portrait of josipa

Josipa needed a professional head-shot for her work and she wanted this against a black background. Of course I used the opportunity to take a portrait for myself as well.

Light was direct and harsh but with help of my reflector I was able to weaken the contrast and to lighten up the background a bit.

For the head-shot we did around 20-30 shots and for this portrait we took three images only. All-in-all we were done in less then ten minutes.

about reflectors

Without light, there would not be any photography. Without light, we would be in the dark. Without light, anyone taking photos would use long exposure to capture at least some darkness on his/her sensor (or negative). However, there is light and when it is not natural, we can create. 

It is a photographers task to use, create or modify light in order to make a photo. If a photographer does not know how to modify/create light, (s)he should not call him/herself a photographer: photography actually means ‘drawing with light’.

To me, the kind of camera is the least important in photography. Lenses are of more importance, as they are capturing light. Artificial light (be it hot or cold, short or long) is important too as one need to create light in certain circumstances. Light modifiers are important as well as they help me with ‘drawing the light’.

One of the most underrated piece of modifiers is the reflector. There were the film industry is using them non-stop, as well as studio- and fashion photographers, still many photographers don’t use them as it is a hassle. They rather use on-camera flash on automatic mode. Not bad, yet not perfect, and certainly not inspiring.

I love reflectors, have them in all kind of formats: from the simple collapsible round ones to metal-framed ones up to 1x2 meters. Probably there are a bunch of brands out there selling reflectors, but I use two: Lastolite (because of their wide range and availability in Croatia) and Sunbounce (as they are the best).

If you ask me, what reflector to buy, I’d advice you the ’sunmover’ from Sunbounce. Expensive, but probably the best small reflector one can get as it is so versatile: as the name says, it allows you to redirect light, to soften or to strengthen it and it fits in every decent photo bag. Once you get used to it, you can’t imagine you were making photos without it.

Note: I wish I could say Sunbounce supported me in writing this, but they didn’t. I have to buy me equipment just like you.

portrait of josipa

When Josipa noticed I’m doing ’doubles’, she wanted to redo her portrait. The first one we took was good, however, meanwhile hairstyle changed which is a perfect reason for me to redo a shoot.

As I was playing with a black background, I thought it was the right time to take another portrait of Josipa today as the contrast between two images would be even stronger. 

Light came through a huge window but was rather direct and therefore exposure time was short for me: two seconds. I used my reflector to even the light.

portrait of nika

Most subjects keep their head straight when I ask them for a long exposure portrait. Nika kept hers tilted, which I rather liked since it will ‘break’ the series a bit. I insisted on shooting her today, as I thought her necklace would give something special to the image.

Window light plus reflector, several seconds plus some movement, resulting in a soft yet strong portrait.

portrait of martina

The first time it took me a while to convince Martina to take a portrait. This week it was easier. She had a new hairstyle and wanted another portrait. As I really start to like my series ’double seconds’ I did not hesitate.

We took four images, two with and two with sunglasses. This one was the third image in our short photo session. Light was created by a window and a reflector. 

rome I

Last month we went to Rome for a long weekend. Though cold it was sunny and the weather was really enjoyable. We walked quite some much, tasted the local cuisine and of course did some shopping as well.

I guess that every photographer has the dilemma what gear to take on a private trip. When travelling for a commissioned shoot it is easy: you take what you need and add some more. Most probably you have an assistant (or two) to carry it all. But when travelling private it is different: I want to travel light. 

In the end I took two camera’s with me: my digital xpan (the DP0q), the x100 and a bunch of batteries packed in a small bag. Perfect. Except for the fact that I’ve could have taken only one camera with me as I used the x100 less than 10 times. Silly me.

The DP0q is either a camera you love, or hate. I guess there is no in between. I love it. The lens is absolute great and despite all its minor points (low iso, battery eating, slow, etc.), I really enjoy shooting with it. Deep in my heart I’d like to have a xpan, but playing with film is a nightmare in Croatia so I stick to digital. To me, the DP0q is the digital version (though not a rangefinder of course).

But enough about gear. I really enjoy using the metro in foreign cities. It’s quick, efficient and there is so much to see. I envy anyone able to commute to work using the metro: so much to see… 

The image above is from artwork in the Rome metro, artist unknown to me as I didn’t manage to see his/her credentials. But I liked it and wanted a photo of it as a memory. Since I didn’t want to have a pure reproduction of the artwork, I waited for a traveler to pass to add some scale to the image. Exposure time was quick for me: less than a second.

portrait of tomislav

Tomislav is our chef cook but the funny thing is, he doesn’t cook. At least not for us. His job is to advice both buying and sales with the needs of our customers. That said, I’m sure he is very capable to cook, I just did not had yet the privilege to taste his work. One day, one day.

During the shoot, Tomislav was able to be incredible calm. We took three portraits and all three were sharp. I processed the second one cause I preferred his look in that one as his chin was slightly lower than in the other portraits. It is incredible to see, how a slight change in pose, totally changes an image; especially with long exposure portraiture this is noticeable.

Also for this portrait, light has been kept simple: window light and a reflector. Exposure time of six seconds. I closed the aperture a bit to soften my background a bit, though I am not sure if that was a correct decision or not.

portrait of kristijan

The first time I shot Kristijan his image was slightly blurred (or ‘mutav’ as I call it in Croatian) and on the edge of being acceptable. 

For that reason, we tried another session and again he was ‘mutav’. Problem with Kristijan is that he is bursting with energy, not being able to relax and continuously on the move.

Today we managed however: the third session and the first shot was sharp. The rest was blurred again, but it doesn’t matter as I only need one sharp image and in this one Kristijan is really himself. And relaxed. For at least some seconds. Just long enough.

portrait of tomislav

Marija does not want her picture taken, something I totally respect, and besides, it takes two to take a portrait. However, I told her that she only could get away with it if she brings me five other subjects.

The first one who came was Tomislav who is responsible in our firm for digital solutions. Not for us, employees, but for our customers. As the world is developing quicker and quicker, the firm needs new blood to keep up the pace. 

Probably it is the rush which kept Tomislav from being peaceful for six seconds. We did three shots, but this one turned out the sharpest. It’s on the edge I’d say. Window light and reflector.

transcendent II

transcendent: adjective “beyond or above the range of normal or physical human experience”

As said before camera movement intrigues me. For that reason you often see me experimenting with swinging my camera in order to get an image. I want to get it right in-camera though. Except for black and white conversion I will not do any editing, simply because I don’t want to. The image should be created while I take it.

This photo is of an old tree, the bark showing deep relief, in which light and shadows play. The image took less than a second yet by swinging it upwards I got the result I wanted.

Creating such photos is a wonderful way to play while walking around and exploring your neighborhood. There is always a still subject willing to pose, waiting to be captured. You just need to see it.

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