Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bokeh Effects

One fun technique to keep in mind when taking pictures is the bokeh. It comes from a Japanese word meaning blur or haze. The idea is to use your lens to cause parts of your picture to blur out artistically. Another strategy is to use the blur to highlight your subject matter which you will place in sharp focus.
The trick is to set your camera to manual mode or AV, "aperture priority," and then crank your aperture to the wider of the stops, say 2 or 1.8. That creates a very shallow field of focus. Everything closer to the camera than the field of focus will be blurred out and every thing behind it will as well. But as you can see, it really draws the eye to the subject.

This is especially handy when doing portrait photography. The aim there is to get the eyes as sharply in focus as possible. Then sometimes you can used the blurred out background to communicate something about the subject's environment while at the same time there is no doubt as to the focus of the picture.
Also you can use bokeh techniques to get some really cool effects. When I took this picture of the candles, I strung some Christmas lights up in the background. They are so far out of focus that the results are pretty dramatic. There are ways to play with this effect that I will approach some other day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Football Scholarship Video

This was an unusual assignment for me since I primarily do still photography but on the other hand it gave me a great opportunity to show off the fact that my camera takes wonderful video as well. I had a client ask me to create a video of her son to help him apply for football scholarships as he prepares to head off to college. The format was pretty simple. I'd shoot some video of him introducing himself and mentioning a few of his accomplishments. Then the rest of the video was clips of his performances on the football field. Shooting his introduction was probably the easiest part. Though I did request that we do a re-shoot since I got home and discovered that the field of focus wasn't quite where I wanted it to be. That turned out to a happy accident because he'd had so much more practice at saying his introduction that in the end we got a really polished clip of him in the can.
Then came the tedious work of isolating his selected plays from filmed football games and then rendering them as video clips. Then we all sat down for about four hours while he pointed out to me where he was as the start of each play. Then I highlighted him in the video so that prospective coaches could follow his action. Then I spent another week putting it all together. In the end, the video was four minutes and fifty seconds long. Here's a sample of the first minute or so.

Nik Edens

This was a challenging project but I was pretty pleased by the way it turned out.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fun Engagement Photo Shoot

I recently had a great photo shoot with a fun couple to do their wedding announcement photos. They were still working on ideas for the formatting of the announcement so the idea at this point was to create as many different kinds of pictures that we could think of and then they would have lots of options when sitting down to produce the announcement. And at the same time, they would have more photos for other uses as well.So to that ends it was important for us to just take our time, experiment and be open to playing around with what ever ideas popped into our heads. The nice thing is that they were a very fun couple and had lots of ideas. We had a great time trying things and then doing some variations to see how they would work.