Hot Air Ballon
Every year there is a hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque. There is color galore! Photographers eye candy. As the sun comes up the pilots start to inflate the balloons. The beautiful early morning light that lasts just a short time, the mad action of inflating the huge balloons and the color of the hot air balloons is an opportunity to get some really great photographs. You need to be fast! The light is only magic for a short time and in less than thirty minutes most of them will be over your head. However, with a little pre-planning and some greased palms you might be able to hop into the basket of one of these and get even more images. To me this was the iconic image of the morning. There were many more to be had.
Good light will help anything look good. This shot was done at sunset with a model running back and forth in front of me. I took lots of shots. I was a little late to the party so by the time she got sweaty enough to look like she was really working out, the sun had gone down and the idiot photographer (me) left his flash in the car. No fill light. So it was in silhouette shot. . . ahhhh!
So know when the sunrise or sunset will happen. If you can afford it I HIGHLY advise hiring a model and try some setup shots. You need to plan this and know what your trying to get. It is also fun to pick out bright cloths for her/him and dress her/him for specific concepts you might have. Stock agencies love simple concept shots with room for copy. You need a model and sometimes a location release if the location is recognizable. The release MUST be exchanged with money or something tangible to really be legit. Don’t take advantage…. be fair.
For a long time I was in charge of my four ~carpet commandos~ children. There was always some problem… some sad song like; ”Dad !!! Geoff put ketchup in my ear” At some point I changed my name to the Cheerio Roundup King. At some point I visualized a concept I call “I have heard all the sad songs”. I saw the image in my head and started putting pieces on the board. I hired an old friend (I have quite a few old friends) bought an old violin, shredded the hair on the bow and found a tux at a used clothing store. Black background, strobe with a grid, signed model release, some acting direction for my friend and the check to pay for his day. I learned a lot.
For a decade now I have listened to photographers and their stories about slipping shoulder straps. Cameras and lenses bouncing off the floor, falling off into the bay, in short driving them nuts. About 98% of photographers who use the UPstrap love it. I am happy I can help.
This photo technique is called dragging the shutter. It intentionally blurs the image giving it a feel of motion. Panning the camera while dragging or slowing the shutter speed also has the benefit of blurring the background. This brings the focus of attention to the foreground – in this case the horse and rider. If you want to get real fancy, dragging the shutter and panning while blowing a flash with either front or rear curtain can really be a bunch of fun. HOWEVER, shooting a flash at a horse can cause a serious amount of trouble and a seriously pissed off rider if the horse is not “flash friendly” and comes totally unglued. In the right situation even the sight of a camera will freak a horse. A thoroughbred (with blinders) at the finish of and after a race is usually acclimated to a flash. It is part of their training. Besides the horse is usually so exhausted you could hit him with a brick and not have him freak.
Lastly. . . .punchy colors like RED help.
Sometimes it is the color in the photograph that makes it unique. In this case it was Kodak’s EIR film. Sometimes it’s the subject. Usually it’s both.
Good photography courses will teach about gesture and light. Many times to capture gesture you learn to anticipate, have your camera at the ready and have a DSLR camera with a fast motor drive. Again, carrying a camera in a camera bag will slow your ability and desire to capture something that grabs your eye. Stay ready with your camera on your shoulder. Find a camera and lens combination that is comfortable for you to carry. I like my Fuji X-E1
Sometimes you can pick the right place and wait for the photo to come into frame. As with any discipline it takes commitment, effort and time. In this case I sat down to steady the camera and shot may photos from the wrong position as things progressed. I could have and should have moved my position and actually got the kayakers face in the shot. Duh! On the other hand this shot does not require a model release.
One of our greatest living photographers, Jay Maisel, speaks often about “going out empty.” Jay carries a camera all the time as does Arthur Meyerson and Seth Resnick. I can’t remember ever seeing any of teem without one. Each of these guys give wonderful talks and awesome workshops. Jay always hammers home the importance of going out empty. Some days it can be raining so hard that you can’t go out. If you’re empty you can see the truck through the wet window.
Photography is about seeing. . . NOT about the latest and greatest camera.
Photography is also a state of mind that allows you to see the world not just in front but behind, above and below you. Taking time to work an image from different points of view enables you to understand your subject and craft the image that is important to you. Interesting images are all around you if you are open. One simple fact is you can’t take or make a photograph if you don’t have a camera with you. The more often you carry a camera the better photographer you will be. If you’re serious about improving your images ~ have your camera on your shoulder. Remain relaxed and look around. If you leave your camera in the bag it will stay nice and shiny but you may miss a lot of great shots. What is more important to you? better images or a shiny low mileage camera? The more you carry your camera the better you will become.
Doing something for the first time can be scary . To me it’s like hanging off a cliff. After time and experience I find I can accept my strengths and weaknesses. It is important to ask for help when needed. Attending some photo workshops will really help.