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What is the SECRET of PHOTOGRAPHY? When you ask people what's the secret of photography, you will get may answers. Some will say it's light and learning how you capture light on a scene can make or break an image after all Photography means "drawing with light". Others will say it's composition. A carefully or artfully composed scene or subject is crucial to an image. And still others may think it proper camera setting or proper gear (since everyone loves gear).

While I believe that all the above mentioned aspects of photography are important (and there are many others like patience, perspective, lens choice, post processing and the list goes on and on) they all can learned over time. Some learn these aspects faster than others but in today's digital world the learning curve has been shorted tremendously. This is particularly true when it comes to artificial lighting techniques.

During my time as a photographer, I have wandered into may different genres. I started with landscape and travel since all you really need is a camera and lens. After that I started into wedding photography, then ventured into portraiture, first with natural light and then into the studio with strobe light. And now recently I have ventured into the world of food photography using both natural light and studio light. 

So what is the secret already! Right!  Well I hope your not too disappointed.  I believe that the SECRET to taking great pictures is just very simply to put your camera in front of great subjects.  I know it sounds so easy, but really think about it.  It isn't.

It may mean getting out of your house and getting in your car and driving 100 miles to find that location.  Now add the right light and you have to be ready at 5 am to take the image.   The image above was taken a around 10am in the morning.  It was a 2.5 hour drive to get to this particular location.  It was about a 15 minute hike to get to the this spot from where we parked our car.  

In portraiture, you really need to study the human form and posing to be able to create images.  What the subject wears is also extremely important and add that to the background. Should the head be pointed left or right.  Should the chin point down a little further.  Do the clothes make sense with the background.  Do they help the model look their best.  Should the arm be bent.  Where do I put the hands.  So you are not taking a picture you are creating an image.

In food photography, a photograph can only look as good as the food looks.  Much of the photography of food centers around food styling and knowing how to make the food look good for the camera.  The best lighting and composition cannot make bad looking food look good-never.  How do you make mashed potatoes look good?  Just look at some food pictures and ask yourself when you make it, does it look like that.  I may move items around in my view finder until the arrangement looks right.  I may plate and re-plate the dish many times.  I will pick out the best looking cracker, or piece of fruit or whatever it is before placing it in the scene. Use toothpicks to prop food up.

So photography is really all about creating an image weather real or surreal or complete fantasy.  It is putting perfectly place objects in front of the camera or in the case of landscape, travel and street photography, it is moving that camera to the find right location.  The best locations are hard to find.

Happy Shooting- more to follow......


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Ken Cave Photography


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