Category Archives: Things to try

Things that photographers can try out and enjoy.

Creative slump? Just cannot get going? Try thinking inside the box!

Creative slump? It is easy to get into one…

Often, as photographers, we seem to lapse into a state of almost mindless snapping. For some reason we simply cannot get into a productive frame of mind. Creative thoughts just do not surface.

In A Creative Slump? Get out of it by thinking "Inside" the box!

In A Creative Slump? Get out of it by thinking “Inside” the box!
Image taken from the video – see below.

Photography is no different to any other creative activity. To break the Creative Slump mind-set, you need to find a technique that gets you out of it. There are three things that I sometimes find helps me to get more creative. They are simple…

  • Get more sleep!
  • Start a new project;
  • Work with someone else on something.

Of course these do not always work. Sometimes it is just easier to vegetate. The problem with that is, you may never get out of the slump. It is better to have some active way to refocus and get out of the creative slump.

Trick your mind into being creative

The video helps you to get into a new way of thinking. It reviews a time-honoured way of describing creative potential. However, it changes the way you approach the actual problem of lack of creativity. A very simple idea. But, WOW, so powerful. So, do watch this video. Then next time you feel a Creative Slump coming on, use this technique.


Uploaded by TED Talks In a creative slump? Trick your mind into being creative - Video. | External link - opens new tab/page – an excellent resource for self-developers, thinkers and innovators.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

Directing and Posing: Do you know the relationship?

Directing and posing seem to be two opposite ends of the photographic spectrum. Yet, they share a very close relationship. Successful images usually break the barriers because of both directing and posing. At least, more so than the rest of the day-to-day fluff that floats on the photographic wind.

In successful images directing and posing must share an intimate relationship.

In successful images directing and posing must share an intimate relationship.
Image taken from the video below.

Directing and posing – the meanings

It is interesting that the meaning of posing rests more on misrepresentation than action. Here is what I mean…

Posing; posed; verb – to pose…

  1. To assume a particular attitude or stance, especially with the hope of impressing others: “He likes to pose as an authority on literature”.
  2. Presenting oneself insincerely: He seems to be posing in all his behavior.
  3. To assume or hold a physical attitude, as for an artistic purpose: to pose for a painter.

Dictionary.com :: Seen: 03/10/2018

These definitions of posing are mostly about how the subject represents themselves.

On the other hand, directing is more about the power behind the action…

Directing; verb – To direct.

  1. To manage or guide by advice, helpful information, instruction, etc.: He directed the company through a difficult time.
  2. Regulating the course of; control: History is directed by a small number of great men and women.
  3. To administer; manage; supervise: She directs the affairs of the estate.

https://www.dictionary.com/ :: Seen: 03/10/2018

In this definition we are in no doubt where the driving force comes from.

So, is the rift between these terms a real one for a photographer? Yes! And, the division often separates the successful photographer from the rest.

A common mistake…

When I teach portraiture classes, the most obvious gap in knowledge is not about the photography. It is about the connection between the people involved. Amateur photographers, and some professionals, rely on the subject to come up with the posing strategy. They take the passive and weak attitude that the posing person knows how to present themselves for the photo the photographer has in mind. This approach leaves the directing in the hands of the subject of the portrait. Worse, the subject is posing to meet your goals, but they probably don’t know what they are! Regardless, the subject is probably the least qualified person to steer the outcome of the photograph. So, do not let your subject misrepresent your vision of the image.

Have a goal before you start

It pays to have at least an idea of what you want to photograph. Too many photogs put themselves in front of a subject (person or object) and hope that they have the right photographic technique to capture it. Success relies mostly on luck with this approach.

On the other hand, the stronger approach is with the photographer that has a concept to depict. They research it and set it up. Success becomes a matter of visualisation and fulfillment. There are two steps there that the passive photog misses. First, they don’t do any visualisation and research before starting. Secondly, they just react to the scene, not direct it or manage it to ensure photographic success.

why do photographers often fail to direct?

In short, I think there are several reasons…
• Practice: The successful photographer has had enough practice to know that the passive point-and-shoot method is too haphazard and error-prone. The passive photog does not drive for a result.
• Fright: Most self-taught and developing photographers have not learned to direct and, so, do not recognise its value. They are frightened to “take control” of someone else (the subject). Directing requires them to drive for the result and be the instigator of the outcome. This is an extrovert approach. However, it is a big step to take for the unpracticed – or at least they think so. Actually, it is the path to success.
• Lack of knowledge: The reluctant, passive photog is an example of a great educational irony. They think they should not do it because they don’t know how to go about it. However, they won’t even begin to know about it unless they experience it. In fact, the way to get past the problem is to simply push past it – have a go! Just do it! You will learn by your mistakes and feedback.

Directing and posing have a dynamic connection

To step outside of the meanings quoted above, we should be more bullish, more participatory, more inclusive, more descriptive. Directing drives the subject and the poses. However, it is only through co-operation and joint understanding can the posing be effective. Success depends on you, the photographer, breaching the divide between the traditional meanings of directing and posing.

Directing is an extrovert activity. That does not necessarily mean that its for bullies. Instead, to succeed, we need to grasp the bull by the horns. To direct is to articulate an outcome. Make it clear that the poses you work with are the ones that fit the goal you are trying to achieve. Work with the sitter to jointly get the posing outcome that will make the best shot.

Directing and posing flows from participation and inclusion

Be more participatory. As photographers we need to interact with our subject – not just react to them. Talk to them, know them, live a part of their lives for a few minutes. Listen to them, but know what you want to achieve. Then work with your subject bringing out the advantages they have just told you about. The best poses are those that show the character of the person. They have the character, you do the interpretation through your direction. Directing and posing come together through the cooperation and participation of both photographer and subject.

Be more inclusive. Once we are involved and communicating with our sitter or subject we can cooperate with them to achieve our goal. That is the previsualised goal we set ourselves before the shoot. Often what we want out of the shoot is a reflection of what your subject wants too. Include them in your vision. They will understand and perform the pose better if they are included in the discussion leading to it.

You will not succeed in a shoot where you alienate, annoy, ignore or destroy your subject. Generally, your shoot stands a greater chance of success when you view the whole process as one of teamwork between the photographer and the person you are framing.

Directing and posing – the moral of the story

Be the driving force. See the goals, articulate your vision. Always bring your subject along with you. The dynamic connection between you will enable you to bring out the character of your sitter, open up the subject and pick the best approach possible.

From feedback, I have found that learning to engage through directing and posing gives students a big boost in their development. If my students come away from a portraiture session thinking, “I must try directing, I must try directing!”, then I know they will be on the way to making great images. Remember, not all your shots will be a success. Nevertheless, you stand more of a chance of some good hits if you push for what you want to achieve but also involve your subject.

A quick video

Directing and posing often does need a degree of knowledge and understanding or practice and experience on the part of the director. In this video short, you can see some of the issues that the photographer has considered prior to the shoot. The lines and captions show the previsualisation in the shot. The photog works with the subject to produce an outcome that is both unique and empathizes with the character of the subject. It is a quick video, but worth thinking about on several levels. While watching, think of the directing aspect, the posing aspect and the actual poses that are being struck.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

Seven Easy Photography Tips With Simple Props

Simple props  Seven DIY Photography Tips Using Household Objects | External link - opens new tab/page

Seven DIY Photography Tips Using Household Objects
(Image from the video)

Use your imagination

You are a photographer right? Then your imagination must be one of your key assets. So don’t just use it with your shots, use it to find simple props too. Think about how you can make your shot better without buying new expensive stuff. Go DIY. Just look around your home for inspiration. Here are some tips to get you started.

Simple Props – just look around you

When we are working on our shots we often think only of the difficult shot, the ‘different’ viewpoint, or the unique perspective. With all aspects of our photography we try to bring something different to the shot. Something to make our viewers think. Something to give them a new insight.

Often ordinary things in our lives inspire a new way of looking at things. In each of our houses are many things we can deploy as simple props in our everyday photography. The video below shows us some of those things and how to shoot with them. But it is not too much of a push for us to look at other household objects as inspiring for our shots. Here is a list of the sorts of things that can help you get started on some new ideas…

  • A pile of books
  • Kitchen tools
  • A candle
  • Chess board and pieces (or other game)
  • A toy
  • Drawing pins (or any stationary)
  • Cut glass ornaments

With a little imagination you use simple props to make some extraordinary shots. I am sure you have many such items you can use for your shots.

The key to using simple props…

There is nothing extraordinary about the simple props I have listed. What will make your shots different is how you use these things. You can start very easily. Get some ideas together first as inspiration. Try these links. The phrase in quotes was entered into the search engine:

Personally I find stationary is great for photography. It definitely provides simple props to work with. Here is an example of my own…

Simple props  Bulldog clip - When you are different, make sure you stand out! | External link - opens new tab/page

Bulldog clip – When you are different, make sure you stand out!
[Click the image to see it full size on http://365project.org/

Spend a little time playing with the phrase you put into the search engine. You will quickly expand the range of images you get as examples. Draw your ideas from the pictures you see. Then set about working on how you are going to use your simple props as you make your image.

7 DIY Photography Tips Using Household Objects – the video


Uploaded by: COOPH

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Using tablets in photography

[Todays article comes from contributing author, Honest Blossom]

Photo of a camera taken with a tablet as a light source.

Taking shots in soft light is so easy with a soft light source. A tablet can provide just that.
{Image by Damon Guy}

Mobile devices give us new tools

Mobile photography is on the rise. Yet despite high usage of smart phones and tablets many believe nothing beats photos produced on a DSLR.

Mobile devices do have a place in the photogs bag. Many pros use mobiles Tablets in photography | External link - opens new tab/page effectively. Photographer-author Anne Hamersky used her iPhone 5 to take photos for her book, “Farm Together Now Tablets in photography: Link to Amazon | External link - opens new tab/page (jointly authored with Amy Franceschini and Daniel Tucker)”.

Apart from being used as cameras, smart phones and tablets in photography have huge potential. They can assist with simple lighting, easy viewing of images, and controlling cameras.

1. Simple Lighting

You don’t need professional lighting equipment to create a soft light. Your tablet can create shadow graduations on your subject. How? Use a bright-white image on your screen (Download white-screen image here). Point the display toward your subject. It will create soft light and shadows. You can also use your smart phone to light smaller objects. The screen illumination produces white light. It’s a source of localized soft light in your image.

Table-top studio photo showing how to use a tablet as a soft light source.

The camera image at the top of this article was taken using the table-top studio set up in this image. Simple to do and simple to set up.

Use tablets in photography to create direct light too. Devices with built-in flash can be used as a photographic light. Use a flashlight (torch) app. There are also some LED light apps. that you can use on your tablet to create coloured light sources.

2. Camera Controller

Want to control your camera functions via your tablet? Try the Chainfire app for Android devices. You can use your tablet as a Canon EOS camera controller. Here is how to do it:

  1. Install the Chainfire app Tablets in photography: Chainfire app. | External link - opens new tab/page.
  2. Connect your DSLR to the tablet via a USB OTG connector line and a mini USB cable for the camera. {Tip: It’s best to get a longer USB cable}.
  3. Turn on the camera and the app to view the subject.

Navigating through the app is easy, as it uses the controls of your camera. Photos taken using the camera can also be saved to the memory card of the tablet. I suggest downloading photos to your computer later. Photos take a lot of space and are safer on a PC.

View a guide on how to use the Chainfire app Tablets in photography: Chainfire app guide. | External link - opens new tab/page. Also read more details on the Chainfire website Tablets in photography: Chainfire website | External link - opens new tab/page.

3. Field or Preview monitor

It’s advisable to opt for a tablet with at least a 9-inch display. The main purpose of using a tablet is as an extended monitor. You will get a better preview of the subject than the small display on your DSLR. According to O2, tablets such as the Apple’s iPad Air (9.7-inch screen) and ‘Samsung Galaxy Tab S’ (10.5-inch screen) are the best preview monitors you can use on a photo shoot Tablets in photography | External link - opens new tab/page. They allow more space to view and work with the images. You are less likely to strain your eyes with decent sized screens.

Using tablets in photography to control the camera uses the same procedure as any shoot. Taking the shot is set up and released from the mobile. You will need a USB OTG connector to use the tablet as a preview monitor. Applications such as the DSLR Controller, GoPro, CamCap, Helicon Remote, and DslrDashboard are the advisable software to use.

Tablets in photography – top devices

What are the top tablets for photographers? There are various devices to choose from. They offer many features and functions. Choosing one can be quite confusing when picking the best to help your shoots.

To make it easier, consider the other reasons you’re buying the tablet. Email and editing photos or other uses are also important. This will help narrow down your list of choices, as most devices have their own strengths. It will also help to opt for a tablet that has been recommended by other photographers. Here are some examples:

  1. Apple iPad with Retina Display
  2. Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
  3. Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet
  4. Microsoft Surface 2
  5. Lenovo Yoga Tab

Mobile devices have found their way into DSLR photography because of powerful camera lenses and relevant apps. These assist professional and amateur alike. The changes have come about because using tablets in photography helps and simplifies our work.

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Contributing author: Honest Blossom

Honest Blossom is a seasoned blogger and practising photographer from the UK. She has written various articles ranging from the latest technology and innovation, travelling spots, mobile and digital photography and more.

Backdrops – make them yourself

Create your own backdrops.

Here is a quick and simple way to create a great backdrop. You can produce your own great designs with a little creativity.
Image from the video below.

The shots and the props can be creative

Great backdrops often make a picture. The simple ones are the best. They do not pull the viewers eye from the subject of the shot. Instead they focus your viewer on your subject. A backdrop should create an environment for the shot that both completes the scene and brings out the best in the subject.

Photography is creative and the backdrops should be too

There are a million creative things you can do with your pictures. Making backdrops can be equally as creative. In addition they add a new spin and level of creativity to your shots.

You can make backdrops out of wood, canvas, sheets, paper, metal… well millions of things. Be careful they are not too heavy. If they fall and hit someone they might be injured. Don’t make backdrops too flimsy. They might fall apart during the shoot. Apart from that the sky is the limit!

Here are some ideas I have seen used to good effect.

  • Autumnal leaves densely stuck to an old sheet.
  • Spaghetti stuck to an old sheet.
  • Chinese lettering enlarged in a copier and stuck on white wall paper liner.
  • Wallpaper of many designs.
  • Hundreds of pieces of string hanging down.
  • Dozens of electric lights hanging down.
  • Hundreds of Wooden scraps nailed to five planks in a random fashion.
  • White back drop paper with lightly pencilled circles drawn all over it.
  • A white sheet “tie and dyed” with various patterns.

I am sure you can think of many more creative ways to enhance your shoot with DIY backdrops. Just take a little time to think over what you need for your shoot.

Here is a Google search for “Creative backdrops images“. Plenty of ideas there to stimulate your thinking!

Some simple principles for good backdrops

Some backdrops are simply not right for the shot. Of course there are those artists who seem to make anything work. For those of us who need a little guidance, here are some principles to help you design your backdrop:

  • Do not make the backdrop stronger or brighter than the subject.
  • Choose colours that bring out the colours in your subject.
  • Use colours and designs that almost fade into obscurity allowing the subject to blossom.
  • Allow your backdrops to complement the subject – not clash with it.
  • Use texture, tonality and hue to vary the background so it appears to be slightly 3D.
  • Be careful that patterns do not emerge unless they are deliberate.

These are not rules. They are guidelines to get you started. Of course as your skill as a photographer and backdrop-maker develop you can make or break these principles. Have fun. Make great shots!

How to make your own studio photography backdrop – video

In the video below there is a quick and simple method of setting up a canvas backdrop. It can be done in a few hours. If you don’t have much space you can make it out of doors. Enjoy this video short and let it help your mind be creative.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Exposure changes the mood of your image

Exposure changes can affect many aspects of an image.

Exposure changes can affect many aspects of an image. Colour, mood, visual impact, contrast and others. The second image below show the differences.
Image better seen large. Click image to view large.

There is no such thing as a perfect exposure

The main goal of starter photographers is to control the exposure. The Exposure Triangle, or other models of balancing light, lead learners to pursue ‘perfection’. Once they grasp the concept of balancing ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed, the needle in the camera viewfinder is their guide.

In manual mode, that central needle is important. It shows that the three elements are balanced. The unwary learner is soon overwhelmed by that needle. They have learned how to keep it central. Now they are going to keep it there despite everything. They have learned that, if the exposure changes, the needle drifts off the middle position. When that happens it is no longer “perfect”.

That mid-position needle is useful. However, it is not ‘perfection’. It is just a guide. Modern camera manufacturers have made things easy for the camera user. The technology, sensors and controls on a modern camera mislead the unwary into a false position. Complex technology and controls give the user confidence that the camera must be right. They assume the central needle creates the perfect capture. That is simply not true.

The balance of light controls the quality of outcome you want. Your final image is created by that quality of light. The creative photographer uses exposure changes to to conjure up the result they want. A good photographer commands the camera to create the picture. The camera does not create the perfect exposure for the user. The user makes exposure changes to create the desired image. Deliberate under or overexposure is an important part of creating your image.

Exposure changes allow you to command the camera

In the image below we see (almost) the same picture as above…

A different quality of exposure changes the whole experience of the picture.

This second image shows same scene as above. But the different quality of exposure changes the experience of the picture. This outcome is no more correct than the top picture. However, when it was taken this one was 1 and 1/3 stops underexposed on the camera viewfinder scale. It was taken within seven seconds of the first image.
Image better seen large. Click image to view large.

Exposure changes allow the user to create the mood of the shot. This is clearly shown by the deeper contrasts, more saturated blues in the sky and reds in the Autumnal leaves. The low sunlight brings out the shadows and colours more. It all adds up. Together they create a very different view of this fountain scene. A twilight feel perhaps.

I was trying to create an Autumn evening view and the deliberate underexposure gave me the key. Yes, I deliberately underexposed to create the effect. I was commanding the camera to create my “perfect” scene for what I wanted.

Experienced photogs make exposure changes regularly

For me, the darker version was right for the reasons I needed that photograph. The control of the intensity of shadows, colours, contrasts, and so on, can be done many ways.

For example, High key shots often use exposure changes. They are created by deliberate overexposure. That brings out the intense whites in a high key image.

Many portraits are lit very brightly to the eye, but a very small aperture or fast shutter speed limits the light entering the camera. This will create an underexposure bringing out the facial features. This gives shadows a depth, without harshness, as can be seen in the next image. This use of exposure changes is a great mood enhancer.

Portrait shot in bright light but underexposed in-camera.

Portrait underexposed in-camera creates a tonally controlled result.

Create the exposure changes you want

How do you create this effect of under or overexposure? Simple. There is a control that can do it in auto or semi-auto modes. While in an auto-mode use the “exposure compensation” dial. You can add or subtract one or two stops of light. You can find out how to use the dial in your manual.

For the learner going fully manual it is even easier. That central needle position is your guide to what the camera calculates as an optimum light level for the shot. To create a manual over or underexposure simply dial the exposure-meter back or forward. Move the needle away from the central position. Shocking I know. You actually create exposure changes by deviating from the central needle position.

Exposure changes of one stop halves or doubles the light entering the camera. So be careful. Take several test shots. Dial one third of a stop or more at a time. Look at the result and check if you have created the right effect.

Create your image in mind – then make exposure changes to suit

The way you want your image is a creative decision. The camera should not be allowed to dictate the outcome.

You have two choices. If you go with the settings the camera gives you, the result is an optimum of the balance of the settings. If you can foresee what you want to achieve, then create your own result. In this case, make the balance of settings so the exposure changes to your choice. Your choice will be different to the result the camera would give you. But with care and practice it will be what you intend for your shot. You have taken control.

So next time you are taking a photo consider this. If you think your picture would be more effective as a darker or lighter representation, then make the exposure changes you need. Do it – create. Really make your images – don’t just capture what is there.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Photography hacks – adapting your equipment

Seven photography hacks :: adapting your equipment

Seven photography hacks

Photography hacks- making something work differently

In most shots our standard equipment does what is required. Yet, the standard shot is not always what we want. Sometimes we want to make some special effort to provide a different effect, a new view. There are many thousands of photography hacks. Each one can give us something different. Some are more radical than others. But what it really comes down to is making our equipment fit our need to get a specific type of outcome.

Regular readers will know that creative work often involves visualisation. Seeing a hoped-for image outcome in your head helps you to have ideas. Such pre-thinking can help you plan how to use or adapt your equipment. To get the desired result you may have to do all sorts of small adaptions. Walk into any working studio and you will see, card, boards, gaffer tape, clamps, flags. They are all there to help jury-rig things into a new way of creating an effect for the shoot.

These photography hacks are the mainstay of studio work and important on location too. You can do lots of simple things to change the light, the colours, the shadows, the effects of light on your lens, and so on. All that is required is to try and think ahead about what you want to achieve. Then, find ways to change your equipment to get the effect. Familiarity with your equipment helps. As you get creative, then other ideas will come to mind. Look around for ways to change things, or to get new effects.

Photography hacks video

In the video, “7 Simple Photography Hacks” you can get an insight into some of the basic ideas. These are a good start for some examples you can develop yourself. Spend a little time thinking about things you have around you. See if some of them could be used in your own photography hacks.
Provided by COOPH Photography hacks video | External link - opens new tab/page

Messy

The “Vaseline” photography hack in the video can be a bit messy. Only do it on a filter, not the lens. And, try to keep any of the “Vaseline” off the rest of the camera. It is difficult to clean up too. So use an old filter.

Another photography hack for you to try

Here is another idea you can use. It is less messy and gives some satisfying results too…

  • Cut a section out of a fine quality pair of ladies tights (psst… make sure they are surplus first!).
  • Pull the piece tight across the end of your lens.
  • Fix it in place by securing it with elastic bands tight enough over the end of the lens to hold it taught.
  • Take your photo through the material of the tights.
  • To vary the effect, you can make a central hole in the material.
  • Try different colours, try different types of tights knit.

This one is a very old photography hack. It used to be used a lot in wedding shoots years ago. It is just as effective today. Have a go. It is fun.

Let us have some of your shots. We would love to put up a few for others to see.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.