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NMC Photo Safari 2011

Page history last edited by Nadalia Liu 11 years, 4 months ago

The NMC Photo Safari has been a featured event of the NMC Summer Conference since 2002. But for the first time in 2011, the NMC Community conducted three days of intense photographic training at Austin, Texas, independent from the Summer Conference, featuring hands-on instruction and critique from Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Bill Frakes, NMC CEO Larry Johnson and guest photographer Eli Reed


This year the NMC Photo Safari focuses on light and portrait. Click here to view the schedule. All the photos taken at the workshops are available at fon-athena2>Department>DMC>NMC>NMCPhotoSafari2011.


Here are some key points we can take away from the trainings:


  • What's important in digital photography -
    Composition, your personal vision, and information you want to convey through the pictures are more important than techniques. Keep technique simple. There are three aspects of techniques: color, depth of field and shutter speed. Setting to Auto mode, raw file or raw+jpg is the best option to achieve a decent color. Raw files contain complete and lossless photo information although the file size is fairly large. Raw file is more like negative films. It allows you to do a lot of post-production in term of controlling over the images.  As the software can do a great job to retouch your photos nowadays, don't worry about white balance too much unless you want to present color precisely. For professional photographers, the good takes are often the ones that are not techniquelly perfect. Eli Reed gave us a presentation to show some of his early award winning works. A lot of his photos were taken with film camera, some of them are out of focus or not techniquelly perfect, but every photo tells a story. Very impressive.
    For good composition, try to make your image well-balanced, and elements on the images should all direct to the same theme. For example, in this image ( click here ), Bill suggested that I should either wait till the boat disappear, or move to the bright side of the river to balance the picture. In this photo ( click here ), since I want to emphasize model's body shape, I should not cut off her right hand.
  • Use of ambient light -
    To make good use of the ambient light, be familiar with your camera, know how photos look like, find sweet spot, not always true that low ISO yields more noise on the picture - in fact some cameras can go for mid ISO and have a greater quality compared with low ISO settings. Be sensitive with the light source where it comes from. For shooting outdoors, try to avoid direct sunlight, because it makes skin harsh, lighting uneven and eye-squints, wait till sunset or dawn time, or overcast days. The sun gets very soft and diffused through a heavy layer of clouds, which helps to provide even light that is more pleasing to the viewer and more flattering to the subject. If shooting under strong sunlight is inevitable, try to shoot under shade or position your subject against sunlight and use reflectors to push that sunlight back towards your subject. For example, place a reflector below toward the sunlight would have bounced light back into your subjects face to reduce the shadows, but you are still going to fight with unflattering light on the skin. Click here for a sample photo I took at this workshop when we used a reflector to shoot portrait outdoors under strong sunlight.
  • Use of big light -
    To use big flash, or different combination of the light, you need to know what shapes you want to form and what parts of the body you want to emphasize. Using back and side lights in addition to a big main flash light add dimension, texture and shapes of your subject. Refer to the clips I saved under fon-athena2>Department>DMC>NMC>NMCPhotoSafari2011>clips to get an idea of how these lights are set up.
  • Post-production with Aperture -
    Many professional photographers prefer to use Aperture over other image editing software. For photographers, Aperture does a better job in term of organizing image profiles and controlling over the images. Aperture allows you to add metadata (tag, name, etc.) to all the images easily the fist time you import your photos. It can adjust exposure, white balance, skin smoothing, etc. Aperture can import photos from iPhoto. Raw files are recommended when you retouch your photos in Aperture or send to publisher. Raw file records all the information from your camera sensor. Once you set up your file to JPG, everytime you take a photo, the camera compresses image information and bring down the pixels from millions to thousands, and average colors as well. 
  • Use DSLRs for digital storytelling -
    More and more photojournalists start to shoot videos with DSLRs as a new way of storytelling. The videos Bill showed us during the workshops are very impressive. The images and videos are all made with his Nikon DSLRs.  http://strawhatvisuals.com/main.php#/Short%20Films/Ted%20Kooser/1  and http://strawhatvisuals.com/main.php#/Short%20Films/Missy/1 (very inspiring)
    There is another professional photographer Ami Vitale, a member of NPS (http://nps.nikonimaging.com/members/ami_vitale/) , who made her film with Nikon D300 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIXbmcPjUJw&feature=fvst
    I am very impressed to see how much you can do with DSLRs. Bill Frakes did not go much deeper about video recording, but I found some good video tutorials at lynda.com website about recording videos with DSLRs under photography section.




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