A lot of times when shooting outdoors on bright and sunny days, you will have a nice background but your subject is dark. The quick and dirty answer is to properly expose your subject and don't worry about the background. The quick and dirty answer does not work every time, and there are options available to you.
The word "photography" is derived from Greek, and means "drawing with light". Renaissance painters took great care to accurately paint shadows and highlights where they would be in real life. The lighting in each movie scene is carefully planned and laid out, the next time you watch a movie pay close attention to the lighting. Cinematographers use the same tools available to you when creating the lighting for movies scenes. The first video deals with reflectors and fill flash, the simplest tools available to you.
The next video I would like you to see deals with soft boxes, there is a lot you can do to create very flattering portraits with a few additional tools.
The last video shows you how to reduce the brightness of the background. Depending on what you're shooting, you don't have to choose between a nicely exposed background or subject...you can now have both.
These are all options available to you, but there are less expensive options too. Instead of a reflector, you can buy a piece of white foam core and use that as your reflector, you can even use a white cloth. You can use the same white cloth to diffuse the light reaching your subject. The more thought and care you put into lighting your subject will result in a much nicer photograph. Will you use any of these modifiers, its really up to you...but now you know what is available to you.
In photography, there are several rules of composition. They include the Rule of Thirds, The Golden Ratio, The Golden Triangle and there are several other guidelines photographers should follow. All of these rules or guidelines are there to help photographers create a more pleasing photograph. The only place a photographer has complete control is in the studio, while on location the photographer still maintains complete control over the models/subjects but not the lighting and environment.
All of these rules and guidelines actually do work, they force the photographer to create a visually pleasing photograph, but there are many photographs that are visually pleasing and break every rule of composition. These rules aren't the end all and be all of composition, but they are a great place to start. If you're in a studio setting, keep try to apply these rules. If you don't have control over your subjects, be aware of these rules and make that photograph if a scene that follows one of these rules appears in front of you.
Here are a couple of videos that describe the rules of composition and their origins. The first video is Photograph Composition Basics, the second is Classic Art Designed for Photographers.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a portrait as "a painting, drawing, or photograph of a person that usually only includes the person's head and shoulders". I think a vast majority of all photographs taken would be classified as portraits. This would include selfies (self-portraits), head shots, maternity, new born, children, wedding, engagement, boudoir, street, family, couples, fashion, lifestyle, fitness, fashion...am I missing any? If you want to earn an income from photography, you'll be hard pressed to earn a dollar without shooting some sort of portrait. Even if you have no desire to become a professional photographer, you will be making portraits of family and friends. I certainly would like to know how I can make a better portrait, and this is the first in a series of articles different aspects of portraiture. These would be beneficial to any amateur or professional photographer, and especially for photographers that are aspiring to become professionals.
The process of making a well exposed photograph is fairly simple. Would there be a difference between an amateur's photograph and a professional's? Are there differences between photographs made by a professional and amateur photographers? If the amateur and professional photographers used the same studio setup, would there be any differences? Here is a 5 minute video showing some of the differences between the photographs made my an amateur and a professional photographer. Can you spot the professional photographer's photographs? You might be surprised at the number of subjects who correctly guessed which one was a professional photographer.
I found the differences subtle, yet the professional's photographs are much better. This is why I decided to learn how to make better portraits.
Recently, I came across an article that asked “Has digital technology ruined black and white photography?”. I believe it has, but before I explain why, I would like to discuss how black and white photographs were printed long before digital age of photography.
Every photographer strives to capture the best image in camera, coloured filters were used to create specific effects (a red filter was used to give the photograph an extreme, dramatic contrast). Other than that, the only other option the photographer had was to deliberately over or underexpose the image.
On the right is Dennis Stock’s photograph of James Dean taken in 1955. The notations on the photograph were made by a printer, Pablo Inirio. The notations represent how much lighter or darker Pablo wanted to make specific parts of the image to produce the print on the left. This level of photographic manipulation was more common than we probably realize.
Photographs made by today’s digital cameras are saved as colour images. If the photographer wants it black and white, he or she would have to make the conversion in some sort of photo editing software. Based on what I’ve seen; digital photographers stop at this point; they must feel their job is done. To illustrate my point, compare the two photographs below.
The photograph on the left is the image straight out of my camera, the photograph on the right is the same image converted to black and white. Other than one is in colour, both photographs are identical. From what I’ve seen, many photographers don’t edit their photographs after conversion. This is why I believe that digital technology has ruined black and white photography.
I believe every photograph needs some level of post-production editing. Each photograph is an individual and should be processed as individuals. All of my photographs go through some level of post-production. The colour photograph on the left should be processed differently than the black and white photograph on the right. Below is the same photograph that I processed as black and white.
Photographs straight out of camera are the photographer’s canvas. Like a painter, every stroke that is applied is intentional, and is the photographer’s interpretation of what he or she saw and felt the moment the photograph was made. Photographers who don’t process their black & white photographs differently than their colour counterparts, are doing a disservice to themselves, their clients, fans, and their art.
My preference are candid photographs, they are impossible to replicate but I don't always get the shot I want. If I'm fortunate enough to have a mulligan, I have to find a way to recreate the scene. Here is my dilemma, I don't like posed photographs. Posing to the average person is simply being still & we can't forget that cheesy smile which isn't genuine. When the average person is posed, they are not relaxed and they move their eyes to see what the photographer is doing. Even though they're patiently staying still, they really want to be doing something else. My preference is to stage the scene.
I saw this scene out of the corner of my eye, but didn't have an opportunity to photograph this scene. Recognizing this as one of those iconic photographs, I asked the gentlemen to simulate placing the cufflinks in the shirt sleeve. This photograph was the result, I couldn't have asked for a better result.
Sometimes, posing is the only way to create the photograph you want. Working with models makes the process a lot easier, because everybody involved is focused on creating the ideal image. If you're photographing anybody else, the shoot is already more challenging. How much time does the person have to pose for you? How receptive are they to your directions? Several years ago, I saw a portrait of a couple. I mentioned to the photographer that a piece of jewelry was distracting, the photographer had asked the client to remove it, but refused.
You might feel there is no or very little difference between posing and staging photographs, but the difference is real. Combine this with other minute adjustments you would make during the shoot and in post production, the results would be amazing.
Welcome to my website, and feel free to browse after our visit.
What do I shoot? The simple answer is people. Most of my photographs of people are made in urban settings, but street photography doesn’t accurately describe my photographic style. It doesn’t matter where I am, or what people are doing, if I find it interesting I photograph it. I’ve made photographs in the city I live and the cities I visit. Like you, I bring my camera to other places like national parks, beaches, sporting events, attractions, and many other places.
The people featured in my photographs could be anybody. They are people working, shopping, visiting with friends, or simply daydreaming. If people are gracious enough to pose for me, I will thank them and make a photograph, but this isn't the image I want. Most people when know they're about to be photographed, they stop the activity that attracted my attention and they remain in that position until I've made my photograph. This isn't the image I want to create, I want to be a fly on the wall watching and waiting for the moment to create an image that has a real story.
Humanistic photography best describes what I shoot.
Thank you for dropping by,