This post is the first of a short series that will focus on forming an analysis on a selected photographers works. The idea behind this is to form a better understanding of various photography and editing styles and methods and to eventually create my own style. The end goal of this series is to eventually create my own unique style of photography whereby I will at a later point create an Instagram account to showcase.
Most (if not all) of the artists featured here will be from Instagram as that’s the platform that I use most for photography purposes.
Point to note – photography is subjective. This is not a post pointing out what I think are “good” and “bad” photos, rather I’m trying to take a fairly objective view and simply examine the techniques and style preferences of the photographers.
So now onto the post.
Brandon is a freelance photographer based in New York. He’s on Instagram under the handle @bradonwoelfel where he has over 1 million followers. More information and photos can be found at his website –www.brandonwoelfel.com
Brandon shoots portraits with a very distinctive feel and vibe. Below are some samples of his work.
Listed below are three key points that make Brandon’s photos distinctive.
The first thing that stands out to me are the colors he uses. Brandon usually favors a more cooler tone with a lot of blues and magentas. This provides a great contrast between the colors and shapes his unique style.
The second thing of note is the shallow depth of field, or bokeh. There’s a lot of that. Brandon shoots with prime lenses, such as the 85mm and 50mm, with the aperture wide open. This allows him to obtain the gorgeous bokeh, and as a bonus the large aperture also helps keep the camera ISO down when shooting in places with low light.
Finally, Brandon uses various props to achieve his style. Scrolling through his Instagram feed you can see that nearly every picture has fairy lights and oversized retro glasses. The fairy lights work to help create the bokeh mentioned earlier, and the glasses subtly reflect the light sources in the picture. Brandon also uses CDs and prisms to create reflections or “rainbows”. Lastly he also incorporates neon lights, signage, and sparklers into some of his works.
This is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive breakdown of Brandon’s photos or his shooting style. But it does note several key points that I observed. The aim of this brief examination is to observe the styles of various artists and draw inspiration from their works.
If you do want to explore in more depth how to recreate Brandon’s style there’s a great video done by Mango Street (2017) that shows you how.
I’m a photographer. I love looking at pictures. I love taking pictures.
So for this blog post I thought that I’ll take a look at what inside my bag. It’s not a lot, and there are loads of gear that I would love to acquire at a later time, and I’ll mention a few of those in here as well, but for now this is what’s inside my camera bag.
I got my first DSLR around 8 years ago. It was a Nikon D50 – it first released in 2005, as a starter/midrange camera. It sported a 6 megapixel CCD sensor which could go up to a blistering ISO 1600. Not that I’d ever recommend using ISO 1600 on it – images on that setting were pretty much unusable. I eventually figured out to stick to around ISO 400 or 800 at most. Compared to today’s cameras, image quality and resolution are almost laughable, but under ideal conditions it can still take pretty amazing shots. I used that sturdy little camera until 2015 – the workhorse had seen the better part of 10 years by that time. I still have it and it still works, but it’s mostly confined to the top shelf of a lonely cupboard nowadays.
That leads me to the reason for my old camera’s sad fate – the Nikon D750. I upgraded to this one in 2015, after much contemplation and research. Originally I thought I’d jump ship to Canon (gasp) and their 7D Mk II, but eventually due to my Nikon lenses I stayed with the yellow and black. Originally I was planning on getting the D7200 – Nikon’s best DX camera at the time (the D500 was still being a dream at that time) – but through a turn of events I ended up going full frame. And I’m glad I did. The D750 is a marvelous piece of gear. It has 4 times the resolution of the old D50 so image detail and clarity was amazing. And the ISO comfortably goes to a usable 12,800. ISO 51,200 exists although, that’s definitely not something you’d want to use. I could go on about the camera – the autofocus, dynamic range, etc – but this isn’t a review, so I’ll digress.
And so, moving on to the lenses.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8
Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8
Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6
So first of all the 50mm. A 50mm if pretty much a must in every photographer’s kit – that’s just the way it is. Almost every photographer you ask will explain the merits of the lens and why you must have it. It is without a doubt the sharpest lens I have and the large aperture makes it a boon in low light situations. However, I don’t like 50mm. That’s probably just me, but I find it too tight for wide angle shots, and not tight enough for the portraits I take. This is just personal preference, but I’m more inclined to a longer or wider focal length. If I were to replace this lens I’d probably get a 85mm f/1.4 – it has a more useful (for me) focal length and an ever so slightly faster aperture.
Which leads me to the next lens, the Sigma 28-70mm. For some reason there isn’t a lot of detail about this one online that I could find – no reviews, nothing for sale. It’s like it almost doesn’t exist. It’s a general purpose lens, but it’s probably the one I use least. This is due to my shooting style, I don’t often shoot wide angles, it’s reserved for rare occasions or places where space is at a minimum. Quality wise, at f/2.8 it’s not ideal. Images aren’t sharp and there’s significant chromatic aberrations in photos. Stop it down it f/4 and things are significantly better. The main reason I use this lens is for its wide angle of view, so if I were to upgrade it, I’d simply go with a wide angle prime such as the Sigma 20mm f/1.4.
The last lens on this list is the Sigma 70-300mm. According to the Sigma website this is the cheapest lens that they currently sell. However that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It has great quality and sharpness, and I prefer longer focal length compared to my other lenses. This is without a doubt the one lens I carry around with me the most. Although due to the aperture and the lack of any image stabilization means, it’s less than ideal in low light – that’s where a 70-200mm f/2.8 would really shine.
And that’s it for what’s in my camera bag! There aren’t any accessories such as tripods, stabilizers, flashes, etc. because due to some reason or other I currently don’t have any – any that work at least. So for now I’m slightly limited by what I currently possess. But that doesn’t create an excuse for bad photos – after all it’s not the camera, but the person behind it that matters.
What do I want people to know about me? There are many things I would like to tell, and narrowing it down to just one was difficult. After browsing through my previous work for inspiration, I eventually settled on emotion. More particularly how I love to capture emotion in photos or videos, or create them in illustrations and stories. Emotions are at the core of most great works. It’s what makes people laugh or cry, it’s what brings a smile to their face, or a tear in their eye. In the end that’s what I aspire to do with any of my art. It’s to evoke emotion.
For this project, the medium I chose was a poster, as I could use easily use my photography to its effect. While a video or animation would have also been a great idea, I chose the poster due to it’s simplicity.It’s relatively easy to create, but done right, can be a very effective medium. Various designs were experimented with and different sketches were drawn in the brainstorming process, but the final design was chosen because it was simpler and more to the point. There’s no guesswork needed to figure out what idea is being shown. There are photos of people with various expressions to help convey emotion, as well as a quote from a song. The starry sky backdrop also adds to the grand, dramatic feel of the whole piece.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime people trafficking is the fastest growing international crime, and one of the largest sources of income for organized crime (Stop The Traffik, n.d.). As of 2014 there were an estimated 21 million victims globally. Over 14 million were exploited for labour, and over 4.5 million were sexually exploited (Human Rights First, 2017). According to Human Rights First, human trafficking is worth $150 billion every year for traffickers with 66% of that coming from sex trafficking. Yet in 2015, the Department of Justice convicted a shocking low figure of 297 human traffickers. Despite human trafficking being such a large criminal business, few people are aware of it. For most people, human trafficking is usually something that happens “somewhere else”. However trafficking occurs globally, from tiny villages to major cities. Due to these reasons, this topic was chosen to create awareness about human trafficking.
The final output is a series of three posters, each containing a different aspect of human trafficking. The visually aggressive red color scheme subtly hints at the disturbing reality of human trafficking. The black background represents the darkness and hopelessness that victims face. The text is intentionally thin and simple, to adhere to the minimal feel of the posters. All pictures are obtained from Pexels (www.pexels.com) and used under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
A Design Studio Project created for Adobe Design Achievement Awards.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, just imagine what a video is worth! It’s thousands of photos combined into one! In my videos, I like to take simple ordinary things in life and put them on the screen. Things that we sometimes tend to take for granted, or things that simply go unnoticed because they’re “normal”, and showcase them. It could be nature, people, maybe a few toys on the shelf, or even just some empty roads. With a little creativity and imagination almost anything can work.
My favorite kinds of videos are the ones that have an extra emphasis on music. It can be a music video, or it could just be a video that has a great soundtrack. The music is really important as it helps complete the video. Great videography is nice, but combine it with great music and it has the ability to change people’s worldview, to give people new perspective – that’s what I aim for.
Videos that stir people’s feelings. Motion pictures that create passion in people. To make them laugh or make a tear roll down their cheek or put a smile on their face. Short films that people can say reminded them of a special event in their life. Movies that people can watch and say it really touched them, it lifted up their spirit even if only for a moment. And that’s the great thing – everyone can feel. Anyone from a child to a grandparent can watch a video. Age doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, that’s my hope for all my work, whether it’s a movie, or a photograph, or music – to create memories and emotions in people.
What is transmedia storytelling & how does it take advantage of convergence in order to create an expansive story world?
Transmedia storytelling is simply, as the name implies, is conveying a story across various forms of media. According to Henry Jenkins (2007), each medium would ideally add its own, unique contribution to the main storyline. Convergence, refers to the flow of content across mediums, the cooperation between the media industry and the media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted (Jenkins, 2006).
One example of transmedia storytelling is Marvel. Originally restricted to comics, today the Marvel Universe consists of movies, tv series, games, websites and more. While most of the content on the platforms are cohesive, and are part of the same storyline, known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), due to the sheer size and span of time in which they were created, there are some content which form their own story totally unrelated to the MCU.
Another example of transmedia is the Lord of The Rings series. Written by Tolkien over the course of several years, it was originally conceived as a series of books. Later in the 2000s they were adapted into films by director Peter Jackson, and received with amazing, positive response. Eventually three more movies based on the Hobbit books by Tolkien as well as several games followed. However in addition to official content, the community also added to the storyline. Fans teamed up and have created virtual maps to explore Middle Earth, as well as extensive resources on the languages used in the story such as, Elvish, Dwarfish and even created movies, stories and apps. The Lord of the Rings series showcases what is possible with technology today and the way transmedia storytelling and media convergence is enabling us to create more content, on more platforms, with more people.
This was originally written as an exercise as part of Research and Development in Digital Media.
This is a short analysis on the selected digital media project. This was originally written as an exercise in analysis before creating a project of my own.
The chosen project is an experimental 360 degree video (Devinsupertramp, 2017). It was created by Youtuber Devin Graham and his team, as a challenge to test out the capabilities of the new GoPro Odyssey, a 360 degree video capable camera.
Several GoPro Odysseys were given to various companies as a “limited access” pilot program. This project was one of a few experimental videos done by devinsupertramp to test out the technical and creative capabilities of 360 degree storytelling. Most 360 degree videos, while immersive and fascinating to explore, don’t tell a story. Which is why this one is different. This video was conceived with a narrative in mind, where the viewer (the camera) isn’t just a fly on the wall, but rather participates – in a way at least – in the story. The story takes place in a large room, where there is an ongoing party. Gradually though strange things begin to happen and the party turns into a terrifying murder scene when a mysterious figure appears.
According to team member and director, Zane O’Gwin (2017), the video was a challenge to produce, due to it’s experimental nature. Before creating the storyline, Zane came up with a list of criteria that the video should meet, to help streamline the video creation process.
The camera shouldn’t cut and change positions.
While this is common and necessary in typical movies, due to the 360 degree nature, cuts and changing positions would look unnatural and jarring.
The actors shouldn’t have to memorize and perform the entire video in a single take.
This is due to technical constraints. Shooting the entire video consumes considerable power and memory, if someone messed up once, it would require re-shooting the entire video, so instead the video was created in different cuts.
There should be an actor who is entertaining enough to carry the viewer through the entire story.
This is partially due to the story, where a primary character was needed. Christian Busath was cast as the main actor.
The viewer should be engaged the entire time.
This is vital to the video, and proposed one of the largest challenges. Zane decided to set the camera up as a character. This lets the viewer be engrossed into the video, while according to Zane, “makes you feel vulnerable and threatened as opposed to just watching it happen to other people.”
The entire video is a showcase for the GoPro Odyssey, which is an array of sixteen GoPro Hero4 Black cameras. It’s a limited experimental concept created by GoPro to enable 360 degree video capture.
It costs $15,000 and is capable of capturing 8K spherical video at 30 frames per second.However unlike traditional 360 degree cameras, the footage from the Odyssey has to be uploaded to Google’s servers and using Google’s Jump video assembler, it stitches the sixteen different angles into a single video. This video is later downloaded and edited as needed.
The video is an interesting concept, created using fairly new technology. It explores the creative aspects of 360 degree video, with a fairly compelling and engrossingnarrative. Due to the nature of 360 degree videos, it is difficult if not impossible, to shoot it as a standard movie. Firstly, camera (in this particular case) is stationary. This means there are no cuts or transitions to different scenes. This poses an interesting creative challenge as it makes it problematic to direct the viewers eye to anyone particular scene. The way the team gets around this problem is by making it as realistic as possible by having “multiple scenes”. There are different characters all interacting in different ways at the same time – just like it would be if you were standing in the middle of a real party happening in real life.
An interesting idea used by the team to engage the viewer is the position and set up of the camera. The camera is configured to be a female character. This gives the audience a sense of being in the action. This is further helped by the having the main character fall in love with the camera’s character and constantly interacting with it – adding a fun element of humor into an otherwise creepy and slightly horrifying storyline. According to Zane it, “makes you feel nervous when you are left a lone in the room with the killer”.
One of the technical challenges involved in the video are lighting – unlike a standard movie, it isn’t possible to place lights anywhere you need it. The entire scene has to look natural and realistic – in this particular case, that meant that the light could only come from the ceiling. To help reflect some light onto the characters face, the camera’s tripod was covered in a white sheet. While this still isn’t an ideal solution it does aid in creating some fill light.
Another technically challenging situation is the way the Odyssey works. It captures sixteen different video streams from sixteen different cameras, which have to be sent onto Google’s servers to be transcoded and stitched into a single video file. This is a time, network , and storage consuming task. However as this is fairly new technology this could potentially become more streamline and easier in future.
While it may not be reasonable to use the Odyssey to film in my project, the idea to use 360 degree videos to be able to convey a story is an interesting one, and might be possible. And not just 360 degree video, it would be possible to try different methods and technologies in a way that they’re not being currently utilized. Maybe to use drones to film an entire movie? Or possibly to shoot and record the entire movie using an iPhone? The focus shouldn’t be on the technologies, although they are important, rather it should be on the creativity and the ideas. Like Devin’s motto goes “to get the shot that no one else will.”