September 2023, Pictures of Pictures Keeping you informed about happenings at Deliberate Light: photos to browse or buy, photography instruction (see also Digital Photo Academy), and services. Also, my thoughts on a photography subject, this month how to take pictures of pictures. NEWS Upcoming Workshops. I am scheduled to teach the following workshops this month. September 16, location: Old City, Philadelphia The area along Market Street between the Delaware River and Independence Mall is the earliest part of Philadelphia settled by William Penn and the Quakers. It is replete with many opportunities for architecture, history and street photography. · Mastering Your Camera Controls (1.5 hours) – DSLR/Mirrorless/Compact cameras (smartphone tutorial available separately) · Composition in the Field (3 hours) – walking tour around the venue with instruction and hands-on practice composing photos (bring any camera) Coming classes on November 18 in Bartram’s Garden, Philadelphia. New Photo. Sculpture Court Drama: we are treated to a glorious sculpture garden metaphorically blossoming with amazing art everywhere we look. On our first visit back since the pandemic, it is like visiting an old friend when we enter this court in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A visual treat, these three sculptures, among the many there, seem to me to capture the simultaneous feelings of joy and trepidation as we gradually come out of the pandemic shell For a more detailed, enlarged view, see it on my website. VIEWS Tips for Taking Good Pictures of Pictures. Have you ever tried taking a picture of anything framed with glass? Maybe something in a museum or a favorite photo hanging on your wall? Maybe something to sell on eBay? It can be a frustrating experience. You get glare on the glass from any light source facing the wall hanging, in addition to dim but obvious reflections of anything in front of the picture, like you with your camera, for instance. And it is practically impossible to shoot so that the frame is squared up and not keystoning or distorting. Finally, the picture is frequently lit unevenly or shadowed from some nearby object or from the frame itself. It might help if you could remove the picture from the frame and glass, but that is a hassle and sometimes impossible without damaging the frame or the picture. I have spent years photographing all kinds of wall hanging art and, after trying complicated approaches involving light modifiers, lens filters, and photoshopping, I have settled on a very simple approach that is neither complicated nor costly. To illustrate, here is a snapshot of one of my own photos, hanging on my office wall. Ugh. The bright window behind me is an obvious problem and you can dimly see my reflection taking the picture. A few problems with shadows here: the one inside the frame on the right and outside the frame on the left (which could be cropped out). The skew of the frame from perspective distortion makes simple cropping to the picture frame impossible. No amount of photoshopping will fix this photo. Try this. 1. Prop the picture up at an angle. 2. Set up your camera to aim at the angled picture so that the only thing being reflected from the glass into your camera is the ceiling of the room, preferably a plain surface. 3. Set up a light on each side of the picture, aiming at the picture at about a 45 degree angle to it, each light being equally close to the picture but not so close as to reflect in the glass in the camera view. Cover each light with a thin white cloth. 4. Darken the room (you don’t need a blackout) except for the two lights on the picture. 5. Take the picture. Here is a photo of my set up for this shoot in my cluttered office. And here is the resulting picture, unretouched though cropped a little. There is no glare or reflections in the glass. The light is pretty even, though I should have done better if I had angled the side lights to point down more instead of straight ahead. - Use ordinary utility lights as I did or any lights with shades to aim light at the picture and not light the whole room which might reflect odd colors or cast shadows. - Prop the lights on anything that puts them in the right position. - I draped thin cotton dish towels over the lights to diffuse the light and soften shadows. - I used a tripod for my camera to prevent camera-shake. Tripods are useful things, but you could also just put the camera on any solid surface (like a table) instead. I still need to get rid of that keystoning distortion and crop to the frame. I used Lightroom to undistort, but Google Photos (available on both Android and iPhone) can easily do the same thing, and iPhone Photos can do a pretty good approximation most of the time. I also edited the picture with a few tonality (brightness/darkness) adjustments to try to even out the brightness of the image, easily accomplished in just about any photo editing app, including the ones on your smartphone. So, finally, after cropping to the frame edges, here is the finished product. Pretty good. I do a little better in the following image with some, more serious, editing in Lightroom. Compared to the preceding version, we see the black frame and the white mat are now more uniformly black and white, respectively, while at the same time revealing more detail in the subject. The fact remains that the first, more straightforward edit that you can do on a smartphone is still good. Carl Finkbeiner Mobile: 610-551-3349 website instagram facebook linkedin digitalphotoacademy
August 2023, Great Portrait Photographers Keeping you informed about happenings at Deliberate Light: photos to browse or buy, photography instruction (see also Digital Photo Academy), and services. Also, sometimes my thoughts on a photography subject, this month Great Portrait Photographers. NEWS Upcoming Workshops. I am scheduled to teach the following workshops this month. August 19, location: Manayunk, Philadelphia A pretty old town with a picturesque main street and old canal, as well as photo ops from the walking bridge over the Schuylkill River and from the churches and parks scattered in the residential area on the hillsides along the river. · Mastering Your Camera Controls (1.5 hours) – DSLR/Mirrorless/Compact cameras (smartphone tutorial available separately) · Composition in the Field (3 hours) – walking tour around the venue with instruction and hands-on practice composing photos (bring any camera) Coming classes on September 16 in Old City, Philadelphia The area along Market Street between the Delaware River and Independence Mall is the earliest part of Philadelphia settled by William Penn and the Quakers. It is replete with many opportunities for architecture, history and street photography. New Photo. The soft light and colors, gritty textures, and sensuous lines of Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona, combined to amaze and delight me, as I walked through it as slowly as possible with my equally astonished wife and brother-in-law, resisting the friendly urging of the Navaho guide to keep moving so other people can experience it as well. It is a place that demands contemplation. I think about the millions of years of flash floods through the caverns as the god of waters shaped the sandstone rock in its own image. For a more detailed, enlarged view, see it on my website. VIEWS Since I discussed a group portrait painting last month, I decided to follow the theme this month and show a few photographs by some of the greatest contemporary portrait photographers. An underlying idea for me regarding portraiture is that while technique is important, and all these photographers are technically brilliant, it is not sufficient for greatness: for that, the face and body language must tell the viewer a story. (As before, to avoid entanglements with copyright infringement, I am providing links to photos for you to enjoy, instead of copying the images themselves.) Richard Avedon (1923 - 2004) Crossing art and commercial lines. Few people have been able to successfully straddle the line between fine art and commercial photography, but Avedon did. Avedon’s fashion photos, where he began his professional career are creative and justly famous, but where he stuns me is in portraiture. Whether photographing mine workers in Colorado or the rich and famous, he was able to uncover the person behind the façade. In his own words, “My photographs don’t go below the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues.” The first photo below is a joyfully vibrant photo of a fashion model and the second is a rare hauntingly unguarded photo of one of the most glamorous people of the 20th century. Twiggy - hair by Ara Gallant Paris 1968 MoMA Marilyn Monroe - actress New York 1957 MoMA Nadav Kander (1961 – ) Intensely intentional artist. Best known to the public for his 2016 Time Person of the Year photo of Donald Trump glowering ominously over his shoulder, Kander photographs are always beautifully and carefully lit and composed. He describes his photos as having a “sense of quiet and unease” and says that “nothing should be considered ‘out of bounds’ to my art practice.” His are works of art, not documentation and as such, are often edited to intensify the portrayal. In the Attenborough photo below, we see Kander at his most realistic and even here the lighting and pose perfectly convey the personality of this vitally engaged naturalist. The second photo shows Kander’s adeptness at conveying mystery and drama for a great British actor. David Attenborough – London 2012 Jonathan Price – London 2022 Annie Leibovitz (1949 – ) Great choreographer. Responsible for some of the greatest photographs of Rolling Stone magazine, Leibovitz has also been very active for Vogue and Vanity Fair. Influenced by Avedon (which is apparent), not surprisingly Leibovitz also successfully straddles the art/commercial worlds with photos of pop culture, political, and fashion icons. Leibovitz photos are often carefully set and composed, likely with a great deal of planning ahead of time. In the two links on the first line below, you can see the fun side of her work in the Captain Hook photo for Disney and a BTS shot of the elaborate setup for it. Obviously, Photoshop was involved in the final image. The next photo is probably her most famous portrait, a remarkably intimate study of John and Yoko for a future photo shoot, taken using a Polaroid camera hours before John Lennon was shot to death. Russell Brand as Captain Hook BTS view of Captain Hook John Lennon And Yoko Ono, 1980 Steve McCurry (1950 - present) Photographer of the Human Story. I included McCurry in my newsletter about Great Landscape Photographers, but he is probably better known for his portraits. His most famous photo is that of the Afghan Girl in 1984 showing an angelically beautiful Afghan refugee in Pakistan during the Soviet-Afghan war, fear and hope both evident in her expression. Her story of course, did not end with that photo. Many years later in 2002, McCurry tracked her down again, living in poverty, and photographed her as a worn looking woman from whom hope has departed (sscroll down in the link below), completely unaware of McCurry’s photo and its fame. In subsequent years, she lost her children and husband and became something of a political hot potato between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2021, she was airlifted to Italy out of Afghanistan during the U.S. troop pullout, and I have no idea what has become of her since. Sometimes even great photography only begins to scrape the surface. Afghan Girl 1979 Carl Finkbeiner Mobile: 610-551-3349 website instagram facebook linkedin digitalphotoacademy
As summer months start, so will dramatic shadows and silhouettes to add more drama and eye-catching interest to your photographs. Let's look at how they make their magic.
REMEMBER--PIXELS ARE FREE Rebecca Bozarth attended a session led by DPA Instructor, Ken Ross, at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and beautifully exemplified the old Photo Adage, that "Pixels Are Free" so take as many images as you can, from every angle because you may not have another chance!! In fact, as we should have guessed, Rebecca is not the typical Digital Photo Academy student. She is a professional photographer in Atlanta, Georgia, who owns her own design company, Fotografia Film & Design www.fotografiafilmanddesign.com. She is a SCAD Atlanta graduate, and specializes in photography, videography, graphic, and web design. Great opening image with colorful floating orbs in the foreground to anchor the eye of the viewer and lead first to the Chihuly glass structure with adequate attention to the waterfall and of course the magnificent plant lady. The entire scene is upon us without too much focus on a detail or too far away so the impact of the scene is lost. Remember, either with your lens or your body or both, get closer. In this case the image is still anchored by the floating orbs but not all 4 and there is greater emphasis on the chihuly AND waterfall. The plant lady is left in the shadows. Now after closer go further back. The plant lady is shown in the context of the broader setting and creates a different perspective of the way she dwarfs the Chihuly. Interesting perspective. The colorful flowers in the foreground, green leaves included add a brightness to the overall image and compliment the Chihuly. Now back even closer than before to isolate the Chihuly and its relationship to the waterfall, grey stone to accentuate the artwork, with drama added with a shutter speed priority to catch the water in midstream. Even closer to allow the viewer to make a comparison and closer still. This one would might be favored by Chihuli himself even though a portion of his work is cut off. Now an emphasis on the plant lady in a vertical, enabling the viewer to take greater note to the water from the lady's hand. Chihuly is nice but the image works without its presence too. Same notion but this time horizontally and the photographer has a choice as does the viewer of the photo. This time the colorful orbs are missing and it is a study in green, enhancing the focus on the lady's face and arm. Another vertical with some complimentary yellow in the hair and closer look at the face of the lady This Chihuly might even be a completely different display but why not add it in to show the Art Deco, opaque whimsy of the man's creation.
Critique from Harry Wendt of Mylio.com and Digital Photo Academy Team-Sarah Corbin – “Galloping through the Marsh”
"Galloping Through the Marsh" taken in the Camargue, France. Copyright 2011 Sarah Corbin You’ve made a lot of really nice decisions here, Sarah. First, we like the sepia tone. We were wondering if you chose to shoot in monochrome or if it was a post-process choice. A lot of pros will tell you to make the choice in the camera to shoot monochrome, instead of it being a computer edit. You’ve done a great job of capturing these wild horses in their own world. Composition-wise, there really are no suggestions for you here. This is a really nicely layered image with the water in the foreground, the horses and splashing water in the mid, and the reeds and trees in the background, all which bring our eyes back to the subject. Geographically, we would advise you that there are still wild horse and pony herds in Tonto National Park, near Saguaro Lake in Arizona (though these are going to be relocated), and along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Artistically, we would recommend you look up Robert Farber and Bobbie Goodrich, both of whom photograph wild horses. You might also be interested in the work of Paul Caponigro, who shot wild white deer. He was born in 1932, and a world renown master shooter and father of accomplished photographer, John Pajul Caponigro. The high shutter speed and 5.6 f-stop are both great technical choices. The shutter speed is going to stop the action of the horses and water splashing. The 5.6 aperture is enough to keep your subjects within your depth of field, but keep your foreground and background out of focus. My suggestions on technique would be that if you shoot a little lower shutter speed (anything over 1/1000s should stop the action) you could lower your ISO, increasing image quality and decreasing noise (not that any noise is seen here, just a note). We looked at your other images on your site and see that you make good post-production choices. We also liked the profile picture of the horses that we saw. We were wondering if you used a brush (Mylio will have brushes as of Monday) to burn in the background behind the horses a little? If so, was it a conscious choice to leave some shadow in the bushes immediately surrounding the horses to help them stand out, or was that just a lucky coincidence? Either way, it really helps the white horses pop out of the background.
Quick Fix for Crooked Horizons We have all shot those crooked horizon landscape shots, Sometimes when you’re forced to us a slow shutter speed, you’re holding the camera steady, or resting it on a ledge or railing ... The support is crooked. It happens all the time. More commonly many people don’t even notice a crooked horizon, when they shoot or even later when they view the photos. Me? ... It’s the first thing I notice, it jumps out at me like a flash of light. Fortunately there are a couple of easy remedies. One in-camera and one in post production. The in-camera fix necessitates you level up the camera before taking the photo. This is much easier to do if you select the GRID viewfinder available in your camera menu. You’ll need to check your particular camera to see if this is a feature but in Panasonic cameras this is found in the Tools Menu. Look for the Wrench or Custom Wrench icon in the menu and find Guide Line, then just turn it on (Guide lines will NOT show up in your photos). Using this feature to straighten a horizon is a easy way to make you photos look cleaner and more professional. If you find it distracting for non-landscape photos you just turn it off, either by hitting the display button, or going back into the menu. Alternatively, to fix the horizon of a photo you’ve already shot you can perform an easy repair in Photoshop. Go into the tools menu and find the ruler tool. Draw a line along the crooked horizon. Then go into the Image Menu, Select Image Rotation, Arbitrary, then click OK. That’s it ... Your horizon is now level. Photos by DPA student Henry Cohen, Instructor Rick Gerrity, NJ and NY Henry’s great photo from a memorable vacation shows a slight tilt in the horizon. Select the Ruler tool and draw a line following the crooked horizon. In tools menu find the ruler tool. Draw a line along the crooked horizon. In the Image Menu, Select Image Rotation, Arbitrary. Click OK and the software straightens the horizon. You always lose a little around the edges of the photo when the leveling correction is applied. Select the Crop tool to cut this off and hit enter to crop. Photos by DPA student Henry Cohen, Instructor Rick Gerrity, NJ and NY. Top photo is with crooked horizon repaired. Bottom photo is enhanced with NIK Viveza 2 software. The final repaired photo above looks cleaner and the horizon is no longer a distraction. For display during the webinar John added a little structure to Henry’s photo using NIK Viveza 2 to sharpen up the image, adding some crispness to make it more legible. A quick painless fix transforming a snapshot to a beautiful photographic memory, a keeper. Webinar Submission Specs: All DPA students can submit photographs for inclusion in the Digital Photo Academy, LiHD Webinar, Online Photo Class Series. If you would like to submit your photographs for an upcoming webinar, read the following. Each webinar has a specific theme or topic. You can see the date and topic of the next webinar at LivinginHD.com, Tip of the Day, Online Photo Class. Note that webinars are edited and formatted days in advance, thus please submit your photos at least a week in advance of the webinar, late submissions can not be added. Photographs are chosen, and edited, for their applicability to the webinar theme, artistic and technical merit, and content length. If your photograph is NOT chosen, it will be archived and may appear in a more appropriate future webinar. Submit your photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org By submitting your photographs for consideration, you grant and authorize, The Digital Photo Academy, LivinginHD.com and Panasonic, the following rights: The right to use your photographs in the content and promotion of the webinar series, and for use on each company’s respective website. You further authorize your photographs may be archived online and/or in a database, and allow unrestricted internet availability of any webinars containing your photographs. You further authorize the use of your photographs in any future webinars. By voluntarily submitting your photographs for consideration you agree to the aforementioned without any legal claims, or claims for remuneration, whatsoever. You, as the photographer, retain the copyright © of any submitted photographs. The aforementioned companies will make best possible efforts to apply proper photo credit and acknowledgement with your photograph whenever possible and practical.