Diving into the Narrative | Transcription

It’s time to dive into the narrative. When I talked about the narrative, I want you guys to think of two things in particular. I want you to find out what is the subject and what is the story of your images. An image that has a well-defined subject and a well-defined story is generally going to be a much more powerful image. It’s going to elicit a stronger emotional response from the viewer and those are the images that we want to create. I know that this sounds all profound and theoretical but really, it doesn’t need to be. It’s quite simple. A narrative can be a simple portrait that conveys confidence and beauty in the subject. It could be a couple walking along the beach spending a tender moment together. It could be a father shedding a tear as he gives away his daughter on the date of her wedding or it could be something conceptual.

We do conceptual shoots all the time and here’s an image of our modern take of Little Red Riding Hood. Now, the beautiful thing about photography is that the narrative by defined by both the photographer and the viewer because photography is subjective after all. One little tip I give to all of you is define your narratives, define your story and your subject based on what you are interested and on what you want to shoot. Shooting to try to please the viewer generally doesn’t work and it just doesn’t happen. They don’t get pleased anyway and you end up with a photograph that you, yourself are not really interested in. If you can shoot to your own interest and create your own narratives generally other people are going to appreciate that as well.

Now, for today we’re going to go with the very simple narrative. What I want to do is we’re going to set up a little scene right here. We have our nice little cookie jar and if you can guess, we’re going to have my son Ethan steal a cookie from the cookie jar and we’re going to catch him in the act so we’re going to set him up to fail basically. Actually, he’s can’t fail this. He’s going to want to steal a cookie, we want him to steal a cookie, we want to get the shot so him failing and stealing a cookie is actually completely succeeding for the purpose of this tutorial. All right, what we’re going to do though is we need to plan. Now, remember the PLAN acronym. We need to prepare, we need to lock-in, we need to be in right area, have the right composition, and then we need to wait for that now moment.

What we’re about to do is what we refer to is planned photojournalism. Now, we do this all the time. It’s not just and shooting things like this out of wedding. If I’m shooting say, a father who walks into the room and sees his daughter for the first time in her wedding dress. Before I let that whole thing just take place, what I’m going to do is setup the daughter just nearby a window or by a nice light source so she’s ready and in position. We have a good background. I’ll spend time cleaning the background and making sure we’re ready to go. What I want to do basically is we’re just going to go around the kitchen and we’re going to do a bit of cleaning work.

I don’t want really anything in the sink to be displayed here. I’m going to go ahead and just turn the faucet. I’m going to move the soap out, we’re going to put the tongs in just so they don’t end up shiny in there. I think the flower should be okay right there. I do notice some things over here like this little bottle of Olive oil. We’re going to move this guy out. Also, I don’t want these things in the background. A good friend said to me once basically when it comes to photography, if something is not helping the scene that is probably detracting from it, okay? I slaughtered that phrase, I don’t what the exact one was. Essentially, if something is not working for your composition, it’s probably working against it so remove these things because they’re definitely not helping and so I think they’re just going to add more clutter in this type of a shot.

All right. Let’s keep on going to the scene. You’ll notice that what we’ve done here is we’ve taped up the little LCD clock just on the oven on the microwave because they’re really bright. They can show up pretty strong in the image. I’ll also going to remove this little towel right here. We don’t need this in the frame and let’s just clean off this back. I don’t think this is going to be in because this will be blocked out by Ethan but let’s go ahead and make sure … There’s a little plastic thing over here. Just going to clean up in general. Let’s leave this right over here and I’ll throw this away. Okay, the other thing we need is we need to grab a chair because Ethan is not tall enough to get all the way to these cookies so we need to help him out a little bit.

I’m just going to grab a chair over here and we’ll just use this guy. I’m going to move this, we’re going to use this in just a second. I’m going to move this map over the other side, perfect. Let’s just set this chair up right in front of the cookies. We can play around with the composition just a little bit. If we decide that we want to move things around, leave the cookies off to one side or the other, we can do that. I’m going to place this right in the center for now and we’ll just probably just leave the cookies right in the middle for just right now and then what we’ll do is we can change that once we get Ethan to the scene. Now, the cool thing is that Ethan isn’t going to know what’s going on here. We’re just going to tell him to come in and take a cookie and he’s going to walk in to all these cameras which will be awesome.

All right, so now we got everything in the right place. I’m going to go through and I will talk through the lighting setup. We have the same polyester fabric just covering the window. Why? We have that direct light coming through the window. This polyester fabric that you can pick up from any local fabric store. It’s super cheap. As we mention, you can get I think 6 or 12 yards of it. We got a lot of it for like $20. Just cover the entire window that we get, we get this nice soft light coming through but the thing is that, this light is now a little bit behind where Ethan is going to be so Ethan is going to be right here and this light is off to the side and behind. What we need to do is set up a fill light. A fill light is just going to fill a bit of a shadow, okay?

What we’re going to do is just on this side, I’m going to open up our silver reflector and we’re going to place this right on to the stand right here, okay? We’re just going to raise this up. What I’ll do is basically raise it and then I’m going to come out to this side and just angle it so I can see it. I can see it based to reflecting right up the cookie jar right here. That’s what I’m going to engage so we’ll just move it close so it’s out of frame and angle it right so it’s reflecting that same are that Ethan is going to be in just a moment. We won’t need the white for right now and by the way, if you need to add in more light, you can always add another silver reflector too but this should be enough for our purposes. Let’s go ahead and set that to the site.

I’m just going to take a quick look and it looks pretty solid. I think we are all ready to actually cue Ethan and get him to come into the scene. Hold on. What we need to do first though is we need to lock in our setting. We’ve done the prepare side. Plan, we’re prepared. Okay, now we need to lock-in our settings. I’m going to come around, we’re going to set up the actual scene and lock-in our settings in manual mode so we’re ready to go. Getting the right area and then the now moment is when we’re going to cue him, okay? Let me come around and dial on the settings. Okay, so I’m in the position, I want to talk a little bit about the composition. Now, whenever you’re shooting say, newborns or infants or children, getting down and getting low and shooting from their perspective generally gives you a much more powerful shot.

This is something we talk about in-depth in the newborn photography workshop. I’m shooting low, I’m at Ethan’s height. Now, what I wanted here for my composition is I want Ethan to really take the center of the frame and the kitchen scene to be around him. We even have this nice little basket of fruit in the background which looks really nice in the corner of the frame. This is pretty much it. I might move the cookies off to the left or to the right but this is going to be the shot. Now, what I have to do is lock-in my settings. I’m going to go ahead and flip into manual. Now, my live view exposure preview isn’t working right now like an icon and that’s totally fine. I’m just going to dial it in. I’m going to use the in-camera meter and then what we’re going to do is just adjust. We’re going to look at the histogram, we’re going to look at the highlight alert afterwards, and we’ll adjust from there.

Let’s go ahead and what I need to do first is I need to decide on what shutters would I need for this scene because we’re shooting Ethan basically plucking a cookie from the cookie jar. I do need it to be a little bit quicker of a shutter speed because we want to freeze the motion. I don’t want it to be any blur so I want to go with 1/200 of a second for my shutter speed so let me go ahead and raise that up right now. For my aperture, I’m going to go with probably F2.0. It’s at 1.8 right now which is the widest open after. At F2.0, I get a slightly more sharp detail and a bit better depth to field not by much but just a little bit. Generally, I don’t like shooting wide open on these less expensive prime lenses because typically they will be a little bit soft when it comes to detail.

I’m going to raise that up right now, to F2. There we go. Now, if I take this shot, it’s going to be underexposed and I can see that in my histogram. Let me go ahead and take the shot and just show you. Right now, you can see if I hit play and then we look at the playback, you can see at the histogram that all of our shadows are pushed to the left so we need to balance it out a little bit more probably about by one stop maybe even two stops but we do have a lot of dark things in the scene. We have this dark mahogany cabinet and I don’t know if it’s mahogany. Who knows what kind of what this is but it’s dark wood and a lot of dark features in the background so don’t be fooled if there are a lot of shadows in this type of scene because they’re frankly are a lot of shadows but we want to make sure they’re not clip.

We want to make sure that there’s still detail there and it looks right now that we are clipping quite a bit. Let’s go ahead, I’m just going to hit the information button. Let’s go ahead and bring the ISO sensitivity up to 200. Let’s take one quick shot and just see if we pulled out our shadows. Looks like for the most part we did but still it’s a little bit on the dark side. We do have a little bit of highlights over here that’s being blown and it’s really on just the edge of the cookie jar where those highlights are being picked up. In the background, nothing in the background is too dark that I feel like it doesn’t really fit. It looks actually pretty good based on what we need so what I might do is let’s see, we’re going to go up just to see what it looks like. Let’s go up to ISO 400 and see what our highlights are going to look like at that point.

Do you know what? I think ISO 400 is going to be our best bet because you can check this out, at ISO 400 from a highlight alert, we’re really still only losing that tiny bit of highlight just on the glass of a jar and that’s going to be pure white anyway regardless. If hit up, we can see on our histogram that we pulled the shadows off of the left edge much better. We’ve got a much better balanced image and we’re shooting in Roswell so we have a little more leeway too. I’m going to leave it right here. We’re not going to up any higher because I do want to maximize the amount of basically detail and overall image quality by leaving the ISO a little bit lower. If you wanted to, we can bump it a little more but I want to make sure my highlights don’t blow out and everything else, it looks like my shadows are retained so I have the information I need.

Okay, so we’re locked-in. Nothing is going to change now on our camera settings. Let’s see, we are in the right area. We’ve chosen our composition and now it’s time for our now moment. This is basically, we’re going to cue Ethan to come on in to steal the cookies and we’re going to shoot as it’s happening. One thing I want to do real quick before he comes in is I’m going to move my AF point right to where his face would be in the frame so I always do that whenever you’re about to cue action, move the auto focus point to where the action is going to take place. That way you’re ready to go and you don’t have to do any focus recomposing or anything like that. All right, let’s cue Ethan now.

These are perfect so I’m going to go in and just get a little bit closer and we’re just going to shoot just portrait aspect. Just to leave everything else out and really focus on Ethan. Awesome, we have a ton of shots that we got here. Ethan is having an absolute blast. Remember that when you set up these scenes, go for additional crops too. Now, Ethan is getting a sugar heist so I’m going to let him come down and take a break because I don’t want to keep shooting but we got a bunch of great stuff. What I want you to do is now go for your assignment and for your assignment basically I want you to set up your own narrative. Set up your own story and subject and it could be something as simple as this. If you’re setting up yourself, do a plan photojournalistic moment where you can basically set up a lighting and then cue the action light to happen.

When we’re working with children, we do have a little bit of direction and guidance that’s necessary because they are children of course. You can shoot a fully journalistic moment. You can shoot a planned journalistic moment.







Chapter 7: BONUS

Total Course Run Time: 6H 30M 21S