Making portraits with a rim light is awesome. It gives depth and punch and when you do it really well you'll notice that it looks more natural. Take a close look the next time you're having a conversation anyplace with windows and you'll probably see that the person you're talking with has a rim light illuminating their cheek from one side. That rim light will help you make a lot of people happy with their portraits (which helps you make a lot of money). You should always use a rim light. And you should always turn it off. Simplicity … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Cut the Rim Light
In this video, I'll show you the power of using a grid to further modify the light on a softbox. It creates mood and makes it simple to control the light completely. From the course: Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers Modifying a softbox with a grid from Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers by Robert Vanelli Course transcript So now what we want to do here is modify the light a little bit further to where we're just using a beam of light. And this next shot's going to be a … [Read more...] about How and Why to Use a Grid on a Softbox
I recently reviewed the Angler Circo LED Ring Light but was disappointed in its results for portraiture. I thought maybe using it in an environment would hit the mark — and I was right. I paired the ring light with my Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens to photograph some food. This experiment proved that you don't need to have a fancy lighting setup with strobes all over your studio in order to get some well-lit shots. With a little work and some cheaper gear, you can make satisfying results that will be good enough to represent what's on the … [Read more...] about Using the Angler Circo LED Ring Light with Macro Food Photography
From the course: Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers Shooting with a beauty dish from Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers by Robert Vanelli Course transcript Once we start to really understand light modifiers, we can have a lot of fun with it. For this set here, we have the beautiful Erin, and she's going to play the assassin. To get this shot, if you think about what an assassin is, they're rugged, they're rough. Even though she's beautiful, we want her to have a … [Read more...] about Shooting with a Beauty Dish
From the Course: Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers The technical benefits of lighting modifiers from Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers by Robert Vanelli Benefits of Using Light Modifiers There are many benefits of using light modifiers. We can take a small light source such as the speedlight and make it large. With the right modifier and positioning of the light, we can shape the light to make a heavier person appear slimmer, or the opposite, add a little volume to a slimmer … [Read more...] about The Technical Benefits of Lighting Modifiers
From the course: Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers on LinkedIn Learning What is a softbox? from Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers by Robert Vanelli What is a Softbox? A softbox is a term that describes an enclosure that surrounds a light source on all sides and diffuses the light that escapes from it. Now, when you open up or you pull back the diffuser, you'll look inside and you'll notice there's a silver reflector on the inside. What this is going to do, is take harsh light, … [Read more...] about What is a Softbox?
I shot this photograph at WPPI in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago. I was at the ClickProps Studio Backdrops booth. This company makes over 500 backdrops in various designs and sizes, and we got to test out a number of them. This photograph was shot against the "Brick Natural" backdrop. Our shooting space that was only about 5 feet by 10 feet. A Collaboration Between Two Photographers The photograph was a collaboration between 2 photographers: the model, Kat Armendariz of Hush Hush Shoot Studio in Las Vegas and me. Kat is one of Las Vegas's … [Read more...] about Lights, Colors, Fractals
I'm always looking for new and creative ways to play with light. When I had the chance to test out the Vello Octa Softbox for Portable Flash (Large, 12"), I knew that it was portable enough that I could get some interesting angles and views with it. While getting ready for an off-camera lighting workshop, I decided to play around with using the softbox to provide edge lighting on a subject against a black background. The setup was pretty simple, with my Nissin i60A flash mounted on a light stand, with the softbox attached. I also used a … [Read more...] about Using a Portable Softbox to Create Mood Lighting
From the course: Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers on LinkedIn Learning What is a lighting modifier? from Improving Your Photography and Portraits with Lighting Modifiers by Robert Vanelli Course transcript A modifier makes partial or minor changes to something. As photographers, we want to add modifiers to our light source to alter and shape the output of light. Light modifiers don't have to be store-bought. Remember, a modifier is anything that alters light. There are many do-it-yourself alternatives. … [Read more...] about What is a Lighting Modifier?
(Editor's Note: This is a guest post from our friends at MPB.com. MPB is a great place to sell gear that's no longer in use as well as where to buy quality used photo and video equipment at much lower cost than that of new.) Photography is completely centered around light: it not affects your photo's mood, but it also dictates what your settings must be in the camera to record a picture and represent that mood in the picture. Let's talk about how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO setting affect your image, and then we'll dive into the … [Read more...] about Looking For Light from MPB.com
Cut shapes out of a large piece of foamcore or cardboard. Paint it black. Shine a small light through the holes. Interesting shadows will be created on the background. The cutouts are called cookies short for cuculoris. … [Read more...] about Quick Tip: Make Shadows with a Cookie
Over the years I've been adding to my lighting equipment. I started out with a standard on-camera flash and then progressed into my AlienBee B800 strobes. And now, with the Angler Circo LED Ring Light (19"), I'm adding a bit of flair into my setup. I was initially intrigued to get a ring light in order to get a crisp look in eyes when photographing portraits. Instead of using umbrellas on my AlienBees, I wanted a more-focused light that would help to better show off a person's eyes. The Angler Circo LED Ring Light (19") is a great starter … [Read more...] about Gear Review: Angler Circo LED Ring Light (19″)
When people see your picture, they should say, "Wow, that's a great photograph," not, "Wow, that's a well-lit photograph." Once you start using flashes, it's like having a hammer in your hand: everything looks like a nail that needs to be lit. That's ok, and it's fun. The trap is feeling like you need to crank the flash up so that it's apparent and obvious in your photographs--and there's a place for that, and it's fun, too. But instead of using your lights to overpower the sun and the ambient light every time, try augmenting the existing light … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Subtle Spice Not Ketchup
From the course: Portrait Photography: Business Portraits on LinkedIn Learning When to use studio strobe lighting from Portrait Photography: Business Portraits by Robert Vanelli Lighting is extremely unpredictable—especially going into a corporate environment. So that's why we decided to shoot with studio strobes. Studio strobes give us the extra power that we could use to light our set. I'd rather go into the environment with too much light and then dialing it down, than going in and not having enough light to get the shot. There are … [Read more...] about When to Use Studio Strobe Lighting
Pixelstick meet Fujifilm... now lets create! While we were on our photo tour of Venice Carnival, Bobbi Lane and I had a great opportunity to test out a prototype of Fujifilm's new medium format camera, the GFX. I had been planing to create some images using the amazing Pixelstick, a very cool, programable light painting device, and Venice Carnival was the perfect setting for creative play! You can see more about the Fujifilm GFX in my previous blog post here. For now, I'd like to introduce you to the Pixelstick! The Pixelstick is a linear … [Read more...] about Fujifilm Meets Pixelstick
There are so many things to think about when making portraits that leaving your white balance set to auto is a tempting proposition. Especially when everyone raves about how good each new camera's auto white balance settings are. Don't fall into this trap, though. Auto white balance reads the colors in the scene before you take the picture and makes adjustments. But there are two things that foul it up, and there are two simple ways to ensure you get consistent color. Why Do My Pictures Look Different? The camera has white balance settings so … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: How Do I Choose White Balance For Portraits?
Vitreous is a great word. It’s used to describe something that looks glassy or shiny. It comes from the Latin word that means glass. I think one of the most important things you can do in your portraits is to make sure that your subjects’ eyes look alive, glassy…vitreous. The best way to get vitreous eyes is to make sure there’s a catchlight in them. A catchlight is simply the reflection of the light in the eyes. It’s easy to do this with a flash because you just position the light so it shines in the eyes. But sometimes it’s harder to get a … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Vitreous Eyes (Even With Hats)
By now people have realized the Platypod Max is a very "on the go" versatile tool. Attaching a ball head and camera makes it as rock solid as a tripod. But did you know, it's just as great in the studio? I've shown in a previous post how to attach an Avenger 5/8-Inch Stud so you can mount a large studio light and hide it in a small space behind your subject without getting it in the shot. This time I used the 3" spigot adapter from Platypod's Multi Accessory kit to attach the light to the Platypod; it's a standard lighting tool size and works … [Read more...] about Studio Tip: Use a Platypod to Hang a Hair Light
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a photo I selected for Photographer of the Day. It was of a skateboarder at a skate park, doing some tricks. Needless to say, I was inspired. I really had never tried to capture skateboarding in action, but I knew that with a few extra tools, I could do so in a unique and different way. Enter the Platypod Max and MagMod system. I had recently purchased a complete MagMod set, and was really excited to try out some of the less-traditional tools for lighting a scene. I talked to a local photographer friend, … [Read more...] about Skating The Ramps With Platypod Max And MagMod
It’s pretty easy to make your own natural light “studio” for just a little money and a little time for set up. “Portraits Unplugged” is what I call shooting with ambient light and it’s important to understand the direction, quality and depth of light in order to make a portrait that is effective. Learning to see the light is a process that requires practice. Controlling the light to create your mood is imperative. My favorite natural lighting is what we call Porch Light or Garage Door Light, which means there is no light coming from above … [Read more...] about Natural Light Studio in Your Backyard
Every time you make portraits you should make one shot that pushes your limits or gives you a little thrill. The client may not like it, but it will help fill your soul. I usually use one light from the front to make portraits, but it's amazing how much impact moving the light can have, and that's the case with the following picture. It's made with just one light, and it's the kind of portrait I love to make even though I know my client probably won't love it. Big Light To make this kind of lighting, you just need to get your subject very … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Deep Drama With One Light
If you know anything about HDR, you probably know it shouldn't be used for portraits. High Dynamic Range photography techniques usually increase the ability to see details, and nobody wants to see more detail in the skin in a portrait. However, used properly, HDR can give you softer transitions from shadows to highlight areas, and that can be flattering and it can help rescue portraits made in bad lighting. Harsh Light Makes Dark Shadows I made this picture late in the morning on a mountain top and the sun was quite direct and … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Use HDR For Softer Light
A simple and impactful way to make a portrait is to position your subject next to a window and in front of a dark background. With the proper exposure, your subject's face will stand out starkly against the dark background with dramatic light coming in from the side. This is probably my favorite kind of portrait. But there's one key that will either make the portrait striking or bland. The Shady Nose The thing that makes the picture look dramatic is the play of shadows and highlights across the face. See the highlight on the edge of the … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Dramatic Light Made Simple
An Alternative to Focusing Fresnel Spot Light with the Benefit of Easy Custom Shapes I have been experimenting with digital projectors as a light source in my Glamour Photography Workshops. If you don't have access to large movie hot lights with focusing fresnel lens systems, a digital projector provides a wonderful simulation! You can create any imaginable shape to project in Photoshop and use the projector like a light source. The example below was created by strapping the projector to a platform attached to a light stand - this accessory … [Read more...] about How to Use a Digital Projector as a Glamour Spotlight
One of the biggest reasons why I don't like pop-up flashes is that it gives uneven, harsh lighting directed at your subject. Even with an on-camera speedlight, the same effect can happen. And while you can play around with the power output of your speedlight, there are other ways to avoid an unattractive look. With a few tricks, you can create a softer light that spreads across the environment you're shooting in — which in turn, creates a more natural photograph. Bounce Off a Ceiling I use this technique often at indoor events, and it … [Read more...] about Avoiding the Harsh, Direct Flash Look
I highly recommend a 5-in-1 reflector as a tool for helping you get terrific light under many circumstances. It should be the first lighting tool you buy, and you should learn to master it before buying more lighting. The good news is that a 5-in-1 reflector is relatively cheap. I recommend the oval shaped reflectors because they give you more room to work without covering the surface with your own shadow. The trouble is, one of the surfaces is a gold reflector and since it's included many photographers think it must be there to use for … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: How To Use A Gold Reflector
Happy Summer! It’s time to get away from the computer or out of the darkroom and enjoy the beautiful weather and shoot! Here are 3 tips on making great beach photographs. I shot these photographs at the end of the day, catching the very last bit of light, at the same location, yet achieving very different visual impacts. All of these photographs are shot without a tripod even though they are fairly long exposures. Exposing for the last light of the day. Start by using the in camera meter to read the light on the horizon. Make sure you are … [Read more...] about Shooting on a Beach!
Summer is Here - Time for Flower Photography I just thought I'd share a quick little lighting technique for your flower photography. Now that spring is past and summer is here, it is almost mandatory that, as photographers, we document the emergence of dormant life in the form of flower portraits. I have some lovely Amaryllis, just now blooming at my windows, and these make great subjects for close-up photography... It is very easy to get great close-up shots with limited depth of field, soft pastel colors, and gorgeous semi-abstract … [Read more...] about How to Light Close-up Flower Photos with a Flashlight
Experimenting with different lighting setups can transform a simple image into a creative portrait. It’s not hard to experiment. If you don’t like the look, keep experimenting until you find one you love. Here’re two examples on how to add killer catchlights to a portrait that will help jumpstart your creativity. Ring Light A ring light adds unique lighting to a portrait. You place the lens through the middle of the light, causing the light to come from the same plane as the lens. This produces very few shadows and a unique catch light. … [Read more...] about Create Killer Catchlights
A popular way to make portraits is to place the sun behind your subjects (often done in a field of tall grass at sunset). It's a pet peeve of mine, however, that these pictures are often the wrong color. White Balance for the Faces Your camera's white balance control helps you make portraits with great color by correcting for the color of light illuminating your subject's face. The common problem with backlit portraits is that the photographers thinks to himself, "My subjects are standing in sunlight, so I'll use the Daylight white balance," … [Read more...] about Portrait Tips: Remember the White Balance, Forget the Histogram