It was with some excitement that I announced a couple of months back that I was asked to write an eBook which will be released by the oopoomoo team, which was a huge honour for me seeing that before I got into this photograph racket, I dreamed of becoming a writer. So I slid into writing through the backdoor – through my photography.
Since then, I’ve been asked by quite a few people “what is the release date?” Today I’m really proud to say, emphatically…as soon as I finish it. Which I’ll be honest about. It started off great, and when I have found time to write, I’ve made some excellent progress. I would classify it as about half-way done. Where it’s sat for about two months.
Yes, I’m guilty of not touching the thing for close to two months now. But in fairness, it’s been an irregular two months. We welcomed our third baby into the world – our sweet little girl Lily Aire. Oh, and this little photography thing I’ve been doing has been “flat-out nuts”.
So no complaints. But those waiting for the book will just have to be a little patience. As will my patient editors, Darwin and Sam from oopoomoo. You’ll have to be patient too. I figure if I say patient enough times in two sentences all will be good. I’ve been patient trying to find time to write this post.
Back to the book. I am seriously excited for this thing, and it’s been a very liberating, educational process for me taking the time to put my thoughts about the craft of photography. If you’re curious about the “what” I’ll be covering in my little opus, read on.
So, I haven’t been doing this forever. About 8 years now, the last 3 or 4 seriously. I’ve learned lots, but I’ve still got tonnes to learn. In my own learning curve I’ve come across workshops and resources that have been incredibly helpful. They (namely blogs like Strobist, various Flickr forums, and books like McNally’s classic “Hotshoe Diariess”) have taught me lots about the art and craft of photography.
But still, I found some gaps in my own learning. Big holes….that took me far longer to figure out certain elements of photography than I think they rightfully should have.
So my own eBook will try to address some of those gaps.
First and foremost it will be a book about portraiture – the art of photographing people. But rather than a complete “how to” on everything related to capturing the human being, it will be more focused on using light to your advantage to get the most out of your subject, whether that be natural light or introduced (artificial) lighting.
So what are the gaps I’m talking about?
Well, I find there’s a lot of great resources on how to use strobes, for instance. There’s workshop after workshop on how to effectively use modifiers, and how to try to shape light to your advantage. I teach some of these workshops. But where I found the biggest gap in my own learning – which lead me to want to try to effectively write about it so others wouldn’t have to have the same learning curve I had – was how to balance light effectively. That is, how to choose the level of the “light that’s there” (the ambient light) that you want in your image and then how to compliment it with your introduced lighting. In other words, how to effectively balance these two contradictory (but often complimentary) sources of light in your image to produce something powerful.
To illustrate my case, I’ll give a number of examples of how I try to build an image in steps, treating the background ambient light and the introduced light as separate beasts that can be easily tamed with the right amount of practice. Seriously, once it ‘clicks’ in your head, it becomes a really easy thing to do image after image.
As an example of what I mean, check out the following three images, which illustrate the process that I follow again and again (and will talk about in-depth in the book). The first image (A) is my starting point. I shoot a test images, always, without my light to get the background exposure where I want it. Overall, the image sucks because you can’t really see the couple. That’s okay, because that’s not my purpose in shooting the image…it’s to get my background. The second shot (B) is just randomly throwing out light to see how I should adjust the light power and direction. Again, a sub-par image, but closer to where I want it. I know I now have to adjust where the light is hitting (it’s aimed too low). Finally, in the third image (C) I’ve pretty much gotten the image I was looking for. I’m shooting with straight-up, unmodifed flash here; I like to stay really light shooting weddings, so I’m not lugging around studio gear and giant softboxes. But I like it nonetheless.
So stay tuned for more on the book – and if using environmental and introduced lighting to photograph people more effectively interests you, be sure to purchase the book once it’s released. Oh, and for each of these images below, click on them to see larger copies.