Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reflecting on the situation

There are some times when you need a little help with the light. The colour might be lovely, as this sunset was here, but the position is just a little awkward.

As you can see from this shot it's right behind the boat out to sea. If I had just shot this image as was the people would have pretty much been a silhouette, as you can see from the dark shadows on the man's right hand leg.

So I needed to place a bit of light on them. But hang on, you're thinking. I don't really want to use flash in my travel photography. Especially those big ones you have to plug into the wall! I agree with you 100% and that's why I want to tell you about a little accessory that is the next best thing.

It's called a reflector. You can buy big round collapsible ones that come in different flavours - silver, gold, white, black and a translucent one. For travel photographers the silver and white tend to get used the most. They're like giant mirrors only not as harsh. They bounce light wherever you point the reflector.

In this photograph, which was taken on assignment for Coral Princess Cruises, I had a trusty assistant (another passenger on the boat!) stand just to the left of the couple. My trusty assistant is holding up a silver reflector in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other! I helped her to position it to shine the rays of sun set on to the faces of my models and suddenly my silhouette was gone and they had a lovely sunset glow on their faces.

It really is that easy. And not only that but it provides a great little conversation piece. When you pull one of these babies out to take someone's portrait they suddenly feel very important and really get to take part in the picture. Rope some relatives in to help light them up and pretty soon the whole family gets in on the act.

So when you have a backlit situation and you really don't want to (or can't) reach for the flash then the little ol' reflector is a great alternative.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Being above it all

Often a good way to get an unusual angle on something can mean you pull your hair out looking for somewhere different to shoot from.

Sitting on the same river bank next to the masses of other photographers means that you're most likely to come back with something similar.

Don't forget to look up. Sometimes there can be places you can climb up to get a bird's eye view of the scene.

Doing this often help reduce a scene to graphic elements and get rid of a lot of irrelevant details as well.

In this particular photo, taken in Corbett National Park, India. I could see a mahout and his elephant in the river getting ready for a wash. After taking a few photos at eye level I looked up to notice a large water tower protruding out over the river.

This being India and Public Liability being a figment of some Western imagination, the entry gate and walkway to the tower were wide open and I just walked on through. I was really pleased to find that the tower gave me a great view down on the scene below and cut out a lot of clutter.

A nice, simple composition of mahout and elephant complete with the brown water and the mud stirred up by the elephant. Compared to my ground level shots I much prefer this one.