GREEN THUMB, FASHION ROOT

The month of October is significant for a few reasons. Mainly, its my birthday, and i believe, as is the case with many people, that age does not equate to spirit age. If you can connect with your inner child, cliched as it sounds, and remember how you used to enjoy life, in its simplest, purest form, you’ll never truly age. I’ve met people, young and old, who sometimes juxtapose completely in this regard.

The other reason, is Halloween. Even though we don’t celebrate it officially in south africa, its  still a fun and exciting time. People enjoy being scared and its the perfect excuse to watch as many horror as possible, good and bad.

I haven’t really been involved in too many community projects or good will projects in general. I always thought of it as means for people with a guilty conscience to ease the burden. But of course, generalizing is one of the worst things you can do, next to assumption.

I had the opportunity to work on a shoot that focused on green peace and how we can promote it. It was a fashion shoot, where the fabrics were entirely “green friendly”, so to speak. In essence, you can be fashionable without leaving a big, nasty carbon footprint.

It was fun and i visited some beautiful locations, including the awe inspiring, God’s window. Do yourself a favor and google this place. Its located in the province of mpumalanga, south africa. I also came to the realization that i haven’t really seen much of what our country has to offer. A person rarely visits the sightseeing hotspots in the place they live.

Following are a few images from the shoot. These are only samples, as the shoot is still in process. I unfortunately couldn’t complete the entire shoot at the time, and the finale has been postponed. But i am very excited to see the final product. Hopefully, this will encourage and inspire people to do more for their community, even it if seems silly at times. Just remember, don’t do things because of guilt. Its never the right reason and almost always the wrong one.

I try to include some ideas as to the lighting setups i use. With this particular shoot, i used three light sources. The sun, a reflector and a beauty dish. Sometimes i used the sun as a backlight or sidelight, while using the beauty dish for the main and the reflector for fill.

Learn the basics, apply the basics, but be prepared for trial and error. The best way to learn is to do. Don’t expect perfect results and always be willing to make mistakes in order to better yourself as a photographer.

 

 


FITNESS FRENZY, DEDICATED MUSCLE

Let me just begin by saying something about movie remakes. In large part, they tend to be destructive, insulting and demeaning. It is blatant proof that film has lost a lot of what makes it an art form. It has become an infernal machine that only functions to produce green gold. When i think of just a view movies that i feel belong only in the time era it was made, i am truly saddened to see good memories polluted.

My best advice regarding this: If you treasure a movie and there is a remake, rather not watch it.

Quote of the post

“Don’t force your habits, beliefs and personal opinions unto others. Its a sure way to make any conversation, social, friendship and relationship, go sour”.

This post will mainly concern fitness and a few practical points when approaching a fitness shoot. I did a shoot on sunday with fitness model ,Jaco de Bruyn. He is in preparation for a number of upcoming competitions. This meant that his shape was impeccable and it was the perfect time to do a shoot solely focused on fitness/ physique.

Here is a quick behind the scenes video:

I will end off this post by adding a few images from the previous shoot we did. I will post images of the most recent shoot in the next few weeks.

I believe that as with any shoot, you need to consider what is necessary to get the best out of the session. Because this is mainly a fitness shoot, the focus will be mainly on the person’s physique. You can also take headshots, its not set in stone that you just have to shoot body. But its important to know what you are looking for with the shoot. Do you want to take a fine art approach? For example, shooting close up of arms, chest, abs, etc, or implied black and whites?

Or do you want to take a more sporty approach, by making use of soccer balls, tennis rackets, etc?

A great aid in helping you make this choice, is to look at work done by other photographers in this field. There are many that will serve as brilliant inspiration . Google names like Luis Rafael, Rick Day, Richard Gerst, Bruce Weber, Tony Duran, etc. This should set your mind firmly outside the box and give you tons of ideas to work with. Don’t feel restricted. Go with what you feel is best for the shoot. Just don’t forget to discuss any and all ideas with the person first.

Then of course, use your own inspiration and creativity. Consider the model/ subject/ person and think what you could do to bring out the best in them. Remember, when you’re shooting a fitness athlete/ model or individual, they’ve worked extremely hard to be in the shape that they are. You need to take this into consideration, because if the body looks bad in the photos, then you’ve definitely lost what you set out to do.

The next thing you need to consider, is lighting. Do you want to use natural light, artificial light or a combination?

There’s no definitive answer and this largely depends on personal taste. You can achieve brilliant results with any of the above. Once again, you need to experiment and find what works best for you.

If you’re shooting studio, do you want moody lighting or just someone fun, sporty and bright? Try using a gridded softbox, reflector or beauty dish. For the latter, try using a white background (make sure its properly lit), and one or two lights to illuminate your subject.

If you’re shooting outdoors, and its a nice, sunny day, just take a reflector and play around with bouncing light.  You can even shoot midday. Just make sure that you don’t get ugly shadows under the eyes- unless its something you’re looking for. It can look shit, so be careful. Otherwise, just find a shady area and shoot there. You can always bounce light with a reflector, although you might need an assistant for this.

Fitness is fun. Don’t worry too much about technical jargon and all the bullshit. I studied medicine for years, and believe me, more than half the course is irrelevant. You just sound clever in conversations.

Just a quick checklist:

plan some of the shots or at least, have an idea of what you want to do. Random shooting can be fun, but if time is of the essence, its best to know beforehand where and what you want to shoot.

Research, research, research. Look for inspiration. That’s why there are photographers out there that know more than you do.

Make sure you have everything you need: reflector, lights, batteries, back ups, stands, sandbags, etc.

oil. To give the body a shine and “pop” the definition. Don’t overdo it, unless you’re shooting something porno or kinky.

Props and clothing. For example, old t shirts, jeans, shorts, polo pants, rugby gear, soccer gear. This will largely depend on what you’re going for.

camera

model

Lots and lots of creative freedom

This should give you a rough idea of what to do when doing a fitness shoot. I will do many more posts on this, and will go into more detail concerning specific areas of interest.

I leave you now with a few photos from an earlier shoot. And yes, i am aware that the headshot is not a physique shot. Release the shutter. :)


CONTROVERSY, ESSENTIAL TO CHALLENGE OR TO PURPOSEFULLY IMPRESS

It has been quite some time since i last wrote something for the blog. Its been a tumultuous past few months and i am starting to get back on track with things.  Slowly, but surely. :)

The next few posts will mainly concern my trip to the united states and the outcome of that journey. Let me just say that it was a big eye opener and something i believe everyone should do at some point or another. We tend to get used to our surrounds and our comfort zone. So much so, that there comes a time when life outside of where you are, doesn’t really exist.

I will also place a preview image from my “broken series” in this post.  But lets just touch on an important topic, that does not necessarily fall inside photography alone, but to most, if not all, spheres of life.

What is controversy and why does it exist? When we think of the word, most people already start to panic slowly. To many, it means that if you step outside of line, you are not part of the “family” anymore. We need to keep to the rules, stay in check and not do anything that will disagree with government, society  and people in general.

Some controversial figures include Jesus, Genghis Khan, Martin Luther King, Jr, smurfette and daytime soap operas.

But what about photography? What makes photos controversial?

I found an interesting article with a list of some of the more controversial photographers, past and present. Have a look at the article here:

http://www.myfatpocket.com/fashion/touch-of-vogue/5-worlds-most-controversial-photographers.html

Personally, i feel it is an essential component of life and should be encouraged. From a creative point of view, it allows us to be more in touch with our talents. It allows us to express our thoughts and emotions. We need to disagree sometimes to further thinking and promote change and more self awareness. If someone always plays it safe, how can they be considered truly “unique”.

We all make choices in life and these will either lead us to live freely, or be confined and imprisoned by the crushing force of “fitting in”.

I recently did a shoot while i visited the coast. Its a story i am publishing at a later stage, but i want to share a preview of it here. Have a look at being “broken”.  I will leave you with a quote:

“if you can’t find humor in almost anything, you will most likely find lamentation instead”


CHOOSE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED BY, BE DARING

This has been a long time coming and i have finally made the decision to travel to the united states of america. Not because i feel i am a tourist and i want to take pretty photos, but i want to travel for myself. To expand my way of thinking. To embark on a journey that not very many people take. Always in life, we’re faced with two choices, a crossroads. We’ll either go with the road that we’re familiar with, the one that is safe and secure. This road will take us through life, love, marriage, children, old age and retirement. It can also potentially be a lonely and unfulfilled road.

The other road is the one less taken by. It leads to uncertainty, many more disappointments and risks. But its also the road that people take who are willing to sacrifice and fight for what they truly want in life. Failure might be common, but it won’t stop the individual from pressing onward. Its this uncertainty that lures them, pulls them in. At the end of this road might be the reason for you being on this planet, in this short amount of time we have. You might get there battered, bruised and broken, but also reborn. The fight was worth it. You made it, no matter how high the odds were stacked against you. Your persevered.

Don’t make a foolhardy decision in life. Don’t make choices that depend on what others have to say. Take advice from people and use it, if it proves useful. But don’t live according to a supposed way. There is no wrong or right way of living. We have to make our lives according to the people we are. One thing everyone has in common, is dreams. No matter how small or how big. We all, at some stage, have a dream.

If the world was a more magical place, we’d be happy. We’d be friends with everyone. We wouldn’t have war and fighting. Death and destruction. There would be peace. Everything would be perfect. But this isn’t the way things are. The world is an imperfect place, filled with imperfect people. We need to realize this. We need to realize that we all make mistakes, that we all are allowed to dream, and that we all are allowed to pursue the goals and passions we have.

Its not always easy, and honestly, its hell hard most of the time. But the satisfaction you will get from achieving what you’ve always wanted, will be so much more amazing than anything you could ever have imagined.

I am taking this journey because i am at a crossroads. I have a decision to make. And i decided to take the road of the unknown. A famous person once said, that sometime, you have to jump without knowing what lies underneath. You give your life up to the hands of fate and you see it through to the end. Until one day you reach that infernal gate that says, abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

I am finishing off by adding a few recent photos that i took at my home studio, with some basic lighting setup. I played around with one, two, three lights. Just to see what different effects i could create. The underwear photos i wanted to give a bit of classy feel. I used a simple chair, where the model poses on the chair, in thought. The intellectual opposite of what you’d expect from someone in their underwear, with a body like that. We destroy conventions every day to allow people to be themselves. There is no limit to expression, but only those that are placed upon us by people.

 


LIGHTING FOR THE MUSES, SOME ROYALTY

I want to mention three things in this post. A few lighting setups, muses and the royal wedding.

Let me start off by saying that i hope the royal wedding will be a roaring success and that no evil exes will make unwanted moves. There must be so many eyeballs focused on the old telly at this very moment that i am writing this. In any event, much congrats and may the celebration be unforgettable, like the movie, suckerpunch.

Okay, regarding the lighting. Here are 6 different lighting setups, for the face. On another note, we recognize each others faces by looking at the relationship between the nose, eyes and mouth.

Butterfly lighting

link:

butterfly

The butterfly is basically a reference to the shape of the shadow under the nose. It doesn’t really look like a butterfly, but with a little imagination, you can visualize it. The light is positioned above the camera and directly in front of your subject’s face. If the subject turns their head, the shadow changes. Again, play around with this. If you want the shadow to be softer, you can place a reflector under the subject’s head.  This will bounce some fill into the shadow areas.

image link: butterfly

Loop lighting

This is a commonly used lighting technique. The light is placed to one side of the subject’s face and positioned so that you get a loop-shaped shadow under the subject’s nose. If you want to get technical, the shadow points towards the corner of the mouth, but doesn’t quite reach it. This is a pretty good lighting setup for people with oval shaped faces.

image link: loop

image link: loop

Rembrandt’s triangle

This was named after the Dutch painter, Rembrandt. For this effect, the light needs to be high and to one side in front of the subject. Obviously, people differ, so you’ll have to play around with the light to see what is the best effect. Its characterized by a patch of light on the less brightly lit side of the face. This patch, according to some material, shouldn’t be wider than the eye and longer than the nose. Its a very moody lighting setup and works really well with the right subject.

photo link: rembrandt

photo link: rembrandt

Split lighting

This is achieved by moving the light to one side of the subject, keeping it at the same height level as the head. This gives a very dramatic effect and once again, depends on what you are looking for. You can even increase the drama by using a black reflector or polyboard on the side of the face. Alternatively, you can soften the effect by using a white/ silver reflector or polyboard.

photo link: split

photo link: split

Broad lighting

If the key light is illuminating the side of the face closest to the camera, it is known as broad lighting.  This isn’t a very nice setup for people with broad or round faces, because it’ll make them look “fatter”. So its a nice setup for people with thinner, narrower faces.

photo link: broad

photo link: broad

Narrow lighting

Narrow, also known as short, lighting is where the person’s face away from the camera is lit by the key light. (main light). You place the key light opposite to where it was in broad lighting, at the same height.  You can also use a second light or a reflector to ad fill to the opposite side. Again, adjust according to taste.  Its a nice lighting setup for portraits and for people with “fatter” faces.

photo link: short

photo link: short

I hope these examples and definitions make sense. Just to reiterate, this is just guidelines to produce a specific effect. You can adjust according to your own taste. Take the different setups, and play around with the position and height of the light. Ad a reflector to some shots and compare the results. If you want, ad a background light for separation of the subject from the background. Nothing is set in stone. Photography has rules, but they are most certainly meant to be broken.

THE MUSES

I just want to mention a few words about muses. Here’s a nice link to a wiki definition. But i suppose everyone has their own interpretation. For me, its someone that inspires your work and pushes you to be more creative and to try different things. If you had a shit day at a shoot, you can always find your muse to help ease the depression. One example, is Karl Lagerfeld and baptiste giabiconi. If you google them, you’ll see a lot of collaborative work. Definitely something to take note of if you’re looking for some inspiration.

muses, wiki style.

That’s it for this post. I hope that everyone enjoys the coming weekend and that you’ll always resist the urge to give up.


PHOTOGRAPHIC FREEDOM

It’s sad to notice that most people only live week for week. There’s always the weekend ahead that will make everything seem better. But to compound this, when the weekend arrives, nothing really happens. Its just a filler, a break or a breather from every day life. Before you know it, time has taken a huge leap, you’re old and weathered, looking back at a life that has been the same. A monotonous drag with momentary bits of excitement.

But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone has a passion, whether it be something simple like stamp collecting or more complex like mountain climbing. Some passions might even seem impossible to achieve: writing a novel, traveling the world, becoming a great actor. But if we allow the thought of “impossible” to enter our minds, the battle is already lost. Giving up before you’ve even started. This is where most dreams fall flat.

I believe that most people can achieve great things if they slay the “impossible” demon. Nothing worth having is easily achieved. There will always be difficulties and hardships. This isn’t necessarily fate being cruel or unfair. It might just be because life is worth more if we invest more. The bottom line: don’t underestimate yourself. You are capable of a lot more than you might think, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.

Look at most successful people and how they came to be. You might fail 9 out of 10 times, but that 10th time might be the life changing one. Don’t give up too soon, you’ll end up regretting it. The problem is that we can’t go back in time to fix things. So unless you own a time machine, don’t let go of your passions and, as cliched as it sounds, never say (gasp) never.

This post will feature a variety of images, from abstract to fashion. I don’t always want to keep a single theme. Mixing and matching things up brings a bit of excitement and intrigue, or at least i like to think so. The great thing about photography is that you can do so many different things. You don’t need to keep taking the same photos every time you do a shoot. Be daring and challenge yourself. If you have an idea or wacky concept, try it out. You might just end up with a piece of magnificent art.

It’s important to trust your instincts and believe in your own ideas. Don’t let the naysayers or unbelievers tell you that your ideas are stupid or implausible. Your imagination is there for a reason. Don’t let it go to waste. If you want to shoot a turtle in a bathing suit, by all means, do so. If you want to shoot ten clowns tanning on a beach, go ahead. Sometimes the impossible becomes possible when its done.

Another way to make things slightly easier, is to choose a topic. Say you want to do a fashion or a fitness shoot, but you want to be fresh and daring. Use something that doesn’t necessarily go with the theme to create the images. A basic idea could be a bodybuilder doing ballet or building a sand caste. You could shoot ten models, in a police line up wearing high fashion clothing.

Art is subjective. If you have a shot in mind that you feel people will react to, possibly unfavorably, then it is most likely worth shooting. You won’t always please everyone and i don’t that is the idea with photography or any art-form in general. If you’re looking for the green light every time you want to shoot something, you should probably stop taking photos and do something else.


NEXT STOP, LOCNVILLE

The weekend i decided to explore some more of youtube land. It truly has an amazing amount of video, tutorials and behind the scenes, that can greatly change or shape the way you do photography. It is a wonderful tool for learning, and it doesn’t cost you anything. Well, except for the internet fee. But you can search for beauty lighting specifically, and look at some of the great lighting setups that you get for this unique kind of lighting. Don’t forget to check out the strobist,on my blogroll. Awesome, valuable info on there.

Its not all that complicated, and you can start shooting beauty portraits before you know it. Just take a bit of time, even 10 or 15 minutes everyday, and look at a tutorial or behind the scenes video. You will be surprised about what you can learn. I’ve recently had a look at a video from a shoot with Markus and Mert. People not familiar with this duo, do yourself a favor and Google them. They shot Cristiano Ronaldo for an underwear campaign. The setup was quite simple, and yielded brilliant results.

The fun thing now, is you can play around with this setup to see what other results you can achieve. Don’t underestimate the power of the internet. You can learn a lot of you know what you’re looking for. And if you’re not looking for something, you still might learn something valuable.

This post is a retrospect post. I mentioned a few days back that i will write these articles now and again, to showcase some of the work i’ve done over the past year. This particular shoot was with the duo of LOCNVILLE. We shot in downtown Johannesburg. It was quite scary, seedy and not very friendly, but it was fun because the locations are phenomenal. There are some truly stunning spots that you can do a shoot. High fashion, fine art, portraits, you name it, you can shoot it there. Just don’t get shot in the process. People from south africa will understand this little joke.

I learned to work under pressure in this shoot. It was relatively short term. It was guerrilla style shooting, in other words, i didn’t have much equipment, and used the camera, a strobe and a reflector. All hand held. In some spots, you had to be fast to get a photo. It was a nice experience and its a good way to learn how to shoot when you don’t have control over the lighting that is available. Many areas were dark. One solution was to bounce some light into that darkness. Another was to use the flash, with an umbrella, to get a similar effect. You use what you have when you can.

If you didn’t have a flash, then a reflector would have been a good alternative as well. Provided there are pockets of sunlight which you can harness. You can also crank up the iso on your camera, but be careful, as many cameras will produce a lot of grain when the iso goes even over 400. But check what yours do at lower and higher settings,compare the images on your computer screen. Not on the LCD. Its too small and you cannot tell anything from the photo that way. The good thing about the lcd, is that you can have a look at your histogram to get an idea of your image data.

So this was not a fitness or physique shoot, nor a model shoot, but a band shoot. So the dynamics is different, as you’re working with a new subject. But the principles still remain the same. You have to build a rapport with your client. Have an understanding of what each party wants. Then you apply the basic knowledge you’ve learned to the situation. Light is still the same, whether you photograph a model or a band singer. Its the way you light that might be different and the instruction you give. But again, don’t be stressed, have fun, experiment and see what you get.

A useful thing to do as well, is to document the different lighting setups that you use. Whether it be just a reflector or a strobe or a combination or just natural light. Take photos, make notes and see what the result of your setup is. If you don’t have it written down, then you won’t remember what you did to get those specific shots. Then you can’t learn from your mistakes. Keep a notepad handy.

Here are some of the photos. I will post more in future. Hope you enjoy.


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