“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it.”
Why are you passionate about this topic?
I was born and bred on BW film, I love grain and dark imagery. All of my favorite photographers shoot this way, these are the images that move me. Now that my main muses are my twins, I still tend to edit my work in this way. I also live in Seattle, so there’s that.
When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?
I’ve always gravitated toward the emotional impact of an image more than it’s technical perfection. Grain and shadows help in achieving this look, so when I switched to digital, I had to learn how to recreate this look.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?
You will need to know how to shoot in manual. set your ISO for the light, your F-stop for your desired effect, and play around with the shutter speed until you are getting the correct exposure. Usually 1 or 2 stops under will do the trick.
Invest in some good editing software and try a few presets before creating your own. I like to do a basic S-curve in Lightroom, bring down the highlights and bring up the shadows. Then I play around with exposure and contrast. I bring down the blacks a bit more, add some grain and a very slight split tone.
Challenge yourself to learn new techniques. There are tons of creative tips floating around the internet, freelensing, prisming, backlighting. Push yourself to expand your creative vocabulary. Keep learning.
Don’t limit yourself to golden hour shooting. We have many months here in the PNW where we don’t see the sun for days. You will be amazed at the richness of tones you can achieve on a gray, overcast day.
Ask your parents or grandparents for their old gear. My husband and I have inherited all of our grandparent’s gear and there are some amazing pieces in there. My fave is a Polaroid land camera. The BW film has been discontinued but you can still buy it from resellers.
Learn the rules, then start breaking them like crazy.
What were the challenges for you in the beginning?
I wanted to acheive a certain look and I had to learn how to make the gear I had work for me. I wasn’t in a position to buy new lenses at the drop of a hat, so learning how to shoot with what I had was essential.
Sarah is a fine art portrait and lifestyle photographer based out of Seattle, WA, where she lives with her husband and muses, their 6 year old twins.Focusing on capturing the connections of everyday life, Sarah spends her non twin-rearing hours on her growing photography business,making unique images, and breaking the rules of photography along the way.
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