Friday, 10 October 2014

Wk 2 - Research Portraiture and Practise shots

Second week in and my portfolio idea seems to be moving along quite nicely.  I have had a few ideas jumping around in my head, but portraits seem to be the main stay.

At this moment i have been working with the idea of taking black and white photos of my subject in front of a black background.  Prior to my one on one meeting with Caryline i was considering a few too many ideas - My genre is editorial, my sub genre being life portraitures.  I was looking at doing:

  • Family portraits
  • Individual portraits
  • Samoan traditional portraits

Caryline's response was "that's ambitious" and yes, it is.  As time is the biggest factor in this equation I have decided to focus on the individual portraits.

The photographer i have been following is Sue Bryce.  She is New Zealander currently live in LA.  She is renowned for her portrait photography and is part of an organisation called Creative Live.  Creative Live is about empowering creative people push their limits.  They provide workshops in photography, video, design, business, audio, music and software training.

As studio photography is such a new thing for me i wanted to look for information regarding how to pose subjects who are curver.  Sue Bryce provides a great tutorial regarding how to take flattering photos of subjects.  I will definitely use some of these techniques when working with my models in the studio.  By using these techniques i know my models will be very interested what the outcomes will be.  My aim as always is to capture the best photos of my subjects.

Here is the video from Sue:
Sue also has a blog which she documented her series of photographing girls with curves.

Before going into the studio i wanted to take some practise shots with my model.  I used natural light and took a variety of different angles to see how the light and shadows sit on her face.  Below is a copy of the contact sheet of our photoshoot.

I did photograph her from different vantage points, using a step ladder to get some high angle shots and crouching lower for the low angle shots.

My model has distinct features.  Her blonde hair and her dark features will translate well in to black and white photos.  The natural light paired with the gold reflected complimented her skin tone by appearing even and warm.  This is great for colour photos but in black and white photos her skin colour becomes a darker shade.  Which may need to be touched up in photoshop, personally i don't want to do too much post production.

Most angles worked for her, it would be a matter of giving directions to push her chin out and neck up to elivate any focus under her neck which is a pain for alot of people.  Sue Bryce spoke about how high angle shots are an old school style of portrait photography which is commonly used.  It's a bit dated and sometimes quite boring.   I guess with the upsurge in the selfie shot its not that big a deal.  Her advice was to photograph the subject just above their eye level.  Just for my own practise, i will incorporated her advice in my photo shoots.  I think it would be a good practise for me not to rely on the high angle shots but to experience producing good shots from all angles.

Nick T response

Nick Tressider or Nick T as he was introduced is a photographer based in Parnell specializing in food photography.  He generously opened his doors to our class to share his insights of photography, colour theory and the secrets of making it in the commercial world.

His body of work is meticulously crafted to present an array of beautifully captured images.  As a new photographer his advice regarding client care and understanding the ins and outs of your equipment is something that i will take away with me.

Here is come advice Nick T shared with us:
  • Know what your offering
    • photography is a saturated market, do your research! look at the current trends and find where you fit in
  •  Touchpoints - How you interact with others
    • Pay attention in how you present yourself - "People judge you from the very moment you put yourself out there!".  Communication is multi-faceted online, electronic mail, telephone conversation, text messages, facebook status...
    • Potential clients could be made in any contact your make with people
  • Be a photographers assistant
    • Number 1 rule if you want to be a commercial photographer - learn from those who are in the industry already
  • Be professional
    •  Keeps your work organised, tidy and well presented
  • Show clients LOVE
    • A satisfied customer is a repeat customer.  If you treat them well, they will be your best advertiser 
  • Visual diaries
    • Keep visual diaries such as pinterest, by revisiting pins you will start to see what your photographic vision maybe
How his advice relates to my photography:
The thing that i will take away from Nick T is valuing your work.   Nick spoke a lot about producing an overall professional experience, from the way that you present yourself to how you hand over the final product to your client.  Regardless of whether they are your friends or a paying client if you put in that little bit extra your body of work and reputation will start to stand out. Since our class trip to Nick T's studio i pay close attention to their requests and ensure that i deliver exactly what they ask for.  When delivering photos to a client recently my colleague and i handed them photos on a CD with a personalised cover.  They loved the photos and the the personal touch.

For my response i was fortunate enough to be asked to take photos for MIT's School of Culinary and Hospitality.  They requested photos of students signature dished to be used for social media promotions and their new menu.  I took these photos with Cecilia.
The equipment used were:
  • Bowen studio light (two flash lights, soft box and reflector umbrella)
  • Reflector
  • Grey card
Brief for the shoot:
  • Five photos of signature dishes for social media promotions and new menu. 
The night we went in, we actually were only doing practice shots.  We requested three dishes (Entree, Main and Desert), however they actually bought out seven dishes.  We ended up giving them 18 photos.  Below are three photos of the food shots that were taken.

The editing process was pretty straight forward for the chosen photos we used the grey card.  This allowed for consistent image exposure and colour.
f/4.0, 1/100, ISO 200

f/4.0, 1/100, ISO 200
f/4.0, 1/100, ISO 200
I was having difficulty with focusing, in the shots above you can see that some areas are in focus and others are soft.  I asked our technician Ralph Brown about this and he told me that I was shooting in single point auto which only focused on one point leaving the rest soft.  Although this was the function i wanted, i was not able to manually position the focus area.  Ralph explained that
i possibly needed to manually change the focus points.  This could be done by pressing the AF button and moving the wheel to the area i wanted to focus on or by selecting MF on the len and manually adjusting the focus.

Digital Technology 2 Wk 2 - Evaluating an image

Evaluating an image - What do i see? How do i read it?
                Click Portraits of New Zealanders
                Reg Graham
About the Author:
Reg Graham is known for his photographs of people involved in the arts.  Graham captures the personalities of over ninety of the influential and compelling artists of the last decade.

His portraits are black and white and have been described as giving the viewer a “fascinating and intimate glimpse into the characters of his subjects”.  His photos are taken in a context that is familiar and important to the subject.  He uses natural light with minimal photographic gear.

                Peter Nicolls, Sculptor
                Taken at Dunedin Polytechnic

What do I see?
  • The subject is sitting on the floor with his legs and arms crossed.  He is wearing a checkered shirt with the colour turned up and pants.
  • The subject is leaning up against a sculptor.  In the background there are realms of paper, planks of wood of different sizes.
  • The room the subject is in looks like a warehouse.  It has a high ceiling which is covered in a silver foil.  There are two windows or light sources in the ceiling.
  • There are wood beams supporting the arched ceiling
  • The photo is in black and white

What camera and compositional techniques have been used?
I am unsure of the precise camera that Reg Graham uses but i know that it was a film camera.

The compositional techniques he uses are:

  • Leading lines: On the sculptor there are three defined lines which is framing the subject as well as leads the eye to the subject.  The ceiling with the arch formation reinforces a circular movement around the photo.  Where the eye can easily move around the photo, drawing focus on to the subject
  • Framing: Sculptor framing the subject, framing of the ceiling also frames the subject.
  • Straight on angle shot with the subject, but also a low angle shot.
  • Contrast which is apparent in the textures on the ceiling, sculptor, shirt, even under his shoes. 
How does this image make me feel?
I feel drawn to the image.  There is a sense of strength, openness or a willingness to share.  I get this from the inclusion of the sculptor.  Although the subject has his arms folded which could represent being guarded.  The semi formal pose – arms crossed, face looks discerning and the expression is soft.  This gives a relaxed impression.  The textures in the photo translates well into black and white and adds depth and interest to photo. 

Ideas the photographer working with?
The photographer wanted to capture the artist in his environment.  He wanted to convey the artists personality noting that he was struck by his "quiet, intense manner".  They did not know each other very well but during the photo shoot, Reg Graham had expressed how easy a subject Peter Nicholls was.  Reg Graham formed a good connection with Peter Nicholls because this he seems very relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera.

From the photographer (Reg Graham)
                “He was an easy subject – relaxed, talkative and helpful.  Peter gives his total attention to you when in conversation and I think this is obvious in the photo I have chosen here.”