I wish that taking a photo helped, but it does not. Regardless of the circumstances which put this couple out on this corner on this day, this must be nothing but a humbling experience. It also makes me think…
“I am constantly running into the problem of not having enough light,” my friend moaned in an e-mail. Join the club, dude. He asked a slew of questions related to what gear I use, or would suggest, to try to help combat that age old problem (ok…”age old” as far as photography is concerned anyway) of not enough light.
What are you using these days? I know you are very much anti-flash, which I basically agree with. But I am constantly running into the problem of not enough light. Are you mostly shooting with a 50mm f/1.8? Or are you jacking up your ISO? Or are you using a tripod? Which reminds me, my tripod recently broke, any recommendations on one (that is not in the crazy range, under $200)? Ok, so I am asking lots of questions, sorry. But one more, post production, what are you using? Lightroom? Photoshop? iPhoto?
I never could have dreamed this day would come. The only thing that would top an indian (of the American variety) walking into my day in full regalia would be moving out to the reservation and going native myself. I had seen the “Native American Dance” performance slated on the schedule for our school, but for all I know, some dude in blue jeans and a dollar store head dress was going to strut in with his cultural spiel. Just because I would beat myself if it did turn out well and I was not ready, I had to scout a potential portrait location.
An elementary school cafetorium is not exactly the most inspiring backdrop for an American Indian portrait shoot, so I took a little walk behind the school as soon as I arrived that morning. Just two weeks before, I had been day dreaming in that very grassy field, which was much more tall and Great-Plains-wavy then, what it would have been like hundreds of years ago, pre white dudes. The gentle, brown sea sparked the beginning of a (most likley ill-fated) novel idea. Long story short: there is no better, close place for the potential shoot.
Then, into my cafetorium walks Tallbear. I swooned. I recovered, helped hook up the sound system, took a few shots with some tastefully 80s colored backgrounds, pondered the possibility of wrangling them into an impromptu portrait shoot, then swooned again.
You know that really groovy lens flare you see every once in a while? It make you feel like the photo just has that extra little something, as if by accident, but I am betting that a majority of the time, it is on purpose…well, with professionals, anyway. I gotta get me some o’ that there flare.
As it turns out, I think I do not have flare and will not get flare. I kept trying different approaches: putting the sun in the photo, just on the edge of the photo, just out of the photo, and maybe a little further out. Nada. No flare.
What is a camera obscura? I did not find out till too long ago myself. If you do not know, just go Google it if you want more answer than this: if you black out a room and allow light in through a small hole, you will have a live, color, (upside down and backwards,) movie of life outside displayed inside your room. It is like a giant eyeball or like you are inside your camera.
The other day, a friend of mine was showing the photos from his daughter’s wedding. Initially, I was only in the same room and enjoying some conversation with someone else, but then I started to realize how incredible the photos really were. I asked who had taken them, because the wedding was out here in Asia and (believe me) a little out of the way to find a nice wedding photographer. Unknowingly, I had asked the photographer, herself.
Assuming, from the quality of the photos, she was an experienced photographer, I actually asked how she used her flash to balance the light so beautifully. After a brief exchange, which I still have a hard time processing, I found out she had used a regular, old point-and-shoot camera! How could it be?
After the past three or four days, I feel like I did sitting in the school principal’s office, waiting for the imminent whipping. It is in those times that you would do anything to avoid what is coming, and it is not so much the physical beating as much as it is the emotional tension of having to look your bad decision in the face.
My current humbling experience all started a few days ago with a wonderful meal and talk with a photographer friend of mine. It was not him, but just watching some of the videos he has produced recently really reminded me what a two-bit punk hack I am. It was not the technique, but how he captured the power of the story.
Then today, I shot a very “ok” family portrait session. That is “ok”, as in, I do not want to say more of what I really think. The harsh sunlight made things tough, not only for lighting, but for the quickly wilting subjects. Excuses aside, though, I really want to know what happened. How do I improve? What can I learn here?
Still preparing for the QingMing Festival shoot in my head. We will be traveling tomorrow so we can be there for an early morning start the next day, QingMing. Quite obviously (I think), we are not starting early for the photographer, but just because that is what you do for QingMing. It is usually an all day, heat stress, endurance test for everybody involved.
My first pieces of gear will be sunscreen and a hat if I can scrounge one up. I will take my backpack full of all kinds of gear, but will most likely need to leave that behind and carry a small choice of essentials. most likely, if it is like all the other days recently, the day will turn very bright and sunny. So, instead of uselessly cursing the brightness, I will embrace it as my friend and let it add to the feel of the day’s shooting.
So, what gear will I actually take?