Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On Portraiture Year One

It has been a year since I started doing portraits. And curiously, I didn't blog about the start of my portraiture journey.

It started with an invite from a friend to shoot with models. It was a holiday and I didn't really have anything else to do so I went. It didn't go well since I didn't know much about portraiture then; the next shoot had similar results. But during my third shoot, I met people who were already into portraiture; they gave me tips on how to do portraits. And it was the first time I played around with off-cam strobes.

That was probably the real start to my portraiture.

Well, it went through the roof after that particular shoot. Everybody from my group was doing portraiture and I must say that we all improved on our skills. There was even a point where we had weeks that had consecutive shoots; sometimes even days. It's all in the name of the love of photography.

I have experienced shooting in a whole host of different locations and themes. I found what I like to do and where I usually fail. I have learned a lot of things over the past year and I am continuing to make myself better. And it's a continuous learning process which I like since being bored will kill my interest. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish my 100 portraits project this year or perhaps early next year.

So, I'm ending this blog with some of the shots from last year I haven't published.

Marie: The Fairy
marie the fairy

Marie: The Fairy in Mono
marie b&w

Jaynie: Split Light
jaynie split lighting

Sunday, July 24, 2011

On Ambient Light vs Strobes and Portaits #17 and #18...

Photography rule #1: always look for the light.

I took portraiture as a field of interest when I started playing around with strobes. I started with ambient light like almost everyone I know and my inspiration for my portraits came from Danny Santos, who is a well known ambient light, street portrait shooter. I also was inspired to do 100 portraits just like him.

And lately I have been leaning towards shooting in ambient light. If you'd ask me why: its always about simplicity.

Photographers these days think of concepts and themes, go with outlandish makeup and costumes, and consume time with setting up and everything else when they should be shooting. Truth be told, I never had a strobist or concept shoot that started on time and ended up the way I wanted it to be. It's not that I don't get good results out of it; its just that I hate having to take too much effort to get where I want to be.

Playing around with strobes has its merits. You'll always have full control of the light source, you can move it around without changing composition. And you light will always be what you want it to be. Not to mention, you can light only the parts of the person you want to be visible, which is impossible with ambient light (or at least I haven't figured it out yet).

So what path do I choose? If given a choice, I'd be doing ambient lighting for its simplicity. I am a firm believer that simple portraits can be great, and can even be better than any studio shoot if done correctly. My aim is to be better in photography and going back to the basics and all natural feel is probably the best way to go.

But that doesn't mean I wont be shooting with strobes anymore... I'll take any opportunity to shoot. So, I'll end this blog with two additional shots for my 100 portraits project. One is done in ambient light and the other is with strobes. The one in ambient light is my best Danny Santos impersonation as of the moment; I'll get the hang of it eventually. I guess you'd be the judge on what suits me better.

Portrait #17: Maggie

Portrait #18: Gail

PS: special thanks to Kaye Garino for the makeup on Gail. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Shadow Play and Short Lighting

There is a sense of mystery when something is hidden in the shadows...

I've have long been a fan of drama in lighting. You elicit emotions in your viewers even when your subject doesn't show any. The move from light to shadow and how certain parts are lighted and hidden from the viewer makes a photo more interesting to look at. It seems that the subject's beauty comes out more with the lighting.

In this particular set, I did short lighting and made it low key so that I'd get a lot more shadow play. Short lighting is when you illuminate part of the subjects face that is turned away from the camera. I wanted to make it very dramatic by using shadows to hide part of the model's face or body. I got some good shots but had some problem during post processing. I guess I still need to practice on controlling light spills and other things. I'll get better as I go along.

Kaye Short Lighting
kaye portraits (1 of 1)

Maggie Short Lighting

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Burger Joints, Ambient Light and Portrait #16

Simple is better...

On one rainy Saturday afternoon, I found joy in sitting inside a burger joint and shooting in ambient light. No concepts, production or complex lighting; just me and the model sitting down and waiting for the rain to stop.

My model was Luvley and we really did intend to do a shoot on that day in an open field. But the weather did not cooperate with us; it rarely does. So we sat there, patiently waiting for the rain to die down. I knew that we had to reschedule but since the store was empty, we decided to do a simple shoot just to pass the time. And boy, I was happy we did.

luvley b&w portrait

portraits (2 of 2)

Its been a while since I have done something solo but I am quite pleased with my output. And my model did really live up to her name. I've done a shoot with her and covered her 18th birthday but this simple look really suits her beauty. Now I have a portrait of her to add to my project.

Portrait #16: Luvley Mae Amoguis