Sunday, March 29, 2015

iPhone Picture in a Pinch

Is it sharp? No. Are the colours accurate? Not really. So, what does this photo have going for it?
It is an important moment, a milestone. Judy, grandma, is 67.

I forgot my camera at home and the camera that should have been handy wasn't. We were celebrating Judy's 67th birthday at the other grandparent's home and their camera had also been left at my home, too. I thought we were camera-less.

Fiona spoke up: "I have daddy's old iPhone. It takes pictures." She disappeared into her room only to reappear quickly with the iPhone in hand.

She turned it on; she plugged in the access code; she showed me how the camera function worked. Then she took her place, with her sister Isla, beside grandma and it was, as Isla says, "happy to you" time.

As you can see, the best image wasn't the best but it was fine in a pinch. The image may be soft and the colours way too warm, but the moment is intact and accurately captured. The iPhone did the job and for that I have Fiona to thank.

"Thank you, Fiona."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Simple Portraiture

Isla under soft but directional window light.

Say portraiture and many folk immediately think of studio pictures. I know a lot of folk with decent little cameras who run off to a place like Sears every time they want an updated portrait of a grandchild. I say try and do it yourself.

Seat your subject near a large window. Illuminate the subject with the soft but directional light. Watch for catchlights in the eyes. These are important. Catchlights add life to any subject's portrait.

While paying attention to the light, remember to pay attention to the shadows as well. Shadows give form to your subject. Here is a link to an excellent post discussing six simple and very popular lighting approaches used in shooting traditional portraits.

Your subject should be quite relaxed in this environment, certainly more relaxed than when forced to sit in front of a camera at Sears. With any amount of luck, you should be able to capture a pleasant expression. Don't struggle for a big grin. Don't badger the subject to smile or say cheese. Simply chat and shoot. Or do what I did and capture the subject unaware, pleasantly occupied with something other than picture-taking.

Today's cameras can take lots of photos without costing a cent. So, shoot lots and shoot fast. Don't shoot single shots but shoot short bursts. Keep shooting until you have your shot. Pay attention to the images as you capture them. You will know immediately when you have succeeded.

The shot of my granddaughter Isla was shot while she watched Caillou. She loves the cartoon Caillou and paid very little attention the camera. Unfortunately, she moved as I shot the picture and I cropped off the top of her head. Oops! If I took a little more off the bottom, the picture might look as if I planned the awkward crop.

Of course, I could have kept shooting.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Don't fake photographs

I was looking at some images of my old high school in Windsor, Ontario. One image was especially striking. In fact, the dramatic sky with the perfectly placed billowing cloud looked simply too good to be true. My Photoshop sensor was twitching.

I didn't have to wait long for confirmation. The very next picture, taken from another angle, had the same cloud formation soaring above the school. The only difference was that the cloud was flipped and the colour of the sky changed.

Don't do this. It may add drama to your images but it also puts a big question mark over your work. It says, "Don't trust these images." And that is sad.

This castle-like school, approaching the century mark, exists. I know. As I said at the beginning, I went there.

Someday Kennedy Collegiate Institute will be history. It will only be a memory recalled through photography. These images must be above reproach. The memory must be accurate and trustworthy.

If you are having a difficult time seeing that both skies are identical, I have flipped the one and placed it on top of the other. The similarities are now impossible to dismiss.

Don't fake images. Don't make it too easy to dismiss your work. Your images are too important. Treatment your images with respect. And don't do this with the images of others either.

A photograph should be more than a graphic element on a page. Don't cheapen the franchise.