Thursday, April 18, 2013
As a photographer, a common question I get from cosplay models is "Where should I look?"
Your first decision will be whether to look into the camera with your eyes or not.
When you look directly at the camera with your eyes, then in terms of the final photo, you are engaging with the viewer of the image (not the camera).
Some questions to consider: Who do you imagine that person is? What will you communicate to them?
If you are cosplaying a character who is part of a story, you can imagine that you are looking at one of the other characters from the story, within a situation that would make sense in the story. This creates a context and meaning for your expression.
For example, if you become character A, about to confess your love for character B, this will look much more interesting than if you blankly stare into the camera with no meaning to your expression.
[This will be an ongoing theme in these articles. Instead of asking "What should I do?" a better question is "What is my character doing here and why?" Actions that have no meaning or purpose will look fake in a photo. Sometimes there are technical reasons for adjusting positions that do not really have any intrinsic meaning in terms of the story of the scene, such as positioning based on where the lights are. Even in cases like this, it helps to imagine there's a purpose within the story.]
Of course, you shouldn't look directly at the camera in every shot, because that becomes repetitive and boring.
When looking off-camera with your eyes, continue to imagine what it is your character is doing. Who or what are you looking at, and why?
One common problem when looking off-camera is turning your eyes too far. In everyday life, when you look off to the side, it's natural to turn your head part way towards the target, then turn your eyes the rest of the way until you can easily focus on the target. You do this because it's the natural, least-effort way to look to the side.
But in a photo, this usually produces an unflattering look. If you turn your head 45 degrees to the right of the camera, then turn your eyes another 45 degrees to the right, it creates a situation where the camera sees mostly the whites of your eyes. This can create an odd zombie-like look -- which may work great when cosplaying a zombie or monster, but usually not in other cases.
Instead, it is usually better to turn your head father off-camera than your eyes are turned.
Or to put it another way, if you turn your head 45 degrees right, then turn your eyes back to the left 20 degrees or so. This presents more of your iris to the camera, which will look nicer.
It may feel unnatural to do this, but the action makes sense if you imagine that you've finished looking at the thing really far to the side, and have started to look back the other way.
Now let's consider head position.
Cosplayers often wear wigs, and the wigs usually project out from the forehead and temple area more than real hair would.
If the primary light source is coming from above (which is very common), this can create a visual problem, where the wig casts an unattractive shadow on the face, causing a dark-circles-under-the-eyes look, combined with relatively brighter spots on the nose and cheekbones.
In this situation, you'd be better off tilting your head slightly upward. It doesn't have to be a huge exaggerated upward tilt. Normally a slight tilt up is enough to eliminate the undesirable wig shadow.
If the photographer is controlling the lights, then don't worry about this -- it's the photographer's job to position the lights to avoid unwanted shadows. But if it's a photo shoot with natural light, or artificial lights that you can't control, this can often come into play.
One thing to avoid in general is pulling your head back towards your shoulders. This can create an awkward, frightened look (think "turtle retreating into the shell"), and can also create unflattering shadows under your chin. Usually it is better to push your forehead forward, which looks more confident. It can work to first push your shoulders very slightly forward, and then push your forehead forward beyond your shoulders.
I hope this information has been helpful. Stay tuned for the next article, which will tackle the eternal question: "What should I do with my hands?"
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
I read this quote today, and I was struck by how simple this idea is, yet how easy it is to lose sight of it. Sometimes we act as though we believe that happiness will result once we can somehow eliminate every possible reason for unhappiness.
There are several problems with this. First, it isn't really possible to remove every possible justification for unhappiness, so the desire to do so sets up an impossible ideal that we can never meet. Second, the mere absence of unhappiness would only create a neutral state, not happiness. Finally, by observing happy people, we see that they did not eliminate every possible problem from their lives, rather they are happy even though there are still many imperfections in life. They just care more about the good things than the bad.
I'm reminded of an experience I had many years ago when I was wandering around in a small town in Costa Rica. I saw a man who was standing behind a little table where he was selling some crafts. He saw me walking by, and he struck up a conversation. He obviously really wanted to tell me something, but even though we both spoke English, at first we had a bit of trouble understanding each other's accents. He spoke with a strong Jamaican accent, and I have a west-coast U.S. accent. And I was also suspicious at first that he was trying to give me some sort of sales pitch so I would buy what he was selling, but actually that wasn't the point he was trying to make.
He pointed to the table, and pressed down on it, and the legs wobbled. He said, "You see how bad this table is?" (I thought: you're right, it looks like it is about to fall apart.) He said, "I could say, oh no, this is no good, I need a new table. But really, this is OK, a different table wouldn't change anything. It's a good day, we can be happy just like this."
That was over 15 years ago, but I still think about it. Would a better table change anything?
Saturday, March 02, 2013
One of my first random journeys took me into a pretty over-the-top house:
Now let's look at an example of a balanced design:
Gothic themes are pretty common in lineplay, but I especially liked the one below:
The guy above seems to like to take photos of his bathtub, while relaxing with a glass of wine. Like many lineplay houses, it makes me wonder what goes on there.
That's all for this installment of Better Homes and Pixels. Have you found any especially interesting LINE Play houses? Please share your discoveries.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
A bold contrasting crane color can also work (above). Notice how the yellow logo on the blue body serves as an accent color to link the crane with the building, and the horizontal position of the crane keeps it from competing with the background.
Well, that's all for this look at crane fashion. I'll be out looking for more examples to show you.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Today I went out to the St. Johns area, I wanted to look at the water level in the Willamette river, since we've had so much rain and flooding lately, and I thought I'd take some photos with the Fuji X10. The photo above was my favorite of the day.
While I was at Cathedral Park under the St. Johns bridge, I noticed quite a few other photographers there taking photos of the bridge. I guess it is a pretty common subject, in fact, I've seen a lot of photos that look like sort of like the one above. This spot kind of jumps out as an obvious place to stop and take a picture, because it is right on the main path through the park.
I also saw a bright purple fire hydrant. I wonder who picked this color.
Down at the river, the water level was high, and the water was very muddy. It rained most of the time while I was walking around. While I was right here I met two women who were out for a walk, and they asked me if I remember the flood back in 1996. I did, and we talked about that for a while.
Then I went to the Chinese Garden. They had decorated it with lanterns to get ready for their celebration of the Chinese New Year.
I also encountered some fish and some dragons.
Even though it was rainy, it was fun to get out of the house and have some quiet time.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
The water swept across the road and appeared to be at least 6" deep in places.
The water went over the bridge here
The pedestrian bridge is level with the water
Oh, but that would have been a perfect parking place!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
The first method is to take a small glass with sloping sides, and a stack of Post-its, then split the stack of Post-its in half and put the iphone in the glass between them, like this:
If you want to turn the iPhone sideways to take a landscape-orientation picture or video, that works too, but it is a little trickier to get the Post-its arranged just right:
Take the iPhone out of the case, then stand the iPhone up in the part of the case where the screen normally is, like this:
The third method is to get one of those cardboard insulating sleeves from Starbucks that makes it more comfortable to hold the hot coffee cup. This works best when the sleeve is brand new and the cardboard is still stiff. Stand the iPhone up in the coffee sleeve and take a timer photo:
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
- FlickStackr - if you use Flickr this is a great mobile interface to it
- Camera+ - great for taking photos from the iPhone, then processing them
- Photogene for iPad - together with the camera connection kit, I can transfer photos (even RAW files) from my camera to the iPad, edit them on the iPad, and then upload them.
- The Photographer's Ephemeris - pick a place on earth and a date and calculate the time and angle of sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset. Great for planning outdoor photos.
- iDoF Calc - calculates depth of field
- LightStudio - useful for pre-visualizing how different lighting schemes will look
- Strobox - only useful if you do complicated lighting with multiple lights, but great for easily creating diagrams of that to refer back to later
- Advanced Photoshop magazine for iPad - learn more about Photoshop
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
When I first got my iPad I thought of it as a kind of giant iPhone. Over time my mind has reversed this, and I now think of the iPhone as a tiny iPad, with a screen too small to make movies and comics look their best, too small to easily type on, and too small to use for drawing. The iPhone really only has one main advantage over the iPad: it fits in my pocket.
But what if I were a giant? Then I'd have really huge pockets, the iPad would fit in them, and I wouldn't need both an iPhone and an iPad. Brilliant! I love creative solutions like that. All I have to do in order to maximize my gadget efficiency is to become a giant.
And that proves that for any problem, if you just think outside the box a little, you can come up with a clear and simple solution that is completely impossible and useless.