Following Your Intuition
I studied the zone system on if you guys remember and if you don't know their zone system look it up type zone system and basically in a nutshell it was this you had a black and white piece of film and if you went out into the desert and the desert was really contrast e you could through processing if you get your red correct exposures through processing you could flatten out that image so the contrast you still have some detail in the highlights still some details the shadows and all the opposite happens over a flat day you go out and build contrast you can manipulate if you're shooting through a door arwen window and there's you know the interior and the big bright light outside you could pull detail in the highlights and to keep details show does that not sound like hdr? Well, when hdr came along the concept there was an article that talked about how in photo shop you could take three exposures blend them all automatically I literally fell down to the ground I was like, wow, what an...
amazing thing right? And so I jumped on hdr the minute I could I could do it it was little complicated at first because it was all in photo shop and then photo mannix came along and programs were easier but the point is is I studied his own system for at least ten years, I mean, seriously, every book that was on his own system, my bob spot meters, trying to figure out the processing and putting in a larger calibration all this stuff. Ten years trying to get the perfect exposure. Now, does everybody know what a great card is? So if you don't have a great card, is but ah, great card and photography, a great card is calibrated it's fifty percent between pure right, pure white and you're black and it's, eighteen percent reflective. I have no idea what that means, but if this is called eighty percent reflective and your meter in your camera, you're meeting, your camera is calibrated for eighty percent reflective, so you need to know that. So when I was studying photography, we had to understand that if I I was going to take a picture let's say the sun was there, and I had this scene right here, maybe a portrait, and I got my meter and I can take my meter and back in the old days, the meter's weren't like matrix metering now, but if you took a great car and went to filled it into the life source, phil in here pushing a frame, take a meter, pull it out, boom! You would get what we call a perfect exposure or we'd say that's the perfect poser and so that was a good little trick I'd carry great card with me and I had a spot meter and you know and all that stuff and so that's all good stuff right but here's the problem with that the problem is I was trying to get a great card to be a great card eighteen percent reflective and so what did I to I approached a approached a photographic process from a technical perspective I want great to be gray so I wanna ask you a question is it ok for an artist to have a great card in my scene and make it white or light gray or dark grey or black do I have the freedom as an artist to not make that great car gray yes what freedom now I don't do it on accident I don't go oh I want to go you know five spots overexposed okay well ask what I wanted to do I'm an artist it's not that but if I want to I can create a value that's higher in exposure or darker exposure than what we would call normal or correct look at lauren on the wall here her skin actually is very white I got this whole die idea because she's really light skinned in fact she's so light skin that when she goes outdoor she puts on like a hundred uh, sunblock every day because that's her modeling career in terms of showcasing herself is white really white skinned and so she makes a great subject for that and occurred I pushed it to another level, but but the fact is I want her skin to be as wide as I can and I'm even pushing it up higher than what we call correct exposure to make an artistic statement. So here's the beautiful thing, a correct exposure from an artistic perspective can be whatever you the artist decided to be. What did I just shatter? That I just shatter some people's idea of what a photographer's but is I mean, that chattered my that would shatter me ten years ago if you told me that because I was always concerned about the perfect closure. And so when have you ever gone and heared someone that's like like years ago I heard jamie's l speak and at the finish he finished right. I'm not joking you. He was kind like the rockstar right? And he finished and he asked questions. What was the first question? Someone asked, how do you meet her? What kind of hot out? How how's your meeting? How do you do you're majoring how to get the perfect closure no, jay but myself said, I just bracket the hell out everything the rock star at all that was his he was probably joking more than anything, but the fact is even the best of the best they don't they don't they just let it happen they just figure it out there just you know and and they go okay? They're not worried about the perfect spo jher they're more we're interested in an artistic expression being processed through and so don't be even engineered minded person don't be concerned about the perfect poser because certain about what you as an artist determined is the best thing so this gives me freedom freedom explore without these boundaries that we've set as being a photographer so a great card is your photographers tool right? More or less and so we get caught up in saying I got to do it like a photographer great card spot meter do this office cheek you get zones, get thes ratios get the's only sings just let it go so I learned with its own system the same way you did. You know, I had a pentax k one thousand all manual we would we would use that great card and we quickly learned that it wasn't given us what we wanted but now use the great card for wipe alex and I think it's been said on creative live one hundred times um the correct why balance is seldom the best white balance I agree and they're funny well it's a technician okay great now I'm done and I'm like oh that looks horrible exactly because what happens so eso eso here's thing high noon high noon is what we call dale I balance if you don't have any influences of you know things high noon so as it goes towards sunset what happens the temperature gets warmer and warmer warmer right or in the sunrise generally and it finally gets warm and it goes to cool cool cool so the beauty of it is is that afternoon there in the after after the dune high noon point the life starts changing and then weii end up loving it right we love the not so white balance we love the warmth or we love the coolness of long exposures or whatever and so because what happens is it creates emotion and so that's good news we started to get you know go all looking what happened reciprocity failure remember reciprocity it's like it made color shifts so people try to counter for reciprocity by putting filters in front of lin's is well sometimes a reciprocity failure made the picture so you're right and here's a picture of timothy so we definitely want to show this um on on their screen for people and on the, uh internet so here's timothy so for twenty five years for twenty five years I shot with one light cross light the rembrandt cross light and so I built the whole body of work with that I was shooting national ad campaigns things are good right? And I would do a lot of black and white and then the industry changed and the phone stopped ringing not completely pacino I'm saying also I realized I had to do something different to reinvent myself so I grabbed timothy he was ah check out are the cashier at a at the gap we're buying clothes my wife was buying clothes for my kids and I said okay uh you make a great subject I got an idea could you come in and you know yes the pictures off he's like what? Me model no, no, you'll be great. So tell me they came in and I took two small boxes soft boxes the one small ones I had I I don't know why I even had him I had one I used a kicker light for for for athlete I told you guys about that the guys that went uh the olympic boxers went to athens so I use this little box and then I order a second one and I had this beauty dish that I bought a couple years earlier because it was like pretty inexpensive I bought it and I I put my kid in front of it shot I was like hung on the hook for three years so then I brought timothy and I said okay I'm gonna try something just totally different here I put the two edge lights up I got the beauty dish and put it over him I've never in my life ever put a little uh amount of fire over my lens never so I did that so I got timothy in position here and I started snapping adjusting snapping justice napping look at the back of my monitor snapping and I came up with this picture first time ever used three lights on a portrait this portrait radically changed my direction in my photography you see it in all my work now so how did they get their flash matter no schematics no uh what's left ratios light meter all those I mean what my intuition got me there I built an image based on what in the back of my mind I'm thinking ok bring up value take down valya bring up value edgy whatever I built it based on what I liked as a zone artist and that one image changed my life I say that but I mean it started a whole new look and sold my point is this bring a subject in get some lights or get some whatever and build a look and then go okay now I'm going to repeat it and beating the ground until I master it and so that's the fun part now I've changed a little bit that's that seems a little bit harsh and some ways now because I learned that it's easier to what I can build contrast later in photo shop it's hard to take it away guys I learn that but my point is is that image ended up launching the work that I do today but how I got there was my intuition that's the beauty of it and guess what? I sent this off to a friend or two and they said well it was a little bit draw dramatic, isn't it? No if it's me I want it like that okay let's look at this next image blown out like kind like lauren so is there where's the blacks in there? Not a single black in there deep black not a black we'd say zone one from his own ten being pure white saul hi mid tones up right? The point is is I like it am I gonna get criticism on that? Probably this kind of fun to me as kind of a fun image it breaks a lot of the rules. I would say that we're used to thinking of what a photographer should do and think like but it's okay because it fits my vision is the minute I let go that was a photographer that was an artist first I'm able to do this as a photographer I would have had a hard time getting away from that are getting away with that and so the other thing I ask myself is if I was in school in art school earned photography school ten years ago and put that up, I probably would have not got it got good reviews I don't know I'm just saying where's your tones where's the whole zone system you're nearly you know you're off but I like it that's what's most important here is another one cropping off someone's head this was a fun image to put upon flicker because I got so many mixed reviews that it was like extreme some people said jule, you are absolutely brilliant some people say what in the heck are you doing? Cutting someone's head off, right? So how can I get away with that? Because I'm not thinking like a photographer I'm thinking like what looks good to me this guy's launching himself into the air and he's coming out of the frame? What a concept I don't have to have him in there like they was heading there even though he's a high paid million dollar athlete did the client uses no wait a minute he's not even on the basketball court client actually use this background I was speaking in texas and I look out the window I'm to have my class and there's this structure seems classes up, shoot the mason jars and off the way I went to get on an airplane then I have this to drop him into so the backgrounds not even athletic background necessarily, but I'm cropped off his head but I absolutely love this picture it fits me, but I'm breaking a lot of rules doing it and that's okay and here's this shot of lauren so people can see it on the internet little bit clear but again and again we see is a little blown out here, but I want to just the back her back or skin tojust almost blend with the background just enough color and I don't you know color because I don't see color that well, but but I do know that there's a little value there and so that's how I lived it so that's the fun thing about being an artist is that I'm free to explore without preconceived ideas established by others and just let it go and in the end, it's the people that break the rules they get noticed doesn't mean you go break the rules just to get noticed. You break the rules because they fit your vision as an artist's and I know a lot of people that'll break rules to get noticed, but they really don't have any idea why they did that broke the rules just because it just seemed like something to dio so there's a danger there but let go of being a photographer and just let your artistic juices flow