Thursday, April 05, 2007

From Travel Photography to Fashion Photography

Amit, the young aspiring model got ready. The studio lights were switched on. Munish explained the lighting situations, like positioning of lights, shadows, no of lights to be used, etc. The group was further sub-divided into groups of two each. Everyone was to play photographer and assistant photographer in turns.

For many of us, including me, this was to be the first experience of photography under studio lights. We were left on our own to shoot. I set my camera to Av (Aperture priority) mode. My knowledge till then said that portraits are shot with large aperture for shallow DOF or throwing background out of focus to make the object stand out. Well that funda went through the window very fast. It turned out to be true only for Outdoor shots, not for indoor shots. I shoot the first photo at f/5.6. It was a horrible shot, good enough only to be kept as a memento. Soon someone more experienced pointed out that in indoor studio lighting situations Av mode does not work. So one has to override it and use M (Manual) mode instead. Good lesson 1.

However, lesson 1 imparted by the fellow learner also had a bad part to it. -- Keep shutter speed at 1/60 and aperture at f/8. Without applying much thought, I shot almost all 50 odd photos at that setting. The disappointment was huge, when photos were analyzed later with Munish. Most of them got unacceptably overexposed.

As the shoot progressed I picked up few new things. Like using a flash trigger (a blue tooth device) or the old flash sync chord. Even switching on and off the studio lights also requires certain knowledge like discharging the capacitors, model lamp, putting it on half or full, etc. The best part of it was probably to find out ourselves that the inbuilt camera flash is one of the most useless things for indoor shoots. They do not work with studio environment. These are good only for the purpose of using as a fill in light in daylight outdoor shots.

On the following weekend I got another chance to rectify my mistakes in another portfolio shoot. Equipped with comments from Munish, I did a self analysis of the earlier shots and made a list of what should have done or where I made glaring mistakes. It was a great improvement over last week. One of the shots of Gaurav, who also is a fellow student in Munish’s academy, is uploaded here. Other shots can be seen my flickr album. I tried a few things on this second assignment and took the photos across a range of settings so that I can analysis them further improvements.

Overall the experiences were very educating. Indoor photography turned out to be different kettle of fish altogether. One can learn basics of outdoor photography even by reading books, like I did. But one has to be associated with an experienced photographer to learn to handle lights. Getting to learn in studio situations was one of the reason why I joined Munish’s academy.

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