Friday, August 31, 2012

Viva Lucha Libre!

By Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler, Photography By Douglas Sonders Published in Advanced Camera Technique
Douglas Sonders is one of the most accomplished professional photographers working today. He's always trying new gear and techniques to get evocative images. Recently, he embarked upon a project photographing lucha libre wrestlers with an iPad and using Nik Snapseed software to edit the images in real time on location. The results are impressive. The iPad isn't going to replace Sonders' DSLR, but it gives him another tool to deliver the shots.
Douglas Sonders is one of the most accomplished professional photographers working today. He's always trying new gear and techniques to get evocative images. Recently, he embarked upon a project photographing lucha libre wrestlers with an iPad and using Nik Snapseed software to edit the images in real time on location. The results are impressive. The iPad isn't going to replace Sonders' DSLR, but it gives him another tool to deliver the shots.

But with that access came some specific challenges. "It restructured the way I shot," explains Sonders. "I was sensitive to the preset shutter speeds, and I had to be very close to my lighting and my timing. I focused on trying to anticipate timing, framing and lighting. All the other things that I would worry about if I had a DSLR camera with me just kind of went out the window. I had to face the challenge that the iPad wasn't inherently made for low light. But I knew if I shot a certain way, I could make it pop using Snapseed."

Sonders admits that he enjoyed the iPad session more than a standard photo shoot because he was able to simplify the process. There was no need to change lenses, no missed moments, no concerns for the specific control of lighting—all of which are considerations he normally makes on a commercial photo shoot.

"I like the whole aspect of focusing on the framing and the environment and detaching yourself from the constraints of choosing lenses and equipment and just going back to the simplicity of photography," says Sonders. "I continue to shoot a lot of mobile photography because I think it refines my vision as a commercial shooter with my bigger equipment by pulling back and thinking about the frame and emotion."

As a professional photographer, there are elements of his process that don't change. Sonders instinctively knew the images that he wanted to adjust as he shot them. The benefit of using a mobile device is that he didn't have to wait to create the images he saw in his mind.


Says Sonders, "In the middle of the shoot, when there would be an intermission, I knew there were a few shots that I thought were awesome and I immediately was looking forward to pulling them into Snapseed so I could do some selective brightness and sharpen the images up and maybe even do some drama and structure settings to kind of bring out some of the texture—the sweat and the excitement."

While Sonders isn't certain if mobile photography is yet at the point where it can easily move into the commercial realm, he's confident it's on the horizon. But whether or not you intend to use your mobile device for professional jobs, it's important to note that you have options for control and precision on the go. Just because mobile device photography is still in its infancy, the more that the industry supports mobile app and device photography, the better images you'll be able to make.

Sonders believes that going back to the basics will make you a better photographer, no matter your final goal. Your equipment shouldn't determine how good of a photographer you are, and tablets or smartphones aren't replacing a DSLR and lenses just yet. What this project showed, however, was that in the hands of a visual communicator with a vision, the best camera is definitely the one you have with you.

As Sonders explains, "For those who think they need to get the most fancy and the most expensive, while that might be nice to have, if you maintain a creative vision and problem-solving, and you really think about your shots, sometimes all you need is a mobile device and the right onboard software, and you can get some really amazing photos."

You can see more of Douglas Sonders' work at www.sondersphotography.com.

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