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Top Pic of the Week: Mister Dunce

Congratulations to our Top Pic of the Week, Mister Dunce. Read to learn more about the production of his photos.

How long have you been a photographer & how did you begin your journey?

I have been shooting product photography for about five years now, but just in the last year or so I've been showing my artistic photos on social media. I first picked up a camera when I was in high school and shot film for a while before taking a hiatus for years...like a decade or more.

How would you describe your photographic style?

Moody...I guess? I'm not the most technical photographer when I'm walking around. I really just look for a mood and focus on finding a subject that relays that, and then I use my technical knowledge to enhance that (read BOKEH or lack there of).

What is your favorite genre to shoot? What tips do you have for shooting some of your favorite genres?

Recently, I have been focusing my photography on finding cars on the street and taking detailed shots of them and trying to dive into recording different businesses day to day operations. I grew up in Detroit with the car culture and have always loved the look of solid, glistening chrome. Also, being a business owner and being able to document the grind and struggle of other entrepreneurs is something I really enjoy.

The biggest tip I have is research and then do it different. It's so easy to end up copying the same exact photo from Instagram or Flickr. So when your favorite artist would capture the subject a certain way step back, get low or get high, and try something different.

What advice or tips would you give to other photographers regarding finding their style?

Shoot a bunch of photos you aren't terribly happy with. We have content overload most of the time, especially when we are getting into something new or looking to change gears - we become consumed. Set goals each day for shooting and achieve them even if you will never share them. I have so many days when I just go out to shoot something as simple as stairs. I walk around for an hour or two and have some pictures of stairs, but it's really an exercise in seeing. If you want to find gold you don't stop the first time you just find a rusty nail.

Do you own multiple cameras? Which is your favorite?

I have two cameras both Olympus OMD E-M5, one Mark I and one Mark II (that high res mode for product photography is number one). I started last year with a Fuji X-Pro2 and it never clicked with me. It wasn't until I snagged my first E-M5 from KEH that I felt my GAS was over and I could grow as a photographer without the faceless opinions of the internet impacting my decisions.

What gear are you  hoping to add to your collection?

I shoot only with MF lenses and most of those are vintage. I recently snagged a 28mm/f3.5 Pentax Super Takumar and I plan on adding some more of that line to my collection soon. You can get some vintage glass for under $100 that preforms as well as modern $500 lenses, but that's my secret so don't buy them all.

Photo Details: 

What is the location of the photo(s)?

All photos shot in Atlanta other than Chess Master (guy in red shirt) which was shot in NOLA.

What camera(s) did you use?

Olympus O-MD E-M5 Mark ii

What lens(es)?

Pentax Takumar 28mm f3.5

Description of how you captured this shot(s):

Blue Truck: Shot around f5.6 with a shutter speed of around 1/50 and moved with the truck.

Bar Tack: Shot low through the arm and body with natural light on the sewing machine. This photo is from a recent photo essay I did for a local business.

Chess Master: Shot at f8 with the shutter speed at 1/1600, with candid photos I have found having a larger DOF range allows for quicker reaction. It's not always about bokeh sometimes it's about getting more things sharp.

Custom Bumper: Positioned so I wasn't in the shot but still straight on, using the angle of the bumper to achieve that. Shot around f3.5 or wide open for the Takumar.

Post production process:

On all of the photos I start by correcting exposure if needed then straightening and cropping. I start to mess with the tone curves and I typically go more towards matte blacks and lowered highlights. I prefer cooler photos so I de-saturated some of the oranges and yellows and bring the luminescence of greens down. I have worked for so many hours to start to hone in on a style of editing that represents the way I want my photos to feel. I don't know if I am there yet but I'm close for now. 

I get little zines made of my photos because I think it is so important to print these things. Having a tangible product is so much more fulfilling than just another piece of data on your phone or computer.

Thank you, Mister Dunce, for allowing us to share these photos! Check out more of his work on his Instagram here:  @misterdunce and his website www.misterdunce.com.


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