Studio Werkz: Creative Lighting Challenges

Warning to Birders.  This blog is mostly about photography, and lighting techniques and fanning the creative juices.  CLICK AWAY NOW!  You have been warned.

My current mentor and I have been playing with the thought, “What if you’ve taken your last “GREAT” photograph.” ;-(

Not one that is technically correct. Used the right lens, got the shutterspeed-iso-aperture worked out.  The exposure is dead on.  The subject is all as it should be.  No need for massive post-production.  Not that sort of Great.
But, y’know, Great!

And image that purely by subject/time/lighting/emotional appeal reaches out beyond the frame and the viewer “gets it”. The ones that sometimes we bleed over or travel miles for, or just happens to occur when we walk out the door.  You, subject, lighting, mood, atmosphere and feeling all make their stamp on the moment and its, “Great”. Not the one that gets more “Likes” on Facebook, or more “Favs” on Flickr.  But one that in a timeless manner somehow moves the thought you saw at the moment to the viewer’s mind and they  not only identify but also imbibe.

Y’know like McCurry’s Pic of the Green-eyed Afghan girl on the cover of Nat Geo.  Still get shivers when I recall how I first noticed that photo in the news agents rack when I’d wandered in off the street.  It was the only magazine in the entire rack that stole my heart away.

I’ve faced some big lighting challenges over the years. Buildings at first or last light. Vehicles in the moody pre-dawn. Brides and Grooms in the midday sun. Chrome laundry bowls on white gloss metal stand. And in all cases the same principles apply.

I had the good fortune to have been trained at one stage by the best.
Dean Collins. Master of Light. —A title he most justifiably deserved.
“He taught us to not only see the light, but to move it, bend it and most importantly control it, no matter where or when we were creating images” tricolorlabs.com

At one seminar Dean showed a 3 foot by 5 foot print of a portrait of Natalie Wood, taken just before her death. No matter where you stood in the room, her beauty shone from the wall. A truly stunning portrait.

So the other evening when the challenge came, I was fascinated how the various elements came together.
Gotta few minutes?
Here we go.

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Studio Werkz: Restless Flycatcher, on the Run

Be like the forces of nature: 
when it blows, there is only wind; 
when it rains, there is only rain; 
when the clouds pass, the sun shines through.
Lao Tzu

When I was a mere broth of a photographer, and knee deep in learning the craft, one of the big studio swings was away from formal portraits in a studio and more to ‘environmental portraits’, as they became known.

I’ve blogged on this process here before and over on Studio Werkz, and the studio I was working with, at the time, was quite slow in making the ‘customer’ perceived change and ‘that mob’ down the road with their shiny new Hasselblads made the running. Yet the young-gun in me was always eager to explore new opportunities. And like hand-coloured black and white photos, the old studio portrait gave way to the more ‘exciting and involving’ outdoor portrait.

As much of my own direction turned to product photography the need to embrace the new age really didn’t catch me.  After all who wants to see their precious white-porcelain bathroom bowl posed against some tree/plant/water feature or industrial backdrop.

Yet, I have to be among the first to acknowledge, the chance to use the power of the ‘around’ and the available light has always given me a real pleasure when I get to do the occasional, informal portrait.

I’ve been contemplating my own bird photography of late, and while I enjoy the camaraderie of the Flickr page tis  a tough medium to encapsulate the images that go into making a story of the birds.  Long time readers will recall the earliest blogs here were much more the sharing of time with a bird or pair or family as it seemed to me to bring the story of their important lives.

So, I have considered combining Studio Werks into BirdasPoetry, and share the challenges of the craft of portrait stories.

Which of course takes us directly into the field and in this case a sunny morn at the You Yangs.

And almost before we had the cameras out of the car, the shrill, Zhhhhht, Zhhhhht, Zhhhht.  Pling pling pling, of a Restless Flycatcher rang in our ears.

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Studio Werkz: The White-plumed Honeyeater Appointment

I know all the birds of the hills

Psalm 50

To say we’ve had a run of weather of late would be to guild the lily somewhat.  Lack of sunshine, and howling southerly winds have been much more the norm. Add to that the best of fast moving squalls with intense rain, and well, its enough to make you roll over and pull the donnah up even closer.

So with a touch of sunshine peeking through the breakfast room window, EE and I decided on a quick trip to The Office.  Image our surprise when we found Mr An Onymous out there as well.  Put it down to the call of the Osprey.  However she wasn’t in residence so we had to content ourselves with lesser subjects.

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