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What’s Next?

I’m at a bit of a crossroad with my photography.  Currently I’ve got no projects and that’s meant I’m starting to question why I’m taking pictures?  Don’t get me wrong I love photography and love seeing the results.  But is that enough?  Over the last few years I’ve learnt loads, but there’s always more to learn and I’m keen not to get complacent or stagnate.

So what’s next?

A blog.  I’ve no idea where this will lead or who will read it, or even whether that matters.  But I’m hoping I can use that to explore where I want to go with photography, it might be it triggers specific projects.  I’d also like to use it to share knowledge, not just because it might be useful to others but because in doing so I think it will help me understand how much I really know rather than how much I think I know.

I’m very happy to receive comments and feedback (you’re right, you’re wrong, I like that, you could make that better and here’s how). 

Was going to finish the first blog entry there, but this is a photography blog so there should be pictures.  Not much on selfies, but thought piccies of me writing the blog and some stuff about indoor light might be good. 

The first picture is the standard social media phone selfie.  Actually the phone does a reasonable job of sorting out the light.  Nothing wrong with it but the problem is I wanted a picture of me writing the blog and all I really got was just a picture of me.

So a tripod is called for, camera on timer and see what the natural light’s like.  Natural light can be your friend and produce great pictures.  In this case though the light from the window is too harsh – in fact letting the camera do it’s own thing the pixels in parts of the picture are completely blown (no useful information in them).  No chance to fix even by editing.

Of course I could move to improve the light, but this is a photography blog so I thought I’d make more of a project of it.  So get rid of the harsh light by closing the curtains and get out the speedlights, stands and shoot through umbrellas.  My gear is cheap, I use Yongnuo flashes and wireless triggers, but it’s good stuff.  I’ve used it now for a few years at home and semi professionally for weddings, never let me down. 

I don’t do much indoor flash photography so haven’t invested in light meters (and wouldn’t really know how to use them).  So I set the flashes to manual for light strength and zoom (how narrow or wide the light is dispersed by the flash).  This means a bit of trial and error to get the light right, called ‘chimping’ a process sneered on by some.  Not by me though, no different to a cook tasting food to check seasoning, and the more chimping I do the more I learn.

In the next picture I wanted nice consistent light.  So I’ve got one speedlight with a shoot through umbrella to the side.  A second speedlight (at about a quarter of the power of the first) is behind me on a stand (came with the speedlight, very useful) bouncing light off the ceiling as a fill at the back of the picture.

Next I thought I’d add a bit of contrast (like light from a window).  Just one speedlight now from the side and shooting from the front.

Lastly a bit of noire.  One speedlight set to maximum zoom to narrow the light and a cardboard tube on the end of the flash to create a really narrow circle of light.  Close the curtains and doors and convert to black and white.

The point about this is that natural light for me is the best, but if that’s not right you can create and control your own light.  Doesn’t cost a fortune (check Yongnuo out on Amazon) or even need masses of skill and experience so don’t be scared to have a go.  You do need some gear though, with flash photography lesson number one for me is get the flash off the camera – that’s why professional camera’s don’t even have a pop up flash. 

More soon.

Vaughan

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