Life evolving behind the lens

Posts tagged “portraiture

Other Southern Adventures

So what else did I photograph during this particular sojourn to Florida? Plenty. I admit much of it was for a special Mars and Darwin book I plan to give to my parents this year, but there were still moments worthy of sharing here.

Release the Kraken?

(As a matter of fact, that is my husband being silly at a playground. Why do you ask? :-))

We explored new places this time around, including DuPuis Nature Preserve in western Martin County. I drove by the place many times in my late teens and early 20s but never actually visited. I finally got there on our last full day in the wang. I also took my husband to the Port Mayaca Cemetery to show him the mass grave for the victims of the 1928 hurricane. I had been there a few times before and was kind of surprised at the changes I saw with the place. It was my husband’s first time there, though, so I set aside my surprise to show him around. By that point, though, I’d already been handed a couple other surprises.

Balancing the Spear in the Rock

During this trip, we discovered a park in Sewell’s Point that I had no idea even existed; stoppedd by Bayside Marketplace only to find it way more crowded than I expected; and tiptoed around at least a dozen Portuguese Man O Wars. These new adventures provided contrast to revisiting some of our old haunts. We probably won’t return for at least two more years, and that’s a trip I expect to have a lot of new adventures. Until then, enjoy these slices from South Florida.

Unexpected Immersion
A Holiday in the Uncanny Valley
Where Man Meets the Ocean
Natural Detritus
The Baby on the Beach
Imperial Worship By the Vain
Dolphin Tide
A Tattered Legacy
A New Take on Leaving Stones
The Peaceful Pier
That Rare Wildflower
Power Puss
Glamour Puss


Status Update: Black and White

Nikon recently asked their Facebook fans what subjects they like for black and white photography. I must admit I’m kind of “meh” toward black and and white photography, but I have done it. Like a lot of people, I tend to favor black and white more for portraits. The more I think about it, though, I realized that my preference is even more detailed than that. I like black and white portraits of blonds and redheads. For some reason people with darker hair just look more dynamic in color; I just don’t have quite the same enthusiasm for brunettes in black and white photos. I find that darker hair loses so much of its nuance in black and white. Let’s take a look at these two pictures of myself.

myself in 16 million colors
myself grayscale

Yes, I realize that they are at two different angles (roughly). However, you can see that my auburn highlights (evident in the color photo) don’t show up at all in the black and white portrait (which, incidentally has more light to emphasize the various shades in my hair for color photos). I only used the sun for my light source, thus I do recognize that under the right conditions darker hair’s nuances can be depicted in black and white. Even so, the amount of light needed would infuriate every environmentalist on Earth. With lighter hair, less light gets absorbed. That means less effort to depict nuances in hair.

Now why am I going on about hair when the portraiture is about faces? There are two reasons. First, I am a a bit of a hair junkie. I am the type of person who notices hair before just about anything else, be it seeing someone in person or in a picture. Second, hair can make all the difference in the composition of a portrait because it’s so variable. With black and white, the eye tends to be drawn to the darker shades first, so in a lot of cases hair will be the first thing the viewer will notice. This leads to a harmonious transition to viewing the faces of blonds and redheads. With dark hair, though, the eyes better have it. Otherwise, the hair will hog the spotlight because it’s so dark.

Will I get to capture photos of blonds and redheads to test this theory myself? Probably not anytime soon. I actually have the lightest hair color out of anyone on my dad’s side of the family. My mom’s family trends toward somewhat darker hair as well. The same goes for my husband’s family, and I have more friends with dark hair than not. So if I want to capture any portraits like the black and white number I linked in my previous portraiture entry, it will be a long ways off.

A Compilation

While harvesting my archives for film photos to post, I realized I have way too many photo CDs. Unfortunately, with APS rolls, it’s next to impossible to get more than one roll burned onto CD at a time. I machines I worked with at Walgreen’s automatically spit out the roll and burned the CD before another set of negatives could be loaded (an issue that did not come up with 35mm film, so you could load several sets of negatives onto one disc). In the interest of getting my photos preserved at a discount, I decided to just burn all the rolls individually, not really thinking how many I’d have. Including the digital photo CDs (which hold many more images per disc), I had at least 150 at my peak. I’m whittling it down bit by bit and have compiled most of the photos on mass collection discs. A few events get their own discs without getting mixed up with other photos (e.g. my first trip to Minnesota, the photos from Hurricane Season 2004 and my trips to Central Florida). It’s kind of a slow going process, hindered by the fact that my CDs were not originally organized in chronological order. My photos aren’t really organized that way now with the consolidation, and I’m okay with that. I’m not using most of these photos for anything at the moment, and the prints I had run off are better organized. I just like having the backup. That said, I needed to do something before I ran out of space in my second CD holder. I have a lot more space for CDs now, which is good considering how many more I’ll be making in the immediate future. It’s a good way to look back on what I’ve done as I set my sights on my photography future.

waiting for the Cape May-Lewes Ferry
That seat does not look comfortable
Brought to you by Hurricane Frances

A Shutterbug’s Achilles Heel

I think I’ve posted enough photos on here to show what subjects I favor. Artwork is one of my favorites due to the immense amount of detail at play. Plant life of all sorts has a similar appeal. The color possibilities are tremendous when shooting outdoors; the weather doesn’t even have to be sunny. I’m becoming more comfortable with snapping photos of animals despite their being unpredictable and not always happy about facing a camera. Indoor and night photography are mixed bags but become more manageable.

With all that said, photographing people is HARD. Psychologically, I have a hard time focusing on the subject if it’s a person. As someone who is a detail freak, I feel rather uneasy focusing on a human subject. Is it secondhand self-consciousness? Is it an aversion to the softer light that skin tones demand? Is it the fear of being examined by the subject even though I’m behind the lens? I have no idea. All I know is it’s been a bit frightening for me to even contemplate portraiture.

Maybe it’s rooted in my ill-fated attempt at getting a job at Glamour Shots during my college years. That was a rough experience. My family thought I had solid photography skills and encouraged me to look into jobs at portrait studios. So when I found myself in need of employment, I decided to pursue this particular path. I can’t remember each step, but I recall sending two batches of photos involving human subjects. The first batch was dismissed as candids, but I was given an opportunity to present a second batch, this time conducting my own portrait session. I managed to get my aunt’s help in creating a very makeshift studio. I used a brand new bed sheet for a backdrop. My aunt ended up serving as my model for this impromptu portrait session. The results of this endeavor were a lukewarm reception and being handed some phone scripts to practice. They said if I was able to handle that I’d be considered for employment. At that point, I decided that my plate was full enough with five senior level courses and pursuing other job leads. Therefore, any potential photography career in that particular specialty was derailed.

I’ve been hesitant about shooting portraits since then. Time has allowed me the chance to contemplate portraiture and what I (dis)like about it. I find that I am of two minds about the concept. On the one hand, I feel a sense of disconnect from most of them because I know they’re posed/staged. I can feel it the instant I even glance at the frames. On the other hand, there have been a few portraits that have struck me with their unassuming tone and and natural feel. This photo and everything seen here are good examples of portraiture with a less rigid (but still polished) feel. I would like to achieve that balance with my photos of people. I’m just not sure what I need to do to get there. Since a lot of this is rooted in psychology, how much can a formal class help in this regard? If anyone has any input here, I’d love to hear/see it. Until then, photographing people will be my Achilles Heel.

my husband in Lester Park