In recent years I’ve been privileged to be on the jury for a whole range of photography competitions. These include single image competitions such as WPS International Excellence Awards, Masters of Wedding Photography and the Irish wedding photography awards (In association with Learning to Fly). And with a different focus, I’ve judged a couple of competitions which require a series of images to be submitted forming a documentary narrative. Thes were MyWed Nikon Wedding Photographer of the Year and This is Reportage Awards. I’ll create a separate blog post with my thoughts about judging these competitions and what I learned along the way. This post is really about competitions in general and why photographers should be entering them. And no, they aren’t fixed. They are just subjective (IMHO, please don’t shoot me!).
I’m at a Starbucks in Hanoi, typically it’s a peaceful location where I can write and think, but today it’s overrun with young people smoking cigarettes, occasionally smiling and laughing, but mostly consumed with their phones browsing Instagram and taking selfies to reload their feed with an annoyed older man in their background typing away.
This social media narcissism isn’t a scene unique to Vietnam by any means, it’s everywhere in the world. At 40 years-old I’m ashamed to admit it, but I can be slightly guilty of spending too much time on my phone. However, in the past few years I’m more apt to reading a book rather than aimlessly browsing my phone and it feels damn good.
It’s expensive. And who really has the money to buy all the name brand photo gear? I certainly don’t. With that said, expensive equipment does NOT make the photograph. The photographer does. Which is why I am exploring various non photography specific gear and using it for my photography.
Let’s take seamless background paper for example. A roll of Savage 53″ x 36′ will cost you $30 at B&H. That’s not exactly cheap, especially if you’re just starting out, have a family; are a student or simply just don’t have enough funds to throw at expensive gear. Now, let’s compare that $30 roll to Pacon’s Fadeless construction paper that costs you $10 for a 48″ x 12′ roll.
Before photography went digital, infrared imaging was possible using one of several infrared films available on the market at that time. Most of them were B&W (Like Kodak HIE or Rollei IR), but there was also some false color infrared film. One of the most renowned among them was Kodak’s EIR.
I stumbled upon a wonderful quote about creativity when I was reading a book about waiting. “The enemy of art is the absence of limitation.” – Orson Welles. I instantly related to this quote and how it affected my photography through analysis paralysis.
We live in a time of wonderful abundance. An era where if you have the means you can own almost anything. We live in a time where people keep creating things to make our lives easier, faster and more instant. With this abundance of choice our first obstacle isn’t starting something but rather how should we proceed.
Film is very rarely used in music photography anymore. Primarily the reason for this is because of social media and instant news. There’s no time to go home and start pouring chemicals onto film to develop it, or wait until the morning until a lab opens to do it for you.
For festivals or stadium gigs we would bring our laptop with us and start sending out photos minutes after the artist stepped on stage. This is what people expect with modern technology.
A few months ago I was inspired to try and see what shapes I could create while attaching a Lumecube to my drone. I’d seen people like Phill Fisher do shapes in the sky manually and was extremely impressed but didn’t have the time to learn how to fly shapes manually. So instead I scoured the net on drone apps that could make things like this possible, and this was my discovery.
In the final part of this series, I am giving you my configuration for the Behringer X-Touch Mini that I’ve shown you in the previous part. Of course, everyone has different workflows and the biggest advantage of generic MIDI controllers is that you can personalize all functions. So have a look at my configuration, play around with it and then change it to your needs.
One of the biggest challenges, when trying to use a MIDI controller with Lightroom is to find a controller that works well for Lightroom. As already said in the first part of this series, MIDI controllers are optimized for sound production, not for photo editing.
So when you start you will face a chicken-egg problem: You do not know yet how well it works and which parameters can work best for editing, while you do not have a controller yet to try it out.
Editing images with Software like Lightroom typically involves changing parameters like exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, and so on for more than 90% of your work. These parameters are controlled using sliders that you have to drag with your Mouse – sliders that emulate physical controls.
Why not use such physical controls like sliders or control dials directly? Instead of using the mouse to point to virtual controls and focus on these virtual controls, why not just use a physical control and focus on the effect on the picture while changing the values instead?