Saturday, 10 August 2013

how google is changing photo manipulation

For sometime now Google has been making steady progress in the photography applications market. With their acquisition of Nik Software that was viewed with great skepticism by the photography community and the even more alarming news of the excision of 'Snapseed' along with Google Reader earlier this year, there was much concern. This may explain why the Internet search giant has now offered the complete 'Nik Collection by Google' (notice the slight re branding) with all six plug-ins for £98.00 approximately. There are discounts available to make this offer even cheaper. With the plug-in costing about £17 each this is clearly good value for money and maybe a cynical attempt not to alienate the millions of photographers out there. Previously the software was aimed at the semi professional due to the cost but now it is much more accessible.  Is the collection any good and is it worth spending nearly £100 on? It does add another layer of control and functionality and this is a worthy addition. They do have slightly different features and the 'Sharpener Pro 3' provides increased texture and provides extra punch.  I used 'Viveza' on the image above and was pleased with the extra features and the end result. As for the rest I have not tried them sufficiently to offer an opinion but Google are doing a free trial period so worth experimenting with. On balance I think that this is great value and if you have the money and will make use of it then invest your hard earned cash!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

how to capture the natural look

 While this image may not be the most flattering from a client point of view the picture is natural and reveals a great deal about the model. Perfectly capturing  the troubled soul of Marilyn Monroe it is poignant and a good example of how 'candid photography' can reveal the essence of the sitter.

Richard Avedon
 Capturing the natural or candid look is often a lot more skillful than people appreciate. 'Just pretend I am not here' is the same as 'Don't think of the colour red' it is very difficult to do or not to do. Rather than trying to be anonymous why not take the time to get to know your model, find out something about them and provide a bit of personal information about yourself. This empathy building will help you a great deal and like most good photographs the photographer will have a solid knowledge of their subject. Naturally professionalism will help enormously as it inspires confidence and trust so when sharing personal information it is not necessary to tell them about your affair with your partners brother/sister! You might want to use humor as a way to build a rapport but remember while 'bad jokes' show you do not take yourself to seriously stay away from the offensive and do not over do it.
Making the session enjoyable is the key, if people feel relaxed confident and happy then you are more likely to get the desired look. Once this is all in place you will then have the chance to capture those intimate moments when your subject is relaxed, off guard and ready to show you their true essence. Often a slow shutter speed allowing some movement (blurring) will help you to create a less formal image but you will have to experiment and find what works for you.

Five steps to create a more natural look in your portraits.
  1. Know you subject.
  2. Let your subject know you. (These are the empathy steps)
  3. Act professionally but do not take yourself too seriously, the ultimate test is in the images.
  4. Make the session fun. For most people having their picture made is not something they enjoy so if you can play some music and keep the people around you to a minimum. 
  5. Be ready! When all is in place there is a good chance that you will capture the look you are after.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

I used to be indecisive...

Often editing your own work is the hardest thing to do and it is difficult to know which are the ones worth showing and ones that should never see the light of day. This picture was taken a few months ago and I thought perhaps it was a little dull, never a good quality in a photograph! Upon reflection I feel as if this does have something to offer. The lighting is interesting and the composition is graphic with a strong leading line. Yes there is negative space but it is filled with texture, form and the two trees in the foreground offer perspective.  The picture was made in Derbyshire as part of the workshops that I am running, please click on the tab above to find out more. Feel free to comment as I would welcome any feedback.

Friday, 31 May 2013

how photography helped to free the 'Carolina Twins'

Millie-Christine McKoy (1851-1912), twins joined at the lower spine, was born into slavery on a North Carolina plantation. From infancy onward, she was exhibited to paying audiences as freak, wonder, and medical curiosity at venues such as state fairs and P. T. Barnum’s museum. The twins’ career was managed for most of their lives by Joseph Pearson Smith, a North Carolina merchant, and his family.  Joseph Smith was thier last legal owner even though they were abducted from his care twice by men who sought to exploit them. Smith toured with the girls throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe before the start of the Civil War. During the war, Smith hid the twins near Spartanburg, South Carolina, to prevent their capture. Freed after the war, Millie-Christine again traveled and performed in practically every state, and were seen by European royalty. Queen Victoria of England enjoyed their performances and presented them with jewelry. As she grew up, touring Europe and America as “The Two-Headed Nightindick,” Millie-Christine became a accomplished performer–playing the piano, dancing, and composing songs and poetry. Cartes-de-visite of Millie-Christine served an important role as publicity for her performances.  Carte-de-visite, literally ‘visiting card.’ In an article in Antiques Journal Lou McCulloch noted ‘The mounted card was approximately 2½ by 4 inches, slightly larger than a calling card, and, correspondingly received the French equivalent for a visiting card as its nom de plume. Millie-Christine’s performances earned her a great deal of money and she was able to buy the plantation on which she were born and retire comfortably around 1900..... gotcha

Saturday, 6 April 2013

how to build a narrative in a photograph

Nicholas Brewer

This picture was taken today in London at Pillow Fight Day that took place all over the world including Trafalgar Square. What made this particular image stand out for me, amongst the couple of hundred that I made this afternoon, is the  story within the frame. There is the pointing finger accusing the older of the two brothers. I believe that they are brothers as there is a strong resemblance between them and as the elder sibling he is most probably the leader. There is a relaxed and mischievous smile of the younger man so maybe the pointing hand belongs to a friend. Due to the (relatively) warm weather and the fun nature of pillow fighting it could be a stranger caught up in the excitement. The closeness of the subjects to the camera helps to create a sense of intimacy and the wide angle lens which was 18mm adds to this. There is a great deal of repetition in the images that I created today which is to be expected. I have included a couple of others for your appraisal.  The most important thing is to keep taking pictures of what you can, when you can and with what you can.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

what is a holga camera?

Inggrid kurniawan
In the digital age why should any one use a camera that leaks light, is unpredictable and expensive to run? The reason is this amazing image I found on Tumblr and taken with a Holga 120GN camera. The colour cast caused by leaking light through the back of the camera is part of the charm. The image proves a fundamental point about photography.  A good picture touches the viewer regardless of being shot on a Phase 1 or a cheap plastic toy, which is how some describe a Holga. They have a fixed lens which is slightly wider than the eye sees and the aperture ranges from about F8 to F11. One of the settings on the Holga is from sunny to cloudy and this opens the aperture by one stop. The shutter is fired manually by a leaver on the side. They use 120 film so you can scan the negs or get  darkroom prints made. There is a 35mm version but is not recommended. The Diana camera's were popular during the sixties. The Holga is the child of Diana! If you like safe predictable out comes then Holga or Diana cameras are not for you. If you have an open mind and want to experiment rewarded by exciting effects you may have found your medium.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

tips for landscape photography

nicholas brewer

Welcome to the latest blog.
My recent images of the Peak District have helped me to understand a different type of photography and do some soul searching along the way. Standing out in the cold waiting for the right light provided a valuable lesson in patience. Definitely a quality we need as photographers. Make sure that you have a comfortable camera bag, tripod and a selection of formatted memory cards. With quickly changing light it is advisable to have a few cards so the work gets spread around. It is another good way to back up your work so get decent ones. I always use a tripod, a sturdy one which is easy to carry makes the experience much more enjoyable. The picture above is very pictorial, it looks like a painting. You may have noticed the small white flower near the bottom of the picture in the middle. I will remove this slightly distracting highlight and improve the view.

nicholas brewer