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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Our Natural Light People Photography Workshops

Just a few images from last Saturday's workshop with Roy and Kelly Jean which once again manifest my love for a long lens with a wide aperture. In this case, I used the Tamron 70-200 f2.8. This wonderful lens is less than half the price of the Nikon or Canon equivalents and yet proves its worth in its ability to really capture a sharp image. I am not a lens snob, using Nikon lenses because I have a Nikon camera. I love Nikon lenses and I have my share of them. But I have others also, most of which are Tamron - and I love them. I will use whatever works, whatever I have on hand, whatever lets me get the picture. In this case, it happened to be my Tamron 70-200.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Old Places, New Eyes...

Model: Roy Gaskin
Model: Kelly Jean
Creative Photo Workshops is a business that deals with the love of photography. In so doing, we believe that the essential principles of photographic technique need to be taught. That is what we do at our workshops. Photographers cannot succeed without a solid understanding of the fundamentals. But we also love to throw an event. Last night was one of those. It was a walk through Melbourne. We were joined by musician/model Roy Gaskin and the lovely Kelly Jean.
I have learned that there are two main reasons photographers put their cameras down for extended periods of time, perhaps even for good. One of them is disappointment. The other can often be the simple lack of inspiration, an apparent lack of things to photograph. The latter is rather difficult to believe, but I know that many who take up photography expect a life of inspiration, adventure and creative satisfaction. As the About Me page in my blog indicates, this has certainly been the case with me. Photography has granted me a life beyond my expectations - and there is much more to come. I also know, however, that my experience is not the norm. Rather, it has been the exception. For many, their surroundings have become too common, too 'everyday' to be inspirational. The people they know, the places they travel past, the architecture that surrounds them - all of these are common and uninteresting. That is until you bring in a pair of fresh eyes. Conversely, you can orchestrate opportunities for yourself that are interesting, individual, creative. All it takes is an idea and a bit of planning. This is where we come in. Its what we do.

Creative Photo Workshops enjoys offering our customers events in which they can bring their cameras and, with our assistance if needed, create wonderful, interesting or dynamic images that grant them the experience they expected from photography. Last night we simply gathered a group of photographers together and walked them through the evening streets of Melbourne. It was a lesson about new eyes on a familiar location. '
I have learned from running workshops interstate and internationally that often we tend to forget the interest that surrounds us daily - even in the suburbs and towns where we may have spent the majority of our lives. When you choose to renew your vision through the camera, new and interesting aspects of your daily life become more interesting and captivating. Learning to create opportunities within familiar contexts is also part of keeping your passion alive. That's why we do what we do. So far, our events have included a pinup shoot with a WWII bomber, an emerging nymph shoot featuring Top Model Sophie Van Den Akker, an abandoned homestead, Trash the Dress and many more.

What about you? Are you considering putting your camera down? Is photography becoming a disappointing exercise, a frustration? Is it less than you thought it would be for you? Then you have a problem. However, that problem is Some of the greatest photographers in history have been those who have captured their surroundings. They have never thought of life around them as uninteresting or lacking in inspirational content. Photographers like Henri Cartier Bresson and Joel Meyerowitz  found themselves capturing moments that pass most of us by each day and in so doing make images that are timeless in their message and composition. If you live in a suburb or even a street, you have a world before your lens to capture. Want some ideas? Try this website. 
Have you considered either of the two options mentioned above? Have you walked around your area with 'new eyes' looking for opportunities to create? Or, have you put some planning into a photo event for yourself and your photofriends? The world around you is filled with potential images. You only need to get interested in it, see it with the purpose of taking photographs and being creative. You will find it a particularly rewarding experience.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

One Singular Illumination

The interplay of highlight and shadow is one of the most powerful tools a photographer has to play with. This interplay is a fine balance sometimes, but it is often at the heart of some of our most interesting and compelling images. Where many photographers often fail is in keeping this at the forefront of their lighting layout, remembering that both are needed to create the notions of texture and form in a two-dimensional image. In fact, where some photographers get this wrong is in their tendency to overlight. What do I mean by this? Its quite simple. There is often the tendency to believe that one light is too few and the technique too simple for anything dramatic or truly photographic to emerge. It is a fallacious tendency that often ruins the best of creative intentions. Just because a technique is simple it does not mean that it lacks creativity or impact. Keeping it simple is the difference between B.B. King and Yngwie Malmsteen. Both are very talented, but BB only plays four notes to Malmsteen's four hundred. That said, I could listen to BB for hours.
Yesterday found me once again out on a Creative Photo Workshops shoot. This time our model was Kelly Jean, a model with whom I had not worked since my original workshops some time back. Our location was yet another abandoned, ruined old structure somewhere in the middle of nowhere, the whereabouts of which I cannot divulge. Glynn - my partner in crime - and I saw this old armchair in the rubble and moved it smack bang into the middle of a concrete slab on this property. The starkness of the scene and the presence of some rather wonderful clouds gave us an idea to create the images you see here. You will see me blogging quite a bit about shoots such as these now that we have a new magazine in the planning and video tutorials to create for our new website. More on that to come... 

The real light on the day
Most of what I do for myself and teach our customers at photography workshops in terms of off camera flash is all based around using one flash, one single point of illumination. And why not? The entire planet is lit by one main light source by day.  This one light source creates enough shadow and highlight in the world around us that we can with our own eyes tell shape, form and texture. Why not keep this same lighting principle in our photographs - at least as a starting point?
The images you see in this blog post were all created using one small handheld flashgun connected to FlashWave III triggers and receivers. Using simple guide number calculations that we teach at our Creative Flash Photography workshops, we can quickly establish the aperture for our exposure. Its a simple matter then of selecting the corresponding shutter speed to either match the ambient, or underexpose it. I usually opt to underexpose it to further highlight the subject. In this way, you are able to produce dramatic images straight from the camera. As you can see from the behind the scenes photographs taken by Natasha from Black Tulip Photography, the reality looks very different to the end product. Nevertheless, the images from the camera were very different due to the added flash and the choice of exposure for the ambient. Sure, each of these images has clearly seen a few minutes of PhotoShop. But the images out of the camera needed to be what they were in order for these finished products to have emerged. 
It is quite evident in these images that one light was enough to create the desired, ethereal effect. No additional lighting was required. In fact, it wasn't even really considered, which is odd, seeing as we brought six or seven flashguns with us. I always start with one light, adding more only if they are needed. I may modify that light with a Honl grid or some other accessory, but I find that usually I start and finish with one. One light is always my starting point in the studio too. Where many photographers who are learning studio lighting techniques err is in their enthusiasm for turning on every flashhead in the place to see what happens. A word to the wise if you don't mind. Turn on one light and then see where you need another one - if you do. Keeping it simple is usually the key to success in terms of lighting.God did.It works. 

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Shooting and Teaching.

This coming year will see some interesting and wonderful developments for Creative Photo Workshops. Our team is dedicated to producing a new e-Magazine, a new tutorial website and an internet TV channel - all with the aim of educating the passionate photographer. We are aligning ourselves with the best businesses and people to make all of this happen. I will keep you posted here with details in the next couple of days. 
With these plans comes the need to keep shooting. In order to remain fresh and inspired, the CPW team (of which I am proudly a part) keeps organising shoots. Last Friday we met in an abandoned factory compound in Kensington and had the joyous experience of once again shooting with the lovely Lauren Busacca. Lauren is a beautiful young dancer, model and makeup artist with whom it is always a pleasure to work. She will be joining us soon for our City Walk event. 
This particular shoot was organised to align itself with the lead article in our upcoming e-Magazine. More on that later too. The lead article will be discussing the use of grids in our off camera flash photography. The tutorial we are creating will be a perfect companion to round out the lead article, revealing the simple benefits of using grids and the techniques behind the creation of dynamic strobist images. Here are just a few images from the day.

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller