Monday, December 29, 2008

Photography tips: puzzle macro

This is not so much a photography tip as it is an encouragement to have fun with your camera. Puzzle macros are very rewarding and you learn a lot from them at te same time. The concept is simple: take a picture so close that the viewer is unable to tell what the subject is. You don't need professional equipment to do it, just a macro function on your lens or camera and some creativity. And a subject ofcourse, but you'll find out that the world is full of subjects that you can use for this type of photography.

Think lines and curves
Puzzle macros are essentially abstract pictures. So forget about the function of your subject and look at it in terms of shapes. Try all kinds of angles and distances and watch your image change. Discover all the hidden lines and paterns. Change the direction of light if you can and watch your image change again. Experiment as much as you like, see how many different pictures you can get out of one single subject.
Learn while you have fun
Puzzle macros are fun to do, but you'll learn from them too. You look through your lens at a very different way than you normally would and you see the effect of small changes. This will help you develop your skills and experience, no matter what your level is.
more resources:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What were Nintendo thinking?

I am the proud owner of a Nintendo Wii. In fact, I own a balance board as well. For those who don't know: the balance board is a board you stand on. It measures the force coming from both feet (i.e. your balance) and it enables you to do all kinds of games and sports (well, kind off).

One of the sports you can practice on a Wii balance board is skiing. I was really excited about this option, because I like skiing a lot. So I tried the slalom run. At a slow pace, all went well, but as soon as speeds wen up, I kept steering the wrong direction. Why? Because the guy that developed the program doesn't know anything about skiing. How do I know? Well, it's simple. If you are on a ski slope and you put all your weight on your right leg, what direction will you go? Left, anyone who has ever skied knows that. On the Wii Skii, you'll go right if you put your weight on your right leg. Exactly the other way around! At slow speeds, my mind can think around that, but at higher speeds, muscle memory takes over, and I start steering the right (wrong) way.

Okay, I know it's not as big a problem as climte change or world poverty, but what were Nintendo thinking? Does gravity work the other way around in Japan? Why on earth does a company invest millions in developing software without taking the tiny trouble to check whether the directions are correct? They even sell a separate disc containing ski-related games only. Who's going to buy that? Right, ski-fanatics. But they will get frustrated, since their muscle memory will send them the right (wrong) way.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Modeling tips: look sexy

Sex sells. No need to be shy about that. Advertisers use models that look sexy to sell their products. If a model wants work, she (and he too) will need to be able to look sexy. And it has to show from the model's portfolio as well.

Who needs nudity?
Don't go filling up your porfolio with naked pictures of yourself, that's not how it works. Nothing wrong whith nudity, but being naked and looking sexy is not the same thing. In fact, most of the good nudity photos are not even erotic, they are figurative. And you can look sexy with your clothes on, probably even sexier than you look naked. The suggestion of nudity can arouse more than actual nudity. Likewise, a seductive look can even make a close portrait look sexy.

Color code
There is ample annecdotical and scientific evidence that men associate the color red with sexy. So, red clothes and red lipstick will help you look sexy. Blushing cheeks help as well. Psychological tests have shown that even a red background adds to the sexieness of the person pictured. For male viewers that is, women tend to be less sensitive to this particular color association.

Feel sexy = look sexy
It sounds simple and it is. If you feel sexy, you will look sexy. I will make your looks more seductive and send natural blushes to your cheeks. So, forget about that photographer and anyone else in the studio and start thinking about the last time you felt particularly sexy. No matter what it is, as long as it works for you. DOn´t get carried away though.

Let mother nature help you
Did you know that mother nature has a simple trick to help people reproduce? Women look sexier in the days after thier ovulation. That's when they are fertile, so that's when moter nature wants them to breed. So mother nature makes subtle changes to your looks during that fertile stage. They are hard to notice by themselves, but they do make you look sexy. So if you can, plan a sexy shoot halfway your period. sorry, this one is useless for male models.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Calendar Girls

Meet calendar girls Luka and Olivia from the nearby city farm. They are girls (sisters, in fact) and they are on a calendar. The calendar is sold by a Brittish publisher called Avonside. This particular picture was on a 2008 calendar on pigs.
Of course it´s pretty cool if people use your pics to put it on a calendar that is actually sold. Some people had 'my' pigs on their walls for an entire month! But there was a catch here. Avonside bought the picture (and many others) from Shutterstock at the lowest available rate. These rates are very low, but they do not allow for reselling. Which is basically what you do when you put a picture on a calendar and sell the calendar. So Shutterstock send out their legal people to defend the rights of their submitters (and their own of course, microstock is no charity). Shutterstock and Avonside setteld the case and each photographer was paid properly for the use of their pictures.
That's what I like about microstock agencies, such as Shutterstock. Yes, they get a substantial percentage of sales, but they take care of all the hassle. They provide the marketing so their subscribers get a much larger audience than they would through their own website. And if something goes wrong, they provide the legal support. Thanks guys!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Photography tips: exif data

The pics on my site contain so-called exif-data. In fact, they contain only a small part of the actual exif-data, but its the part most people seem to be interested in. Among photographers, the word exif means information on camera type, lense type, focal length, ISO, aperture and shuttertime. Why do the pics on my site contain these data? Well, because people want that information. Why do they want to know? I haven't got a clue.

Mmmm, that's not entirely true. I do have some sort of clue here, it just doesn't convince me. The point is, if you see something you like, you want to know how it's made. Well, some people do. We have two ways to find out. First: think, how you would make it. This approach will not give an exact reproduction, but you'll have fun doing it, learn a lot from it and develop a style of your own.

The second method is to copy the process. Hardly as much fun, no style of your own (but by mistake) and not too much learning either. But it will give a perfect reproduction? Of course not, silly. The exif information tells you only so much. The shuttertime and aperture reveal that I used a flash for this picture. But how many flashes? And at what lighting ratio? How were they placed? No way you can tell that from the exif data, but it's the lighting that brings out the texture, which in turn is essential for this pic. But even for daylight shots, the direction, intensity and hue of the avalaible light are not in the exif data.

Technical information only tells a small part of the story of the picture, and it's never the interesting part. Set-up, lighting, composition and timing are all far more important than shuttertime and aperture. Even postprocessing is more important. The only interesting thing about exif data is why on earth people think it's important enough to use the right mouse button.