Tag : quiet
Food, parties, family, and good photo opportunities. Family and friends gather together, and because you have spent the last decade or more with a camera in your hands, and in their face, they are very comfortable and quite willing to act completely natural. In these conditions sometimes there are some great shots to be had.
This particular one was so classic to me. A little girl playing with a music box with a ballerina on it reminds me of so many scenes in so many movies it is hard to even remember what scenes go in which movies. In most of those movies the music box was ceramic not plastic and didn’t have interchangeable figurines, but the concept is the same.
I have gotten several comments on the light falling the subject in this image. For this I can take no credit. That fantastic soft, but not that soft, light is coming from indirect sunlight coming through white lace curtains. I would have never thought of lace as a great diffuser, but in this case, with the already indirect sunlight it was just about perfect.
As you can see I desaturated the color quite a bit. I think it gives the image a more old school look. It helps express the iconic nature of the action in spite of the plastic hinges and obviously rubber figures. I also darkened the blacks both to give the image more drama and to help hide some of the stuff in the background.
One thing I like about this photo, that you would never know unless I told you, is that there is a lot of other stuff going on in the room. Its a holiday party and there are people snacking, chatting, laughing and generally making allot of noise and motion. But not in this frame. This moment looks snatched right out of an empty Victorian house, the only sound the melody of the music box. But, as with so many things in life, it is all about context.
I think the context of this image is very important. This image works on an entirely different level if you also picture the controlled holiday chaos taking place just outside the frame. This little girl is an oasis of calm happiness amid a sea of joy. I think that is what i’m going to name this image “Amid a Sea of Joy”
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. First, because I think it captures a form of meditation that is often mislabeled and overlooked. Second because this image is the perfect example of why I love RAW image files. RAW, for those that don’t know is an uncompressed and unaltered map of the sensor of your camera. When you don’t shoot in RAW your camera or you make decisions about how the image should look and all the data that is not needed after you choice is deleted. Obviously this process is much more complicated, but this is not the place for an in depth explanation. The benefits of shooting in a RAW format are myriad, but the main thrust is that it allows the shooter to use all the information captured by the cameras sensor, thus giving more options later.
Now, after that distillation here is why RAW can be so awesome. This photo was taken at my parents’ house. This portrait is of my father reading in his preferred chair. He reads in this chair often and as such I am aware of this habit and have often thought it would make a good photo. However, it seemed to me that the most important part of making this work was having it be as natural as possible. Especially if I wanted to edit towards a more surrealistic style, but still have the photo seem relatable. So for the most part, staging this photo was not going to work. This mean that I had to capture under the natural light of the room when my dad was already reading.
I had my camera sitting on the kitchen table, as I often do when visiting my parents. My dad was sitting in his chair several rooms away from the kitchen. There is however, if the proper doors are open a direct line of sight from the kitchen to the living room and the chair. The only light on in the living room was the one in the picture and indeed most of the lights in the house were off as well. I put a telephoto lens on my camera and sat on the kitchen floor, leaning on a cabinet for stabilization. Even with the lamp right next to his head, my lens wide open and my ISO cranked I was still having trouble getting enough light. My lens had a stabilizer, but even with that I was having trouble getting a sharp image. I was under a time crunch and so didn’t worry about anything but getting a sharp and bright enough exposure. I ignored the white balance and any other in camera settings. Indeed, the cameras white balance was still set for golder hour, making all of the images on my LCD almost entirely red. Yes, I could have taken a second to properly set up the camera, but I knew that it did not matter and all these things could be adjusted later.
In general the phrase “fix it in post” should be used as little as possible, but in the case of RAW images it is often quite true. The key is knowing the difference between what you can fix later and what needs to be done right the first time.
Like i said above, this image captures what i would describe as a form of meditation. Not a traditional form, but i believe it serves the same purpose. After so many years of reading the actual act is more or less effortless. This leaves the mind free to visualize the story and the meaning of the words on the page. There is an psychological term called Flow, mostly used to refer to mental state of exceptional ”tunnel vision” experienced by artists at the peak of creation and creativity. I don’t believe this concept is reserved to “creative” or “artistic” people. Every person willing to open their mind enough to truly be enveloped by an experiences, whether is is art making, reading, playing or listening to music, doing someones taxes, or just sitting exploring your own mind, is experiencing Flow. To me this is the concept of meditation, a term that is often used in the context of a very narrow and exclusionary definition.
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