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!

Galleries and Exhibitions

In today’s digital age and the constant go, go, go lifestyle that has dominated urban living all around the world, it’s easy to forget to stop for a minute and take time for yourself.

As a photographer and an artist, a gallery or exhibition can easily become your amusement park, your wilderness, your library, your school all rolled into one.

As computer screens become bigger with higher resolution, it can very easily become your window to the world. For me as well. A few years I started to really start to study some of photography’s legends. I’d read blog posts about them, I’d watch old documentaries on YouTube about them. I’d look at their photographs all without leaving the comforts of my home office.

Something happened.

But before we get into that I should preface this with:

I love art galleries. I enjoy going to a gallery to see some of the master painters: Matisse, VanGogh, Dali, Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Delacroix just to name a few. I had, at the recommendation of my art history professor, to avoid going to the Louvre, and go to the Musée d’Orsay instead. I loved it. I was also there at a time that wasn’t over run with people. So when a Musée d’Orsay exhibition came to Seoul, it didn’t take much convincing to go.

Photography museums and exhibitions were not as accessible. So when I found that there would be an exhibition of Henri Cartier-Bresson, (the photographer I look up to the most) in Seoul, I knew I had to go, and the 3.5 hour drive to get to Seoul wasn’t going to be a factor at all.

FRANCE. Paris. Place de l’Europe. Saint Lazare station. 1932

This is where it happened… At the Dongdaemun Design Plaza… An epiphany of sorts. I had always respected and at times been in awe of the paintings that hung in a museum.

Edouard ManetLe déjeuner sur l’herbeen 1863huile sur toile H. 207,0 ; L. 265,0 cm.
@ avec cadre H. 243,5 ; L. 305 cm
musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
©photo musée d’Orsay / rmn

I still remember my jaw literally dropping when I saw  Édouard Manet’s – “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” hanging at Musée d’Orsay. We had studied it in class only weeks before I visited, so it was still fresh in my mind. I saw it in class both on the projection screen and in the textbook. Nothing prepared me for its sheer size of 5.4912 square metres.

The ability to just stand there with the photograph in front of me, no links or web browser tabs, just me and the photograph. It was a calming effect, but it also brought with it a desire to soak up the entire photograph. Not just look at it and walk to the next one. Or scroll down as would be the case in Instagram. The photos were no larger than the full screen that I could produce in my office on my desktop, in fact many of them were smaller. There was just a completely different feeling involved with a physical photograph.

It inspired me like nothing else. I left the exhibition a few hours later with my camera in tow and changed the in camera settings to shoot only in black and white. Before that exhibition, I wasn’t a fan of black and white photos at all. I needed colour. I’d almost go so far as to say I hated black and white photos, and I don’t hate much in this world. Strongly dislike, yes, but hate, no. It single handedly showed me the path to appreciating and enjoying black and white photography.

Exhibitions don’t have to be entirely a visit only excursion. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have my photographs included in a number of fabulous exhibitions all over South Korea as well as Japan.

Which will lead us to our next issue. Thanks for reading.

The Age of IG and the Smartphone

I recently attended the annual full moon fire festival.

The short version of the event is during the evening of the first full moon of the lunar calendar – believed to be the brightest moon of the year – large bonfires are made.

People write their hopes and prayers and tie them to the sheaf that will be set ablaze. The branches, wood, and sheaf that are strung together is called the “moon house”. It is really only 1 part of many rituals that are carried out throughout the day of, the night, and the morning after.

The “Moon House”

This year’s festival felt different. It started with how they were interacting with the “moon’s house” before the ceremony. The time when it is on display and when you are able to write your piece and attach it to the house for burning later in the evening. In the past, most people would huddle around it, and there would be a large crowd. This year, people kept their distance… why? So they could get the whole house in the frame of their smartphone camera.

Cellphones in a row.

I was looking for a specific shot when it came to the lighting of the house, but as luck would have it, my sightline wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for, especially considering where I had set up my tripod an hour before the lighting.

So I backed it all the way up, got the whole crowd in with the fire and the moon. I was surprisingly happy with myself for making that decision. I got a few shots, not as many as I had hoped as I kept knocking on my tripod. But one that I did get I thought was nice. The thing that I noticed was that after it was lit, a good majority, maybe 70-80% of the people had cleared out within the next 5-10 minutes. Hoping to beat the traffic rush. The fire part of the ceremony was the highlight, the climax, the event everyone came to see. In the past people would wait until it burnt itself out or until the fire department (on standby) would put it out about an hour later. Not this year…

Fast forward to the next day when I got it on the large screen of the computer, and bam! It hit me right away… it looked like almost everyone had their phones up taking pictures of it! They showed up, they took their picture of it with their phone, and left.

Look at all the phone screens!

It seems to have gone from taking photos of an enjoyable time, to not being able to enjoy the time because people are thinking and worrying too much about how to make some wonderful IG post, to not even caring about the time at all, and just grabbing a photo, almost as to prove to someone that they were there. I didn’t even mention the woman who spent the entire ceremony that involved traditional dancers watching a soap opera on her phone.

Yes, you were there, but did you experience what you came to photograph? The emotional experience that once led people to make a photograph used to show in the photograph…

Next issue: Finding Those Instagrammable Spots

Stay tuned!