Okay, it’s now official! All the information and registration info you need is on Trey Ratcliff’s Photography Webinar page. Great name eh? Hehe… I actually struggled with a name. Like, for example, I didn’t want to just call it an “HDR Webinar”, because what I teach is so much more than just HDR. Anyway, it’s a 3 week course — 9 hours and 9 different classes. It’s gonna be awesome.
Here we are with the biggest conference badges of all time. They are actually super-big because they have the whole schedule on there. Matt is the awesome one on the left.
I Met Matt Groening!
While at the EG Conference, I met all sorts of interesting people, and I hate to say one was any more interesting than the next, but this one is a little special. I don’t have many creative people in the world that I really get giddy about, but Matt Greoning (creator of The Simpsons and Futurama) is one of them.
After I finished my talk (which should be available online soon), I was able to spend a bit of time talking to him… we talked about creativity, how to work with a team, about robots, about robots taking over the world, about how I was hoping that his strangest contribution to society would be that we would fill our lives with ridiculous and funny robots rather than the ones who simply want to kill us, and this sort of thing. Matt was SUPER NICE and engaging. Really… that guy is awesome.
I also met another guy I really admired artistically, but that did not go very well. He treated me very strangely, and I felt foolish. I can’t put my finger on it… I was really kind of crestfallen. It sucked away a lot of my mojo… anyway, I’m still trying to come to terms with that.
Daily Photo – Hidden Temple in Bamboo at Night
This place was pretty far off the usual beaten path but I was glad to find it!
In Kyoto, there is a wonderful and unexpected temple that weaves through an old bamboo forest. It weaves up, down, and around hills with warm, calming bamboo swaying about. Here and there, little temples, urns, and benches are placed. Everything is delicately lit to add to the mood. And just beyond where the lights are, the bamboo forest is pitch black and full of wonderful mystery.
I’ve been talking about this for a long time, so I wanted to go ahead and give you some free tips for on-the-street people photography.
From various conversations, I think that photographers are REALLY interested in taking photos of people they see on the street. We can’t help it, right? Our eyes are drawn to interesting “things” — not just landscapes. And if we see an interesting person, we really want to take their photo, yes? But then, often times, we don’t even pull the camera up to our eye because we are shy, embarrassed, or think about all the horrible things that could go wrong. So, maybe these tips will help!
Look, honestly, I don’t know if these will do you any good or not. But these are some things that I personally think about. So, insofar as some of my insights are useful to me, maybe they will be useful to you too!
Even though I’m known for “landscape photography”, I actually enjoy all kinds of photography! I take hundreds of people photos, object photos, food photos, model photos, B&W photos, etc. I assume that you take many types of photography too.
1) Keep an extra camera ready for people shots. When walking the streets, I normally have my “big” (D3X) camera ready to go for city landscape shots. My tripod is on. My wide-angle is on. It’s in that “mode”. If I am going to have to switch lenses, it will take forever, and the moment will be lost. So, I carry a second camera (D3S) on a sling around my shoulder for people shots. On that camera, I have a 50mm prime lens. Now, you don’t have to have this exact setup by any means, but having ANY kind of second camera for people shots is recommended.
2) If they are clearly not looking at you and will not notice you, just start taking photos. You’re a photographer, dammit. Just do it.
3) If they ARE likely to notice you, be confident and deliberate, softly asking permission with your eyes. This is a very subtle and hard thing to explain. I usually raise my eyebrows while I raise my camera, clearly indicating, “I’m about to take a photo. Everything is okay.” If they don’t want you to, they will make it clear. Usually, they say it’s just fine. People like to be thought of as interesting.
4) If they are very close, I ask permission out loud. Often times, I don’t want them to pose… so I say something (smiling!) like, “You look very interesting — can I take a photo?” Once they say yes (98% of the time they do), I usually ask them not to pose and carry on about their business. Then I start taking a bunch of photos and enjoy the pressure of capturing the moment.
5) Don’t be shy! You’re not a 9-year-old girl.
Regarding that last one, seriously, folks, just be cool and confident with it. If you want to do it, and it feels right, just do it. Do not worry so much about rejection. Yes, you WILL get rejected 2-10% of the time depending upon how likable you are. Out of 500 people photos, I’ve been rejected maybe 10-13 times. It doesn’t bother me a bit. So what? People say no… big deal. The fact is that MOST people LOVE to have photos taken of them. To be interesting in a world of same-ness is a tremendous thing. Chances are that no one has ever taken a photo of them before, and they will feel special that you thought they were special.
Most of the time, after I take a photo and people look over at me, wondering, “Why did you just take a photo of me?” I usually say, “You look cool!” Or, “You look awesome!” Or, if they don’t speak English, I give them a thumbs up and a facial indication that I think they look cool. 99% of the time, they smile and carry on.
If you’re taking a photo of a kid, just get a steady nod from the parents before. Bend down to take the photo, look up at the parent, saying, “is it okay?” with your eyes. They’ll say yes or no… There is a significant number of moms out there that watch too much sensational news and assume that 50% of the population are pedophiles… but, maybe you’ll hit that other 50%! Again, we’re all just photographers, and if we see a cute or interesting kid, of course we want to take a photo! It’s what we do! There is no need to apologize for it!
Daily Photo – Salaryman in Tokyo
While I was in the middle of making a time-lapse sequence (see the video below the photo), I was using my D3S on a sling to take quick photos of interesting people. They were everywhere!
Behind me, waiting for the light to change, was this young salaryman. Salaryman is the Japanese word for “businessman”. That word salaryman always cracks me up for some reason. Anyway, he was this young kid, standing there in a most unassuming way in this nice suit. I spun around and grabbed a quick shot.
He looked a little confused at me after I took it. I gave him a nod of thanks, and he smiled in a surprised way then went merrily on his way.
Videos – Life in Japan
While I am busy shooting landscapes and people in Japan, I also take time to make some videos. Below are a few of them from recent past. The music from both is by the great Patrick O’Hearn (buy his stuff!). Enjoy!
See these cards below? I’ll be handing them out around Burning Man… It’s sort of a “gifting” place, where money is not allowed. Since one of my only identifiable skills is photography, I am giving people the chance to learn more about their cameras. I think we’ll have a good time and I hope to see you there.
Below is a Google Earth photo of Burning Man in a previous year… I think it’s pretty awesome.
See you soon at OpenCa.mp
I hope to meet a lot of you soon at OpenCa.mp in Dallas! In just a few days, I’m headed up to Dallas to begin the adventure by jumping out of a plane with the US Army Golden Knights. It’s gonna be a blast!
Daily Photo – Home of the Tree Samurai
This was my second trip to Kyoto, and I decided to return to this amazing treetop temple. At night, the delicate lights turn on and everything comes alive. It’s really brilliant… one of those scenes that makes you think the world is really a wonderful place.
This was right in the peak of the cherry blossom season. The soft pink of the blossoms grabs and reflects the light into an unbelievable prism. It’s all like something out of a dream, and I’ve done my best to bring it back to life here on the blog.
Good man Michael Zhang from PetaPixel interviewed me recently. Pop over there and check it out. Also, look around PetaPixel for a while… Michael has done an extraordinary job with that site.
We Computer Science majors need to stick together! So I’m happy to send traffic over his way!
A Silent Evening in Kyoto under the Cherry Blossoms
The beautiful white cherry blossoms were in full bloom and their gentle petals would fall down like snow, collecting on the ground.
To get here to Kyoto, I took the bus from Osaka — and this was not the most simple thing in the world. I’m used to traveling in strange places and getting around confusing transport systems, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy! The Japanese transportation system is particularly perplexing. The train system is the easiest to figure out. The bus system is second. The subway is last — dead last.
Many of these places I end up have no one that speaks English, so there’s a bit of guesswork involved. After I’m on a bus for 5-10 minutes, I start to have a sneaking suspicion that perhaps I am on the wrong one! With no one to ask or no one to call, it’s a bit more uncertain than I prefer it!
New eBook – First goes on sale to Newsletter Subscribers!
For the past few months, I’ve been working on a new eBook. It’s very cool — a very detailed description of a best-of-breed digital workflow. Are you starting to feel like your digital photos are a little unorganized? I’ve put together a great system for you!
The first shot at it will go to Newsletter subscribers. It’s free to sign up, so just do it below!
5 Tips for Photographing People in Public
I’m working on an upcoming post that gives some practical and easy-to-follow-through-on advice on taking photos of people in public. I get a ton of questions about it in Twitter and whatnot, so I am happy to share these tips. You’ll notice a lot of this activity in the new video below…. and I know everyone enjoys and wants to take pictures of people in public, but are sometimes unsure of how to go about it.
New Video – Japan: Heartbeats of Time
I spend a lot of time thinking about the way memory and sight work together. I don’t think we remember in “pictures” or long videos… but something in between. Perhaps we also sense, at times, more than 30 fps, and unexpected parts of the brain fire when we are presented with certain objects and forms.
If you want to know more about how I did this, visit the “Stuck In Motion” section of the website. Good news – the best bits now only require a $200 camera!
Also, you may enjoy seeing my free HDR Tutorial, which describes how I accomplish some of the other favorite photos below, which were also shot around Japan.