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Archive for January, 2012

I went down to Rockingham this morning before dawn to play around with my Panasuarus head…….. which actually sounds a bit creepy when you say it like that.  Anyway had mixed results and spent a lot of the afternoon in front of the computer trying to figure out why some of the shots worked and others didn’t.

This shot (well actually these 20 shots) was one of the keepers.   It’s the result of 20 shots taken with a 10mm Sigma lens and blended with PTGui software, argh the joys of modern technology. 

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I kidnappered a friends grandson the other day for an inpromptu photo session on the beach.  We didn’t have much time and I had to promise his mum that I wouldn’t let him get dirty, after all he was in his last set of clean clothes.

Now if you want to rediscover the wonders of the world spend time with a child.  Watching Z intently examining a handful of sand I started to think about the last time that I had felt a handful of sand, I mean really felt it not just whinged about it being in my shoe.  Of course this serene moment of contemplation was shattered when Z took off like a Tompson’s Gazelle up the beach. 

Those studio portraits of perfectly posed children have never rung my bell.  Give me a kid being a kid any day.  Dirt on the hands, grin on the face and wonder in the eyes.  

So here are a few of my Kiddie Hints for you.

Make sure they have something to do.  You can try it but telling a 2 year old to “Sit there and look cute” has never worked for me.

Don’t stop shooting.  Let’s face it, film cost nothing these days and you can bet that as soon as you lower the camera that’s when that special moment or look will occur.

Try to anticipate what’s coming next and be ready for it.  When Z was in the waves I knew that sooner or later one would break over his head.  Then it was just a matter of watching the approaching waves and shooting a series of shots to try and capture the shot I wanted.  In this case I took at least a dozen series of shots to get the one I was after.

Get down on their level.  This gives a more natural look.

Try and stay in front of your subject.  By this I’m not saying that you have to be directly in front of your subject but you do need to be in a position to catch the expressions on the face.  It doesn’t matter how cute they are or what faces they pull, it all come to nought if you’re photographing the back of their head.  An added bonus to being in front is that there is a tendency for the subject to glance up at you more frequently – that’s when you get the best shots.  Of course trying to stay in front of an Energizer Bunny like Z is easier said than done.

Watch the background.  There is nothing worse that capturing that fabulous shot, uploading it on the computer only to find there is severed head on a pole in the background or they have a tree branch growing out of their ear.

Rule of Thirds.  Split the photo in thirds and then place your subject at one of the intersections, it makes the photo more interesting.

Well that’s it from me, I’m off to the beach to feel some sand for a bit and maybe look at a shell.  Oh and no I didn’t get in trouble for trashing Z’s last set of clothes, apparently they hadn’t expected anything less.

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I Do…..

Talking to a fellow photographer last week they made mention that they really didn’t enjoy Wedding photography because of the ‘Bridezilla’s they had to deal with.  Now I’ll admit that I find Wedding photography horrendously stressful.  Being invited to share and record such a momentous occasion in a couples’ life is a rare privillage and a HUGE responsibility, you don’t get a second chance so you have to make sure you get it right the first time.  You have to deal with the emotions of the day, last minute hiccups and the ever changing weather.  Now I’m not sure if it has just good luck or good planning (probaby a bit of both) but I’m happy to say that of all the weddings I’ve shot I’ve never had a ‘Bridezilla’.  There was one or two mother-in-laws I would have gladly hit over the head with a shovel, but never a bride.

Despite all the stress and worry associated with it, Wedding photography is incredibly rewarding and always (well mostly always) an absolute hoot.  So if you’ve ever considerd having a go at doing a wedding or been asked by a friend to do theirs I’ve added a Wedding and Portrait page to the gallery and over the next few months I’ll add a few helpful hints that might help you along the way.

As always if there is something specific you would like to know please drop me an email.  Happy shooting.  Ian

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I love the internet!  With the click of a couple of buttons I can be looking at the work of photographers from all over the world and of a thousand different genres.  I find this wonderfully exciting and such a fabulous source of inspiration.  Lately I’ve been following the work of New York based photographer Evelina Kremsdorf who does a lot of ‘textured’ work.  I really liked the effects she creates and so instead of my usual ‘straight’ portrait style I decided to try something different.

The How.

I took the portrait I had shot of Aimee (this is where I normally stop)

 

Cropped and darkened areas of the image then used Photoshop to overlaid a texture (blend mode – multiple) I downloaded from the net 

and then reduced the saturation and this is the result.

 I quite like the result, probably because it’s different from what I normally do, what do you think?

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WC Fields is famously quoted as saying “never work with children or animals.” And having photographed some absolute terrors over the years I’d have to agree that they can be ‘challenging’ (I thinks that’s the politically correct term to describe some of these little @#$%s).  BUT they can also make the most wonderful subjects. 

So the tip for today, if you want to photograph your favourite moggy or man’s best friend, don’t just stand there – get down on their level, you’ll get a much more natural look.

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Pan Baby Pan

Those of you who have been keeping an eye on the facebook page will have noticed that before I headed back to the cyclone ravaged Pilbara I spent quite a bit of time photographing the Kite surfers down at ‘The Pond’.  If you want a fun and challenging afternoon have a go at shooting those guys.  It’s got it all, colour, action, aerobatics and best of all as soon as they see a camera they start to show off – it’s great. 

Anyway I went down as I do to get some shots but unfortunately, ‘The Doctor’ (what us locals call the gale that arrives most days about 10:30am to ruin my kayaking) had failed to materialize.  Now don’t get me wrong, it was still windy, just not its’ usual ‘blow the spots off a dog’ windy.  So as the action on the kite surfing front was a bit lean I decided to try my hand at the windsurfers instead.

Now I may be taken out and flogged for what I’m about to say but…… wind surfers are dull.  Their sails are colourful and in a group they look really pretty, but they don’t actually do much.  They zoom up the coast for a few hundred meters, turn around and ……..zoom back again and that’s pretty much it.  They don’t have any waves to jump, they don’t hurl themselves 30 foot in the air and when they fall off, it’s just kind of a ‘plop’, not the spectacular crash and burn of a kite surfer hitting the briny like a kamikaze seagull.    

They’re also pretty predictable so getting shots that were crisp, sharp and full of detail wasn’t a problem, getting shots that were in anyway interesting was, it didn’t take long and I started to get bored and decided it was time to change tact.  Instead of freezing the action, I decided to try and capture sense of speed.  

To do this I planned to slow down the shutter speed to create blur, but, there’s always a but, I didn’t want to blur the windsurfers too much as I still wanted them to remain reasonably sharp (the eye tends to be drawn to the part of the photo that is in focus) and be the focal point of the photo.

The camera settings

To capture the action I had been shooting at ISO 400 and 1/2000 sec.  To create blur I initially dropped the ISO back to 100 and closed the aperture down to f22 which gave me a shutter speed of 1/8 sec, but I found that this was giving me too much blur as the windsurfers not only moved forward but also up and down as they bounced across the waves and I wasn’t getting an area of clarity I needed to draw the viewer’s attention.  I experimented with a range of shutter speeds and in the end found that 1/20sec was the best compromise to get the result I wanted. 

Panning

Now that I had the setting that would give me the effect I wanted, I still had to get the picture.  If I had just pointed the camera at the windsurfer and pressed the shutter the background would have been sharp and only the windsurfer would be blurred which was the opposite to what I wanted to achieve so I ‘panned’ the shots.

Panning is a simple technique in which you line up the subject in your viewfinder and follow them, while pressing the shutter.  The trick is to do it smoothly and to keep them in the one position within the viewfinder.

The technique I use is to stand facing the middle of the subject’s line of travel, get a good solid stance, have one hand under the lenses for support, tuck my arms into my chest (again for extra support) and twist from the waist.  To keep them in one position in the viewfinder I picked one point on the subject, for example a hand or join in the sail and lined that up with one of the grid points in my view finder.  Forgetting about everything else in the viewfinder I just concentrated on keeping the two points aligned and follow they from far left to far right (or visa versa) pressing the shutter the whole way. 

Thank goodness for digital because you chew up a lot of shots with this method but the more photos you take the more likely you are to get a keeper.  So next time you’re out and about and the clear and sharp approach isn’t working for you try slowing everything down and panning around a bit.

Well that’s it for now, hope it was of some help, I’m out of here before the Australian Chapter of the Windersurfer’s Are So Not Dull vigilantes arrives.

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….those that can’t take photos of those that can.  I spent a couple of hours today down at ‘The Pond’ (well that’s what we in the local kite surfing community call it, damn how hip am I! – do they still say hip?) putting my new camera through it’s paces.   Really happy with the results.  I’ve put an album up on the Ian Beattie Photography Facebook page for those that are interested.

To get the photo I waited for the kite surfer to jump (I’m actually starting to get pretty good at picking when they’re about to get airborne) and then just kept pressing the shutter until after he landed.  Then it was just a matter of overlaying the photos in Photoshop, aligning the backgrounds and masking out all but the surfer in each photo.  I used a 200mm lens and had the camera set at ISO 400 so that I could get a fast shutter speed, in this case 1/2000 sec @ f4.   

Kite Surfer at 'The Pond'

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