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.

 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?

 Posted by at 9:56 am
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.

Jul 262011

This is the first post on my blog. I’ve decided its title should be Procrastination. Why? Because


As an illustration here is a photo which I wanted to post almost a year ago…

I have my own reasons to start a blog and those reasons are not new. For many months I have been constantly finding excuses not to start the blog (not the right web-template, what the first post should be, etc.). I’m not getting any younger (which was crudely pointed out to me just a few hours ago) and I’ve wasted enough time. Just go for it, which, ironically, will have its continuation in the next post.

Wish me good luck :)

 Posted by at 7:44 pm