Saturday, January 21, 2012

Monument Valley

January 21, 2012

I was scanning some older images today and came across some images of Monument Valley I took years ago.  A photographer friend, who had been through the area, gave me a guided tour of the many amazing landscapes and must see locations in Arizona.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Can Personal Images Sell?

January 14, 2012

Can your images appeal to a small audience and still sell as Stock Imagery?  How personal do your images have to be before they lose an audience and potential sales?  I think any image can sell in this crazy stock photography world where Eye Catching images can be a powerful force in creating a name and brand for a product or company.  I believe an image can appeal to a buying audience if it hits a chord of truth with the viewer, resonates with some emotion the viewer has and you have anchored your audience to your subject. If a viewer can relate a similar or shared experience with your photo whether it is an abstract image or documentary image then you have a good chance to sell that image.

If you really think about it there really isn't any image you shoot that isn't personal.  You choose your subject, (something must of struck a chord with you to be attracted to that subject in the first place) you choose a composition (your personal perspective) and you focus your lens on a particular detail of the scene that drew your attention to it.  All of these things come from the inside out, your history, experience and worldly knowledge. Whether you are a documentary, commercial, editorial photographer you are still shooting personal imagery.

Personal work then becomes a matter of degree.  If you are shooting recognizable subjects and putting your own character into the final composition, lighting, lenses, exposure etc..  then that is personal work with a broader appeal than lets say a more personal shoot with an abstract/symbolic subject that is less defined and less likely to be read easily by a buyer and therefore would have a limited audience appeal.  The latter would fit more into a fine art crowd audience that is looking for a more aesthetic interpretation of the subject. How much of yourself have you revealed in the image. If a buyer can feel your intense connection to your subject and through that truth he/she also experiences something similar to your experience then you have bridged your personal work with audience appeal.   

Shooting personal work can take the pressure off you to shoot only what the market place is demanding.  Producing imagery vs experiencing a photo journey, as you explore new subjects and interpret new paths that can lead you to something more rich and powerful in your knowledge as a human being and as a photographer. If you shoot what you love, have a deep interest in your subject then it shouldn't matter if it sells or not. If your images happen to sell to a broader clientele then OK, if not, so what you are shooting what you enjoy, so enjoy it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Shooting Waterfalls

January 2, 2012

Waterfalls are such a reflection of the beauty in nature that when we see them we automatically want to take pictures of them.  We can shoot with fast shutter speeds, hand held and quickly and that works for a straight documentation of their beauty.  But a better way to go is to take alittle more time to set up and frame the waterfall through good composition using a tripod.  Using a tripod will slow your brain down and force you to look at the subject and decide where to shoot from that will give your image that extra quality that could make it a great photograph.

When shooting waterfalls in a forest setting,  it is best to have a bright overcast day. This way the forest shadows are not too dark and the waterfalls reflective character too bright.  Too much contrast can destroy your picture.

One tip I will always remember is when a photographer friend of mine said that I should try using a polarizing filter over my lens when shooting waterfalls or just forest settings in general.  He said I would be impressed with how the greens would pop out and look rich and lush. So now, anytime I am shooting in a forest setting I always carry a polarizing filter and use it proficiently.  A polarizing filter does not eliminate all reflected light, but only the light that is polarized, light waves which are oriented at one angle instead of several.  You have to rotate a polarizing filter on the front of your lens to find the position which will eliminate the amount of polarized light you want removed.  The polarizer blocks out some light so it will affect you exposure.  So having those stray light reflections coming off the leaves eliminated (just as a polarizer eliminates the reflections from glass) and focusing the eye on the leaves rich texture is a good thing.

Because of the loss of light, depending on how much you rotate your polarizing filter, you will be using slower shutter speeds.  This is what you want, because you will be using a tripod to hold your camera, a shutter release cable to trip the shutter bottom, and a time exposure to capture the water pouring over the rocks.  If you don't have a cable release you can use the self timer control to take the picture so your finger won't move your camera during the long exposures.

If you have to much light and you find that you cannot use a slow enough shutter speed and you don't have a polarizer you can use a neutral density filter that will cut down on the light and you should be able to use slower shutter speed to get  that beautiful fluid motion of a waterfall.

Of course shooting waterfalls with fast shutter speeds works too.