A small wedding

I don’t normally specialise in wedding photography, but this year I have already been asked to photograph two weddings, for two very special people. For one of them I am being flown out to Germany for the event – very exciting! The other was my sister’s wedding last month.

After collecting information and pictures on the ideal wedding for years, my sister and her fiance decided to ditch perfection and JUST DO IT! With a non-existent budget they decided to simply get married and then celebrate with a simple lunch – a braai – with a couple of friends who could make it at extremely short notice.

With just 17 people attending, our mom did the beautiful flowers and catering. A family friend offered her lovely garden to celebrate in. My sister assembled a disney princess dress that she looked gorgeous in, just a week beforehand, while working on her doctorate at the same time.

And do you know what? It was simple. It was special. They were incredibly happy and this bubbled over to make it a joyful, pressure-free day. In fact, it was just PERFECT!

small wedding

Yellow Kitchen

It’s such a happy colour isn’t it? Yellow was where I actually started this entire blog, but that’s not where I’m heading today.

Last year I was commissioned to create a series of images, as fine art prints for a kitchen. Very interesting! My brief was wonderfully vague : 5-6 images that would bring the accent colour yellow into a kitchen, using kitchen appropriate subjects. I decided to go for a slightly vintage feel, but it was important to keep the yellow vivid. There was lots of experimenting and faffing. The custard I had was much too pale, so I had to add in yellow food colouring, but that in turn affected the consistency. The egg white had to be very stiff, to maintain the shape, so I added some icing sugar. It took me much longer than I thought, working well into the night, until I had the images that I had envisioned. I thoroughly enjoyed it though. It was a wonderful challenge.

I wasn’t able to post the images then, because they were meant to be a surprise Christmas gift. But since they were received very well, and are hopefully brightening up the new kitchen, I now can. Here they are:

custard spoonsml

lemonssml

whisk2sml

eggs2sml

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simply flowers

simply flowers simplypause.wordpress.com

Creativity flourishes when you take time out to play. No specific goal, just grab what you have at hand and let things develop instinctively. See where you end up. I needed a break from food and I have some very vague ideas in my head, which refuse to be pinned down. So this morning I saw my hydrangea outside and decided, it would do. I grabbed my camera and some wax paper and disappeared into my head. Fiddling with my camera settings and different set-ups. I went into exploration mode and played. When I “woke up”, this was what I had.

flowers simplypause.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

cut flowers simplypause.wordpress.com

 

dark hydrangea simplypause.worpress.com

I’ve decided to make these freebees. If you’d like to download the printable versions (A6 300dpi) for personal greeting cards or designs, you can find them at this link: simplypause hydrangea cards

Simply download them directly onto your desktop and then press print, whenever you need a quick card!

(If you would like to use them for business purposes, I’d appreciate being asked beforehand, and some aknowledgement of simply pause as the source. Send me a quick message to clarify things here 😉 )

Do I HAVE to use natural light?

Let me think about this carefully… YES YES AND YES!

Unless of course you have a professional lighting set-up that mimics natural light.

(Excuse me for a minute, all my Pause readers. Today’s post is more for the food blogger’s out there. But I do have a bread-free burger in store for the rest of you, soon!)

I hate ordering from menus where the pictures make you feel as if you’re staring at them through a bottle of sunflower oil. I just can’t imagine what the food tastes like. My husband has even started to recognise it : Look passed the photos, I’m sure the food tastes good! And it usually does! If only… if only the photos… if only the photos would show me how good it tastes.

I’m not going to say much. I’ve taken some very plain, honest, unstyled photos to demonstrate my point. I did not manipulate them afterwards. I took them all in my tiny kitchen, just moving the bowl from under my very bright extractor fan light (tungsten light) to the window sill, to 1 metre away from the window on the counter top. (I don’t expect fame and fortune from any of them 😉 In fact it’s quite painful to post some of them)

I’d like you to look at 5 things.

  1. COLOUR OF LIGHT: The colour of the white napkins and the shadow below the bowl. That colour (however subtle) is coating the entire image and affecting all the colours of the food.
  2. COLOUR OF FOOD: In which photo are the colours full – with dark and light tones – and in which do they simply die a painful death?
  3. TEXTURE OF FOOD. Can you get a feeling for the texture of the creamy mayo? Can you tell the difference between the texture of the spring onions and the tomato?
  4. SHADOWS: How deep and dark are the shadows between the bits and pieces? Can your eye travel calmly and comfortably over the hills and valleys of salad – taking in the details along the way?
  5. QUALITY OF LIGHT: The type of shine on the tomatoes – Is it glittery and harsh or soft and even? Is the shadow below hard edged or soft?

That’s it.

What do you think? Do you have to use natural light? Is it worth it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Tungsten + Daylight      Tungsten x2

Flash

Natural

Natural 1m Do I have to use natural light

Back to Basics – B+W

Back to Basics B+W

 

I’ve had some challenges this week, and for some of the decisions I made, I had to to listen to my basic gut. I had to strip away all my surrounding influences, until I could see the basic values that I have been raised with. And the thing is, it wasn’t a choice between black and white – that would’ve been simple. No, these were subtle choices between different shades of grey, neither of which were right or wrong. The shade that was right for me, just happened to be different to what was right for everyone else. And the absolute incomprehension from everyone around me, of why I had to choose a different grey, surprised me.

But that’s the thing. Most decisions in life aren’t black and white. They’re just different shades of grey. Aren’t they? You just have to find the shade of grey that suits you in every situation.

Black and White Photography is also all about choosing the right shade of grey. It’s all in the exposure – it’s all about which area you choose to be your mid-grey, with a range of lighter and darker greys falling to either side of that.

When you’re shooting in manual, you can decide which area to read your exposure from and that becomes your mid-grey. If you expose for the dark areas, these dark tones are lifted and lightened to become your mid-grey. Or if you take your reading off the light areas, you pull them down, darkening them to become your mid-grey. In that way, you control your entire image. Once you’re able to do this well, in basic Black&White, you’re able to continue thinking in this way, when you work in colour. (BEYOND AUTO: How to switch to Black&White mode )

As you know, I’ve been needing to come to grips with lots of BASICS. So while I was baking a huge batch of rusks this week, I grabbed my camera and decided to take some un-styled black&white shots as I went along. Just an exercise to remind my brain to see in terms of grey.

Without the seductive distraction of colour I found texture in the soft flour, lovely clean forms in the eggs and curved linear patterns in my dirty dishes. And with each shot I fiddled until I was satisfied that I’d found just the right mid-grey – the grey that was right for me.

Flour and Eggs

 

 

Dishes

BEYOND AUTO: PICTURE STYLE

 

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(Note: I speak Canon, but you might find, with a little fiddling, that you’re able to translate this to your own camera language.)

 

So you want to shoot directly in Black and White?

It is such good training for the eye! For the entire first year of my photography studies we were only allowed to shoot in black and white. It’s like drawing in art – it teaches you to look for pattern, tone, texture, and form. And with B&W you can remove your viewer from our world and make them see reality, differently.

Ok, Here we go:

 

 

  • Switch your camera to Manual. (M on the top dial)
  • Press MENU on the back of your camera.
  • Scroll across (using the circle of buttons on the back) until you reach a page where you see PICTURE STYLE.
  • Scroll down until you’ve highlighted PICTURE STYLE.
  • Press the centre button of the circle of buttons (SET).
  • Scroll up and down the list of Picture Styles. Landscape = Brighter colours; Faithful+Neutral = softer colours (good portrait setting); MONOCHROME = Black and White
  • Centre click (SET) to choose your Picture style.
  • Start shooting.
  • Remember to set your camera back to colour once you’ve finished shooting!

Have fun!

 

Back to basics – 2 simple steps to improve your photography

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Can you believe it’s already June? We’ve had a lot of visitors recently and we’ve been busy busy busy. Time’s flying and it’s not always easy keeping up. When it gets like this, I find the best way to cope is to simplify everything. Find the essentials and just let go of the rest.

So I’m on this mission to go back to basics.

In photography, the best back to basics tips that I can give are to:

1) simplify what’s in your image
2) simplify your light source

To simplify what’s in your image, find an angle that cuts out the background. Go in really close or turn your subject around to include as little clutter as possible, in the background. A wonderful trick, if you’re photographing children, is to go in slightly from below and use the blue sky as a backdrop. The opposite is to get them to lie on the ground, you stand on a chair and use the lawn as your background. In that way you simplify everything in your shots and the main subject really stands out.

Simplifying your light source, makes it easier for you to see where the highlights and shadows are – and makes for a more natural looking image. If you’re outside, it’s quite simple – the sun or overcast sky is your single main light source. Sometimes this light can be a bit harsh, though. Try sitting your subject on a light neutral coloured blanket. The light that comes from above will bounce back up into the shadows, making the shadows a little lighter and your image softer.

Inside things can be a little trickier, so simplify.  Switch off your house lights and switch off your flash! Try using natural light. Choose one window as your single light source and get your subject right up close to it. One article I read suggests that you place your kids’ table or play area right near that window. Then they’ll generally be in the right sport for you to take pics. A favourite chair in that spot will also work! Then try taking your shots with the main light source to the side of your subject. That way your image will have a balance of light and shadow.

Here’s a quick and basic photo challenge:

Get your child to sit in that chair that you’ve moved right near the window or glass door. Now you squeeze up right up to the window, so that the light source is coming from the side, but you’re seeing the slightly more of the lighter side of them. Switch off your flash. Get them to show you the latest Lego toy they built and tell you about it. They don’t have to smile, just sit and chat to them and click away. Or even better – get granny to sit there with them and read them a story…

I have a lovely series of photos where my children were sitting in some white couches, right near the window, where lovely soft light was streaming in. The light bounced up off the white couches, (under their chins and into their darker eye sockets) and created a lovely soft glow. My longer lens allowed me to come in close, without disturbing them – so that only the couches and the plain white wall got into the background of the shot. Then, I simply captured their expressions while they were watching TV.

Simplify and I can guarantee you’ll get some good shots!