About Ian Kee

Ready for more information about living and photographing on a cruise ship? Head on over to the website of Ian Kee to find out more or to ask him questions.

Fine Art Photography – What It Is and How You Do It

Fine art photography is an elusive term. Photography has become universally available and anyone with a camera can start snapping pictures and calling them art photos. Is there really such a thing as art rich photography? Digital cameras have changed the way we take pictures, leaving more room for quantity rather than quality. We often hear people calling themselves fine art photographers, but let’s look into this and try to establish a definition for this type of photography.

art photography ansel adams the tetons and the snake river

Is Photography Fine Art?

For almost 200 years, people have been asking: is photography art? By the late 19th century, in both Britain and the United States, photography had become accepted as a visual art. This was probably due to the great efforts of specialized magazines such as American Amateur Photographer as well as many photography societies from all over the U.S.A.

Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen were especially important to establishing photography as art. Stieglitz, for example, was responsible for bringing prints into museum collections. In 1905, the two men founded 291 art gallery, an internationally famous venue. The 291 art gallery was specialized in avant-garde art, including photographs, sculptures, and paintings.

Some art critics will agree that photography is indeed art, while others will argue that it cannot be placed into the same category with the five main fine arts – architecture, music, painting, poetry, and sculpture. All in all, a clear answer has not yet been given, and photography remains a subjective concept.

What is Fine Art Photography?

woman waterfall alessio albi photography

This is one of photography’s hardest to answer questions. Most will agree that it’s a more personal kind of photography, revealing more of the nature of the photographer. This means that their art is created without any restrictions, which is also a clear indication that the client has no real say in what the final result should be. This gives individuals total freedom to pursue their vision and ideas and create stunning pieces of art that are often displayed in galleries or museums.

The term “fine art photography” is used too loosely nowadays. This leaves room for interpretation and you will find that many photographers have their own unique understanding of the matter. Some will also say it can be used to describe high-quality images. Others, however, will argue that it all lies in the freedom of shooting what their hearts desire, as previously discussed.

The Aspects of Art Photography

  • It has an idea. Fine art is about delivering a message, an idea, an emotion. The artist must want to convey something through their work. But do not confuse it with documentation. While some types of photography favor documentation because the photographer does not express its personality through the photograph, with fine art it’s entirely different. The idea you are looking to communicate to the viewer should contain your personal beliefs, opinions, and views.
  • It must evoke an emotion. Images are purely visual but they have the unique power of being able to certain feelings in the viewer. This can be done through multiple means. It mostly lies in the composition of the picture, but color saturation, contrast, lightness, or even cropping are also key factors you must take into account.
  • It’s always quality over quality. Art photography is not commercial photography, nor is it product photography. It does not depend on a client or other money factors. When taking an art photo, one must not rush the process and must certainly not put emphasis on mass production. This is because the creation process is characterized by attention to detail and deep thinking every action.Oleg Oprisco photography woman portrait
  • It has a statement. Fine art photographs often come with an artist statement. It has to be written in a way that appeals to the art world. A clear statement should make viewers understand what they should take away from your artwork. Think about what it is that makes you stand out, what your art expresses, what emotions you want to convey. Influences are also things to be considered in an artist statement.

Be specific in regards to what made an impression on you and how they manifest themselves in the art you have created. Writing a statement can be a bit difficult at first, but there are many online examples and guides to help out a starting artist.

Famous Art Photographers

Need some inspiration? Then you might want to look into the art of the following world-renowned fine art photographers who revolutionized the movement:

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is one of the greatest photographers the U.S.A. has ever had. He is best known for the black and white photographs of the Yosemite National Park. Adams was also one of the pioneers of documentary photography and the creator of a photographic technique called Zone System. This is a technique used for determining the correct film exposure and development.

Adams, along with Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston, have founded the Group f/64, a starting point for the later established department of photographic art, part of the Museum of Modern Art.

Man Ray

Man Ray was an American artist best known for his fine art photography, a leading figure in the avant-garde movement of the early 20th century. He is also renowned for his painting, sculptures, and object art.

He is also de developer of a new form of pictorialism – Rayograph, or photogram. This is an image created without a photographic camera. Instead, items are placed onto the sensitized paper and then exposed to light.

noire et blanche man ray photography

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Cartier-Bresson is regarded as one of the greatest street photographers of the world, and the father of modern photojournalism. It is believed that no other photographer put so much emphasis on the aesthetics of photography than the meticulous Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Irving Penn

Penn is one of the most important figures of the mid-20th-century photography. He is best known for his fashion photography, considered to be an important innovator in this field, and portraiture. His work was included in over 150 Vogue magazine covers.

Additionally, he was also the author of a series of plant studies, ethnographical essays, and still lifes.

IMAGE SOURCE1, 2, 3, 4

Best Lens For Wedding Photography

There is no single best lens for wedding photography. This type of work requires a great deal of versatility on the part of the photographer, and naturally that means a mix of photography gear. As weddings can either be an indoor or an outdoor event (or a combination of both), in addition to the fact that you will need to shoot close-ups as well as large gatherings, a combination of lenses is required.

This also means, as even an aspirational photographer knows, that shooting a wedding requires at least two cameras, with a mandatory backup photographer. This post examines a wide variety of lenses, suitable to the many challenges posed by this type of event, trying to encompass examples for both APS-C’s and full-frame DSLRs. Firstly, however, let’s take a look at some preliminary observations in order to shed light on the subject of best lens for wedding photography.

best lens for wedding photography

The Specifics of Wedding Photography

There are lots of factors one must take into consideration when approached for wedding photography, as each couple wants their perfect moment to touch on the unique; therefore variations in lighting, scope of shoot, size of the event or manpower may limit you to just a handful of lenses, or a number that borders a dozen lenses.

This multitude of challenges means that for a job well done you need lenses with a variety of focal lengths, although we have encountered opinions (and not isolated cases one might add) that a single prime lens is a way to go, especially when deeming the best lens for wedding photography.

To illustrate the complex animal that is a wedding, one can take a systematic approach. You have the preparation, where you must document the bride getting ready for the ceremony; the ceremony itself, where there is usually a limitation on where the photographer places their instruments of choice; the portraits, which range from only the bride and groom up to dozens of people for large families or grand bridal parties; the reception, where there is a bit more leeway for the photographer, yet the demands are also substantial.

This highly schematic description of a typical wedding goes to show that the photographer really needs to be a jack of all trades in the matter of wedding photography, with the gear needing to be likewise – prime lenses for the reception, lenses with a wide focal length for larger portraits or high-quality standard lenses for overview images of locations and guests.

Best Canon Lens for Wedding Photography

As lighting conditions vary widely at this kind of events, as general instructions go lenses with a wide aperture and fast image stabilizations are most welcomed. In trying to accommodate the many cases, we’ll start by drawing up a kit of lenses for APS-C camera users.

  • Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM at $779, delivers adequate image quality for its aperture, has a focal length that suits a wide range of situations. It definitely is the lens that should be part of any wedding photographer’s tool kit, when using an APS-C camera. The 17mm end is more than able at framing a whole bridal party while the 55mm is the way to go for the odd ad-hoc portrait request. One particularly attractive feature of this lens is the Full-Time Manual (FTM) focusing. It is best suited for indoor events, as the flare it produces has been decried by quite a few reviewers.
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is a “mere trifle” at $1,949, however, it is your best option for portrait photography, delivering a remarkable image quality, with its image stabilization system and a focal length range that is more than useful. It offers great value for money, being especially helpful when it comes to large portrait shots in outdoor circumstances, due to its insignificant distortions and non-existent chromatic aberration.
canon lens for wedding phtography

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

  • With the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, we round up the elementary arsenal of a wedding photographer who uses an APS-C cameras. A wedding is a community rite of passage, therefore, one must capture images with the whole nuptial retinue, whether indoors or outdoors. The wide focal length of this lens allows you to immortalize large groups against wide backgrounds, and the asking price of $649 is a decent one, considering other options at your disposal.

As ever, full-frame DSLR users certainly are spoiled for choice, yet we will present three models that have an established place in the lens kit of any serious wedding photographer.

  • Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM standard zoom is most people’s first choice. The range makes it ideal for shooting the preparation and the ceremony itself stages of a wedding. It delivers unmatched image quality (for its price category – $1,749) for both medium-sized group shots and also the much maligned frequent close-ups of the bride. The over-the-top image quality comes at the price of the lack of image stabilization, nevertheless, the sheer versatility of its focal length range is a satisfactory selling point.
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM may cost around $2,000, yet it is the standard when it comes to shooting portraits. The f/1.2 maximum aperture on a lens with a focal length that delivers a perfect depth of field for this purpose will certainly offer you a great largess at handling the swift sequence of guests. You will never again be afraid of pacey processions in the dim light of an old basilica.
wide angle canon lens

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

  • Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM is a wide angle lens with properties that are ideal for large-scale ceremonies. What sets this model apart is its maximum aperture of f/1.4, the widest available for any lens that is wider than 50mm. The lens is tailor-made for users of high-performance full-frame DSLR’s, due to its fast and accurate autofocus and amazing control of flare. The price of $1,439 speaks volumes about whether this lens should be part of your gear or not.

Best Nikon Lens for Wedding Photography

We have dedicated a smaller section to Nikon lenses, due to space constraints. Nevertheless, taking into account the number of examples regarding Canon lenses, there is no great effort in searching for corresponding lenses that suit Nikon cameras.

That being said, we will, as was the case with the previous section, three lenses that have acquired “mandatory status”:

nikon lens for wedding photography

NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED

We hope to have provided a modest insight on the matter of best lens for wedding photography. Obviously, the more complex the event and the more sophisticated your clientele is, the larger your pouch of lenses needs to be. A lens kit that provides quality and versatility should be your ideal after you have read this post.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Comprehensive Guide to Buying Used Cameras

With the market offer changing periodically, many photographers choose to sell their used cameras and invest in new equipment. While a sign of a healthy organic market, this also allows other photographers to upgrade their equipment to the previous generation without making a qualitative compromise and save money in the process.a guide to used cameras

Buying a used camera and navigating through used cameras offers may prove tricky. We put together a guide to buying used cameras. Whether you are an entry level photographer and looking to fine tune your skills with entry models or you’re looking for backup camera, our comprehensive guide will walk you through the essentials.  

Buy Used Cameras From Trustworthy Sources

There are plenty of online resources that offer used cameras for sale. Some are more credible and authoritative, while others less so. Pick your resource carefully. We hope you find the best place to buy used cameras in this short list.

  • eBay. As with used camera lenses, eBay is a great resource for used digital cameras or used film cameras. With plenty of filters that can be activated from the left menu, eBay is a sure shot.
  • FredMiranda forums. Among FredMiranda forums you will find forums dedicated to selling and buying used camera and used camera gear. These forums are unlike a used camera store, but they host a wide variety of used camera equipment and used cameras from vetted sources.
  • KEH is another great online resource. Photographers looking for good deals on previous generation photography gear may find just what they need. KEH used cameras are a top sellers as this is a great site for its return and money-back policies in case something doesn’t go as expected.
  • B&H used cameras. B&H has been a trustworthy resource among used camera stores for a while now. Check their offers too when venturing to purchase used cameras and used camera gear.more used cameras in a  used camera store

Buying used cameras online requires a trustworthy resources. These places are emphasizing feedback and reliable ranking to enable future buyers to perform a thorough background check on the potential sellers. Nonetheless, keep in mind that:

  • You should be able to examine the used cameras or used camera equipment you are about to purchase. Look for this option first and avoid going with luck.
  • Words like “mint condition”, “perfect condition”, “rarely used” and other variations don’t mean precisely that and they’re simply marketing tricks.
  • You must check the return or money guarantee policy before proceeding with the purchase of used cameras.

Conduct a Short Examination of the Used Camera

As appealing as an offer looks, used cameras may hide a couple of imperfections. Provided you were able to establish a face-to-face meeting with the seller or the used camera store has a sound return policy, follow these guidelines to perform a quick examination of the camera.

  • First of all, take your laptop with you to a potential meeting. A laptop is necessary to check for image defects and imperfections. AF inaccuracies, dead pixels or sensor defects are easy to detect with a quick test.
  • Check the used digital camera sensor for dead pixels. A couple of dead pixels aren’t necessarily a deal breaker. Many more than that are. Thus, we advise you to shoot one image with the used camera. Make it RAW with base ISO setting and keep the lens cap on. The laptop will prove useful to check for dead pixels when the image is at 100% zoom.  
  • Shutter Count is important. Camera manufacturers rate their cameras for a certain shutter actuation number. It’s true that some cameras can go way over the tested number. Nonetheless, when looking for used cameras and settling for a model like a used Canon camera or a used Nikon camera, make sure you know the exact maximum shutter actuation number for the respective model. The same RAW image used for the dead pixels test can be used to find the shutter actuation number of the used camera you are about to buy. Used PhotoMe or other programs to check the number. The shutter life of used cameras is important for the life expectancy of the camera and the price of used cameras. There’s a slight difference between ‘barely used’ and shutter actuation number 10,000. shutter count on used cameras

Nikon used cameras or Pentax used cameras will render the shutter count in the image’s EXIF data. For other used cameras, check PhotoMe, MyShutterCount or Shuttercounter to pull the info on the shutter actuation number. Used Canon cameras require different programs for the actuation number.

  • Chamber/Sensor Dust. Used cameras will naturally have accumulated some dust specs on the sensor. However, too much dirt or dust may require a manufacturer clean-up of the used cameras. This aspect should be well reflected in the price of used film cameras or used digital cameras. Also check for sensor scratches or other imperfections. The image snapped with the used camera will reflect most of the sensor problems. Take a picture of the sky and view it at 100%. The lens aperture should also be set at the highest available number.
  • Check Autofocus. As in the case of used camera lens, AF errors must be checked for. Thus, add a lens to the used camera and see how it focuses. The standard autofocus test involves a distant subject shot with regular phase detect and live view. Autofocus differences or serious issues should be immediately noticeable.

Check Used Cameras’ Mechanical Condition

The mechanical condition of used cameras is not a trifle. The simple appearance of used cameras are telling of the conditions they’ve been used in. Not all imperfections reflect on the quality of used cameras, but they should be reflected in the used camera prices. grip rubber on used cameras

  • Exterior dents and scratches. Used cameras will inevitably feature a few scratches here and there. They don’t impact the mechanical condition of used DSLR or or used film cameras, but it’s useful to get an idea of how the camera was used. Check if the camera was dropped and then check for the possible internal imperfections. Some used cameras are heavy and made for rough conditions. Nonetheless, a drop and a heavy camera body may result in internal damage that is costly to fix.
  • Take a peek at the memory card compartment. Pin connectors should be in perfect state inside the card mount. The slightest bent may damage memory cards beyond repair.
  • Check cover materials. If the rubber on the used camera’s grip or on the back of used cameras is coming off then it may have been used in very moist conditions. It’s not too important as the rubber can easily be glued back on. However, moist conditions may impact the body of the camera. So be sure to check everything inside out.
  • Lens Mount. If the lens mount of used cameras isn’t in perfect condition without bends, dents and unclean contact pins, the camera lens won’t mount securely.
  • LCD Screen and the Viewfinder. Also check these for scratches and dust. An LCD screen that’s already scratched will be fairly costly to replace.

We hope you find our guide on how to buy used cameras useful. Remember that buying used cameras is a great way to upgrade to previous generation gear, often without investing huge sums.

Image Source: 1, 2, 3, 4

Considering a Photography Job in the Cruise Ship Industry

Are you tired of the same old grind day in and day out? Ever have an urge to travel the world and see something new? Do you have a good work ethic and wouldn’t mind going completely out of your comfort zone?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, then you should definitely consider working on a cruise ship as a photographer. Let me tell you right off the bat, it’s not easy work and working on a cruise ship doesn’t mean you’re on vacation. You do however get many huge benefits.

The Cost of being a Cruise Ship Photographer

Let’s start off with what might be perceived as the negatives. These aren’t necessarily all negative aspects of the job, but they are things that you will definitely need to think about before you make a commitment to this life style.

You must be willing to be gone from your home for 8 months at a time. During this time you will be traveling to many different parts of the world without the opportunity to see friends and family. You will need to be comfortable with this or it’s going to be a very difficult job. At the end of your 8-month contracts you will have the opportunity to take about 2 months off for vacation.

Expect 8-hour workdays 7 days a week for the entire 8 months without a day off, ever. Not only will you be gone for 8 months, but you’re also going to work extremely hard every day of those 8 months. When I say you’ll never get a day off, I mean it. Not even one.

Strict rules while onboard. This may not be much different from what you currently experience if you work for a large company, but it might also be completely different from what you’re used to if you work for yourself. On the ship there are a lot of rules and regulations that you’ll have to live by. [Read more…]