Why did I make this photograph? Because of the shadows the branches were burning into the ground. That interested me. As it was close to mid-day the shadows were vividly dark. They appeared to me to be separate from the tree itself, not so much shadows, but rather an alternative existence for another kapok silk-cotton tree bordering two realities. This I saw for just a moment in between a lot of other things, like teaching a DSLR Photography Lesson and cars passing by and people jostling past on the sidewalk and the sun uncomfortably heating my skin.
The photography tip is this: see a different reality
My favorite artist is Van Gogh because he saw a different reality, not in his imagination, but through his normal eyes, or was his mind imaging what he say and his eyes believed it to be the reality of others? Regardless, I believe he literally saw the world as he painted it. When he looked at a night sky, it was all swirly. Thus, his paintings are now masterpieces and hold the interest of millions. If he had painted the sky exactly as it appears to look for most people, he would not be an artist of any significance.
Being able to see a different reality is an extremely valuable skill to any artist, to any photographer. I believe these different realities are not constantly around us though, they exist only for a moment. Take the above photo for example. If I returned to that spot a few hours later, the alternative branch shadow reality would not be there.
To me an interesting artist/photographer skillfully and creatively shows others the different reality he/she sees on a daily basis.
In just ten short days Teresa took all 8-hours of her DSLR Photography Lesson discount package. This afternoon was another strobist and digital photo editing lesson. Teresa showed up from New Port Richey with all kinds of new gear that made things go much smoother than last time. Now with a proper light stand in tow, as well as the same Yongnuo flash radio triggers I have, we were ready to get down to some more in-depth off camera flash photography practice.
We shot exclusively in manual mode all day. For strobist photography it is best to be in manual mode because there are only finite shutter speeds can use with the Yongnuo radio triggers anyway since they only sync up to 1/250th of a second. In addition to using manual settings on her Canon 7D, now since we are using the aforementioned radio triggers we have to use her Nissin flash in manual mode too. So now for the type of shot we were practicing today you have to manually set your aperture, shutter speed, and of course ISO, white balance and focus mode too, plus the power on your flash and then on top of all that think of how to best pose your subject for the given location! There is also the matter of how to best position your light stand. Therefore, it is good to have a good mastery of setting your DSLR for non-flash photography before moving on to strobist shots.
Teresa did really well remembering and putting into use all the tips, knowledge, practices and advice I gave her over the course of our three lessons together. She now has a fairly wide ranging skill set that she can build on herself with more solo practice. We also got her established in a fairly seamless RAW workflow using Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop Elements 9. I showed her the basic ways I edit a portrait by using the dodge and burn brushes especially.
I look forward to seeing the infant photographs Teresa makes in the future and her continuing progress as a strobist photographer!
Kim and Michelle traveled all the way from Lutz for this morning's DSLR Photography Lesson. Actually, the last place I ever lived in the Tampa Bay area before I moved away for a decade was just on the border of Lutz. This was another very rare 2-person lesson, as all others are 1-on-1. I know both of their cameras well ( Nikon D5000 & Canon XSi ), so it did not take much extra time getting two DSLRs set for the varies photography scenarios we practiced shooting in. Kim was actually a (delayed) referral from one of my original photo students, Rosa. Thanks Rosa!
Kim and Michelle both have kids that play baseball, so I made sure that we got in a lot of moving subject shooting practice. Often people coming from point and shoot cameras and/or who use auto-mode on their DSLRs do not realize that when you take control of your DSLR using aperture priority or manual mode, you have to adjust your focus mode for photographing still (Nikon AF-S; Canon One Shot) or moving (Nikon AF-C; Canon AI Servo) subjects. Often just getting into a continuous focusing mode solves many of the problems with trying to freeze action.
I also stressed to Kim and Michelle that even with entry level DSLRs it is wise and often necessary to adopt methods and practices of a professional photographer. For example, have at least two batteries. That way you always have a fully charged one stowed in your camera bag and you never run into a situation of running out of power. Other practices include always being ready to shoot. You should never turn off your DSLR or put the lens cap on until you are absolutely done shooting for the day and getting in your car to head back home. DSLRs use almost no power when not in use so there is no reason to turn a DSLR off to save the battery when just walking around. Also, unless you are walking through thorn bushes, the lens cap should stay off. I advised Kim and Michelle to be in photographer mode whenever their cameras were out. In that way, less shots will be missed and any photo opportunities that may come up one will be ready for.
I look forward to seeing Kim and Michelle's baseball action shots!
New DSLR Photography Lesson student Karin has a booming pillow and cushion business featuring embroidered designs by Guy Harvey. She has literally hundreds of variations of the pillows regarding design, color and border and she wants to have photographs of everyone one of those iterations on her business website for customers to browse and buy.
She setup a very nice homemade lightbox (see my DIY attempt) in her office with multiple hot lights. However, she was having white balance and overall image quality problems. Well, I was able to sort out the white balance problem very quickly by setting her Canon XT with a custom white balance. Thanks to Natasha who had a lesson earlier in the day and also has a Canon XT and showed me how to set the custom white balance on the XT!
After this we spent the rest of the lesson better arranging the proportions of the lightbox and discussing what photography gear Karin should next invest in. Let's just say she is ready to make a significant investment! I will be helping her get all her new stuff setup and running during our second lesson already scheduled for next week. I am looking forward to continuing the interesting photography lesson-project with her!
For out third of four lessons Natasha (1st, 2nd) wanted to practice getting the correct white balance and exposure when photographing under indoor lights. So we took a much welcomed break from the increasingly hot Florida spring and headed to the air conditioned oasis of Tyrone Mall in St. Petersburg. I have used this location before for a lesson and was very pleased with the relative freedom we had to do photography within various places in the mall. I find the TV section of Sears on the second floor particularly friendly!
Natasha is still limited to using her Canon XT 's pop-up flash, but we made the most of it eliminating early all shadows from portraits on both light and dark backgrounds. Over the course of this third lesson I got to learn some more interesting stuff about Natasha herself. She has second language skills and will perhaps someday work abroad for Gallup!
We ended the lesson with a little motion blur practice. We were in far from ideal conditions to do it, but I shared with Natasha what techniques and settings I have used in the past. The key is getting just the right shutter speed, and just the right flick of the camera as you push the shutter to create the blur, but freeze the subject.
Natasha will be helping out on a wedding photography shoot this upcoming Saturday, everybody wish her luck!