Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Other Equipment

This entry is aimed at those who own a DSLR camera and I'll talk about the "other" equipment that you need in addition to your camera and lenses.

If you shoot anything other than fast action or portraits, the likelihood is that you will need a tripod. Not all tripods are created equally tho'. I use Manfrotto and I have two tripods. One is a metal constructed tripod that is extremely stable and I use this for indoor work or macro work. The other tripod is a carbon fiber one and I use that when I go on outdoor shoots as it is much lighter to carry. If you are going to use a tripod your next purchase should be a remote shutter release device - that can either be a length of wire with a controller on it and it attaches to your camera or you can purchase a wireless device. It is important that you get a remote shutter release once you've purchased your tripod as this will ensure that the camera does not move when you shoot and should result in beautiful sharp images.

Neutral Density (ND) Filters are a good option. The shot posted above was shot using a tripod, remote shutter release and a combination of ND4 and ND8 Filters. An ND filter allows you to take a longer exposure (thus, in this case producing the blurred motion/mist effect around the tree) without losing colour detail in the shot.

A good bag is essential and I have several. The one I favour most is made by Kata and is the 3In1-30. This bag can be worn as a standard back-pack or slung over one shoulder (While still being fully accessible) and can be augmented with a trolley attachment in order that you can wheel the bag along when travelling.

I'll talk about Flashes and other essential equipment in my next post.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Better The Camera, The Better The Result?

Often when I am out on a shoot, I will be approached by amateur photographers (who see my professional kit) and they will say "I'll bet that camera takes great pictures". That would be like going up to Cristiano Ronaldo and saying "I'll bet that Nike ball scores great goals".

Of course a good camera can improve the quality of an image, but not the content....that is up to the person who presses the shutter release button. The example I have posted above, is one of my personal favourite black and white shots. It may surprise you to discover that it was in fact shot on a Sony Ericsson K800i Camera phone that only has a 3.2 mega pixels camera capability.

Composition is key in photography. Once you master composition, your photographs will begin to look better, perhaps even "professional". Try not to get hung up on the theory that the more mega pixels your camera has, the better the photographs it will take. Only you can control the quality of the shots that your camera takes.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Tips For Taking Better Portraits

When composing a portrait I like to experiment with different angles rather than just doing a square, straight on shot. To me, the key skill in portraiture photography is to focus on the eyes. If the eyes are in crisp focus everything else in the shot will fall into place naturally. Don't be afraid to experiment with cropping your image either. I find that a square crop adds super dimension to the subject's face.

If you are going to shoot a portrait it is absolutely essential to get the flash/strobe off your camera. Often I will combine a flash or strobe on one side of the subject's face with natural light on the other. If you get your settings correct, this method can produce stunning results. As can be seen in the image above.....getting all of the face in the image is not a prerequisite. Most of all, try to get your subject to relax, have fun. The shoot should be enjoyable for both the subject and the photographer.

Hello World

In addition to my web site I decided that I should start a blog. I'm not that sure at this stage what format it will take, so please bear with me and my musings.

I've been doubting my ability as a photographer recently, so I decided to send Steve Simon (Incredible photographer) an e-mail. To my complete surprise he telephoned me from New York to me in Edinburgh. What an honor to speak to him. I had asked him for brutal honesty about my photography and he was very positive about my portrait photography.
He did give me some generous advice and I will be modifying the content of my web site tomorrow. Feel free to check it out now and then perhaps again in a few days and let me know what you think.