By Casey McCallister, Pro Photographer and Creative Manager at Lytro
I’ve shot with LYTRO ILLUM for two days and my entire mindset on what makes a good photograph has changed.
My path to becoming a professional photographer spanned several years. Cameras have always been a part of my life, but it still took years of hard work and dedication to develop a process that transforms an ordinary scene into a compelling photograph. Until recently, I thought I knew everything about the art form.
Most of my photos are focused on outdoor landscapes where I spend the majority of my time at f/18. In a genre of photography where great light can turn the weakest composition into a great photograph, depth wasn’t a make-or-break consideration. The photographic side of my brain was hyper-focused on highlights and shadows, the rule of thirds, and how to meticulously squeeze tripods into the tiny cracks of ocean cliff-sides.
After spending two days with LYTRO ILLUM, I find myself composing photographs rather than just snapping images. LYTRO ILLUM contrasts depth to create a compelling story through living pictures. Shooting with LYTRO ILLUM makes me conscious of space between objects and how distance between camera and subject can be used in tandem with the camera’s focal-length zoom. Through trial and error, and a strong technical understanding of photography, I was able to create very convincing living pictures after about thirty minutes of continuous shooting.
In learning to master the nuances of LYTRO ILLUM, I have gathered so much information about photography itself. Taking the time to learn how LYTRO ILLUM creates living pictures through capturing depth has not only provided me with a new way to take pictures, but also insight into how I can improve my skill-set in traditional photography. I see LYTRO ILLUM as not just the next step in light-field photography, but perhaps one of the most powerful teaching tools I have ever encountered. I plan to use it as a teaching tool in future workshops to explain compression, depth contrast, the Hitchcock zoom, and how depth of field is rendered in a finished photograph.