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Telling a story is an important aspect of photography. It’s not necessarily the one still picture saying it all. It’s usually about the process of moving through different photos shot in series.
I had this part of my life when I was driven into looking outside the stills and into the video media. I quickly found that this is not working out for me. I can’t go out and shoot video footage and then edit. The process felt alien to me. I was still looking for a way to tell a story. And just like when you pick a piece of paper and you write, there should be a beginning, middle and the end.
This could translate to an opening photo. It should tell what the story is about, maybe it will present the time of the story, place and even the main character. And then we can keep going from here as the story unfolds.

I looked over my work so far and the closest thing I came to telling a story was when I was walking towards a place and shooting on the go.

Knowing what story you want to tell is not necessary for this type of project but when you find the story work it out. Don’t try and capture the stunning still but rather work the whole scene so that you have enough footage to put the picture together and tell the story in a series of few images.

I was going through some photography work on Flickr today. I saw many good photos but one artist got my attention. His work is dreamy and very emotional:

Things Left Unsaid

For Those That Like To Walk Alone

We're All The Same

Persistence

I like the simplicity the most – it’s just bunch of trees and not much to it but a good composition. The mist makes it more interesting on some of the shots of course but the main idea is always simple and easy to see.

Every Year Is A New Beginning

Let's Take A Walk

I enjoy the sense of freedom in his work. He is not bound to common misconception that for example central composition is necessarily bad:

Dull

Through And Through

Building 641B

Experimenting with both color and black & white is important to me in general. I believe that different situations asks for different approach to how we present it. With those final words I’m letting go and I dare you to dive into his beautiful landscapes and for a moment lose yourself. Let them impact you and lead you to a special experience of your own. Enjoy them!

Far Away From It All

Land Sculptures

Seduction

The Grass Is Not Always Greener On The Other Side

I Won't Let The Shadows Take Their Toll

John Westrock website

I’m sure that many of you don’t feel that pain but for me winter feels like the end of my photo journey.

Okay, maybe I should rephrase. When it’s cold I don’t feel like engaging into any photography shooting sessions. My fingers gets cold, I don’t feel well enough to even begin sensing any inspiration to take this next shot which might feel just right.

That’s bad because this inability somehow transfers to the other photo work I do. And should I stop shooting indoors too? Of course not.

In an attempt to work out this problem I created some macro work at home. Pretty abstract and not that good but it was an attempt in the right direction. I think making portraits is also a good idea.

Now that I’m thinking about it… there is one printer in the room which I haven’t even used that much. I feel bad about that. Portraits are fun way to experiment and learn and lately one very inspirational part of this experience for me is a software for setting up lights that I’ve been testing.

I will write more about it in another blog. So, there is quite a bit to do during winter. I guess fear and lack of inspiration are the real enemies here. It’s hardly just the cold weather 🙂

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Today I was researching on HDR a bit. I looked through several products:

  • Lightroom
  • Photoshop
  • Photomatix

I used only Photoshop before but I think that its workflow is rather tedious. It’s nice when you want to make the best out of a photo but if you just want to process that HDR photos from the day I think Lightroom is better. On the other hand Photomatix gives some really nice options but it’s rather easy to overdo the photos there. They can quickly become unrealistic and that bothers me a lot.

I’ve seen plenty of good examples of HDRs that were processed in a bad way. I know there are many who will disagree saying that those surreal photos are interesting but try looking at such photos for few days and I’m sure you’ll get over it 🙂 I mean – OK, they are interesting at first but they don’t have a stylish and clean look to them. I think that a good photo should be clean, with only a few objects that are well separated. In the above HDR photo I was aiming for just that but there are few things that bothers me:

  • The trees below add too much complexity to this image. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a better view angle. I wanted to be higher but it was not possible.
  • There is an intersection near the crane on its left. I tried avoiding much of its impact by cropping it the way I did but it’s still there. I could remove it in post-process but I don’t think it’s worth the work.

What I like about this image:

  • The elements are pretty neatly organized.
  • Most parts are well separated with nice clean sky for background.
  • The HDR gave a good result on depth of shadows on the buildings. They pop a little more that way.

It so often happens that I’m in need of a good tripod. Usually it’s when I shoot during the night. Night is one of my favorite times for taking photos but I almost never take tripod with me. That’s probably why many of my shots end up being blurry or noisy. Or both.

20151125_Sofia_Night_001 20151125_Sofia_Night_007 20151125_Sofia_Night_006 20151125_Sofia_Night_005

 

20151125_Sofia_Night_004 20151125_Sofia_Night_003

One very good example:

20151125_Sofia_Night_002

If you’re like me I strongly suggest that you take the time and:

  • Find a good tripod
  • Find a nice way of carrying it with you – attached to your backpack is a nice way
  • Use it often 🙂

I will try to take this advice seriously too.

That is the question…? Not really. For me Lightroom and Photoshop are the end of any shooting session. Even the best of photos need a little adjustment and that’s why I always shoot raw. Here’s one example when both auto balance, metering and exposure were challenged:

20160227_Ivan_Vazov_theater_002

I love shooting at low light. The night for me is a scene by itself. So post-processing is important so I can develop the photo I’m trying to make. Even with the best camera and tripod it’s not possible to grab a perfect shot just by pressing the shutter. You will need to work it out.

I like knowing that I can tune white balance if I don’t get it right on camera. It’s not that I don’t think about it or sometimes adjust it while shooting but the reality is that I almost never use my gray card and the auto white balance is almost always on. There are some cases when metering and white balance will fail me completely but in most cases the deviation is little and there is an easy fix for it in the post-process.

Few other things that I really need is opening the shadows, tune the contrast and apply some minor sharpening and noise reduction. Those steps finish up a shot for me – I don’t think the image is ready on its own coming out raw straight from the camera. I know that many purists will object and point out that this is how photography is supposed to be. That’s how it was in the old days. Well – that’s not true. In the old days you had the dark room. That was your Photoshop and now it’s all different in the digital age yet some practices follow up on the same path. We still finish our images in post-process. We don’t just develop them all in the same way so it makes little sense to just copy them from the memory card and post them online or print them.

I’ve never been more excited about shooting the unseen. Yes, I’m into conceptual photography and I often shoot abstract photos mostly in black and white. Going to IR was a different experience for me. Seeing the world at 690 nm is not something we are used to.

At first every photo I took was interesting. Seeing a white tree for example. Then I started experiencing my usual way of shooting with the infrared camera. That was not working very well because everything was different. Even exposure is working differently because IR is only seen by sensor but with the penta mirror on it’s hard for the camera to meter correctly.

So I took my time and eventually I decided to get this camera with me in the local mountains. I quickly realized that the shade under the trees behaves differently. It’s somehow lighter than it seems. We were out around noon and there was lots of light and hard shadows but when I made few shots I saw on the small display on the back of my camera that it doesn’t seems so for that type of shooting. So I kept going. The results are pretty interesting.

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What is really interesting are the portraits. Infrared does something great to skin – it makes it nice and smooth. What it also does is take down most of the distracting elements and keep the shot constrained to what matters – the model.

20160528_Vitosha_029 20160528_Vitosha_043 20160528_Vitosha_011 20160528_Vitosha_021

It’s exciting to take a bike downtown. Capturing shots as you go could be very rewarding. It’s calming to move on wheels and I know it’s sometimes hard to visualize a shot from the speed you’re going. That’s not the point. Usually when I see something interesting I either go for it and stop driving or I keep it in mind.

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I’m trying to go through the process of visualization even when I’m not shooting.
It’s important to see photos in your mind. See how the world could look like if you take out your camera and start shooting. Work out the scene mentally first.