It’s About Fun and Story Telling

Well, you know the technic but you don’t know what to shoot, Carmen, a good friend of mine working as a pro photographer told me just to keep doing and make pauses if necessary She said so with other words but at the end of the day, I think that’s what she meant.

Last tuesday, I just thought : I would like to have a picture of my corner, my desk, the spot I spend quite a lot of hours retouching pictures. But honestly, I thought the white walls would be boring to see on the pic. And I made this to a challenge, a self assignment.

To simplify, I use a tripod.

Here is the scene with nothing done :Bildschirmfoto 2016-07-30 um 08.01.27.png

The picture on my screen is one by Joe McNally, so I needed to change that (I was just reading his last article of his blog before I started). This is my desk and my pictures on the wall.

OK, let’s add a splash of light, just to see what’s happening.Bildschirmfoto 2016-07-30 um 08.05.17.png

Not a pleasing picture, but the idea to give some light to some areas is not bad. Let’s play around with the power.Bildschirmfoto 2016-07-30 um 08.08.02.png

OK, I realized I need to gel the strobe (snoot aming at a fourniture, the light hits it and goes back to the wall you see on the picture) and then to play with the power. No measure taken at this point.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-07-30 um 08.10.38.png

It’s dark but that’s ok, it’s not my main light.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-07-30 um 08.12.04.png Time to add another light, orange gelled, just a bare strobe with the gel on it with no modifier. I use quadras heads set on the B ports to get a low output of power.Bildschirmfoto 2016-07-30 um 08.14.35.png

I removed a few items from the desk and I have selected a picture on mine figuring a naked woman with sushis on her body, a shot I did last year.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-07-30 um 08.17.52.png

It’s time to set my main light : a gridded snoot aiming at me with no gel, set at ƒ8. This is the only light I metered. I cropped the shot because I love the 4×3 format and that was it! deal done !

What am I going to do now ?

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Well, not an easy question. Shortly I have been looking back at my work (photo-work) and I notice it’s been a long journey with ups and downs. I remember that day when I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D40x. That day truly changed my life. Since I met my wife after a shooting as I was riding home in the subway.

At the time I was more taking pictures rather than making pictures and that was ok. I was shooting stuff like this one below, trying to catch a moment or a certain emotion. I failed most of the time but, sometimes I got lucky, and I guess this what photographers call the lucky accidents.

sailors

Of course I was overestimating my skills and my “eye”. But it was fun. Life

Unfortunately, most of my shots ended more like this one below, catching a frame – in a not so good way – that has already been shot to death. But you don’t even know that and this ignorance is what pushes you further and further. Now, when I look at these, I have a little smile on my face and I just think it was a step I needed to take to get where I am today. Want a preview?

Karlsplatz 2

:-)

Volksbank

Project Pic 7
(my first conceptual shot)

Marc

Of course they were not all so bad, but the thing is I did not control the process, I was experimenting. And I really thought these pictures were exceptionally good.:-)

But one needs to be said : even if I obviously was not a good photographer, I was on my way to learn. The one above is a selfportraiture done in 2006 or 2007. It is the first one of a long serial, since you don’t always have a model at your disposal at the moment you want.

The blue “V”s, is interesting : it shows that I had understood that patterns may be interessting (when properly shot which is not the case here). An the subway station one is about lines. So let me recap :

Lines, Patterns, Story, Portraits… all elements were there. I was like child discovering vegetables and meats. After a while, I realized I needed a kitchen. So I went to a shop and bought Photoshop Elements. And I got 1000s pictures like this one:

Sophie
At first you are enthusiastic. And after a moment you see you need some help. Having the vegies and the meat + knives and forks does not make you a cook.

What you need to do when you have reached this level is to take a class : online, workshops… but you definitely need help and someone who is not pleasing you but who tells you when your picture sucks when it sucks.

I will skip all the details and, long story short : I went to Kelby trainings (now called Kelbyone). It was  a good decision. I have learned a lot. I shot a lot. I focussed on portraits with strobes because I love to control the light.

I guess I have reach a level where I need more time behind the camera. I know my vegetables, my meats, my forks and knives and even recipes by heart. But I now realize all this way was just the beginning. At the end of the day, when you want to create a meal, you need to spend a lot of time in your kitchen, cooking, grilling, failling, etc…

 

And this is where I am : I can shoot.

But I don’t know what to shoot.

I make nice looking pictures, but do they have a content ?

This is why have stopped to shoot unknown models unless there is a good reason. I prefer to shoot people I know like friends, relatives, colleagues… I want a story. It does not have to be a complicated one.

S.O.C.
Question !

Mother and Daughter

I don’t shoot everyday. And there are weeks with no picture taken. Shooting is not the most difficult part of the picture (wait! I haven’t said it is easy !), but imagining or designing the shot is for me the most difficult thing. Of course I take picture just to remember the moment, those shots are great because I don’t care so much about the lights or whatever, they are slices of life.

And right now, I don’t know what to cook. Sorry guys.

 

more to come

Les étoiles dans les yeux

Voici déjà un certain temps que je souhaitais refaire quelques portraits mais il me manquait un concept porteur dans le sens où photographier une jolie fille en soi est joli, sympathique, etc… mais que cela manque un peu de contenant si je peux m’exprimer ainsi. Ce qui finalement donne du plaisir est autant la conception que le résultat. Et sans commencer ici un débat philosophique, je crois que cette affirmation est vraie pour beaucoup de choses dans la vie.

Alors j’ai cherché un concept. C’est ainsi que, après un certain temps, mettre les étoiles dans le regard a surgi dans mon esprit. J’ai un peu recherché comment faire et très vite tout est clair dans mon esprit pour faire le shooting. Il neme restait plus qu’à demander à une de mes collègues de participer. L’idée lui plu et une semaine plus tard nous étions dans le studio pour ce TFP.

Le matériel : des lampes LED, un grillage pour les fixer et… c’est tout.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-06-26 um 12.09.59

Pour le fond, j’ai posé une plaque de plastique transparente que l’on utilise normalement comme un toit pour les cabanes ou les maisons de jardin. J’ai utilisé un flash rouge dans ce set up.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-06-26 um 11.53.58

Sur la photo ci-dessus, pas de flash. Les nuances bleues proviennent de la lumière ambiante du studio dont la chaleur est celle de la lumière du jour. Mes LED ayant une lumière de 32ooK (donc plus chaude), mon réglage calé sur celle-ci fait que la lumière du jour devient froide.

Voilà voilà…

(Wien, TFP, Juni 2016)

 

The 5 things you learn from selfies!

Selfies are shot billion of times everyday in the world and most of them are bad shots. I won’t write about why guys take selfies. What I am going to write is about the things you learn when you practice self portraiture.

#1 The concept
Just making a shot does not make a great picture out of it. And even if not elaborated, you need a story in your picture to make people think about it or at least to make them look twice at it. Sometime it’s what your subjects are doing, sometimes it’s their emotions, sometimes it’s a tension, a smile,… BUT you need to come up with something. So you must have an idea before you grab your gear.

#2 The location
Now you have your concept you need to think where you are going to shoot in order make it rock! Where will it be? How does it look like? Why here and not there? Is this location free of permit?…

#3 The lights
What is the light I need for my shoot? I always know how I want to lit the scene before I even get my camera. This does not mean don’t change my mind on the way, but I always have a starting point. Hard light versus soft light ? Natural light or flashes ? A mix of the two?…

#4 Styling
Chose clothes that suit your concept. It’s like being a movie director: you select what makes sense.

#5 Posing
It’s talking with the camera… not in English but in “Bodylanguage”. You will have a lot of back and forth till you get what you want. And less in more, most of the case.

These are the things you need to go thru since no one is going to do it for you.

 

Now, when you have a model, it will be way more effective if you direct the shoot by your self and fix these 5 points. Or if you have a team, you can give them a clear way to go when you know… where to go.

Let’s take an example :

The concept : A guy reading the news, maybe a mercenary. No violence in the picture, but some kind of tension. His face is lit by the light hitting in newspaper.

The location : A garden. It’s green as if he could hide behind a bush. But obviously he is not in a mission.

The lights : One strobe with a CTO behind my head aiming at my newspaper (which is inside covered by white paper acting as a white reflector) + a ringflash as a fill. As I wanted a cloudy weather but as soon I got set, the clouds as went away…  :-)

Styling: not a civilian, not a soldier… to make things not clear. What’s this guy?…

Posing: It is what makes the shot strong or cheesy. In this very example I am not 100% happy but it’s okay.

Let’s take 4 shots and comment them:

#1
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The attitude is ridiculous. Looks like a dancer waiting for his part backstage… Not what I was expecting to. Definitely cheesy!

2#
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It’s OK. But I don’t get the tension. It’s just a guy reading the news.

3#
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We’re getting there. But this guy seams to be kind of friendly which is not what I want to suggest.

4#
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That’s it! Look at him. Would you hire this man to babysit your kid? I think you see this guy as a potential threat. Although all he is doing is reading the paper.

I am not where I wanted to be light-wise. But I like the result.

More to come…

It’s shooting outside in the rain…

Hi Guys!

No rain, no pics ?
The fun part is to deal with what you’ve got. So if the weather is rainy, use it.

This shot was short before we left a restaurant between two heavy showers.
This is shot outside under a huge balcony using a white background. A little bit of post-production here and there (color saturation and levels for the background which was too grey to my taste). Done !

It's rainning again...