Robert Boughen: Blog http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) Robert Boughen robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Wed, 01 Feb 2017 19:09:00 GMT Wed, 01 Feb 2017 19:09:00 GMT http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-5/u339130656-o920315605-50.jpg Robert Boughen: Blog http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog 120 80 Vlog #1: Cool Annoucement! http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/vlog/1

The first installment of my new Vlog series, starting off with a cool annoucement alongside a recap of January!

Enjoy!

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Blog Camera Film Movie Photo Photography Video Vlog http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/vlog/1 Wed, 01 Feb 2017 19:08:46 GMT
Photography Tips: "Rule of Thirds" http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/1/pt/rulesofthirds As has been repeatedly mentioned in this blog, photographs are about story telling, and story telling must have a subject. The way that we frame a photo and what we chose to include will affect the way our subject is viewed and how our story is told.  The "Rule of Thirds", which segments images into nine zones, is the first stop for composing our photographs. Where we put our subject in relation to these thirds is a deeply important part of a photo, as the eyes of a viewer are naturally attuned to search for the subject in particular areas of the photo. Placing a subject centrally can often be an effective way of helping the viewer to easily identify the subject of the photo, but it might not necessarily tell the story the way we want it to, and often leads to blank spaces in the photo which tell us nothing. Generally speaking, subjects are most effective when placed along the axis of the segmented zones, usually at the intersections as these are points the human eye is naturally drawn to.

The below picture is a good example of these rules applied to a portrait. Here, the subject is quite clearly the girl, and this is helped by placing her directly down the right-third axis, with her face close to right-upper intersection, which is one of the points the eyes are naturally drawn to. This immediately engages the viewer with the subject. The rest of the photo is left to fill in the gaps of the story; in this case mainly about her occupation and her surroundings. Were she to be framed centrally, though she would be the obvious subject still, the content on the left would be lost, and blank space would be created on the right.

 

Taken in Kenema, Sierra Leone (Dec 2015)

 

The "Rule of Thirds" is not the be-all-and-end-all of photographic composition. Indeed, to quote Pirates of the Caribbean, "they are more what you'd call guidelines than an actual set of rules", and the needs of your story-telling will often lead to you breaking them. But they are a useful, and simple way to tell your stories, and naturally play to the viewer's eyes.

Another effective way we can get the viewer's eyes onto our subject is to literally lead them there. This can be especially useful if our subject is not immediately obvious, or if we have had to break the "Rule of Thirds". The human eye will naturally follow lines that it sees; this is how the "Rule of Thirds" works, as the human eye draws segments on a straight-edged surface without them even being there. But lets be more obvious, and not make our viewer's work so hard. How about we literally draw out a line for them to follow in the photograph? I don't mean that you should get out your sharpie and draw on your prints, but rather frame an obvious line in your photo. The most obvious of these lines are roads, but they can take on varied forms; so long as they are consistent, relatively straight, and point towards your subject. A tall tower might do the trick, or rows of lavender plants growing in the fields of Southern France. You can get really creative with lines, and whenever you place them in an image you can almost guarantee your viewers will follow them.

Below are two examples of roads as leading lines. In the first example, the road is less important, as One World Trade Center could also be considered a leading line, is already sitting along the right-third axis, and is the subject of the photograph. Nonetheless, the road (Hudson Street) still leads us onto the right-third axis from the left-third axis, thereby inviting the viewer to across the entire image before reaching its subject. This, in effect, takes you down the Hudson Street towards One World Trade Center, giving a sense of motion and purpose.

In the second image, the road is the leading line that takes your through the landscape, veering around from the centre to the right and back to the left, leaving you at the left-third axis and suggesting that the sun that is so gloriously lighting up the landscape is the subject of the photograph. I hope this explanation and examples have given you some ideas about how to apply the "Rule of Thirds" and leading lines in your photos. Let me know what you made of my examples, and post your own on my Facebook wall.

 

Taken in New York City, USA (Dec 2016)

 

Take in Sillé-le-Guillaume, France (Jan 2017)

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Basics Beginners Blog Camera Character Documentary Feature Film Movie Photo Photography Review Video http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/1/pt/rulesofthirds Tue, 24 Jan 2017 16:18:25 GMT
BACK TO BASICS: Shutter-Speed http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/12/b2b/shutterspeed Last time in BACK TO BASICS we learned all "Understanding Exposure"; what exposure means, how it is measured, and how it is calculated. Within those calculations we came across Shutter-Speed. Shutter-Speed is one of the three main elements by which you take a photograph. The other two are Aperture and Sensitivity.

Shutter-Speed, simply put, is how long the shutter remains open during an exposure. The Shutter is a cover for the camera's sensor (the thing that records the light that makes up your photo), and the noise you're used to hearing when you take a photograph is the sound of the shutter opening and closing. That noise (so long as you're using a camera that doesn't have a silent shutter) is a good indication to you about how your camera is operating. A long gap between the first (open) and the second (close) clicks means that you are operating on a slow Shutter-Speed.

 

This is how your Shutter-Speed will be displayed on your camera; either as a fraction of a second (e.g. 1/125 = 125th of a second) or for long-speeds in seconds (e.g. 30" = 30 seconds).

 

Shutter-Speed is important both for our calculations about the exposure of the photo we are taking and as a creative tool. We are always going to have to consider using a suitable Shutter-Speed for our lighting, but also about how our Shutter-Speed will affect the photo creatively. In exposure terms, the less light the camera is receiving, the longer we are going to have to leave the Shutter open.

Leaving the shutter open for longer is called long-exposure technique, and is especially useful to take photos in low-light conditions. Any camera using automatic settings is going to apply this kind of Shutter-Speed in dark rooms or at night. You'll probably be very familiar with taking a picture on your phone at a party and it coming out very, very blurry. This effect is called "Motion-Blur". Remember that your camera is recording light over a period of time, so anything within the frame that moves during that time is going to blur as the camera records the same object in different places onto a still image. If we shorten the Shutter-Speed we're more likely to get sharper, better defined images, as the chances for the camera recording any movement is lessened.

 

The dog is shaking quickly whilst the shutter is open, causing him to be covered in "motion-blur". Taken in Venice, Italy.

 

Most of the time, we're not going to want motion-blur in a photo. There are a couple of ways you can reduce it. Firstly, find ways to increase your available light, such as moving your subjects outside or near a light source. Second, use your camera's manual settings to increase your Sensitivity and widen your Aperture to allow the sensor more light; this will allow you to shorten your Shutter-Speed. Thirdly, if you can, use a tripod. This will help you remove any shake from the camera. Finally, try to pick subjects that are static if you're shooting in low-light conditions; if they're sentient, ask them to stay still.

 

This action shot of Leonese kids playing "Tet" required a very quick Shutter-Speed as the subjects were moving quickly. This enables the subjects to remain sharp and without any "motion-blur". Taken in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

 

More interesting at this stage, though, is thinking about how we can use Shutter-Speed creatively. As mentioned above, the shorter the Shutter-Speed the more defined and sharp our images will be. This must be considered creatively. For example, if we are taking pictures of things that are happening quickly, for example a sports game, we're going to want a very fast Shutter-Speed to capture lovely, sharp images of on-going action.

How about long Shutter-Speeds? The most obvious application is a purposeful long-exposure. These are often photos of landscapes taken in low-light conditions where almost everything in the frame will be static, such as a city or sky-scape at night. Usually these photos are going to need a narrow Aperture to pick up a lot of detail, so a lengthy-exposure time will be necessary. This type of photo will almost certainly require a tripod.

 

Classic example of a long-exposure, used especially at night to allow more time to gather the necessary light to properly expose an image, like this panorama of the New York City skyline.

 

Another reason to use a long-exposure technique might be give something a flowing, cinematic feeling. Just as short Shutter-Speeds give us definition and sharpness, sometimes we may purposefully choose to allow motion-blur. A good example of this would be taking a photo of running water.

 

Here, a long Shutter-Speed (~1") was used to give the water a flowing effect. It was taken on a tripod so the rocks remain sharp. Take in Terme di Valdieri, Italy.

 

A slightly different twist on creatively applying Shutter-Speed is when using a "Tracking Shot" to convey speed. This involves a moving subject that is tracked as it passes the camera to keep it in the same point in the frame, leaving the subject sharp but the rest of the photo motion-blurred to create the effect of the subject passing by quickly. This type of photo is usually taken on a medium Shutter-Speed to allow enough time to accumulate the motion-blur, without making the subject impossible to track.

 

This technique is a "Tracking Shot". The motorbike, which is the subject, is kept sharp by moving the camera to keep it in the centre of frame while it passes by. This creates motion-blur on all the static objects in frame, effectively reversing the image you would get if you kept the camera still. Taken at the Goodwood Circuit, UK.

 

As the above examples show you, there are many ways to use Shutter-Speed intelligently. Every time you're taking a photo, you should be considering if the Shutter-Speed you're using is the right one for the effects you want to achieve. Over the next few weeks, why don't you go out and try one of the techniques I've listed above and create your own Shutter-Speed specific photo! Then share it with us on our Facebook page!

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Basics Beginners Blog Camera Feature Film Italy Photo Photography Shutter Speed Video http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/12/b2b/shutterspeed Sat, 17 Dec 2016 18:52:21 GMT
Photography Tips: "Get Closer" http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/12/pt/getcloser Zoom lenses are great. I mean, they are really wonderful, amazing things, which will help you achieve all sorts of things with your photography. Zoom lenses give you so much more versatility than prime lenses, and in situations where you're unsure what circumstances you'll be taking your photos they are vital. Zoom lenses also give you effects unachievable in a prime lens, such as compressing the fore- and backgrounds. In short, you should have an array of zoom lenses in your photography arsenal.

However, zoom lenses are also a problem, especially for beginner photographers. They can be a problem because they can make you lazy.

In pretty much every photography course you might be likely to take, "Get Closer" will usually be the subject of one of the first lessons. This isn't by happy chance. Using a zoom lens to magnify your subject is all fair and well, but you will lose definition, struggle to get your focus correct, and, if you're not on a tripod, keep the camera steady (which is always harder with a long, heavy lens hanging off the front of your camera).

Getting physically closer to your subjects will help you in a range of ways. Correct focus is likely to be easier to achieve, and your definition will improve, especially if you are using a prime lens (which simply provides better image quality). Being able to get your focus correct is going to mean you'll be able to open up your aperture very wide and achieve a beautiful shallow depth of field and more interesting bokeh (that is, the ascetic blur in your out of focus areas).  Getting closer to your subject is likely to improve your image immensely, and will help to achieve both better image quality and more intimacy with your subject.

So go out and try it!

Here's an example I took back in October of my good friend Bailey The Golden Retriever. It was taken on my Sony a7s using a Zeiss 35mm Prime lens, shot at 2.8f to give me enough depth of field to get both his eyes and snout in focus, but causing nice bokeh on the interesting background of the Eaton Park rotunda in Norwich.

 

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Basics Beginners Blog Camera Character Film Photo Photography Review Video bokeh depth dog eaton lens norwich park http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/12/pt/getcloser Tue, 13 Dec 2016 17:24:22 GMT
ONE TO WATCH: "Before The Flood", by Fisher Stevens http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/OTW/beforetheflood

 

Fisher Stevens' acclaimed documentary on climate change and global warming, fronted by Leonardo di Caprio, is now available free to watch via National Geographic on Youtube. Laudable for its global outlook and stunning cinematics (despite one too many shots of Leo looking moody), this is a must watch documentary that will ram home so many of the issues that have become painfully aware to humanity over the past decade. We sincerely hope that films like this will begin to convince people that public action is the way forward, and that human co-existence with the Earth's ecosystem is viable.

Have a watch, and let us know what you made of the feature. Though be ready for a lot of shots of Leo looking like this:

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Blog Climate Feature Film Movie Review Video http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/11/OTW/beforetheflood Wed, 02 Nov 2016 13:18:45 GMT
ONE TO WATCH: "I'm Not From Here" http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/OTW/imnotfromhere As this blog has said repeatedly over the past few weeks, photography and film is an art form. It is about expression. So any photo or film should be making you feel something, some kind of emotion. Today's pick definitely does that, in a very subtle and gentle way.

"I'm Not From Here", a documentary from Chilean director Maite Alberdi and her Lithuanian counterpart Giedrė Žickytė, is a masterpiece in slow-release emotion. Dealing with a Basque woman who is living in a retirement home in Chile, it slowly introduces you to her character with firey dialogue mixed with long, lingering shots that make you sense the slow passage of time into old age, and the days adjoining one another. You'll find her funny, and think that, even if she is a little harsh on her fellow inmates at times, she's the only one who still has a clear head. But slowly, scene by scene, you begin to find it less and less funny as her struggle with Alzheimer's Disease becomes clearer and clearer. Its a well of emotions when that point hits your, though I don't want to give away the whole story.

It is available freely on the excellent NY Times "Op-Docs" Channel, which includes a dearth of brilliant documentaries, all available for free. If you've got twenty-five minutes to day to sit and ponder this particular work, I can't recommend it highly enough.

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Basque Blog Camera Character Chile Documentary Feature Film Movie NY Photo Photography Review Times Video http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/OTW/imnotfromhere Thu, 13 Oct 2016 08:23:22 GMT
FEATURE OF THE WEEK: "Peaks" by James Hustler http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/FOTW/peaks Today, I wanted to share the work of my good friend, James Hustler, who specialises in action-adventure videos, particularly utilising GoPros and drones. His videos encapsulate the energy and adventure of his character, and are a joy to watch. I've picked out my personal favourite, "Peaks", filmed last year in Chamonix, but I also recommend you check out his other videos either on his website or on his YouTube channel. Enjoy!

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Alps Blog Camera Drone Feature Film GoPro Mountains Movie Photo Photography Video http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/FOTW/peaks Tue, 11 Oct 2016 09:29:43 GMT
ONE FROM THE COLLECTION: "Deep Eyed" http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/OFTC/deepeyed As we've mentioned before, photographs are there to make you feel things, and to engage with subjects. The first thing you have to do when taking a photo, is thinking about what exactly is your subject, and why or how it can be made emotive. My tip for today is simple. If you're taking a picture of a person, or an animal, and the subject is them (rather than something they own, something they're wearing, something particular about them, or something else in the photo), always aim to have your focus point on their eyes. Most emotion between living beings is transferred through the eyes, and by focussing on them, you will help your audience engage with your subject.

The photos below are of a very playful cat I found in Vittorio Veneto, Italy.

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Basics Beginners Blog Camera Cat Character Eyes Film Italy Photo Photography Video http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/OFTC/deepeyed Mon, 10 Oct 2016 09:06:43 GMT
ONE TO WATCH: "The White Helmets" http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/OTW/thewhitehelmets If you've got some free time this weekend, or even if you don't, you should sit down for fourty minutes and watch the new Netflix documentary "The White Helmets". Film, like stills, are created to elicit emotions from the viewer. They are stories which make you feel something; and boy does this one make you feel.

Following the story of a unit of the Syrian Civil Defence force, better known as "the White Helmets", from Aleppo, this documentary is gut wrenching without unnecessary gore, showing you the Syrian Civil War as it is. It will give you a harsh perspective on how the world can sit an allow murder and destruction on a gargantuan scale, and the bravery of those who refuse to let the failings of the outside world dampen their belief in humanity, as they proudly state: "To save one life is to save all humanity."

The film is available soley on Netflix, but is entirely worth your time and money to get a dose of pure reality. The pure souls of the people interviewed will touch yours in kind.

 

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Blog Camera Documentary Feature Film Movie Netflix Photo Photography Review Video http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/OTW/thewhitehelmets Fri, 07 Oct 2016 14:44:08 GMT
ONE FROM THE COLLECTION: "Speed Silhouette" http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/OFTC/speedsilhouette Silhouettes make for cool photos. There is no getting around that. As clichéd as they may be, there is something that makes you stop and look at silhouettes. For me, I enjoy the anonymity a photo acquires when all of a subject's colour and detail is drained away, and all you're left with is shape and form. Silhouettes help you appreciate different elements of a subject that might have passed you by before. Add into that that most are taken behind a stunning backdrop and a beautiful sunset, and you're onto a winner in the hearts of your viewers.

Silhouettes are not complex pieces of art, and they are not technically difficult to achieve. You do have to be in the right place at the right time, so pick a somewhere (unless you have a studio suitable for low-key lighting) where your subject can be fully silhouetted against the sky, as any background elements will also be silhouetted and anything without detail and colour will mesh into a single element. Generally speaking, you'll need to take the photo from high, as in on a hillside or off a building, or from very low, with the photographer on the ground looking up at the subject. You'll also generally want to be doing silhouettes with lower light backgrounds, so at sunrise of sunset, where the chance of putting the light source (the sun), directly behind your subject which is where it needs to be to achieve the effect.

Then set your camera's manual exposure settings down. Most DSLRs will have a manual exposure control somewhere on the top right quadrant of the camera body, and most will range from -3 to 3. Obviously, you'll want to be well into the minuses. You may have to take a couple of preparatory shots to judge the stops of light you want to take away. I would also recommend a very fast shutter-speed. This is because sharp lines will be everything in a silhouette, and a fast shutter-speed (as you can learn by reading my "Understanding Exposure" post) will help define the lines, and you don't need the extra light from a slower shutter-speed. Aperture is less important for a silhouette, just make sure that your subject is in focus.

Then, snap away, and make it as cool as you can. This one below I took in Sierra Leone. I think jumping goes hand in hand with silhouettes. Let me know what you think!

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Basics Beginners Blog Camera Cool Effect Film Photo Photography Silhouette Video http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/OFTC/speedsilhouette Thu, 06 Oct 2016 09:22:18 GMT
Shooting Bees In 360 Video For Virtual Reality (Golden Company, Hackney) http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/360bees Safe to say, when you get a text informing you that you'll be shooting "bees in 360" the afternoon before the gig, you can't help but be intrigued. Arriving on site the next morning producer Alex Watson informed me we were shooting footage inside a beehive. Soon after, the genius that is Philip Bloom arrived with the 360 gear, and things started to become clearer.

Shooting in a beehive comes with its range of challenges. The most obvious is that you have to wear protective suits, that restrict your vision somewhat, and gloves that can make operating your gear more difficult and reduce your dexterity. This is especially so with particular pieces of kit, including one of the cameras we decided to use for the shoot, the Samsung Gear 360 SM-C200, which is controlled using an app available on Samsung mobiles.

 

Expert beekepper, Gustavo (in the yellow), smokes out the hive so that we have space to rearrange the space and add in the lighting and camera.Expert beekepper, Gustavo (in the yellow), smokes out the hive so that we have space to rearrange the space and add in the lighting and camera.

 

The biggest challenge, however, is light. Light should always be your first concern whether shooting movie or stills. In a beehive this is especially problematic since it is an enclosed and small space. Since inside the hive will be fairly dark any which way you choose to light it, any bright daylight coming into the hive will be blown-out and very unattractive. Any large lighting panels were also out of the question, due to the restricted amount of space. Even reduced to the minimum of two racks of honeycomb which were necessary for the camera to be placed in the middle of, we had a workable space around six centimetres deep on either side to light the hive with. In each of these spaces we placed a battery powered LED panel. Initially these were placed facing the walls of hive to try and diffuse the light, but this proved unsatisfactory, and instead it was decided to shine the LEDs through the honeycomb, creating a deep amber glow that proved attractive. Later, to try and give the shot more depth down into the hive, a mesh was removed from the bottom, and another more powerful LED panel was shone at an angle from below, which enabled the camera to capture bees on the honeycombs in the layers below the camera.

 

 

We then placed the camera inside, alternating between the Samsung Gear 360 SM-C200 and the Kodak PIXPRO SP360, and let the bees do their thing, doing several shots using slightly different lighting settings. This was the first time Philip was using his 360 gear as his first camera, and the idea is to use the footage alongside Virtual Reality headsets. This will allow people to get their heads into a beehive, something that it is not recommended to do in actual reality, and have a proper look around a bee's home. It is hoped this will help laypeople to better understand bees, and to get more people engaged in the conservation of bee species which are vital to the UK's ecosystem.

 

 

The footage looked great over the phone displays, and once it has gone through the laborious process of stitching, there is great hope that this could be a start-off point for 360 video to begin becoming the next big thing. Virtual Reality has come huge strides over the last few years, and by 2020, who knows what might be possible? All in all, an excellent experience. You can see a preview 360 still from inside the hive on Philip's Facebook page.

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) 360 Bees Blog Camera Conservation Film Hive Honey Kodak Movie New Photo Photography Samsung Technology UK Video http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/360bees Wed, 05 Oct 2016 10:25:35 GMT
FEATURE OF THE WEEK: "Aan Het Front Van Sirte" by Jeroen Oerlemans (RIP) http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/FOTW/aanhetfrontvansirte This week's feature is the bearer of sad news. On 2 October, Dutch photojournalist Jeroen Oerlemans was covering the fighting in the Libyan city of Sirte between UN-backed government forces and Daesh (IS) militants when he was shot three times in the chest by a Daesh sniper. Despite being rushed to hospital, the doctors were unable to revive Jeroen.

Jeroen was an experienced conflict and disaster-zone photojournalist, having worked previously, among others, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, and having been held captive by Daesh in Syria for a week back in 2012, before being freed by elements of the Free Syrian Army.

 

 

His images were one of the few reminders of the conflict still engulfing Libya, and his death comes as a painful reminder of the gargantuan risks some photographers and film-makers take to produce the news. I have the utmost respect for people like Jeroen that take these risks to take photos and make film, and show the world the truth, and his death deeply saddens me.

My thoughts are with his family, his girlfriend, and his three children that survive him. Below are a few select shots taken by Jeroen over the past few months in Libya. You can view more of his work, entitled "Aan het front van Sirte" ("On the front at Sirte") that was published by the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant.

Rest In Peace, Jeroen Oerlemans.

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Blog Camera Conflict Dutch Feature Film ISIS Libya Obituary Photo Photography Photojournalist RIP http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/FOTW/aanhetfrontvansirte Mon, 03 Oct 2016 17:26:52 GMT
ONE FROM THE COLLECTION: "Monochrome In Sierra Leone" http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/OFTC/monochromeinsierraleone When people talk about monochrome, better know as Black and White, photography, you get a lot of clichés. Legendary Canadian photographer Ted Grant famously said "When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and White, you photograph their souls!” There is something in his quote, but equally, a good photo should have a reason for being in monochrome as much as it should have a good reason for including colour. Everything in a photograph needs to have purpose for being there. I will talk more about Black and White in a later blog post.

I bring it up now because last week we talked about "Understanding Exposure" in my BACK TO BASICS series. Behind the intense debates as to what monochrome does to a subject, what it can do is help you practice getting the correct exposure in your photos. Being able to locate black point and blown-out whites more easily within a monochrome photograph helps you place the your highlights and shadows correctly.

Whether you're shooting with a filter on your iPhone, using monochromatic film (if you're old school), or editing using software in post-production, practice a few shots in black and white and consider whether the tones and light are where they should be.

This photo was taken by me on a farm in the village of Gbeworbu, Sierra Leone. It was shot in colour and edited to black and white in post. The tones on her face are gentle, with no blacks or blown-out whites. The background is suitably darker to keep the focus on the subjects lighter face.

 

 

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Basics Beginners Black Blog Camera Editing Film Learning Monochrome Photo Photography Video White http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/10/OFTC/monochromeinsierraleone Mon, 03 Oct 2016 11:48:31 GMT
NEW THIS WEEK: DJI Announces The "Mavic Pro" Drone http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/NTW/djimavicpro There were literally loads of stories I considered running for New This Week. Very excitingly, Sandisk announced the first ever 1TB SD card, which, when released, is going to mean that stills photographers are going to be able to fit a lot of RAW files onto a single card, and cinematographers will stand more of a chance using internal 4K recording systems. In other news, Olympus released a 4K capable DSLR, the E-M1 MkII, with some of the best 5-axis stabilisation technology around, with Olympus rep Janne Amunet claiming that their new MFT can stabilise handheld stills up to shutter-speeds of two seconds when coupled with Olympus' range of stabilised lenses. That is just incredible, considering most DSLRs would really struggle with handheld shots beyond shutter-speeds of around 30/100. If that sort of technology can be replicated across the board, it could change a lot of things for still photographers.

Sadly, however, for these two new cool pieces of news, something far more interesting and amusing happened in the world of drones. Last week, GoPro announced their first drone design, the pack-away "Karma", mounting their latest flagship, the GoPro HERO 5. I wrote at the end of my article about the "Karma" that while it had some cool features, it was unlikely to leave its main competitor, DJI, too concerned. Low and behold, a week later DJI have released their latest drone design, the "Mavic Pro".

 

 

 

It is safe to say that the "Mavic Pro" has blown the "Karma" out of the skies. Now, lets not get carried away here, the "Mavic Pro" doesn't really feature anything the "Karma" hasn't got, but what it does feature is just... better. This is hardly surprising; GoPro are new to the drone market, whilst DJI have accumulated years of experience of building drones which they have channelled into their new creation.

 

 

The first and most obvious element to consider, since these are both pack-away drones, designed to be especially easy to carry around, is the packed down size. The "Mavic Pro" is not only smaller, but folds down to the size of a water bottle, with the legs flush to the body in a very sleek design. The "Karma" struggles to look as elegant, with the rotating blades still evident even when packed away. If people are looking at packaway drones, it is because they want them to pack down, and the clear differences in design will be sure to make many lean towards the "Mavic Pro".

 

 

Camera-wise, the "Mavic Pro's" on-board camera is about as photographically capable as the GoPro 5, shooting 4K video at 30fps, and 1080p at 96fps. It also features a minimum focus distance of 19in, which is a vast improvement on the DJI cameras of old. The three-axis gimbal also features a new 90 degree mode, which allows the "Mavic Pro" to shoot vertical bird's-eye shots. The potential saviour for the "Karma" is that the GoPro 5 camera does detach and the gimbal can then be handheld, which does offer far more versatility than the "Mavic Pro", or indeed any DJI drone.

 

 

Other new features include a top speed of 40mph with flight times of up to 27 minutes on a single battery. There is also a "Tripod" mode, which minimises the drone's speed and sensitivity for gentle adjustments. The "Mavic Pro" also comes with a pack-away controller, but can be flown via mobile apps.

At a retail price of $999, it comes in cheaper than the "Karma" (+GoPro 5) which retails at $1,099.

People have been quick to wave the GoPro design away as obsolete, since, as a drone design, DJI have built a far more practical solution. However, I think the point about versatility is important. If you're just looking for a drone, clearly the "Mavic Pro" is better, with a ream of design features that do make the "Karma" look obsolete. But, if you're looking for a extreme-condition camera and also want to fly drones, the GoPro design enables you to have a versatile and attractive camera in the GoPro HERO 5, whilst also saving yourself $400 by not buying a drone with a camera already mounted in it. It is at least worth considering.

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Article Blog Camera Comparison DJI Drone Film Flying GoPro Karma Mavic Movie News Olympus Photography Pro Review SD Sandisk Video YouTube http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/NTW/djimavicpro Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:53:34 GMT
ONE FROM THE COLLECTION: "Original Speed" http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/OFTC/originalspeed Speed can be a difficult thing to convey on film, let alone capture with any quality in a still. But there are ways to do it. My favourite is the "tracking shot". This is useful to convey the speed of the moving object but juxtaposing it against the static-ness of the surroundings.

By using a medium shutter-speed (~80-100/1), which you can learn more about in my Back To Basics class, and keeping the moving subject in the centre of the frame whilst the shutter is open (i.e. tracking the subject throughout the exposure), the subject remains in focus and sharp, whilst all the static background becomes blurred as the camera moves over it during the exposure.

In the below shot, taken during a race at the Goodwood Revival 2016, you can see that the 1935 BMW R12 Motorbike is kept perfectly sharp, but feels like it is travelling very fast (which it was), because the crowd, the stewards, and the hoarding is all being "whooshed" past. A very simple, but very effective technique for conveying the speed of a moving subject in a still.

 

 

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) BMW Basics Beginners Blog Goodwood Motorbike Original Photo Photography Race Revival Shutter Speed http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/OFTC/originalspeed Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:20:25 GMT
BACK TO BASICS: Understanding Exposure http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/b2b/exposure In this newly launched segment, Back To Basics, I am going to be taking you through some of the simple things you can learn about and do that will enable you to take the pictures you want. If you own a DSLR, a Compact camera, or even an iPhone, you've bought an expensive piece of equipment that can provide you with high quality images.

Cameras do have a range of AUTO features that will allow you to "point-and-shoot" but, as expensive and clever as they may be, cameras are not always brilliant at judging your intentions. If you want to get the shot you want, we'll need to start to take control of the camera and tell it what we want. 

First of all, lets consider that, while a photograph might be considered artwork, the essence and science of a photograph is the recording of light onto a sensitive surface over a period of time. That may sound strange at first. After all, photographs don't move, so how can they be recorded over time?

To explain this, we need to understand what exposure is, aside from a criminal offence. Exposure, in photographic terms, is the way in which light is measured. A unit of exposure is called a stop of light. The exposure of a photograph will be determined by the amount of light that is allowed to fall onto our sensitive surface, which is the camera's sensor. The best way to show how this is calculated is as a triangle.

 

 

As you can see, there are three elements that control the exposure of a photo, and each of these elements changes other aspects of the photograph being taken. I will give a quick run down here, but we'll cover all of these elements in more detail in later posts.

First, there is Shutter Speed. Shutter speed is the amount of time the camera's sensor is being exposed to light. It is measured from very fast (e.g. 1000/1, or one one thousanth of a second) to very slow (e.g. 5", five seconds). The longer we leave the shutter open, the more light is available to the sensor. Shutter speed also affects the amount of motion blur the photograph will have. A very fast shutter speed will give us a much sharper image, but a slower shutter speed will likely give us blur. It is unusual to use a slower shutter speed without having a tripod.

Second, there is Aperture. Aperture (or Iris on cinecameras) controls the size of the opening through which light is being exposed to the camera's sensor. It is measured in what are called F-Stops from very wide (e.g. f1.4) to very narrow (e.g. f22). The wider the aperture, the more light is exposed to the sensor. Aperture also affects the depth of field of a photograph. A wider aperture will give a shallower depth of field (i.e. more blurred beyond the focus point), while a narrow aperture will give a deeper depth of field (i.e. more detail beyond the focus point).

Third, we have sensitivity, or ISO for short. ISO controls the sensitivity of the sensor. It is measured in units starting from 100, and the number doubles every time we increase the sensitivity (i.e. 200, 400, 800, 1600). The more sensitive we make the sensor, the more light it records. Every time we double the sensitivity, we gain a stop of light. However, the more we turn up the ISO, the more we get what is called digital noise, or grain, on our images. This is an unattractive spotty grain all over our finished image, and serves no useful purpose. You essentially want to keep your ISO as low as possible depending on how many stops of light you need to gain.

The best way to think of these three elements is as an equation. The first two, shutter speed and aperture, are creative tools that will affect the image we take. ISO is a way of balancing the equation to gain enough light to correctly expose our images. For example, say we wanted to take a wide landscape shot we would likely want to use a narrow aperture, since that gives us plenty of detail in our image. However, since that will reduce the amount of light the sensor is being exposed to, we will compensate for the loss of light by using a slower shutter speed. Lets say there is also a bus moving within your landscape, we will then have to use a faster shutter speed otherwise we will get motion blur from the bus. We will then have to up the ISO to compensate for the greater loss of light.

 

 

 

The exact level of exposure you want will depend on your creative idea for the image you are taking, though generally speaking most images will speak for themselves on this matter. As you can see in the image above, the exposure in the centre is clearly the most pleasant and closest to reality. That to the right is too light, so it is over-exposed, and the left is too dark, so it is underexposed.

Most cameras have an exposure meter built in, that looks similar those that you see at the top of each of the above images. Use this as a tool to help you judge where you need to make adjustments. We will cover in more detail next week, how and why to use shutter speed and aperture as creative effects.

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Aperture Basics Beginners Exposure ISO Photo Photography Science Shutter Tutorial http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/b2b/exposure Wed, 28 Sep 2016 07:46:01 GMT
FEATURE OF THE WEEK: "On The Shore" by Fernando del Berro http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/FOTW/ontheshore This week's feature is by the superb Spanish photographer and film-maker, Fernando del Berro, from his collection entitled "On The Shore" (©Fernando del Berro), which deals with the heartbreaking subject of the European migrant crisis.

It is important as a photographer to be able to select your subjects, and the more emotive a subject, the more likely you are to come away with potent images; at the end of the day, a photograph needs to make the viewer feel something. Del Berro's collection clearly does that, but there is one image that stands out amongst all the anguish.

The seventh image of the collection, an abandonded Iraqi identity photo on the beach, subverts the standard portrait. The washed-out, washed-up, unsmiling image immediately makes the subject feel small, abandoned, dirty, and supremely sad (because no one smiles in identity photos), in a way that a regular portrait couldn't achieve.

Del Berro shows that just because you choose an emotive subject, and an emotionally difficult subject at that, doesn't mean that can or should lose the creative ability to present subjects in new and effective ways. Check out his website and other collections, you won't be disappointed.

 

(©Fernando del Berro)

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Blog Character Feature Iraqi Photo Photographer Photography Portrait Refugee Spanish http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/FOTW/ontheshore Tue, 27 Sep 2016 09:32:51 GMT
ONE FROM THE COLLECTION: "Painted Green" http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/OFTC/paintedgreen Street photography can feel daunting, especially when there is so much going on. Digital photography has lessened this problem, as you're less constrained as to how many shots you take, but it can still seem really easy to miss things.

It feels especially so when you're in a festival/carnival-like atmosphere, with thousands of people all around. Just being in the right place at the right time can appear an impossible task.

But stick with it, and streets can offer some of the most alive, interesting, and unusual settings for a photographer to ply his trade.

This photo was taken by me on the streets of Kenema, Sierra Leone, during a political rally for the "Green" Sierra Leone People's Party.

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) Advice Africa Blog Carnival Colour Feature Festival Green Paint Photo Photography Post Street http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/OFTC/paintedgreen Mon, 26 Sep 2016 08:56:10 GMT
NEW THIS WEEK: GoPro Announce the HERO 5 + "Karma" Drone http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/NTW/gopro5

 

GoPro stole the show at Photokina this week by annoucing their shiny new flagship camera, the GoPro HERO 5, alongside their own drone design, the "Karma". In what is now a saturated market of small extreme-condition cameras and drones, and with competitors like DJI gaining ground, how do GoPro's new products shape up?

 

GoPro HERO 5

I was gleeful when I got my GoPro HERO 3+ Black Edition a few years back, but a few months in and it was clear that what it offered wasn't good enough for professional standard footage. The camera's waterproof housing, while undeniably a necessity for most conditions in which you would use a GoPro, destroyed the sound capture capabilities and hampered the image quality, which struggled to perform to a professional standard anyway.

The GoPro 5 HERO Black Edition changes all of that.


GoPro 5 front

 

The biggest new feature swiftly follows in the footsteps of the new i-Phone 7: out-of-the-box waterproofing, effective underwater up to ten metres. Unlike previous GoPro models, the GoPro HERO 5 is fully waterproof without the extra protection of the annoying plastic case that was a constant hindrance to its performance. The GoPro 5 will naturally need a cage to mount it onto the various GoPro accessories, but none of these will constrict it in the ways the original case did.

Additionally, both the sound and the image have had massive upgrades. The sound recording now uses three on-board microphones as opposed to the previous one, and the camera is automatically tuned to select the best recording channel for wind reduction. As for the image, GoPro is now on par with its competitors, with the GoPro HERO 5 able to shoot 4K image in 30fps, 1140p at 80fps, and 1080p at 120fps. RAW still photo capability is also a boon for anyone wanting to get better results from the GoPro.


GoPro 5 rear

 

The icing on the cake is the new voice-activiation technology. With this upgrade, a small wireless microphone attaches to the user and allows them to command the GoPro hands-free, with commands like "GoPro, record!". And even if you do still like to use buttons, the new one-button menu setup will reduce confusion from previous models which used two.

If you're looking for something smaller and cheaper, the GoPro HERO Session 5 is the little cousin of the regular HERO 5, and features most of the HERO's updates, with the exception of the image capture capabilities, which are slightly lower.

GoPro have described the new HERO 5 as the "GoPro we always wanted to make". What they may have made is the GoPro I always wanted to buy.

 

 

GoPro "Karma" Drone

As if that wasn't enough, GoPro also annouced their own drone design, the "Karma". This was a long time coming, since GoPros have become one of the standard drone-mounted cameras.

 

GoPro Karma Drone

 

There are definitely some nice features. Firstly, the drone is small and is very compact, which will attract any users wanting to operate drones in locations where normal drone kits would be a pain to set up. It also features a cool camera grip that detaches and effectively operates as a hand-held gimbal, which will minimize the amount of kit that users will potentially have to invest in and carry.

 

GoPro Karma Grip

 

At a retail price of $1,099 including a GoPro Hero 5 (which by itself starts at $399; the Session starts at $299), it is a little bit cheaper than the DJI Phantom 3 Professional (retail price $1,259), but fails to be really revolutionary, despite some nice features. It is likely to challenge the Phantom well, but is unlikely to leave DJI panicking about being left behind in the market.

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) 5 Blog Camera Drone Film GoPro HERO Photo Review Video http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/NTW/gopro5 Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:47:45 GMT
FEATURE OF THE WEEK: "Changing Lights" http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/FOTW/changinglights For a photographer, there is nothing more important than light. Light informs everything a photographer does. A photo, if you will, is a recording of light over a period of time (that period being the shutter-speed the picture was taken at). Every differing detail about that light will change the meaning and emotive content of a photo. Change the lighting and you have a different photo, regardless of whatever is in frame being the same. Definitely a subject likely to be a full blog post later.

But until then, here's the Feature of the Week, courtesy of my good friend Nino Leitner, showing just how much changing the lighting changes the photo.

Changing Light

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robert@robertboughen.com (Robert Boughen) bedroom blog feature gif light lighting mood photo picture share http://robertboughen.zenfolio.com/blog/2016/9/FOTW/changinglights Tue, 20 Sep 2016 12:02:09 GMT