Thursday, February 25, 2010

Think Film: Part 1

Back in the good 'ol days when I hauled my Mamiya Pro TL everywhere I went, I had to plan out every single frame of that 15-shot roll of 120 film. Not only was the film pricey, but when I shot film I processed 95% of my own negatives and developed my own prints in the darkroom. I had to plan out most of my shots well ahead of time in order to keep up with assignments and have time to eat & sleep! If I shot as many rolls of film back then as I shoot digital files in one week now, you would have to send a search party out to look for me in the darkroom, because it would take weeks of non-stop developing just to get the negatives processed!

(The wine bottle image to the left was shot with my medium format Mamiya Pro TL using TMax film with natural light.)

My point is, today's digital cameras have spoiled us rotten. Just like a lot of things in America and the world today. If we're not careful, that wonderful thing can be damaged and suffer from misuse and overuse. I'm not talking about the camera itself, most of the high quality digital SLR's (particularly Canon) are built like tanks and it takes a lot of damage to destroy a good camera body. I'm referring to the overshooting that tends to happen with digital cameras...just because you can erase and re-format the card and start over...just because you can "fix it" later in Photoshop...just because you want to squeeze in as many sessions as you possibly can in one weekend. Let's face it folks...we've become extremely lazy when it comes to operating our cameras as true photographers. I feel that our images may be suffering because of it. If we were to slow down and really focus on the shot as it is being captured, think of the things we would catch right there in the moment. Certain details that could make the difference between an average image and an awesome image.
(The orangutan image above was shot at the San Diego Zoo using my Canon Rebel 2000 with 35mm, ISO400 color film.)

(The butterfly image below was shot using my Canon Rebel 2000 with 35mm color film.)

If I'm not careful this post could branch out into several different topics and turn into a book! So, I'm going to wrap it up here and pick up on this topic again in my next post. Will you join me in the challenge to slow down and take your time setting up the shot? Next time you're out shooting, Think Film and try to take the time to plan out your shots before you click the shutter. I think you'll be surprised at the multiple possibilities of capturing the image, something you may have missed just randomly snapping away. (Not to mention the time that could be saved trying to Photoshop something out that could have been eliminated from the beginning.) I'm very thankful for my experiences using real film as the true art form of photography. If you've never shot with film, go for it! You will never look at photography the same way.

Hang onto the creativity that once was born in the camera...not on the computer screen. Just something to think about....

~Until next time...Happy Shooting! :)

(This was shot at Nag's Head using my Canon Rebel 2000 with 35mm, ISO400 color film.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shooting With Natural Light

Sorry...I know it's been a long time since I last posted! My shooting schedule has been crazy lately and today is the first day I've had in a while to sit down, breathe and get reorganized. To let in a bit of fresh air to the blog I thought focusing on natural light as a topic would be appropriate and somewhat refreshing.

I absolutely adore shooting in natural light...I always have. It represents what the good Lord has given us to work with without even thinking about plugging into an electrical outlet. It's amazing what simple, natural lighting can do to transform an image. No matter what the subject is, God-given sunshine can turn something ordinary into extraordinary.

If you're wondering how to go about shooting in natural light, here are a few tips:

1. If shooting indoors, try to
choose a window or doorway that gets soft, indirect light. In my studio I have a northeast-facing window that gets wonderful morning light. If you're stuck with harsh light coming through your windows, improvise by covering windows with soft white fabric or sheers to create a more diffused light.

2. Using a tripod is a must...especially when working indoors with natural light. If you want to create a wonderful soft light/shallow depth of field in your photos you will want to use a slower shutter speed and a wide aperture. You want to avoid camera shake, so use a tripod.

3. Natural light is wonderful for accentuating the textures of an object or even a person's facial features. Work on positioning your subject next to a window where the light skims across the surface you are focused on.

4. When shooting outdoors be sure to choose "open shade" spots, such as under a tree or the shady side of a building. You don't want to be in too dark of a spot, but you also don't want to have harsh sunlight causing your subject to squint or develop under eye shadows.

5. Carry along a small reflector to use indoors and outdoors when working with natural light. If you don't have a professional reflector, you can improvise by using a piece of white foam board from your local craft store.

With the snow finally melting away and Springtime right around the corner, the sunshine is beginning to make it's presence known a bit more often, so now is the perfect time to practice working with natural light!

Until next time...Happy Shooting!

Go to for more examples of Natural Lighting. E-mail questions to