maandag 30 juli 2012

Exploring point of view part 4
motive and opportunity
grabbing the chance while it presents itself

last week i got lucky. a tractor making haystacks lost one and got stuck in the mud whilst trying to grab it out of the ditch.
motive: i loooove machines, especially tractors
opportunity: they had to call for backup to pull the tractor out of the mud, so i could get in close.
i literally had a field day!

dinsdag 24 juli 2012

exploring point of view part 3     
letting the elements do the work
becoming friends with the wind

Here in the netherlands the weather is rather volatile, with regular bursts of storm and rain. I used to curse the wind a lot for ruining my shots by roughly shaking the flower i was about to take a close up  of ..... until i realized i could  'go with the flow' or rather: 'bend with the wind' .....!

Here are some shots of a daisy i found on the dike path i take with my dogs. The wind was blowing it in all directions, and instead of framing a standard close up and wait for the wind to die down enough to take an unblurred shot, i changed my settings a bit (faster shutter speed) and then followed the movement of the daisy with my camera, pressing the shutter whenever the wind blew the daisy to a different position. This way i got some very interesting points of view just by moving my camera around instead of my body...

exploring point of view part 2    
letting your lens do the work
shooting from a fixed viewpoint 

A telezoom is a great tool for shooting a subject from different angles and perspectives without having to move around much. When your mobility is limited for whatever reasons this can be a real blessing...!

My dad lives in a beautiful apartment complex that was designed by Ricardo Bofill. It was built in a crescent shape. Sitting on his terrace on the ground floor, looking up,  i can almost see the whole building. I love looking at the rows of windows, glass rectangles that gather and reflect everything at the opposite side of the building's half-circle. Above are some shots taken at 150mm with my Olympus PEN P3 (which means a 300mm focal length on a full frame camera) while leaning back in my chair. For the second shot i turned my camera to the left and upwards, providing a slightly different view and perspective, with brighter and more detailed reflections. I've added a small pink spot to indicate where the shots overlap: the window in the top left of the first shot is situated below the top right in the second one.

Here i've changed my perspective by zooming out. First to a focal length of 85 mm, showing some of the layers of grey concrete framing the rows of windows, then to a focal length of 40 mm, providing more contextual information about the shape and size of the building.  The pink spots again indicate the orientation, on both shots the spot is somewhere near the left middle of the frame.
exploring point of view part 1     
letting your subject do the work     
an exercise in waiting

While i like shooting my subjects from different angles and perspectives, my disabilities have made it very hard and painful for me to sit or lie down, climb on top of fences and chairs or walk down slopes and rough terrain. So in order to still get enough interesting points of view i have had to adapt and be creative. 

Here are some shots i took of a heron standing on the border of the pond near my father's house. I noticed the sharp dark shadow on the light concrete and was fascinated by the contrast and its changing shape. While sitting in the sun on my dad's terrace i got out my camera, zoomed in and just waited patiently for the heron to change its position and posture (which can take a while with herons....), meanwhile sipping my coffee and chatting with my dad. The heron took its time to prance around and i took the time to take shots whenever i liked what i saw. Very comfortable way of shooting...!

maandag 16 juli 2012

talking in photographs part 3     
capturing aspects of personality     
i love shooting portraits of people i know and love.
i tend to hang around them with my camera as long as it takes, waiting until they become less aware of my presence, turn their focus back on themselves and what they are doing, and their authentic self starts radiating out of their faces and posture and gestures again.
right at that moment i press the shutter....

my neighbor Mijke, who lives in Mozambique and who i see once a year. every time she has grown and changed so much.... i love to record those changes and try to catch glimpses of her developing personality. here she's playing with one of our dogs, completely uninterested in me or my camera.

these two shots are of my dad, right after he gave me a portrait lens for my birthday. i couldn't wait to start taking his picture! he was totally aware of being photographed, but he's such a natural, he's unable to posture or take a pose.

my niece Nadine is always aware of cameras and can't help posing... so with her i usually have to wait long and take lots of shots before i catch her unawares.  but the fact that she knows people look at her and appreciate her beauty is also a part of her personality and it shows in these portraits. here i have tried to enhance that aspect in post-processing.
this shot has been given a bit of a low-key effect

here she was not exactly posing but still acutely aware of the camera, which shows in her facial expression. this shot only needed some subtle changes to keep the effect soft and natural

this shot has been given a high-key/soft focus effect to exaggerate the languid expression

donderdag 12 juli 2012

talking in photographs part 2      
silent lights        
solving photographic problems
every night i take my dogs out along the river. from day one i have been fascinated by the reflection of the bright street- and city lights in the dark water. it reminds me of Leon Spilliaert's paintings of the seashore in Ostend. i just love that silent muted atmosphere and have always wanted to capture it. 

this is the best that my iPhone could come up with, and i didn't like it very much. i needed a camera with more possibilities.
so when i got my olympus PEN P3 i was really excited and couldn't wait to take it out with the dogs at night....
i had read some books about night photography beforehand though, and knew i would encounter some problems. 
here's how i tried to solve them.
i bought a gorilla pod and fastened it to the steering wheel of my electric scooter. this allows me to use a very long shutter speed without camera shake resulting in blurry images. then i went out and started experimenting. i put my camera on manual mode, used a very small aperture (due to the dark it is almost impossible to focus on anything), put it on 2 seconds delayed shutter release, framed the shot, stepped out of my scooter and reframed it properly, then pressed the shutter and waited.....

this shot was taken at 40mm f/16 ISO 320 8 seconds
it was too dark, so i tried again with different settings

this is the same shot at 25 seconds and a much better representation of my night vision

here are some more of my night shots with the settings i used

53mm f/22 ISO 200 at 60 seconds
slightly post-processed in Lightroom to bring out the color of the shed

40mm f/16 ISO 800 at 15 seconds
some noise reduction applied in Lightroom

40mm f/22 ISO 200 at 50 seconds
pushed the clarity and reduced the noise in Lightroom