Introduction by Skip Cohen
In my college days I took a course on public speaking. On the very first day of class the instructor had us try and explain to him how to put on coat with the assumption that he knew absolutely none of the components of what made up the jacket. Imagine trying to explain something this simple if the person you were talking to didn't know what a sleeve or collar was, let alone which side was up on the jacket.
Well photography is no different and so often we completely miss the appreciation for the complexity of teaching or explaining something. Just because you can create a great image, doesn't mean you can explain the "how to" aspect going on behind the scenes.
I've known Stewart Powers for a lot of years, but we've never really worked on anything together. Well, I love the way he's about to take you through the process of adding another dimension of complexity to your images. This is another way for you to raise the bar on the quality of your work and separate yourself from your competitors and the Uncle Harry's of the world.
Take the time to wander into Powers Photography. You're about to go on a journey into some outstanding images. Personally, I love his wedding section. Just watching the slide show was enough to to nail the "wow" factor on every image. Is he a photographer, an artist or a creative genius ? I'll let you make the call.
Another thing most photographers don't realize is what it takes to build something like SCU and this site. It takes great partners and a commitment to education. A big thanks to Tamron USA for stepping up to the plate and bringing some great educational elements to the SCU party! Special programs, workshops, conventions and even this blog couldn't happen without the dedication to the craft by companies like Tamron!
Circle the Dates: Check out Stewart and Susan's upcoming program at the Florida School of Photography, part of FPP (Florida Professional Photographers).
Imagine a nice PB&J sandwich without the J. Or a bagel and cream cheese without the cream cheese. It’s a one dimensional experience and it’s just not as tasty. Photographically our brains can interpret many levels of complexity and in some photographic compositions I prefer to make it more interesting by adding another subject dimension/element - a secondary subject. This secondary subject is usually not sharply focused. I make it game when I photograph a wedding to find more tasty compositions. (Potentially there can be foreground, middle and far subjects if you like.)
The trick is to see the potential quickly so you can pose the subjects to create two dimensions. This means the bride is not actually in the gazebo, or leaning on the limo and the groom may not be in line with the groomsmen, ( see image 1 below). That creates a one dimensional composition. The bride, groom or couple need to be in front, or behind and on a different plane from the secondary subject. The magic of a wide angle lens or telephoto compression will create the tasty composition. I think a zoom lens is crucial so the final composition can be quickly realized.
You can train your mind to look for these in many situations – from the cake cutting, B&G at the gazebo, couple with the limo, bridal party group, etc. The juxtaposing of two elements often makes an overall stronger and more interesting visual statement. Visually literate people will appreciate this.
On the job I use a Black Rapid strap that holds two full frame Canon 5D II’s with my two favorite lenses ready to go. The Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC SP lens and the Tamron 70-200 F2.8 VC SP lens. These are absolutely first tier professional gear. These lenses cover 90% of the images I capture at a wedding. The other 10% are with a 300mm, 90 macro, and a 16-35mm.
The distance between the subjects and the total space you have to create your composition will make the lens selection easy. If I work at the limo and it is a classy Rolls Royce I might have the couple in a kissy moment with the RR hood ornament in the foreground in focus with the B&G as a secondary out-of-focus (OOF) addition. ( see image below) The 24-70 works great in this situation. It is a similar composition when I place the couple behind the wedding cake. I do not use a wide open f-stop because the couple can get too mushy. Better around f 5.6.
This image is a bit wonky and romantic. It was made using the 70-200 f2.8 Tamron performance zoom at the 80mm mark. The camera was on a tripod and I used the depth of field preview button to select f9 as the fstop that made the composition work. (The DOF preview is the button you never use.) Faster fstops made the flowers too blurred – there needs to be some definition in the OOF secondary subject. This is also an example of selected focus. Isn’t the art of photography FUN!
This last image is one of my recent favorites because of the new friendship between little Katie and Cinderella bride Katie. Little Katie was magically enchanted. They are over thirty feet in front of the limo. This was captured at f4.5 and the RR limo is very OOF but sharp enough for me because of the tele compression of using 200mm. Using different fstops will give different effects and you should experiment to discover what you love. It’s a bit like the icing on a cake – there are a few rules to consider but lots of room for creativity. Go forth and be secondary.
Images copyright Powers Photography. All Rights Reserved
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