Mission: impossible

Sometimes you are faced with a situation that would be easy to solve with a flash.

Like this church, in which I co-shot a wedding on Saturday:

You can see why the situation needs flash. Without it, I am stuck: I expose for the church, and the stained glass pretty much disappears, as you see above.

Or I expose for the glass:

Yeah, the glass is back. But now I lose the church.

OK, flash then. Simple! (If you have done my courses and bought my books.)

But Wait.

It is a Roman Catholic church, and that church is used to an authoritarian top-down command structure, and in this particular case that works against us. Because the photography rules (and there’s a full page of them) say:

“No Flash”.

Now I am stuck. As my colleague George quite rightly says: “we are here for the people” (and you can imagine him shrug). Right he is.

But hang on. There are still tricks we can use.

One: use the built-in HDR mode in your camera, if it has is. Some high-end cameras do, and my 5D Mk3 is one of those.

Select it and press. The camera now takes three pictures (my choice), two stops apart from each other (my choice), and crunches a few seconds, while it combines them into a JPG file:

Now, the bright and dark areas are no longer 12 stops apart.

And that was the problem: the difference between bright and dark was simply too great for a camera to handle in one image.  Select HDR (which you all know stands for “High Dynamic Range”—right?) and hold the shutter down until it has done three shots (or more, if you prefer).

And then you can work the image a little more in Lightroom, if you like. Problem solved. There’s always a solution.

___

I have moved to Brantford, Ontario. The new studio and classroom welcome you: call 416-875-8770 or5 email michael@mvwphoto.com.

 

An old light trick

This came up in class tonight, so, a repeat:


Okay, here’s a simple trick shot for you.

How did I get the bulb to light up without it being connected?

Simple. Like this:

I used an LED flashlight behind the (frosted) bulb. That makes it look like the bulb itself is lit. 6 second exposure, 200 ISO, f/5.6.

Sometimes “simple” is all it takes.

 

Abstract, or meaning extracted?

This tree, from yesterday’s walk with students:

I made that by zooming my 16-35 lens while shooting at about 1/15 second. That gives you either something that is still recognizable as a tree, or something that is less so:

Which one is better? They are both good. The first one says something about the tree, I feel. The second one is more about the line, motion, shapness.

And the point? The point is that you can do with your photography what you want, from literalism t abstract art. And that there are many tricks. And that you should use those tricks!

 

 

 

SLR TIP from four years ago

Exactly four years ago, 15 July 2011, I wrote this – and it is still relevant. Plus ça change…


When you are using an SLR to look at images you have taken on the back of your camera, set your camera to not autorotate the images. That way you can see the image fill the entire LCD instead of part of the LCD with big black bars on both sides. And that looks so much better!

On some cameras (all Canon SLR cameras, for instance) you even have two options: “turn or not turn” on the camera display, and “turn or not turn” in the image itself.

In this case I set autorotate ON in the file, but OFF when reviewing on camera (i.e. I use the middle option: the file is unchanged, just the displaying on the camera changes).

You will find thise fuction either in the playback menu of your camera, or in the settings menu.

 

Story, story, story.

When shooting an event, always tell a story. People do not want to just see random images; since Gilgamesh and Homer, people like to hear stories.

In practical terms, for you as a photographer that means:

  1. Start with an Establishing Shot or two, to establish where the event is taking place
  2. Make sure that before you present the work to your friends, your relatives, or your client, you arrange (not: shoot) the event in (chrono-) logical sequence. In Lightroom, use a collection, and sort it manually. When exporting, use the sequence number in the export filename, so your sort order is honoured.
  3. Shoot a “B–roll”, including decorations and food. B-roll pictures are the background. The decorations. The food. The small details. You can shoot those before, during, and sometyimes even after the event.
  4. Include signs that have names and details of the event.

Let’s look at some examples from the event I co-shot Saturday night. So these are not the event pictures (those feature people); these are the “B-roll shots” that act as glue to keep the people shots together.

These are examples of the kind of shots that make random people pictures into a story your friends or customers want to see. It’s easy, it’s fun.

(All images except the first one: camera on manual; flash on TTL; flash bounced behind me at a dark ceiling, so 1600 ISO was needed to get enough bounce.)