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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Art of Taking Candid Portraits

The Art of Taking Candid Portraits

 
Taking good portraits requires planning and fore-thought from the photographer as well as the model or the subject. There are many points that you as a photographer should keep in mind, before you can embark on the journey as professional or hobbyist portrait photographer.

photograph of an executive with formal suit
Executive Photograph


Location: Where the photography is going to take place? Is it indoors or outdoors? If it is indoors, is it a residential setup or a corporate office? How much light is available and what types of lights are these, tungsten, fluorescent or combination of both?

Also, keep in mind that when you are required to travel outside city, carrying additional equipment will be cumbersome and you may have to incur additional costs in transporting it.

Outdoor location photo-shoots are more challenging as the local weather conditions may throw some new surprise elements. What time of the day you will shoot depends on the subject or model’s comfort level, attire and your own expertise in handling the situations. Most of the professional photographs, shoot on locations that are popular like beaches and in front of famous monuments like Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower of Pisa etc. In order, to avoid excessive glare of the sun, many professionals shoot in the ‘golden hours’. The hour after sunrise and before sunset are considered good, as there are no hard shadows and the temperature also more soothing.

During noon time, with the sun blazing overhead, you can experiment with large diffusers available commercially or you can get them custom made as per your requirements and specifications.

Light: Photography is all about light. Whether you are shooting indoors or outdoors, the light will play a crucial role in the final results. There is a limitation to the amount of post production manipulation that you can undertake in editing software like Adobe Photo Shop. One of the best sources is the natural light: Sun. The best of the portrait photographs can be taken in natural light with couple of reflectors and maybe diffusers. How the reflectors and the diffusers are used, depends entirely on your creativity and the results expected from the photo-shoot.

Artificial lights can be tungsten or fluorescent. You will have to transport the lights and may require assistance from your friend or hired helping hands.

Another, manner in which portraits are shot is using a dedicated external flash unit, either mounted on the hot-shoe of the camera or off the camera using a trigger. The direction of the light will make lot of impact on the final result. In most of the cases, you can bounce the light from the white ceiling or in some cases, from a white sheet of plastic or board.

Subject: A lot depends on the subject who will be photographed. Are you clicking formal photographs or informal ones? Are you shooting a man, woman or a child? What mood are you trying to capture?   There are many points and issues that have to addressed, before you can embark on portrait photography.

Capturing the mood is the key to good portrait photography. One of the key points is to communicate openly with the model or person who is going to be photographed. There are entire books written on this subject and investing in some of them will be a good move.

Portrait photography is rewarding monetarily as well as creatively. You can explore, the various styles of other renowned photographers and develop your own unique style to create visually arresting images, that are cherished by your subjects as well as you feel proud to add to your portfolio.  


Corporate Photographer

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Advantages of Elevated Photography

Advantages of Elevated Photography

Taking photographs from an eye level is a good practice when you are engaged in the art of street photography or portrait photography. Eye level photographs will engage your viewer in a direct manner and will convey the emotions, expressions and feelings of the subject or model in the fullest possible way. Elevated photography is another genre of photography often neglected or avoided by new comers and amateurs.

Elevated photography is not aerial photography. Aerial photography involves photography done from an aircraft, helicopter and sometimes hot air balloons. Aerial photography is best left to professionals hired by governments and corporate entities with special requirements and to the select few hobbyists with deep pockets.

Elevated photography can be undertaken by all and sundry. All you have to do is raise yourself higher than the eye level of the subject/s. This is not very difficult and in most of the situations there is always a something available on which you can climb and take photographs.

In many cases, all you have to do is to climb on a chair, stool or even a table. Always, keep your safety in mind and give it due importance. You can always take assistance from someone to hold steady the table or chair so that you get the additional support and confidence and you can focus to taking the photographs.

Remember that elevated photography is best done for group photographs in which you should ideally cover all the people and each individual’s face should be visible. Form a small or medium group of people in a half round circle and make them smile or laugh, so that the photograph is engaging and you have the desired image. Always communicate with the people, keep them motivated and keep them informed about the type of photograph you are planning to take.

In industrial photography or corporate photography, you may either climb on an industrial ladder or in some cases climb to the higher floor and capture the large crowd. Some professional photographers use cranes in which the photographer climbs and takes pictures.

Elevated photography is used often in industrial photography of machines, when you are required to take photographs from top angle of the machines. Taking photographs from a certain height always adds dynamism to your photographs and allow your audience to view another perspective of the same machine or object.

Always avoid taking pictures of children from a height, as this results in weird and awkward looking pictures, with their heads and faces blown out of proportion to the body.

In landscape and architectural photography, it will be more challenging to take photographs from a higher angle. One trick is to mount the camera on a tripod or monopod, set the timer to shoot after 10 seconds and raise the setup as high as possible. In these cases, you can have an added advantage by   using camera that has rotating LCD screen that will allow you to view the scene from that angle.


Safety Measures

Taking pictures from an elevation is a good idea to get a different perspective of the landscape and is worth the extra efforts required to achieve it. With practice and innovative usage of the props available on the location, you will gain confidence and add another feather in your photography skills. Remember that no photograph is worth taking any risk to your life or limb.

Always keep safety at top of your mind. Once, you have climbed a stool or ladder, composition of photograph becoming a bigger challenge. Always, climb down and re-arrange the stool, chair or ladder and then re-compose your shot, never lean forwards, backwards or sideways.  The extra efforts required are always worth it and will ensure that you enjoy your photography as a passion, hobby or profession for a long time to come.

There are many advantages of taking pictures from a height, with added main bonus as getting a unique view point of the location in front of you.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Advantages of Low Angle Photography

Advantages of Low Angle Photography

 
One of the most popular angles to shoot is from the photographer’s standing point of view. While this is fine with landscape and other general purpose photography, it does not create high impact visually arresting images.




Most of the professional photographers, who have mastered the art of photography by experimenting and self learning, produce stunning and engaging photographs that have been taken from low angle. In landscape photography, the foreground can be captured in detail when the photographer is really low and almost lying on the ground. You can always experiment with low angle photography by going low on the floor and take more  engaging photographs.

The low angle allows the viewer a fresh and different perspective of the same scene or situation. In many cases, the low angle provides a vantage view of the location and allows the viewers to explore new perspective of the monument, landscape and sometimes events.

In most of the digital point and shoot as well as SLR cameras it is difficult to get the low angle perspective as the photographer can not view the scene through viewfinder or LCD screen. However in the recent past, some mid-range and DLR cameras have been equipped with tilt or swirl LCD screens. These LCD screens allow the photographer to view the scene by twisting / turning the LCD screen and keeping the camera almost or touching the ground/floor. In case, the floor or ground in not clean or dirt free, the photographer can keep a protective cloth or plastic sheet below the camera and shoot.

A useful accessory, in low angle photography is a small sturdy table top tripod of about 6” (15 cm) in height. This provides more versatility and allows the photographer to capture steady shot in low light conditions like sun sets, twilight etc.

Another important accessory that can be used is a remote control or time release controller to take photographs. Once the camera is setup mounted on the small table top tripod, the composition is finalized and actual shooting can be done from a comfortable distance by using a remote control device. Most of the modern Digital SLRs are compatible with either third party remote controllers or from their respective manufacturers.

Low angle photography can also be used in events and parties that are organized at various occasions. One more advantage, of low angle photography is to capture motion blur of the dancers and performers on the stage. The low angle perspective gives a fresh view point to the audience and adds to the overall excitement of the event.

Capturing children at play from their eye level or lower is yet another advantage of the low angle photography. Photographing children from standing position results in awkward angles and gives a ‘head-on’ perspective. The facial expressions and the innocence can be captured very well when the photographer explorers, experiments and implements low angle photography. When you are clicking photographs of children during any event or function, be sure to go down to their eye level and capture the moments. This will create high impact images, that will have a lasting impression.

In some cases it may not been possible to shoot at low angles, like crowded markets, street photography or travel photography, it is always worth the time and efforts in exploring this type of photography to gain new perspective and take the photography to the next level of expertise.

As professional industrial photographer, based in Mumbai & Navi Mumbai I provide high quality images for my esteemed clients.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Taking Good Photographs at Mid-Day

Taking Good Photographs at Mid-Day


One of the most common vacation and trip photographs taken by you may be during the mid-day period with the sun over head or at acute angle. This result in photographs that are either over exposed, your friends and family members are shading their eyes with hands or worst squinting. This article illustrates simple ways in which to achieve good photographs even during the mid-day period.

Some of the practical ways to overcome the difficulties and challenges have been illustrated below:

Shooting in Shade

It is not necessary to shoot directly in sunlight, find some shade nearby. Maybe, there are some trees, a shack or a a nearby restaurant, that will provide some shade. Irrespective of whom you are shooting, they will be more comfortable in shade, out of the sun glare and in lower temperatures.

You will have to keep in mind the direction from which the sunlight is falling on your subjects, are there excessive shadows below the eyes? Is the area under the chin completely dark? Feel free to use either the in-built flash or dedicated external flash unit mounted on the hot-show of the camera.

Another trick is to use reflectors to reflect the sunlight to shadow area. Use can use white cloth, plastic sheet or thermocol sheets. Irrespective of your choice, the aim is to avoid dark shadows on subjects face.

Extra care must be taken when shooting below trees. With wind continuously shaking and moving the branches, the sun light that falls on your subjects will keen on varying. In case, you are looking to achieve an  artistic look, the subjects will invariably have checkered light formations on them.

Using Diffusers

When you are engaged in professional photography, it will be value for money, if you invest in a set of diffusers. Diffusers, as the name implies, diffuse the sunlight, so that there are no harsh shadows on the model or subject. Depending on your project requirements and budgets, you have today a wide range of commercially available diffusers in the market.

If you are a startup or amateur photographers, you can always experiment with home-made diffusers. You can easily   make diffuser by stitching a pure white cloth or bed sheet over a metal or wooden frame. You will of course, require assistance of some friend to hold the diffuser between the sun and your subject.

The best diffuser is provided FREE by nature: clouds. One of the best photographs has been taken by professional photographers in overcast or cloudy conditions. But, then having a opportunity to shoot under ideal conditions, is just not everyone luck.

Using Lights

Yes, you can and use light to overcome the shadows cast by the sun. Depending on the Sun’s position, you can use dedicated flash/s lights to create the required effect. Always use the flash with diffuser that is mounted on the flash unit. This results in pleasing photograph with soft tones and no hard shadows. This technique, can be used when your subject’s back is towards the sun, not always 100% but sometimes at an pleasing angle, will also do the trick.

The aim of a good photographer is to ensure photographs that are as perfect as possible and eliminate the unpleasant effects caused by shooting during mid-day, when there is no other option.  Feel free to experiment with the tricks given in this article as well as your own. You can always come  up with your own unique style and create some masterpieces.


Corporate Photographer