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Fred van Leeuwen
Cape Town, ZA

Articles written by Fred van Leeuwen

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

The Rise of The Mobile Photography Era - An Interview With Lara Aucamp

Digital photography, especially concerning smartphones, is taking the world by storm these days. It's become the norm to see people whip out their phones when something dreadful happens in public, or when they want to photograph that special moment with their friends while cruising down the freeway at some awful speed. When that wasn't extreme enough, there's the very recent case of the model hanging off the edge of Dubai's 307-meter Cayan Tower.

The Future of Photography - Adapt or Die?

Imagine living in the 1900s as a professional photographer. People were overdressed, kids were running around the streets, not with knives or guns, but with sticks, chasing something crudely resembling a wheel. Yet, photographers everywhere were getting upset. Not only because of some "weekend warrior" undercutting them, but due to the fact that Kodak unveiled something that would forever shift the photographic market for decades to come...