Saturday, January 24, 2009

Photography tips: Bad weather

Photographers are heavily biased towards nice weather. If we were to judge the word by pictures alone, we would be inclined to believe that we live under a clear blue sky for 90% of the time. Of course, we don't. Photographers just don't like getting wet, so they only go out when the weather is nice. Such a shame, since bad weather can be a very interesting subject.

Bad weather means bad light
Unfortunately, that is true. You won't have much light and the light is pretty flat. But there are ways around that. You will probably still have enough light if you use a fast lense, and high ISO-values are not much of a problem for cloudy skies. Nevertheless, pick your weather carefully. Mixed weather (clouds with showers and some sunny spells) is best. It will give you better light and more spectacular clouds, with more depth in your pictures. If you're photographing a subject rather than just clouds, try to keep the sun behind you. Heavy clouds and backlight are not a good lighting combination for anything other than silhouettes.

Post processing
The flat light of a cloudy day implies a little extra work on post processing your pictures. The most important issue here is contrast. Look at the two versiona of the same picture to the left (click for larger versions). The picture is taken with a lens that renders good contrast. Nevertheless, the unedited (upper) pic is a bit flat. That's because of the flat light.
All I did in post processing was adding three layers of level adjustments, creating more contrast, as well as the slight color change, that adds somewhat to the spookyness of the weather. Obviously, the very dark tones are applied to clouds rather than the foreground.
It's okay if your pics are a little darker than what would normally be considered correct exposure. After all, the message you are trying to convey is that of bad weather. This implies a little darkness. You can either do this in post processing or use exposure correction while shooting.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Photography tips: repetitions

Pretty much like the previous photography tip, this is an encouragement to go out and try rather than a tip. This time, I want to you to go out (or stay in) and look for anything repeating. Could be architecture, could be household equipment, could be anything.

Repetitions are everywhere, you only have to recognize them. Looking for them and photographing them is a great practice and helps you train your mind and eye. Like with the previous tip, you don't need any specific gear. Any camera will do.

Walk and watch

The best vehicle for this type of photography is by foot. Just walk around and look around. Chances are you´ll see a reptition in no time. If you see one, shoot it. But wait. Don´t move on yet. Walk around the object, or move it about if it´s small enough. Try different viewpoints, get closer, get further away. Don´t just zoom if you have a zoom lens. This is not about focal length. Moving closer or further away changes your point of view. A flight of stairs looks entirely different from 10 meters away than from right beneath it. Explore this differences. The object will probably retain its repetitions, but their nature will change, and so will your picture. Have fun!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Modeling tips: Hands!

This article is not about hand posing. Hand posing is an art in itself. This article is about posing in general and the position of the hand when you pose. Awkward? Maybe. Trivial? No way! Many models focus on so many things when they’re posing that they forget about their hands. That’s a petty. A misplaced hand can ruin a good picture, whereas a well-placed hand can make a picture work. Obviously, this is the photographers task, but why wouldn’t you look after your hands too?

The simplest principle is that the hand should not disturb the way you look. It should either be out of sight or nicely aligned with your arm (see picture to the left). For most shot, this principle is sufficient. Sometimes however, your hand needs to add to the emotion you’re expressing. This is the time to over-act. Dramatic poses can really be enhanced by large and even more dramatic gestures with one or both hands. Spread your fingers to draw attention to your hand. If the pose is more subtle, adjust the pose of your hand likewise, keeping your hands small and close to the body.

Hold it!
If you are using
props, you have an entirely different use for your hands. For inexperienced models, this is a great help. Holding a prop often helps you to put your hand in a natural position. But do keep in mind that this requires your attention as well. Hold the prop the way you would in real life. And practice in front of a mirror. That will make you understand the link between what you feel and hopw you look.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Happy New Year! I wish you all a very good 2009.

But that's not the only joyful event today. This very article is artile #100 of this blog. Started in March, that boils down to an average of about 10 articles a month. Not quite the three articles a week I planned, but not too much below that target either. I hope you enjoy reading them and I do hope you keep coming back.

To celebrate this milestone, I send this picture to the free section of Dreamstime. Registered Dreamstime-users can download the hi-res version without a watermark for free. Note that registration at Dreamstime is free as well. Go to the free picture directly by clicking on the thumbnail in this article.