It is written in many tutorials that in order to photograph successfully, one must photograph during the Hour of Gold. Fear not, fellow photographers, for a beautiful photograph may be captured any time you’re out with your camera, even if that time isn’t the golden …
Tag: Film Photography
Choosing the right film camera can be incredibly overwhelming. There are seemingly endless options out there for you to use. But, worry not. If you’re looking for a simple camera that can be found for a reasonable price, the Canon AE-1 gets the job done, …
Portrait photography is one of my favorite genres within the craft. To meet someone and make a portrait of that person, or people, is special.
While working for different newspapers, it was portraits that made up so many daily assignments. The goal was to photograph someone creatively in a way to would tell a story pertaining to the individual.
Admittedly, portraits used to be a type of photography that wasn’t my favorite. My favorite type of photography used to be street photography, or something like it. I still enjoy it tremendously. I’d always envisioned—perhaps like so many other photojournalists—of being the next Cartier-Bresson, walking the streets of a picturesque city while creating compositions within my viewfinder that pleased the eyes of all that would look at my images.
However, over time, I began to truly appreciate the portrait. After seeing some portraits made by Diane Arbus, Arnold Newman and Dan Winters—and even Cartier-Bresson made some gorgeous portraits while staying in his style—I began to find the draw to portraiture.
After photographing more and more people, for assignments and otherwise, my confidence with portrait photography began to grow.
I began to believe in myself and to feel that I care enough about making a quality portrait that I can do it, and do it well.
My portrait photography enjoyment has even reached a point to where I’m enjoying photographing strangers. I should say, my portrait subjects are strangers when we first meet, but varying connections do form throughout the portrait session, so where not strangers by the end of the portrait session.
Portrait sessions can happen quickly and unexpectedly. They’re no telling when, how and/or where you’ll encounter someone that would make a good portrait. This is part of the excitement.
One of my favorite cameras to make portraits with is not a famed portrait camera at all. It’s the Mamiya 7. The Mamiya 7 is a rangefinder camera that uses medium format film. It’s easy to use and the quality of the lenses is superb.
Now, you definitely don’t need a Mamiya 7 camera to make great portraits. You can make a great portrait with any camera.
I only bring up this camera because it’s what taught me some valuable lessons.
The Mamiya 7, especially when using it to make portraits, requires focus (literally and figuratively) and attention. It’s not an easy camera to make portraits with. The viewfinder is such that two images of your subject have to line up in order to be in focus. A small movement forward or backward can render your image blurry.
Another aspect of using the Mamiya 7 that helped me improve my portrait photography is the fact that only ten images can be made on a roll of 120 film. With the cost of film, processing and scanning, that works out to about $3.00 per image made. Since money isn’t growing on a tree outside my window, that’s enough money to make me take my time to make sure my photograph is good.
Also, photo subjects can tell when you’re taking your time and trying your best to make an image. I think that when they see you’re serious, they tend to take the shoot a little more seriously, too.
Of course, there are those who are disciplined and talented enough to be able to capture excellent portrait photos with digital camera equipment. I find that once I photograph with film for a while, I’m able to transfer how I shoot over to digital. After a while though, I tend to get more lax on my practices and I have to go back to film.
Most importantly, you photograph how you want to photograph and using techniques that work best for you. I’m only mentioning what works for me. And, I’m mentioning it because perhaps my techniques will work for you also.
If you’re looking for a fun new experience, try photographing with any type of film camera and see how it goes. I’m confident you’ll enjoy the process of slowing down and the excitement of waiting for your film scans to return.
It was December 24, 2022. Our plan, by way of yearly tradition, was to travel north and visit family for the holidays. Nature’s plan, though, was to make the Michigan roads as undriveable as possible through a weather assault of wind, snow, cold and ice. …
Tell someone you’re going away for a weekend to Saginaw, Michigan to take photos, and you may receive puzzling expressions—I certainly did. The responses of wonderment I received were mostly from the people I encountered in Saginaw, too. Saginaw is often on lists, but they’re …
As photographers, we obviously would like to photography when the light is optimum. The golden hour, the blue hour, sunsets, sunrises—these are all times of day when the light can turn gorgeous and can result in exquisite images.
But, what do you do when the only time you’re able to photograph has harsh midday sun beaming down with unpleasant shadows?
It’s simple: You take pictures.
Don’t let less-than-desirable ambient light ruin what could be a fantastic and rewarding photo outing.
Recently, I had allotted a Saturday to make pictures. Early morning and late evening are wonderful time for photos, but I had a lot of time during the day and I wanted to maximize my time by heading to a small nearby town to “see what I see” as I like to say.
On this particular day, that town happened to be the home of the annual National Trout Festival—Kalkaska, Michigan.
The only dilemma was that the weather forecast called for sun all day. There was a time when I’d get into a funk and choose to simply not take pictures. “If I can’t have perfect light, what’s the point?”, I’d tell myself.
After having this internal conversation with myself many times, I told myself that it was time to overcome the obstacle of harsh light and to get creative with my camera.
You know what happened?
Photographing during midday sun can be great, and I found this out to be true. That’s what happened.
It did require some work to make my images pleasing. First, it’s important to pay attention to shadows. One of my favorite methods of photographing from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. or beyond is try to minimize the shadows as much as possible. I’ll try to find compositions that allow me to avoid shadows as much as possible. Another technique I’ll use is to photographing using film and to expose for the shadows. This leaves detail in the shadows and in the highlights as well, if it’s done correctly.
My camera was a rangefinder and my film speed was ISO 400. That’s a faster speed than I’d really prefer in full sunlight, but I’ve been using ISO 400 for everything so that I can become more accustomed to it, and that’s also the film I had in the camera at the time. I was forced to use a faster shutter speed than I’d prefer, but that’s no big deal.
Now, this can be done with digital as well. When I’m using digital equipment, I make sure to work the shadows in post processing so that they’re not so dark. One suggestion that makes this easier is to make sure you have a good exposure at the start.
Digital cameras are capable of a lot of latitude, but a proper exposure can really help during post processing, so try to nail this out in the field.
Speaking of shadows, another technique to use in midday sun is to photograph in shadows. Some of my favorite light is soft, diffused light on a cloudy day. Shadows can provide that same diffused light. I’ve photographed portraits of people during the middle of the day. What makes it possible is to find a spot in complete shade. By doing this, I know I’ll have a location that will have as even a lighting as possible on my subject’s face.
Finally, a good technique to use while photographing in situations with high-contrast light, is to try to make images with simple and clean backgrounds. I’ve found that trees can often exaggerate already-harsh-light conditions. By finding scenes that have as few distractions and extraneous elements as possible, you can make pleasing images.
There are many elements that go into making images. Light I said, excellent light is really important to making amazing pictures. But, don’t let bad lighting stop you from being creative.
The next time you see some harsh midday sun heading your way, don’t worry about it and simply go out and make images. You may be pleasantly surprised at the great results you achieve.
When it comes to photography, especially film photography, I keep my equipment as consistent and simple as possible. The less one has to think about while taking pictures, the better. Kodak Portra 400 35mm (the 120 is great too, I just don’t use as much …
Photography is a personal creative journey. On our journey we should select a tool that will help us along the way. When it comes to cameras, the options can easily become overwhelming. Megapixels, pixel size, lenses, weatherproofing, DxO scores, and on and on are discussed. …
It can be the most difficult surrounding to photograph. Out of nowhere, you may find yourself stopped in the tracks of creativity before you even know what hit you. Or, it may hit you right away. You may walk, or drive, for hours looking for something to take pictures of, and return home with nothing.
This place is—the town you live in.
Fear not, though, for there is hope. A town, city, village, metropolis, etc. that you’re familiar with can be one of the most challenging environments to take pictures in. And, I say, “Why wouldn’t it be?”
After all, if you’re familiar with a place, there’s no visual stimulation. There’s nothing that ‘wows’ you or perks your brain. Being in new surroundings is exciting but we’re not all able to travel from new place to new place, constantly exposing ourselves to new surroundings. For many of us, our environment is routine and stale.
Here’s the trick: it’s not routine or stale.
If you feel like you’re in a creative slump, try to step out of yourself and your familiarity and look at your surroundings from a fresh perspective.
I live in the town I grew up in. It felt like there wasn’t anything to photograph nearby because I’d told myself that, “Nothing new is out there.” That’s where I was wrong. Not only are new photographic possibilities out there, but those possibilities are always changing because there could be a small added element to the scene, or the light could be different.
Normally, when I’m trying to come up with ideas for places to photograph, my location ideas are far away. I know they’ll be a little more unfamiliar to me and that will make them more interesting. However, more recently, I’ve been concentrating on places that are closer to home. It all comes down to the ‘Work Smarter, Not Harder’ adage.
So, on a cloudy day—this is my favorite light—I set out to photograph my hometown. As if a familiar surrounding isn’t enough, it was also post-autumn/ early winter, so the leaves had fallen and it was that time of year when everything takes on a color that is simultaneously gray and brown.
Two blocks away is an auto repair shop. It’s an old building and there are usually some interesting vehicles in the parking lot there. I pulled in and found some great subject matter. Since the time of year is often drab in color, I chose to seek out pops of color.
For anyone feeling weighed down by their surroundings, look no further than the work of William Eggleston. His work is proof that there is something to photograph anywhere and everywhere.
So, go out into your neighborhood or main street. It could have buildings or it could be a dirt road.
What you take pictures of may be familiar to you, but it’ll be new to someone else. And you’ll be producing art.
Few things are as enjoyable as loading some film into a camera and exploring a small, unfamiliar town. It’s the basis for how I came upon the name ‘Village Voyager’, after all. The, often, slow and methodical approach to composition and the new elements of …