About this Blog

Photo Writing is the web version of the Photo Writing mini-magazine produced by Limephoto and Emil von Maltitz since 2010. As of 2015 it is now completely online. Feel free to browse through the articles and please leave comments in the comments section if you would like to engage with us.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Morning at the Museum

One of the primary differences I find between location and studio photography is the pace. Location photography is fast. Despite this, the client often gets the impression that it is slower than studio photography. Here’s the difference. I get a call for a studio shoot. A little bit of pre-planning goes on and I get an idea of what’s required for the shoot. A lot of the in-studio prep happens before the client even arrives at the studio. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if that happened for location photography! 

The reality is that the setup for a shot usually takes considerably longer than for the shoot itself. The photographer arrives, has to quickly figure out a location in a site she or he might never have seen before, then has to setup lights, get the exposure right and only then start in on the actual ‘shoot’ portion with the client. This is why it seems so much slower to the client. Meanwhile the photographer is in restaurant parlance, ‘spinning’.  

Last week I had a quick shoot at the Natural History Museum in Durban. I needed to get some profile shots for the museum’s magazine, ‘Thola’, which will be coming out in August (I think). The brief was to create some images that were more interesting than the straight head and shoulder against a white background that the magazine usually has. Setup time really was the hardest factor here. For the image of the museum’s ornithologist, we needed to move a number of the collections’ drawers of birds into a hallway on the other side of an outdoor quadrangle. It’s surprising how long it takes to actually do this. Total prep time ended up being close on an hour and a half, if not longer. Total shoot time, ten minutes. Thankfully in all of the different shoots the sitters were extremely patient, particularly as they were often intimately involved in setting up the shot (it was their collections after all).
For the shots of the museum current director the setup time was a little quicker. It was very much a rush into the museum. Spot a likely ‘scene’, set the lights up as quickly as possible (a single hot-shoe strobe in an umbrella held to the correct height and angle by another museum researcher corralled as a photographer’s assistant for the morning, and triggered wirelessy by a Sb-800 set to commander mode).

Location photography  is fun. It’s stressful, but it’s fun. You are forced to think on your feet and be creative in an unfamiliar situation. For some people this is a nightmare, for others it’s the excitement of being a photographer.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Some work and a rant

well it's not really a rant but it is something that irritates me from time to time. Camera salesmen. Countless students have said to me before that they have bought a piece of equipment from a store and that they are now disappointed with it as it is not doing for them what they expect it to. Usually the piece of equipment has been highly recommended by a sales person with plenty of promises of it's abilities. My own pet peeve is a sales person trying to tell me something that is patently wrong (I teach photography and as a result I tend to know a little bit about the equipment that my students use and that I also shoot with. I'm not the most knowledgeable person in the camera toting world, but I know enough to recognize dross when I hear it).

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Layers, Blending and Masks Seminar

On Saturday 21st May I will be holding a seminar on understanding layers, masks and blending modes in Photoshop. This is one of the most powerful tools that Photoshop can offer photographers, yet it is also one of the least understood aspects of the powerful editing programme. The seminar starts at 7pm and runs for approximately 2 hours. Participants are encouraged to bring their laptops with them. Please contact me to find out more about costs and to make a booking.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thanda Light

One of the advantages of returning to a location time and again is the opportunity to experience it in all possible types of light. We're approaching winter now and the incessant comment one heres, "winter's approaching!"  at the the merest hint of a drop in the mercury. This is Kwazulu-Natal province we're talking about of course, where the standard response to the severest of winters is to put a thin jersey on (and still worry if you might not get a little warm). Our winter's are mild to say the least.

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