Photo-Diagramm: a great online tool!

Perhaps you have seen this fancy diagramms showing the setup of the lightning and accesoires used for a shooting and asked yourself: hey, I wanna make this kind of diagramms myself, too! Well, here is a online tool which is perfect for this!
Go and Check this one and then you´ll be able to create this ones:

It´s very easy to use and you get a lot of items to move around and depict the setup. I actually use it and often save them with the pictures I took in order to remember how I did the lights for a certain shoot. After printing them you can write some notes on them, for example the ratios you used.

I like it :-)

p.s. if you like it more complicated... check this one :-)

p.s.s. and if you want to really impress the world about how "mobile" you are

... well, then you may use this one! (picture of mobiles courtesy of www.strobox.com)


Catching liquid drops (DIY) - Setup

Ever wondered how this kind of pictures are achieved? Well, actually it´s not that difficult. Just gotta catch the droping liquid in the right moment and with the right lightning.

Actually you can do this right now: go to the kitchen, open the tap just a bit, so that only drops pour down and put a bowl underneath. Now wait for the drops to reach the surface and pull the trigger. Now, under normal light situations (not all kitchens do have the full sunlight coming through the window or really strong lamps on the ceiling) you wont be able to get over 1/125 even with wide open lense. This speed is much to low to really freeze the moving of the liquid. So, you will need your flash.
You can use the build-in flash of your camera, but this will not give you satisfying results: the light will come from the front and take all the 3-dimensional effect of the situation. Try it.

The best setup is using proper studio-lights or a slave flash unit. Put either one of them to one side of the scene. Doing this will give you the depth and 3-dimensional effect you need for making the drop look crispier and vivid. Also, it will let you achieve the complete "freeze" of the plumping drop.

So, now you are able to catch the drop of water pouring on the bowl and hopefully making some fancy figures. The next step is to use different colours: try a coloured bowl... a blue one, a yellow one, a red one. See how the reflection of the light gives the drop different "moods". Depending on the angle of the incoming light you will get some awesome colour-effects.

The last step is to try out different liquids: dont only use water dropping on water... try milk on milk, coffe on milk, milk on coffe, coke on coke, etc.

The most important parameter in this kind of pictures is: time and patience. You will have to take hundres of pictures in order to get THE ONE. But, hey, it´s always about beeing in the right place in the right moment. In this case this applies, too.

Here I found an example of a good and easy setup for this kind of pictures:

Current Waterdrop Setup, ursprünglich hochgeladen von *Corrie*

Happy shooting and don´t forget not to use the biggest apperture on your lense: you will need some depth (3-4 cm) to get the right figure.

Liquid Gold

*UPDATE* Here you will find some great examples of this kind of pics! Enjoy :-)

DIY PVC Skater dolly (Table Dolly)

Well, sometimes you can spend a lot of money for gadgets needed for your photography/video productions... and sometimes you can achieve the same effects of the gadget without spending too much :-).

This is a good example of a DIY project for building a dolly (click on the picture to see more details about how to build it!). A dolly is a mobile (no, not phone!) device that lets you achieve the moving effects of the camera that you know from the movies. Specially for the "camera surrounds the object" effect.

Ok, this one isn´t planned for high movements of the camera, but for stills and table-tops I think it´s a very good alternative. Actually I am going to build it myself in the next days!


Photographers be aware... Facebook!

Just as an update to my blog about watermarking your photographies or not... here is the last piece of information I have gotten today through Twitter. It´s specially important for those photographers who also have a Fan Page on Facebook. Please be aware that Facebook has made an update to their picture features: before this update was alive the pictures you uploaded to your gallery on Facebook were automatically resized to a standard Lo-Res size (independent of the size you uploaded your picture). Now, with the update alive, if you upload a big picture (more resolution) anybody will be able to download this Hi-Res version of your work. So, if you don´t watermark and upload a big size picture... actually you´re giving it away for free. Even people that are not logged in can download them.

With so many photographers using Facebook as a marketing tool they should rethink about watermarking their pictures or at least uploading just a small-size version of it.

Here is the video post made by Mpacphoto.com today:

Part of my workflow is to create different sizes of the pictures (with & without watermarking) when I am ready, depending of the use I will give them. Perhaps you should do the same...

Food Photography

Hmmm... food photography is one of the photography fields I like most! One regarding thing about it is: you can eat all the fabulous content after the shooting!... NOT :-)

Actually, producing appealing pictures of food is one of the most difficult tasks for a photographer. There are several parameters he has to control:

1. As always: light is the most important key to get a subject presented the right way. Depending on the atmosphere and mood you want to create you can use flashes or daylight... or a mix of both. Daylight component gives the food a more natural mood and if you want to present the food in a "rustical" way if should be the way to go. If you want to present it the "cool" way or stylize the result with strong contrasts then flashes are the right tool. I actually prefer a mix of both worlds: I try to use as much natural light as possible and use the flashes to enhance the whole scene. Try not to get to many shadows but keep the textures... which takes us to the next parameter

2. Presentation: there is even a job called "food designer"! This peoples task is to present the food in a way that acomplishes the task of food photography: to make the viewer get hungry! To wake up one of the most basic human needs and to want him to get this tasty whatever right now into his mouth :-). There are many tricks used in this step: besides artificial components (think of ice cubes) there are the use of hair spray (yeah, you heard right) in order to let the meat/vegetables look shiny. Water colours to "paint" the food (think of the tasty brown colour for chicken) is also used and sometimes even the "burning lines" on the steak are painted. Also, be sure to have the right dishes and props to wrap around the food. Inform yourself about how this specific food is presented traditionally. Check the details!
Think about cultural differences of the aimed viewers or that are connected to the specific food: years ago, I made some pictures of asian bowls and sticks in order to create a serie for shushi restaurants. I sent them to my stock agencies and they were actually selling good... but the ones with the bowl and the stick...? Well, somebody later explained to me that positioning the sticks INTO the empty bowls was seen as a "bad sign" by some asian cultures. You learn all the time...

3. Use the right lenses: allthough there are many different ways to shoot food one of the most used is to implement a shallow depth of field. This makes the viewer concentrate on the main subject and don´t get distracted to much by the surroundings. Your task is to get the viewer hungry and to want the steak immediately... not to think too much about what kind of dish is there on the table.

4. Composition: try new angles. The normal way to look at the dish infront of you at the table is not the most appealing for the viewer. It doesn´t make him curious, ´cause that´s the way he always sees food. Try to shoot it from a lower position or perhaps from above or a little from the side.

5. Try & try & try: the best is to have the pc monitor connected directy to the camera so that you can check the results immediately, so that you don´t loose time... because food, different to a flower or a still life... doesn´t get better with the time... it gets bad. And if you need an hour to check the pictures and you realize you need to change some thing, well, then your dog will be happy to get a steak :-)

I found some interesting videos showing the work behind a food shooting. Check them out!

And here you can see a short reel of really tasty pictures:

And here a more longer collection of food pictures:

Well, after seeing all of this... I wish you a happy shooting and Bon Apetit! :-)


Still/Video Convergence: Alexx Henry's 'Living Art'

VIV Mag Interactive Feature Spread - iPad Demo from Alexx Henry on Vimeo.

Hmmm... with the venue of the tablet-pc (Ipad and the likes) I am sure that the whole landscape of publishing, specially the magazines, will change drastically in the next years.

As I walk around the city I see more and more people (all ages) holding a mobile device and interacting with it. Not only talking and writing SMS or emails (which means they are having a dialogue), but also just consuming (which means they are having a one-direction monologue) news, articles and posts. So, you can now say "what´s the difference? People have always been consuming one-directionally contents like magazines and newspapers!"... well, that´s true and this will not change. BUT... the contents will change! Because of the limited media options paper has (obviously...) traditional publishing can only offer 2-dimensional, non-sensorial (just the eyes) contents, i.e. static pictures and text. The new media devices are capable of crushing this limit and offer almost unlimited ways of presenting the contents (static pictures, text... + video, sound and even sensorial, when the little thing beginns to vibrate).

This article at PDN shows some new possibilities publishing companies will have in order to offer their contents to the consumer. In the depicted case the topic of a magazine is featured with short "living pictures"... not movies, but kind of video-teasers which illustrate the topic via dynamic pictures containg interaction possibilities (buttons). So, the reader/viewer has the choise to go deeper into the content or not, as traditionally as if he would choosing which page to read in a conventional magazine.

So... what does this all have to do with photography? Pretty simple: I am sure the demand of the publishing companies for still photographies will always stay, there will always be a need for static pictures, ´cause not everybody wants to consume "moving pictures" (aka video) and there will be always products which because of physical constraints aren´t able to offer other contents (books, calendars, postcards, posters, etc.). BUT I think the demand for this new kind of visual appealing products will increase in the future (as the grwoing proliferation of the mobile media devices, too) and will bite a big chunck off the market the traditional photography has had till now. Photographers will have to expand their skills beyond the production of stills and adventure into new sectors like video or at least produce pictures which can be used for it. At last, as a photographer you are an educated visual artist... and the visual scope does offer many different sectors beyond the stills.

Time to explore new ways of presenting the world your visual impressions!


Relaunch of my website! YEAH! :-)

Well, after many, many hours of work (last 2 days) I finally uploaded my brand, new homepage! After more than 2 years the old design wasn´t "sexy" no more.

I´ve done a bit of re-design to the whole site making it more "smooth"... and learned a lot about fireworks & dreamweaver... so, here I am now shouting it out to the world :-)

Hope you like it! As always, comments are welcome!


SpiderPic: a smart way to compare prices!

Surfing around the net I found this quite new (at least for me) way of searching the microstock-agencies for certain pictures: SpiderPic.

Ok, a search-engine that searches diferent stock-agencies isn´t something really new... BUT this one also lets you compare the different price tags of the same images in the different agencies! If you do a bit of research you will notice that you may actually pay for the same picture and the same usage (mostly RF) very different prices depending on the agency you choose to buy from. This clearly has something to do with the different paying modalities (pay per picture, subscription plans and so on), but you can also compare the different pricing policies that the agencies are applying. It´s not quite perfet yet (beta-stadium) and it only searches the main microstock agencies... but it´s quite interesting! Give it a try :-)


Updating my Galleries...

Well, I gotta admit I´ve been a bit lazy the last months and did not upload none of the new pictures I took in last time. But today it really caught me and I did some refreshing of my opening showcast in my homepage. How do you like it?

Bit by bit I´ll be updating all the other galleries... first one updated is the Animals Gallery: here I´ve updated the new pictures of peruvian camelids (llamas, alpacas, vicuñas) which I made on my last trip this year. Hope you like it :-)

More updates coming soon.


Trying new things out: Timelapse Photography

As a curious Photographer I am always searching for new ways to visually present my work and improve my knowledge in the imagery area. One interesting method is the so-called "Timelapse Photography". What is it? Well, actually it is a visual presentation of a serie of pictures of mainly the same subject/place taken within certain time intervalls. Then you put the single pictures one after the other in a video file and present them. The achieved effect is very interesting and you may have seen it many times in the media, for example when showing the weather changes within a day or the traffic in a city during the day:

Photographer Nicole Young has put a very nice tutorial in Youtube showing how to achieve this effect using a DSLR and Lightroom:

And part 2 here:

But you can even go further and create some awesome videos like this here:

And the final product here:

Well, this one isn´t one you can do for yourself in one day... but it shows what very impressing effects you can make cross-walking the media Photography and Video!