Posts made in November 2011

Reproducing the ambiance

November 30, 2011 10:00 am HKT No comments

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I remember once when I showed some of my photos to a new friend he said something like “Why are your photos so dark?” This reminded me of one of my blogs titled “Leaving blank space.” One of the biggest concerns or questions beginning photographers have is “Is it bright enough?” Their words might be different, but their concern is the same; that is, they are worried whether their photos will be bright enough. With today’s technology, that should not be a problem. The problem should be “Is it dark enough?”

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Shown here are some of my “dark” photos. If I had chosen to take a brighter picture, I would not have captured the real look of the scenario; in other words, I would not have reproduced the ambiance as it was. If you want to use the auto mode for this picture, it is not workable. Try to get the reading of the subjects (with the spot meter of your camera) when you want a normal exposure and mark the relevant aperture. You could probably get a photo like the ones shown here. Frankly speaking, if you happen to come across a scenario like the one in Photo 3, you simply have no choice. Just release the shutter using the largest aperture, the slowest shutter speed and the like, because it is literally too dark for a decent photo. Then you may come up with something like the photo here.

Equipment Setup

Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3
Camera Canon EOS 5D 1 1 1
Lens EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM 1 1 1

How to enrich indoor portraits with the props in the setting?

November 28, 2011 10:48 am HKT No comments

Alex found the best package of props and backdrop in a new location and made the best use of them to enrich a series of indoor portraits.

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Window-side photos

November 25, 2011 10:00 am HKT No comments

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Again it is about “tips and techniques” of photography. The photos shown here look very familiar if you browse the Net with the above key words, because one of the related tips you’ll find is to ask your subjects to sit near windows. Some of this advice is for beginning photographers with no prior experience using off-camera flashes. So sitting near windows would help you get photos like these.

You might not be fully satisfied with photos showing your subjects lit in such a high-contrast manner. So you may as well grab something that can work like a reflector to fill in the darker side of his/her face. Of course you could bring along a real reflector, for that matter. Reflectors come in different sizes and colors, but all of them come in white, and the other options are gold and silver, which produce a warm or cool tone.

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You might find it silly when I talk about this kind of product-related topic. But my point is, we should find out what color tone is best suited to our subjects when taking photos like these. Take a look at Photos 1 and 2, and then look at Photos 3 and 4. Although the light source for these photos is ambient light, the tone is different. It is rather cool in Photos 1 and 2, and it is overwhelmingly warm in Photos 3 and 4. Frankly, I took all four of these pictures in the afternoon. What explains the difference in the color tone then? I think it’s because the wood furniture and the light brown wall in the restaurant serve as natural reflectors and give out warm light. And to me, this warm tone is more pleasant compared to the cool color tone. And if you browse the Net again you might as well look at all those female portraits using window light; they are mostly warm in tone. But it is up to you to choose the tone you prefer. Anyway, before you shoot, you can try different white balance modes and pick the one you like.

Equipment Setup

Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3 Photo 4
Camera Canon EOS 5D 1 1 1 1
Lens EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM 1 1 1 1

Leave it to your imagination

November 23, 2011 10:00 am HKT No comments

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You can feel terrified when you’re watching a horror movie, but not necessarily the moment you see the ghosts. It’s about expecting the unexpected. Any image or photo can work in similar ways. You don’t have to see the real thing to make you feel a certain way, because you have expectations that come from your imagination. Do you see what I mean? It’s like when you want to show how beautiful your model is, you don’t have to photograph her as she is. You can come up with an equally great photo if you learn how to hide or conceal certain parts of your subject, to stir up imagination and expectation.

20111123 Leave it to your imagination - 3

Invisible faces

You may come across photos like a model portrait with part of her face not visible, showing only her face from the nose or mouth down (somewhat like the way I photographed the women in Photo 3). This image would look totally different if I had captured them from head to toe, so to speak. But now it’s a different story. To put it simpler, it is a photo about an anonymous talkative passerby on a Sunday afternoon along the busiest street in Shanghai… (Please use your imagination to finish the description).

20111123 Leave it to your imagination - 4

The power of composition

I did roughly the same thing with Photos 2 and 3. With Photo 2, I captured the old man with his back to the camera. This photo literally did not provide enough information for you to tell whether he was enjoying his lunch box or not. But this is exactly what I intended to do: leave the rest to your imagination. With Photo 3, I shot a boy with his back to the camera when he was presumably looking at the pair of women in front of him. No one knows if he is really looking at them, but I wanted to project that idea to the viewer through the way I composed this photo. So this time, I used the skill of composition to trigger your imagination.

Equipment Setup

Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3 Photo 4
Camera Canon EOS 5D 1 1 1 1
Lens EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM 1 1 1 1

Top Five Dos and Don’ts for Portrait Photography

November 21, 2011 10:29 am HKT No comments

See how Alex demonstrates the five Dos and Don’ts for portraiture.

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