Monday, February 27, 2012

These things are holding you back

Okay so this is going to be a little rant/ educational post tonight. If you do any of these things please do not take offense and just relax and read. I will say that a few of these things I did at one time myself. So hang on, and here we go. Yes there is a reason they are all #1:

#1 - Spot Color: Okay can we all agree that spot color is done. It is like all the cars that were created after "The Fast and the Furious" came out. There were a few people that spent a ton of money to build these vehicles, and for a while it was cool. Then within about 18 months it was really annoying. That is what spot color is. When it was first done it was amazing. Then after a few too many people started doing it, and doing it really bad, it was dead.

#1-Heavy white vignettes: Now I have no idea when or why so many photographers do this. I am going to be brutally honest, it looks terrible. Why anyone would take an image and muck it up by washing out the edges is beyond me. To me this is worse than spot color because in most cases I see beginners actually put the vignette over portions of the subjects. If you are doing this you need to stop... now.

The reason these editing techniques need to be taken out of your image collections is they "date" your photography. At one time it was considered cool and trendy to superimpose an image of the bride and groom in a wine glass. Now at the time these were really cool. Now it just looks silly. Spot color was all the rage in 2004 until around 2006. Everybody was doing it, and not everyone was doing it well. In most cases it looked great if in a collection of 200 images you had one. If you were showing it on you website you showed one. Now here we are six years later and I see it done even worse than before and I see five or more of these images in online portfolios. With the white vignettes these are terrible. Showing these images on your website and Facebook pages actually do more harm than good for your development as a photographer.

#1-Cropping: I consider myself very lucky to have worked in a studio that did a lot of work in film. One of these things that I learned was that you shoot and crop with the plan that you could print an 8x10 with that file. Most of the time I see images cropped so tight that you could only get a 4x6 or 5x7 print. Another big thing that I see is images cropped where there are arms, legs, and hands cut off. Now obviously there are time where you crop an image a specific way. You want an image that is cropped from the mid thigh up. The basic rule though is that when you are cropping you never cut through a joint. So you never cut through the knee, you cut through above or below the joint.

#1-Selective Focus: Okay this one is simple. If you are going to do this make sure that your focus point is on something interesting. I have seen images where the camera is focused on gate hinges and sticks. Unless the couple made the gate hinge or the family has a last name twig or stick you focused on the wrong thing.

#1-my $100 lens is just as good as your $1,000 lens: I will be the first to tell you that the equipment doesn't make the image, it only records the image. If you give me a cardboard box with a media to record the image and a lens to focus, I can make a great image. I will say that when the rubber hits the road a 70-200mm 2.8 lens will make a cleaner image than a 18-55 kit lens. That more expensive photographic equipment costs more for a reason. The stuff is built better using better quality parts and materials.

#1-White Balance: Alright, last one. So if you have take any photos inside you should have a basic understanding of white balance. If you don't here is the break down. Color has a temperature. That temperature is measured in degree Kelvin. Depending on the color temperature or white balance you are using your images will have a different color cast. If you are shooting in a room that is lit using fluorescent bulbs that is going to have a different white balance than if you are shooting outside. The way to ensure the best results is to do what is called a custom white balance. This is done using any number of different methods. Personally I use the ExpoDisc, but have used a Photovision white balance target. Both of these work great, the ExpoDisc is just a little easier to use.

Well that about does it. If I have offended anyone I am sorry.

~Mike

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