One Hour Photo - Rocco Ancora
Hello, welcome everybody to another episode of One Hour Photo. We have a great hour in store for you. I'm gonna start off with some of your questions. We'll go through and see if I can help you figure out some of your photographic needs. Secondly we have a great great guest in the studio today Rocco Ancora who is a fantastic wedding photographer from Australia, brought some photos along as well. So we're gonna talk for a little bit and see what we can pull out of his photographic brain. And then finally we're gonna look at some of your photos in our image critique section and we're gonna be seeing what we like, what we don't like, what might make your photos a little bit better. Let's go ahead and get started with our first question. Which is from Milos Otic, in a culture where the clients turn-around time and patience to compose and produce is diminishing, where do you see the future heading with camera equipment? Well, obviously that comes, what comes to mind is the changing business...
structure, but when it comes to the camera equipment itself, pretty much every camera now over the last two years now has wifi in it so that you can transfer images from your phone, from your camera to your phone instantly. And so I see that just being done more and more easily. I remember about 10 years ago Nikon introduced their first wifi camera and the local Nikon tech rep came out to show a bunch of us what it could do and they couldn't even get it to work because it was so complicated. And in my mind they still have some ways to go to make things even easier and faster. I think Nikon is trying really hard, they have this new thing called snap bridge where it automatically transfers to the phone and it's got a few bugs in it. Isn't totally working smooth, but the idea is that you'll be able to pull photos from your phone or your laptop or any other device just as immediately as you need them. So I think we're gonna see more and more of this and I think you'll be able to set up your camera so that you can shoot, just indicate a photo is to go up to your phone, and up to your website or anyplace that you want very quickly. And so more integration and hopefully it's gonna be easier for all of us to do this as well. All right, next question. What's the best way to compress a close object and a distant background into one image, wide depth of field? Example a person standing in battery park next to the Statue of Liberty a mile away. All right, so this one, this one's a little bit difficult. I'm not totally sure where you're going with this, but I think I know. And the problem here is that you need a wide angel lens in most cases to capture kind of the person who's right there in front of you. And if you wanna see what's in back of them, if you use a wide angle lens it's gonna be very very far away and so ideally when you're talking about compressing a subject, you're gonna need a telephoto lens and you're gonna need to get back further. And so if you're shooting something with a phone that doesn't have a zoom lens, for instance, it's just a wide angle lens, well you can try to frame it up the best you can, and it kinda looks like a typical selfie where the person's standing in front of a small background. But if you want that background to be bigger and more noticeable, you're gonna need a telephoto lens. So for a full frame camera at least a hundred, or maybe a 200 mm lens. And then you're gonna need to back up in order to compress it. It's kind of a separate thing getting it in focus, and that's gonna be stopping your aperture down, of course. But to compress them together you need that telephoto lens. Thanks Chris. All right, next up, from Kristina Trowbridge. Is there now or will there soon be any smaller and lighter equipment almost as good as my big DSLR, Nikon D800 and the three Nikkor dream lenses that go with it? So when you say the three Nikkor dream lenses I imagine you're talking about what we often call the holy trinity of glasses which is also known in Japan as, I think the big dragons of glass. So the three two eight zooms, the 14 to 24, 24 to 70 and 70 to 200. Now the linchpin of your whole question comes down to where is it? Almost as good. And it really depends on what your definition of almost as good is, because there are some people who if it's just a little bit off they don't want it. They actually want the exact same quality. And the D800 has a full frame sensor and so you're not gonna get anything as good that has anything less than a full frame sensor at least at this point. I'm a pretty big fan of Fuji, and I think like a Fuji XT2 with their 2.8 lenses is gonna be a smaller package and it's gonna be very good. And it's, in my opinion, almost as good. I think Sony is also making some really good things that have smaller lenses, but they don't have quite as many of those two eight lenses so I think the best system to go with would be the Fuji system if you wanted something on the next smaller size. And as far as, is it almost as good? Well, you're gonna have to test it yourself, to see how it meets your needs. But I think it's getting very very close to that. Next question, from Mario Gabriel. How do I know when to clean my sensor? Would it be safer to leave it to a professional or can I do it myself without hurting anything? Well keeping your sensor clean is very important for everybody who shoots digital and when dust gets on your sensor you will know it because there's gonna be little black spots, often times in the sky where you have white areas in the photograph, and so you can check this yourself. The easiest way that I can do it is put your camera in aperture priority, set your exposure compensation to about plus one or plus two and then photograph a pure white wall or a blank piece of paper. And you can be really close, can be out of focus, in fact it actually helps for it to be out of focus, that way anything that is a sharp black spot is going to be very very clear to you. And this is something that I like to do before I go on like big trip to Africa or something because getting your camera cleaned on location is really really challenging. And so to clean it yourself, there's maybe three different steps that you can take, one is you can get a little rocket air blower and that's a little rubber bulb that you squeeze and it blows air into, onto your sensor. And so put your camera into sensor cleaning mode if it's an SLR, if it's mirrorless you can just take the lens or body cap off. Hold it upside down so that any dust you hit falls out and then you kind of just blow in there, hopefully knocking off the dust. Everyone is qualified to do that in my mind. The tip of the blower doesn't need to come that close to the sensor, you can keep it two or three inches away, just right outside where the lens would be. And that's safe and easy to do. Second step would be a dry cleaning and third step would be a wet cleaning. And so there are devices that you can get, it kinda looks like a pen, but it's got a flat little kinda like felt bit on the end and you can reach in there and you can kinda sweep off any dust that is on there. And I think anybody who's reasonably careful can handle that. Then there is the wet cleaning where you get a swab and you put a couple drops of alcohol on there and you swipe it across. And I think anyone who has a steady hand that feels comfortable, ya know, working with small equipment can probably do that, but there's some people who just don't wanna go into the steps of actually sweeping it clean and that's why you can send it in. And that's basically what the professional will do, so it's a little bit up to you. But I think the air bulb is a good first step, and I think the little dry cleaning pens might be a good step for a lot of other people as well. Next up, this is from David Good John. Not sure if you're name is Good John, or you were sending me a compliment that I was good at what I was doing and your name is simply David, but I'll assume it's David Good John. I have gone to a MIV from a 60D and now my mind is messed up about lens length going from a crop sensor to a full frame. How do I make the adjustments, if any? All right, I'm be honest with you, I"m not totally sure what you mean by MIV. I'm thinking you mean a mirrorless camera with a smaller sensor. It's possible that you could mean like a Mark IV Canon camera which is a full frame, which his different than your 60D. And so if you saw my class on the fundamentals of photography, you probably remember this slide that had the different cameras and the different sensor sizes. And I think the names that we have for our sensor sizes like APS and full frame and four thirds just doesn't make things easy on new photographers because they don't mean a lot. And if you measure the sensor from corner to corner you're gonna get the diagonal, and when you do that you actually get the number that is the normal lens for your camera. So your old 60D was a Canon APS-C sensor which means it has a 27mm sensor so the normal lens for you is a 27, and that's all you need to remember. It's 27 is middle of the road for you. Anything smaller than that is wide angle, anything with a bigger number is a telephoto. And if you take your sensor size and you divide it by two, that's gonna make for a pretty nice landscape wide angle lens. So if you have a full frame camera that's a 43mm sensor, divide that by two, that's about a 21mm lens, that's pretty right in the middle of where a lot of landscape photographers like shooting with a wide angle lens. You wanna find a great portrait lens? Double the diagonal of your sensor. So with the full frame, 43, that comes up to 86. One of the favorites for most portrait photographers is gonna be about an 85mm lens. If you are using a four thirds camera, which is a 22mm sensor, you'd wanna get about a 25mm lens for doing portrait photography. Multiply it by four, it ends up being a good sports lens, and if you wanna multiply it by eight, that's probably gonna make a good wild life lens. And so, whatever system that you have, if you can just figure out what your normal lens is, just remember that's in the middle of the game and everything smaller's gonna be wide angle, and anything bigger is gonna be a telephoto lens. Next one is from Todd Hobert. I'm using a TTL on a Nikon, he's talking about a flash system here, I'm taking a picture of the same subject on the same background but the exposure is wandering, any ideas why this is happening? I flipped to manual, by the way. So, using a flash on your camera on your camera in its TTL which stands for Through The Lens technology. Its metering system. It should be consistent. So if you are frustrated by this I can understand it because in theory it should be the same. But your camera is constantly adjusting the light meter reading and the flash output according to exactly what you point in the frame. So if it's a little bit darker on one side and a little bit lighter on the other side, the flash is gonna change its power. And so anybody who shoots a series of photos with flash in a relatively controlled environment is probably gonna wanna turn their flash onto a manual setting so that you have consistent results. You'll shoot a few tests to make sure that you're on the right page and then once you get that dialed in then you're set for life. The TTL system I think is fantastic when you know like you're in a banquet hall doing event photography and every lighting situation is different. There's more lights here, less over here, there's windows over here and you need the camera to kinda constantly adjust for all your changes and so in that environment I would prefer to take the camera out of TTL, even if I think it may do okay, for consistency reasons. And this is true with almost everything in manual. When you have a number of photos that you're gonna take over a period of time, it's best to rule out any sort of change that the camera might wanna go in there and make for you. But I really don't have a good reason as to why it does that. It happens on a lot of other systems, it's not just a fault with a Nikon system. It's that the cameras are just constantly looking for new information to have a different exposure. All right, next up from Lucia Ccv. Hi John, I just tried to set up the camera for a night sky photo and still can't do it. I have a Nikon D5100 and lens 20mm F/1.8 to work with. I think my problem is the shutter speed. Okay so you got a decent camera to do this with, so I think you're doing okay in the camera department. Your lens is fantastic. That is a great lens for doing night time, especially if you want like start point photography, it's great to have a lens that gets down to 2.8. Yours goes all the way down to 1.8 so you're in good shape there, you can open all the way to 1. or maybe you wanna stop it down just a little bit for greater sharpness especially around the edges. Maybe you just go to F2 or maybe you gotta go down to two four or two eight. And so shutter speed is a critical thing when doing night sky photography. And so with a 20mm lens, there is a rule of, and I think there's two different rules depending on how strict you wanna get on it, there's the 500 rule and the 600 rule and I'm trying to remember if you divide, You take that 500 number, you divide 20 into it and then you'll get the total length of time in seconds that you can keep your shutter open before you start seeing lens movement, or before you see star movement, excuse me. Right now from what I recall shooting with a 24mm lens I can safely shoot 15 second exposures. 30 seconds can or cannot be acceptable, depends on the exact situation. So I think what you wanna do is you wanna get your shutter speed in the 15 to 30 second range, your lens at F 1.8 to 2.8, your ISO is probably gonna have to be in the ISO 1600 to 3200 range depending on some of those variables. Play with some of those numbers. It will depend on how clear the sky is, but that should get you pretty close to the mark. All right, next one from James Smith. Do UV filters negatively impact image quality? Are they a waste of money in today's digital market world? Well, first off, do they negatively impact image quality? Well, I certainly can't say that they help. UV lenses at one point were filtering out UV light and that's not really that important with today's digital sensors and so UV filters are often just on the front of the cameras for protection. And this is a personal choice. It's kinda like buying insurance for the front of your lens. It is helpful on some lenses for helping protect from the weather elements. Some lenses are more weather sealed once you put a filter on them. And so some people do it. You know, if you were shooting say motorcross and you got dirt kicking around and you know a chip on your lens is gonna cost you a lot of money and camera repairs are very expensive these days, that would be a great thing to have. There are some people who maybe work under a more controlled environment, they're in a studio, they're not going outside, it's all very controlled and they don't wanna have any other piece of glass on the front of their lens and so that makes perfect sense. And so they're not a waste of money, it just depends on how you wanna use them. And I am totally not talking about all the other filters that actually do something significant, like polarizers and split neutral density filters, and a variety of other filters out there that are actually changing the way the light is entering your camera. And so it's, it's a hot topic, and so at your next photo gathering, you know grab a group of people and start talking about whether they use UV filters and you'll see some people become very animated and steadfast about their belief and the way that they do things is correct. And so a little bit of an opinion on that one as well. All right, from Pedro Pereira. How do you know the type of lens you need for a specific shoot? Is there any way to know which focal length to use according to the subject distance and/or size? Well, a lot of this is gonna depend on what you are shooting and what the environment is. And so this is about getting as much information about what you're gonna be doing and where you're gonna be going. And so if you're gonna be photographing someone's car, is it stuck in their crowded garage? Is he gonna have a nice field to shoot it at? Is it gonna be in a parking lot? Is there other cars in the parking lot? And so it's knowing as much about the situation as possible and so the more room you have, the more opportunities you have for using a variety of lenses. And so, it's just knowing also what type of story you're trying to tell and this really could cover a lot of different types of photography here. And so with wider lenses we're usually telling a bigger story. A lot of times we'll use them for environmental portraits where we show a person or an object kind of in its natural environment. If you're using telephoto lenses you're going in more for details and isolating a subject. And so you gotta know more about what you're doing and what you're getting into. And so if somebody's hiring you or if you're being sent someplace to shoot something, you wanna try to ask as many questions. What type of room is it? What type of lighting is it? How much, how long is that room? And then you're gonna be thinking about what you need in order to get that shot, so thanks for that question. All right, from Brad Chymist. What is involved in advanced composition? The rule of thirds, golden ratio and Fibonacci spiral are great, but they only go so far. All right, well actually I just taught a composition class this last weekend and it's kinda hard to define what advanced composition is. For me, it would probably involve a fairly complex photograph where there's a number of subjects and a number of relationships going on. If you can imagine a ball in the middle of the frame, okay and there's just a white background. There is really no way to take that one simple object and do some sort of advanced composition with it. If you were to include three or four other objects and they kinda had leading lines, one leading to the other or something, I suppose that could be advanced, but I think a lot of this is just you know, come down to what we think looks good, and some basic rules about you know, not cropping off important subjects. And so I'm always keen to find new ideas in the world of composition because there's a lot of basic ideas, like the rule of thirds and the golden ratio. And you know, that does only take you so far. And you know, if you're not familiar with those, it basically is talking about getting the subject out of the middle of the frame. And where things get advanced and more complicated is when you have a number of subjects in the frame. And so that's something I'll have to look at for the next issue of my fundamentals class to see if I have some, a section on advanced composition and for the most part, the composition classes are really, I think they're fun, they're easy to teach, they're easy to watch because it's mostly just ideas. And as many ideas as you can come up with as to hey this makes a good element in a photograph. All right so yeah, that's a tough one to answer, but thank you for sending that in. All right, it is time to bring on board our guest. Rocco Ancora is a photographer from Australia, he has won more prizes than you can shake a stick at. Rocco come on out, thanks a lot for joining us here. Great to have you here.
Thank you John, thanks for having me.
Sit down, you brought some photos along.
Thank you, yes I did.
And so you are in the midst of getting ready for a new class here at Creative Live.
And which class is this?
This is From Capture to Print.
And so talk real briefly about what you're gonna be doing in this one.
One of the biggest dilemma today for a lot of photographers is understanding the relationship between what we capture and what we print. Printing is pretty much something that's forgotten. I mean in the film days we had no choice because negatives have to be printed, but the lasting quality of a print was something that we cherished and we still cherish today that, that culture has kind of disappeared so we're trying to bring it back by taking the process from capture to print, understanding the camera, understanding the post production aspect of a file, and then printing it. And the envelope that pretty much covers all of that, is a thing that most photographers hate but it's one of those topics that you need to learn if you're serious about your digital photography and that's color management.
That's something that just scared off half the audience right there. (laughs)
We're gonna make it simple, real simple.
That's good, yeah, 'cause it is something that not a lot of people are doing and it's something for anyone who's into this as a business, can really separate you from somebody else who says, well I'll just give you a thumb drive.
And now you've, you've been a photographer for a long time. You've got some history in printing. Talk a little bit about that. When did you start printing and how did you do that?
My career actually began in the darkroom and I was running a lab back in the mid 90's. So black and whites, color, C41 processing, E6. So I got to learn what to do with negatives, and from that I actually became a photographer. So, learning the printing side before the actually photography side, but it sorta helped my photography because I knew how much meat I needed on a negative to get a really good print so,
So you started on the back end.
I did start on the back end.
That's interesting, how did you first get into that printing gig without being a photographer?
Well photography was something I loved, and I wanted originally a job as a photographer, or as a photographer's assistant, but there was a lab slash very very busy portrait wedding studio in Melbourne back in the day, and they were after, and they had their own C41 lab and black and white and all that. And they were running, they were looking for someone to work in that lab. So I thought well if I do this, then it's a foot for me in the door to perhaps become a photographer. And it was. Because I started learning the art of printing back then. And then from then I actually got my first photographic gig as an assistant for that studio. I then became their number six photographer and then worked my way up the ranks and actually ended up owning the studio and the lab that I started working for which is a bit of a romance story.
Talk about climbing the ladder,
Number six on the list, and so this is a company that specializes in shooting weddings?
Weddings and portraits, yeah.
Okay, and then they have a bunch of photographers that are accredited or they've been checked out and so forth.
And how long did it take you to go from your first assistant to you're the main shooter?
Years, because put it this way, by the time I went out and shot my first wedding I felt like I'd been to a wedding a million times, and I had as an assistant which was a good thing. But the problem is with what's happening today is that we buy a camera today and we wanna be a professional photographer tomorrow, but nothing really substitute that very important thing called time. Time and experience to be able to gauge different conditions and you know with weddings, there's so many things that can happen in a millisecond. You know, you've got rain, you've got wind, you've got people personality that you have to manage. And yeah, so these were the things I learned before I actually went out and shot my first frame for myself and for the studio.
Wow. So now if you rose ultimately to the level of owning the business, now a lot of people could go in the direction of well, I'm gonna stop shooting, I'm just gonna do the business stuff, did you stay shooting then? And how did you manage that?
I did, I stayed shooting and we had, there was two partners, myself and another guy. And we had, we employed another four photographers. Just to give you an idea of the volume of work we used to do, we used to shoot roughly around 300 weddings a year.
Yeah, so it's--
Wow, so you would have a whole series of them every weekend coming up.
We would, like we would probably shoot maybe six weddings a week, you know, and it's funny 'cause when you speak to a lot of photographers today they probably shoot 20 weddings a year which is probably an average. We used to do six a week and about 20 a month, so it was pretty amazing. So that sort of volume was very hard to manage, but we had really good photographers. You know, photographers that really cared about the art of photography and wanted to produce beautiful results and that kinda made it easy. But the business side wasn't easy. Managing that was, it was a bit of a nightmare. So, but yeah, it's essential skill.
Yeah, so now you're running your own personal business. Do you have any photographers under you or?
No, I sort of, I let that business go, so my partner then took it over and I concentrated more on being a one on one, more of a boutiquey style business. I kinda needed that just to slow my life down a little bit. But at the same time now I've also started a post production and finite printing company which is what I love. So we deal with post production for a lot of photographers, we do their finite printing, we do their competition printing which is really cool and that keeps me in touch with that part of the technology which is changing, but it's getting better all the time.
Now are you printing all digital or are you doing any kind of work with chemicals anymore?
We're printing, no no more chemicals. No more ferricyanide and the likes. No, we're printing all digitally, and we're printing on big Epson printers and we're printing archival. So we specialize in archival printing. So everything that we do is on beautiful cotton rag papers and yeah, it's a lot of fun.
So I, I got started a long time ago and I was developing in the dark room and stuff. And I printed digitally and to be honest with you, I really haven't kept up with the differences. How archival are the new digital prints compared to the traditional archival chemistry prints?
I think they're pretty much on par if not better. And, but it all depends when we start talking archival, we start to talk about there are a couple of different elements that need to come together for it to be archival. One of the biggest ones is of course the paper. Making sure that the paper is a natural cotton fiber, that it doesn't have any optical brightening agents and the likes. Then you have to marry that up with archival inks like the Epson K3 pigment inks. A lot of people think dye inks are archival, but dye inks aren't, so you gotta go for pigment inks. And then of course after that is the way you store the print. You know, if you're, obviously any print that you're gonna put in full sunlight isn't gonna last 10 minutes, but ya know, behind glass and framing it and taking care of your prints, you know, you're gonna get over 200 years with the right combination, which is great. When we talk about archivals, and we talk about these magic numbers of 200 years, you know 150 years, it doesn't mean that after 200 years your print disappears. It just means that after 200 years there's gonna be some sort of noticeable visual difference that the print is degrading. But if you're selling your artwork then it's something that's important to you, because nobody wants to buy or invest in art that's gonna fade after 10 minutes.
Yeah, and these prints, they fade in a way that like, you don't noticed it from week to week, but you know like you have someone come over to your house like, wow, that's photo's got a little faded there. (laughs) After a year or so. So when you are, so do you, you still shoot weddings.
How many weddings a year do you shoot?
Now, probably about 10 to 15.
More manageable number.
Manageable number and so I'm very selective about what I shoot. But most of my time now goes into the post production and finite printing side of business which is great. I love to be able to consult with photographers. Especially photographers that are doing exhibitions and bring their vision to life on massive 60 by 40 inch finite prints, and that's a real, you know buzz for me. I love doing that.
So 60 by 40 inch prints. Those are some mighty big.
Serious printings. Unless you know how you shoot, understand your fundamentals of photography, to print a 60 by 40 inch print, it takes some real skill because any flaws you will see. Any flaws in lighting, any flaws in focusing, that's all part of it.
Okay so I've worked some other, worked with other photographers who print large and one of the things, you don't wanna waste a lot of paper. And so you wanna get everything, you wanna get everything shot right, you wanna get it fixed in Photoshop right, or whatever program you're using. You wanna make sure all your monitors are set. After all of that, you still sometimes have to print multiple prints, don't ya? Or do you get it right on the first time?
No we, the color management, it comes down to color management and getting to the point where what we see on the screen is what we print. Now we're using very very high end wide gamut screens, the ISO monitors, I'm sure you've heard of ISO. Not a lot of people have because they have very expensive monitors but we do a thing called, you know we do, obviously soft proof the image, but we also do hardware soft proofing, which means we monitor, Our monitor is actually calibrated to a viewing condition. Okay, so pretty much we can spot on ascertain what color that image is gonna be on that particular substrate. Custom profiling of papers is another very very important thing, so my printer is custom profile for a specific paper, for a specific condition. So what you see is what you're gonna get. Now plus or minus always. I mean if I'm gonna do a 60 by 40 inch print, I will do a test first. I will print an 8 by 10 to make sure you know, the tones are where they need to be and then of course from there we go into hyperspace with the massive print. (John laughing)
Nice. All right well let's get to your images. So let's go ahead and take a look at what we got here. And so um, what do you wanna say about this? Lovely image.
Yes, it is, this was shot--
Where is this?
This was shot in Japan. It was a kimono shoot that we did. And this is a real husband and wife. And I've always wanted to do a kimono shoot. This was shot on a 105 mil lens, and I shot this wide open at 1.4. This is one 105 mil. This is why you get that nice beautiful bokeh in the background. It's just a gorgeous lens and it's a very very sharp lens and when you look at Japanese wedding photography there, there is a certain element of tradition that you have to follow and you have to stick to. And I wanted to kinda break that. I wanted to actually get a Japanese couple looking as romantic as they possibly could. And this was wonderful, you know. And this beautiful touch by the man in the picture where he holds that hand and she's looking across, and it just, it gives you this sense of connection and this sense of romance and this sense of him worshiping her which is what the image is all about.
Was this a portrait shoot that you were doing?
It's a portrait shoot we did for them, yeah. So this is available light too, also.
That's great light. Now when you go out and shoot something like this, do you have a crew with you or is it just you or?
It was myself and my partner Tanya who comes with me. She's a photographer as well. But I like to keep things very very simple when I'm out on location. Available light is king for me, so I pick the light, I pick the location and that's where I'll shoot. And if things get a little bit worse for wear with light, then very simple lighting, even just with speed lights. So I don't take a lot of equipment, I don't have a big crew. As a wedding photographer you wanna be as unobtrusive as possible, you wanna sorta just blend with the crowd so any big equipment kinda gets in the way, so.
Yeah, also allows you to be more mobile,
And go with the flow as you see changes and stuff.
That's right yeah.
Now one of the really challenging things in this type of photography is these are not professional models, I'm assuming. And so how do you deal with giving them direction versus posing them and you know, move your hand here?
I think when we start talking about posing, posing in the wedding world has become such a dirty word. Because photographers say I don't want, I don't pose, ya know, I'm not a poser. And clients now, clients are very educated. You know, I don't want you to pose me, I wanna be very very natural. So we take that word and we change it. We don't call it posing anymore. We call it, the art of directing someone. You know, which is kind of the same. It is and it isn't. When we think about posing in the literal sense it's about telling someone to stand in a particular way and shaping and moving, pretty much like a mannequin. When we start talking about direction, it is about creating a scene first and foremost in their minds of what you're trying to capture. Because like in here, exactly what I described earlier about the shot is the brief I gave the groom before he held her hand. I said I want you to hold her hand like she's the only thing in your world and she certainly was. You know, and I just want you to show me that. And he did that, he walked up to her, he held her hand and that was it. And that was pretty much the extent of the posing I do even on a wedding day. It's about creating scenarios in the mind that the body believes. And if the body believes it, the body shows it, and the mind, it's all connected. But it's about making images look real as opposed to posed or structured.
Right, right. Look very natural in that regard. All right, I love this image. This is fantastic. I love, I love ya know clean open space and so one of the concepts I like to ask people is when did you know you were gonna get this shot? I mean was this something you scouted like well before it took place or was this like oh, I'm just scurrying downstairs and I happened to notice that there's an opening?
Yeah, so what happened was this was shot at the groom's house, this is during the groom's preparation. So in the morning when I walked in through that door, it was a beautiful house, absolutely gorgeous.
It looks like it.
So I walked in through that front door and I saw light coming from above and I looked up and I saw that there actually was an opening to the master bedroom upstairs that looked down into the foyer of this beautiful house. White walls, very simple, very clean cut. So we did the shoot as we would normally do, we did the family, we did everything else. And then the video guy wanted to construct a leaving shot for the bridal party. So I went upstairs and I thought this is gonna be my opportunity because having that kind of scenario and having just the groom stare right back at the camera, it's kind of a, it's a nothing moment, ya know? You have great compositional lines, but really the shot is just a shot, it's a record shot. So I wanted to include the environment but make it dynamic. Okay and by making it dynamic, we had this environment with beautiful lines coming into where the groomsmen are, but they're actually truly all walking out. And this wasn't posed by me or set up in any way shape or form, in that wall, they're just in the background there there's a videographer standing there with a video camera and he's directing them telling them how to walk. And I'm just shooting this from upstairs. I asked permission first if it was okay to go up there, and mother of the groom's all very excited because anything for her son of course. And that's what we did. So then I shot it with a 14 to 24 mil lens, at 14 mil, the aperture was about 5. to give me a little bit more depth of field and sharpness which is what I wanted. And that was the result. But it was very once again, available light. In Photoshop what we did was very little. We made the white walls even whiter and that's it. A bit of sharpening and a bit of color turning, but there's nothing added, and we took of light switches out that were on the wall which were very annoying. But there was nothing added. A lot of people think about this, did you created this in Photoshop? Did you stitch it together? Single capture, nice and simple. It's about the art of observation, I guess.
Yeah, no and it's great that that's a sign, for all of you at home, that's the sign of a great photographer, somebody who can just walk in, look up and know up there looking back down is gonna make a good shot. 'Cause sometimes you gotta be there to see it yourself. But when you see the possibility around you, you say wait a minute. And probably comes with experience too. You've been in places and you learn these sorts of things. And this is another great image here and I have really, I've just realized this in the last couple years that I've really developed a love for staircases. I mean, it's a big three dimensional, it's got patterns, it's got lines, it's just a great place for getting photographs here. So where abouts is this?
This is a place called Werribee Mansion. It's a wedding venue in Melbourne, Australia. But it's also a very historical building. So the couple usually that are getting married there will either have the ceremony just on that staircase, but in this case here, they had the ceremony outside 'cause it was in summer, it was a beautiful garden wedding. And then we chose to go inside the mansion itself. And they're given normally about 20 minutes in there. And you're not allowed to use flash because it interrupts the paintings that are on the walls, and you know, you've heard the story. But it was, I wanted to get a shot where you'd got that feeling of the grandeur of this place that obviously they booked for their wedding and they wanted their wedding to be there. But also that essence of scale between them and the grandeur of the place. The wide angle lens helped us to do that. With a wider angle lens at 40 mil once again, we're able to capture a lot of the environment but also giving us a lot of depth as well, right? The very shallow depth of field is not something that you wanna do with a shot like this. You wanna have sharpness in foreground, middle ground to background to get all that beautiful detail. This in print looks absolutely magical. Because you can see every little bit of detail on the the wrought iron work on the staircase through the tile work on the ground. Right through to that back door, and then the beautiful detail on the bride's dress. But it's great. This shot now hangs in their home as a canvas and it's a 30 by 40 canvas, beautifully framed and it's just absolutely gorgeous. Something different as a wedding picture, I think.
Oh yeah, no I've noticed your style is a little different, you do have a lot of wide angles. And this is really just taking advantage of the environment that you're working in.
You know, they're not getting married at the county commissioner. (chuckles) You know you do have these places and when you have them, especially free from other people there, you take advantage of them, so that is great. Moving on, next one, here. All right so this one a little out of, this one, this one I was like, are you sure you got me the right images here? The right collection?
Yeah it is. I mean besides obviously shooting weddings, I mean I love obviously street photography as well, but I love landscape photography. And this, on a recent trip to Japan we went down and saw Mount Fuji. You know, the weather being quite gloomy and quite eerie, this situation presented itself. And we have these birds on this tree and it reminded me of the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds. You know with these birds just hanging and that's kinda the vibe I wanted to go for with this particular image. Once again, shot this with a 105, and I shot this really wide open at 1.4. Just to get the birds really really sharp and we've got this beautiful milkiness about the image right through to the background of Mt. Fuji. The telephoto lens or the telephoto perspective of the 105 gave us a little bit of compression with the mountain and the trees. And it's beautiful just using blacks you know, in terms of using blacks and whites, just to give us the contrast and to give us the mood and feel of what I was trying to convey in the image itself.
Well it definitely has that Japanese aesthetic to it. And kind of as we saw that one, and actually this one, I had a kind of different question. I wanna talk about your treatment of photos. Because you know this is not a straight raw image, this is not a straight jpeg image. You've developed a certain style and look to your photos, talk about that.
It is, so basically, you know we shoot RAW and we shoot the highest bit rate possible in RAW which is on the Nikon D5 it's a 14 bit uncompressed giving you that beautiful tonal quality from shadows through to extreme highlights. And when you think about the dynamic range of this shot we've got sunlight kinda peering through the clouds, making them extremely bright, you know the bride and groom is lit by a little bit of sun that's coming across them and we can see that by the shadows and then you're, of course in the distance you have trees which are virtually in shadows. So what I like to do in Adobe Camera Raw is I like to work with smart objects and we pull basically two exposures of the same file, one exposing extreme highlights one exposing for your extreme shadow areas and sometimes I'll do a third for midtones. And then I use a technique called luminosity masks where we blend the three. Okay so we have this extended dynamic range, you know it's on HDR because in the true sense of the word HDR means shooting multiple exposures and using sort of nasty filters that give you high leveling and all that. But it's just about extending the dynamic range of what the camera actually captured just with one frame. And it works a trick because you know, we've got so much depth in this image. You know, you can look at in information right through down to right to the back of the building, inside those arches, so it's about losing yourself in the image once you see it. And once you print an image like this, you print it quite large, you have a very different relationship with it than you would just by looking at that on screen. I know you're blown away by this size here, but once you see this in print, it just takes you to a totally different place. And it's about getting lost in it. It's about looking at the leading lines. You know compositionally you know we have this tree, I'm actually on the tree with a 40 mil lens once again, photographing the environment that these trees kind of act as leading lines where your eye really wants you to go. So it's about, just thinking about composition a little bit differently, not following any rules I might say, this is not your classic rule of third, it's not your classic, maybe it's a little bit of a golden spiral, because if you ran the spiral, you find yourself finishing up roughly to around where the bride and groom is. But sometimes it's just a notion or a gut feeling of what looks good. And I think that's--
Right, right. Okay, so one quick question, 'cause my mind wanders on these things. Was this the day of their wedding?
Yeah, this is the day of the wedding. In fact this is the same couple from the staircase. So that staircase is inside that building.
You know why I'm asking that? Because I'm assumed you're dressed up quite nice and you're climbing a tree to get a photograph. And so I'm looking at you in a tux standing on these branches photographing.
Yeah, nice pants, nice shirt, vest you know, so it was quite hilarious.
So you'll do anything for the shot.
Anything for the shot. But you know, safety always comes first, I guess.
All right. Now I've noticed you do have a lot of black and white, beautiful black and white. And I'm guessing that has to come from your printing days.
A little bit of, you're pulling that, bringing that forward. And so is black and white still relevant? That's just a Photoshop trick.
No it's not a Photoshop trick. Black and white does things. It does things because in an image, once you take the color away, all you have is shapes of ya know, shades of white gray and black. Okay now what that means is that sometimes color information is distracting so if you take the color information away it gets you to the message and the core of what the image is about far quicker than you would with a color image. And that's really what black and white photography is about, ya know. And also I love, I just love the feel and the look and the richness of a black and white print. And this had to be a black and white print, it couldn't be anything else, you know. I shot this, this was during a bridal shoot and it was a curved wall leading into a reception venue. I had my assistant just with a speed light on the other side of the wall, just where the bright is. Just creating a nice crisp shadow on that beautiful white wall and the ceiling was distracting so what we did was we darkened it right now and actually filled it with black because I just wanted the shot to have nothing more but blacks and whites. Little mid tones and the only mid tones you'll see are around the back of her and that beautiful curvature and the gradation of the wall. But yeah, black and white for me is about, it's far more emotive sometimes than a color picture and I've always loved black and white.
And it's so easy to do these days, 'cause you just shoot in RAW and you have a color version, you've got a black and white version, away you go.
Same again, black and white.
Yeah, this was during an engagement shoot in Melbourne and overlooking the city and this is a stairway at the back of an old school. And it was great just to get a moment with the couple that wasn't once again cliche, not even the pose is cliche. They're actually looking in opposite directions. Opposite directions, holding hands. I kinda wanted to show that like, you know, they're still connected, but they have their own personality which is what we're trying to show with this shot here and wanted to make it a little bit different, a little bit more graphic in content as far as just once again the blacks and the whites and the just the beautiful composition of lines that lead you to this couple on top of the staircase.
I think it's a really nice framing. So your process, did you scout this out ahead of time or were you working with them and you kinda worked into this and found it at the time?
I actually found it at the time. Yeah, so we were shooting, just below there's a lane way and we were doing some shots. Then we walked around and actually we were going back to the car, and I saw this staircase sorta leading up in the back of the old school and I go wow, it's open. There was a gate down below which wasn't locked, so that immediately says inviting! And no security issues, so we climbed up there. And I shot this actually with a 7200. Okay so a 200 mil because I wanted that compression then. That city scape is actually quite far away and I'm really far away from them. So fully at 200, I think the aperture on this would have been something around a fourish, something like that, just to get a little bit of that city. Not quite so sharp because I wanted to make them the center of, you know center of the shot by being sharp, by being, you know.
Yeah, well their silhouettes stand out so easily, it's you know, it's a fun photo with that.
Yeah. Yeah, another one! (chuckles) Another black and white. You picked all my black and whites.
So is, I'm assuming this is like a set up shot. This looks like it's a setup shot.
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.
Now do you have a studio that you work with or?
No, this is actually at the reception venue. So how this shot happened is very very simple. What you're seeing there is a frosted glass that is, that was part of the getting ready room for the bride and groom. Frosted glass. So I got the bride and groom to walk outside with the bridal party and rather than have drinks inside the room, I said let's have drinks outside and I got my assistant on the other side of them. I'm shooting from inside the building with triggers of course, remote flash, so we fire the flash, it creates a shadow onto the glass, and then really a double shadow because the light's reflecting black onto them and then spilling back onto the glass so we're getting these silhouettes that kind of have masks on them and it's quite interesting. And the flowers were just inside. The flowers were placed there by the bridesmaids and the bride and I kinda left them there 'cause I didn't wanna alter that. 'Cause that's the reality part. So that part was real. And then this part of them, it's still real, them being outside but I set that up and I wanted the image to look quite different. Once again a different bridal party shot, just with a different perspective.
But it's beautiful to have just something that's so unique and different than your regular shots.
That's just creative thinking and coming up with something great. Well thank you very much for sharing those. And I think we're gonna bring up a little page here, so if you're interested in Rocco's other classes, you have one already on the books called Capturing the Story, give us the brief 30 seconds on that class.
Capturing the story I'm presenting along another Australian great photographer and WPPI grand master that's Ryan Schembri, and we take you through the process of capturing story on a wedding day. We look at one of the most important aspects of photography which is light and how we work with light, very quickly and very easily on location, understanding that light really is the key to emotion and when you're talking about wedding photography we do wanna create some pretty dynamic and emotive images. We take you through the process of a wedding post production scenario, how we deal with a lot of images in the least amount of time and client relations. How we deal with clients, how we talk to clients. How we get emotion out of people on the wedding day. So that is that one. And then of course From Capture to Print, which we take you through the process from capture through to final print as I said earlier. So that's gonna be fun.
So if you don't mind sticking around for about 10 or 15 minutes, we're gonna take a look at some of the viewers photos and I'm gonna pull this open in Lightroom. And we'll work with this in kind of the develop module so that we can make any changes if we feel like we want to right away. And so from Harry Bandari, got some tulips here. And we've got great tulip fields just north of Seattle that are gonna be blooming here in the next couple of weeks. I'll probably be taking my annual trip up there for one of those trips. And so I'm guessing we're looking at a longer telephoto lens, some shallow depth of field and we've got fantastic color. You've got this repeating pattern of the flower that is just kind of a guinea for great shots. I guess I would like to see a more definitive one flower that you're going for. Like if you look a little bit behind where the point of focus is there's one flower that's up a little bit higher than the others, maybe focusing on that one, 'cause it's standing out just a little bit more. What do you think Rocco?
Absolutely, I think the idea is there and the execution is very very good. We just have to make sure that like John said, we have a point of interest. Now also if you notice the foreground, there is a tulip there which is really really standing out. That's kind of screaming to the viewers saying I wanna be the center of attention, but I'm out of focus. And that's kind of conflicting in your mind. So pick something that is gonna be the hero of the shot and then everything else needs to support that.
So lemme move my cursor, so you're thinking about this one right here?
Yeah, yeah, that one there. That's the first thing I saw.
So yeah, that one is really the only one that you can see in its entirety. And so that would be very interesting to see that. Put that in focus and then this left side with this kinda row there is bothering me just a little bit. I think if we just brought that in a little bit there. If we had that other one in focus that might be a really interesting shot.
That would, that would absolutely make a huge difference. But it's about, you know, cropping's so important because it's about accentuating the impact that you want to portray in the image.
Good advice. All right, next up and whoops, we jumped one there. Okay this is from Mojoman44 and I'm gonna be honest, I don't think this is a very good shot. I include it because a couple reasons. I could see myself taking this photo when I was getting started in photography. Okay, little side note here, I used to break dance, okay? And so I love break dancing. I know they call it b-boying I still can't, call it break dancing. And so I love watching this, I love watching because I have huge admiration for them. And I know like if I started taking photos, I was just happy to have something on film. You know I was just happy to have it there on film. But on this, I wanna see his face, I wanna see a better pose. I mean you know that something interesting's going on.
Absolutely. For me here it's about context, okay? It's about the environment and the position that he's in and it's about the story of what he's doing. At the moment I feel that the crop is a little bit tight. You know we're cutting off shoes, we're cutting off hands. You know, the people in the background are distracting. Probably because of the choice of the way the image is lit. Okay so the light is originating, I believe, from where the camera is? So the camera appliance, there may be flash on camera. It's illuminating the subject in the foreground, but it's also illuminating the background. Now taking your flash off camera, maybe putting it at a 45 degrees, creating some really beautiful dynamic light onto that dance floor. Step right back, include a little bit more of the environment and you would have had a very very different picture of the same scenario.
Yeah, it's a hard situation, there's very dark places like the dance floor on a wedding and so it's a challenging environment. And so you know you've got the focus, you've got the exposure which are the technical things you need to worry about, and now timing of it, and the background and the lighting.
Timing, timing is everything in this sort of stuff yeah.
But it's a good place to go, thanks for sending it in. Keep trying, keep putting it out there. Photography's something that we can all get better at. All right next up a little bit of a landscape shot here. Some lightning. And I've had some great history in shooting lightning. It's a lot of fun, very exciting.
Very dangerous. (laughs)
Yeah, ya gotta be safe. I love the fact that they've got that little guard house. You probably know more about that in Australia than I do. The colors are kind of interesting in this. And I'm not sure all of what's going on, but it's difficult to get, I mean they almost have sunlight and lightning at the same time.
Yeah, I think the shot is interesting, and it's actually, I'm actually enjoying the color palette. I think the color palette they've chosen is quite beautiful. You've got the yellows and the cyans coming through and the greens, and everything becomes very much complimentary which is really really nice. Now we gotta remember though in a picture, any time you present it to someone to view it, the human eye is attracted by two very important things, one of them is brightness and number two is contrast. And when I look at this picture my eye goes to the brightest part of the picture which is that beautiful sunlight in the background. So that really needs to come down in value a lot more to make that, I believe that the hero of the shot or the cookie if you like, is that little guard house and those little row of white, what are they? Little white--
Yeah it's a fence maybe perhaps, I'm not sure. Look like they might be painted rocks.
In the foreground acting as a compositional element taking you to the sunset. Now the sunset if that's toned down, then you start scout again to the brightest point, which will take you back through the horizon line, back to the guard house and that is the only thing I feel this image needs. And maybe a little bit of darkening at the top. Because as your eye moves up to the lightning, it's very interesting and it's very dynamic, but we have a very very bright spot at the top of the frame which kinda leads you out. So you wanna sorta come back in by just a little bit of vignetting that off or just bringing it back to what the story is about.
Very good, very good advice. All right so getting into sports photography. Do you shoot sports very much?
No I don't. I've got friends that do it, and I admire them because it's very difficult.
Yeah, I used to shoot a lot of sports and it's challenging 'cause you know if this is the leader and that's what you wanna get, you've got two seconds to get it. And we've got, we've got nice facial expression there. I love the fans in the background, aren't they great? I mean they really help tell the story. Possibly the one guy on the right hand side. His head is a little bit, maybe if we just crop that out just a tad bit.
Yeah, that's it.
And I think,
And so you know, I'm not sure how much the ethics go into it but I would, I almost feel like adding in, and I don't really have time for this, I'll just, I'm gonna do this real roughly. Just bring it down just a little bit, I may have gone too far here. But just darken that side. I'm a big fan of just small vignettes.
Yeah, very small.
Just because your eye goes to the lightest part. That's still a little heavy and it's with a hammer there. But just, and we used to do this in the newspaper all the time, you go and you dodge a little area. Just a little bit lighter bring it on to the face there. And we have another motor sports shot here. So great use of shutter speed, I think.
It is, and it's a great panning shot and the color works really really well. Both the cars, of course. But once again, you know, I think with shots like this, the fact that it's been cropped down to square it kinda feels awkward because you've got a moving subject running from left to right and your kind of eye wants to see motion in that direction.
It's very tight. It's probably too tightly cropped.
My feeling is is when I look at this, kinda from my photography knowledge is like there's a bunch of junk that they cropped out and it left them with this square. Ya know it's not, I kinda like, I like squares, I used to shoot with a Hasselblad and I like a wide cinematic look, but there's these kind of awkward ones that are somewhere between the, make me feel a little uneasy, especially when the area in front of that pink dragster is so small, ya know, it's less than the width of a tire.
It is, it kind of adds tension, but it's not really working for the composition, I think.
Yeah, and so it's good capture,
It is absolutely.
It's something you don't have a lot of control in those situations and so getting two of them close like that is nice. And so over all very good job.
All right so Ali Salah, in the library. And so these are great leading lines. Unfortunately, we're not getting big pay off there at the end. And so it's, ya know, it's a nice shot in the library, but wouldn't that be changed with a person down there looking at a book or?
It needs a cookie. It needs something in there. It needs something that ya know, your eye's going down this beautiful leading lines, reminds me a lot of those Stanley Kubrick one point perspective kind of cinematic except this is done vertically. But it's, ya know, you need something down there.
Like just one person walking down the hallway, so you see a nice silhouette of somebody.
Walking across frame at the very end, just something even if it was you know half a foot hanging out or half a leg to give us the notion that there is someone in this library, then yeah.
I like that term, the cookie. I've been talking about this extra element. But you know, I like photographs that you know are pretty good, they stand on their own, but then you add this one little extra thing, the cookie, and it suddenly becomes better. And so a little bit more of an industrial shot here. And so love the sky in this.
Yeah the sky is very dynamic. It's great. Not sure though about the turning on the right hand side. We have some yellowing coming through, not sure if that's actually there or if it's been added later, but it kinda becomes distracting, becomes like a stain, it becomes quite dirty. Also I don't know about compositionally if they should be in the center or if this should be a vertical shot.
I wanna turn the camera to the left and get those over to the right side of the frame. And I probably wanna get, there's this like a doorway or something just down at the bottom. And ya know, maybe if we do something like this.
Yeah, there ya go.
Simplifies it quite a bit. Also got rid of a lot of that yellow problem.
Yeah. It's great because then you've got the chimneys and your eye goes up the chimneys and you go up into these beautiful, ya know, detailed textured area of the sky which looks quite beautiful, and then you're eye starts to scout around, it comes down it picks up the roof line. Yeah, much better composition.
I think, yeah, it feels like there's much more connection between the chimneys and that light area right on the top, it feels more direct in this case.
All right, good shot. All right we were talking in the questions about star photography and here's a case where somebody used a longer shutter speed, I'm gonna guess maybe in the range of one, two, three, four, five minutes. And it's this awkward middle ground where you're starting to get star streaks, but they're not the full star streaks. Where you gotta do like, well back in the old days of film you do a four hour exposure or something. And now you have to do star stacking on it. And so I think either go shorter or do a stacking technique. Have you shot stars much?
No I haven't, I haven't.
And so the other little right hand, bottom right hand corner, that little bright area.
It's very distracting.
Yeah, you don't, don't wanna include those little bright spots if they're not important to you. And so I think maybe going, squaring that up a little bit helps there and so you might wanna try shorter shutter speeds if you can still get the star points. But it's, ya know, it's a matter of perspective. But that's kinda the standard in the industry you might say. All right, let's go to the next one here. All right, so little meta here, photographing what we're photographing here. And I love behind the scenes shots. And I think they're capturing a nice sunset and you know it's a way to have fun out there.
Yeah, it is.
Do you ever do shots like this?
I do, normally of guests taking photos of brides and grooms, so I like to shoot their perspective of what they're seeing so you get, you get this kind of scenario but with someone either holding an iPhone or maybe holding a camera and they're looking at the results. And I do it quite unobtrusively. But this one's interesting. I think I like where they were going with this image. Except compositionally once again, if we were to take maybe half a step to the right, then you see how we've got that crevice inside that, either a sand dune or a mountain, we either wanna frame that camera within that,
That'd be nice.
And just make a statement with that or we don't wanna do that at all. And come back and just close it off all together. So we have that continuous tone running across there. But that, you know, coming across to the right and just putting it in that little divot might be--
Might have to come back just a little bit, little bit to the right. You may have to kinda fake it a little bit with the camera ya know, pretend it's looking in the right area. Maybe you're not actually putting your camera in live view, you're playing back an image and so, yeah, there's a number of ways you can get creative with that. This is our last image, we're back down on the beach again. And so this kinda fits in with your small character. (Rocco laughing) Small silhouette, our eyes go directly to it, and so the line leads to it a little bit. It seems a little bit bright on the right side.
It does, it does. There is a lot of brightness. And I guess you could say the brightness is needed to create the silhouette, but also at the same time, if it's overly bright and the waves behind the surfer are very bright, it does become a distraction. And then your eye wanders off to the left hand side and it you kind of get caught up and you stay there. Because there's a lot happening in that foreground. There's some beautiful texture in the wave and you're kind of not really worried about what's happening up there so I think maybe the crop, you know, if we crop from the left hand side maybe a little bit more and just include a little bit more of the surfer to make the surfer the hero of the shot, which is what I believe this shot is all about. Would have had probably a different impact.
All right, all right. Great, thank you. You had some great advice here.