Friday, May 27, 2011

Self-portrait


Continuing a bit on an earlier theme, I got the idea of a mental patient-style self-portrait.

It's probably a side-effect of reading so much about lighting that I have, but I always start the process of making an image with the figuring out the lighting. In this case, the picture was always going to be centered around the shadows under the eyes, so I knew right away I needed a hard light coming from almost straight above.Working with my surroundings, I also saw a suitable shape at the kitchen/livingroom shelf. A cardboard box as a large snoot? Why not.Indeed that seemed to work quite well.I also added a green-gelled (though it's not real flash gel...) snooted flash on the floor shooting up into my face. I didn't get a pic of that setup, but you can see a bit of the effect as a green light on the wall above my head.

After that it was mostly a case of adding scribbles on the wall and some tossing about of chicken marinade to get the scene ready. Unfortunately I couldn't get a real straitjacket, so I had to settle for a fake one ordered from a costume store. I made a lucky find at a second-hand store for the pants, and the hair was already quite long and it was just a matter of messing it up with hairgel. And then some amount of post-processing, of course...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Photographic pondering

Going through 30 year old photographs isn't just nostalgia-inducing, but it also makes me question my own photography.
Of the many pictures I go through, the ones that I find most fascinating are the ones with people as subject. There are many, many landscapes, scenery, birds, cats and other animals, but none of those catch my eye as the people photographs.
So what am I photographing now? In the beginning it was mostly what I think is the most boring of the pictures I go through now, flower-macros, landscapes, sunsets... Luckily I've adjusted my goals a bit and photograph more people now, but beyond that there is another question that has awoken inside me.
One of the things that struck me about these images is how well they have lasted. Most are probably more than 20 years old, and they still hold incredible detail, even when compared to images taken today with modern DSLRs. And even more when compared to digital cameras from the time they started coming into popular use.
And what of the images taken with the first digital cameras? How many images have not been lost in computer crashes, harddrive malfunctions or just simply archived on CD or DVD and then forgotten about? And when they are found, will future generations even be able to know what these discs are, how to access the files, or even be able to open the file formats with the computers of the future? Luckily the JPEG file format is widespread to be relatively future proof, but the digital RAW files are often proprietary and are at the mercy of manufacturers to maintain compatibility.
Not many people think about it nowadays with online picture galleries and social networking sites, but it's a very good idea to occasionally look through your photos and get them printed on actual photo paper. Not only will they last through your next harddrive crash, but it will give you perspective on your own photography to see your pictures printed. Digital photography also meant the big economical obstacle of photography itself, the film developing, was removed, bringing with it an abundance of digital imagery. With digital photo libraries containing possibly tens of thousands of pictures, we could soon be unable to even get a proper overview of our images. By occasionally culling and selecting only the best to be printed we are consciously critiquing our own images, thereby, hopefully, becoming better photographers in the process.
And while reviewing and grading our own pictures, maybe we will gain some insight into what is important to us personally. What kind of images we want to leave after us, what our future, grown up, children will be interested in seeing of our daily lives, and what kind of pictures will we want to retain to reminisce over when we are old.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Hunting for primes

It feels like ever since getting starting with photography I've been on the search for the one prime to rule them all. In my heart I know it's the 35L f/1.4, but that is a bit over my budget at the moment, but that is the focal length I am after: a ~50mm equivalent.

The Canon offerings are at 28-35mm, but it seems like I have some issues with almost all of them. The lowest in price, the 35mm f/2.0, seems good in image quality, not much slower than the "prime-standard" f/1.8, but the lack of USM bothers me. After having experienced it on the 85mm f/1.8, I don't want to go back!

The 28mm f/1.8 is one of the top two contenders. It has USM, slightly wider than 50mm equivalent (which is fine), but from what I've read it has some image quality issues.

Then there's the one pretty much made for the purpose, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. This has all the aspects I want: almost exactly 50mm equivalent, the Sigma version of the ultrasonic focus motor, HSM, and a very good maximum aperture. There are two things that stops me from getting it right away. First is the focus issues I keep hearing about. Knowing that my 1000D had issues with my Sigma 17-50 f/2.8, it feels like probability is high that it would have issues with the 30mm too. Second is that it's made for crop-sensors. This isn't that important, but I sort of want to move away from crop lenses in case I want to go full frame in the future.

What I'm hoping for are some updated primes from Canon to decide the issue.