Hi everyone, really appreciate you stopping by and reading my blog - today I am discussing how to make digital photography, well, a little less digital. Now, there are many different methods in taking the crispness out of a digital photo, many include using post-production software that use layers to transform the “look” of a digital photograph. But, in this discussion, I am trying to soften up, as it were, digital exposures using natural means. (I suggest best viewing using larger monitors).Natural lighting is a great tool in creating wonderfully soft and emotional interpretations no matter what genre of photography you are practicing, but surely, close up portraits of people and flora are two perfect examples to explore this with. Another means in softening any type of photograph, whether digital or film based exposures, is opening up the lens aperture, thus putting more bokeh (or blur) surrounding the point of focus into a composition. While you read this, begin studying Figure-1 a portrait captured on film (at the time, was one of the last shots I captured using film), and compare it to Figure-2, a 2016 portrait of my other grandchild, Shiloh, captured on a Canon 5D Mark II. In both photos I am using F/1.4 50mm lenses (film based photo was captured using a Minolta Rokkor-X lens, and the digital exposure using a Canon lens. Two beautiful pieces of glass which are my go-to-lenses for a lot of close up work). As I always tell students of photography, be sure to focus on the eyes - if the eyes of your subject are in focus, it is likely a successful capture will result, especially if settings will produce a lot of blur or bokeh - in which this post is about.
Now I must point out, taking both these photographs was a bit challenging, indeed. In Figure-1, Alana really liked me pointing the lens at her, but she was moving a bit, and as it were, I was using a film camera (without the 2.5 fps motor being attached) I was taking single frame exposures to get this one (in focus) exposure. (I think I triggered 3 to get this one). Natural lighting was good, as light was pouring in through a large glass sliding door to the sitters right. Film was one of the last rolls of K-64 I had, as I was about to transition into the digital revolution. The shot was captured using the films native ISO. In Figure-2, Shiloh did not want to look at me too often, so I had to settle on this view on this day. But, thankfully, Shiloh was much more still than Alana in Figure-1, because the lighting was terrible. An overcast day only let a minimum of light come through two large (but wood-framed) windows
making capturing this portrait a lot more challenging. So, I guess what I trying to tell you is - in many circumstances you will need to be very patient when confronted using natural lighting. Slower speeds will ensue and you need to have a steady hand. If the situation allows, by all means place the camera on a tripod and trigger the shutter remotely.
|Figure-3 Isla Marie ISO-1000 L. Lewin 2012|
And here are two more examples of digital photographs using similar camera dynamics as above, that result in extremely soft interpretations. Figure-4 is a Morning Rose portrait captured in 2016: overcast sky allowed for very even lighting and a minimum of shadows. 5D Mark II was set on a Manfrotto Tripod and Head - and again, my go-to-lens the Canon F/1.4 50mm lens. Set wide open (F/1.4) for maximum bokeh and to eliminate the background, the resulting image is another 3-D like presentation, where you can almost reach out and feel the texture of the pedals. Before we review the next photograph in Figure-5, let us talk about focusing for just a moment: another exercise I have students of my workshops practice, is turning off the auto-focus and use manual focusing. In the case for photographing flowers, honestly, manual focus is the only sure way to achieve positive results.
|Figure-4 Morning Rose ISO-100 L. Lewin|
Figure-5 Angel Trumpet was shot using an ISO-640 setting on the Canon 5D Mark II and of course, the Canon F/1.4 50mm lens. Set wide open to allow as much light as possible through the glass and onto the digital sensor - the balance of high ISO and wide open aperture allowed me to hand hold for this shot. Of course, the key to these settings was again, to produce a very soft presentation - the extreme bokeh and higher ISO resulted in another image full of depth and texture - and without any post-production except to adjust exposure a bit higher than what the camera settings revealed. This is another good example on how manual focus is very important in creating this composition. Having several different points to focus on - allowed me to “bracket” four different exposures (from the exact same position or composition) to be sure I captured the look I was after. Natural lighting from a 6:30 to 6:45 am sunrise in Demopolis, Georgia.
|Figure-5 Angel Trumpet ISO-640 L. Lewin 2017|
In any case, I hope you give me feedback and examples of your own similar projects - and hoping this piece helped inspire you to try something new. Thank you.