During our DSLR Photography Lesson, new student Pete asked the most questions of any student before. However, this only made my job easier as I like to be asked questions and this process also tells me exactly what the student needs to know. It was a very rare rain-free evening in St. Petersburg, virtually windless, and thus pretty steamy, but we had many shaded Q&A sessions over the two hours. Pete was very anxious to learn how to use his new Nikon D5000 better. He had photography experience, but modern DSLRs have quite a few more controls on them than cameras of yesteryear. The first thing we did was get him off of P mode and onto aperture priority mode. Then I taught him about aperture, and about how he really only needs to worry about using f/5.6, f/8 and f/11 for the type of photography he likes to do.
Basically I showed Pete a good default settings base that will suit him well for shooting still objects in many situations:
- ISO 200 (lowest on Nikons)
- aperture priority mode
- white balance = sunny
- focus mode = AF-S (one shot for Canon)
- one (centered) focus point
- use a tripod as much as possible
For sunny outdoor Florida weather, morning to evening, those settings will work well for most still subject matter.
Pete is traveling to beautiful Martha's Vineyard soon so I look forward to seeing his shots from there!
A majority of my photography jobs lately have taken place in the evening outside (or in "the environment" in photographer terms). This has coincided exactly with the start of the subtropical thunderstorm patterns of west central Florida. Thus, on top of all the other things I have on my mind as a photographer, nowadays the weather has become almost the dominant thought. For my own shooting style, I do like the drama and dynamism a storm can bring to a photograph's background. So artistically, I am very ok with them. However, the logistics can get quite intense knowing when to continue a shoot, and when to run for cover!
As long as I am able to start shooting 30 minutes before the rain arrives, I have a very good sense for avoiding the rain. Having lived in Florida since I was a boy, and spending most of that time outside, knowing if a storm on the horizon will pass or punish is an acquired skill. With the Hebert family, we were at the far south end of Sunset Beach as a southerly storm closed in quickly. I used my fastest shooting methods possible. Got the shots I wanted to, then got everyone on the boardwalk back toward our cars in order to take cover if necessary, and if not then drop off all gear but what I can handhold and go back on the beach for a few final pre-storm shots.
Well, everything was timed perfectly as I was able to get all the shots the Hebert family requested and all the shots I personally wanted as well. With all gear safely in the back of the Lexus and my drive away song queued, the rain fell. Skills.
Montana might be called Big Sky Country, but one could not be blamed for thinking it was Florida's. Half the state is utterly flat with a lack of tall buildings. I saw this old trailer just sitting along the edge of a wide open field. The large puffy clouds with dark bellies are typical of a spring, summer or fall Florida afternoon sky. Such skies are one of the most beautiful features of Florida. The ability to stand out in the open and have a 180 degree view, from one edge of the horizon to the other, tells me I am back in Florida, and it is good. No barriers to thought under such skies, day, and especially night. Many places in Florida give you clean and direct access to the Universe.
When photographing a wedding, it starts and ends with the bride. After all, she is the best dressed. The Bride Series will mostly feature photographs of the bride alone. As is my style, I like to photograph people, and that goes for brides too, while they are thinking of something other than being photographed. In the above shot, I did ask Bianca to step close to the mirror for the composition of the shot. The expression is her own.
The above photo was made in a similar way to the lead photo. I told Bianca I would like a photo of her ring up near her face. I helped position her fingers (spreading them out more) and she and the fabulous Nikkor 105mm VR micro lens did the rest. The viewer is left to guess what is on her mind. Even I do not know. My job as the photographer is merely to pose the question.
After Bianca was already, I suggested she plop down on the sofa and relax. She purposefully wanted me to get her red shoes in the shot. This church had pretty much the nicest bathroom I had ever seen. Are all women's bathrooms like this??
Her father really stood out in his hipster white jacket. He also had a great smile, so I was drawn to photographing him. They were not dancing alone on the dance floor. The challenge is to find an angle that has no distracting background. Though I was able to frame the shot with no other people in it, the wall itself was somewhat distracting so I chose the antique plate II filter in Silver Efex Pro to put the emphasis on father and daughter, not corners and panels.
This photograph is a true candid. Taken with my faithful Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens @ the full 200mm (300mm equivalent) I was not even in Bianca's sightline. I noticed her through the crowd taking a moment for herself.
What do you think was on her mind?