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How to make Travel Photos, while being at home?

Do you want to go on a journey?

But one without all the problems like a jetlag?
But also one in which you still have the travel "feeling"?
Well, than you're at the right blog!
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We're photographers, right?

If I go to another country, I take many photos.
And I bet you do that too.
I guess that must be something in the human nature,
to want to have something to remember them to their fun on their vacation.
All people, not only the photographer-like-ones, take photos when they're on a vacation.
Well, unless they're staying in a all-in hotel and don't do anything except for eating ice cream. 
Those who aren't photographer-like-ones usually only take pictures at places or with people they think are worth to be remembered (most of the time these places are worth to remembered).
This is something they do so when they are back home, 
they will think about that wonderful day and feel the vacation-vibe.

But there is something else many people take with them to remember their vacation except for photos and thoughts.
Something very simple, yet so attractive to buy that I had to buy a extra suitcase to store it.
Souvenirs.
You know, those little plastic things that you put on a shelf but never look at?
Well, dust them of 'cause we're going to use these things to take Travel Photos!

How to make beautiful Travel Pictures of dusty plastic souvenirs.

Before we will start at all, you have to do some preparation:
  1. Get your camera (and lens etc.)
  2. Get some souvenirs 
  3. Get some tissues to dust the souvenirs of
  4. Get some water (if you get thirsty, this is better than coke)
Okay, have you got everything ready?
Than let's get started!

What to do?

I'm going to divide this post in two parts:
  • How to set up the scene.
  • How to photograph it.
And both will be in this post, so prepare for some pretty lengthy stuff.

How to set up the scene.

This is the most fun part of the post.
Think about the vacantion where you got the souvenirs from.
Think about the vibe back there.
About the sounds, the smells.
Do you already feel like you are back at your vacation spot?
That's excatly what I thought!

Now, what souvenir reminds you the most of that vibe?
Of the smells and sounds.
Okay, picture the scene back there.
Where could you fit in the souvenir.
Like where did you see it, for example:
  • A shell at the beach
  • Chinese lions in front of a temple
  • A stone in the mountains (odd example, I know.)
  • A mini Eifel tower in Paris
  • A mini tower of Pisa, in Pisa of course
So, you've got an idea?
Good, get yourself a big sheet of cardboard.
Set up your scene and your ready to go.

Now you've got the "components" of the scene, it's time to create the vibe.
Ask yourself: "What's missing".
What made that moment unforgetable?
Was it the smell?
The temprature?
The sounds?
Or maybe a combination of all?
So the thing is: "How to you capture a sound or a smell (or both) in a picture?"

I will give you a example:
A few years ago, I was in china. When I entered a (random) temple there were a few thing I still remember today. It was crowded, hot and smokey. So how I'm going to capture this in a picture using a couple of porcelain Chinese dragon-lion-like-things, a roll of tape, cardboard, sand and post production. First: (I don't know for sure) there was a moongate, like the door of a Hobbit hole. Make this out of the roll of tape, and make the walls out of taped paper. Then put it on a sheet of paper coverd in small grain sand. Put the lions in front of it. And when you take the photo, hold a green sheet of paper behind the doors to make the post prodution easier. Play with the lighting to give it a midday look.
Isn't that a good example?
I already mentioned "taking a photo" so here we go to the second part of the post:

How to photograph it. 

This is a quite important part.
Since the picture must reflect the vibe there,
it musn't look to tiny-sized.
So try to keep your aperture value as high as possible.
And your ISO as low as possible (I always try this, just esthetics....)

As mentioned earlier, you should play with the lighting to imitate the time of the day.
Also play with the colour of it, by holding a coloured sheet of paper in front of the lamp.
Or take the picture using real daylight, at the right time of the day.
For my this is a problem , because in the Netherlands we still have a bit of snow.
And always those darn clouds.

Make sure there isn't any shadow on the scene, because that would look very unreal.
Like there was some kind of giant there.
Oh, that's also a great idea:
A photo series about some kind of pet or object in a miniture scene.
I will post something about that later.
Well, this piece is quite short isn't?
Let us continue to the next part (Bonus!):

How to do the post production.

So, what do we have?
We have a photo of a empty scene without a background.
It looks like it was taken there, and then.
Okay, I had three points which I clearly remembered from there:
  1. It was hot
  2. It was smokey
  3. It was crowded
In the photo I already coverd point one, the hot point.
Just by making it look like it was taken at a hot time of the day.
You could make this even better bij adding a slight heat distortion effect.
But then I had point two and three left.
So, how to solve these?

Well, that's where post production comes in!
To make it look smokey, just add a layer of smoke.
Add a new layer and paint some smoke one it.
You can "copy" a photo of smoke.
Somebody else would explain a way to do this better, but if you want just search google.

For the crowded point, you will have to paste in some people.
If you've got some miniature people, you could put these in the scene since that's easier.
If you've got some miniature soldiers, like my dad, you can put these in too.
You can, later on, just change the look of them.

And finally the background.
The actual temple.
Just delete the green screen so you've got a transparant area in your picture.
Then make a layer with (only) the temple.
And for the sky, just make another layer with a photo of a sky.

You'll just have to make all the exposures fit and you're ready!

But remember:
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearence of things, but their inward significance. 
What Aristotel was trying to say, is that you shouldn't capture what you see, but what you feel in a picture. Make the picture tell what you felt, not what you saw.

Mel

P.S.

Please comment, so I know what to improve.
I ain't got no program to edit the photos right now.
Next week the photos of this and next week will come at the same time.
Stay tuned!






How to harvest and use your inspiration.

Hi everyone.

You only get them when you don't need them so much!














For everything you do, you'll need inspiration.
Sometimes it isn't easy to find it when you need it.
Or sometimes the ideas just pop up in your head every second.
The ironic side of this is that you'll mostly forget these ideas very quick.
So when you have time to take some photos, your ideas are gone.

Some will say that in photography there isn't much need for inspiration.
They say like:
"You can just go out there and take a picture of everything you see.                                                             Make a nice composition and the rest is postprocessing!"
These people are the ones who say that a photo of jacket or something like it,
will be immediatly great when there's some kind of "vintage" filter applied to it.
These people will mostly say too that a great composition is only about the subject.
Not that it has to be intresting or so, but merely that it something their friends have photos of too.

If you want to take good photos which are more than just a snap shot.
Then please follow my tip:

Be prepared!

Okay, I know this sounds  a bit contrary to what I said earlier.
But you should have your camera with you as frequently as possible.
Maybe not to your work or school but when your free, always have it with you.
But for example:
"My parents love walking, so everytime I walk with them.                                                           I take my camera with me."
 Everybody knows the feeling when you see something incredible when you've forgotten your camera!
To capture a moment in a picture, you must have a camera with you.
Without a camera, photography-do is impossible to practice.

For example:
"When you walk along a lake and you see an egret. If you are prepared you will have your camera and some ideas with you. The camera will make sure that you have a photo. The ideas you already have, will make sure that you don't have to think ages before you can shoot. If you don't have some ideas prepared, the egret will be gone before you even got your camera out of the bag." 
What you don't want is a photo of a random moment without a meaning.
Or when the viewer can see clearly that it's just a image without any thinking involved when making it.
To prevent this from happening, follow my next tip:

Write your ideas down!

My sticky notes.






















I have always got a little notepad with me, to write down ideas.
And I know for sure many people too have one with them. 
When you get your inspiration out of the everyday life,you'll always have ideas.
But the ironic thing about ideas is:
The more you get, the more you'll forget.
So when you have a storm of ideas there is only one way to not lose them:
Write them down!

There is a nice quote about this:
"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninty-nine percent writing it down. Since ninty-nine minus one equals nitny-eight. You'll throw ninty-eight percent of your ideas away."
By Thomas Edison (edited by Mel)

Now: How to combine these tips!

This is very simple.
When you come home from school or from work, you just get your notepad out of your pocket and read it.
You should read it twice, or maybe ever three or four times.
But you should really learn all your ideas, except for the ninty-eight percent bad ones. :-)
And for when your memory isn't enough, you should also have take your notepad with you when you're out in the field.
So when you see something beautiful, you can take a quite look on your notepad to see how to make a great compositon with this.
Or maybe even get inpired for a fresh idea!

So get your inspiration out of everthing, write it down and throw lots of ideas away.
When you have you camera with you, you'll have ideas galore!

Mel

This quote fits this theme perfectly too:

"No one was ever great without a notepad"

By Marcus Tullius Cicero (edited by Mel)



How to photograph: candles!


Think about a sunset.
And a cake.
And add some cosiness to both.
Now combine these two (or three, it’s what you like!), what do you get now?
Exactly, a burning candle!
·         The colour of the light which a burning candle emits looks just like that of sunset.
·         You put a candle on cake, something what I immediately thought about.
·         And when all the lights are down and the only light is coming from a candle it feels either cosy or romantic. Glimlach
This said, I’m going to divide this post in two parts:
·       How to take photos with the light of a candle (the subject of this particular post)
·       How to take photos of a candle (the subject of a post which I’ll post later this year)
Well, have a great time reading.
I hope you’ll learn something from it.

I didn't have candles, or knew where to buy them. I'm very sorry....


How to take photos with the light of a candle as light.

Attention: it must be as dark as possible in the room whilst you are taking candle light photos.
While this actually seems pretty logical, I forgot to dim the lights while taking the first photo a year or so ago. Glimlach

Ad some extra candles

A candle doesn’t emit that much light, so I advise you to put some extra candles nearby.
If your “main” candle is on the right of the subject than put the other candles on the right too.
If you don’t, you’ll get almost no shadows.
Which is one of the things what makes candle light photography so beautiful, the shadow.
You see, you cannot accomplish the same shadows without a candle.
I think that candle light shadows are the best for two reasons:
·       They are very visible (They are very dark!)
·       They have/show a nice contrast between them and the sunset colour of the candle light
In my opinion, the only way to accomplish this is by putting in some extra candles.
No flash!
Okay, I said earlier that one of the beauties of candle light photography is the …… candle light.
So why would you ruin this by adding in some rather cold and sometimes ugly flash light.
If you’re a “master” of flash photography than I’m sure you could make some pretty photos with a flash.
Those won’t even look cold I suppose.
But for those of you who haven’t got some type of expansive flashes, please don’t use the flash of your camera!
If you insist on using the flash, you can hold a brown/orange sheet of paper in front of it so the light will be a bit “warmer”
Quite nice isn't it!















Make sure you “see” the candle!

Candle light is beautiful, as I told you already.
But it is even nicer when you include the candle in the photo.
I know that you could make some beautiful photos without including the candle.
At least candle light pictures are a lot more beautiful when it’s clear that a candle is used to light the photo.
There are other ways to do this except for just plainly showing it.
But that’s where your creativity comes in!
Just take a photo, and look at it.
Do you think it’s necessary to include the candle?
Than include it!
If you think it can stay out of the picture than keep it out!
A pretty good compromise is to keep the candles in the background.
As some beautiful bokeh.
This is (simply said) done by setting the aperture to a low value, so the background will be blurred.
This way you also can add like a halo around an object or person.
But than a halo made from distant candles, quite funny I think! Glimlach

Some lawn near my place, kinda cool I think!










Keep the white balance in mind!

The light is beautiful, but it has a very specific colour.
If you don’t mind the white balance, than it will just look … well …. ugly!
So set your white balance on auto, or just experiment.
Some technical stuff.
So you’ve got the composition?
You’ve got enough light?
Well then head to the technical part!
There are a few things to remember when making candle light photos:
·       Iso
·       Aperture (bokeh)
·       White balance
·       Shutter speed
Set the Iso as low as possible.
For some of you it will feel unnatural, because it’s a rather dark scene.
But I think you should always keep the Iso as low as possible, since high Iso values produce lots of noise.
Then the aperture.
It’s nice to have some bokeh from the candles, if it fits in the composition.
But most of the time you want to show the environment.
Candles have an aura you know.
They represent and are surrounded by romantics but also by cosiness.
It’s nice to show this.
And that’s why you’ll mostly have a large aperture when you make candle light photos.
To show the “aura”
I told you already about the white balance.
Oh yeah, shutter speed.
Since there isn’t so much light coming in, you’ll need a slow shutter speed and a tripod to make good photos.
So make sure the shutter speed is set on a low value.

Remember:
“Keep the aura in mind, do the technical stuff and make decisions. That’s what makes a great candle light photo!”
Mel

P.S.

The next post is about how to take pictures of photos, so subscribe to the mail list to be notified!

How to develop a unique style!

Okay, remember my last post?
That post about the link between Karate and photography?
Than you’ll maybe even remember the Kata part where I stated that you would learn something from copying others?
Well, I must say another thing about that.
Copying is fine to learn how to take beautiful pictures, but not to take your “own” pictures.
You see, everyone is different.
So everyone takes different pictures, that’s what called your photographic style.
It’s important to develop your own style, since that’s how people know a picture is yours.
They can see it “in” the picture.
You photographyic style can be about many things:
  • Your genre
  • Your subjects
  • Your lightning
  • Etc.
So if you don’t develop a own style, nobody will recognize you!
But how do you become unique
That’s where this tip’s about!
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Since it’s YOUR style, only you can decide how you’re going to develop it.
But I will try to give you some tips!

Tip 1: look at other photos!

You won’t be different unless you know what the competition looks like.
If you don’t know what the others look like, you can’t be different.
You must see them first, before you can make things different from them.
For example:
  • They take BW (black and white) photos; than you want to take color photos
  • They take landscapes; you like landscapes too so you are also going to take landscapes! (not everything has to be different!)
(These are actually no very good examples, since these are also genres of photography.)With “they” I mean the persons who took the photos where you have been looking at.
It’s impossible to make everything different, since there are almost as many photos in the world as there are people.
But to it is handy to look at some pictures first, before tryin to be different!

Tip 2: be creative!

People take pictures because of many different reasons.
  • They want to capture a moment
  • They want to create art
  • They want to show something to others
  • Etc.
So many people take photos.
You have to stand out, if you want to become a better photographer.
Try new ideas or invent new ways to do others.
Be creative and be always thitnking.
For example, many people make the same kind of photo:
A human figure in the middle in front of something.
You can make a photo from a reflection of a human figure.
If you like this, and you specialise yourself in it.
Your photographyic style can be(come) reflections.
Or black and white reflections, of reflection portraits.
This won’t say you can’t make another (no reflection) photo.
For example, someone with the clothing style "gothic" can wear “normal” clothing if he or she likes that.

My point is:
“If you know the others, you can stand out. If you are creative, you’ll find ways to stand out.
Those ways, that's what I would call: your photographyic style!”
Mel

PS

A photographic style is almost impossible to describe.
So please forgive me for the bad examples I have written in this post.

The link: Karate!

How do you learn photography?


Follow the path; Photography-do!















Do you have actually thought about that only even once?
I think a lot of you haven’t, don’t you?
Maybe you know why I’ve chose the suffix –do to follow photography?
If you don’t, if chosen it because it means something like “way of life” or “way of life development”.
And maybe you know where it comes from?
Karate-do, Judo, etc.
All of these Japanese sports have at least three things in common:

1.    They are martial arts
2.    They are also developing the mind and spirit
3.    They have the suffix do or -do in their names

Got it, that's where I've got the suffix -do from.
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Previous year I've got two new hobbies:

1.    Karate-do
Another art to combine: Bonsai(-do)!
2.    Photography

You might think why I tell you this.
I tell you this because they have something in common.
They are both arts!
Although Karate isn't an ordinary art, but it's a form of art.
Now, you can combine most forms of art:
  • You can paint some nice abstract, feeling related art while listening to music.
  • You can be inspired by a photo or video to compose music
And many more to list! (You can write some examples in the comments.)
So, what's the way to combine Karate and photography, you might think.


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Most modern Karate dojos will teach you Karate in three parts:
  • Kihon: "the techniques"
  • Kata: "the form"
  • KumitĂ©: "the fighting"
I think that this is something to remember in photography:

Kihon!


You can't get any further in any art unless you know the basics.
This is the goal of kihon, to know and master the basics.

Only if you know the basics very, very well than you can go on to the advanced techniques.
While this seems logical, many people seem to forget it.
They just want to make that one beautiful portrait, without knowing how aperture works.
Or they want to make that one great landscape, without even knowing how shutter speeds affect this.

Actually this sounds like me, in my first months. 
Some may think kihon is boring, but when you see the use it becomes fun!
So even learning how the aperture numbers work and affect other technical stuff is useful.

You can do this every free second!
For example by:
  • learning the numbers of aperture, for example from a written note
  • learning how aperture affects other things
  • looking at great pictures and thinking about how these were made
  • looking at even greater pictures and thinking about how these were mad
  • searching for great compositions in everyday things and situations
  • learning about different styles as a beginner
  • etc.
When you've mastered the techniques, you want to apply them:

Kata!

Kata are forms which are already set.
It's just like dancing (another combination of arts) with your techniques as dance steps.
I think this is a great way to see progress, without other influences.

The way this Karatepart applies in photography is simple:
Just chose a beautiful photo or painting of something you have near you.
Then, try to replicate that by applying the techniques learned with kihon.
If you are, after several attempts, satisfied with the result(s).
Than you chose another photo to replicate or to make an even better photo.
The thing is, you learn your techniques very good this way.
And you will look different at photos, so you will learn something every time you look at a photo.

Some may think that this too is boring and not creative.
But it is creative in the way that you are solving the problem of getting the settings right.
And making a composition and so on.

It's just as creative as painting (trying to replicate something in the real world on a canvas).
So practice this, when you think you are ready for it.
It can also be done with a series of examples instead of with a single example photo:

Kihon!

Kihon is fighting, applying the techniques in (almost) real world situations.
Practicing with an opponent.
It's hard to see how to apply this in photography, or just very simple.
Just go out there and take some photos.

Your  whole second stage of  your "do",  rolled up for you!

















Not a pair of photos, but like 100 photos or even more.
The thing with this is that many people are going to take lots of photos.
This isn't a bad thing at itself, but the bad thing is that they take 99 bad and only 1 good.
They just shoot, they don't think about the photo.

You can't fight, without knowing how to punch (or kick)!
Don't forget your techniques and you kata experience.
Think about technical part of photography before even going out the door!
Think about the lighting of the photo.
Think about the colour of the light.
Think about the weather, the distance to the location and everything else.

When you arrive, find a great subject.
I know, when you go close everything looks nice.
But you want to take a photo of something that's telling a story.
Or is just so beautiful that it MUST be on a photo.
Than visualize the picture you want to take.
Think about how to take it.

By the way, all of this can be done in a second or so.
But only if you know you Kihon and Kata well.
Than focus, and take your photo.

Repeat this at least 100 times, and you will be a better photographer.
This way you have 99 great pictures and 1 bad.
The only bad picture is the one taken before you started thinking!

I guarantee you, when you train this way.
You will be ten times better in no time!


Take a look "in" my website and you'll discover the secrets of photography.
















But:

"You can't fight without knowing how to punch or kick. So learn how to punch well and you will be the next Rocky."
Mel

PS

This is the first of “the link” series, more will come about Karate and many other arts like music and painting. So let me please know what you think about it. Ossu?(Okay)