You would think that after 4 of these 'Pic of the Week' blogs and writing other blogs each week I would be able to think of a decent way to start them! But no!!! I've been sat at the computer procrastinating for the last hour trying to think of a good opening paragraph. I'm fully aware I would of written this by now if I had just cracked on! Story of my life really! If you've made it to week five then you probably know the deal by now. I'm going to talk about a picture. Its all very exciting really!! Thanks for sticking around though! I can sense you all on the edge of your seats ready to dive right in so lets crack on!
This weeks picture comes from a shoot I did on Saturday. As I mentioned in the previous blog, I went and shot the start of the Savages charity bike ride out! Go check out that blog for all the pics and the full story. Thats your first piece of homework!
As you would expect from a photo shoot involving a bike rally, this picture contains bikers! Most notably 'Scruff'. He's the dude on the left wearing the Savages cut. Cuts the name for their leather jackets. I did some research before this blog by watching a very famous TV show about bikers. Thats right...Biker Mice From Mars!!!! Who remembers that show! Thats one way to completely split my audience!!!
Anyway Scruff was nice enough to give his permission for me to use this for 'Pic of the Week'. Usually I just tell the person in the picture afterwards their in the blog. Thought I better check before hand this time. I didnt want to post it and then find out the club didnt want the picture being used or something like that. Always helpful to keep the bikers on your side!
As I said in the previous blog, the bikers were doing a ride out and I'd been given permission to turn up and take some pictures. I didnt really have anything planned as such before hand except one idea. I really wanted a picture of one of the Savages in their cut with only the back showing. Bikers are famous for their patches on their backs and I really wanted to try and capture that imagery. I was stocked to be able to get this shot.
Though I had it sort of planned out before hand, it was really a spur of the minute shot. I think I was actually checking my phone at the time, looked up and saw Scruff walking over to talk to someone. I framed up pretty quick and squeezed of 4 shots just as he was turning away from me. I knew as soon as I looked at the back of the camera I had the shot I wanted!
I'll quickly discuss settings and then I'll talk about framing. Thats this weeks lesson people!
Shutter Speed 1/1250th sec
And as always this was taken on my 5d, but this time on my 70-200mm lens, zoomed all the way out to 200mm. (i was pretty far away for this shot, like the most indiscreet sniper in history!)
Unlike last weeks 'Pic of the Week' where I was also outside on a bright sunny day, this time I was not using a flash. Go check out #4 for an explanation on why I was using flash during the day! Second piece of homework.
Side note here. I would just like to take a second to ask, who decided to put the buttons on different keyboards and mac and pc in different places! Its a pain in the ass! I'm typing this on my mac but with a UK windows computer so all of the buttons are in the wrong place and the copy & paste shortcuts dont work because this keyboard doest have a cmd button! Also according to this keyboard this\ is meant to be hash! its actually ALT3! I had to google it! I realise I could of avoided all of these issues by not using another keyboard and just use the one actually on my laptop! But if I had done that this paragraph wouldn't be here and I need some filler while I think about what to write next!!
Where was I? Oh yeah, settings. I think I mentioned in last weeks blog that when its bright sunlight I try and use as low of an ISO as possible. I just want a super clean image straight out of the camera. You can go lower than 250 by the way. I think it can go as low as 100. It can, I just checked. I read something once that said you should use below 250 because thats the minimum your camera can go before it being digitally boosted, which doesnt make sense at all becuase its a digital camera. The thing I read may of been bollocks. Ignore that last bit! I just like 250. Dont really know why!
Aperture. The great thing about a really good 70-200 is that is gives you the ability to shoot at a really wide aperture at any zoom length. I've mentioned aperture before and how a lower aperture value, i.e. F2.8 will give you a shallower depth of field that F22. Go read \3 for a fuller explanation on it. DAMMIT. I mean #3. Stupid keyboard!
Anyway. the more zoomed in you are the more compressed your background is. For example in this picture, Scruff looks as though he is only a few yards away from the group on the right. However he was a good 20 metres away from them. the zoom lens has compressed them all down. I shot this at F3.5 because I really wanted to compress and blur out the background and really make him the focus. I picked 1/1250th of a second because it just balanced out the exposure triangle and gave me a nice evenly lit image.
This leads us on nicely to the the focus of today's lesson! Framing! Framing is crucial and actually one of the first things you learn about photography. Ok it should be, I taught myself so I have no idea! I'm told its one of the first things you learn. You might have to zoom into the above image a bit but you will notice the grid that I've laid over the image. This grid helps to explain the rule of thirds.
The rule of thirds is basically a technique of placing the subject of your image to one side of the frame or have key points at the intersecting lines. Your eyes are drawn more to the intersecting lines in the image and it makes it more visually pleasing. Placing something in the middle gets abit dull so placing it more to one side adds a bit more dynamic to your image. I dont feel as though I'm explaining this very well. Its one of those things you learnt ages ago and you cant explain why you do it, you just do. Type this into google 'photography rule of thirds' see what comes up. You'll notice how the grid laid over the top of images shows how the subject lines up with the grid making for a more appealing image.
You can try this your selves with your phone. if you have an iPhone go to Settings, scroll down to 'Photos & Camera', then scroll down to the bottom and turn on 'Grid'. Once thats on, go back to the camera and you'll see the grid has appeared. Now try taking a selfie and lining up one of your eyes with the intersecting lines. You'll notice the picture comes out a lot better than if you don't. Thats because the viewer is drawn more to that part of the image. This works with pictures of everything! I've just realised I've given out selfie advice! What has the world come to! By the way I have no idea how to turn the grid on on an android. By an iPhone, they don't randomly explode and the battery life isn't that much better! I love the argument about battery life on different phones. Its kind of irrelevant if the battery dies, your just left holding a shiny brick!!
So thats a quick background on framing. As you can see from the grid over my image, I wanted to place scruff more on the left hand side because of the crowd on the right and I wanted that patch on his cut to dissect those lines. Shooting through the other bikes on the left really adds some dimensions to the image as well. There is something in the foreground, my subject is in the middle and there is something in the background. This picture wouldn't of looked half as good had that bike not been in the way. Its all about trying to add some dimensions to your images. You can try this on your phone as well. Take a picture of something, now take the same picture with something in the foreground, could be your hand or anything. Just see how that picture suddenly looks a lot deeper. Over time it will start to become second nature. I always try and place subjects to the sides of my images or crop in slightly to make them appear to one side. It just adds another element. To be honest I could of cropped this image a tad just to line up the intersect with the eye on the patch. Really wish I'd done that now! Dam you hindsight!!!!
Regular readers of the blog will know that this is the part of the blog where we usually take a break and go and get some food. When i say we, I mean I take a break and get some food. You just keep reading and imagine me having dinner. However this week I'm going to power through! This is mainly because my Dads in the kitchen at the minute and I cant really be arsed to go and get take out. Although Domino's does sound like a great idea. And before you ask why is my Dad in the kitchen, yes I live at home, its a long story. Actually its not a long story at all, I'm poor and the housing market is fucked!!! I could do a whole other blog post on how its harder to move out these days but no one wants to read that because you already know. Your living in these days! Ok I think hunger has driven me mad. I've only had a cookie today. Theres a lot of filler this week isn't there? Important update, Dads cooking me a fry up. Not just me, he's having one as well, Anyway I better get this blog done quick! Time to focus!
Come on Adam keep on track! Lets talk about editing. Editing for this wasn't that complicated really. I edited it the way I usually edit my black & white pictures except this time I raised the contrast slightly higher and brought the black levels down more. I really wanted to 'crush' those blacks. I wanted it so the bikes in the foreground looked more like shapes than actual bikes, if that makes sense at all? I was also balancing the levels in the image so the patch on the cut was still crystal clear as that was the point of the image. I could of made the image a lot darker as well. This would of made Scruffs' tattoos stand out a lot more.
The problem with editing is that what you like one day you might not like the next and the way you edit changes with your mood. This is why I dont go back and re edit old pictures. I'd be here for ever. I think I've spoken about this before. Although I now feel that this picture would be better a bit darker, I wont go and change it because it captures not only the mood of the scene at the time, but also my mood. Photography, like every art form is very personal and dependant on the mood of the person creating the work.
Another editing technique I use a lot is the radial filter in Lightroom. This allows me to draw a circle around a subject and make edits just to the inside of the circle or outside of it. I use this to add more blur to my images. You can see above how I've highlighted the area around Scruff. Everything in red has the sharpness turned down to -100% making it super blurry. This is then feathered slightly inside the circle. Basically you dont want a solid line divide or it will look stupid. This does happen if the whole image is in sharp focus and you put a strong filter over the image you will see an exact line we here the blur starts and stops! This is obviously bad as you want it to look natural.
Here i can get away with it because of the blurriness of the image around the subject. Remember earlier when I said how the Zoom lens compressed that background and that aperture creates a shallow depth of field? I'm using this blur filter to add to that effect. I want the person seeing this image, thats you by the way, to be drawn over to that patch. A proper arty person might say that the lone figure in focus represents isolation, blah blah blah...I just think it looks cool. Thats why I take 99% of my pictures. I think the thing I'm photographing is cool!
That pretty much brings us to the end of this blog. You can see the before and after of the image above, saves you scrolling back up to the top. I'm nice to you like that! As you can see I've really crushed those black and used the framing and a little bit of Lightroom trickery to really make Scruff stand out.
So thats another 'Pic of the week' done. Did you make it this far? I'm guessing by the fact your still reading this you probably did! Let me know in the comments or just give this a like on Facebook! I dont usually do shout outs but I should probably say thanks to both the Savages MC and Scruff for letting me use this picture for the blog. If you ever see them about go and say hi. There not as scary as they look!!
I'm going to go and have my fry up now! I'm starving! I should probably send this over to someone to proof read. I'm aware my spelling and grammar are pretty bad by the way! If anyone wants to teach me basic english skills that would be brilliant!!!
Ready for my usual hilarious ending? Here we go...As usual dont forget to like, share, comment, scribble on a desk, give some money to charity, brush your teeth, shine your shoes, drink to much, buy some chocolate, learn an instrument, buy me a motorbike, tell your friends...you get the idea! Until next time! (I really need to think of a cool sign off! Any suggestions?)