29 June 2015

Creative Lighting Portraiture

A photographer is traditionally taught to expose their subject and the backgound correctly so that the entire image has no over or underexposed areas. When they join their local photography club their images are generally judged according to these technical aspects and should areas be not correctly exposed, their images are marked down. Yes, these images are nice but the creativity is sometimes stifled. 

I have been recently teaching photographers to break out of this mold and to be creative with their images. This includes using only the natural available light and lo and behold, to also shoot into the light. This technique will most definitely render their images technically incorrect in club terms but oh wow, the results can be very different and creative. The subject is wrapped with light, often causing a haze and some very warm colours. 

Exposure is achieved  by exposing for the subjects and then the backgrounds would in most cases be overexposed. Wide apertures are used to cause the light to be more washy as well as by making the backgrounds out of focus causing the subject to really stand out. The trick is also not to shoot directly into the sun as this will cause lens flare and too much of a contrast. Post processing will also enhance the look and by carefully selecting white balance controls, the colours can be creatively enhanced.

The first workshop was held in KZN and we had the beautiful Roxy and Cassel modeling for us.

Some images from this workshop.

The Beautiful Roxy

The Lovely Cassel

A few weeks later I held a similar workshop in Gauteng. With the crime being more prevailent in Gauteng, I was a bit wary to hold the workshop in some open field. I subsequently obtained permission from Huddle Park Golf Course and we were allowed to shoot on an unused area of the course. The entire course is fenced and has security guards so off we went and were able to shoot in reasonable safety.

For this workshop the Beautiful red haired Tanya and the couple Ro-byn and John were happy to pose for the group. I must also make mention of the fact that John is amongst the tallest men I have ever met, measuring in at 6ft9 and Ro-byn is just about 5ft. :)


The very much in love Ro-byn and John

23 May 2015

Autumn at Kenmo

It was Tuesday morning when I got the call. "We need some good autumn colourful images for the publication".... mmmm.. I had done some autumn images at Zoo Lake the previous week but that wasn't quite going to be spectacular  enough for what we needed. Where to was the question? I had seen quite a few spectacular images from Kenmo Lake in the Southern Drakensberg but I had never been there before. It is situated just outside a small town called Himeville which is a few kilometers from Underberg. I quickly made some enquiries about where I could stay and the plans were made.

I left Johannesburg on the Friday morning and after one or two quick stops, I arrived in Himeville just in time before sunset. Early Saturday morning, about an hour before sunrise, I was at the lake... with about 100 other photographers. This was a photographers hot spot with everyone finding their spots to capture the magic that was about to unfold.. I immediately headed to the opposite side where everyone was setting up. I most certainly didn't want the same shots as everyone else. It was overcast and very misty and I was worried whether the light would be any good. Did I mention that it was cold? One degree in fact! My fingers where numb and carrying the tripod didn't exactly help.

My first view. Misty, cold and overcast

I walked to the far embankment and waited for the light... and then as if a magical wand had been swung, the sky was a bright pink and the view around me sublime..

As the morning progressed I witnessed many different magical scenes. I took countless images and it would be impossible to show them all here. I have chosen a few of my favourites from the morning but this is only really a sample of what I saw. It was a feast for the eyes. The ever changing colours and views from the plethora of colours that kept unfolding in front of me. A true gourmet meal for the eyes.

I returned on Sunday morning and it was a different world. The sky was clear with not a single cloud to be seen. A completely different scene was about to unfold before my eyes. There were not as many photographers present this morning and I had a bit more freedom moving around without getting photographers in my shots.. :) :)

The "Burning Bush"

The wives of 2 of the photographers I bumped into struck some poses for us.

19 March 2015

The Barnyard - Photography in low light

The ultimate challenge for many photographers is to be able to capture good images in low light conditions. There are generally quite a few factors which count against being able to capture a good image. The biggest problem is generally being able to freeze the action to get a clear, sharp image with enough light to expose it correctly. I have always enjoyed entertainer photography because of the bright colours and the ambiance that can be captured.

The Barnyard Theatre's Story - Where did it all begin?
In 1996 the first Barnyard Theatre was opened by the Möller family on a dairy farm just outside Plettenberg Bay. Louis and Sybel had both been involved in the performing arts most of their lives, Louis as co-founder and producer of, amongst others, Carte Blanche, and Sybel Coetzee as a freelance actress and TV presenter.

In 1989 they took stock of their hectic lives with two young boys and decided that family comes first. As a result they decided to open a dairy farm close to Plettenberg Bay. After a few years of farming they longed for a way to combine their two loves – the footlights and the farm. Then 1996 saw the birth of The Barnyard Theatres. Why Barnyard? Louis had built a beautiful, rustic American-style wooden barn on the farm, which Sybel and Louis converted into a theatre with an old-world atmosphere, heavy wooden beams, a horseshoe gallery, big tables with welcoming lanterns and wood chips on the floor.

In 2003 Louis joined forces with well-known South African musician Duck Chowles and together they formed The Barnyard Theatre Production Company. Having produced, amongst others, the mega-hit Roll Over Beethoven, Louis instinctively knew Duck belonged in the Barnyard stable. Duck Chowles now directs and produces all Barnyard Theatre Productions.

The Barnyard Theatre concept is 19 years old this year. 
I recently had the opportunity to attend 2 different shows at the Barnyard in Gateway, Durban and whilst they do allow photography, no flashes are allowed to be used. This was the ideal opportunity to use my "low light king" camera, the mirrorless Sony A7s. I chose to use the 70-200 F4 lens as this would allow some widish shots from where I was sitting as well as being able to zoom in to the entertainers.  To be able to get shutter speeds of about 1/400 and an aperture of at least F8 I would have to use ISO's of between 5000 and 40 000... Yes, ISO40 000. Of course, not to much of a problem with the A7s. This is the camera that has revolutionized the DSLR Video market. Full frame and the ability to shoot at these incredible ISO's with additional lights or flashes.
Here is a selection of images from the shows that demonstrate this combinations' abilities. No fancy editing or processing, just through normal RAW processor and PP.You be the judge... any good?
From the first show...

  The more recent show...