Dustin Snipes is a full time staff sports photographer and part-time Red Bull drinker in Los Angeles, Calif. When he is not taking photos (or drinking Red Bull) he spends his time watching reruns of “How I Met Your Mother.”
For the last few months, people have been asking me about the post-production involved in the photos on my blog post “70 basketball portraits I did in two days.” I always planned on sharing it with everyone but just haven’t had time to put anything together until now. Recently, I was asked to do a guest post for Scott’s blog and thought, “What better way to share this Photoshop tip with everyone than on Mr. Photoshop himself’s blog, Scott Kelby?” I was pretty giddy, to say the least.
It’s actually a pretty simple process that has a few steps to get this “look” (and it’s not LucisArts or HDR :) ).
There is one thing you must promise me–and yourself–before reading this post. Repeat (or read) after me:
“I, (state your name, or clever web user ID) will not overuse this technique on EVERY photo I take. I will only use it in moderation.” (more…)
Greetings! My name is Chris Orwig , and I’m a photographer, interactive designer and educator. I whole heartedly agree with the acclaimed French photographer Marc Riboud who says, “Photography is about savoring life at 1/100th of a second.” And it is true, isn’t it? Photography enriches, enlivens and expands how we think, what we see and who we are. Photography helps us live more fully, more completely. Having a camera in hand does make a difference. Yet, throughout one’s photographic journey, there are seasons when our passion and vitality dwindles. That’s why we read blogs like this. We’re looking for a bit of straightforward information and inspiration that will further us along. In light of that, here’s a post devoted to providing you with some creative thoughts and anecdotes that will hopefully lead you to creating more compelling photographs – enjoy!
Burn out or Burn Bright As a photography faculty at the Brooks Institute, I’ve worked with a wide range of students. Some have gone on to accomplish great things – even fame! Others have dried up, burned out and left the field all together. I’ve always been interested in this dichotomy, and it interests our students as well. They are always on the lookout for the secret that will help them excel. A few years back, one student was having his portfolio reviewed by the legendary Jay Maisel.
The review was fine, yet after it was over the student pleaded with Jay, “Tell me, how can I take more interesting photos?” With missing a beat, Jay volleyed back, “Become a more interesting person.” Or said in another way, as Chris Rainier told me last week, “…at some point photography becomes autobiographical. In order to create better photos, sometimes we need to put down the photography books and magazines. Then we need to go out and to develop who we are.”
Who we are, shapes what we see.
Make the Ordinary Extraordinary Regardless of who you are or what your do, it is easy for anyone to fall prey to “if only” thinking. If only I had that lens. If only I had that camera. If only I was given that assignment. If only I lived in that town. If only. Yet, to counter such stifling thoughts, many photographers I know use their imagination to redefine circumstances. And right now, I’m not talking about photographically finding beauty in unlikely circumstances. While that is critical, here I’m talking about defining who you are and what you do. Let me explain. (more…)
When high school guys have a little too much courage (or booze) in their system, they sometimes hit the road for a game of “chicken.” In the game (primarily designed to thin the herd of the stupid young males before they get to breed) two people drive right at each other in cars, until one blinks and swerves out of the way first.
This person is the loser of the game.
Get a little more age and enough alcohol involved — and a handgun — and you may end up with a game of Russian Roulette, which is an even faster ticket to a finalist slot in the Darwin Awards.
As a young sports photographer 20 some-odd years ago, our professional equivalent was a little game we liked to call “First Frame.” I was introduced to it by my friend Rich Riggins, who was a ridiculously good sports shooter at a very young age.
The rules were simple: Two competing photographers shooting the same game shot the first frame of a 36-exposure roll of Tri-X at each other, thus verifying that no rolls of film were switched later. The very next frame was your entry in the game. Whoever had the best action shot (moment, composition, focus, etc.) won.
Mind you, this was in the days of film and manual focus cameras. We didn’t have 11FPS auto-focus digital Uzis with 4000-shot clips. And yes, we walked to school, five miles, uphill both ways — in the snow. Barefoot.
Hello photographers. Let me tell you something. I get it. I totally understand what you’re going through. The year 2020 has been unbelievable. You’ve been doing all you can to keep your portfolio (somewhat) updated. But some days, you and the camera just don’t see eye-to-viewfinder. No matter when or how you click the shutter, the images underwhelm you. As this happens to you over a week or two, you find yourself in a bit of a rut. A creative rut. It’s beyond frustrating. But again, I get you. I’ve been there. Also, I know that you can get through this. Allow me to share a few exercises I’ve completed to help get me through a creative rut.
Discomfort Breeds Creativity
If you’ve been shooting for many years, you’re probably quite comfortable with your gear. You understand just what your camera is capable of. For example, you know how bright your speedlight or strobe is when set to 1/64 power. That comfort makes the shooting process much easier, but it doesn’t equate to creativity in all cases.That just leads to an efficient shoot. But what happens when you use a different strobe that isn’t rated quite as highly? Or better yet, what happens when you use a new lens for the first time? I think you know where I’m going with this.
An easy and fairly routine tactic I utilize to get myself out of a creative rut, is to introduce some discomfort into my shooting. There are times when I force myself to use my older camera for a couple weeks. Or, I’ll tell myself to only use a specific focal length. THAT is always an internal fight for myself. I love shooting street photography and wide landscapes. But can you imagine shooting the wide vast wine vineyards of northern California at 85mm?
The perspective and sometimes the mood of that frame is totally different versus shooting with an awesome 35mm. Quite frankly, it still works in creating a captivating image. Take this a step further and shoot said landscape only in black and white. Seeing an image of rolling vineyards with all its glorious colors of green, amber and violet is quite pleasing because the colors tend to speak to us first. But with that same scene desaturated or shot in black and white? Woah. That’s a challenge. What will you do? How will you frame the scene when you can’t use the beautiful lush colors as a crutch?
Constraints and discomfort in your photography can be quite helpful. Just think about what you would normally do and come up with something totally opposite from your mode of operation. Your brain and creative eye will be forced to rework what you’d normally do into something that will make your images speak to you and your viewers. Restricted focal lengths, different lenses, different camera bodies, different styles or genres, black and white only or whatever comes to mind. Embrace the constraints and watch yourself progress to come out of the creative rut.
Just Go Do It
Get out and shoot. Some of you may not want to hear this, but it’s as simple as that. Just get up off your rear and go shoot some photographs. Back in 2016, I was REALLY struggling with my creative juices and motivation. It was tough on me mentally more than anything. The remedy? Shooting more. No matter how I felt. No matter what it was. I imposed a 30 days and 30 photos challenge upon myself. This lead to getting up and snapping photos of my stupid computer monitors or my podcast mic. Then I found myself snapping shots of my morning coffee. What happened after that was the game changer. The last cup of coffee I shot got my attention because of how the sunlight was hitting it through the large window. This lead me to think, “Hey, GO OUTSIDE.”
I went outside and was able to capture random images of birds, insects and cool landscapes from my backyard. Even deer. I felt myself getting more and more curious about things to shoot. Next thing I know, I was in my car snapping images of buildings I’d not noticed before, street photography of interesting pedestrians and more. It was a glorious 30 days when I look back at that challenge. The creative rut was behind me. Behind me pretty quickly, as a matter of fact. Yes, I was annoyed the first couple of days, but then I started to see the light of the challenge. Literally.
So are you currently in a creative rut? If you are, what are you doing about it? If you’re not, that’s GREAT to hear. Also if you’re not, share what you do or have done to get yourself out of a creative rut. I’m more than happy to take notes and learn from others in the photography community and here on the Scott Kelby blog. I hope my ideas are helpful and get you back to creating great images. Take care and safely #CreateAndDominate.
Perspective. It’s a word I try to keep at the forefront of my mind when I’m going through a challenging situation (or year, right?). Perspective is also a word I emphasize in my pursuit of better storytelling.
Technology has endowed us with the benefit of capturing story with bold new perspectives. Smaller remotely triggered cameras and more compact and powerful lighting tools can now be placed anywhere. Out of all the advancements we’ve seen in the last 5-10 years, my hands down favorite is the use of drones.
My Drone Backstory
I first started using a drone for small documentary film projects around 2013/14. I helped tell the (continuing) story of Eli Reimer, the youngest person with Down Syndrome to reach Mt. Everest base-camp. We’re friends with his family and wanted to document his trip to the Summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. (Side note, Eli didn’t reach the summit-but he did get roughly ten feet higher in elevation than Everest Base Camp-a PR for him.)
While we did get a couple of usable video files from the drone, we also got to expend additional calories as we hunted for it throughout the bushes during one of its famous fly-aways. That particular drone didn’t have a proprietary camera and utilized a GoPro on an upgraded Zenmuse gimbal. It was messy, unpredictable, required a larger remote and a ridiculous amount of batteries that made it difficult to travel with.
And it was freakin’ awesome.
To say that drone technology today is better than that of 2013 would be an infinite understatement. Gone are the days of fly-aways, cases and cases of volatile batteries and now, smaller remotes work seamlessly with high functioning phone or tablet apps allowing you an assortment of flight modes. Drones are getting smaller with greater flight times and features-which makes them perfect to travel with.
Roughly four years ago, I decided to bring a DJI Phantom 3 drone to a ranch wedding in Oregon. My intent was to capture a few video clips that could be used on my website and, as I’m always looking for a new perspective, I thought I might try to grab some stills. Though the cameras in the earlier drones weren’t comparable in quality to my then DSLR, I found I could capture images for my clients that before then could only be obtained when they booked the “Helicopter Rental” package, which strangely enough, never sold…
Though not technically magnificent, I was able to capture the ranch at sunset with the wedding reception in glow, little girls twirling in their dresses from above and little details that perhaps everyone had seen, but not from this vantage point. Vendors were given images of their work they hadn’t seen before. The bride loved the perspective.
Major light bulb moment.
Now, the majority of weddings and engagement sessions I capture have a drone component to them. As I seek to continually push myself and become more creative with drone portraits, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned along the way. If you’ve not yet played with the bird’s eye view that drones offer you, I hope this information sends you over the edge to take flight and enjoy the new perspective. I just hope this gets you stoked.
Know your equipment and the laws in your country, state, county or city. Know where you’re allowed to fly and how high. Fly in spaces you feel comfortable and fly within your ability. If you’re a beginner pilot and a Windows user, you can take advantage of DJI’s in depth “Flight Simulator” software which helps you grow your ability while walking you through different intelligent flight modes and environments.
Fly creative, fly safe.
Concept + Location
Most of the time, I bring the drone and incorporate it into a shoot that’s structured around a typical session, such as a wedding, engagement or family portrait. Generally, I can find a pose or use of the land to make an interesting image.
As of late, I’ve been more intentional with creating images specifically for the drone perspective. I’ve found that using apps like Apple’s Maps or Google Earth can help me scout a location I haven’t been to in person to see if it’s a viable option. Sun tracking apps such as Lumos or Photographer’s Ephemeris 3D (TPE3d) are helpful in tracking the sun, and can show you where shadows may fall on your subject. Interesting landscape features, leading lines and uses of color will generally yield a more striking final image. Think through the client or talent’s wardrobe and how you might incorporate it into the color palette of the surrounding area, or, ensure what they’re wearing is going to “pop” against the background.