Sunday, March 30, 2014

Photographers: Three ways to direct the audience

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 1100, ƒ/3.2, 1/100 Custom White Balance with ExpoDisc

To help direct your audience through a scene to where you want them to look, you can use compositional elements like leading lines in the photo above. I have the lines from the shirt directing me back into the photograph to the guy talking.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/6.3, 1/100 with off camera flash with Nikon SB-900 with MagMod 1/4 CTO Gel being triggered by PocketWizard TT1 and Flex TT5 with AC-3 zone controller

Now with this photo of the kids watching the balls racing each other down the incline I am using the incline to lead your eye, but I am also now using another element to help direct your attention—Light.

By using an off-camera flash I am able to put more light on the man at the top of the incline and also light the kids. As the light drops off to the background is is slightly darker so your eye doesn't go there first.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/6.3, 1/100 with off camera flash with Nikon SB-900 with MagMod 1/4 CTO Gel and 20º Grid being triggered by PocketWizard TT1 and Flex TT5 with AC-3 zone controller
I knew that if I didn't use a light on the subject here holding the weight you may drift to anyone of the people in the background.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/6.3, 1/100 with off camera flash with Nikon SB-900 with MagMod 1/4 CTO Gel being triggered by PocketWizard TT1 and Flex TT5 with AC-3 zone controller
Here in this photo you can see my photo assistant being a VALS [Voice Activated Light Stand].  This is helping me pop the subject out from the crowd.

Now on the flash I am using a 1/4 CTO gel that is working well with the available light. I started with 1/2 Plusgreen gel but even with color correcting using the ExpoDisc the color just never looked right on the faces as compared to the background.

Nikon D4, 28-300mm, ISO 11400, ƒ/6.3, 1/100 Custom White Balance with ExpoDisc

You can also use color to draw your eye into a photo. Here the lady in pink draws your attention because she is wearing Pink. Same photo in Black & White looses the directing quality of the color.

To now make a B&W photo work photographers will burn and dodge to direct your eye with available light photography. Here I have burned in some of the areas of the photo so your eye is directed by the lightest area.

Light is the greatest influence in photography

Photography is writing with light. That is what the word means. Now take a moment later I decided to add light to the situation above. Watch how much I am now directing your eye with the light.

While the lady in pink is drawing some of your attention, I have more light on the scientist here holding a brain model.

In black and white I have now really isolated where I want you to look. I have removed the color influence of the pink jacket and you are now because of the introducing of a spot light on the subject a way for me to influence where the audience looks.

Put it all together

Here I am using the off camera flash and using a longer lens of 90mm to come in close on the two little girls. Most importantly I am capturing a moment where their eyes are communicating interest and this is the second most important part of a photograph—The Moment.

Here I am using the off-camera flash to light the young boy and make the background darker. The mother's orange jacket is a complimentary color to the blue jacket and I am also using the color to help direct you. I am using the hand of the scientist holding the brain model while the mother's hands continue to direct you towards the boys expression on his face. This moment of interest is caught by his eyes and mouth expressions showing interest. The mom's expression also compliments her son's expression.

Here I am again using the off-camera flash to brighten the people in the foreground and the background is now darker. I am still using composition to help direct you and most important looking for the moment that tells the story. The embroidery on the scientists sleeve almost replaces the need for a caption.

Capturing a moment with a father and daughter is enhanced with the off-camera flash. The photo reads faster than had I relied solely on composition alone.

As you can see in this last photo your eye will wonder if the photographer hasn't used all the tools necessary to direct your attention.

When you look back at your photos from something you attended and nothing is really standing out, there is a reason. Are you using all the tools at your disposal to capture moments? Of all the tools you can use, off-camera flash maybe the best weapon you have. Do you know how to use one?

Give me a call for a personal class for some one-on-one instruction if you would like to master this technique.