The Basics – Working in a Series

series

(ˈsɪəriːz; -rɪz)

npl -ries

1. group or connected succession of similar or related things, usually arranged in order

What happens we you apply this concept to photography? What happens when you decide to create a Photo-Essay? Continue reading The Basics – Working in a Series

The Basics – Rule of Thirds etc….

In this series on The Basics I’ve already touched on Leading Lines and Foreground Interest, two methods that help you create a visually interesting image . Another classic method you can use to balance and organize the visual elements in your photographs is The Rule of Thirds and its compositional cousins The Golden Ratio and the Phi Grid. Continue reading The Basics – Rule of Thirds etc….

The Basics – How to Buy a Camera

I can’t believe I’m writing this post. But I was asked nicely, so how could I say no?

Before I get started I want to be very clear, I’m not an equipment geek, I don’t collect cameras and I don’t like to sit around and talk gear. I’m sure it’s lots of fun, but I would rather talk content than technical specifications any day. Continue reading The Basics – How to Buy a Camera

The Basics – Depth of Field

You’ve probable heard the term ‘depth of field’ or DoF thrown about a lot in respect to toy photography. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s simply how much of the image, from front to back, that is in focus. The size of this plane of focus is determined by how big or small your aperture is. Continue reading The Basics – Depth of Field

The Basics – Leading Lines

‘Leading lines’ is one of the tricks photographers use to organize their composition to create a stronger visual impact. Leading lines are simple visual cues that help guide the viewer’s eyes around the photo and towards (or away) from the main subject. Continue reading The Basics – Leading Lines

The Basics – Sticky Tack

Sticky Tack or Blu-Tack can be a toy photographers best friend. If you’re not familiar with this amazing substance, it is a little piece of removable gummy substance you can attach to your toy to help with a difficult pose, an uneven surface, an uncooperative accessory or a stiff wind. Continue reading The Basics – Sticky Tack

Reflectors and how to use them with toys

Every outdoor photographer should have a reflector in their kit and know how to use it while shooting their toys. Why? Because when you shoot outdoors, you only have one light source – the sun, and it’s rarely where you need it. When you add a reflector to your kit you can achieve even lighting on your toy, fill in those deep shadows and eliminate that shiny plastic line so often seen in toy photography. Continue reading Reflectors and how to use them with toys

Beyond The Basics

Ok you’ve mastered the basics…now what?

You’ve got a good gear set-up, you know how to work those studio lights, you have a good grasp of depth of field and your photos more often than not, turn out great. Congratulations you are now a photographer!! Welcome to the club. 
Now the fun begins.
What are you going to do with this new found photo knowledge? What is the story you are trying to tell with your images?  What emotion you are trying to convey? How are you connecting with your audience? How are you changing the world around you? How is what you are doing different from everything that has come before?
I didn’t say this was going to be easy. 
It doesn’t matter if you are creating photos to feed the Instagram beast or creating a body of work that will be shown in a professional setting, you need to be asking your self these questions. In a world that generates thousands of photos per minute you need to make an emotional connection with your audience in some fashion. Your work needs to move beyond the technical. What exactly that will look like is each persons unique journey. 
Please don’t think that +Me2 and I do not struggle with these questions on a daily basis. We do, trust me. You are in good company. This is not an easy task, but it will elevate your work to the next level. 
~ xxsjc

“Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso

The Basics (part 3)

By popular demand (read one request) I was asked to review the basics of macro photography. If you don’t know what macro photography is…it is simply the art of taking pictures close up of small objects.

The Basics:

1) Use a tripod or equivalent: When you are focusing on such a small object, camera shake will ruin your focus.
2) You will need additional lighting: Whether you are shooting inside or out, having some additional lighting will allow you take advantage of your full range of f-stop. A ring light, flash (not necessarily attached to your camera) or two small auxiliary lights are all excellent options.
3) Use Aperture Priority mode: when you are shooting closeup you will want to play with how much is in focus for the best effect. A slightly blurred background is a great way to set off your subject and minimize distractions.
4) Use Manual Focus: You should be in control of what’s in focus, not the camera. When you are going for pinpoint accuracy, there is no substitute.

Other Tips:

5) Vary the background: You can only have so many shots with blurred green foliage. Be cognizant of your color range.
6) Use a Third Hand: A clever device to have in your arsenal, it can help position a toy or help to add additional interest to your background with color or texture.
7) Use Reflectors: These are easy to make and small enough to carry around. They are a great way to bounce available light onto your mini figs face to minimize shadows or reflective lines.

Toy Photography Specifically:

8) Clear your surface: Stray leaves, grass, pebbles, pine needles etc may not look like much when you are shooting, but once you enlarge your photo they become huge distractions.
9) Minimize your figures: When shooting Lego, 1-3 mini figures is more than enough to fill your frame. More than three (which is itself pushing it), can be over whelming.
10) Be aware of where your toys are looking: The slightest change in a head tilt can signal dramatically different emotions. Don’t forget to make sure the face is in focus. For most people being able to connect with the subjects eyes is a way to connect emotionally.
11) Take your time: More than a few photos have been tossed because the hair wasn’t lined up correctly or the pants where a little askew. Review your photos on the screen before you move on and make sure you have caught these little errs. It can be the difference between a beautiful photo and another image on the virtual trash heap.

12) Change your view point: If your photo is just not coming together change your view point. Move above, below or even to the other side of your set-up. Often the image is there, you just have to get the right angle on it.
13) Have fun and don’t be afraid to take risks. This isn’t brain surgery. 

If you have any questions or anything to add to the conversation please leave a comment. We are all here to learn from each other.

~ xxsjc

The mask isn’t on straight in this image. I didn’t realize it until I had returned home and upload the image onto my computer. I let it fly since I like it so much. In the future I will need to follow step 11 more closely. ~ xxsjc