high contrast photography

High Key & High Contrast People, Edit B


High Key & High Contrast People, Edit B

High Key & High Contrast People, Edit B
High Key & High Contrast, B&W People Photography.

How to…

Well, I have added this two-photo frame to my Photostream (@ Flickr) because I was asked, recently, how I did my high key & high contrast people photos. I’m OK with sharing knowledge.

IF you are interested in this type of “High-K-C” photography, then you can always begin with using my method as your initial point and then find your style…that’s always best.

My Process:

Start out with a good color photograph.  Then, convert it anyway you wish to, to B&W.  I use PhotoImpact X3, implementing any native or 3rd Party filter (plugin) to convert to B&W.  I like OptikverveLabs Filters – such as “Satin Steel” (under PRESETS – B&W), to convert to a B&W image.  You will have many ways to adjust the Presets to get the look you want.

Go Here to get the Package (FREE):  http://optikvervelabs.com/

** Using the various levers to control Contrast, Brightness…choice to use Red, Blue, or Green filters brightness, Softness (increases brightness), and a number of secondary filters (the EFFECTS box), allows you a good range of ways to get that High Key and High Contrast Look. **

After the conversion – effects step, I usually adjust the high-mid-low tones in PhotoImpact to get the look I want from a “High K-C” Photo.

My final steps may be working with the Dodge & Soften Tools to clean up any “sharp” edges (where the tone transitions are not very gradual).

Well, there it is…I’ve told you one of the tools I use, sometimes, that I like for good effects.  I won’t tell you the exact settings I use because you should not carbon copy styles…this is where you challenge yourself to develop your own style, and simply what your eye tells you is cool.

Have a GREAT DAY!
Nawfal

Uploaded by BEHIND the LENS with Nawfal Nur on 15 Jan 09, 2.05PM MYT.

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Remember your Tripod!

Photographed by Nawfal Nur

Remember your Tripod!

You never know when the nighttime photography opportunity will arise. Keep your tripod in your car trunk.

Nighttime is my favorite time to see things for photos, but a tripod is essential…a good tripod.

Something that is more important for sharp images at nighttime, more important than high-priced glass (lenses) or a fancy camera, is a solid, heavy tripod.  A tripod that will keep your camera focusing on the same spot over long exposures.

For this shot, I used my SLIK ABLE – 300DX Tripod. It’s heavy, sturdy and easy to setup and adjust.  The center post on this tripod will also reverse for really low angle opportunities.

I also use a Bogan 3001 with a Manfrotto #352 Ball & Socket Head, but this one I usually use in my table-top studio.

So, next time you are out photographing in lowlight, throw in the tripod just in case you need it.

Good Luck!

A Few Series I’m Working On!

A Few Fine Art Series in the Works!

Ethereal“, “ONE Glass” and “Penang Trees” are fine art photography series, which I have been paying particular attention to over the past several weeks.

Click on the photograph (above), and the link will take you to the Artist Statements for these three series. I thought I would provide a little more information behind the works. If you are interested, please have a look.

Thank You!

 

ONE Glass – Sarong Material-Blues, Edit C

ONE Glass – Sarong Material-Blues, Edit C, originally uploaded by fine-grain.

Series: “ONE Glass”.
Title: “ONE Glass – Sarong Material-Blues”.

This is the third work in my “ONE Glass” Series. This is another ‘high-key’ sample from the collection.

Again, the glass blends into the bright, seamless background; but in this case, the sarong material kind of looks like it has transformed into a solid, thus, making up the rest of the container (as if there is no glass). Only when you see the rim of the wine glass, do you really notice the glass again.

Making Thosai, v1, Edit B

 

THOSAI ON A HOT PLATE – Three Thosai being cooked on a hot grill / hot plate. A very thin, but large sized pancake of South India: Sometimes it is referred to as a ‘South Indian Pancake.” You can see how flat they are. The dough is kind of formed / spread out / poured – (not sure what the best term is for it) in a circular fashion. It is quite good, but I prefer “chapatti.”

Updated:  14 June 2008

I’ve noticed that quite a few people visit this entry in my photo-journal, so I will, when I find them, add some links to recipes I’ve noticed for Thosai – I hope this helps you find what you need to make some nice Thosai.

Thosai Recipe & How to Prepare!

Dhosai Recipe (please note:  This is where languages can sometime get tricky.  In the Malay language, the word “Dosa” means “Sin!”  However, I believe a more accurate spelling in addition to “Thosai” would be “Dhosai”, but I’m not the editor of this page for this recipe).  They have chosen to spell it “Dosa”. 

South Indian Pancake Recipe

Black Gram Thosai Recipe

Another Thosai Recipe…

Onion Chutney for Black Gram thosai Recipe

New High-Key Floral

Honolulu Creeper, v9July07-wp

“Honolulu Creeper, 9 July 07”

Actually, I don’t have much to say today; however, I thought I should put up a new work so that you know that I have not fallen off the face of the planet – still here!

Live long and prosper!”

 

MENARA MAXIS – Kuala Lumpur’s Built Environment

Menara MAXIS, by Nawfal Nur, 2003, All Rights Reserved

 

MENARA1
MAXIS, v.2
© 2003 Nawfal Nur
All Rights Reserved
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Photo Taken from Nikko Hotel

Chances are that if you travel to Kuala Lumpur, one of the first things that stands out are the Petronas Towers. You start seeing the towers from many miles away from the city (with clear skies). These towers are difficult to miss: They stand 452 meters (1,483 feet), with 88 floors, and a skybridge holds the two towers together at the 41st and 42nd floors.

When you stand outdoors in downtown Kuala Lumpur, many people, especially tourists will automatically be drawn to the Petronas Towers, ignoring, possibly, every other piece of architecture in the surrounding built environs.

If looking for a landmark to keep your bearings in Kuala Lumpur, the Towers make for a good indicator of where you are, and if you want to go to Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), just head in the direction of the tallest towers in the city.

Now with that all said, you may be thinking that this is yet another photograph of the “Towers”, and some other building just stepped in the way as I triggered the shutter button…Wrong! This is actually a photograph of the Menara Maxis (the cool looking building in the foreground).

I purposely took the photograph to position the Towers in the background. This perspective is unusual as the Petronas Towers are typically the center of attention in Kuala Lumpur architecture photography. This composition may seem blasphemous to some; but
sometimes, rules of composition are meant to be broken, or at least, experimented with.

In this photograph, the Towers are put to work as a backdrop for the building in front, the Menara Maxis. The over all architectural designs, the lighting styles, the size differentials, and the flow of lines are different enough between the two structures (the Petronas Towers being two structures, but spoke of as one whole building here), and these design characteristics keep them visually separated without needing to blur (by camera or software) the Towers in the background.

The composition is made whole with foreground and background. The cropping is kept close and vertically panoramic, thus forcing the viewer’s attention on these structures only. This compo-cropping strategy may also create an illusion, making the buildings appear impressively tall – even though they are impressive and tall anyway.

Though dwarfed by the Petronas Towers, the Menara Maxis is quite an imposing building on its own, standing at 212 meters (696 feet) tall, and with 49 floors. The architect of the building was Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates, and construction finished in 1998. The Menara Maxis is a stunning building in daylight, but even more interesting flooded by a sea of illumination at nighttime.

I think the Menara Maxis is a really super design and great addition to the Kuala Lumpur skyline.


1Menara means Tower.

 

Ocean Osprey – Old Looking Print – New Ship

Ocean Osprey, v.6 A digital image of the Oil Product Tanker by Nawfal Nur

This shot was taken a few days ago while crossing the ferry on the Butterworth side of Penang, and attempting crossing over to the island of Penang.

This was the same day when there was such a ruckus on the Penang Bridge. Apparently, a 10-wheeled trucked broke down near mid-bridge, and then, there was a bomb scare also – this all happened on 4 April 2007.

The Penang bridge is one long bridge: 13.5KM (8.4 Miles) long, and it is the only drivable way to reach the island from the mainland. With all the fuss on the 4th, thousands of motorists were stuck in jams going to or from the island.

At one point, it was reported that the jam getting onto the bridge stretched back some 15KM on the highway. I wouldn’t doubt it. I was stuck in the jam getting onto the ferry to cross over to the island.

We crawled along at a snails pace: Only after 3 and a half hours were we able to fight our way the 500-meters it took to get from where we were originally stuck, to where drivers pay the toll to WAIT IN LINE (some more), to board the ferry.

Damn-the-Frustration of Penang Traffic!

There are works going on now to widen the bridge, but that may be too little too late. A second and perhaps third bridge is needed to give Penang traffic some relief, but these things don’t happen quickly. Maybe a Light Rail Transit System would be good too, and that is something that is also being discussed by the relevant departments.

Anyway, I was glad that I had my camera with me on that day. I was able to get some shots of ships as we crossed over on the ferry. This image is a digital-Platinum-stylized photo of some activity at the Penang Port.

The ship at mid-right is the Ocean Osprey:

Country: Singapore.
Ship Type: Oil Products Tanker.
Deadweight Tonnage: 7,624.
DOB: 1996 06

I decided to make this image look a little antique: Thus, I incorporated this image into a Platinum-style layout and look. However, if looking closer at the ship, you know it is not antique, but modern with “SAFETY FIRST” and “NO SMOKING” signs painted in huge print. Also, the modern communication towers and equipment on the ship shows us a modern ship. If that isn’t enough to put a general date to the scene, add to that the modern lifting machines loading containers onto the ship on the left hand side of the photograph.

Well, maybe using digital software to come up with Platinum images is not very “pure” – but at least for photographers who never had the opportunity to work with this printing process, we can see our work similarly, or differently, using digital processes. It’s kind of fun to experiment with many kinds of looks for photographs, and this is just another technology that allows us modern day photographers to do such experimentation – digitally.

Here’s a little history on the Platinum Process by the very interesting and enlightening expert of photography at about.com, Peter Marshall:

“Platinum prints are one of the family of processes based on the light sensitivity of iron(III) (ferric) salts. In the presence of organic material such as oxalate ions, these are reduced using energy from light to give iron(II) compounds. These then react with platinum salts to produce platinum metal. The iron salts are then removed leaving a stable platinum image. Like the other iron processes, platinum printing is slow and requires a UV light source (you can use the sun, but UV flourescent tubes or mercury vapour lamps etc are more repeatable) and large negatives as all exposure is contact printing.

Platinum printing was patented by W. Willis in 1873 (with later improvements) and materials were available commercially for many years. Increases in the price of platinum around 1910-20 led to a rapid reduction in their availability and use, although production did not finally cease in the UK until 1941. A few photographers continued to print in platinum, making their own papers, but most used other materials. A revival of interest, using hand coated papers began in the 1970s, and at least one platinum paper was commercially produced from 1998 until around 2000.” [SOURCE: http://photography.about.com/library/glossary/bldef_platinum.htm ]

Film or Digital?

Burnt out Car, v.5
Title: “Burnt-out Car, v.5”
Creation Date: 3 Mar 07
(c) 2007 Nawfal Nur

See Other Images from this Outing!

 

Film or Digital?” At this point, some people might say: “Who Cares!” And at that point, I guess I would have to say: “Well, it’s not so much that I care about it or want to argue either side; nevertheless, I may want to say something about what I have learned.”

If you want to read the “argument” (mainly pro-film) side of this well-tenderized debate, there’s a good thread at Lightstalkers.

Why not use both? I like that idea.

Often, I think a client may have something to say about whether a job is to be shot with film or digital. In this instant gratification world we live in, digital appears to be the winner. That’s not to say that you can’t jump back into the film-saddle again for personal work…if you want.

The other night, March 3rd to be exact, I decided to shoot some 35mm film.

The digital side of my brain was telling me: “Nawfal – you must be MAD…WHAT! Are you CRAZY…LOCO…GILA! Why do you want to be so ‘wild’? You know digital now…no need to risk so much by reverting back to film…NOoooooooooooo!” Well, it didn’t go exactly like that, but sort of.

Of course, the analog side of my brain was telling me, “Good Nawfal…you can do it, you shot film for years before you became so dependent on LCD screens to edit each shot and to do that nasty ‘chimping’ thing!

So, what did I decide to do?

I took my NIKON F out of my dehumidifier box, switched out the Nikkor 35-70mm zoom for my SIGMA 24mm f/2.8, and loaded up the camera with some Fuji Superia 200 ASA film.

To add to the difficulty factor, the power cell in my “F” was dead, so no metering…every exposure would be a guess . To top it off, I decided to go out for some nighttime shooting, just after 10PM.

OK!

Here are the circumstances of this shoot, summed up so far: I was shooting film with a 35+ year old camera with no active metering system, using a newer lens not specifically made for the Nikon F, and trying to rekindle my respect for film by shooting at night.

The only other pieces of equipment I took out were my tripod, a Bogan Pro 3001 with Manfrotto #352 Ball & Socket Head; and, a Vivitar 2800 Auto Thyristor flash, which is probably as old as my Nikon camera, but it works beautifully!

Finding subject matter was not the issue; once I was out and about, all kinds of ordinary subjects were popping out at me and just waiting for their photo to be taken.

It was that moment when I put my tripod down in front of the Burnt-out Car, that I began looking at the subject and the lighting and the environment, and realized the effect that digital photography has had on my photography: I had become complacent!

I had become nearly reliant on digital technology to instantly show me the results.

With digital photography, of course, I still have to think about the shot, but with analog, I REALLY have to think about the shot before I take it.

For the obvious reasons you have to meticullously consider all aspects of a photo session when shooting film. Film is not so cheap in the long run; and, waiting for the photo lab to process and print your photographs can make for a stressful day, especially after you have become accustomed to seeing your photos instantly on an LCD screen.

Well, the car was not going anywhere so I had the opportunity to carefully consider the exposure combinations. I experimented with aperture settings ranging from f/16 to f/2.8. Shutter Speeds varied as well, from 1 second to 2 minutes. Basically, each shot was an educated guesstimate.

I went through the 24 frames within a couple of hours, but the time seemed to move faster than that – I guess I was enjoying myself, getting familiar with photo equipment I had not used in years.

The next day, the film was dropped off at the photo lab; however, because I wanted the technician to take time inspecting the negatives, and only to make prints from “strong” looking frames, the process took a couple of hours.

21 of the 24 shots were printable. Of the 21 photographs, I really liked the results of six images, and four of these shots can be seen here. In terms of film usage, and considering that all the exposure settings were educated guesses, the percentage of shots that I “liked” is pretty good.

After this little exercise, I’ve realized a few things about myself, and in general, about the use of film for photography.

  1. Film and development can be a bit expensive compared to Flash or SD memory devices, that is, in the long run.
  2. Film cameras can last you decades of use without needing to upgrade; whereas, every two or three years digital technology seems to become quite dated and needing upgrades.
  3. Film cameras, such as my trusty Nikon F, can be used in ANY circumstance and without the need for batteries, wires, computers, or electricity.
  4. I can’t say that digital photography has made me a better photographer. I think that it has made me a more complacent photographer by depending on the technology a little too much. That’s not so good, but it’s not so bad either – it’s just a different way of photographing – perhaps digital has made me a little less instinctive in the ways of photography.
  5. Last, and I’m sure not least, is that no matter how hard I force the negative, slide, or printed photo into the floppy disk slot, there is no way in hell that they are going to show up on my computer screen, or on the WEB, without me first digitizing them. And let me add, there is no way I was going to get rid of those pesky dust marks without using photo editing software.

So, ho-hum! Film images still end up needing to be in digital format for their use in the digital world.

Nevertheless, if you are strictly a digital shooter, give a roll of film a try, that is, if you have a film camera around. The experience can be a real eye opener, and a pleasant one at that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clear the Stone of Leaves…

Dried Leaves on Stone, Edit B

 

Title: “Dried Leaves on Stone, Edit B”

Creation Date: 9 March 2007

Original Color Image Shot in 2006

 

Dried Leaves on Stone, Edit B,” is a very high contrast Black & White digital image, inspired by the opening lyrics of SLIPKNOT’s song, “Wait and Bleed“:

 

I’ve felt the hate rise up in me…
Kneel down and clear the stone of leaves…
I wander out where you can’t see…
Inside my shell, I wait and bleed…

 

The EXtreme contrast of this image and the imagery itself reminded me of the opening of this song by Slipknot: They may not be everyone’s cup-of-tea, but hell, I like’em. They are a bit angry, a bit EXtreme and probably the best band to ever come out of Iowa. I hate disco and electro-noise and this is the antithesis of all of that. EXtreme Black & White for EXtreme words.

“The inspiration behind a lot of my work comes from wanting to express something within myself and usually associated with the things I love (or dislike) about life or have experienced. Some are metaphor, others more obvious. Music is big influence and of course emotion plays it’s part.” – Leith O’Malley – Artist

 

I have a new calendar for 2007!

Hello Everyone!

I have a new calendar published and it is ready for the Holiday Season. So, if you are looking for a calendar with cool flower photographs, please visit the link http://www.lulu.com/content/551105 , that is where you can take a look at the preview and buy my calendar!

My new blog for this calendar project is here: “Bursting with Color.”

This is the cover design for my new calendar. I think it’s pretty d&%$ hot! If you happen to drop by here, please take an extra couple of minutes to look at my 2007 calendar by clicking on the first link.

Thanks bunches!

Nawfal

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!