I have always been trying to improve my photography skills, and I have reached a wall where I don’t seem to be able to further push my skills. I showed my portfolio to my instructors in OUHK, and all of them gave me very similar advice, break the rules.
All of them thinks that my technical skills are pretty much up to scratch, what can add the “x-factor” to my work is to break all the rules I have learnt, the composition rules, the white balance, the shutter speed/aperture size, the focus…. Stop being “correct” and let things happen.
This is my current challenge for myself, be wrong and shoot freely. The above shot was actually taken before my challenge, yet I guess it is a good start for myself. These types of shots only make up 0.1% of my portfolio, but I will try to shoot like this more. Somehow the above shot looks very interesting, something very unlike my usual works, yet gives a great feel to it. Wish me luck as I try to break my boundaries, and take my shooting to another level.
Sometimes it is important to include the little things that lead to your final shot. Let me explain….
just like the photo on the top, it is actually the footprints of a cheetah which led to the discovery of the actual cheetah hunting for its prey. These little pieces of information not only is an interesting photo on its own, but it also tells a story when combined with the final photo, the one below.
Photos is a media for you to express your feelings and to tell a story, always try to capture the interesting things around you (especially in this digital age), these little pieces may actually link up to a grand story!
Let’s take a break from the my wildlife photography experience, where I want to share another type of photography, family photography.
During such events, I will position myself more away from the subjects. This will allow the family to act naturally, so that I can capture the true emotions of the family interactions, just like a series of a snapshots.
Most of the times when we receive jobs and assignments from clients, it is easy for us to dive right into the action and start directing the models to pose. Of course with that technique you will get the standard shots that you want, but if you want your photos to feel the way it really happened like a candid shot, why not try to capture the moments without directing your models, let them roam free. And more often than not, you will be rewarded greatly.
Have been busy with some pre-wedding shots, and not able to update my blog for a while…
Actually this topic applies to a lot of different photography styles. I have discussed this briefly before, where the concept of “decisive moment” preached by Henri Cartier Bresson is used in documentary photography. This actually applies in wild life where you have to notice the emotions and expressions given by the animals, its quite difficult given it is very hard to understand what they are thinking of (I am a wildlife amateur…).
For pre-wedding and wedding shots, it is very important to capture such moments. If successful, those will be the shots where the couples will be most happy with, seeing their own smiles, the tears of joy etc.
Practice makes perfect, share your thoughts and shots!
One of the techniques I like to use is simplify. This idea was further consolidated during my OUHK class, “Photography Lighting Techniques”. The teacher introduced the idea of noise, not the unwanted colours and spots when you shoot at high ISOs, but the unwanted and distracting objects in your frame. They will make your photo concept “fuzzy”, which is worse than a fuzzy image (out of focus).
Anyway, the above photo was another evidence for my love for simplification. The hippo was yawning, with a quarter of its body out of the water. The photo was so simply construed, that all the attention will be focused on the hippo alone. Then the slight reflection of the grass on the side of the pool gives some context of the location.
Less is more, it applies to photography. Think clearly about what you want to show before pressing the shutter button, and make “clear” and “sharp” images; remember its the concept that counts before the quality of the photo!
During my trip in Africa, I also tried to apply my snapshot skills to work on wildlife photography.
I realise that animals display a lot of emotions and behaviour similar to humans (maybe the other way round?!). I try to capture these snaps throughout the trip, and the above photo looks to me like a pair of arguing couple. As humans, the wife had the upper hand and the husband shows his frustrations with no chance of winning :P.
You see the pictures and videos from National Geographic and Animal Planet, and kinda take them for granted. Once I gave it a go during my trip, I realise it is one of the more challenging shots to take.
Actually I should count myself lucky to actually see a cheetah attempting to hunt an impala. Although it was a failed attempt, it was already very exciting to me. According to the local guides, it is rare to see such feat.
Technically it is difficult to focus on both animals at the correct angle. Just like the photo above, I had to shoot behind the cheetah, forcing only one of the subjects in focus. I think I used f5.6 for the shot, yet with my trusty 5D mark II, the focusing speed and the limited AF points really make it difficult to focus. This frame really made me understand the limitations of my gear.
The other realisation for me is that an excellent wildlife shot (especially a picture of hunting) requires a lot of good planning, study of animals, patience and luck.