All posts by Ron Davis

113 – Model Hollis Ireland

200mm
(26:38) Redhead traveling model Hollis Ireland joins Ron and Shawna this week and reveals the secrets of the globetrotting model. Recorded from Hollis’s front seat as she travelled for an authentic feel.

Turns out those models who travel around shooting have secret lists. Ron found out he wasn’t on the good one. Luckily he wasn’t on the creep list either.

Hollis also talks about how she schedules shoots and picks where to go. Want to talk on the phone? That could be an issue.

As always you find out what a model looks for in a photographer, and specifically how that is different for a model making her living from it verses one that is looking for TFP.

Keeping it real, Ron gets on to Hollis for one of his pet peeves in her portfolio.

The banter talks audiobooks and Ron gives a tip for using them to keep yourself awake.

Hollis’ Model Mayhem
Hollis’ Model Mayhem Fetish
Hollis’ Tumbler

Mentions

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting

Bob Warren
Model Angela Ryan
Photographer Corwin Prescott

Composition – Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a classic rule for composition. In the shortest form, it says you should place things in your frame where they intersect the lines dividing the frame into thirds. Using this kind of goes back to getting your subject out of the center of the frame. The rule of thirds gives us a guide to where to put them.

You should put your vertical subjects along the line between the center third and the side third. Doesn’t matter if it is on the left or the right side. It should be on the “third” line.

If your model fills the frame, then put her eyes on this third line. If you can put them on both the vertical and horizontal third line.

For example in this image of Amanda her face is right on that line. Yes, there is a lot of empty space in the image, but your eye goes right to her. The image is dramatic and it has an artistic feel to it.

Once again we can use the nine square grid on our camera to find this point. You don’t have to be super strict about getting it right on the cross point, but pay attention and use it well.

112 – Photog Tom Sparks

Photographer Tom Sparks
Photographer Tom Sparks
(19:24) Tom Sparks is a Utah based photographer with a passion for helping new models. He’s shot lots of different things and many new models, so we had to have him on the show.

He’s created a Facebook group for Utah based models that has spread beyond that state and he talks a little about creating controversy in more conservative areas.

Mentions

Tom’s website.
Tom’s blog.
Tom’s Twitter

Tom on Facebook
Tom on Model Mayhem

David Terry
Stewart Hackworth
Niki Weiss Bowerbank
Joy de Juer

Composition – Get Close

Yesterday I mentioned putting the subject in the center of the image was bad and one of the most common mistakes I see in new shooters. Another common mistake I see is not getting close enough to the subject. There are two ways this is wrong, one I think of as a mistake and the other a matter of style.

Click for full size.

When Being To Far Away is a Mistake

The mistake is to leave a ton of empty space all around your subject. You see this all of the time with amateurs on their point and shoots. You look at the image and there is a tiny little person in the center bottom of the picture and all kinds of sky or background stuff in the rest of the frame.

Why do they do this? I think it is because our brains see too well. They are focused mentally on the subject and think they are bigger than they really are. In their mind all they see is the subject and not what’s around them. They maybe worried about other things, like making sure they get all of the subject in the frame, or showing some background for context. But their brains blow up how much of the subject is there.

That’s a mistake, one you can correct by thinking about the edge of the frame. The easiest way to do this is to consciously run your eye around the edge of the frame in your viewfinder. See what is actually there. If while doing this you aren’t seeing much of your model, you may be too far from them.

This also helps with chopping parts off. If you see part of your model – an arm or leg – leaving the frame you get a chance to consciously think if that is a good thing or not.

After you do this for a few images in a couple of shoots it will become unconscious. Once you realize it is a problem, it often stops being one, because as Shawn likes to say, “Knowing is half the battle.”

The Matter of Style

One of the criticism I get of some of my head shots is they cut off part of the subject’s head. Like this one of Janet.

OMG! I cut off her head on the right side of the frame! That’s against the rules.

Screw the rules I’m an artist.

Kidding aside, it is a stylistic choice and I think that part of her head isn’t as important as the shoulder and smile in this image. If you look back through the images on the blog you’ll find I do this alot.

Getting close adds intensity to the image. Think about physically being closer to another person. Isn’t it more intense to have your eyes inches from the face of a beautiful woman? Well that’s how our brains interpret photographs as well. The closer the more intense.

One of my favorite images from this year is the one at the top of the post. It is close, really close. And I cut off part of her head, but it makes you feel like you are coming over her shoulder and she’s just turning to meet you.

Composition – Stay Out Of The Middle

You know what the most common problem I see in new shooters? They put the subject dead center in the frame.

Centered
Don’t do this. There is a no drama. The image is boring. There is no visual flow.

Let’s consider two different crops of the same image. First is Virginia’s rear end centered in the frame.
It’s an interesting shot. Virginia has a fine derrière. The lighting is dramatic from one side and creates a great curve. If that is all you saw, you’d think the image was OK.

Now lets try it how I shot it, with her in the left third of the image. Then I cropped into a film like aspect ratio to exaggerate the composition.

Virginia's Derrière Off Center

Suddenly the lines have a longer path and increase the movement of the eye. This in turn ups the overall drama of the shot and emphasizes the model, even though they aren’t in the center of the frame.

Here’s an exercise to try next time you are shooting. Most cameras have a grid in the view finder with 9 squares. Try and keep all or most of your model out of the center square. Just push them to one side or the other.

If you are close, you might just try and keep their head or eyes out of the center. See if that makes a difference in how the image feels.

Better yet, shoot it both ways and post the two images to the forum for others to see.

111 – Weeee’rrrre Back!

$6,000,000 Man and Bionic Woman
$6,000,000 Man and Bionic Woman
(20:25) And Shawna is punchy. But not in the way that leaves Ron bloody at the end of the show. Find out what she’s been doing during our break that has made her funny all the time. We also talked about changes that are coming to Photographer and Model from Ron.

The biggest change is the opening of the Photographer and Model Community Forum. When I started this whole model photography journey, I started on a forum.

These days it doesn’t seem there are any good forums for model photographers. I was talking to my studio partners and they were thinking the same thing. There are a lot of photography forums out there and many may have a model photography section, but nothing dedicated to just photographers who shoot models.

And is there anywhere that models and photographers interact? That was one of the things I really like back in the day was experienced models would give their feedback on my images and my portfolio. It helped.

We here at P&M are uniquely set up to create that kind of place, and so the Photographer and Model Community Forum is born. Go check it out and introduce yourself. Like all new forums it is a little barren right now, but that will change quickly.

Should we post when we book someone for the show? Answer that in the forums, because comments are now gone.

Mentions

The Six Million Dollar Man
The Bionic Woman
The Wishbook
The Woman in Black
Harry Potter
Garage Glamour
How I Became a Glamour Photographer
Houston Skyline Studio
30 Day Trial TED Talk
Zoe Saldana, Uhura & Columbiana
Star Trek
Columbiana
Bourne movies
Jet Lee – Lethal Weapon 4
Ra’s al Ghul
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight Rises
Placeholders
Upstart Filmworks
Peeps
Klingon

Listener Questions

Post them to the forums or go to contact form.
Don’t forget to post it in Latin for Shawna

Lenses and Angle of View

Everyone is probably familiar with the idea of a wide angle lens showing more in the frame of your image, but do you think about the flip side?

What is a Wide Lens?

Ramona
Ramona show at 28mm (42mm with CF)

The 50mm lens is generally considered to be the angle the human eye sees. At the very least it is considered to be the standard of what a photograph should take.

Anything less than 50mm in length is considered wide angle. Wide angle means you can see more in your frame, both left to right and top to bottom.

Anything over 50mm is a “narrow” lens. This is the flip side of the wide angle. As you lens gets longer – and there is much more room in the top end – the amount it sees becomes less and less. We often forget you are seeing less of the seen the longer your lens gets.

All of this assumes you are using a full frame sensor. In reality most DSLRs these days have a smaller sensor and hence a “crop factor”. Notice the term is crop factor? They are pointing out that making the lens longer is like cropping in the final image.

In general Nikon’s crop factor is 1.5 and Canon’s is 1.6. This means you take your lenses mm length and multiply it by that amount. So when you are shoot with a Nikon 50mm you are actually shooting with a 75mm lens. It also means 28mm, a fairly wide angle, is actually only 46mm.

How Does this Affect Model Photography?

Since the final image size is the same, but you are seeing more with a wide angle lens you get a stretch factor. For people photography this can make your subject look wider. This is more pronounced the nearer you come to the edge of the image.

Using a longer lens doesn’t exactly have the opposite effect – it doesn’t make your model narrower – but it does shorten things coming toward the camera. So it is generally more flattering. Compression influences this as well.

How do you use lens length to effect the final shot? Show us an example in the forums.

Long Lens Compression

When we thinking about long lenses verses short lenses, the first thing that comes to mind is how close we can get to the subject. Or really how far we can be from the subject while shooting.

Look at these two images, shot from the same location, one at 70mm and one at 200mm. See how different the same background looks?

200mm
70mm

But there are a couple of other important factors that come into play, which we often forget and don’t use to our advantage.

One of those things is compression. By compression I mean that a when you take an image with a longer lens, items look closer together front to back than they do with a shorter lens. This can be use to make things seem right next to each other when it might be dangerous to have them right next to each. For instance, they use this in film in car chases. By filming one car chasing another with a long lens the trailing car can be a safe distance from the front car, but look like it is right on top of them.

You can see how this could be used in model photography. Say you wanted a model and a dangerous animal in the same image. Well if you used a long lens she could be a safe distance from the animal, but still looks like it was right behind her.

This is also related to how a long lens has a wider/long area that is in focus. With say a macro lens at 35mm, the area in focus is less than an inch at a 2.8f stop. On a 200mm lens that same 2.8f will put a foot in focus. This lets you have your whole subject in focus, but everything else blurry.

Long lenses just look different, and understanding why helps you use them well. Next we’ll talk about angle of view and long lenses.

Creating 3D

How do humans perceive three dimensions? The first thing that comes to mind is we have two eyes. We see slightly different images in each and then our brains munge them together and we get 3D in our minds. And the only way a photographer can create that same thing is with special cameras and weird glasses.

But there are lots of other ways our minds perceive three dimensions, most of which can be seen in a 2D photograph.

Close Things Block Far Things

This one may seem obvious, but it is worth mentioning. If something is closer to the camera, it may block something further away. Something in the foreground can block the subject. The subject can block the background.

Things Closer To The Camera Are Bigger

And conversely things further away are smaller. So big things are thought to be closer to us, which makes for some cool perspective tricks, but something you can to your advantage. Using the Hollis rifle image above, the barrel of the gun is very big, way bigger than in reality. That is because it is closer to the camera. Since our brains know she’s not holding a howitzer, we know it is closer to the camera. Actually very close.

Keep the bigger closer, smaller further thing in your head when model parts are coming at you in a photograph. If you’ve got a subject/model that might be a little big in the middle, don’t put her stomach close to the camera. This is the big chicks love the MySpace angle, the big parts are far away and the face is up close.

Depth of Field Tells Us Something

If something is fuzzy and doesn’t block the subject, the eye thinks – rightly – it is further away than the subject. If it is fuzzy and blocks the subject, then it is in front of the subject. This is caused by Depth of Field. Only somethings are in focus. Where we focus our eyes. Our brain uses this information to map the location of things in our view.

Our brains are amazing things and really use all of these things and more in combination to create three dimensional maps in our head. You need to be conscious of them and use them to your advantage.

Do you have images that look particularly 3D you’d like to share? Post them in the forum.

Thinking in 3D – Middleground

Is middleground really the term for the thing between the foreground and the background? I don’t know, but it A) let me make a hobbit joke, which is cool, and B) explains where this part of the picture is well.

Hollis Behind the Vail
Hollis Behind the Vail

This is where we put the subject. There’s the stuff in front of the model – the foreground, and the stuff behind the model – the background. Where the model is is the middleground.

But is seems this creates a bunch of misconceptions about the middle area. Let’s break down the image of Hollis behind the vail.

Foreground, the vail. Middleground, Hollis’ face, specifically lips and eyes. Background, the window behind her.

Notice a couple of common misconceptions abused in this image.

Is the model in focus? Nope, the middleground is fuzzy. The foreground is in focus, as is the background.

Is the model halfway between the background and the foreground? Nope. Often the model is right behind the foreground. Sometimes really close. Sometimes she’s way far away, or right up against the background.

Don’t be afraid to play with where the model is in the 3D space of the image.