Aug 252012
 

Before I go to the main part of this post let me mention that…

I do miss Poland… Every time I have an opportunity to visit this wonderful country I feel great. “What’s so special?”  you may ask. Well… I could elaborate, but written words wouldn’t do justice. Funny enough, the same reason why I am not able to write those words (in English) is why I can appreciate Poland so much. Every one of us feels and understands his country of upbringing better than non-natives (most probably). And it is difficult or even impossible to explain some things to others.  Some things, on the other hand, do not need any explanation.

By the way – I am not trying to be “mysterious” by not saying anything concrete. I am simply a rather private man who do not want to say too much on a blog :) “So why the hell did you write the previous paragraph?” you might ask. Well, because the process of writing triggers my memory and I can experience some of this stuff again. It can also trigger memory of a reader, if he/she has  memories of his own which fit in that general description. Worth trying…

Actually there is a concrete thing which I can share! A picture (or two) is worth more than a thousand words, so here it is:

It was a typical lunch my mother prepared, but the ingredients were so fresh and natural that I almost cried tears of joy. So this is one concrete thing which I miss.

Let us now focus on the main part of the post. So another aspect I miss is people, but this one is more difficult to explain. I am not even sure I fully understand it myself.

Some time ago I wrote a post on how people often do not explore opportunities they encounter. Here is the post. So I witnessed an another situation in this spirit. During my recent trip to Poland I attended a conference and met some new people there. And since I had some free time I mentioned I can take some photos of them (free of charge). To make it short: it was by no means easy… to an extent that some of them actually tried to discourage other ones from using this opportunity. Maybe this behavior is not even worth being mentioned after all…

Fortunately it was not entirely impossible. Here is a photo of one of the participants, Monika, a PhD student in mathematics.

Great result, and it was her first photo session!

After that we attended a bonfire, where one (e.g. me) could enjoy more of wonderful food

 

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Aug 142012
 

I was expecting this post to be written much earlier, as the photos were taken a few months ago.

You may remember the previous post with Anne, a very professional model and a beautiful young girl. It is always a pleasure to work with her and I hope that in the future I will have an opportunity to post more photos of her on this blog. In the meantime you may want to keep track of her Facebook professional profile.

Photographer: Pawel Konieczny
Model: Anne Winterson (link)
MUA: Soraya Villela
Hair: Abby Miller
Retoucher: Rebecca Thuresson (link)

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Jun 102012
 

I took this photo (click it to dim the lights) three months ago and it still brings me great satisfaction.

To encourage my fellow photographers: this photo was made using two flashes in umbrellas (actually even one would do), backdrop is a seamless Savage paper (great thing) and it was shot in a very small room with a low ceiling. Not long ago, I remember, I thought to get such (technical) results I will need a professional studio and strobes.

Now if you read my previous posts you know pretty much everything… Well… good luck.

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 Posted by at 10:01 pm
Jun 062012
 

Portraiture is the most enjoyable part of photography for me. But curiously enough, if you ask me I can’t tell what aspect of it is the most interesting for me. Maybe it is the light, maybe it is the physical beauty of the person, maybe it is the character of the person? All of those can be quite intriguing and probably it should be considered on a case by case basis.

Today I was again going through a book about portraiture work of Yousuf Karsh (I particularly enjoy his portrait of Pablo Casals, simply brilliant). While I was glancing through the text one phrase caught my attention. It said that one of the rules of portraiture is that the subject should not look directly into the lens (of course, like with any other rule, there are exceptions). This got me thinking, as in my work my subjects are almost always looking directly into the lens and I have been aiming for that very consciously. For me what is important is a personal relation between the subject and the photographer.

I went through the book again and indeed, Yousuf Karsh’s subjects very often look away. So what is the difference (of course I’m not comparing my work to his)? I think the difference is simply because there is a different purpose and different audience. When you think about it his subjects are iconic figures, celebrities if you will. The photos were about them. This is how you could see them “from a crowd”. There is no personal connection between the subject and the audience.

The audience for my portraiture work is, very often, family and friends of the subject. They perceive those photos quite differently than other people, as they are familiar with that face, with that look. They can bring memories, they can put themselves in the place of the photographer.

So the bottom line is (trivially, like with any other rule) that one has to choose consciously what he wants to achieve.

There is so much to learn… And it’s one of those areas where even if one reads tons of tutorials it is still difficult (or even impossible) to start getting decent results. You have to work with people and work on your own personality. Maybe that’s one more reason why I enjoy portraiture – it’s a great challenge, for years to come.

 

Take a look at the photos below and imagine they look in a different direction…

 

And what is your opinion?

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 Posted by at 9:56 am
May 302012
 

Anne contacted me a few months ago to do a photo shoot together. As always – we first met to get to know each other a bit and discuss some possible projects. After that we had a walk and even took a photo or two. Thanks to the model it was not difficult to get a decent photo right away.

We scheduled another photo shoot shortly after that to work together more before some major project.

The day we met again was beautiful but awfully cold. I really appreciate her professionalism – she was not complaining at all, even when I was proposing to walk to other locations over and over again. She was in good spirits even at the very end. Thank you Anne! :)

As I mentioned earlier getting great photos on this occasion wasn’t our priority (but I think we did it anyway). My goal was to see how “serious” (for lack of a better word) look we can get. You can see how this looks evolved throughout the session.

When I took the last photo (from the gallery) I knew we got it! Actually I remember I said to Anne that it was worth spending so much time in this cold weather just to get this one photo! And I still think so.

In the nearest future I will post more photos of Anne from our last session, so stay tuned – they are worth it!

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Feb 292012
 

Well… it has been a while since my last post. The reason is that… well… I have many reasons but maybe I should not make any excuses.

So as you may know I like to shoot people who are NOT professional models. I just like challenges… Imagine, all the obstacles on your way… “I don’t want to be photographed”, “I don’t like myself on photos”, “I have never had any photo taken of me which I liked”, and so on… On top of that quite often this is the first or the second time I meet those people in my life and I need to make them feel comfortable in front of my camera. Now that’s a challenge! :) It’s so much easier when you’re taking photos of a person who likes to be photographed and who you have known for a long time… But then where’s the challenge?!

Some time ago Ryan contacted me asking if I could take some photos of him. I thought “why not? this might be even more challenging”. You may ask why more challenging? I think the reason is that so far I have had very little (next to zero) experience taking photos of men. It is just different than taking photos of a woman.

As with all my models we first met to get to know each other and talk about ideas for a shoot. In my company he seemed to be very shy but I wanted to portray him as a very masculine figure (his face structure is appropriate for that I think), so this was a challenge for me. “Why challenge?” you say… Well, I think human’s basic instincts kick in when you see a big lens aiming at you and behind the camera there is a guy who has (probably ;)) 100 lbs of weight advantage. I myself wouldn’t feel comfortable in a situation like that.

You can see below what we have managed to get. I myself am quite satisfied with the results. The photo with stairs in the background was one of the last ones and you can see how natural he is there. I especially enjoy that photo also because of the colors there…

Feel free to post comments and stay tuned for another post in a few days…

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 Posted by at 9:44 pm
Sep 052011
 

As you may know from my previous posts (for example this or this) I am exploring B&W (or monochromatic for that matter) tonality and so today I thought I will elaborate on this topic.

When it comes to light I recognize two types of photos: geometric/graphic ones and tonal ones (note: I may revise this in a while and add more types or change their names, as this is the field I am exploring). The former ones are more classic and are about basic shapes (lines, triangles, golden ratios, etc.) and composition. At this point I cannot appreciate them as much as I would like to – maybe it’s still too early for me. Those photos often have very sharp tonality as it is the best way to draw shapes (think of silhouette photos).

Tonal photos are different. They are also about shapes but those curvy ones. It is more about how light shapes those shapes, how gentle transitions in shadows paint this object for the viewer. This painting can be flat or reach and vivid.

Maybe my fascination with nature is the cause of this preference. I cannot easily think of good examples of natural things which would benefit more from the graphic approach rather than the tonal one. Maybe you can give me such an example?

Back to tonal photos. I saw very few of them which were actually beautiful for me. Those I saw I keep as a reference to practice my skills. One of the photographers who is able to create such reference points for me is Cy DeCosse. Maybe there are others (feel free to send me links/names) but I had an opportunity to meet Cy in person and actually see his work printed. Simply amazing. Please take a look at one of his galleries: The Beauty of Food. Printing such work is another nontrivial issue which I have a feeling I won’t be able to overcome in the nearest future (actually Cy has a master printer, Keith Taylor, who helps him do that).

By the way – this subject (tonality) applies of course to color photos as well but then it becomes in my opinion even more difficult, as you have to take care of composition of colors as well. The same artist has another gallery worth seeing: The Four Seasons.

Few days ago I thought I will give it a shot and try to create a still life photo which would be in the spirit of Cy’s work. Of course I didn’t think I will be even close to that but as for the first time I think it was a step in the right direction. This is also why I wrote study in the title of this post.

The original photo was taken with a black background (a cotton t-shirt, to be precise). Later on I thought it may benefit from a different background but since I didn’t have anything appropriate at home I just found a simple (and free) background somewhere on the web, made a few color adjustments and put the flower there. It is not perfect but this was not the goal in the first place.

The setting: 70mm, f/20, ISO 1600, 1/250 sec., flash (triggered via CLS) into a Flashpoint softbox on the left.

As I mentioned – I think this was a step in the right direction. I really enjoy gentle shadows on the leafs – they are so delicate that you can almost feel it. This is what I was aiming for. Also sepals look wonderful. And with those small pointy moss-like needles (forgive me for this poor description) on them – just like a touch of seasoning, which gives this wonderful flavor.

Any feedback greatly appreciated.

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Sep 042011
 

It should have been earlier post as the following photos, I think, were one of the first ones of mine where I liked B&W tonality. But first things first…

Rebecca came to Minneapolis just for a few days and most of her time was already scheduled with other duties. I think I had only few hours in total to: introduce myself to her (or have someone else introduce me, but you know you cannot rely on other people), get us to know each other well enough so that suggesting a small photo shooting is not entirely awkward, convince this beautiful yet very shy woman to agree to that, make her feel comfortable in front of a camera and take photos, which she actually likes.

I mentioned B&W at first because Rebecca’s photos gave me this strong incentive to work on B&W tones. Before that very often I was discouraged with what I was getting in post processing. I still have to work on this general set of skills but I was very happy with the result I got here.

Clear, warm and reach tones, which show her beauty, tones which play so joyfully on her hair. Great subject to photograph and I hope I will have another opportunity to take more photos of her.

There is one more thing which is very important for me and which I mentioned already. It is very rewarding when you are successful making other person feel comfortable in your company. On the photos I no longer see that shy girl I met just a few days earlier. Go through the photos and look for yourself.

BTW, I added one color photo to this set. Colors of the background were altered as I do not like green so much. I shifted green towards yellow a bit, to make the photo warmer. A few small adjustments (curves, etc.) and I ended up with a photo which, in my opinion, has great colors, which go together very well and make the photo quite enjoyable to watch. Hope you’ll enjoy it too.

 

Update: it is obvious that different people see the same photos in a different light. Things get more interesting (in my opinion) when there is personal involvement… You may actually learn something about that person… Below is Rebecca’s favorite photo of herself.

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 Posted by at 12:00 pm
Aug 282011
 

I honestly thought I took those photos long time ago, but apparently it has only been six months since. Not so bad after all…

Svetlana got in touch with me and asked if I was interested in taking photos of her. It was a bit different assignment than usual as she was 7 months pregnant. Of course I agreed.

We met for a coffee first, as I always prefer to do (rarely I go on a portraiture shooting without knowing better the person who is going to be in front of my camera). She was wearing a winter coat and you could barely see that this elegant woman was even pregnant.

We talked for about two hours and I clearly remember that I wanted to take out my camera and shoot a few test photos (my way of making my models feel more comfortable on the actual shooting). The setting was one of my favorite ones: we sat next to a big window and nice diffused light was coming in through it. Unfortunately in the background there was some guy with a son and the kid was wearing a bright orange jacket… C’mon! I know it is easier to spot those little brats in snow dressed like that but those colors might ruin other peoples photos! (and yes, I know I could use PS to fix that later…).

After a few weeks we met again in a studio to do the shooting. It was not supposed to be a regular pregnancy shoot, that is with a husband, romantic looks, hearts on a belly, etc. (FYI: if you ask me to do that I will). This shoot was about her. When I think about that it crosses my mind that this might have been the last time she was directly the main subject of attention – after giving birth it would change to “it’s all about the baby” time (maybe with a bit of exaggeration, but…).

I have chosen a few photos to post here but please note: it is not meant to be a series of photos. Most photos are quite different from each other. Allow me to give you just different tags which cross my mind when I see those photos: fun, beauty, elegance, composition, details, curves, shadows.

For example I really enjoy the photo with legs and a box, very simplistic, with a lot of space which almost says “take your time”. Then you can take your time and appreciate shapes and light – on one hand a part of a human body, curved, with a subtle game of shadows, on the other a box (cuboid), plain and simple. The balance between those two makes the photo interesting for me.

Hope you will find those photos interesting too.

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 Posted by at 12:45 pm
Aug 182011
 

For a few days I had limited access to the internet hence no posts for a while.

A few months ago I was fortunate to meet Renée. We both attended one of the F-stop meetings being held at Mpls Photo Center. She caught my attention immediately not only by her looks but the way she was behaving, just sitting there relaxed, knitting something. It seemed like company of couple of dozen strangers is the most cozy environment one can wish for. Well… one of those strangers (that is me, the stalker) was about to approach her and say that she is a beautiful woman and he would be more than happy to take some photos of her (BTW, I almost never do that, seriously). She graciously agreed and after a few weeks we arranged a small shoot.

We thought about going to a park but since we didn’t have too much time (two hours) we’ve decided to stay at her place as there was a nice small garden behind the building. I really enjoy having peaceful and calm atmosphere on my photos and it seemed that this location was going to be the right one for that. I just wish I had some nice glasses to put on a counter there, maybe also a cigarette or a big hat  in the style of Audrey Hepburn for Renée.

We shot a few photos outside and then decided to move inside. Light inside was quite challenging – light sources with different temperatures I couldn’t easily remove from the scene, mirrors in the background, etc. But it was a good excuse to focus entirely on Renée. I have to say that for me she resembles Audrey Hepburn – eyebrows, big dark eyes, face structure, overall delicate appearance. Maybe one day we’ll try to follow this lead? Just for fun.

On my way out I spotted another place on a mezzanine storey – quite small place (2 sq m) with an interesting light source (very small window). So just for fun we stopped and took a few more shots. Quite fortunate I was as this last portrait is one of my favorite ones of her.

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