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WELCOME TO MY BLOG for Judith M Photography:
Tips for Creative Digital Photography and Lighting
It was my pleasure photographing porcelain shards dating from 1625 to 1865. These were illustrated with writings from the 1838 Amanda Babson diaries and the ship’s journal entries of Captain Edward Babson who sailed the Cadet, and then fired onto the old porcelain by artist Diane Chen KW. These are now a permanent installation in the collection of the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA.
Shipwrecks were quite common during storms and war with hidden danger around every corner. Treasures buried in the sands and journals left behind provide hints of a seafaring family’s way of life.
With this set up in my studio, tethered to a laptop for instantaneous review, shards were photographed against a graduated grey background –
overview as well as macro detail shots.
Then after assembly, embedded in sand and mortar as if found that way beneath the sea.
Final Installation is on four walls at the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA. (see below). A fifth wall will have Chinese export plates transformed by Diane KW using the diary and logbook documents. Hope you can visit.
Judith Monteferrante Photography
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS:
A fish-eye lens is an ultra-wide angle lens (short focal length) that produces strong visual barrel distortion intended to produce a hemispherical image or a wide panorama. They use special mapping to achieve these extremely wide angles of view but give you a characteristic convex non-rectilinear appearance to your image. Typical focal lengths for full- frame sensors would be 15-16 mm (I shoot with a Nikon 16 mm on a FX sensor – D800 or 4 – not a DX ie. digital sensor). The name was introduced in 1906 by Robert W. Wood when he imagined how a fish would see objects from beneath the water. It was used primarily for meteorology or whole sky- sphere pictures initially. There are 2 groups of fish-eye lenses: Circular Fish-eye (180 degrees in every direction) – not as common and Diagonal Fish-eye (covers the whole picture frame but only 180 degrees on the diagonal field of view), but again lots depend on your sensor type (digital DX or full format FX). In general, however, there are only two middle straight lines – one horizontal and one vertical with zero distortion. Depth of Field (DOF) is almost limitless. Most of the time even at F/5.6-8 with focus on the nearest or the chosen object, the DOF will almost be to infinity.
But with that out of the way, let’s have some fun.
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Photography of Musicians:
1. Strobes (or Flash) vs. Available Light:
During a performance, flash is typically avoided due to its distracting effect. Occasionally off camera flash on a light stand on stage is allowed, but don’t overwhelm the stage lights. Use Spot metering mode on the main musician’s face which should be in the light since the background is best left dark. Using aperture priority, an aperture of F/4-5.6 is a good starting point, but you may need a wide open aperture of F/2.8 with a fast lens. This will limit the DOF (depth of field), but keeping the performers in one plane will help. Usually a high enough ISO to allow a reasonable shutter speed should be quite doable if you have a fairly current low noise hi ISO camera. If not possible, seize the effect of motion or learn to anticipate pauses and shoot then. In the studio, I shoot with 4 to 5 strobes and always in Manual mode with F/8-11 typically and 1/125, with an ISO 200 (to 400). I meter the foreground and background with a hand held light meter and adjust the lights accordingly. If using a white background, overexpose it by one to one ½ stops. If black, keep light off the background for pure black.
2. On Location: During an indoor performance, learn to keep quiet and keep a low profile. Look for simplicity and avoid distracting elements in the frame as much as possible. Keep to the side to separate the musicians from their microphone. Try to show the interaction among the musicians. Capture the musicians enjoying themselves; their “music face”.
3. Prepare: Creativity is a must and look for a theme or storytelling quality. Plan ahead with some possible scenarios. Listen to your client regarding what their needs and ideas are. Props are important and may be instruments, microphones or items of clothing such as jackets or hats. Push the limits for possible poses. Keep in mind the style of their music and the instruments they use. Meet with them in advance and review some possibilities. Note their hair color since if dark haired against a black background they will benefit from hair light. Have at least a dark and a white background with possible gels to add color. Prepare as much as you can in advance. I test some lighting scenarios on myself the day of the shoot.
4. Clothing: Solid colors without logos or patterns are the best. At least two changes of clothing – one relaxed and one more formal with choice of dark and light outfits. Dark or black clothing against a dark background is slimming. Keep tones and styles similar if shooting 2 or more people. Avoid sleeveless tops except for the young – long sleeve is best. Avoid lots of jewelry. Simple casual clothes such as jeans and a white or black T shirt are timeless.
5. Expressions: Look for facial expressions and posture. Vary the positions and have some looking at the camera, some looking away, some looking at each other. With or without their instruments. Some contemplative, some smiling. With and without singing and or playing. Make it a two way conversation.
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