Category Archives: Photography Tips

A Vermeer Inspired Portrait (and a 2 min studio)

vermeer inspired portrait, rembrandt portrait inspiration, carla coulson, black background, portrait paris, portrait photographer paris

Photo Copyright Carla Coulson

When I landed back in Paris after the big, bright skies and colour of Australia something happened.

Everything about my world had changed. The light, the clothes, the skies, the surroundings, the colour palettes and I felt inspired to reach inside and take advantage of this feeling!

It inspired me to create moody images, beautiful soft portraits photographed with a slow shutter speed on black to replicate how I was feeling.

These photos were shot in a very simple way. I created a ‘2 min studio’ by using a black backdrop that you can see at the end of the post and a shutter speed of 1/15 second..

vermeer inspired portrait, rembrandt inspired portrait, girl with the pearl earring, carla coulson, portrait photographer paris,

vermeer inspired portrait, rembrandt inspired portrait, black background, portrait photographer paris, carla coulson, photo like a painting

vermeer inspired portrait, rembrandt inspired portrait, black background, slow shutter speed, portrait photographer paris, carla coulson,

vermeer inspired portrait, rembrandt inspired portrait, carla coulson, slow shutter speed, black background, cheap studio set up, portrait photographer paris,

vermeer inspired portrait, rembrandt inspired portrait, slow shutter speed, carla coulson, portrait photographer paris, cheap studio set up, black background

vermeer inspired portrait, rembrandt inspired portrait, slow shutter speed, carla coulson, portrait photographer paris, cheap studio set up, black background

vermeer inspired portrait, rembrandt inspired portrait, slow shutter speed, carla coulson, portrait photographer paris, cheap studio set up, black background

vermeer inspired portrait, rembrandt inspired portrait, slow shutter speed, carla coulson, portrait photographer paris, cheap studio set up, black background

2 Min Studio

We taped up a piece of black cloth perpendicular to the window and the light fall off between the cloth and my model did the rest.

If the window had been facing the cloth instead of perpendicular to it we would have had to have been careful with the cloth and what was underneath it as the light from the window would have illuminated the scene more evenly and shown all the defects.

Sending you lots of camera shake!

“My style is definitely schizophrenic; it does change from day to day a lot. It depends on my mood: sometimes I’ll be going through a girly, childlike stage and wear a pretty lace dress with a bow in my hair. Then sometimes I’ll be moody and just wear black.” Amber Le Bon

signature








Like this post? Don’t miss one..





Chateau Gudanes – Tips On How To Shoot A Chateau

Chateau Gudanes, karina waters, Carla Coulson, France, French Chateau

All photos Chateau Gudanes Copyright Carla Coulson

A while back I was asked by Harper’s Bazaar to shoot the beautiful Chateau Gudanes and the Water’s family, the wonderful family that fell in love with this place and have taken on the massive job of renovating it.

While it’s awfully exciting to be asked to shoot a Chateau (I blogged about it here) it’s also daunting. The sheer size of this place makes it a photographic challenge in the taking and in the planning. You see we are talking about a place that has 70 rooms and is perched on an exquisite piece of land surrounded by mountains.

I thought it would be fun today to give you some inside tips on how I shot it.

1. Scout It

Chateau Gudanes, carla coulson, karina waters, french chateau, france

I Shot the exterior and interior in one day but I was never going to be able to shoot everything. I had the luxury of seeing the Chateau months earlier which made me realise I would need to rent special long lenses to be able to shoot it from up on the mountain.  I made a list of my favourite things and started with number 1!

2. Hero Shot

Chateau Gudanes, Carla Coulson, Karina Waters, French Chateau

Ok, so on a place like this there are probably only going to be a couple of hero shots (the one the magazine will use to open the story). I felt it would be a shot of the Chateau or the gates because both of them a breathtaking. So I shot the Chateau from as many angles as possible. I was up at sunrise and it was a day that changed every five minutes so I was lucky to catch fog, sunshine and rain in a space of an hour.

french ironwork, french chateau, chateau gudanes, Carla coulson, karina waters,

So I am like a dog with a hamshank! I am not walking away from a shoot without the shot so I will shoot from as many angles as I can to make sure I have what the magazine needs. These are just half a dozen of maybe 16 options I handed in of the Chateau and the gates giving horizontal and vertical options. French ironwork, gates, chateau gudanes, carla coulson, french chateau, karina waters,

The gates were such an amazing subject to shoot..

3. Get Up High Or Shoot It In It’s Context

Chateau Gudanes, Carla Coulson, french chateau, Karina Waters,

chateau gudanes, carla coulson, french chateau, karina waters,

So we all want to know where is this Chateau and what’s around it! The only way to do this is to go for a drive and see what you can find. Fortunately I had the lovely Karina Waters as a guide who knows this little baby’s best angles and she kindly showed me her favourite spots.

4. Shooting Interiors

interior staircase, french ironwork, carla coulson, chateau gudanes, karina waters,

I am super excited by interiors like this, I love the patina, the architecture and the light. There is only one difficulty the proportions are huge so you really need to be careful from where you shoot or you end up with very distorted lines. I shot all the interiors on a tripod on approx 400 ISO..

In the case of the staircase I centred myself between the staircase and the door on the right and put my tripod up as high as it would go and then stood on a little stool.

Chateau Gudanes, Carla Coulson, french chateau

As you can see I loved the staircase and didn’t want to miss a shot of this beautiful balustrade. I rarely use a wide angle lens but this is one case where it was the only way to get the whole perspective. When using a wide angle lens on architecture I often find it is better when you are on top of the subject as opposed to being far away. When you are far away it looks distorted.

chateau gudanes, carla coulson, french chateau, france,

To shoot this pic I paid careful attention the lines and distortion. I had my tripod as high as it would go and used a ladder to shoot from so that I was as close as possible to the middle of the distance from floor to ceiling. The closer I am to the floor with a height like this the more the vertical lines will be distorted..

carla coulson, chateau gudanes, french chateau, karina waters,

I adored how Karina had little still lifes happening in many of the rooms, I wandered around the rooms looking at them from all angles taking hand held snaps till I liked something I saw and then I would set up my tripod.

chateau gudanes, carla coulson, karina waters, french chateau, tapestry,

As I was conscious of shooting a whole series of portraits the following day, I wanted to be careful that I had many different angles and wasn’t presenting the same room over and over again shot from the same perspective for the interior shots and the portraits.

stairwell, carla coulson, french chateau, karina waters, chateau gudanes,

I love playing with lines and shapes when shooting interiors and this one was fun but a challenge. I had recently bought a super tripod with a central column that lies horizontally (I could have got a pair of Louboutins for the same price) but this is where it out performs any other tripod. I set the camera up with the lens pointing straight up through the stairwell and I crawled under my camera to check focus, composition and exposure.

chateau gudanes, carla coulson, french chateau,

This too was shot from a ladder and I centred myself in the middle of the shot.

5. Details

details chateau gudanes, carla coulson, french chateau,

I shot as many details as I could of the architecture. Detail shots give you a sense of intimacy and are great combination for an art director to work with with general interiors (of course we managed to squeeze a cat into our pic – thanks Karina).

6. Exterior Landscapes and Grounds

chateau gudanes, carla coulson, french chateau, karina waters,

We are almost done! I shot scenes from the Chateau windows down onto the village below, shot from the front of the house looking back towards the mountains, in the park and played with the light.

Unfortunately I can’t show you all the shots as my blog will blow up but I hope this helps and gives you an idea of what a wonderful place Chateau Gudanes is and if you ever stumble across a Chateau to shoot  these tips might help.

Check out the fabulous Chateau Gudanes cause it’s marvellous.. A huge thank-you to the Walter’s family and the lovely Karina for making this shoot a dream. You can find them on Instagram and Facebook.

You can see the Harper’s Bazaar final shoot here.

“For me, every day is a new thing. I approach each project with a new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did. And I get the sweats. I go in and start working, I’m not sure where I’m going. If I knew where I was going I wouldn’t do it.” Architect Frank Gehry

signature

 

 

PS: Love you to share.. xx








Like this post? Don’t miss one..





Travel Photography Series Part 5 – Colour Palettes

travel photography, food photography, carla coulson, colour palettes, octopus panino, octopus, carla coulson

Octopus Panino Polignano A Mare Copyright Carla Coulson

For those of you who love travel photography I started a Travel Photography series a while back. The series was in four parts and covers food, people, architecture and events and if you missed them the links are at the end of this post.

I have been meaning forever to add a chat about colour palettes as it is important when creating a travel story so I have added a fifth part to this series.

Colour is one of the most powerful tools we have to use in photography. And when you look around life just serves up the most extraordinary colour situations and is often repeated in the strangest of subjects. Love this!

The way we use colour in our images talks about what we want to say, what mood we want to create, what feelings we want to heighten and it can also speak of your style. Just the way painters choose a colour palette when creating a canvas we can do the same thing with photography.

Some photographers will go out of their way to avoid a certain colour or go in search of their favourite colours across a range of subjects.

The language of magazines and the way an art director will put together a story revolves around the way images sit harmoniously together and it all depends on the colour.

Here’s a quick look at some colour palettes:

Neutral Colours

Nordic photographers are famous for their simple colour palettes based around white and neutral tones of beige and grey which bring a sense of calm, serenity and cleanliness to their images.

blue and white

Neutral Colours of blue, terracotta and green at Masseria Cimino Copyright Carla Coulson

puglia, travel photography, carla coulson, baroque, martina franca, white and beige, colour palettes

Neutral colours of white beige and brown repeated in statues in a workshop and the baroque streets of Martina Franca

Copyright Carla Coulson

Spot Colour

Shooting a spot colour can be loads of fun, like going on a treasure hunt. You can focus on one particular colour that appears in all sorts of different situations with a neutral background.  It could be red repeated in a jumper, a sign, scarf, or a door or in the case below the green doors, curtains and shutters against the white backdrop of Puglia. It adds a pop of energy to your images.

Green

 Spot colour on the streets of Ceglie Messapica and Door Martina Franca Copyright Carla Coulson

travel photography, puglia, italy, colour palettes, carla coulson, ceglie messapica,

 Neutral colours of white and blue repeated in the streets, shirt and umbrella

with a spot colour of yellow repeated in the tie and doorway

Local boy and a street in Ceglie Messapica Copyright Carla Coulson

Bright Colours

Bright, strong saturated colours bring a sensation of energy to a photo if combined harmoniously. When I was shooting the pics below on different days in different locations I was surprised at the repetition of royal blue and orange..

travel photography puglia, carla coulson, colour palettes, san vito polignano a mare, blue orange,

Beach Polignano A Mare and San Vito Polignano A Mare Copyright Carla Coulson

There are loads of other colour palettes you can choose to photograph including beautiful pastels, serene blues, dark colours to add mood or quirky colour combinations.

Depending on your aesthetic as a photographer as to which colour palettes you will find pleasing.

If you would love to hone your travel photography skills and shoot colour palettes to your heart’s content you might like to join me and my ‘Caravan’ and travel to the yet to be discovered part of Puglia in Southern Italy (where my hubby’s from and in the pics above) with like-minded souls. It’s gonna be fun! All details here.

If you want to read more travel photography posts you might like these about Food, People, Architecture and Events.

My Favourite Gear

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 

Canon EF 24-70mm 

Canon EF 35mm 

“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

signature

Share the travel love..








Like this post? Don’t miss one..





How To Shoot The Blue Hour

Carla Coulson Blue hour

Florence by Carla Coulson taken in winter

Have you ever wondered how to shoot the blue hour – that magic twilight when the sun has set but the night is yet to fully descend?

I have shot the blue hour over and over again and used it as a ‘get out of jail’ card when I was shooting travel stories for magazines and needed a good shot of a city with atmosphere or wanted to have a little fun like with Christmas decorations in Place Vendome (see below).

I even used this technique on miserable, rainy winter days in Europe because even the blue hour works under these conditions – love the blue hour.

What is the blue hour?

The blue hour isn’t actually an hour, it should be called the blue fifteen minutes instead!!

After the sun has set and the pink in the sky fades, the colour temperature cools as the sun goes. This cooling of the colour temperature produces a beautiful blue and it lasts between 10 and 15 minutes before the balance is overridden with the black of the night.

Carla Coulson Blue hour 2

Florence by Carla Coulson taken in Winter

When does it work best?

I find there needs to be a good balance of city and street lights to achieve this result. If you want to shoot a building or city to create this effect they need to be sufficiently lit otherwise you will have a lot of dark areas and bright points. When the city or building is well lit you have a nice balance in the image of blue and street/city lights.

I tried this once on a private home in Provence and too make sure it was well lit we turned on all the inside lights, all the outside lights and added lanterns for more points of light.

Most cities turn their street and monuments lights on right around the blue hour. I have stood waiting in the cold throughout the years begging those lights to come on before the blue was gone and nearly every city turned them on on-time  (thanks guys).

ChristmasPlaceVendome Carla Coulson

Christmas Place Vendome My French Life Copyright by Carla Coulson

How to achieve this effect:

1. Check the time the sunsets where you want to shoot with a program like this

2. Go at least 30 mins before the sunsets and set up your tripod and find your frame because once the light fades you gotta be quick.

3. Work out your focus point before the light fades as it can be tricky once the sun has set.. Technically quiet dark for autofocus and for your eyes if you haven’t got great eyesight.

4. Working on a low ISO of around 400 will still give you room to move with F-Stops..I find working on ISO of 100 gives you little choice with the F-Stops and depth of field and you end up with long exposures of 30 secs plus.

5. Start checking the light meter once the sun has gone because you are about to lose stops of light quickly.

6. Do a test and check focus whilst there is still light

7. Set your camera on self timer or use a remote shutter release so you aren’t touching the shutter when the photo is being taken. You will be working on long shutter speeds so any movement can blur the photo.

8. I normally take photos throughout the 15 mins to see which effect I like. You will need to keep changing the exposure based on the light dropping. Often in the early shots the sky is more cyan blue and then towards the end a little more deeper royal blue.

9. Note on clear blue sky days the blue is more prominent that on grey cloudy days.

10. Once the ‘fifteen minutes’ are up the sky becomes black and the streets lights give a very strong golden cast. The ‘blur hour’  has passed.

I hope this helps you have a little fun taking shots of a place or special thing you love.

My Favourite Gear

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 

Canon EF 24-70mm 

Canon EF 35mm 

Manfrotto Lightweight Tripod

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.” Victor Hugo

signature

 

 

Please share the love! x








Like this post? Don’t miss one..





Photographing Your First Book

Books Carla Coulson  Some of my books rubbing up against my heroes..

Nothing like a new start, a new week and a New Year that brings so many new projects and hope.

I love hope!

I have been preparing images and a presentation for the upcoming Caravan Travel Photography Workshop in Puglia and going through 12 years of images. This is such a wonderful process in itself, like looking through a visual diary of your life, moments in time, familiar faces and ones you have forgotten.

Grandfather Naples Carla Couls

I like to think I remember every photo but even I found some lovely surprises.

Trawling back through the images from now to the beginning of photography school, through projects such as Naples A Way Of Love, Paris Tango and and all the way to Italian Joy I had a thought that may just help you shoot your first book.

Carla Coulson Italian Joy

When you are at the beginning of anything you have ‘things’ that money can’t buy – endless oodles of enthusiasm, no expectations,  the joy at looking at the world as though you have just seen and ‘felt’ it for the first time and shooting what you love.

Sunbaker Carla Coulson Italian Joy

The cameras I invested in in the early years were like new toys for me and I couldn’t get enough of them. My underwater camera meant even at the beach I could explore photography from a new angle.

Carla Coulson Italian Joy

The photos that ended up in Italian Joy were a product of innate curiosity of life, the burning desire to take photos that said or made you feel something, sheer unadulterated happiness and untiring enthusiasm that would have me out in the rain, the wind, the snow… asking fishermen (that I didn’t know) to board their boats and shoot them.. holding my breath and shooting ladies underwater.. treading water whilst kids jumped off the rocks one after the other waiting for that perfect moment ….and stalking lovers in train stations.

Italian Joy Carla Coulson

The photos I took in those early years are still some of my favourites because they were taken for sheer pleasure and love of photography with no end use in mind. They were photos born of freedom.

And this my dear friends is your advantage when shooting for a ‘probable’ first book.

Carla Coulson Italian Joy

Some things I notice in my photos looking back:

1. I shot ‘my’ world, the people around me, people who would give me access, my friends, family, Florentines and Popi

2. I was obsessed with movement, I shot vespas over and over again

3. I was also obsessed with religious iconography in Italy and drawn to every tabernacle on a street corner, statues of Madonna’s in churches and religious art (I have thousands of images).

4. I loved the innate elegance of Italians and would stop well-dressed people in the street and ask if I could take a photo (yep I was obsessed).

5. I loved shooting love in all it’s expressions…

6. I shot things that made me laugh (still do)..

7. I shot almost exclusively in the early years in black and white…(and I never felt the pressure to shoot in colour)

Made in Italy Carla Coulson Italian joy

 All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy

So here are are some tips if you are at the beginning of your photography career and hope one day to shoot/write a book.

1. Shoot what you love and don’t question it.

2. Shoot what is accessible and don’t ask yourself where it will fit?

3. The world needs original books so if you think it isn’t mainstream enough.. Keep shooting you are probably onto something.

4. If you are shooting a well known subject put your spin on it.

5. Take the photos you love and trust your inner ‘photographer’s voice’.

I hope this little insight helps you on your path.

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” Elliott Erwitt
signature

 

 

Please share if It may help someone starting out..








Like this post? Don’t miss one..







Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...