Ok, so if you’re like everyone else in the free world, you made some great resolutions this New Year. The three big ones are lose that extra weight, stop drinking so much, and become a better… person, dad, wife, or, if you’re reading this column, photographer.
Well, you and I both see that cookie in our hands, and Bunco and Monday night football probably took the teetotaling urge and tossed it out the window pretty quickly, so we’re left with becoming a better photographer, which you can still do, and it won’t make you need to run out and buy larger pants, either. Here’s what to do to grow as a photographer this year:
Try something you’ve never tried before
It might be off camera flash while shooting at night, like I did for the first time in the picture below of my daughter, Zoe, in her Christmas gift, a real parachute, standing on the roof of our hotel in New York in 31 degrees.
To do this, try first to expose everything perfectly in the camera, then use Photoshop to Help, not Make the photo, so first use a flash and a tripod, meter the sky and the lights coming from the buildings, and then make the flash output match them, or if you can’t, meter the sky, shoot to expose the sky and only the sky correctly, then keep your camera on the tripod, don’t move it, meter to burn in the lights coming from the buildings and shoot it, then meter your subject and shoot it.
Go into Photoshop, put the buildings in, then the sky, then your model, and experiment with the little drop down menu on the layers tab in photoshop…it’s right under the word “kind” and is usually set to “normal”… I literally just found that tab last week, and it’s awesome. The screen layer is what I used to put the kind of screen overlay on the picture of Zoe and Emily, above, which is actually an iphone shot of my dirty car window… more on that in a minute. The shot of Zoe and Emily was a mixture of hot lights and flash… a hot light is any incandescent bulb that doesn’t have a fan or flash…it just sits there, on, and gets hot. I flashed, then used a long exposure to make the lights all crazy. It is just so totally different from what I usually do… I love it!
We moved here from Arizona, so here is a shot of the first time little Tenley whitewashed her sister’s face with snow…aaah, memories…
This year, Zoe was ready for it and jumped on out in the snow the moment it started to fly. You don’t need a supermodel, makeup and hair, trust me… everything is better, funner and cooler in the snow, so get some gloves on and go create.
Look at things from a whole new angle
Believe it or not, lots of people usually just stand straight up and take their pictures. So sit down. Better yet, lay down, or lay over a balcony, like I did to get this shot, as long as, umm, you don’t , you know, fall over the railing. Be safe out there, folks.
My point is to find a new perspective. Move around. Use that lens that you bought that cost you a million dollars and just sits in your camera bag. Every time you go to shoot something, get in to the safe position you usually use, then just move to the right or left, up or down. It’s ok. This isn’t even film, it’s just digital. It doesn’t cost you anything to do something different. In fact, try shooting something from 30 different perspectives. Have fun with it!!
Send me your wins and fails from trying something different in the New Year to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can talk about it together. It doesn’t cost you anything. Let’s get better together!