean) and beside I don't like the way
she's got her thumb in her fist". The other judges liked it and so I
looked again, reading closely rather than skimming the shot. Well
written (printed), OK now I saw a mano fico rather than an awkward
fist. A baby born with a mano fico is said to be lucky so now we have a
reference to birth and nature, man in balance in nature, we're born
naked and wet and we die clothed and dried up... and so I continued for
a while until someone shut me up. I later talked with the photographer
and found out the mud was actually frozen paint and so this rather
tough model was likely just clenching her fist after all, and with good
As a writer may have a story or poem interpreted by the reader, so may
a photographer have an image "read" in different ways by different
viewers. It's all communication, all language. It follows then, that
some photographs will be blatantly obvious (advertising shots come to
mind) while others may be a bit more subtle in their message and some
may simply be gibberish.
Tell a good story.
|April 9, 2012
|Shoot it in the Camera
Have been hanging around the U. Guelph photo arts club for a while as a
member of the exec. An anachronistic bunch, the club is mostly
concentrated on film with two nicely equipped (if antique) darkrooms
that are about the same as they were when I worked in them in the late
'70's. (I'm there for the studio of course, tiny but useable and there
are ways of making a small space large.)
It's been rather interesting dredging up my old knowledge of silver
photography, but most important for me to realize is that I have
started to slip into the digital way of thinking. That's where you
shoot everything to perfection, fully in focus, perfectly lit, in
colour, blah blah blah just in case you change your mind later and
decide to do something different from what you had in mind originally.
Yikes, was a time when I didn't have any post processing choices beyond
using different contrast paper and dodging or burning. Colour was
something I painted on later.
This is a mistake. You don't provide more choices for
yourself by shooting in raw at full pixel size with tack sharp focus
and on a tripod, you cut yourself down to producing the same photos
that everyone else does, and the only way for you to "improve" is to
buy a camera with more megapixels and a bigger sensor, a heavier tripod
and the latest editing software.
The simple problem is this, if you don't know what you want to see in
the shot while you're shooting it, you aren't going to see anything
different as you sit in your office chair in front of a monitor. I've
been watching a few folks do their first nudes and having fun seeing
them discover the images on their screens. While looking at nudes
online I don't see the same experimentation, instead I see the same
thing over and over, it's almost always a full body shot, nice
lighting, well focused and all the other things you expect to see. I'm
wondering if there's a question of rarity here... "I may not get a
chance to shoot this girl again, or many more nudes, so I'd better do
it right". And of course you end up with what you expect because what
you expect is what you see all the time.
I try not to think that way, at least for nudes, and it works in my
favour. Potential models who see my work see something that isn't what
they expected, something that they'd like to participate in. There's
really no shortage of nude models out there, just a shortage of those
who don't see the point of doing something that's been done thousands
of times before.
So shoot it in the camera, figure out how to do everything you want to
do while you're shooting it, and save the fancy editing program for any
fine tuning you need, instead of spending hours trying to find the
image you had in your mind before you produced the one the engineers at
Canon figured you wanted to make.
|April 8, 2012
|F/W 2013 Working Class
by Ksenia Schnaider
Yesterday we presented f/w collection, we did video show.
|Mar 28, 2012
A very nice video short worth checking out.
recently completed a new multimedia piece called "Thom"
that I wanted to share with you, This 4-minute piece incorporates
video, stills and interview, along with original music. Let me know
what you think!
wishes, Anja Hitzenberger
|Jan 19, 2012
||Jan 18, 2012
|Workshop V: Posing
Let's assume you've considered all the movements and whatnot of
photography and you're going to be working with people, that's what
this workshop series is all about anyway, so it's a reasonable
assumption. If you're going to be doing landscape photography you can
skip this workshop, trees don't take well to posing instruction so
you're going to have to be more concerned with finding the right
viewpoint than making the mountains arrange themselves in pleasing
Remember you're going to be working with other people, it's always good
to have a bit of an idea what you want to do when you get together,
that way you don't waste each other's time.
When I teach a posing workshop it's offered to both photographers and
models, and both can benefit from the information below, which is based
on advice from other authors, my personal experience as a life model in
a University, and my own photography of models. You should take all
this to be advice which will get you the expected results, what most
people find most pleasing. They are "the rules" of posing.
Learn the craft
Check out magazines for the poses. What works for those models will
you. A photographic model has a set of short duration poses, like
gesture drawing poses for an artist's model. Photographers rarely need
a model to hold a pose for 50 seconds, let alone 50 minutes so consider
what you're looking
at when you study paintings and sculpture. Those models likely held
their poses for minutes at a time.
Learn to recognize what mood and style the photograph has, and how that
was achieved. Look at the position of the hands and feet, the eyes.
Look at the clothing and think about how it was used to reinforce the
pose. Be critical of what you look at, could you have done it better?
Make a clipping book
Keep tear sheets of the photographs you like, and those that give you
ideas. Keep them handy and look at them often, there's no sense
reinventing the wheel. If someone else has done the work why should you
not build on their efforts?
Models, get in front of a mirror and practice the poses you think will
you. Now invent some of your own, this is easier if you simply take
some of the postures you normally use. If you're a dancer, dance and
hold a position, if you do yoga, stretch and look at it, if you are a
runner, sink into your pace and check what that looks like.
Now is the time to find your good and weak points, decide which
features you should put forward and which you should keep in the
background. Don't forget to make faces, learn how to give different
expressions when called upon. Modeling is acting, you should know how
to be angry, shy, sultry and sweet.
Move with grace
Pay attention to how you move from one pose to another, the smoother
you get the better you will be as a model, it's often these transition
movements that will actually make the best photograph. Photographers,
watch your model carefully, check out the poses between poses and
either catch them or ask the model to hold when it's right.
Exaggerate the makeup and clothes
The camera damps things down, remember to overdo the makeup a bit, and
dress a bit more daringly than you might when going to work. Think
theatre makeup, the kind onstage rather than the kind in the audience.
Makeup during the shoot
Models, check your makeup often, or ask someone to look if you think
disturbed your makeup. Keep your lips moist by licking them regularly.
If your mouth is open run your tongue over your teeth as well, to keep
them moist and shiny. Photographers, don't forget to check the shine.
High heels make long shapely tapered legs with nicely curved calves.
They make a more dramatic curve in the lower back that emphasizes the
buttocks and the chest.
For beginning models especially, it's good to have a few props ready.
Hands can do some strange things when left on their own, they generally
settle down and behave if they're holding something. A model who has
trouble standing in an interesting way might find it easier to lean
against a stool. Each prop will give you new ideas for a pose, a new
look for the image.
Makeup and hair
The studio should have, at a minimum, a makeup area with good lighting
and a mirror. A place to wash up, an emergency brush, hair clips, pins,
hairspray, gel, soap, mineral oil and various other items are often
needed. Many models will forget to bring these things.
Check this link for a list of things a model should have with them. Information
at any photoshoot
Good Side, Bad Side
Everyone has a few flaws, even if it's just a temporary facial blemish.
Models, by concentrating on the other side of your face during a
will reduce the amount of retouching needed. If your eyes are different
sizes you can minimize the difference by turning the larger eye away
from the camera in a 3/4 profile, this will mean the smaller eye
appears larger because it's closer to the camera, and the descrepancy
will even out. Crooked nose? Figure out which angle works best with
your particular dent. Most people will want to put the narrower side of
their face toward the camera which means if your nose bends to the
the right side of your face. This also makes your nose smaller.
Acting as a model
Every photograph tells a story, try to figure out what story you are
telling with each shot and put that face on. If you are sitting on a
chair and it's raining you might want to slump a bit, round your
shoulders, hitch up your collar and drop your head to keep the water
out of your eyes. On the other hand, when the sun comes out you will
lift your head and feel the sun on your face, of course you'll smile.
Even if you're doing a product shot, holding up a bottle of shampoo,
it's the best shampoo you've ever seen, you're just delighted with it!
Make sure your body and face reflect your delight.
What style pose is it
Pay attention to what theme you're working on. Does the pose call for a
direct gaze at the camera or should you be looking down and away.
Should your arms be quiet and restful or active and reaching out?
Point those toes
When you point your toes all sorts of good things happen, your legs get
longer, your calves get shapely, and if you're on the balls of your
feet your posture gets better. Even if you're just doing headshots you
should be aware of good posture. Standing flatfooted can also mean that
your shoulders and head go dead. If you aren't wearing high heels,
pretend you are by pointing your toes.
Unlock your knees
Just as you want to point your toes, you also want to keep your knees
bent. This puts a curve into the leg, and keeps your posture alive. If
you lock your knees the legs bend backward and the emphasis goes onto
A full on face shot makes for a round face. It's usually more
flattering to turn to a slight angle. Learn how your face looks from a
profile to a full face shot and all the angles in between. A good
standard angle is a 3/4 shot, with both eyes visible to the camera.
For women they say it's always good to have the shoulders on an angle,
tilt the head toward the near shoulder, aiming the head and the body in
different angles also helps create interest in the shot.
Men should tilt their heads toward the far shoulder and keep their
I don't know why, try it and see what it looks like.
Don't be afraid to smile once in a while but remember that smiles cause
lines on the face. A relaxed face with no smile or a very small quirk
of the lip combined with alert and sparkling eyes can convey as much
emotion as a full bore smile.
If it bends, bend it
Unlock your joints even when you're using them to support yourself. If
you lock your elbow when you lean back on your arms the arm will bend
backward and the shoulders will hunch up toward your head. Keep
everything nicely curved in the direction we expect to see it bent.
If you're leaning on it, don't
lean on it
Don't put weight on an arm that you're "leaning" on, instead hold
yourself with your stomach muscles and rest the arm as if it's a prop.
This will give you a "lighter than air" feeling. Be careful of leaning
your head on your hand too, this can scrunch up your face. Fingertips
Separate whatever you can
Keep the fingers slightly apart and resist the temptation to make a
fist, this can make it look like you're missing fingers. Move the arms
slightly out from the body, move the legs slightly apart from each
other. If you sit on the floor with your knees drawn up, pull one
slightly further in than the other. Symmetry rarely looks good in a
Hands deserve special mention as they're the second most interesting
thing in the photo after the face. The flat surfaces of the hands will
become exaggerated in a photo, show the edges instead. Don't point the
fingers at the lens as this will give you fat fingers. As mentioned
before, bend the joints and open the fingers a bit. Don't clutch at
things or intertwine the fingers as this makes the fingers disappear.
When the photographer says he's going to shoot you, don't act like
you're in front of a firing squad. Treat the camera as if it's a person
you're having a conversation with. In fact the photographer will likely
be mumbling into the back of the camera so pretend it's his face.
Make wavy lines
Women should be curvy, even in their posture. Move the hips one way,
the shoulders the other, and tilt the head. Think of swaying lines
running down through your body. This gives pleasing lines for the eye
to follow in the photograph.
Lift your arms
The chest will rise, the stomach will get thinner, the torso will
become longer. Similarly, move the elbows back to open the chest. Push
the head upward (but keep the shoulders down). If you're sitting down,
rock your hips forward to lift and expand the chest while reducing the
stomach. You don't need to be wearing high heels to get that high heel
Some models have a real talent for blinking as the shutter trips. Try
to blink between exposures, you'll soon get into the rhythm of the
photographer and will know when you can blink. As a general rule, when
you set your pose, stop blinking, breath in, open the chest, lift the
head and think of yourself as being lighter than air. For photographers
who have to work with a blinker, try to time the shot for just after
Look at something
While we're on the eyes, make sure that you always look at something in
the room, unfocused eyes are disturbing in a photograph unless you're
working on the memento mori theme.
Hold that pose
If you've moved into a pose and the photographer suddenly starts to
adjust equipment, don't move, he wants to get that shot. On the other
he moves away from the camera to fiddle with lights or props you can
relax a bit but don't move off your mark, he needs you in position
while he fixes things.
Photographers, when you make an adjustment say
"hold that pose please" or "relax but keep on your mark I need to fix
the lights". Models don't read your mind until the fourth or fifth
What to shoot
Always think portfolio
Even if you're just doing a portrait you should think of doing a full
portfolio type shoot, moving from headshots to full body length
poses. It's a good idea to make it a habit to move from one extreme to
another. Since most models will automatically arrive ready for a head
shot, it's often easiest to move from there back to the full body
shots. Why do they arrive ready for a head shot? Because they sat or
stood in front of a mirror which only showed them the head, fixed their
makeup and adjusted their jewlery and clothing. They're ready for the
Always think of a tight, black and white head shot as if for an actor's
portfolio. Get in close, make the lighting flattering but slightly
dramatic, do full, three quarter and shallow silhouette shots at least.
While you're doing this you can be getting acquainted with the face,
and with the model. Next switch to colour (if you're shooting digital
that just means switching your thinking since you'll likely convert
colour to black and white later). You may want to bare the shoulders if
the clothing is a bit distracting.
Head and shoulders
Shots from head to mid-chest are also done along with the tight head
shot to bring the clothing into the image. There isn't a lot of posing
to be done here, but remember to keep the head light, the shoulders
down and relaxed, and to use the hands to best advantage.
3/4 length shots
From head to mid-thigh, this allows you to start working with poses
while still staying simple and working with the face as well. In some
ways the 3/4 length shot is the most complex. You can start changing
outfits now, and using the props.
Full length shots
Here is where you start working with the body and the poses that
involve the legs. You will want to alternate between full body and 3/4
shots as you make clothing and prop changes. It's also not a bad idea
to sneak in some head shots once in a while. As the model holds a full
length pose the head will come alive and the eyes will sparkle more
often than when simply sitting in a chair.
Full length shots are used in a portfolio to show clients a model's
body type. The pose should show the figure to best advantage, which
usually means narrow hips and wide chest. These shots can be casual,
jeans and t-shirt, or more formal clothing as long as it's
Once you start the wardrobe changes you need to think about the theme
of each photograph. Think how disturbing it would be to see a model in
lacy panties and a bra swinging a tennis racquet or taking dictation.
Mind you, I'm sure you've seen those exact shots and they work because
they are working against type.
For a model's portfolio you should try to get several different themes
and make the model look as different, one from the other, as possible.
This will show her range of characters and allow her to show that she
can work in several different areas.
Think weddings and the opera. You'll need appropriate makeup and hair
for these shots but they're good in a portfolio, often they can be
combined with a casual shot to show the model's range.
Playful and daring. You can go with extreme makeup and poses here. It's
often a good idea to turn up the music and let the model dance, just
fit in with the music and pretend the strobes are, well, strobes.
This is sober and subdued but tasteful. Try to imagine walking or
sitting around the office discussing work. Smiles will be small and
laughter will be minimal but it isn't a serious situation. We like to
Relax relax relax. Drape that leg over the arm of the chair if you're
young. If you're older, drape the arm across the back of the couch and
lean slightly to the side.
If you have a great body and it's tight, go for the bikini shot,
otherwise a full length suit may be more flattering, especially one
that shapes the body. If you're in a bikini for goodness sake remember
that you're on the beach having fun, arms and legs all over the place.
Police mug shots in swimsuits are not very interesting no matter how
good you look.
A lot of lingerie is more concealing than a bikini but models are often
self-conscious in their undies. Make sure the temperature of the studio
is warm enough for comfort, and make sure the model feels comfortable.
It's rarely a good idea to start the session with lingerie shots,
especially if you've never worked with the model before. Mind you, if
the model is not comfortable in lingerie, why are you shooting
lingerie? The only reason I can think of is if she's paying you to
shoot it, then she can be as nervous as she wants.
Modern "glamour" shots aren't the same as those of the 40s. Think pinup
rather than high fashion. Glamour shots emphasize the chest and hips,
the curves of the body. The model should, according to modern tastes,
look directly at the camera. Posing with the arms up in the hair, chest
out, legs crossed suggestively and looking up and away will give the
shot an old fashioned feel.
Fine art and nude work is more similar to posing for painting than it
is to photography. Conventions will shift a bit and the poses will
become more conservative as the model is asked to hold them for longer
periods of time. As a model working in this field you should think
about how you fit into the artwork rather than try to put your
personality forward. You are part of the creation of a piece of art
rather than the subject of that artwork.
Let's face it, once you're away from "glamour" and into "art" the model
becomes less a person and more a prop to reflect light.
Fine art nude
Posing for fine art nudes is difficult. The lighting tends to be very
directional and the image is much more about light, shadow and form
than it is about the excitement of the body in action. Poses are long
and require minute changes in position to catch light from this or that
On the other hand, wardrobe and makeup are rarely a problem.
Fashion Model Shots
A special note here in case you are going for shots for a model to take
to an agency for a look-see. Go back to the bikini and take four mug
shots. Front, sides and back. That's it. The agency will see the smiles
and how the model moves, what they need (and by the way they will
usually have a t-shirt, a blank wall and a digital camera to take their
own mug shots) is a record of the model's body.
For Pale Skin
Pale skin will "blow out" easily with high contrast lighting, use a
more even, lower-contrast lighting setup.
For Bald Men
Lower the camera position so you aren't shooting down onto the bald
spot. Sidelight from the model's eye level rather than use a hair light
Dark or light hair
If the model's hair is a different colour than the background beware of
stray bits that will allow the background to show through, this will
make the hair look messy or thin.
Round or Fat Faces
Shooting straight on gives the face it's widest look. Shoot 3/4 and
light the face from the side away from the camera (short lighting) this
will put the cheek facing the camera into shadow and further narrow the
face. Most people have narrower chins than foreheads so shooting from a
lower position may also help thin the face. Some people have very
square jaws, these too benefit from 3/4 shots.
Shoot straight on and broaden the light.
Marks on the face
Wrinkles, scars, prominant pores and acne all benefit from a softer
more even light. Concealer can help a lot to fill in problem areas, and
the use of shadow can hide some scars. Of course it's also quite
tempting to work on these problems digitally as well but the more you
do in the studio, the less time you spend at the computer later.
Ears that stick out can be treated like a round face, by shooting 3/4
or profile. They can also be hidden by the hair or put into shadow.
Different sized eyes
This is often addressed by putting the smaller eye forward, letting the
natural tendancy for closer things to look bigger in the camera even
out the size. This effect will be greater with wider angle lenses since
they allow you to move closer to the subject, exaggerating the apparent
size differences. On the other hand, you may want to pose the larger
eye forward to take advantage of the preference for big eyes humans
show. In this case you can throw the smaller eye into shadow.
For people with prominent eyebrow ridges or deep set eyes, get some
light into them by having the model look up, look into the light, or
using a reflector or fill light from a low angle.
If a nose is big, you can minimize it by aiming it straight at the
camera. It may also help to tilt it upward. Most people have a nose
that's bent to one side or the other, use this to make the nose smaller
by doing 3/4 shots from the side toward which it bends. A large nose
can also be minimized by using a longer lens and backing away from the
model. On the other hand a small nose is made bigger by shooting it
from the side or shooting the profile away from the bend.
Double chins can be minimized by stretching the neck upward and forward
and leaning the head toward the camera. Shooting from a higher angle
will also minimize the neck.
Glasses and jewlery
Check the lights to make sure you're not getting reflections from shiny
objects that will distract from the photo.
Pose them in relation to each other, either looking at each other or
both looking the same way. Bring them close together with lots of space
around them for an intimate feeling. The more space between them the
closer to divorce.
If you're shooting a group, it's "a group" so arrange the models in
such a way that there's some sort of connection between them. Have them
physically touch or visually overlap each other. Watch for people on
the end who've been "cast out" and cut off from the group.
Remember those school pictures? Try not to arrange people according to
height, let the differing head heights cluster into sub-groups to
create some interest.
It's a good idea to try and get everyone wearing clothing that blends,
perhaps ask the group to all wear light tops with dark pants. If
someone shows up in hot pink and everyone else is in white, you'd
better put the hot pink in the middle of the group, no wait, 1/3 of the
way from one end.
Final comments and Assignment:
Having a hard time remembering all that? Don't worry about it. Your job
now is to find seven people to pose for you near a bright north facing
window (no direct sun). Shoot with your camera set on automatic, no
flash. Stand well back and zoom in, stay to one side of the window,
don't shoot directly at it. We're working on posing today, not camera
technique so concentrate on the model, in fact, if you've got a tripod,
set it up and use it to keep your feet from wandering away from your
Look at your models hard, try to find a way to make them look as good
as possible. You'll spot the flaws, it's your job to find the
solutions. You can try asking them to "look around the room", to move
their gaze from one place to another until you get shots from all
angles. Now move out for 3/4 and full body shots, have them stand and
look out the window, into the room etc. etc. and don't forget to give
them a chair to lounge around in. Set the camera around head height or
a bit lower in every situation, again we're not looking to replicate
the internet lollypop head stock shot. (Wide angle, shoot from two
steps up a ladder down onto their heads as they look up).
Check your photos afterward and see what you like. Simple as that. Now
do it again and concentrate on the poses and angles you like best, see
if you can replicate the look you want to see.
|Jan 15, 2012
|The Three P-Words
The Painter sees
A heavenly glow
in the clouds
above the church spire
The Photographer sees
The dirty frozen slush
in front of the muffler shop
in front of the church
promising another miserable day
And I suppose the Philosopher
notices the difference between them.
Me, I noticed the utility lines as soon as I brought this shot up on
the monitor. Sometimes you gotta look at it to see it.
|Jan 10, 2012
|Workshop IV: Subject
Indeed, subject does matter. What is it that you are going to
photograph? If you've got something in mind that's great. Go shoot it
now, and shoot it a lot.
For those who aren't sure, but you know you want to shoot something,
lets think a bit about photography genre and see where that takes us.
Here's a couple of articles you might want to check out as we start
How do we classify photography? I can think of different classes of
painting, the first that comes to mind is painting vs illustration. One
being art and the other advertising I suppose. One you learn at
University and one at College?
Can I list any pairs for photography?
What's Amateur vs Professional? Actually I don't know beyond "don't get
paid" and "get paid". A lot of discussion has been had over the years
which assumes "professional" means some kind of seriousness but let's
face it, we could as easily say that "professional" means "turn the
crank" and point to companies that take school photos. You don't get
much more professional than that, or much less "serious" if you're
talking "art". Enough with the quotes, let's move on.
- Amateur vs Professional
- Snapshots vs Photographs (amateur vs professional one
- Digital vs Film (really? still?)
- Commercial vs Art
- Pictorial vs Straight
- People vs Stuff (not people)
Snapshot vs Photograph? Again there's a seriousness factor usually
assumed here. If we're going to use this pair of words, I'd prefer we
talk about something shot quickly, "from the hip" as compared to
something set up and more deliberately created. Think of wet-plate 8x10
photography and the roll-film fast capture images made possible by Mr.
Eastman and his box brownie. Slow vs fast, complicated and technical vs
Mom can take it. Is Julia Margaret Cameron's shot of Tennyson (a
Photograph) better, more serious, more important than a snapshot of the
first grandchild in her first hour out in the fresh air? Depends more
on who's looking than on how the shot was made I think.
Digital vs Film? Huge difference here, but not in the end result, not
artistically and not having that discussion here now. As a photographer
you should use whatever you want to use and not fetishize your
Commercial vs Art: Do you want to take photographs for a client or for
yourself? This is the assumption here, it's the equivalent to
illustration vs painting (art). Of course it's as mucky a split as any
other, great artists get commissions, commercial artists do work that
is expressive of their own thoughts, desires and wishes to contribute
to the cultural discussion of the society. But your question here is
your primary reason for photographing, to make money or to make the
Pictorial vs Straight: This is an old split, you have read about it a
bit in the articles listed above. Today I suppose the argument is
"photoshopped" vs "in the camera". I would say I'm a bit in the
straight category (don't do much post production at all) but I do a lot
of abstract work with the camera itself and with lights that makes no
attempt to record "the real world" so...
People vs Stuff: Portrait vs landscape/still life/macro/animal/ etc. Of
course "stuff" can be subdivided forever.
Head online to any forum or blog on photography you hang out in and
find us some more pairs for our list.
Some Major classifications and their sub-classifications (more or less
Maybe stock should be in commercial photography, but it's my list and I
figure more stock is used in ads than in newspaper articles. The rest
is pretty clear, these are photographs of stuff to sell, or of happy
smiling people who have just bought the stuff we're selling.
- businessmen jumping in the air with their briefcases
- people sneezing
- other stuff arond the house
- Low Ad (Junk Mail)
- High Ad (Magazines)
- Lifestyle (see stock)
- Catalogue (see the new sofa for your living-room)
Studio Photography (the local guys... the ones making a living)
- Fashion and Beauty (makeup)
- Architectural and industrial
- Annual Reports and Business Portraits
- Model Portfolio
- US Landscape (Yosemite National Park, see snow-capped peak)
- European Landscape (Typology, see 23 shots of water towers)
- Street (snapshots of folks on the street being interesting)
- Glamour (come hither looks and covered genitals)
- Fine Art (go away looks and who cares, we were all born
- Abstract (what is that?)
- Fetish (oh, how did I get tangled up in all this rope?)
- Porn (you know it when you see it)
- Portrait (see below)
- Clique (friends doing naughty things)
- Social Documentary (the homeless and other strangers
being cold, hungry and dirty)
- Gothic and Alternative (corsets and fake blood,
tattoos and piercings.)
- Gimmick Photography (tool fetish)
- Polaroid (shoot anything, desaturate and add a yellow
- Toy camera (see polaroid, make sure edges are extra
- Shift-Tilt focus (hey this boring city-scape looks like a
toy model now)
- Giant (wow that thing's wall-sized)
- Megapixel (wow I can walk right up to that wall-sized
photo and see little people)
- Beautiful photography (stuff your mom likes)
- Feedback Photography (Flickr and the
other modern camera clubs)
- Anti-photography (people dead center in the shot,
every-house on any-street)
Cute Animal Photography (yes it deserves a major classification all to
itself simply on volume and popularity)
- Music (cameras smuggled into a concert)
- Citizen (anyone with a cell phone when things happen)
- Self-reporting (Facebook)
Classes of Portrait Photography
Look admit it, you either isolate the face or you stick them in
whatever background you assume defines them, it's as simple as that.
Neither method has any chance of telling you who they are, or who you
- Environmental portrait: You put the chemist into a lab coat
them an erlenmeyer flask of coloured liquid to hold.
- Sports portrait: That's an environmental portrait with a
- Candid portrait: Otherwise known as a snapshot?
- Posed portrait: Not a snapshot because the subject is now
posing for the camera.
- Black and white character portrait: You take their cigar
away while they're posing and they scowl
- Couple portrait: Two people in the shot, usually they're
- Group portrait: More than two people in the shot, either
lined up with their baseball bats or cleverly assorted into small
groupings on ladders and planks.
- Big Portrait: You get the old 24" Polaroid camera out and
their pimply face on a white background.
- Big Face: Get too damned close with the big Polaroid and
get outrageous... then slam on that unsharp mask.
- The Avedon... hell this is the same as 8 and 9.
And neither needs to. We're human beings, we like looking at faces in
all their glorious variations.
While we're on the subject of lists:
The Good Photograph
It's time to finally reveal what makes a good photograph. This is what
I have learned on the net and from various magazines over the last
couple of years.
- It has to be straight from the camera
- It has to be uncropped
- It has to be sharp
- It has to be full depth of field
- It has to be Black and White
- It has to have a straight horizon line
- It has to be at the one and only correct f stop on the lens
- That lens has to have good bokeh even though nothing is out
- It has to be a prime lens
- It has to be on a Leica rangefinder
- It has to be taken with a full frame sensor
- That sensor has to be film
- Preferably 8x10 film
- It has to be printed with pigment inks on archival paper
- That's just the proof, the print has to be silver gelatin
- That's just the artist's proof, the actual print has to be
- Contact printed
- Signed in pencil
- It has to have a stamp that says it's untampered with
- Except for all the usual darkroom things we always did
- It has to be big, like wall sized
- And red
- And mounted on a light box
- It has to use a movie set worth of lights and crew
- It has to be taken in a small town
- It has to feature an empty parking lot
- It has to have garbage over there in the corner
- It has to be taken at night
- No kittens
- Or flowers
- Unless your name is Mapplethorpe
- No point and shoot cameras
- Unless your name is Teller
- Or Richardson (the young one)
- All studio shots must have a minimum of 5 lights
- Main and fill light ratio is 1:1
- And white seamless
- Unless it's an avant guard edgy editorial for a European
mag, and then use grey
- All shots of people must include the whole person, no cut
off fingers or feet
- All shots of women have to include lingerie, a hat and a
- With flat lighting and white seamless
- All landscape pictures have to look like....
- You know what, we've got "Moonrise Over Hernandez" so
forget it, we're done with landscape photography, thank you for
- Always remember, Shoot in raw, fix in post.
And that's what I know.
Figure out what you want to shoot and go shoot it a lot.
|Jan 9, 2012
|Workshop III: Looking
As part of the workshop series I was going to suggest looking at lots
and lots of photos online. Look for composition clues, for subject
matter you like, for little tricks with light and colour you can use,
and to see what "everybody likes".
While that isn't a bad idea, I often find that looking at too much
photography online makes me numb. It's very difficult to concentrate
when there's millions of images to flash through. We don't want to look
at everything, we want to look at the good stuff. On the net what we
often get is the promoted stuff, the stuff that the search engine
algorithms pick up best.
From 2007: Having spent a lot of
time on photo sharing and comparing websites, I
have looked at a lot of thumbnail shots and I have started wondering
just what that does to one's selective abilities.
By scanning through what are essentially colour contact sheets I
suspect one may find a bias in the shots one chooses to look at more
closely. This bias may even explain in part what images and artists
float to the top of the rankings at those websites.
Does one develop a bias toward headshots, bright colours, strong,
simple geometric shapes and high contrast combined with hyper-sharpened
images? The thing is, I just can't see Jeff Wall,
Edward Burtynsky or Thomas Struth being hits on a
thumbnail-dominated web gallery.
I don't have a lesson here for myself except perhaps to remember
"horses for courses", if you're looking for detail-rich large scale
art, don't look at thumbnail sites.
Better to be a bit selective in what you're looking at I think. To find
new work, I use several blogs, letting someone else sort through the
net for me. To think about art I look at online art blogs, again
letting curators and artists pre-select new work that I should pay
For your purposes, as beginning photographers, you should look to the
masters. Find a few sites that deal with the history of photography and
check out the images. http://masters-of-photography.com/ is a pretty
No matter what you look at, you need to make up your own mind about it.
You'll find text with a lot of these images and you should read it, but
keep a skeptical eye out. There are those who would make this or that
photographer a deity, but none of them are. Of much more importance is
for you to find an iconic image that everyone tells you is great, but
that you don't like much. Look at that one and try to figure out why
you don't like it.
This will tell you a lot about what you want to shoot, and what you
want to accomplish with your work.
From 2009: Look at Other Photos
the usual advice to any beginning photographer, either fine art,
portrait, commercial or fashion. Look at lots of other photographers
and lots of photographs.
Seeing that we swim in a sea of
photographic images I really don't know how one would avoid looking at
lots of photographs, but is it a good thing to do?
If one is a
local baby and high school senior photographer I suppose one should
look at what the local photographers are doing so as to make sure you
live up to the expectations of the local clients. After all if someone
is going to a studio to get one's photo taken, one expects a certain
type of photograph.
Commercial photographers, architectural
photographers, catalogue photographers will also want to check out the
competition to see what is expected in their field. If a magazine never
publishes out of focus black and white images of kitchen appliances, it
would be handy to know that before submitting one's shots of same.
if one is looking for an individual voice, a unique vision, a personal
style or a way to see one's life with a whole new meaning, I'd almost
be tempted to say one should stop looking at other photographs. Someone
else's work is not going to tell you how to be unique or how to have a
new way of looking at things. You can't see something new by looking at
something that has already been done.
Don't even think of
going at it by the process of elimination, by the time you have looked
at every photograph in the world so that you know what hasn't been
done, someone will have done that shot behind your back.
the only reason to look at other photographs, if you want to contribute
something of yourself to the cultural landscape, is to join the
conversation. Look at the great photographs, the admired photographs,
the photographs that the museum curators say are important photographs,
and then add your own comments and criticisms, by way of your own
photographs, to the discussion.
Look at a lot of photographs online and think about why you like or
Please note that I have set up a series of workshops for 2012 so if
you're in the area and want to drop in on them, I'd be delighted to see
my 2012 workshops: 180
|Jan 6, 2012
So now you know how to use your camera. Start to take photographs and
do it until you can forget about how to use the camera. The equipment
is nothing, your eye is everything. By that I mean that as long as
you're fooling around with your camera you are not a photographer,
you're a gizmologist.
Lest you think it's worse now
than "back then" check out A manual of photography By Robert Hunt on Google Books. Written in
1852, it's all chemistry and equipment... but what fun it is to look
through, all the old chemistry, the "real" stuff, not this post-Kodak
easy silver gelatin stuff.
Put that SLR onto P mode, AWB and autoISO, turn on the autofocus and go
shoot. Eventually you're going to find a situation where that stuff
doesn't work. Don't panic, you know where all the bells and whistles
are, you can get the shot you want by playing with the settings.
In the meantime, how are you going to take a good shot of whatever it
is you're going to photograph?
Well they say you have to learn the rules. You'll find rules all over
the net so let's see what we can find today. Off to the search engine!
- Background: Consider the background, make it simple so as
not to detract from the subject, make it complex so as to provide
context for the subject. Pay
attention to it, look at the corners of your viewfinder to see what's
there before taking the shot... and miss the shot.
- Balance: Have more than one focus in your image so that
there is a pleasing counter to your main subject. See Main Subject, Simplicity.
- Colour: Use colour to create emotion, to create a point of
focus in an image. Me, I like black
and white a lot. For about six minutes I liked that black and white
with just one spot of colour in it thing, but now I don't.
- Cropping: Make sure you get rid of everything in the frame
that doesn't need to be there, crop down to your main subject. Nadar forbid you should "crop it in the
camera" because that means that you won't be able to change from 5x7
prints to 8x10. Can't waste all that white space on the print paper can
- Depth: Photographs are 2D so choose a composition that
gives you the feelign of 3D. See
leading lines. Of course if you're doing a proper modern portrait you
want to use a ring flash and a blown out white background so there's no
dimension at all in the face. Dimension means wrinkles.
- Framing: Use the environment to frame the subject, use a
windowframe to frame the view. It
worked for Leonardo in the Mona Lisa, why not for us? Of course we're
assuming that the photograph is not itself a frame.
- Leading Lines: Have lines in the image that lead the
viewer's eye into the photograph. Of
course this implies you aren't going for a simple image or one with a
dominating main subject.
- Main Subject: Have a main subject, think about going in
closer or making your main subject your only object in the frame. See Balance, Rhythm.
- Ratio: Is the subject up and down (use vertical frame) or
side to side (use horizontal frame). Hope
you're not using a square format camera.
- Rhythm: Use several objects in the frame to lead the
viewer's eye around and keep his attention on the image. See main subject, simplicity.
- Simplicity: Don't put too much in an image, keep it simple
so that the viewer doesn't get confused or has to hunt for the meaning
of the image. See rhythm.
- Symmetry and Pattern: Repeating elements in your image will
create interest. And detract from
main subject and crop in and...
- Texture: Use texture in the image to give the viewer a
sense of depth and aliveness in the image. Combined with colour it can get
overwhelming, but it does make some sense in black and white images.
- Thirds: This is the biggie! You should put your horizon one
third from the top or bottom of the frame, and your subject one third
from the side... and best, one third from the top or bottom of the
frame. Thus proving all those
centered portraits that are the de-facto art-gallery fare these days
are simply bad photographs.
- Viewpoint: Get down to kid height to shoot kids, pick an
unusual angle, perhaps up on a cliff to shoot down on a beach. Not everything needs to be taken from six
feet above the ground, you could get a waist high viewfinder and shoot
from the hip instead.
All of the above has been rather cynically commented on in italics but
every one of the rules has its place in your "toolbox of creativity" oh dear
Here's a decent article on Wikipedia
Those were all from the first three items to pop up on my search
engine. You'll find hundreds more.
Also fun is an old camera manual, "shoot with the sun over your
shoulder" and all that. The following is even older than mass-produced
cameras and their manuals, being a selection from the book OF PHOTOGRAPHIC MANIPULATION TREATING OF
THE PRACTICE OF THE ART AND ITS VARIOUS APPLICATIONS TO NATURE by
Lake Price 1858 (Google Books again).
If there is one direction more than another in which we may look for
greater artistic excellence and interest to be imparted to the
photographic picture beside judicious selection and tasteful
arrangement it will be by the process being so much accelerated by
optical and chemical improvements that any dimension and class of
picture may be taken instantaneously nor need we despair of witnessing
this result when we see what progress a few past years have brought
with them to this art.
The benefit to be derived from an instantaneous picture is equally
great for every subject taken from nature by the camera with the
exception of still life and mere geometrical architectural elevations
here as everything is fixed and stationary the smallest possible
apertures and longest desired exposures may be employed and in this
direction we may presume that nothing more is to be expected. But
astonishing as the quality of definition may be that under such
conditions is obtained the result is often cold and mechanical from
want of selection in the point of view and deficiency in qualities of
composition of line and light and shade and therefore not possessing
the interest that the smallest subject taken at the hedge side or on
the sea beach would have.
In 1858 the photographer had head rests amongst their studio equipment,
to keep the sitters motionless for the "30 to 50" seconds needed for
the shots. Price speculated, however, on better chemistry and
"instantaneous" pictures, but as you can see, even here the concern
with composition was foremost in the photographer's mind. We read of
subjects that were "cold and mechanical from want of selection in the
point of view and
deficiency in qualities of composition of line and light and shade".
Please consider that even at the dawn of photography, it was assumed
that photos should be selected and composed rather than being simply
records of whatever was in front of the lens.
Shoot a lot of images trying to use the rules.
The thing to remember these days is that you've got a chimp-magnet
(your review screen) and an unlimited number of shots to use. Go
experiment and find some way to convey your personal vision. The rules
should be like the camera, learned and then forgotten in that search
for "the image".
One more thing, since we are heading toward the nude, I would recommend
reading the following story on 180 magazine.
We will also come back to this story in our introduction to the nude.
|Jan 4, 2012
Listening to a podcast out of England, I heard about a new endeavour to
set up a way of rating the amount a photograph has been digitally
manipulated. The idea is that there is concern about re-touching and
manipulating images on such things as fashion magazines.
Is there a person on this planet that believes what they see in a
fashion magazine image? Is there anyone who does not believe that
fashion models are stretched, squeezed, cleaned up and generally
overhauled before their image hits the major covers?
Celebrities? Are you serious?
One of the folks interviewed was a retoucher and his comment was that
the scale would be just about as useful as measuring the length of
cigarette smoke and trying to determine the health impact that way.
Creating a manipulation scale is a grand instance of finding a cure and
hunting for a disease. Something that is more common than one might
think these days. We, as a species, are not gullible, we like seeing
perfect people with perfect teeth, but we are not at risk of believing
these people actually look like that, any more than we believe that
politicians have our best interests at heart. I saw a photo of a US
politician and thought "he looks like a reasonable guy", but of course
I have absolutely no reason to believe that from his face, and my very
next thought was just that.
To put a manipulation scale on advertising, or even on news images,
would be just another piece of information clutter to ignore. The news
is biased, and advertising is a carnival barker shouting at us to come
see the Egress. To put this scale into practice would be to pretend
Better, I think, to teach the kids to edit photos and assume "Joe
Average" is as smart as the folks who want to save him from himself.
|Jan 4, 2012
you think you are searching for something by taking so many pictures of
yourself? Especially by objectifying yourself nude... why are you so
comfortable with that? Do you think by controlling the poses in the
images you are trying to regain control over your sexuality? Are you
looking for empowerment?
This is a question asked of a female nude model somewhere
on the net. It's the entire question so it's in context but it is still
rather unclear to me. Let's examine the assumptions to see if we can
understand the question.
First the key phrase "Especially by
objectifying yourself nude..." This obviously assumes that if
one is nude in a photograph one is objectified.
Objectification is to make an abstract concept into something concrete.
With regard to humans, I suppose it's meant that we make humans into an
object. Is it the nudity or the taking of photographs that makes this
human into an object? The latter I suspect, being with or without
clothing does nothing to our "thingness" unless being in a shower turns
us into something unhuman. On the other hand, perhaps this model being
without clothing makes the questioner consider the model as a thing.
After all, they say that clothes make the man. If a naked model makes
the questioner consider her an object, the questioning ought, rightly,
be aimed back toward the questioner shouldn't it? It's not the model
turning herself into an object, it's the viewer.
I see there is also a "sexual objectification" which said to be the
treating of someone else as a sexual object. Again, the objectification
is happening from the viewer toward the model. I cannot see how a model
can turn herself into a sexual object (to herself) by taking her
clothes off. The feeling of that cool breeze on bare skin? But again,
how does one treat oneself as a sexual object? One has sex with
oneself. Who is the object and who the one using that object for
selfish orgasmic pleasure?
So we come to the taking of a photograph as the possible objectifying
act. A photograph is an object, but the photograph is not the model, we
have known this since 1929 when Rene Magritte created "The Treachery of
Images" and wrote "this is not a pipe" (actually it was "Ceci n'est pas une pipe"). The model is not objectifying
herself by taking a photograph of herself nude, she is creating an
object, a photograph of herself nude. In this sense then, the question
shows a simple confusion between the photographic object and the model.
Thinking further, a human IS an object. We are not an abstract concept,
we are here, objects in the world, we cannot make or unmake our
object-hood. We can, the argument goes, treat other people as "objects"
but we must do that or we will bump our head against someone else's
head the next time we walk down the sidewalk. It is not the act of
treating others as objects that is the problem, it is treating them as
something undeserving of respect, of being something without volition
or consciousness. Can our model treat herself as something without
respect by taking photographs of herself with no clothing on? This
seems to be what the questioner is saying. He speaks for her
motivations, her capability to do such a thing, he makes assumptions.
Unfortunately, we again come back to the questioner rather than the
model. By assuming he understands the model he has robbed her of
respect, and ignores her consciousness and her ability to interpret her
world for herself. He objectifies her.
So we can move on to "why are
you so comfortable with that?" Whose comfort should we be
questioning? The model is obviously comfortable with taking the photos,
the question is again, self-referential, why is the questioner not
comfortable with her taking naked photographs of herself and posting
I think the rest of the original question can also be turned toward the
questioner, the assumptions behind the question have exposed feelings
of objectification and powerlessness projected upon the model.
Why is the questioner asking this question? Is he religious? (Does his
god say nakedness is wrong?) Is he uncomfortable with nakedness? Does
he feel powerless without his power-suit? Or is it that he simply can't
get past the sexual objectification of any woman who is nude.
A course of de-sensitization is probably called for, a good long bout
of looking carefully at nude imagery until he starts to see the human
behind the skin.
|Jan 1, 2011
|Best Wishes for the
You'll find the January issue of 180 online now, a little reading while
you're waiting for the photo-mat to open. I hope everyone gets their
eyes in gear for the new season. It looks like we've got some rain
coming down here today but the winter season can't hold off much
longer. Remember to over-expose that snow a couple of stops.
|Jan 1, 2012