New Year Reflection #1

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I shot this image about 4 years ago, in the corner of the common room at university.

I never would have thought that this many years later it would come to be face of my brand, representing the genre bending fine art & fashion work I aim to produce. I’m aware that my work is nowhere near at the level I want it to be and at times I worry greatly about this. But this is a new year. It’s time to let go of any doubts and fears that have held me back. Now is the time to go forward and grow!

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Peregrine

Peregrine (adj):

  • Having no fixed home; changing location regularly as required for work or food.

Peregrine

Original Idea & Inspiration

This image is completely different to the one I originally set out to shoot. Unlike most of my other images, there was no sketch for me to refer to, nor did I make a mood board for inspiration.

Originally, I had the idea of shooting an image of this character who has been travelling for a long time down this long winding path. I wanted to suggest a sense of oddity by having them carry a suitcase to which they are handcuffed, that perhaps what lies in this suitcase is so valuable to them that they can’t let it go. In fact, the more that I thought about this reading, the more I felt that the image would mean something more significant, becoming a commentary on the way in we carry the weight of people, thoughts and feelings that we just can’t discard. I also wanted to hint at the character being some kind of outlaw, or someone who isn’t quite aligned with the rest of society; maybe someone who is a little bit more ‘freer’, yet are so constrained.

Suitcases are somewhat of a reoccurring theme in my work, particularly in my images Bearing The Burden and Detour, and I had both of these images in mind when I shot Peregrine. To be honest, I was a little worried, as I knew that all of these images would end up being similar, and although I suppose this is the case, I do think that Peregrine is more considered and shows a more thorough context.

Looking back for the inspiration of the image, I suppose I can trace the use of a suitcase back to the film The Two Faces Of January, which I watched only a few days ago, in which a character carries a suitcase of money around with him everywhere but I also like this idea of creating an image that has a bit more of a dynamic. Most of my images are quite still, so I thought that it would be great to shoot an image of someone running as it shows that the character has more of a purpose or a final destination in mind. My work is very much tied with the themes of uncertainty and journeys, which link to my overarching commentary about the duality of freedom and constraint within contemporary society.

The Set Up & Camera Settings:

Cinematography, as it always is, was very much an influence in this image, particularly in the way that I decided to place the camera:

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Normally, I shoot my images quite straight on so that the subject is parallel with the camera, but I decided to switch it up a little bit and placed the camera and tripod on a bench to raise the angle of the shot. Shooting from different angles is something I really want to experiment with, but as I’m still in the middle of a series, I don’t want to just start switching up the MO too much.

In terms of the set up for the image, I had the tripod and camera in place, and as I didn’t have an assistant, I decided to set the focusing of the camera to the center focus point, so that I knew where I’d have to be when the shutter clicked. I activated the shutter using my wireless remote set to timer mode, handcuffed myself to the suitcase and starting running back and forth to get the shot!

Here is a gif of other poses I had shot:

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Here were my camera settings:

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After I’d shot the poses and knew that there was at least one that I was happy with, I then expanded the frame, as I knew that I wanted the image to be quite a lot bigger to put a fair amount space between the character and the landscape. I almost always expand the frame by shooting the main image, then tilting and shooting two frames upwards (so that the images overlap one another) and then downwards. I Always do it in columns so that when it comes to photo merging them in photoshop so it is easier for me to organize the images which makes the process that little bit quicker.

I then swivel the camera left and right and do the same if I need to build a wider image. For this image, the frame expansion was quite challenging as it was quite windy, which meant that I ad to wait for the wind to die down before I shoot the images as I wanted to make sure that they matched up properly.

Postproduction:

As you can see by the editing video, my postproduction for this image consisted of only a three steps:

  1. Frame Expansion
  2. Compositing The Sky
  3. Colour Grading

Firstly, I make sure that I have expanded the frame using photo merge to make sure that I have an image that is not only a lot bigger than the standard singular image size, but doing this allows me to crop into my image without compromising the quality, which is super helpful in case I may need to print the image out in the future.

I then composited the sky. The reason I did this is really twofold. The first is because when I expanded the frame; I knew that I didn’t go high enough to get the full natural sky in the final image, so I shot a series of images of the sky at the location afterwards to photo merge so that I could add it in later. The second reason, very much the same reason I added the birds in post was because I’m interested in creating a ‘constructed’ image, especially one where it may not necessarily appear that it has been manipulated so much in photoshop. I know that some people may refer to this as more digital art than photography, but realistically, the advent of digital technology has changed the very definition of photography and I think that it’s future lies within the digital realm. Also, I like to think of photography as a way to reimagine reality and to create events and moments that did not happen. There is a nice little paradox with regards to photography and authenticity as I consider that all photographs are both documentarian and fictitious at the same time.

Lastly, when I was happy with the frame expansion and the sky, I then colour graded the image, which is actually just a process of messing around with selective colour layers, curves adjustment layers and adding solid colour adjustments to selected colour range areas. I really liked how underexposed the original image was, but I realized that keeping it like that would make the image too dark, and it would eliminate all of the details within the image.

Although, I really liked the natural colour palette, but I decided to add some of the same colour blue in the character’s shirt to the sky to visually tie the image together as well as changing the greens of image to a colour that’s more vivid, without being too saturated.

I also used some Adobe Kuler (an app which I highly recommend) swatches that I made ages ago to sample from. When I made them I just picked a bunch of random colours that I don’t often use, so that it is easier for me to remember to use them (otherwise I’d just completely forget!).

Here are some of the ones I used if you want them:

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Detail Shots:

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Adding the birds to the image was a completely spontaneous idea. I thought that, as there was so much vast sky, I wanted the viewer’s eye to be looking at something other but I didn’t actually think that they would so much to the overall image. The title, Peregrine, suggests a person who has no fixed home, someone left to wander around, looking for food and shelter, but it also the name of a bird. For me, the inclusion of the birds really ties the character to the idea of wandering, uncertainty and perhaps even escape, whether that’s from a certain someone or from or the escape from living a “normal” life. I also like to think that the birds suggest a certain sense of freedom for the character and by having them both travel in opposite directions gives the image more of a lonely and desolate undertone.

I hope you’ve enjoyed watching the editing process and reading about my image! If you have any questions, you can contact me by posting a comment below or contacting via the following social media sites!

Facebook

www.facebook.com/AaronSehmarPhotography

Twitter:

www.twitter.com/aaronsehmar

Instagram:

www.instagram.com/aaronsehmar

Email:

aaronsehmarphotography@gmail.com

Also, I would be very grateful if you could share my video or post! Any support is much appreciated!

10 Free Wood Textures!

Hey All!

I was going through my archive of textures the other day and, as I don’t really use them much nowadays, I thought I’d share some for other photographers to use with no restrictiions!

Here’s the link:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/whwi7msva27uduh/A.S.P%20Wood%20Textures.zip?dl=0

Please keep in touch, I would love to see what you do with them!

Have a nice day!

Best,

Aaron Sehmar

Location, Location, Location

 

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Today I went location scouting for an upcoming shoot I have yet to schedule and it really got me thinking: What do I look for in a location?

No matter the genre, I think that location is one of the main components of any shoot and I’m really trying to experiment more with shooting outside, particularly in my fashion work. I love using the studio, and have a few shoot ideas planned, but right now, I prefer the interactivity outside locations provide.

Most of the locations I shot are either of wide expansive spaces or of geometric, colourful buildings. I’ve realised that I love to shoot in places that have a lot of character. Here are a list of things that I look for in a location:

Geometry

Because it’s cool and great to experiment with!

 

Space

Width and depth for both portrait and landscape shots. Or establishing shots and mid shots, as directors would refer to them as!

The space is very important as if you are shooting an editorial, you have to consider where the text is going to be, so you’ll need to make space for that. Also, you have to consider how far the model is going to be from the camera and, ultimately, how much detail of the clothes you’ll be able to see.

 

Shapes

The shapes that the building/locations make and how I can contrast that with shapes the model/clothes make.

 

Colour

Which is an integral part of my work as I most often think about what the post processing is going to be like when I visit the location. I try and finding buildings that are either vibrant and will look amazing with a model wearing neutral clothes or building that are neutral that will look cool with models who are wearing vibrant clothes. I most likely will have a certain colour in mind for my shoots that will be the ‘main’ colour upon which I shall base the colour scheme around.

As you can tell, I take colour very seriously! 🙂

Light

Which is probably an obvious thing to think about but it is something I constantly aware of. When I’m at a location I ask myself:

How much natural light will this location give an image I shoot here?

Will this mean i’ll need to bring external lighting?

How can I bounce/diffuse/change the light to create a variety of images in the same spot?

I would totally suggest for everyone to go and shoot in the sun. I used to be afraid of doing that and I would wait for days when it was overcast (quite often here in Great Britain!) but i’ve realised that as a photographer, you able to control the light through your camera settings.

It’s such an obvious thing to say but how many times have you shot an overexposed image (in raw) when it was sunny and thought that you’ll fix it later in post production only to find that the overexposed areas go a weird dark beige colour….

Anyway, that’s enough about me, tell me, what do YOU look for in a location and how important do you think that it is to an image?

 

 

5 Websites Every Photographer Should know

For me, a career in photography seems to be as much about technicality as it is about creativity. Because of this, I’m often looking for websites which can help me to continually learn about the more technical aspects of photography. Here are my favourite 5 websites that I feel every photographer should know about!

Feel free to leave a comment on this post if you know of any other great resources!

1. Phlearn

http://www.phlearn.com

phlearn

Easily one of the best photography resources out there, Phlearn was created by the super awesome photographer Aaron Nace.

The website offers free photoshop tutorials which cover all aspects of photography and the content is aimed for both amateur and professional photographers alike.

You can also buy Phlearn PRO tutorials which are recorded and created by Aaron Nace himself, which I would highly recommend!

2. Retouching Academy

http://www.retouchingacademy.com/

RA

Ran by amazing photographers such as Julia Kuzmeko McKim and Michael Woloszynowicz, Retouching Academy is community built to promote and educate photographers about retouching industry. Their aim is to highlight how to exist as professional photographer/retoucher in the current photographical age.

Although the site is heavily based around retouching, I think that it is a great website for any photographer to look at as there is a trove of information that is to be gained from the creative talent there.

3. The Fashion Photography Blog

http://www.fashionphotographyblog.com/

FPB

The Fashion Photography Blog is run by photographer Melissa Rodwell (with contribution from a whole host of other photographers) and it is a priceless source of information for any fashion photographer. This site is one of my go-to sites when I feel that I need to really learn more about the industry and because Melissa is a fashion photographer who is actively working whilst maintaining the blog, you can be sure that the information is up to date and industry standard.

4. Photoshelter

http://www.photoshelter.com/resources

PS

Photoshelter is very different from the other sites I have included on this list. Although it primarily serves as a ‘make your own website’ site, I have found their resources page, featured above, to be highly valuable. With photography guides spanning a range of subjects such as pricing your work to how to marketing, you are bound to find information that is useful to your chosen genre.

5. The Breed

http://jointhebreed.com/

TB

Founded by  Marius Troy and Melissa Rodwell, The Breed is the ultimate fashion photography resource. Unlike most of the other sites above, without singing up for a paid membership, The Breed really won’t help you that much, as most of it’s content is exclusive (and rightly so) to it’s members. Even so, The Breed offers advice on a range of topics from what to expect from a photography agent to how to build up a great portfolio. Although I haven’t signed up as a member to this site just yet, I imagine that it would be well worth the money!