19 Mar 2016

On looking for inspirations outside photography

I have experienced already several times the situation that my adventure with photography was kind a stuck. Somehow the energy wasn't there.
Internet is full of the similar stories with tons of advices on how to get out of there. I have tried quite a lot of them and they helped. So I could move on and continue to enjoy photography.
But there are another aspects of "moving on" with photography. For instance - set a new direction, try completely new genre, abandon some techniques in favor of the new ones.
I think that it is more difficult to start such movement since it often requires an inspiration from the outside world - something that opens the new perspective.
I don't think there is a general receipt about how to find something inspirational, but I can tell what worked and works for me very well. It is a dialogue between a writer and a photographer.
A friend of mine is a writer and she publishes regularly on the internet. Once she came to an idea of illustrating her stories with my photos. I liked it very much so I started contributing to her blog. From the photographer point of view it is a very enriching experience. After reading her texts I had to look at my pictures in a very different way - taking not only technical aspects of the photos, but foremost the much less obvious elements, like symbols, items that on one side match the story but on the other are not too obvious.
This caused me to start thinking about my photos again. Sometimes when I couldn't find anything good I took a camera and made a completely new picture.
What can be more inspiring?
Well, it turns out that such dialogue has also other part, originating from a photo. Sometimes my photos inspired her to write a new story. Which to me means that at least some of my photos probably contain something more than an illustration or snapshot of reality. Again, this forces me to think about the photography in a new way. Looks like adding a new dimension to my photographic journey.

Speaking about journey - we continue this exciting dialogue between writer and photographer but we'll try slightly different form. From now on I'll be publishing my photos on a separate site: The Quest Never Stops. I am looking forward to it.

21 Jan 2016

From a regular snapshot to a decent one

Recently I was enjoying a party together with a group of friends. And there was a moment when they asked for the photos. It was evening, in a quite dark room, so there was not much options for lighting: I had to use flash or I had to crank the ISO up to 6400. So I have chosen for flash.

I started with one flash with omnibouncer, placed on the camera, directed 45 degrees towards the ceiling. iTTL mode did the job well, the only thing I had to do was to reduce the flash power by 1,5 stop, to balance a little bit with the background lighting. The result was, well, as expected:

The faces are well exposed, but the effect is rather disappointing: the scene is flat, shadows on the faces rather uniteresting.
But then I saw the possibilities to redo the scene with another lighting setup. Since I had 2 flash lights I decided to place them in the room according to the scheme shown below:

The light sources were SB-900 and SB-910 speedlight flashes, with omnibouncers, directed 45 degrees towards the ceiling, slightly above the model, both in the iTTL remote mode. They were triggered by the built-in flash of my camera. As previously, I adjusted the power of the flash by -1,5 stops - to show a little bit more background. I knew that the photo would be slightly underexposed, but I would be able to easily correct it in the post processing. The result was (in my opinion) much better:

Now I have separated the model from the background (look at the left shoulder of her and the top of the hair). Next to that, thanks to the light source on the left side of the camera I got the interesting shadow on her face, giving much more shape to it than on the first photo.
Of course, there is still a dozen of things to be improved (composition, background, white balance of the flash, just to mention some) - it is still a snapshot, after all.
But the learning is that it is always worth trying something else than on the camera flash. The setup cost me about 5 minutes but opened plenty of new possibilities of exposing the scene.