Monday, August 11, 2014

Nothing Fancy

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 A few weeks ago, I went out again with my friend, Diana, for another "just-for-fun" editorial-style shoot.  Diana's son came along with us.

I wanted to capture some pics that seemed to say something about poverty in America, make that poverty in rural white America. I hoped to channel just a slight bit of Dorothea Lange and her Depression Era work. Nothing fancy or tricky, lighting wise or otherwise. It wasn't an attempt to mimic any of Lange's terrific photos. First off, it would have taken a budget to recreate the time period in which Lange shot most of her best work. I had no money for period "production value." (Props, wardrobe, locale.) Besides, I'm not so full of myself that I think I can match a master's work like Lange's.

Instead, I simply wanted to capture a bit of the feeling seen in some of Lange's work, especially those that portrayed a sense of hopelessness and despair in the expressions and body language of her subjects. It was more about projecting emotions than recreating a time period. I like shooting emotionally-driven pics. It's about directing the acting rather than setting lighting, framing for composition and other photographic elements. Not that those elements don't still remain important.

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The image at the top was captured with a cheap Holga lens on my Canon 5D2.  The pronounced vignetting is a product of the lens, not post production. It's a somewhat difficult lens to work with as it's very hard to see what you're pointing your camera at through the view finder. And as far as focusing with the Holga, well, it's just this side of "fuhgedaboutit" as far as that goes. Next time I use the Holga, I might try shooting with the camera in Live View mode to see if that helps in terms of the being able to see what I'm framing and perhaps focusing as well.

The image on the right was snapped with my Canon nifty-fifty. I enhanced some of the textures in post, which accounts for Diana's mottled skin. In reality, she has a very nice complexion.

I recommend occasionally going out and shooting with an emphasis on emotions. I spend a fair amount of time on photo forums and it's evident that more shooters seem interested in spending their time trying out various lighting and other techniques rather than going for the emotions. Emotions are equally as important to a photo's apparent shooting techniques when shooting people -- often enough, they're even more important -- whether it's portraiture, editorial, documentary, whatever you're shooting.

While we were out there, I also had promised to shoot some head shots of Diana's son. He has an interest in possibly pursuing some acting.

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The head shot above, one of a number of frames I snapped of Diana's son, is all natural light. No speedlite or reflector employed. Sometimes, the light is really nice all on its own and it's best to just leave it as is. It certainly makes things simpler when that's the case.  Nothing dramatic or show-offish. Just a nice look for a commercial head shot. I snapped it with a Canon 70-200 f/4 L zoomed most all the way in. ISO 100, f/4, 200th of a second.  As the light changed -- and it always does, quicker than we sometimes expect -- I added a speedlite into the mix, but just for a bit of subtle fill. Again, nothing fancy.

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