Image of a church under a blue sky and grey clouds. Image attributed to the 4toconvert

Mine Your Own Experience: Challenges and Growth

One of the reasons I set up this blog was to provide reviews and feedback on some of the camera accessories I use.

To date, I have not completed even one. I can say why I haven’t because of X, Y and Z. However, that is no excuse. I have to deliver what I promise.

My accessories are growing and I don’t always get the opportunity to use them so I cannot provide very useful feedback.

This weekend though, I had the opportunity to try out a few and I really liked the results. I tried all kinds of photography from shooting buildings like the shot of St. Barnabas Church below and the featured image above.

Image of St Barnabas Church in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, UK. Photo attributed to the 4toconvert.

We, photographers, are lucky. We have an abundance of subjects to work with; our challenge is finding which shot works best, composition and how to show the subect it in a different light.

I would love to shoot the inside of this church and really capture its splendour. No doubt, many people see this church on a daily basis but many have never set foot inside it. So that would be something new.

However, it will not provide me with an opportunity to use my accessories as it is way too big. I need other subjects for that.

People is what I need to really test my accessories and hone my skills as a portrait photographer. I have shot at events, festivals, meetings, etc. You just point and shoot. That is easy.

Negotiating with people to take photos on the street or anywhere else is a skill on its own. I haven’t got the balls to do it yet!

Therefore, I tend to borrow children as they don’t mind and love being models and posing for the camera. I did that this weekend and got some little people to help me test a few accessories.

Image of a young beautiful black girl posing for the camera. Her hair is plaited. Photograph by the 4toconvert.

In the photo above, I used a 43″ umbrella, gold on the inside and black outside, to bounce the light from the flash. I like the way the colour works on the skin and the soft light it provides.

I also used the same umbrella with a 33″ white shoot through in the image below.

Two young black girls with plaited hair and witch costumes pose for the camera. Photograph by 4toconvert.

I love low key photograph. I think my images reveal that. The shoot was an experience. I only recently started trying out off camera flash a few months ago and this was really my first time using umbrellas.

I am pleased with the results. I know I have a long way to go and looking at the images above, I can tell that a hair light would have added another dimension and separated the girls from the background.

Watching Youtube videos and trying to do it yourself is a challenge. I was not only trying to understand how the light works but working with hyperactive kids. That posed another challenge.

I had to work overtime to stop them tearing around the park. And when they were not doing that, they were insisting on jumping on camera or operating it themselves.

Little girl with plaited hair, orange jacket and a witches skirt (costume) is jumping. Photography by the 4toconvert.

I have the utmost respect for photographers who work with children. It is a skill for any photographer who intends to photograph children.

Little black girl with plaited hair, black jacket and witches skirt is leaping into the air. Photograph by 4toconvert.

It is a real challenge but it is worthwhile learning the dynamics of children’s behaviour and the best way to capture them.

I think giving them some leeway is good to capture their personalities and their mood, especially natural smiles as illustrated above.

These photos are not technically the best but they have a lot of energy. They were fun to make. It was a challenge making them and provided their own challenges which are different from still life, macro photography, etc.

One thing that runs through all these different genres is capturing “the moment”. If you miss it, you don’t have anything to show.

Apart from the flash, I also got to use a grid over my flash to cut out light spillage as this next image with the little boy on the bike shows.

Little black boy in denim and short hair is sitting on his bike. Photograph by 4toconvert.

I used a single flash on this image at about the eight o’clock position. A second flash with another grid at about the three o’clock position could have lifted a bit of the shadows from his face or probably if I had used that flash at about six or seven o’clock.

The honeycomb grid below is the one I used.

A picture of the box that houses the Hubble Honeycomb Grid. Photograph by 4toconvert.

It is known as the Hubble Honeycomb Grid as illustrated on the box above. It is pretty cheap. It costs just over £2. That is less than US$4.

However, it works just as well as some of the more expensive Magmods, Rogue Grid and other Gary Fong accessories. You can also stack these grids if you choose to.

Image of the Hubble Honeycomb Hood or Grid. Photo by 4toconvert.

As you can see in the picture of the little girl below, you can use it to create a vignetting effect on camera which means less time wastage in post production.

I will provide a more detailed review of this product over the next coming weeks as I experiment more with it.

Shooting a lot and reviewing your work in progress is a good way to challenge yourself and grow, it is also the best way to master your cameras, lights, accessories and how to deal with people.

Mining your own experience is the best method to develop your craft. Becoming a competent photographer is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. Shoot a lot and learn from your mistakes and successes.

Little girl on a scooter. Photo by 4toconvert.

Forewarned is forearmed. You don’t want to get yourself into a situation where you are trying to master your equipment and struggling to understand people and direct them.

The worst thing to have is a stressed out or panicking photographer because your nerves will affect your clients. The negative energy will be transferred to the images you create.

I presented some of the photos from the shoot to the mother of these young girls and she also wants a shoot too.

So keep shooting, you never know where your next lead is coming from. Someone might see your photos and like what you do.

Remember a lot of photographers are recommended by word of mouth.

I will update you on more stuff I got up to over the weekend, including painting with light.

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