As a scientist, I was always looking at new ways to solve old problems. In the words of Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman “… every theoretical physicist who is any good knows six or seven different theoretical representations for exactly the same physics.” The reason is that while an old problem may yield to a particular solution method, new problems may not. In other words, it is vital for the progress of science to always look for fresh points of view.
Given a world saturated with imagery, it is also of prime importance for photographers to look for new points of view. For example, Joe McNally recently took his camera to the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Since I couldn’t possibly hang 800m up in the air from the top of that building, I’m looking for other ways to create interesting imagery.
The use of reflections is a way to produce images that people may not be used to. The possible distortion from the reflecting surface can give your subject an unusual appearance. In the photograph below, the buildings are distorted by the curved windscreen of the tram.
Reflections in the windscreen of an Amsterdam tram
And the combination of the reflecting surface and reflected object can yield interesting juxtapositions, as in the picture above and the two below.
Crane reflection in a modern building, Lausanne, Switzerland
The sky reflecting in a modern building, Lausanne, Sitzerland
I explained in two previous blog posts, “Portrait photography: finding the front light” and “Portrait photography: finding the back light” how to find natural lighting conditions that are flattering for portraits of women.
But sometimes one has to place the subject a certain way to get a pleasing background, but the natural light falling on her isn’t optimal. And when the subject is oriented such that the natural light falling on her is optimal, there may be distracting elements in the background. In such a situation, one can go with the best composition of the photograph and ‘fix’ the lighting by adding some external light source.
In the photograph below, I really wanted to compose the photograph with the leading lines to the model’s face. But the light was coming from the side and giving unflattering shadows on her face. So I added a soft light source (a small flash in an umbrella) to fill in the shadows on her face and give a much more pleasing portrait.
Portrait of model using leading lines to guide the viewer to the face
And in the two following photographs, I really wanted to use the green door to frame my model. It gave a pleasing composition to the photograph. But the natural light falling on her face didn’t do her justice. So I again added the same soft light source as above to ‘fix’ the light. This way I could get the composition I wanted and good light on the model’s face.
Using a door to frame the model
Using a door to frame the model. Wider crop.