Articles written by Ryan Cooper
It is no secret that Nikon is starting to fall behind in the lens game, partly because competitors, such as Sigma and Tamron, have doubled down on quality and focused heavily on innovating, but also partly due to Nikon's seeming unwillingness to invest in new and updated, innovative designs. As the demands of modern sensors expand, so does the demand for sharp, high resolution glass. Nikon has several legendary lenses in their past, which with a modern facelift could become some of the most competitive lenses in today's market.
When the term "compositing" comes up, one often considers it a destructive, transformative process that involves frankensteining a myriad of images into a single, completely new, composition. This method can draw as much ire as it does praise. Personally, I love great composites, but many feel that they are too fake. Not all compositing has to be a metamorphosis creating a brand new image, however. By leveraging compositing technique to make slight alterations to your image you can, instead, create a shot that is much more true to reality but still creates a sense of fantasy or surrealism.
Photographers almost always begin as artists. The camera doesn't draw the interest of the business minded, rather, it draws the passion of the creative. We all entered this pursuit chasing expression of some sort or another. For some, that passion eventually transforms into the longing for a career. The business of photography, however, throws a nasty wrench into the artistic pursuit of photography forcing photographers to overcome several of our most core creative instincts in order to create value that a client is willing to pay for.
Some photographers value the technical aspects of a lens above all else. Others prefer lenses that create unique, if not technically perfect photos. The Helios 40-2 85mm f/1.5 is for those in the latter camp. This lens is famous for its characteristic swirly bokeh, and in that it does not fail to disappoint.
I’m baffled by how often I encounter photographers who tell me they have been shooting for years but still haven’t created their portfolio because their work isn't good enough. After a bit of convincing, I can usually prompt them into sending me a few shots to take a look at, only to find out their work is more than ready to be displayed.
There is no shortage of amazing videos on the subject of photography. The field is broad. Every once in a while, however, there is a video that pops up which leaves me with my jaw on the floor. Whether it invokes the magic of inspiration, or opens doors I didn't even know existed, those sorts of videos stand out as keystones of great, inspirational teaching.
Adding a colored background to your studio shots can vastly change the impact of a studio photo. The most obvious method to do this is by collecting an army of colored backdrops that take up space and are a headache to swap in and out from shoot to shoot. Instead, it is quite easy to build this coloring effect using Photoshop so that you can shoot each image using a standard white or grey background.
I've bought many books on photography over the years. Most of them I only read partially because they were largely offering the exact same thing that so many other books had already offered, most of which, frankly, was already openly available online from sites like Fstoppers for free. I keep buying them, though, not because I'm a masochist that likes wasting money, but because every once in a while, I come across a book that breaks the trend and grabs hold of me from cover to cover, giving me a completely new perspective on my art. This list aggregates some of my favorites that I think you may really enjoy.
Lately, I've seen a surge of photographers complaining that they just don't know where to begin when getting started with portraiture. Taking that first step can be a daunting feeling, especially considering that you need to convince someone to take a leap of faith and model for you, despite your complete lack of a portrait portfolio. Personally, I never had a problem finding eager models; it came quite easily for me, so I figured now is a good time to share that experience and maybe give some soon-to-be amazing portrait photographers a little extra help in jumping out of the nest.
Recently, a rather scathing article went up on Resource Mag’s website discussing the toxic behavior of a certain photographer. You can feel free to read the article. I, however, won’t mention him here other than to say that he is the sort of person who claims to be a teacher, but instead uses his fame to attack and belittle other, less experienced, photographers. He has made a hobby of robbing others of their love and passion for his own selfish delight.
This week, Instagram awed us all by rolling out one of the simplest and most obvious features that we had all been clamoring for for years. OK, maybe I wasn't awed, but boy does multiple account support make my life so much easier. I’m no longer typing in my Instagram passwords 30 times per day, which got me to thinking: as a platform, Instagram is pretty good, but its features are still notoriously primitive. Here are a few features I think they should add that would make my life much easier.
Almost everyone goes through times when the belt need to be tightened because money just isn’t abundant. During these times when income dips, we need to take care to avoid spending as much as possible. Photography, however, is an expensive vocation that seems to be an endless drain on the bank account. It becomes increasingly helpful to avoid having to replace gear you already own due to wear or damage.
We all have that time of year when lethargy seems to run rampant by pulling our desire to keep creating great photos to the ground. For Vancouver, where I live, that time is right about now. Vancouver was carved out of the middle of a rainforest, which means we have a rather aggressive rainy season. It is pretty common to go weeks without even seeing a hint of sun. During this time, the motivation to shoot seems to wash away. As photographers, we need to take this time to toss several new logs on the fire and re-ignite that passion that is threatening to slip away.
As competition in the photography industry becomes tighter and tighter, the challenge of building a successful career with the camera is ever growing. In response to this, the industry continued to fragment into an array of smaller, niche, industries where each photographer specializes in a specific area of expertise. In an vocation once filled with photographers who were focused on shooting nearly anything, the classic, generalist, photographer has become a rather rare breed. Viktoria Haack is an example of a young, rising, star who has not only chosen to buck this trend, but who has also managed to build a successful career in the process.
Fake contact lenses (also known as circle lenses) are becoming wildly popular. They seem to have first started to gain momentum in the cosplay world but have begun growing well beyond that. I've started to encounter models regularly wearing them, especially ones focusing on Asian fashion trends. Circle contacts look great at a glance, they make the pupil larger and often change its color to be more exciting. When walking around in real life or when in video the eye is constantly moving so the weakness of being obviously fake is much less apparent. However, when photographed the eye is frozen in perfect sharpness which instantly reveals how fake circle lenses can look, especially the cheaper ones.
The new year has arrived! Time to stop making excuses as to why you can't make better images. The only barrier to creating the work you really want to create is you. Cast aside your goofy excuses that you use to justify your failings. Do what it takes to become the photographer you want to be and do it now!
Not every shoot goes according to plan; sometimes, everything goes wrong and nothing seems to fix it. Each time you look at the back of your camera, the photos just seem wrong. This isn't your work or vision. You just aren't on your game. But that doesn't change anything for your client! They still expect professional quality images that meet the standards of your portfolio. Rather than panicking and sending the entire shoot off a cliff of miasmic distress, take a moment to gather yourself and reorient the shoot so that it can still be successful, even if you don't end up delivering exactly the perfect images that you originally had in mind.