A Whole Lot of Newness

There have been a long list of real life situations that have prevented me from adding to the blog or updating the website since my last post. If you know me personally, then you know the story, and if you don’t, I’m not going to bore you with the details.

The biggest change, for those who don’t know already, is that I am no longer based out of Seoul, South Korea. I have returned to my native Canada. Now you may be asking, “how is that a part of the newness?” Well, it has been over 17 years since I last lived in Canada, so coming back is very much like moving to a new country again. But, I’ve also moved to an entirely different part of the country, Nova Scotia. Which for those of you at home keeping score is roughly 2,000 km away from the town I grew up in.

The last time I stepped foot inside Nova Scotia was for a weekend, for a friend’s wedding. Before that, I think I was about 7 years old … That’s nearly 40 years ago. So locations, weather, and sun/moon rising and setting times are a whole lot new.

New Shop

As a part of the new, I am going all in on trying to make this photography my life’s work. You will have noticed that a “Shop” section of the website has appeared, which for now is really a menu of what I will offer.

As a part of the new shop, I’m also adding something that I’ve never offered before, but figured it is time to do so, and that is to offer my editing services to the public.

Editing for the Masses

Editing, especially for those who are just starting out can be a scary thing. Trust me, I know. Editing scared me for the better part of the first 16 years of photography. That is one of the reasons why I tried to get as much right in camera, on site, in one frame … editing (or “Photoshop”) was just too intimidating. Editing has come a long way, especially now that a lot of smartphone apps offer filters and some other bells and whistles. But now that there are so many people using those apps and filters, one of the best ways to stand out is to develop your own editing style. I have one friend who is an amazing photographer, Marco Devon, based in Seoul, South Korea, that once you see one of his photos, you know it’s one of his photos. He has developed his unique editing style that is on full display on his secondary Instagram account.

Not only setting up your personal style, you are able to work some magic with a full powered edit. In this example, the original was taken at about 2 pm in the afternoon on a cloudy winter’s day. After a little editing magic, it’s a summer’s night.

Maybe you’re not looking for a full blown digital image. Just milking out some fabulous colours that you didn’t know were there when you took the photo is what you want or need.

No sky replacement was done for this one, unlike the first example. In this one, it was a matter of adjusting the white balance, and saturation. So either way, a solid edit can do wonders to your photos and feeds. So if the idea of editing is overwhelming, or you just simply don’t have enough time to go through all of your photos from your most recent excursion, allow me to free up some of your time and get the most out of your images.

Contact me for more details and prices, which start off at around the same price as a fancy cup of coffee.

Catching the Splash

In my continued efforts to learn and practise how to use artificial lighting for the purposes of product photography, I decided to try to catch some bouncing water drops.

I tried and shot just over 100 frames before real life called and I had to leave the house.

Image from the camera.

It isn’t just about learning how to use artificial lighting and how to set things up for a product shoot, it’s about learning how and practising to use editing software.

For those of you who have followed my path to this point know that I have done very little when it comes to editing photos using software on the computer. To be honest, the complicated ones, like Photoshop just scared me. But I also knew that if I was to advance anywhere in photography outside of my personal Facebook page, I would have to learn how to use it properly. Now I don’t use Photoshop, I use the program Affinity Photo. I absolutely love it. There are a lot of similarities to Photoshop in both layout and features. It doesn’t have the power that Photoshop has (yet), there is a reason why Photoshop has become a verb. (I’ll have to do a review at a later date.)

Back to the task at hand. I posted some of my results on Instagram stories. One friend had sent a message that she was trying to do the same but without the same results. So I decided that I would make a quick behind the scenes video showing my set up and a brief explanation on how to get the shot.

I have stung this video together. I know the quality both video and editing need a lot of work. Baby steps, baby steps. One thing at a time. It’s still a huge improvement from what I’ve done in the past. As I continue to do these at home shoots, doing more of these type of behind the scenes may surface.

If you have any questions about what I did in this video, or any other questions feel free to ask away in the comment section here, on my Facebook page, or on the YouTube video comment section.

Have a great day and good luck!

Take it Inside

As many, if not everyone, has heard by now, a highly contagious virus is making its way around the globe seemingly faster than light itself. Here in South Korea, the number of cases continue to balloon not only daily, but hourly.

One thing that this temporary (hopefully) lifestyle change has brought with it, is the reduction in the amount of time that I would normally spend outside exploring. Luckily, at the time of this post, there have been no confirmed cases in my city, although they did track one person through a nearby subway station. (Yes, track. There is a website that posts the known travel paths of some confirmed patients before they knew they had the virus.) So, as a nature/travel photographer the question became what could I do with my time if I’m not going to be outside.

When you sit down and plan it out, there are a number of things that will easily fill a day.

Planning

One thing that is quite important as a photographer is being able to recognize your weaknesses. Having no traditional formal training in photography, I have a few.

YouTube videos, these days, play a huge role in my learning. I have learned to be careful when I use the term “self taught”. Many people tend to use the term to say that they didn’t go to a college or university photography programme, like myself. However, as I was growing up, I read books and magazines (the Internet was still very, very young at the time) to learn techniques, what f-stops were, lens distortions and how to work with them, etc. All of these books and articles were written by people, many of whom did go through formal training. It is these authors that taught me. There may have been more experimentation on my part as I physically tried to understand what they had written. But make no mistake I didn’t pick up a camera and figure out everything without any help. They were my teachers.

One thing I think that traditional formal training would have helped me immensely is lighting. Being able to handle and physically set up strobes and soft boxes in a controlled environment with supervision is something I wish I had experienced. Throughout my entire life with a camera in my hands, I’ve relied on natural lighting. I didn’t even start using reflectors or diffusers until fairly recently (relatively speaking). One of my first purchases after my first digital camera was a big powerful speed light. One that I’ve never really learned how to use.

Task #1

Learning how to use my speed light and how to light still life or products in a mini studio.

I started by using the soft box that my wife had given me years ago as a gift along with my one speed light. I started experimenting with where to position the light and how to light whatever object I could find around the house.

This also lead to watching a lot more videos on how to use artificial lighting.

Task #2

Studio Design

After editing some of the shots, I started to see some more possibilities. It also got me thinking about the studios that these lighting videos were being shot in, and their lighting set ups and the similarities. This lead to me redesigning my office. I built a track that runs from one side of the room to the other and attached my speed light to it. I also attached a diffuser to the rail so it could slide into the position and angle that I wanted.

Task #3

Re-editing

It is also a great time to go back through the archives. There are 4 things I like to so when I go back through the archives.

  1. Look back at some of the iffy files that I had thought I would go back and edit at a later date.
  2. Delete files that I thought I might fix, but have come to the realization that they will never get edited.
  3. Edit the iffy files that made the second cut.
  4. Re-edit files that had already made the cut, but using new techniques or since it’s a new day a new artistic outlook on that file. *

*There was one photo in particular that when I edited I wasn’t sure which I had liked better, the warm white balance or the cool white balance. Your vision can change from day to day.

By watching editing videos, (as “photoshopping” is still pretty new to myself as well) I learn different ways of doing things. I watched a video earlier today that even showed a whole new (to me) artistic angle to take with the photos.

Task #4

Website Updates

This is also a great time to keep up with website and blog updates. Keeping a (regular) blog in the past was something that was extremely difficult for me. My brain tends to run at 1000 km/h most of the time (hence the importance of my @koreantemples Instagram account to help me slow down). The one thing that I’ve learned while writing articles for Wikitree.us a few years ago, and last year while I was writing the textbook, is that I like writing. It’s something that I know I have time to do regardless of how busy my schedule is.

Task #5

Looking for Work

With my newly found love of writing along with my photography, this inside time has also allowed me to focus on networking and writing proposals to magazines and publishers. My full time elementary teaching contract has just finished and I was going to take this time to build my photography business. There are a whole lot of steps to take and hard work before it gets off the ground. I’m going to try my best to make it work.

So there we have it. 5 tasks that easily fill up a 10-12 hour day. Many times, each one of these days will only be filled with 2 or 3 of these 5 tasks.