If you really want to expand your photography skills, I can think of no better practice ground than the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival. This years event will be held October 3-11, and will showcase over 700 extraordinarily colorful balloons of all shapes and sizes launching from a single location. You get to tackle all manner of photographic challenges - low light to high dynamic range lighting situations, confusing and jumbled composition challenges, grandiose vistas with intriguing minute details, etc. There are as many solutions for all of these issues as there are people who take them on. You really ought to give it a try.
This past weekend I decided that I would try to employ some of the lighting techniques using different light sources in order to generate decent headshots of a willing model. I have read about and studied the techniques used by such stalwart pros as Joe McNally, David Hobby and David Black...but I never have seriously tried to translate the books into real life. I also decided to take advantage of some wonderful natural light in a favorite studio setting of mine to create a nice image of my friend Robyn.
The thing you need to understand about most of the models that I will be working with in the near term is this: They are all strong women with a certain presence and gravitas that is not wasted on the young. They are mature...with beautiful countenances that speak of character built through real experience. As it is with such goddesses (my own partner in life, Ms. C, also falls into this category), there are nuances that they choose to address with a little makeup...and a few touches here and there that can take the makeup to a whole 'nuther level - while keeping it real. The image you see at the left here is pretty much straight out of the camera. I have used Adobe Camera Raw to convert the raw image from my Nikon D3 into the starting point you see here. You can see that there are a few issues (no doubt created by poor posing set up by the photographer) that, if addressed properly, will turn this good photograph into a really nice image suitable for framing.
It was to be a glorious end to the summer. At the last minute, my best friend had changed his plans from a mid-week visit to visiting for the long weekend. My Mom and Dennis had decided that this would be the weekend that they would make their journey to visit us and pick up those last belongings that hadn't fit into the moving van last November. And it was, in the vernacular of the household, an "Emily weekend"...and a long one at that.
The photographic forums that I participate in are chock full of people asking questions about camera technique, gadgetry, lighting techniques, etc. Invariably , the discussion will lead to an example photo that illustrates the point of discussion, and suddenly you start seeing the lights turn on that the tools should never be the point in photography. Photography is literally “painting with light”. If you are not following the light, or shaping the light, or using the light to paint a particular scene in a specific locale…then there will be no image for you to discuss, share or improve upon. In other words…you have to be “there”. You have to put yourself in position to pursue a particular scene that has captured your imagination.