Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Headshot... Does it matter?

It has been said many times that a first impression leaves a lasting impression.

Could any of these be used to describe your profile picture...
  • Blurry
  • Tightly cropped to leave out your ex!
  • Badly lit
  • Taken in the pub
  • An old school photograph
  • A selfie!!
If you have a social media profile (and lets face it... most of us do!) then you may be surprised to know that the first thing that people notice about your profile is your profile picture.

What does it tell people about you?
In truth its difficult to say from the limited information available but its safe to say that they assume far more than they are actually "told".

...and it's the assumptions that make or break your profile picture.

From your profile picture people guess your age or whether you are ageing well if they have known you for a long time.
They think they can assume if you are successful or not.
They assume whether or not you look strong or confident or weak and timid.
They may think they can guess your fashion sense... or lack of!

Every picture tells a story... but what is yours saying?
As an example, let's use my own profile picture.
As a Darlington Photographer I use this one because I want it to convey that I understand lighting and that I am able to control it in order to tell a story. I have kept the background black as I wanted it to be plain and uncluttered. It's very simple and I believe it works well.

If you could "design" a perfect profile picture, what would yours say? What mood should it convey? Would it be colour or black and white? At work or at home? Outside?
Write it down. seriously! Write it down in your diary. In a few days look at it again and see if you need to change/add anything to it.

Then ring a local photographer and arrange for a photograph to be taken to your "design". If you live in Darlington, County Durham and would like to arrange a headshot session then you should read this.

All photographs copyright Rob Smith. All rights reserved

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Camera Obscura... An Experiment

darlington photographer
For reference: View from bedroom window using DSLR
A while back I did some research followed by an experiment into the camera obscura and thought it would be worthwhile to recount it here as I found it extremely interesting and it can easily be repeated by anyone with a couple of hours to spare.

My research had suggested that the quality of the image was a trade off between the image brightness and the image sharpness. A small aperture was required in order to get a sharp image but that would impact upon the brightness of the image. This was obviously something that I would have to work with as the experiment progressed.
To black out the windows I decided to use duct tape and black bin liners. With hindsight I should have used thick cardboard as the bin liners are too thin and let a lot of light through. To make them light tight I had to fold them over many times. The hardest part of the entire project was making the room light tight! I spent numerous hours sticking bits of cardboard and bin liners to the window and even then the room was never entirely dark.
The aperture was made by piercing the cardboard with a pencil. Not very scientific! but this part was always going to be a bit of guesswork. The aperture was approximately ¼” in diameter and rather rough round the edges.
In an attempt to cover all the light leaks I looked around the room to see where they were coming from and repaired them as well as I could. Then I pierced the cardboard for the aperture and I noticed that there was a very bright circular shape being cast onto the bed and also a strange horizontal line that I hadn’t seen before.
In the past I would have thought the bright light was merely the light that was shining through the hole but through my research I decided that the circular shape was the sun in the sky. I tried to track down the source of the strange line as I thought it was coming from a light leak somewhere and I eventually deducted that the only way to prevent the strange horizontal line from appearing was to cover up the aperture. Then it struck me that this might be the first signs of an image. It was too feint for me to make it out properly so I tried to make the room even darker than it already was.
I had read that a feint picture can be made to appear brighter by placing a white card in front of the aperture. To my amazement, this made a massive difference and the familiar view from my bedroom window appeared in front of me. It had evidently worked!
I took a series of photographs using a digital camera so I could evidence the experiment which I have shown.

The Next day...
With a full moon imminent and the sky forecast to be clear, I had wanted to see if I could see a nightscape through my camera obscura. I left the blackout up in the window and before I went to bed I made the aperture larger as there wouldn’t be as much available light. I also moved it higher up as I knew that the sun had been cast too low down for me to be able to see it at night.
I was disappointed to see that I couldn’t see anything at all except for the moon itself which was rather obvious in my otherwise dark bedroom.
When I awoke the next morning I was surprised to see that the reflections on my wall were even more evident than they had been the previous day. The effects are supposed to be more evident when the sun is shining brightly, but on this particular day the sky was overcast and the sun wasn’t visible.
My results suggest that the aperture I used on the previous day wasn’t as big as it should have been. My experiment has enabled me to understand in a very practical way how painters such as Vermeer could use the camera obscura to draw the outlines for their paintings, and how they were obviously able to make advances in perspective that had previously been unattainable.

Inside my Camera Obscura:
This photograph shows me laid in bed with a projected image of the outside world on my bedroom wall

All photographs copyright Rob Smith

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Regarding Copyright

" I thought it was free... I found it on the internet"

This is often the first line of defence uttered when copyright infringers are made aware of what they have done.

Lets get it out there!...
Copyright remains with the person who pressed the shutter and actually took the photograph.

In very simple terms this means that to be able to use a photograph taken by someone else you need to purchase a licence. The licence will state how you can use the photograph, where in the world you can use it and for how long. 
For clarification: You cannot print, post a photograph on social media websites, use them for advertising, or use them purporting to have been taken by you unless you took the photograph or have a licence that specifically states that you can.If you do it is treated as theft and is covered in the UK by the copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

A photograph does not need to state "copyright © Rob Smith 2014" or any other variation of this for a copyright to be asserted. It is an automatic right granted upon pressing the shutter.

If you require a licence for any images I have produced they can be easily negotiated by contacting me here

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Thinking of Shooting Stock Photography?

Stock photography is often bandied around as being an easy option for anyone who has a digital camera and good basic knowledge of post-processing as a way of earning some extra income to finance their hobby.
                                          Image copyright Rob Smith 2014

On the face of it that may be true but the reality is a lot different as the competition is so fierce!
One Stock Library currently has over 52 million photographs available to licence and that number seems to be growing exponentially. If you are new to the idea of stock photography and haven't started to get in the game then you are going to be playing catch up from the outset.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try it if you are contemplating it because there are niches that still need to be filled... you just need to find them! Believe me when I say that some of those niches may surprise you! You need to do your own research to identify them but they can be fruitful if you are prepared to put in the work.  ( I have never said stock photography is easy!)

Of equal importance to a good photograph of a niche subject is good keywording.
The best picture in the world will never be seen without great keywords that describe the picture and the concepts that may be linked to the picture. Keywording could warrant a post all of its own as it is so important and is often described as being something of a "black art".

There are numerous sites where you can sell your work. The first decision you will have to make is whether you want to go down the microstock route or the traditional macro route.
There are many advocates for both types of stock photography but I have firmly camped myself in the macro site route as I struggle to understand how microstock is financially viable.
I believe that there is too much competition for anyone new to stock photography to make an impression on the market and make it worthwhile doing microstock photography. Macro photography is also overstocked but when you make a sale at least it will buy you a coffee... or possibly a new lens!
I have tried both micro and macro stock photography but I now concentrate solely on macro photography for obvious reasons.

More great reading can be found here from John Lund, something of a stock guru and also here from Yuri Arcurs, who is possibly the most well known stock shooter in the world.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Darlington Photographer

As a Darlington Photographer covering the North East I often get called upon to travel throughout the region and so it was in mid September when I was fortunate enough to be chosen to capture Jess and Dan's wedding in Redcar and Saltburn.
Jess and Dan had always planned a traditional wedding complete with church, big dress and all their family and friends. They also planned to do it all with a retro feel straight out of the Victorian era! This was reflected in Jess's champagne coloured gown which had borrowed it's inspiration from that era and her parasol completed the victorian look to perfection. All that was missing was a horse and carriage!
And so the scene was set for Jess's big surprise!...

Her face was a picture as she stepped out of the house and was met by a horse and carriage to whisk her to St. Cuthberts Church in Kirkleatham,a mere 2 miles away.
After the service the entourage made it's way to The Spa in Saltburn. By the time the Horse and carriage made its way to Saltburn the party was in full swing and so Jess and Dan lost no time in catching up!
The party continued throughout the night and I think it's fair to say that everyone had a fabulous day!





Sunday, 30 September 2012

Middlesbrough Engagement Shoot

Mike and Lynda get engaged...

I was delighted when Mike and Lynda asked me to take their engagement photographs as I have known them for a number of years and they always seem so very happy together!
They opted to use Stewarts Park in Middlesbrough as a backdrop to their photographs as it's quite close to their home and somewhere they like to visit on a regular basis. I expected the park to be relatively quiet as we had picked a Monday to do the shoot, however, I hadn't reckoned on it being the first day of the summer holidays or the throng of families making the most of the good weather. Nonetheless, we had a great deal of fun on our shoot and the time seemed to pass so quickly! Lynda has a gorgeous smile and an infectious personality which obviously makes my job so much easier as they were an absolute pleasure to work with from start to finish!
They are evidently very much in love with each other and have a special understanding that is quite obvious every time they are together. My best wishes go out to them both as they start to plan their new life together.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Making hay...

While the sun shines!

The farmers around Darlington aren't the only ones to take advantage of the recent good weather. The opportune appearance of the Sun and bales of hay served as a fabulous backdrop to have some portraits done on location, and so it was that I went off with Lauren to find a good place for some location portraiture.
I took my numerous flashguns and portable lighting stands with me to provide some fill in flash and help to reduce the shadows whilst also helping to lift the photograph from the page!

By clicking on any photo you can see them in more detail.
Please feel free to share on facebook or twitter!