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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When There's No Space, No One Can Hear You Scream....

Before embarking upon any shoot, the photographer’s mind goes into a creative prep mode. Lighting, composition...you know the deal. There is a part of you that says “I am doing to rock this shoot. I am going to make this something I am really proud of”. You salivate over the potential results and make your way to the location.

Legal firms are not necessarily known for their large open studio spaces. So doing location corporate portraits in such a place suddenly presents a reality that needs to be dealt with. All of your lighting techniques and aspirations suddenly become smaller, simpler and very real indeed. No excuses can be made. No complaints. You just have to do what you have to do.

You cannot expect your client to know what you need, or even to be able to provide it if he did know. The essential reality is that you have to create the images, doing so to the best of your ability in the given circumstances. This was recently the case with a shoot I was asked to do.

Work is work. For most of us, this is the simple truth.  Relationships need to be maintained. Images need to be created. Invoices need to be drawn up. So you do what you need to do. So, when offered a room smaller than most suburban bedrooms for your ‘studio’ you have to simply smile, assure your client and do the work.

There are few options for creative lighting in a space like this. But you do what you do, keeping it simple and
creating the images your client needs. 

For this particular assignment, I had room for one light, and one light is fine. Add a reflector and you’re ok. Yes, there were more grandiose lighting plans among my hopes for this shoot, but in the end creativity must bow to necessity.

So the Photek Softlighter was placed on a stand and quite near the subject, simply because there was no room for any other option. There was one place to stand, and the subject had one place to sit. In the end, what more do you need?


One light is the light of masters. You know - Rembrandt, and all of those dudes. So one light can work and work well. In this case, it was necessary, but keeping it simple is rarely a bad thing.

-Shelton Muller



Wednesday, June 04, 2014

What is the 'Reality' of the Situation?

Images are created first in the mind, with the camera and the computer the tools that simple enable their final creation
When the light leaves you with little opportunity, its always good to
have a Steve holding a flash on a stand. Thanks Steve!
What is asked of the wedding photographer? In this age, that answer is not an easy one to define. Each image created has ten thousand options that can be applied to it; both within the moment of capture and then also during its post capture processes.

For many photographers, the idea of altering an image drastically removes the fundamental truth of the image and the wedding day itself. Their job, as they see it, is to record the event as it truly was, with minimal in-camera technique and very little post process alteration. For other photographers, it is quite the opposite.


Many of us will probably fall somewhere between these two options, and decide image-by-image as to the final outcome of each. The newcomer will be tempted to go a little overboard with the processing, often because of their inexperience at in-camera creativity. Lens perspective, depth of field, metering and composition will often be overlooked in the moment of capture with the hope of ‘saving’ the image, or at least creating it, in post. Those with more experience will breathe a little more, and think on their feet just a few moments longer. They are not about quantity, but quality. So their cameras work perhaps don't work as hard as those of their less experienced counterparts who may try to create a quality through quantity process.

Images are created first in the mind. They are foggy, mysteriously swirling blobs of inspiration that come to fruition either in a moment of epiphany and genius or through a long process of capture and post process.

The difference between the reality and the end result was the reason for the work that went into this series of images from Reuben andRachael’s wedding. The light was flat, shapeless and uninteresting, but the clouds were beautiful. The homestead backdrop was potentially overwhelming. The couple was nervous, but willing. Applying flash, deliberate underexposure of the ambient light and some work in Lightroom was the process that changed the foggy, mysteriously swirling blobs of inspiration into the images that came from these few minutes of shooting.  

-Shelton Muller




Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Reuben and Rachael's Wedding

Reuben and Rachael lit with flash, shoot through umbrella.
Reuben and Rachael lit with flash,
shoot through umbrella. CTO Gel.
Weddings in May in Melbourne are always fraught with the potential for a mix of weather, unless of course you are given an entire day of gorgeous light, or endless drizzle. Thankfully, Rachael and Reuben’s wedding was a mixed day, with little in the way of drizzle to worry about.

Tash and I love to work with flash, and we love to work independently of each other while simultaneously uniting to collaborate on the images and the ideas. One of us will usually shoot close with a wide angle, and the other with the 70-200 – usually at 2.8. For many of these images, I was connected to the flash via PocketWizards. The flash was fired through a white umbrella, often with a CTO gel to warm the image, contrasting it with the rather cool daylight that was given us that day.


For their wedding formals, Rachael and Reuben managed to obtain permission to use a heritage listed homestead used for the movie, NedKelly, and it was a wonderful location. I would have loved to have had more time – indeed, an entire day – to fully utilize this secret part time movie set.

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller