We are Statues

6 04 2010

Black. Man., originally uploaded by kamikaze productions.

It is my belief – mainly because I’ve been taking portraits for some time – that people have a uniformity of range. When it comes to posing, I will never make an argument that a model/actor (i.e. entertainer) has less range than a regular person. But what I will argue is that the raw and natural exposure to emotion that we all possess as humans gives us a range of posture and position that can create photos like this.

This photo makes me recall images of famous leaders that have carried their torch through our cold world. There are several factors that make their images inheritently more powerful – context, history, significance, to name a few. But that doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to re-create those same powerful images.

Technically speaking, I find that a close crop is going to be the best way of bringing the power to our protaganist. Shooting too far away invites distractions into the scene, marginalizing our subject and ultimately diminishing his/her power. For the model, simplicity is best. There are a range of emotions we as humans can express but it isn’t the “what” as much as it is the “how.” How should you express sadness, fear, strength – simply. Do not overthink the easy. And while modeling for a non-model may seem hard…it isn’t if you just channel what you already know. I can give more advice on techniquie, but I think it is self-explanatory and it would be more fun to experiment – which is what I advocate on this blog!

Some post-processing was used for the photo. I worked with contrast and saturation, but it pretty much communicated all on its own. Now go, get out there and shoot some powerful portraits.


Poetry and Photography: Take #1

27 01 2009

No More., originally uploaded by kamikaze productions.

I’ve have decided to start writing again, poetry, prose, whatever moves me when I finish processing a shot. I used to write a lot more, and it only seems write not to abandon the craft…especially when the arts are incredibly interwined and touch the human emotion centers in many of the same ways. Here is my second poem but first blog posting to start 2009:

“No More”

There is a calm before the storm, but a calm follows swiftly in its wake,
The lull of destruction swirls with the unknown reality of limbo…
Will it end, will I move on, what do I do,

A tongue-tied heart and a teeming kettle of a brain,
an inability to silence the hurt, nor to communicate the joy…
yes, joy — jealousy brought about this pain,
never again and no more — I will not feel like this.

The world may ignore, but I weeped for you,
to have witnessed, was to have felt,
to have listened, was to have fallen with,
and to have recovered was to love…one day they will weep too.

The Effect of Image Processing

6 05 2008

Looking to the Future Examples, originally uploaded by kamikaze productions

I think it would be safe to safe that most digital photographers make edits to their pictures. To be fair, some try to keep the image as true to the reality that was seen through the viewfinder, but editing can go up to the extremes of heavy photoshopping and manipulation. With this entry I’d like to concentrate more on light editing, in the sense of adjusting color and tone for example. Looking at the three images above, you can achieve these different effects by adjusting manually or using a handy Adobe Lightroom preset.

Photo #1 – Auto Tone, Clarity, Light Tones (manually adjusted)
Photo #2 – Matt’s Bleach Bypass – More color
Photo #3 – Lightroom preset: Creative – Aged Photo

Most people have their own idea on how to properly adjust an image to yield the results they are looking for. There is always conversation for instance on b&w conversions. There are those that hate grays in the image, those who think b&w should exude high contrast and vice versa. However, what I am trying to write about, while still subjective, is a bit more universal – emotion. You have the ability to tap into emotion by altering your photos in ways that will affect how the eye sends its messages to the brain and heart.

Looking at my photos, Photo #1, is pretty much the original photo edited to make sure the colors are true and vibrant. The color and contrast feel good, but I haven’t necessarily conveyed much except technique. The composition works, the lighting is tempered on the back of her head, and of course Bokeh (wikipedia the word). But again, this is less about technique and more about final product. I will sum it up with a question about Photo #1 – how do you feel?

Turn your focus to Photo #2. The colors are a bit washed out and her gaze gains more prominence in the photo. Clearly the gaze is a central element no matter what you do with the photo; however, if you can’t get your audience to really appreciate the gaze, then it doesn’t quite matter. So in this photo, I asked myself, “How do I feel?” My answer – nostalgia, she looks like she is appreciative of her accomplishments, and reflects all that is behind her on the day of graduation. This photo is definitely more powerful than Photo #1.

Lastly, Photo #3. It has an aged preset applied and it gives it more of a sepia feel. I ask myself again, “How do I feel?” My answer – nostalgia exists but not with the same level of impact. Instead I feel her gazing into the future, happy today but realizing there is so much to come, not scared in the least bit, just reflective.

I am not arguing that each preset will evoke a certain emotion every time, or that my answer to the question will be the same for every one. But realize you have power in the process of editing your images. You might not always hit the nail on the head, but work at harnessing that power, because it will be the difference between a good capture, and an amazing image!