expressionism

Aurora Borealis over Ice, v1, Edit C – Small Colored Light Source Streaks Photography!

Aurora Borealis over Ice, v1, Edit C, originally uploaded by Nawfal Nur.

A small-scale, tabletop version of the Aurora Borealis. Green streaks of light shine and flare over a large cup of ice.

INGREDIENTS FOR THIS PHOTOGRAPH:  a.)  a tabletop, b.) dark room, c.) some sort of BLACK material for the background – I used a black plastic material, d.) sturdy tripod, e.) camera, f.) small light source(s) – I used penlights, g.) some sort of transparent colored material – gels, colored plastic, etc., h.) a large metal cup – I like the Zebra brand metal cups made in Thailand (very nice), i.) ice cubes filled to the top of the cup, j.) patience! 

This is an example of what you can do with long-exposures, small light sources, and some experimentation, in order to get colored light streaks in your photographs.

This is an “available” light photograph, meaning, that I used what small light sources were available to me, to create the streaks of green light during a long (1-second) shutter speed.

Don’t expect amazing results at first:  It may take a few (or 20) tries until you get good patterns that are pleasing, and enough streaks to fill the frame.

A flashlight (torchlight) with a colored bulb, or covered with colored transparent plastic material (gels), even powerful, colored LED lights may work well to create the special light necesary for this work.

Of course, “tripod” your camera and get it ready to go:  On this shot, I used a 1-Second shutter with an f/8.0 aperture.  

You may need to punch up the contrast and saturation of the streaks to make your final touches on the photograph:  I used Paint Shop Pro to saturate the colors, and this is a personal preference.

You don’t need to use green…use any color, use several colors, combine final images, GO CRAZY!

 

Seeing Differently

Grass in the Rain, by Nawfal Nur, 2007, All Rights Reserved.

  “Grass in a Rainstorm”
© 2007 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved

Much about being a creative photographer is the ability to see things differently.


 

Maybe you are seeing the same thing, the same object, or the same landscape that thousands of other photographers have seen and photographed before; but are you seeing it differently through your viewfinder? Or, is it just another re-creation of what has been done a hundred, or a thousand times before?

 

With digital photography technology so viral and widespread, almost everyone has access to photography through one type of device or another. That doesn’t mean, however, that everyone knows how to take a photograph worth its electrons!

 

Reality offers us such wealth that we must cut some of it out on the spot, simplify. The question is, do we always cut out what we should? While we’re working, we must be conscious of what we’re doing. Sometimes we have the feeling that we’ve taken a great photo, and yet we continue to unfold. We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” -Henri Cartier-Bresson, on photojournalism, American Photo, September/October 1997 , page: 76

 

Three cheers for H. Cartier-Bresson! Avoid being a “snapper” if you want to become a great photographer.

 

Like any other professional pursuit, great photographs are created by Photographers who think carefully before pulling the trigger, so to speak. Forget that digital is cheap and that you are not spending cold hard cash on film and development any more. Forget that your newfangled digital camera can set everything for you so that maybe you’ll get lucky with an interesting photo once in a while.  Photographic-Economizing and Luck just don’t quite cut it!

In my humble opinion, great photographs come from photographers with great eyes for a scene, purposeful compositions, good timing, fantastic sense-of-place, and superb technical know-how of their craft.

Seeing Differently is what can set you apart from the thousands of other photographers who take photographs of similar subject matter. It’s easy to blend in: It’s challenging and rewarding to set yourself apart and be different.

In Front of the Lens…

Well, I guess it was time again to put the “Maniac” in front of the lens…

The last time I did self-portraits was in 2003; considering that, I believed it was high-time to do it again. I’m not the type who enjoys being the target of a photo-session. Nevertheless, when I have a choice, I prefer to be the one taking portraits of myself. I think I capture who I am better than anyone, at least, thus far. That is probably because I know myself better than anyone else…right!

I went into this photo session with the following goal: To capture my expressionistic qualities. And what do I mean by that? I didn’t want to end up with a snapshot: I wanted to capture a glimpse of who I am, at least, who I am, part of the time.

I guess what I don’t like about a lot of the ‘corporate‘ portrait studios is that they are quite impersonal; they don’t even get to know who you are before taking your photograph. Has anyone else had that experience?

In my opinion, and coming from the perspective of a photographer, you should get to know your subject, at least a little. You need to know a little about your subject’s likes, dislikes, mannerisms, attitudes, etc. All of this knowledge helps (the photographer) communicate to the subject what sort of poses, settings and props will be best for the shoot.

I mean, you don’t have to spend all day on this, but for God’s sake, take some time to figure out what makes your subject ‘special‘ or unique and target those qualities when taking portrait/character shots.

With any luck, if there is a strong sense of trust between photographer and subject, the shoot should work fairly smoothly and automatic within a suitable environment, and with props targeted for each particular subject.

Alright, so ‘corporate‘ studios don’t have that sort of time to figure out the Psyche of their clients and what makes them tick, their likes and dislikes, and that is why people have a choice to go for the ‘quickie‘ or to go to a ‘shop’ that will spend more personal time finding out who they are as a person and what they really want out of a portrait photograph.

In my opinion, I want it to be personal…and I want the results to express who I am.

Taking a self-portrait is not an easy task, especially if you want to take a photo of yourself doing more than just sitting there. I want expression and animation in my photographs and that is a difficult task. I used a single, 600-Watt studio light with soft box. I set the white balance on the camera to make the images warm-toned. I chose my Canon G2 specifically because of its good remote control system…forget that it is a bit of an older camera, the remote works very nicely in this circumstance. The camera was set on Aperture Priority at f/5.0 and the shutter speed was roughly.6 of a second, meaning that if I moved, the image would be blurred. Sometimes I wanted to show motion, other times, I kept positively still.

Good luck and Happy Shooting!