Those who call themselves masters at their trade are too often the ones who get surpassed by those who never give up the pursuit of knowledge. Masters get lazy and complacent. I’ve seen this first hand with Master Photographers who were at the top of their game in the 80’s and 90’s but refused to adopt new technology or trends. They’ve fallen so far behind that they are lost in today’s world of pixels.
I love to learn and practice and will never stop. I absorb knowledge like air. I need it to survive and hope that never changes! With the increase in complexity of my commercial work I’ve noticed an incredible spike in pre-production thus translating in more time planning and meeting, then shooting and editing. Even when planning more than one large shoot I’m left with a bit of spare time. I like to take that time to learn new things or strengthen existing skills. Often times these images never see the light of day.
I had awoken with the urge to shoot something. Knowing full well I didn’t want to jump into some full on production, I setup my tripod and my lights and sat down to take a self portrait. My main goal was to improve my color correction, color grading and retouching skills. I started with a simple and straight forward portrait. I had recently received a honey comb grid for my beauty dish as a gift, so I was anxious to use it. A simple 3 light setup; one main light, one back light and one backdrop light. I knew I wanted a dramatic portrait so any more light would have been overkill. I snapped about a dozen shots while tethered to my laptop. I love the moment when you snap a shot and know immediately that nothing else will come close. Once that shot popped up on the screen I moved on to a slightly more involved shot. I wanted to do a composite and incorporate rain. Simple was my main goal so I didn’t plan to composite anything too crazy.
Too many times have I seen a shot made to be in the rain but the models clothes and skin are bone dry which results in a less than realistic image! I jumped in the shower with my clothes on to achieve that realistic wet look! Once dripping, I had Joyce spritz me with glycerin to get beads of water that won’t evaporate nearly as quick as plain water. This gives me the time to nail down the shot. I posed so hard I think I pulled a muscle in my arm. Oh, the things we do for art.
From here I just relaxed in my office and played around with the photos until I came up with something I liked. The composite shot turned out to be about 4 layers. The clouds, myself and two layers of painted in rain. As far as composites go… that is stupid simple.
I find it amusing when I get surprised reactions from people when asked what I’m up to and I respond “practicing” or “watching tutorials” as if that would be the last thing anyone would suspect me of doing! I’ll never know everything and will never claim to. I learn new things every day and get just as excited as anyone else to put a new technique to practice. When asked “any advice for a new photographer” My answer is always the same. “Shoot everything you can and practice every chance you get!”