Category Archives Guest Blogger

Photo by Anna Kuperberg

Big Secrets of Composition 

Have you ever been thrown off by composition? Or more exactly, been challenged by use of the same composition that you’ve used in dozens (if not 1000s) of images? Another way of putting it is, how can you avoid plagiarizing yourself and come up with fresh images?

If so, you’re not alone: how to compose images came up recently in a survey as the number one challenge our community had.

Friends Jumping Off Sand Dune, Moro Bay, CA

And there’s a reason for it: there are two big false beliefs I’ve found that cut right across learning composition. See if you’ve encountered either or both.

  1. There’s no way to teach composition since there are no rules or guides, it is something you just have to feel. I’m not going to name, names here, to protect the guilty, but I’ve heard if often, how one has to just develop this sense of what makes for good composition.
  2. On the other side of this pendulum lives the school of the rules of composition: The rule of thirds being the leading law cited by this camp. It’s almost as though the photo-police will issue you a citation for any violations – ooh, your subject is right in the center, how could you?
Fausto in Window, Sierra Madre, Mexico

As with most things in life, it turns out the answer lies somewhere in the middle. What I have found to be true is, yes, there are no rules, but there are guides that you can follow and from these are able to develop your visual vocabulary.

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Newborn Baby Photography

I am so happy, thrilled actually, to be on the blog this week! Thank you for having me.

I am Tracy Sweeney, child/family photographer and owner of Elan Studio in Bristol, Rhode Island. I want to share with you my approach to newborn photography, specifically how I style newborns using various textures to craft natural, sweet, and emotional images. I will teach you how to create multiple images within the same set to maintain efficiency while crafting creative images guaranteed to impress your clients and fans.

I do this specifically through my ONE SET, MANY IMAGES approach. This begins with preparing one full set.


FULL BODY/FULL SET

Position baby comfortably in full set. Layer natural textures, soft fabrics to create interest and contrast. Wrap or swaddle baby to keep limbs close to body. Use extra swaddling blankets underneath layers to help position baby, lift head, support arms/legs etc. so that baby is comfortable and his/her body rests peacefully.


SLIGHT PROFILE

Using the same set/position, photograph baby from a side angle, focusing on a slight downward profile image. Keep eye closest to you in focus and shoot with a large aperture to soften features.


HANDS

Use a Macro lens to focus on baby’s bitty features.


LIPS/NOSE

Continue to focus on additional features within the pose. Consider alternative angles and closeups.

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Being here on a Wednesday is a change of scenery for me. I’m Dave Williams, and I usually write the #TravelTuesday column here on ScottKelby.com, but today I’m joining you all on a Wednesday for a guest blog post, and I’m pretty excited about it.

I’ve updated my Northern Lights book for the season, which begins now. It’s available right now, but I wanted to give some insight into my relationship with lady Aurora, so here goes.


It begins during a strange part of my life. It was a kind of ‘in-between’ time when I wasn’t sure what my path was. I knew I was progressing with my photography, but I was mindful of it becoming an income generator because it was a passion – it was my ‘happy place’ and I didn’t want that to become labour. What I’ve managed to do is find a ‘happy place’ within my ‘happy place’ – that being the northern lights.

It all started more or less the same time I began to travel. I was in a strange place in my life, and with my photography passion, I had always been interested in unfamiliar landscapes. I began to try and explore them and started with Iceland, with which I immediately felt great affection.

I was in Iceland some years ago, in January, and I woke up early in the morning to drive a few hours from Reykjavik to Solheimasandur. On a pristine, wild black sand beach, there’s a wreckage of a Douglas DC-3 Dakota belonging to the United States Navy. I travelled in darkness to reach it both by car and on foot, trekking several kilometres through slushy black sand, and arrived just in time for sunrise – my first light in Iceland. I was pleased with my achievement and had an excellent time shooting that plane, which set me up for a great day ahead.

The thing is, it was an Icelandic winters day, so it was a concise one. I had just a few hours of daylight to explore and spent much of it exploring as much of the south coast as I was able to before I ran out of time. By the evening, I had reached Thingvellir. I was on the Thingvallavegur, the main road through the park, and began to turn my search skywards for the elusive northern lights.

I was standing in a flowing, pristinely snow-covered landscape with my head turned toward the stars, straining my eyes and wondering whether I was seeing things or whether it was my imagination as I listened to the howling gale or the polar wind. Snowflakes drifted just above the ground at break-neck speeds, and the light of a new moon played tricks on my eyes, showing me reasons why Icelanders may believe in elvenfolk, or elves.

Above me, in the star flooded sky, I was watching what I thought were clouds forming. The dull greyness moved slowly, pulsating in the air, though I struggled to see it through focused, squinted eyes. The clouds seemed to move in a way I’d never noticed clouds move before. They almost swirled and danced slowly, pulsing and changing in opacity as I looked up confused.

I was beside my idling rental car which was toasty-warm, and the stereo happened to be playing Pray by Take That (my musical taste is impeccable) which contains the line, “I’m so cold and all alone.” The feeling, the atmosphere, and the lyrics connected perfectly to me at that moment in time and that moment in my life.

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7 Tips for Photographers

Hi there, I’m Polly. I’m a journalist, photographer, and a bunch of other labels.

This past month, I soft launched Black Women Photographers, a global community and database of Black women and non-binary photographers on July 7th, my 26th birthday. Before the launch, I kickstarted everything off with a COVID-19 relief fund — #BWPReliefFund — to help those in the community who have been hit hard by the pandemic. 

I’ve learned quite a bit in a short period of time. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m literally just getting started in my career, however, I want to share seven things I’ve learned along the way.


Tip 1: Remove The Word ‘Aspiring’ From Your Bio

Please, I’m begging you. Are you a photographer or not? If you are, say that. You only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention. Do you really want to waste it with filler words?


Tip 2: Do It On Your Own Terms

What do I mean by that? I’ve quickly learned that some of my favorite photographers, creative directors, writers, you name it… they all have one thing in common: they do it on their own terms.

You would think it would be easy enough, since there is no blueprint for this, but it is not. With social media being a highlight reel, it creates a false perception that your favorite creative people have it all under control. Spoiler alert: we do not. We are tweeting and Instagramming through it, too.

However, I’ve quickly learned that the more I listened to my inner voice, the more wins I’ve had. I’m doing this on my own terms. Most importantly, I’m having fun with it.


Tip 3: Remove Those Boxes

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Pandemic Possibilities – Macro Adventure: Homebound with a Flower or Two

Everything as we knew it has changed. We lost spring and summer due to Covid-19, maybe most of 2020… And, for many, not just time. We’ve all experienced a whirl of contradictions in a blur that warps time, making it move fast and slow simultaneously. We’ve had a chance to focus on our work while staying as healthy as we can in mind, body, and spirit.

As photographers (business owners and enthusiasts alike), we possess a heightened awareness of the impact on our work. Weddings, events, and adventure travel have been postponed. Many photographers have reinvented, refined, or caught up on the administrative side of things. It has also been an ideal time to explore… to deepen our skills; to enrich our understanding of ourselves, to slow down, to build new pathways of connecting with others, and to learn new ways of “visioning,” shooting, processing, and sharing our photographic art.

So, is it possible to escape from reality without leaving home? I believe it is. I have completely overhauled my business of leading in-person garden workshops and have harnessed the power of the internet to reach people who were never able to travel to a workshop. Everything about my business revolves around my Facebook group, Phlorography – Artistic Floral Photography.

We have weekly themes which keep things fresh and, with everyone homebound now, I’ve been leading classes online in artistic floral photography, consisting of techniques which can be applied to a wide range of subjects. In this blog, I’m going to share some ideas that are fun and accessible to just about everyone from the comfort of your home and/or yard. Let’s head outside and enter the world of artistic macro floral photography.

CHANGE IT UP WITH A SINGLE SUBJECT 

Variables: Lenses, vantage point, Lensbaby Omni filters, post-processing, high and low key imagery.

Since it’s not easy getting to any gardens now, I purchased a bunch of yellow tulips with beautiful red patterns on the petals at the local grocery store. For this exercise, I selected a single tulip and set about to achieve a variety of “looks.”

I used five different lenses (Canon 100mm macro, Canon 180mm macro, Lensbaby Sol 45 and Lensbaby Sweet 50 with macro filters and converters) on my Canon 5D MarkIV.  I restricted my space to my driveway, using the natural environment as my background. In addition to the tulip and vase, I used a Manfrotto Lumie Play (3 light LED) held in place by a Wimberly Plamp II which was attached to a small stand. In lieu of a diffuser, I positioned my subject in the shade, although in doing so had to be very mindful of distracting elements and bright light in the background. All shots outdoors were handheld, however, a tripod is advisable if needed for support.

Canon 180mm Macro Lens

I’m starting with the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM Lens. I love this lens for the way it renders backgrounds when shot fairly wide. Be forewarned though that it is hefty and makes handholding a challenge. It also struggles when focusing in dim light or on hard to distinguish edges.

100mm, 1/400s, f/4.5, ISO 100

Canon 100mm Macro Lens

The most noticeable difference between the 100mm and the 180mm in this scenario, was the wider angle bringing in too much background.  Since I didn’t want the driveway & other distractions visible, I compensated by moving closer to my subject. This exercise wasn’t intended to be an analytical side by side comparison of the optics; just to produce a myriad of looks and styles.

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What the Flash?

I am not a newcomer to photography or photographic education, but I am new to the KelbyOne family. I’m honored to be among many of my photographic heroes. My goal is that after you read this blog post, you will be motivated to join me on the journey and exploration of lighting.

Light is at the core of our creative practice; without light, it would be impossible to create photographs. Although with the advanced technology of today’s cutting edge cameras, you can make a picture by moonlight, not all light is good light. I photograph people, and I strive to capture them in their best light, both figuratively and literally.

Off-camera flash, in particular, Speedlites, is my tool of choice. The power and possibilities of off-camera flash allow me to overcome many of the challenging “What the Flash” situations I often find myself in. I never want to be a victim of poor available light!

Let us begin with a little background; I started my career as a photojournalist way back in high school while working on the school newspaper. I freelanced for a string of weekly community newspapers selling photographs of our football team, which happened to be in the running for the state championship. Once I learned, I could make a living as a photojournalist. I set my sights on the Chicago Sun-Times.

I reached my goal in 1983, and I’ve been a working photographer ever since.  My cameras have been a passport to the world. I have been fortunate enough to photograph every President since Ronald Reagan. I have been fired by President Trump and captured the pinnacle moments of  Michael Jordan’s basketball career with The Chicago Bulls.  

I left the news industry in 2004. Burned out on bad news, I embarked on the second act of my photographic career starting our wedding, portrait, and event studio. After a large commissioned project for Oprah, The Legends Event, my wife and partner Dawn Davis joined me in this creative endeavor forming Bob and Dawn Davis Photography and Design.

Dawn is not a photographer, but she is the glue that keeps everything together, and I would not enjoy the success I have without her. She has that rare ability of the left brain, right brain. Dawn was an accountant with a passion for graphic design and postproduction.

I think of us like Elton John and Bernie Taupin. They create their music in two rooms, Bernie writes the lyrics and Elton writes the music. I can see the photograph before I press the shutter, in my mind, I see all the elements coming together, composition the moments unfolding, and the light. I am a seeker of light. Dawn sees how the image can reach its full potential with a timeless classic look, and knows Lightroom and Photoshop the same way I know lighting. Together we have created our brand and style. To this day, we pinch ourselves and do the happy dance each time we receive a request to photograph someone’s most special day. We are blessed to work with A-list celebrities, athletes, and people who love photography.

Let us explore the power and possibilities of off-camera flash. The photographs I’m going to share are from the engagement session of Lauren and Ryan.

Time: 5:48:46 PM
Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Lens (mm): 142
ISO: 200
Aperture: 5.6
Shutter: 1/200

The couple envisioned a romantic scene as the sunset over this lily pond in Chicago. I don’t always have the luxury of shooting during golden-hour, I have to work around my client’s schedule. On this particular day, the skies were gray, and the rain was coming.

One of my core beliefs is always to be prepared. I packed the Think Tank Photo FirstLight 40L backpack with the following:

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