Loose The Headphones

One thing I love to do is go for hikes. It started out several years ago with the need to  walk the dogs. In other words, it was another chore that needed to get done. So I would grab my device and headphones, put on a favourite podcast or some music and take the dogs for their walk. It was something I had to do and having the podcast gave me a chance to catch up on topics that interested me.In other words, the podcast were a distract from the chore. It took a while but eventually I was not really listening to the podcasts, essentially they became background noise to my own thoughts. So one day I decided to leave them at home – the headphones, not my thoughts.

What a difference this made. All at once I started to observe. Instead of my mind being busy blocking out the constant sound coming from my headphones, my mind was made available to take in what was around me. Not just the visual, but the sounds as well. What a difference. The chore of walking the dogs became something I really looked forward to.

In an earlier post I talked about a concept called Neurochromes. Essentially it is a visualization process to help you understand what will make a great image. What I discover when I gave up the headphones was that I started seeing all kinds of potentially great images. I was taking Neurochromes. It put me into a very creative space. From time to time I took a camera with me to capture some images. I’m not sure how much the dogs liked this because it meant stopping every time I decided to take a shot,  but hey. Interestingly, when I did stop I began to hear things. No, not in my head, I began to hear things around me. The sound of the city below the hills where we were hiking, other hikers, the dogs running through the forest, wildlife. And these sounds lead to new photographs and new ideas. It’s quite amazing.


Vancouver SunriseThis morning I was out for a hike and happened to have a camera with me. Between two houses this view of the sunrise presented itself. If I was wearing headphones, I would have probably missed it – and that would have been unfortunate.

So really, all I am encouraging you to do is take the time to observe the space around you – with or with out a camera. What you discover will change the way you photograph.


Taming Harsh Window Light Photography

Happy New Year!

Todays post is on a window light photography technique. Window light can provide stunning light when used imaginatively. The rule of thumb when using a window as your light source is to use one that the sun is not directly shining in. I live in Canada so that would generally mean a north facing window. But, if the sun is on the east side of a building, then a west facing window will do, or if the sun is on the east side of the building, then a west facing window will work. If you have a cloudy day, then so much the better. Any of these scenarios will give us a nice gentle, soft, light source.

Sometimes though, you wind up with a window that bright sunlight is pouring through. So much for your nice soft light source. Attempting to use the window directly will create a very contrasty, harshly light image which may not be what you are looking for. So here is my go to solution for this situation. Do not use the window as the light source – directly.

Instead, find yourself a larger white reflector. I use the collapsible reflectors but a sheet or foam core board or anything white that is about 32″ across or more will work. Position your model to the one side of the window so the light does not strike them directly. Use your reflector to light your model by reflecting the window light back onto your model. This will give you that soft light and allow some directionality control of the light source.

Experiment with this technique. Once you have practiced with it, you will love the results you get.