Black and White, Color, depth of field, Editorial, Fine Art Photography, Photography, Portrait, Product Shots

Photographer: Never Stop Learning

It is 2017 and in these times it benefits a photographer, no matter what their particular niche is, to have a least a basic understanding of the skills and mindset necessary to undertake various types of photography. Being familiar with the skill-sets necessary for the various types of photography from portraiture, to street photography, to product photography does mean trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. The truth is that photography as a discipline often involves needing access to techniques that cross the various photographic disciplines.

I consider myself a fine art photographer, but understand that this incorporates many of the skills of the portrait photographer and the product photographer. There is a lot I can learn from being familiar and studying the lighting techniques of both. Doing so doesn’t dilute my aim, it only makes me a more capable photographer. Photographers are fortunate in that they can learn from a wide variety of artistic disciplines.

Product Photography

The product photographer must be a master of light. In order to present the product in the most effective and engaging way she must know what it takes to light in a way that seems natural, while also evoking a specific mood or atmosphere. What I as a photographer can take away from the tool bag of the portrait photographer is how I can manipulate light to draw attention to or away from elements of my image, and how different types of lighting can change the message of the photograph.

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Often the success of product photography lies in the ability to effectively use lighting equipment. Photography is dependent on the efficient use of equipment even at it’s most basic level; using your camera. Using lighting equipment, from the speedlights that most people have seen (wedding photographers, sports photographers, and paparazzi often come to mind), to larger and more powerful studio strobes, can seem daunting. Lighting ratios, power outputs, and all the rest can seem esoteric and mysterious causing many people to shy away from learning these skills. Such an unfortunate thing when artificial lighting can be such a powerful tool in your arsenal!

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Portrait Photography

It might seem that portrait photographers have it easier, but they really don’t. In dealing with photographing people there are a lot of different factors to consider;

  • Photographing the subject in a way that is technically efficient
  • Creating a photographic portrait that is emotionally engaging
  • Posing the subject in a manner that is natural (for them) and visually not awkward or tense
  • Crafting a portrait that is true to the subject
  • Attention to details that can ruin a portrait; hair/clothing out of place, poor background, etc.

This of course is in addition to the considerations of lighting even when shooting in natural light as a poorly or incorrectly lit portrait can mean failure, even if every other aspect of the shot is perfect.

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What I as a photographer can learn from the portrait photographer is an attention to detail, knowing how to make sure everything in the photography from the lighting to the posing to the photographer deciding where to stand work toward a harmonious whole. The success of the portrait photographer lies in balancing technical skill with the psychological skill of knowing both what the subject wants and what the viewer will find pleasing.

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Furthermore…

These are of course not the only two types of photographers that you can learn something from. There are landscape photographers, street photographers, architectural photographers, lifestyle photographers, the list goes on a while. And that’s a very good thing!

Some of these other disciplines deserve their own articles, but I want to leave you with the recommendation that you look at lots of styles of photography and even better try lots of different styles of photography. You might surprise yourself with how the skills you learn can be applied elsewhere.

depth of field, Macro, Mundane Objects, Photography, Product Shots

Water Bottles

Sometimes it’s about making the work fun. I need to shoot more stock so that’s been something I’ve been going about in my own inimitable way.

Making your stock photography interesting is a necessity with all the competition out there today. At times you will be more successful than at others.

WATER BOTTLES

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Artsy, Color, depth of field, Fine Art Photography, Photography

The Unstrung Violin

The violin is one of the most romantic of instruments. If there is a more pragmatic reason other than the effect the violin has on the listener that prompted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to have Sherlock Holmes be an aficionado of the instrument, I prefer not to know it. In my youth I played, but those days are long past and now it is more of a curio, a battered remnant of someone’s musical journey rescued from the trash heap. It is likely the fact that like all musical instruments the violin marries form and function, it could not be made other than how it is and be the same. And they are just darned gorgeous.

THE UNSTRUNG VIOLIN

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NEXT UP: THE BOXER

Color, depth of field, Food, Glorious Food, Macro, Photography, Still Life

Berries (Raspberries No. 1)

A two day photographic study of raspberries, because why not? Actually this is just more of me getting very familiar with my recent switch of camera systems. For the images posted today and tomorrow I used the Fujifilm XT-2 and XF90mm f/2 R WR.

Even though it is not a macro lens the 90mm does allow for some fairly close focusing making it a passable faux-macro lens.

I promise tomorrow’s images are a little more interesting 😉

RASPBERRIES No.1

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Raspberry Close-up No. 1
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Raspberry Close-up No.2
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Raspberry Close-up No.3

NEXT: RASPBERRIES No.2

Black and White, Color, depth of field, Fine Art Photography, Photography, Portrait

End of the year, first of the year, portraits

 

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Portrait photography can be a deeply rewarding experience for both the photographer and the portrait sitter. For the photographer it gives an opportunity to try to marry technical aspects of photography with the artistic attempt to capture the personality of the sitter.

I’ve always had a fondness for portrait photography, much to the chagrin of my loved ones.

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I didn’t want this post to devolve into another love letter to Fuji’s cameras and lenses…suffice to say they are well-suited.

The included images are a mix of some captured just before the end of 2016 and a few weeks into 2017. My ease with the X-Pro2 and X-T2 has increased in just that short period, but practice does make perfect.

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A lot more portraits to come this year along with everything else. Until then I hope you are happily engaged in what you love.

Color, depth of field, Fine Art Photography, Flowers, Photography, Still Life

Fading Flowers No. 1

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I’m currently splitting my time between the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T2 in the ongoing journey to mastery of each camera. My experience of the X-T2 is most pertinent to this post. Being closer in design to a modern digital SLR, in contrast to the X-Pro2’s rangefinder design, makes it very familiar with my having mostly shot Canon dSLRs the last few years.

There is some muscle memory to overcome as I still find my fingers going to the wrong place for the functions I want. This is something that will become intuitive the more I shoot with the X-T2. As good a reason as any to shoot often.

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On many forums and websites there is a lot of talk about Fujifilm’s X-Trans sensor and its support by RAW editors such as Adobe’s Lightroom. Having jumped off the Adobe bandwagon over a decade ago this is far less a concern for me.

As an open-source advocate and user of FOSS software my raw editor of choice for a number of years has been RawTherapee on Linux (available as well for Windows and Mac),and at times Darktable. My experience of the X-Trans sensor with both of these programs has been excellent.

As an example here are a couple of comparisons between SOOC jpgs from the X-T2 and RawTherapee processed counterparts.

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Can you tell which is which? Or rather does one seem inferior? To my eye there is a slight difference in contrast and gray tones, but both images are quite nice.

And here, another comparison.

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The top image was captured in the X-T2 using the Acros film simulation + red filter and the bottom Acros + Green filter. RawTherapee was able to produce similar images from each neutral RAW file very easily.

So, which is which? Highlight the following text to see: SOOC jpgs on the left, RawTherapee processed files on the right.

I’m very happy to say that there is nothing but positives so far about my change in systems.