Category Archives: Creativity

How To Take Stunning Black and White Wedding Photos

Ah, weddings! Who doesn’t want to witness the solemnity of two individuals becoming one in the presence of their loved ones, right? We always say wedding photography is one of the most romantic professions in the world. Wedding photographers capture the sincerest times; they see the beauty of people and the event through their small screen and translate it into something tangible that imprisons the very moment.

Wedding photography, couple under arch in black and whiteOne style of photography that doesn’t grow old no matter the occasion and time is black and white photography. Especially in weddings, this type of photography can capture the emotions of the subjects and highlight the very essence of the event.

If you’re a wedding photographer who wants to try black and white or wants to improve their monochromatic style, read on below to learn essential tips in taking black and white wedding images.

Shoot in Raw

If your camera allows you to shoot in raw, do it. Shooting in raw gives you infinite control over the post-production of the images. If you shoot black and white, the photos might not be as good when you’re taking them and when reviewing them on your computer. With raw, you have the chance to process the photo and change it to a colored one if you think the black and white concept doesn’t go well with it.

If your camera doesn’t have the option to shoot in raw, shoot not in black and white but color using JPEG. While you can still produce reasonable results if you shoot straight in black in white, you’ll have more control of the photo if you shoot in color as you can always do your conversion to black and white later.

Keep a Low ISO

If you want to take stunning black and white wedding photos, keep your ISO as low as possible. While this technique is normal when taking colored photos, it’s particularly true with black and white photography. The rationale behind this is noise created by ISO can even be more visible in a black and white photo, so by lowering the ISO, you also take the noise out.

If the noise is what you’re after, you can always add it in the post-processing phase. Also, there are noise removal programs you can use during post-processing to reduce the noise of your images.

Mind Your Composition

This is no surprise for photographers. Alongside many other factors, composition is surely one to consider when taking photos. The general tips and techniques applicable when composing and framing subjects also works just as well in black and white photography.

The only major difference to note is you can’t use color to lead the eye to the subject. This means you need to be keen on spotting other elements such as textures, shapes, and tones and making them your points of interest. Pay attention to shadows and highlights, which are significant features of your frame.

Another way to compose your photo is to look for patterns. Patterns are a great feature in pictures because of their ordered repetition. Often in colored photos, our eyes get distracted by color and may not pay as much attention to patterns. Black and white makes patterns more compelling. Train your eyes to look for patterns such as people’s feet standing in line at a wedding party or cars in a parking lot.

Black and white wedding photography of coupleLook For Contrast

The most stunning black and white wedding photos feature a great contrast of black and white. Contrast in a picture that is created by a portion of nearly pure white and some almost black parts magnifies interest to the scene.

Capture Emotions

If you want to capture emotions of people such as the bride tearing up while walking down the aisle or the groom hugging the best man, black and white can be your best bet. While colored photos also offer the emotion of the subject, black and white goes the extra mile and accentuates the feeling and passion within an image.

Tweak The HSL Panel

During the phase of post-production, raw pictures will be converted and enhanced. When post-processing the image, you definitely need to tweak the HSL system in your Lightroom or Photoshop to get the most stunning version of the photo there is.

Conclusion

There you have the essential tips to take remarkable wedding photos in black in white. While it is important to follow the general principles of photography, it’s also crucial to discover and enhance your own style as a wedding photographer, just like Solaris which has established a unique presence in Houston’s field of photography.

Erika Bourdeaux

Erika B - wedding photographerErika Bourdeaux is a writer who regularly submits content to Solaris Studios. She always make sure she adds a creative spin to all of her pieces, and as a result her pieces remain entertaining and engaging. She spends her free time painting.

Shooting in Black and White: Rediscovering the Monochrome Magic

Black and white photography can be intimidating for beginning photographers. However, you don’t have to be a veteran photographer to start shooting in black and white photography. Here are some ways that you can add black and white photography to your portfolio.

Why it’s Magical

Best Photo Lessons black and white photographyShooting black and white photographs can be an extremely effective way to convey emotions and to bring attention to details.  Black and white photographs can be a way to create an intimate and timeless frame due to its nostalgic nature. Black and white photography as explained by Guru Shots can create a magical and timeless image that can be extremely powerful in event photography, portraits, landscapes, and wildlife photography.

Due to this magical effect, it is important that you plan on when to use black and white. You should not just shoot color photography and hope that one of your photos may look good in black and white while you’re editing in post. Your photos will be far more effective if you plan on using black and white while you’re composing the shot.

While you are setting up the shot, it’s important to imagine the scene in front of you without the colors. Instead of looking at how the colors interact with each other in the photo, you need to look at how the hues and tones work together in the photos, as exhibited here with beautiful, tone-perfect images.

If you’re unsure about how a photo may look or are having trouble imagining it, a good trick to use is to put on a pair of sunglasses. This will help you see the potential tones and block out some of the distracting colors that you may be seeing through your lens.

How to compose the best black and white photo

The most interesting black and white photos can be taken when the contrast between highlights and shadows is extreme. While you can look for these specific times of day and light scenarios, there are specific cameras offering features that bring out the best in your monochrome work. However, that’s not the only way that you can create contrast in your photos. Contrast can be found in colors (light and dark) and with lines (architectural and otherwise).

However, in order to create dramatic contrasts in your black and white photos, knowing how to work with and create shadows is a must. This could create a space for dramatic storytelling.

If you want to use shadows to create a dramatic effect, it’s important to be shooting in a location where shadows are readily available or can be made. This can also greatly depend on the time of day. If you’re looking for the most dramatic shadows, noon is a great time to shoot for that is when the sun is the most high in the sky. If you want softer, but maybe more angled lighting/shadows, shoot during early morning hours or sunset hours.

If you’re not able to shoot during those times of day or if you don’t have a location with light, then you can always create your own shadows. You can do this in a studio space or in any location if you have an external flash or man-made light source.

If you have found the perfect light and the perfect scene, but there are no shadows in the frame, you can also create your own shadows. These methods can create unique looks and further your storytelling:

  • Use hands to create shadows. Use your own hands or the model’s hands to create shadows over wanted areas. For example, you can create interesting lines over a model’s face, using just fingers (theirs or someone’s off-frame)
  • Use a piece of lace or fabric. Place a piece of fabric strategically over your light source to create an intricate shadow pattern over your subject.
  • Some other common objects that can create dramatic shadows include: window blinds, fences, glasses, forks, whisks, etc.

What not to do in black and white photography

The most important thing to remember when shooting in black and white photography happens in post. When you’re editing detail in black and white photos, you want to be careful not to overdo it. You want it to look natural and don’t want the texture to be too extreme.

A feature of shooting in black and white is that it brings out details automatically, and they are more noticeable. While this is usually a positive, it can be a negative when it comes to close-up portraits. You don’t want the skin on someone’s face to look rubbery or fake. To avoid this, be cautious with detail and luminance while you’re editing your photos.

Lastly, avoid using black and white photography as a way to try to make photos redeemable. Some people tend to use a black and white filter on photos that didn’t turn out like they wanted them to in color. You may think that a black and white photo will hide your mistakes, but in reality, it usually only highlights those imperfections more.

Reviewing Tips & Tricks

  • Plan on using black and white in your photography before you shoot, not after.
  • Use a pair of sunglasses while composing your shot to help imagine what the tones and hues may look like in black bestphotolessons.com and white.
  • Shoot at noon for the most dramatic shadows.
  • Use or make shadows in order to create high contrast photos.
  • Don’t be afraid to create your own shadows.
  • Don’t use black and white photography to “save” your bad photos.

Adding ‘meaning’ to your images

Here's a great idea to help you flex your creative muscles for photography.
 
Artistic photography and meaningTo really push the artistic side of your photography - choose a random word from the dictionary, a book on your coffee table, or from a 'word of the day page' (ie http://www.wordthink.com/). Really study that word and what it means.
 
Then go for a walk with your camera. When something catches your eye, spend a few moments thinking about that word - and then take some pictures of whatever has caught your eye.
 
The two may be totally unrelated things - but then that's what art often is, taking an object, scene, colour etc and adding meaning beyond the literal.
 
The more you do this, the more you should be able to add a different kind of depth to your photography.
 
Most of all, have fun with the idea.

Artistic photography and meaning - using shadows and linesAnd as another way to use this idea - when you do randomly find something to photograph - before hitting the shutter take a moment to think about what that 'something' means to you, what is it that caught your eye. The clearer you have that in mind, the clearer your photograph of it will probably be.

Manual mode – do I need it?

Assuming you have or are interested in a camera with manual capability - have you wondered WHY you might want to go to manual mode instead of letting the camera decide?

Here's the real deal - automatic modes work great with fairly even light coming from slightly behind you and the tones you're photographing are either middle tones or there's a good distribution of tones.

Tones being white to black and all the levels of grey and colours in between those extremes.

Expsoure in steam in fog - program vs manual modeWhere auto or program modes start to fail is when you have a mostly white scene - like a white puppy on snow, or being out in fog, which makes a camera think it needs to make the pictures darker and thus white becomes grey. Auto and program modes also have difficulty when the light comes from behind or beside the subject - imagine your child in a white shirt standing in a doorway and the sun is coming from the side (which would be a cool and dramatic picture - what part do you WANT to be exposed right? Do you expose for the bright part of the face or do you expose for the shadow side letting the bright side go completely white?

depth of field - shallow focus - manual modeThe other aspect is how much do you want to be in focus? Do you want shallow focus so that just your partner's face is in focus or do you want to have everything in focus? Auto and program modes default to more of the 'everything in focus.'

In the end - are you TAKING  a picture, ore are you CREATING a picture? If you want to get really creative you want to create each picture - make it look the way you envision it. That skill takes time and practice - and taking lots of pictures, and doing it in manual so that you have control over each aspect of the image.

However if what you're doing is documenting your life and not worrying about being 'artsy' - then program mode is fine and will do a great job.

As in all of photography - the purpose of the photos determines the methods being used.

Thinking about ‘Going Pro’? The sad truth.

Eliza-1065You love photography - so do I. It is wonderful to capture special moments and share them with others. Some of us use our cell-phones, and some use very expensive digital cameras. As a hobby and a past-time - it can help us record our personal and family history, and show others how we view the world.

Many people dream of being a professional photographer - the lifestyle and the opportunities to see different things is alluring.

However - its not all 'wine and roses.' Let me fill you in on what it takes to be a professional photographer.

What gives me the background to write this perspective? I did my first paid photo shoot when I was 16 - which is nearly 40 years ago now. I've photographed royalty, and politicians, athletes, weddings, models, architecture, landscapes, tools, food, homeless people, cans of tomato soup, and more. I haven't spent my whole life doing photography, but it was always part of what I did. I've also been involved in professional photography organizations both as a member and as the president, so I've gotten to know a lot of different photographers.

First off - I'm going to assume you are a good, honest, hard working person who wants to share your gifts with as many people as possible.

If you are thief or con-man who thinks its easy money, you really want to look to some other vocation because there are far easier ways to make big money than in photography.

People pay their hard earned money for quality images - and if you are producing anything less than great quality, you are ripping them off.

To be a professional photographer (in every sense of the word), you need to:

Have professional gear, and backups for that gear

Yes a professional can create compelling images on pretty much anything, but you only do that for specific effects, not as a consistent way of doing photography. Professional level cameras are just a tool for creating an image, but they help do the images be done at the best available quality.

And cameras fail - so you need a backup 'just in case.' You also need multiple high quality, fast (expensive) lenses so that whatever situation you face, you get the best image. Anything less and you are ripping people off.

You also need a professional level computer because anything less will waste your time (more on time down the page.)

You also need professional level software (Photoshop, etc) to produce the best image quality and not waste your time doing it.

It is expensive to set up a professional level photography business, you'll need to invest a lot to get to a level where you can do the work and not run into problems because of your equipment. And worse, as you progress you'll wind up with more gear and it will be more expensive because your skills will continue to advance.

Know your camera inside and out.

When something goes wrong - and it will - you need to be able to find another way to get the image, fast. You'll also be faced with a range of situations where the quality and amount of light will be different and the subjects will require different approaches. You need to be able to handle whatever is thrown at you and get a good image at the end.

While many people feel they can 'fix' images in Photoshop, you'll be far better off getting the best image 'in-camera' and doing the finishing touches with Photoshop. You can only do that by learning how to do photography in all kinds of situations.

Know Photoshop inside and out.

There are other programs out there that do image editing, but nothing is quite as good as Adobe Photoshop. This is actually the least problem any more - $10 a month and you can get the Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom deal. That's so cheap there's no reason not to.

But you also have to learn how to use it - there are many ways to get things done, and there are just as many ways to use it badly.

I also recommend using Lightroom for initial edits and sorting images. It makes the process much faster from beginning to end - and time is money.

Know light – and also how to light a scene

If you only do 'natural light' because you don't know how to use lighting, you are ripping people off. There are top photographers who choose natural light as a style, but they know how to use flash and other lights when needed. If you can't use a flash at all, you will not be capable of getting the quality of images people are paying you for. You need to know how to use light, and the best way I've found to learn and teach it is to learn lighting. Even if you only use reflectors in natural light, you need to understand how the quality and quantity of light affects the image.

Understand sales and marketing

If you can't market your services and ask for money, you don't get to do professional photography.

There always seem to be some people who find customers easily - but I suspect it's like the saying "The hyena says 'I'm not lucky, but I do keep moving'."

People who succeed in photography make sales, and they do that by constantly marketing to people and telling them about the photography and doing it enthusiastically.

Learning how to create images is relatively easy compared to learning to do sales for most people. You will need to learn sales and you'll spend far more time on sales and marketing than you will on actually 'doing' photography.

Your family will not see much of you

Your family will not see you nearly as much as you'd like. If you pursue photography full-time expect 60 hours work weeks, at least at the beginning. If you pursue it part-time in addition to a regular job, you'll be giving up most of your evenings and weekends to do it.

The process:

  • Send out marketing materials/promote yourself
  • Meet potential clients
  • Do the photography
  • Meet the clients to choose the final images
  • Prepare the images for delivery
  • Deliver the images

Consider this: The average wedding takes around 40 hours for a trained professional - in addition to the 12 or 16 hours on the wedding day.

You will need to charge more than you think you should

Not only do you need to be paid for the time you DO photography, but also for the time you put into sales and marketing, the time for meetings, for retouching, for delivering finished images, for your insurance (you absolutely have to have insurance, for your gear, for accidents, for your health and for your car), your administrative time, your taxes, your vehicle, your replacement gear (some lasts for a long time, some not so much), software updates, your holidays (vacations have to be paid for somehow if you want a 'reasonable life.')

This all ads up to quite a bit, and if you charge for your photography on the same level as you'd make at 7-11 you'll very quickly go broke.

I know a lot of 'former' photographers who thought they could make money by getting more work 'being cheap' - only to become burned out by the stress of never having money and working all the time to do it. And what's worse is that many such photographers wind up hurting their customers in the process.

Don't forget that your time away from friends and family is worth something. If you're not making enough money to make it worthwhile loosing time with your loved ones - then why do it at all?

You will not make money on a consistent basis

There will be times you are very busy, and times you'll sitting around wondering if you'll ever see another client. As one photographer aptly (if not slightly grossly) said - "Income as a photographer is much like watching a snake eat a small dog, really skinny then a big lump, then really skinny."

If you need to make regular income, this isn't the career for you.

You will need to take care of your paperwork

Among all the other things you need to take care of, you are running a business and you'll need to do the paperwork, your accounting, your billing, your marketing, your research and so on. You'll need to pay taxes and keep track of your equipment and software.

You will never stop learning

You will need to continually work on your photography and techniques, as well as on your sales, marketing and business skills. There are online courses, part-time schools, correspondence schools, etc.

And I've probably forgotten things you need to know

Photography can be a wonderful career, I've had the opportunity to see things and meet people I otherwise wouldn't get to. I also get to be creative and use my imagination to help my clients get the images they need. But don't go into photography thinking it's 'easy' or that you don't need to perfect your craft and knowledge of business before you do it.

If you want to be a professional, you need to do a lot of preparation before you ever charge a client for your services.

A paid photo lessons site

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Bathroom 100

This is a great exercise to push your ability to find interesting compositions anywhere. Go into the bathroom, lock the door and take 100 photos of the bathroom itself. The first 30 or so are easy. By the time you're done, you'll find yourself looking at a lot of things a bit different.