Last night I shot a kickboxing tournament in Vaughan, Ontario. So the food was all Italian, and I must say, rather good. As was the wine. I used a flash of course; bounced behind me, as usual. A few samples:
But I chose to set my camera to 3200 ISO. For three reasons:
- The first thought when doing flash is about the non-flash, ambient part of your photo. That means 1/250 sec, 3200 ISO, f/2.8 on a 70-200mm lens.
- The flash was bouncing against a very high ballroom ceiling. That works fine but needs a high ISO.
- I needed a fairly fast shutter speed to freeze motion a little.
That’s why. You see the logic? And as you look at those shots, I hope you realize that high ISOs are nothing to be afraid of.
A well exposed photo at high ISO is always better than an underexposed shot at low ISO, remember that!
POSTSCRIPT: I shot these from my seat at the dinner table. Not wanting to get in the way of the hired pros. And wanting to enjoy my dinner.
Tip: I am available for private training, as most of you know, whether local or worldwide using Google Hangouts. And if you want to start by doing it yourself, get my e-books from http://learning.photography.
If you like crisp, sharp, punchy photos, you may want to do a few things…
- Use a flash.
- Use a prime lens.
- Use a tripod; or hold your camera formly.
- Use a fast shutter speed.
- Expose to the right: i.e. expose brightly, just shy of overexposing.
- Use a high contrast scene, like the one above.
- make sure your subject is the bright pixels.
If you do the above, you’ll see much sharper images than you are used to.
Often, the key to creative photography is to add light where you want it. And nowhere else. And ma ny people forget that added qualifier.
Take this, student Alonzo lit with a single flash through an umbrella. And umbrella spreads light widely, which is in fact one of its benefits:
Now let’s use a single flash, unmodified, aimed at him from the right:
But now let’s put a grid on that flash:
It is the difference between the second and third photo in particular that I would like you to look at.
In the second photo, ambient light is still at zero (use the studio setting, see my books). But the flash itself creates light everywhere. In photo three, that is restricted: the flash only sends light where I want it to. Not everywhere else.
I use the Honl Photo modifiers. If you like them, follow this link and use code word “Willems” upon checkout to get an additional 10% off. I used a 1/4″ grid for that last photo. My favourite flash modifier, that grid!
Portraiture is one of the most rewarding types of photography, why? For a few reasons. One, people mean more to us than things. Two, its ability for a picture to tell a thousand words, to be subtle, to infer. It does that more, in my opinion, than macro, landscapes, or most other types of photography. Stones and trees are stones and trees. Nothing against them. But people are more expressive. The human face has more muscles, more ways of expression mood, than anything else in the known universe. That’s why.
Or like this:
Can you name all the moods in those pictures?
And in a technical sense, can you see how I used monochrome to reduce the images to the essence? And how, in the last three, I use selective depth of field to emphasize my subject? Those were all made at around f/1.4 using an 85mm prime lens. If you want to be a portrait photographer, I recommend you get a fast (low f-number) prime (fixed) lens. Nothing like it!
- Shoot: Feb 13/14, 2016
- Model: Kim Gorenko
- Make-Up: Janice West
- Photo: Michael Willems
[a repeat from 2014]:
I generally recommend doing things only if they need to be done. And one of those things is a make-up artist (a “MUA”). You can be pretty sure that TV producers, for example, would not use make up artists if they were not necessary. But they are.
Witness this “before” and “after”:
Make up artists do not just fix blemishes. They also shape the face so it is suitable for the shoot. Here’s MUA Melissa Telisman doing her thing:
And here’s what that results in:
Glamour and perfection without “photoshopping”, which I am not a fan of. But make-up is not just for glamour; not at all. I recommend a MUA and a hair stylist for corporate shoots, too, especially—but not only—if women are involved. If TV shows do it, you can be sure it is necessary, and not a luxury.
Incidentally: do we need the entire person in every shot?
Decidedly no. You get a much more intimate feeling when you do an extreme close-up (an ECU, in movie terms). Try it; experiment in your next shoot and do some shots like the one above. You’ll love them.