Black and White Photography Love!

There is a thing about a monochrome image, one always wants to take a moment to appreciate and study the image. A black and white image is timeless, classical and powerful.

Friends always tease me on the love I have for monochrome. I have never performed a photo shoot without at least a couple of images ending in black and white. The masters who made me fall in love with black and white photography are Greg Gorman, Peter Coulson, Patrick Demarchelier and Herb Ritts.

I always try to keep it simple in my black and white images and tend to use one light or just stick with natural light. At the moment I am experimenting with different techniques and tricks so as in the end I can come up with my own signature black and white photography style.

Camera: Nikon D3200 Focal Length: 50mm Shutter Speed: 1/50sec Aperture: f/3.2  ISO: 3200

Camera: Nikon D3200 Focal Length: 50mm Shutter Speed: 1/50sec Aperture: f/3.2  ISO: 3200

Camera: Nikon 7200 Focal Length: 50mm Shutter Speed: 1/200sec Aperture: f/2.8 ISO: 200

Camera: Nikon 7200 Focal Length: 50mm Shutter Speed: 1/200sec Aperture: f/2.8 ISO: 200

Shooting for Black and White

It is always helpful and becomes easy in post-production if you intend to shoot for black and white. This does not necessary mean you should use the black and white setting in your camera, NO I would not recommend that. If you shoot black and white with the camera’s setting the images will be JPEGs and then you will lose much data which won’t quite help in post-production. So always shoot RAW files, which will later give you total control in post-production.

Camera: Nikon D7200 Focal Length: 35mm Shutter Speed: 1/160sec Aperture: f/9.0 ISO: 100

Camera: Nikon D7200 Focal Length: 35mm Shutter Speed: 1/160sec Aperture: f/9.0 ISO: 100

Camera: Nikon D7200 Focal Length: 50mm Shutter Speed: 1/160sec Aperture: f/9.0 ISO: 100

Camera: Nikon D7200 Focal Length: 50mm Shutter Speed: 1/160sec Aperture: f/9.0 ISO: 100

I always shoot RAW and under expose to -1 to -2. When I underexpose I see the shadow clearly which I know will later bring drama and contrast when changed to black and white. I mostly use one light source whether it’s natural light or a flash.  When shooting women I always face them towards the light unless if I am creating a silhouette. For men, I create a different type of drama without too much to worry because black and white always make them look good. I would say 99.5% of Images of Men I have shot are Black and White. Black and white is powerful and you always want to portray men as powerful.

Post Production: Lightroom

After shooting underexposed in camera then I take the images to Lightroom. I don’t complicate my editing flow in Lightroom since it's already designed to simplify my editing process.

Basic Panel

I basically start from the basic panel going down. First I change the image to black and white, in the basic panel. Then play with temp and tint. I never change the exposure at this point. I only play with shadows and highlights. Most of the time I tend to increase the shadows and highlights which will create a more dramatic low key image. I increase clarity and play with black and white if needed in that particular Image.

Tone Curve Panel

I always set it to Medium Contrast and tweak with the shadows and highlights if I needed to increase more drama to the image or reduce it if too much.

Details Panel

Here I increase the sharpness of the image. The following are the settings that I always have in my details panel for my black and white photography. Keep in mind that clarity in the basic panel also increases sharpness so play with both to your liking. I don’t reduce noise because I always soften it up in Photoshop. I also like noise in my image so as to bring texture to the skin so as the image can look real. That is why I am never afraid to shoot with high ISO.

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After those minor tweaks in Lightroom, I take the image to Photoshop and do the final adjustments. I use Photoshop to remove wrinkles, unwanted spots and also at times to increase contrast and texture.

Slipway Dar es salaam Shoot.

On Thursday I did a shoot with Joy an upcoming makeup artist/stylist. I met Joy via Instagram and we ended up being chat buddies with promises of working together. This was merely a collaboration between the two of us. It was a last minute shoot. I did not know the models I was going to shoot neither was I very familiar with the location. I am always up for a challenge and challenge it definitely was.

I was very annoyed the day of the shoot because the model and the stylist were all very late (very unprofessional). We planned to meet at 12:00hrs, they came at 14:48hrs. They also had to prepare themselves so you can imagine, that means more time wasted. So while they were preparing I had to go grab something to eat.

Lighting: Natural Light  Camera: NIKON D7200 Shutter: 1/125sec Aperture: f/3.2   ISO: 100   Focal Length: 50mm

Lighting: Natural Light  Camera: NIKON D7200 Shutter: 1/125sec Aperture: f/3.2   ISO: 100   Focal Length: 50mm

The Shoot

We started the shoot around 15:45hrs. The light was still a nightmare at that and there were no definitive shades to work with. The background was chaotic and unimpressive. So I had to stick with shooting tight close-ups, which only meant the best images would only be portraits.

Since the light was not quite good and created hush shadows, I had to use a reflector so as to block the sunlight and to create even shadow for my subject. I tried to do tight head shots excluding the unwanted chaos in my shot. I also tried to stick with natural light, since my assistant already had his hands full with the reflector. I decided to make it as simple as possible so as not to waste any more time.

Lighting: Natural Light Camera: Nikon D7200 Shutter: 1/100 Aperture: f/2.8 ISO: 400 Focal Length: 50mm

Lighting: Natural Light Camera: Nikon D7200 Shutter: 1/100 Aperture: f/2.8 ISO: 400 Focal Length: 50mm

Lighting: Natural Light  Camera: Nikon D7200 Shutter: 1/1000sec  Aperture: f/3.2  ISO: 100  Focal Length: 50mm

Lighting: Natural Light  Camera: Nikon D7200 Shutter: 1/1000sec  Aperture: f/3.2  ISO: 100  Focal Length: 50mm

Social Media for Creatives

Social media can be quite overwhelming for creatives like photographers, painters, graphic designers, web designer and the like. This is because most of us prefer to exclude our self from the public eye and concentrate on making art.

Nevertheless, we can’t escape social media and in reality I believe it’s the most effective promotional tool. Over 90% of my sales where influenced by my social media presence. But it is important to connect with the right type of people who can actually be possible clients.

Priorities

There are thousands of social media outlets. It is important to be selective and concentrate on the ones that would be effective in what you do. You can test out different media to see which one works for you then stick to those that work for you. Choose 3 to 4 if you are a freelancer. If you own or are a part of a big business then you can do them all. Since you will have somebody taking care of that. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat...as well as this blog.

Design

Since we are creatives we should show that upfront in our social media. A person should be able to notice the difference between an artist and a regular person. You should always be consistent in your design. For example, your profile picture should be the same in all of your social media platforms, it also needs to be 1:1 ratio, since most if not all social media accept that standard without the need of cropping. It is also important to use a professional headshot; this will portray you as a professional straight away. The header of a platform like Facebook or twitter should also be designed to fit as well as artistic. You might put a header with a few of your best images together. You can also feel free to change that occasionally.

Posting Time

Setting a specific time and day for your post makes for smooth management of your social media and saves a lot of time for you. This is how I do it: Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 12:00 hrs I post on Instagram. Monday and Tuesday at 12:00 hrs I post on Facebook. Thursday and Friday at 03:00 hrs I post on Twitter. I also post on snapchat everyday.

Also I don’t want to bore people who are following me on more than one social media platform. So I always post a different image in each. Unless I have something that I really need to promote across all my social media platforms at the same time eg: a new blog post.

Content

Well I am a photographer and filmmaker so obviously my content will primarily be photography and film. I also do post other personal stuff as well.

Instagram

Instagram Profile

Instagram Profile

I only post photos with clear hashtags about the photo and very few details if necessary. I only post my own images. I also never post photos of myself only professional photos that I have taken on assignment and personal projects. I treat Instagram like a portfolio site. I only post a professional portrait of myself once per year, on my birthday and I delete it after 24hours and leave it as the profile picture.

Facebook and Twitter

On facebook and twitter I post images, share new blogposts and also post announcements or ask questions. I also try to include hashtags so as people can find my photo if they search it by hashtags. Occasionally I share other blogs and quotes from other sites.

Facebook header.

Facebook header.

Twitter Header.

Twitter Header.

Snapchat

Now this is where I get personal. I would say that 70% of snapchat is my personal life. I use snapchat to share my daily life. I also post behind the scenes shots. It is important to get a bit personal since this would also lead to people hiring you because of your personality.

Add me on snapchat by scanning my snapcode.

Add me on snapchat by scanning my snapcode.

There you go, my knowledge on social media; how I do it, how I know it.

Cameras: Then and Now

There is always a debate on camera equipment and people often want to know what type of gear photographers use so they can purchase similar gear. We need to understand the creative process is as important as the gear we have, because at the end of the day what matters is what you can do with the tools you have. Today I would like to share with you the evolution of my camera gear, from the first camera I used to the camera I am using now.

Nikon D40 

This was my first camera. I did not plan to buy this camera, I just needed any DSLR to start my photography. I borrowed this camera from my cousin, which in the end I eventually kept. The lens it had was an 18 – 55mm f3.5 – f5.6 kit lens. I have to say this camera is just magic when you exploit its features to the fullest. It was great camera and I captured some great images with it!

This is one of the images I took with the Nikon D40. A candid moment of a baby sleeping.

This is one of the images I took with the Nikon D40. A candid moment of a baby sleeping.

This is one of the images I love that I shot with the Nikon D40. I captured this image as I passed this young lady in the streets of Temeke.

This is one of the images I love that I shot with the Nikon D40. I captured this image as I passed this young lady in the streets of Temeke.

Nikon D3200 

I purchased the Nikon D3200 after selling my Nikon D40. I wanted the D3200 for its video features and it was the best I could afford at that moment. I decided to stick to Nikon cameras because I was already familiar and comfortable on using them. I also purchased the Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens which I am still using for most of my shoots. 

My all time favorite image of Jackline Nyanza that I shot with the Nikon D3200 + 50mm f1.8.

My all time favorite image of Jackline Nyanza that I shot with the Nikon D3200 + 50mm f1.8.

A low key black and white portrait of Solomon shot with the Nikon D3200 + 50mm f1.8.

A low key black and white portrait of Solomon shot with the Nikon D3200 + 50mm f1.8.

Nikon D7200 

Currently I am using the Nikon D7200 and two lenses: Nikon 50mm f1.8 and Tamron 17 – 50mm f2.8. The D7200 is a just a beauty! It has pro features and fast dials which give me more flexibility while shooting. It also has great video features which is important to me since I do both photography and videography. I will stick with this babe for a while, because at the moment it caters to all my needs, in fact I have no plans to sell her at all. 

Portrait of Jocelyn shot with Nikon D7200 + 50mm f1.8

Portrait of Jocelyn shot with Nikon D7200 + 50mm f1.8

Portrait of Stephanie shot with Nikon D7200 + 50mm f1.8

Portrait of Stephanie shot with Nikon D7200 + 50mm f1.8

Nikon D750 

My future plan is to get the Nikon D750. I want two have two bodies. This will be a great upgrade since it’s a full frame sensor. The D750 comes with even more advanced photography and video features which will definitely be a blessing to me!

 

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
— Arthur Ashe

Disclaimer 

I am not affiliated with Nikon and I am not brand oriented when it comes to photography equipment. I have used equipment like Canon, Sony and Pentax before and they are all great cameras. It all depends on how you use the gear. So, there you are – this is the gear I use. You can expect a post about the accessories I use in the near future, so stick around!

 

The Beginning

Beginning

My name is Michael Isuja Goima. I was born and raised in Dar es salaam, Tanzania. Growing up I never pictured myself becoming an artist in the future, instead I always pictured myself being a doctor or lawyer. Nevertheless, art was always the thing that excited me! I remember dancing to MJ’s music, watching movies like Say Anything, Coming to America and Sheena, and during my junior school I loved to draw and paint in art club.

At the end of 2012 I was certain I wanted to be a photographer or filmmaker, but I didn’t even have a point and shoot and couldn’t afford one! I had just recently started my first year of college studying business administration. I decided to learn all the basic photography techniques in advance before I got my hands on a camera; so I took a lot of time studying photography with free materials online.

My First Portrait. Shot with Nikon D40 - With 18 - 55mm f3.5 - f5.6.

My First Portrait. Shot with Nikon D40 - With 18 - 55mm f3.5 - f5.6.

Photography

My cousin returned to Dar from South Africa in September 2014, he had with him a Nikon D40 with 18 – 55mm kit lens! I borrowed his camera and started playing with it. I started experimenting with nature photography and finally found that I could put into practice what I had learned. After a lot of practice in nature photography, I shot my first official portrait on the 1st of November, 2014 edited it fast in light room and posted it on Instagram!

Then I continued to practice; Tested Ideas, use of natural light, working with shadows and experimented a lot and this is where I am now. The following is one my recent portrait which I shot three months ago.

Camera: Nikon D7200. Aperture: f/3.5 Shutter: 1/125 sec ISO: 100 Focal Legth: 50mm. Light: Natural Light

Photography is now a huge part of my life and I dedicate myself to learning new things every day. This is just the begging of my photography journey I am still yet to grow and learn a lot. I’ve only had two years in what I hope will be a long photography career and there will be a lot of transformation along the way. So buckle up guys and let’s experience this journey together!

Blog

This blog will be about photography tutorials; marketing and branding for photographers, artist, designers and filmmakers; and behind the scenes of my shoots; DIY photography hacks and bit of personal life. Please subscribe so as not to miss a post from me!

Thanks. :-)