So for the last month I have been in Auckland doing work for a local orchestra and taking it easy in general. Throughout my stay I got a chance to hang out with some people I knew and some people I did not know as well. I felt as though I should be doing something productive, something for my portfolio on my down time, when I wasn’t doing work for the orchestra or spending time with Alanna, so I approached a number of friends and friends of friends and asked if I could take their portraits. I wanted to take a bit of an editorial approach to them, some of them turned out that way and some of them didn’t. I was not paid for any of these photos, it was something I wanted to do for myself. Some of the people I photographed had never had their picture taken professionally and were thrilled at this. Others were nervous but after we chatted for a bit (or after I bought them a drink) we nabbed some great photos.
The reason behind the lack of updates around here is because I have been on a bit of a working vacation. I have been in New Zealand for the past 3 weeks, doing work for an orchestra in Auckland and working on my new promos.
What’s that you say? What kind of a vacation is that?? It’s a damn good one if you ask me. Being away from home and only having a little bit of work to do has given me a lot of time to work on things I have been putting off. My new promo for example:
Also what I’ve had time to work on is the list of companies I’m sending them to. And you photographers know how big of a deal that is.
That’s not to say that my work with the orchestra and the time spent on the marketing piece has taken up all of my time – most of my time is spent out in the sun on the beach or in downtown Auckland with Alanna. I’ve even taken some time to do various portraits of friends here for a personal project, which will eventually turn into a new promotional piece. These sort of vacations from your hectic work schedule are healthy – but of course it doesn’t mean you should do nothing the whole time. Just because you take a vacation doesn’t mean your marketing has to as well.
While wandering around Auckland, Alanna and I came across an old Cemetery where many of the country’s founders had been laid to rest. The place was very old – Some graves were marked 1848 at the time of death. Many of the stones had collapsed or the engravings had been worn down from the weather showing nothing but blank slates of stone. It was in a forest alongside the road and it had just rained – it was beautiful.
I’ve rarely had the chance to use my Lensbaby where it was appropriate to the situation. I’m very picky about my images (as most photographers are) and if something looks remotely off, I will completely re-shoot.
But today, the lensbaby was perfect.
At some point, you are going to ask yourself a very important question: “Am I a studio light or natural light photographer?”
Each type of lighting has it’s own characteristics and benefits. Studio lighting is customizable, professional, and allows you to capture nearly everything you need the lighting for. Natural light is beautiful, available, classic and impossible to replicate.
Unfortunately, each type of lighting has a downside as well; Studio lights are cumbersome and difficult to transport, they need a power source, they are expensive, and they take time to set up. Natural light is uncontrollable, so your at the mercy of your environment.
I’m a big fan of natural light – Something about it just feels so right, and like I said above, you can’t replicate natural light in a studio. Let me introduce you to the most common lighting situations you will face out in the world.
Shooting at 12 noon will give you very hot or orange/yellow light. Since the sun is at it’s highest point in the sky, you will get very bright highlights and very dark shadows. Not saying it’s impossible to shoot it – I’m just saying you will have a hell of a time getting decent detail in both the shadows and the highlights unless you use a reflector or a fill-flash of some kind or you’re willing to work a little photoshop HDR magic.
However, this type of lighting takes up a large chunk of the day – from about 10am to about 4pm, so it’s convenient to shoot in. Which brings us to our next type of natural light:
If the mid-day sun is too much for you to handle, try moving your subject under a tree. It’s so simple – the leaves and brunches take out the intensity of the sun enough so your subject doesn’t have to squint, and you get beautiful patterns of light all over your photo. If you use these patterns properly – like placing a highlight directly on your subjects face, it can work very well for you.
Warm vs. Cold
The best time of day to shoot is bright and early – between 5 and 7am, and later in the day before sunset. Morning light is significantly cooler or bluer than evening light. And you won’t get the harsh shadows created by noon light. If you shoot about an hour before sunset, you will capture a magical mood – in the film industry known as the “Golden Hour” because everything takes on an angelic glow – it’s beautiful, but you have to be prepared and work fast – you lose light very quickly during sunset.
This photo was taken in a gazebo around 6pm:
And this next photo is the same model, but taken much earlier in the morning:
You can also get a similarly cold look from shooting in the shade or on a cloudy day. Each image cold and warm has it’s own feeling that you can utilize however you wish.
I’ve saved the best for last. At any time of the day you can get what I consider to be the most beautiful lighting in the world… window light.
In all it’s simplicity, window light sure is versatile. You can place your subject right next to the window for more pronounced shadows and highlights or you can move your subject several feet from the window and get a much softer diffused light.
And depending on the time of day, the thickness of the glass, the weather, etc – it will all change, which makes it not only very accessible but also very exciting to work with. You’ll never really know quite what you will get, but it will always be beautiful.
I’ve been in Auckland New Zealand for the past week and a half on vacation with girlfriend Alanna and all has been well.
I know I’ve been promising a new article (And it’s coming, soon) but at the moment I decided to share a few photos with you instead.
We all need a break from the things we love weather it’s a hobby or a family member or a job. The last week and a half I’ve had that break, and I was starting to get photography with-drawls.
Last night around 8PM we decided to ascend Mt. Eden for a picnic. Considering the time, it was very bright due to the city lights and cloudy sky.
I will need to be doing something much more formal soon… Lots of stuff coming, stay tuned!