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Fred van Leeuwen
Cape Town, ZA

Articles written by Fred van Leeuwen

My First Day With the Rode VideoMic Pro+

One thing I've found to be of paramount importance to any form of video, cinematic or otherwise, is the quality of your sound. Your movie can have beautiful visuals but if the audio is of poor quality it has the potential to turn away viewers. I started vlogging a few months back and discovered just how important sound was when it came to producing my videos on YouTube. Soon, I realized just how bad the audio was and knew it was time to invest in a proper solution. Enter the Rode VideoMic Pro Plus.

The Story Behind a Landscape Photograph

What is it about landscape photography that draws us back into nature? Is it waiting for the perfect light to hit the mountains overlooking a vast, green valley? Is it sitting on a rocky shore, listening to and witnessing the sheer power of Mother Nature's waves crash against the rocky shore? Is it the calmness of a misty pine forest at dawn, waiting for the sunrise and hearing the gentle crack of the trees, as a gentle breeze sweeps through the branches? Or is it the thrill of chasing a storm, down a highway in the countryside, while being pelted with hail the size of golf balls?

A Quick Guide to Lens Whacking

From coating your lenses with Vaseline to creating pinhole cameras, we all love experimenting with camera and lens hacks from time to time. While it's hardly a new found trick, and while it's not as harmful as it sounds, lens whacking can give you impressive effects to give your footage just that extra bit of finesse and adds a lovely romantic element overall, especially when combined with slow-motion footage.

Creating a Whip Pan Transition in Adobe Premiere Pro

Since I discovered movies made by Edgar Wright and movies such as Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope," Alejandro Iñárritu's "Birdman" and "The Watchtower of Turkey" by Leonardo Dalessandri, I've always been fascinated by the way the footage just seems to flow into one another, and no usual cuts are visible. It has a way of keeping the viewer's full attention and keeps them intrigued as to what might happen next. It's a great way of keeping a good pace in your production, whether it be a full feature film or a music video.

Your First Real Love: The Story of How You Met Photography

Remember the time you first discovered photography? That day of unboxing your first camera and going out into the backyard and photographing just about anything you come across. That perilous voyage you embarked on, trying to get that bee perfectly in focus as it hovers above the flower or the macro image of the tree bark shot in shallow depth of field. The first sunset you shot. The first time you launched Photoshop in the 90s and then publishing your first portfolio on DeviantArt soon after. Landing your first job as a photographer. The stresses that followed and the mistakes you made. If you could do it all over again, would you do it any differently?

Easily Create a Product Shot Using Composites

I absolutely love shooting commercial work in the studio. Who doesn't? Shooting in a studio environment allows the photographer full control over the lighting and the subject. It also allows for full creative freedom over what you can composite into the shot if needed by easily matching up the lighting. Earlier this week I had a few hours of downtime and decided to shoot a bottle of Bacardi Dark Rum in my studio. Using a softbox I built myself a few weeks ago, I decided to take it on a test run using the bottle of Rum as my subject.

My Journey to Create a Composite Image

We all love a good composite, don't we? C'mon! You're probably going "No! They're all fake. It's all Photoshop, therefore it should be easy and shouldn't be a genre of photography at all! While some bad composites do exist, why not look at the other side of Dali's surrealistic, time-melting deserts and analyze the way it makes you feel when you study these types of images? How about we dive into the rabbit hole head first and find out what it takes to create a composite image?

Is Social Media the Death of Creativity or the Birth of a New Creative Era?

I often think back to what it must've been like being a photographer before the birth of the Internet, the social media craze, and the hunt for likes, shares, and follows. Photography was less convoluted before the dawn of the digital age, with specialist magazines and museum and art gallery submissions showcasing only the cream of the crop. Browsing through old magazines and reading the articles, it's clear that the top-tier photographers stood out amongst the rest of the crowd for their raw skill in their art form. Their images meant something to many of those who took the time to stop and look at it for longer than two seconds.

Create Your Own Lighting Modifier on a Budget - Part II

Over the years of using my personal set of studio lights, I've found I've become increasingly frustrated with the growing cost of equipment such as softboxes and scrims. While these are necessary when shooting in a studio, I couldn't justify spending all that money for a massive softbox when it's actually quite easy to build one yourself. All it takes is a bit of time and effort, but once you're done, you're left with a solid sense of achievement and a light modifier that has a lot to offer.

Create Your Own Lighting Modifier On A Budget - Part I

Since moving into my new house about a month ago, I've been thinking more and more about creating my own studio setup using as little resources as possible. As much as I'd love to own a huge Profoto Octa in my house, it's just not always possible. So why not build your own lighting rigs using equipment readily available at your nearest hardware store?

Get Creative Using Composites

If you're like me and love spending time both shooting and editing your images, why not get creative and refresh those deep-etching Photoshop skills when you've got a few hours in between projects? Composites look really neat, but there's a lot of work and patience that goes into it behind the scenes and if done correctly, it would look amazing and really take your conceptual photography to the next level. In this article, I'm going to talk about creating a composite step-by-step and to finish it off, I've recorded a retouching time-lapse of the process.

Using a Retoucher to Take Your Photography Further

Now I know there have been countless articles posted about why retouching is important, or why it’s downright frowned upon. But imagine, as a photographer, being able to free up so much more time by outsourcing the editing to a trusted retoucher.

From SLR to Medium Format: My First Encounter With the Hasselblad X1D-50C

Remember that feeling you had as a child, every time you pass a toy shop window and you could see your favorite toy? You pass that window, and your favorite toy sits there, waiting for you to play with it regardless of all the other forgotten toys you have waiting for you back home. All you can do is just imagine the fun you could have with it every day. The toy you'll never get tired of playing with. The toy that allows every day to become a new adventure. The toy that becomes your new best friend.

The Difference Between Studying Photography and Teaching Yourself

As a young, rebellious teenager in love with music and films, I discovered my love of photography when I was handed an old Olympus film camera and I have since fallen deeply in love with the art of photography. Years went by as I experimented with different ways of shooting and discovering new ideas I wanted to pursue in this medium until I finished school and needed to think seriously about what I wanted to do in life. The choice was easy: either become a musician or a photographer.

Shooting With Different Cameras, Does it Lead to Inspiration?

For the last decade I’ve been sticking to my guns, shooting on a Canon 5D Mark II with a small selection of lenses. This camera has been the love of my life for so long even my family and friends get jealous. But what if you get the opportunity to dive into the dark depths of the deep end and shoot with a camera you’ve never dreamed of having the opportunity to shoot with before?

Shooting for Free - Is It Worth It?

As a full-time freelance photographer, we often ask ourselves why we should work for free, especially at the start of our careers. Are we being taken for a ride, or is it worth investing in our client for possible future returns?

Living by the Three Song Rule as a Band Photographer

One thing I’m sure all band photographers, like myself, question all the time, is the necessity for the Three Song Rule limit at live concerts. Is it still as necessary as promoters and agents make it out to be, or is just because it’s become the norm over years?

The Art of Overcoming a Creative Block as a Photographer

What if you woke up one morning and found yourself unable to come up with any good ideas on what to shoot next? You spend the entire day scouring the web, reading books, or talking to people and yet you still can’t come up with anything good? You’re so desperate, in the end, you just grab the camera and start shooting, but nothing good comes from it. Everything you shoot feels like it's only halfway there and doesn’t quite meet the standards of your photography or that of your peers. This happens to all of us, and before you think this is just another guide to getting you out of this rut — it isn’t.

Thunderstruck: A Guide to Photographing Lightning Part II

I absolutely love post production as a photographer. For me, a job is 50% photography and 50% retouching. One compliments the other. I get just as excited photographing my images as I get to retouch them. And when I captured a lightning storm in Cape Town a few weeks back, it was no different.

Thunderstruck: A Guide to Photographing Lightning Part I

I love visiting the countryside. It's a great way to unwind, relax, and forget about the daily office hustle, the traffic, and whatever else is synonymous with a suburban lifestyle. As a photographer, the first thing I pack is my camera bag in the hopes that I'll get a chance to capture some landscape shots. What I did not expect is to get more than I bargained for. Especially this last weekend.