The Photographer’s best tool is light, and there are many choices. Light is used to mold, define, describe and set the mood of a portrait, so knowing how to recognize the light or control it, is of ultimate importance to the artist. I’m both a natural light, or “Portraits Unplugged” kind of photographer, and also have a lot of experience with using studio strobes or portable flash, which gives me huge control. Which kind of light to use? Knowing how and when to use artificial vs natural can be a challenge. I recently photographed Ceasar … [Read more...] about Shooting Portraits on Location: Natural or Flash?
ThinkTAPLearn has released a new training title with Joe McNally—Location Photography: On Assignment with Joe McNally. You’ll have a chance to watch over Joe’s shoulder as he works his magic on the set of a dance shoot. An industry legend, McNally began as a photojournalist and has worked for publications like Life and National Geographic. Joe continues to work on assignment today, producing amazing images and inspiring photographers. Watching him work is a treat. Who’s this course for? To get the most from this course, you’ll want to have … [Read more...] about Location Photography: On Assignment with Joe McNally
If you’re new to working with speedlights or studio strobes it can get overwhelming. Here’s a quick tip to ensure consistent exposure from shot to shot and avoid damaging your lights. Single-Shot Mode Make sure your camera is set to single-shot mode and not multiple shots or sports mode. This will ensure only one photo is taken when you press the shutter button. This will give your light time to recharge to full power before the next shot—making sure exposure is consistent. You can set an option for the light to beep when it reaches full … [Read more...] about Quick Tip: Use Single-Shot Mode when Shooting with Lights
Your job as a photographer is to match your light with your subject’s pose and emotion. In our image, we want a gritty, edgy look. This requires controlling where the light falls on our subject. Here’s how to use stripboxes and a beauty dish to create this edgy style. Stripbox Start with an empty set and take a shot--setting your exposure to create a completely black image. This proves the ambient light does not affect your image. Next, add side lighting with stripboxes to create the edge light. Looking at the subject, position one stripbox … [Read more...] about Photography Strip Lighting
I shoot a fair amount of theatre and concert productions. You know, the kind with dark environments with harsh red, green, blue and yellow lighting…where you can’t use any lighting gear. What I’ve learned is with a mix of exposure, ISO and aperture optimizations, you can create a template that will allow you to photograph these type of events with ease. ISO Don’t be afraid to boost this up. In these environments, ISO is your best friend. I usually crank mine up to 2500-3200 for performances. But, what about grain? To put it simply, it’s … [Read more...] about Red, Green and Blue All Over: Theatre and Concert Photography
I caught up with my Photojournalist friend, Rick Friedman, at the New England Camera Council Conference. Rick showed me images he took of Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots for Sports Illustrated. Rick is best known for photographing Presidential races—he started in the 70’s photographing Jimmy Carter and Ronald Regan—but he’s also a talented portrait photographer and lighting expert. I asked him how he lit the shot. Intrigued with his story, I asked if I could share it with our Photofocus readers. There are lots of great tips and … [Read more...] about Photographing New England Patriots Gronk
The Platypod Pro Max is very versatile. Attaching a ballhead and camera makes it as rock solid as a tripod with the advantage of being able to place it almost anywhere. By attaching an Avenger 5/8-Inch Stud, you can mount a large studio light and hide it in a small space behind your subject without getting it in the shot. This gives a photographer freedom to shoot from different angles without having to use the subject to hide a light stand. Here’s how to hide a big light in a small space using the Platypod Pro Max. Attaching a strobe to a … [Read more...] about Platypod Pro Max – Hiding a Big Light in a Small Space
Whenever I see a new piece of photo gear, one of the first things I ask myself is "what else can it do?" You'll find great reviews of Platypod Pro Max by my fellow Photofocus authors extolling it's virtues as a camera platform - and while it certainly excels at that - I'm more interested in what else it can do. Its large flat surface and 3/8-16 thread made me immediately think it could also be perfect as a lighting platform whenever I wanted to place a kicker light close to the ground. I've improvised many times in the past, using everything … [Read more...] about Get a Grip with Platypod Pro Max
As anyone who's been to WPPI can tell you, it's pretty insane. Between the Classes, Expo Booths, Parties, Socials, After Parties, Dinners, and well...everything else that Las Vegas can throw at you, seeing everyone / everything you want too is next to impossible, let alone keeping your professional schedule in check! 2016 was no different, however this time, I was on a mission. I decided to start a new photo project digging back into an old one for inspiration...one of my favorites of all time, Film Noir. As I began casting for this project, a … [Read more...] about Photography Projects – Expectation vs Reality
This morning I woke up and had to share this with you right away. If you love photography more than you love good food then you're going to love this. There's a FREE 3-part photography training series that starts today, May24th, 2016 and ends the day after Labor Day. It's not every day we get to learn something valuable and free without putting in a lot of time and effort. I've personally been to five different seminars and workshops this year already and for each one, I had to fly, stay in a hotel, and eat out for every meal. The FREE … [Read more...] about Do you love photography more than good food?
When shooting a portrait or head shot outdoors or inside a studio, I always use a reflector or bounce card to add some sparkle to the subject. This is Emily, I first shot her without any reflected light indoors in my studio. Now, I will add some reflected light directly below her and just out of the bottom frame. Notice Garrett is holding the reflector. Some photographers will ask the talent to just hold the reflector because they have no one to assist them. Get a stand or something, never ask your subject to hold the reflector on … [Read more...] about Reflected Beauty
Here's a great tip I got from watching some grips quickly change gels on some frames. In the past, when you removed an old gel or diffusion material you always had the mess of the sticky material. Either the 2-sided tape, or the foam stuff from 3M double stick, which ever material was used it was a challenge. I was observing some grips used the following technique and it was fast. This is a standard 18"x24" frame. The first thing you want to do is apply Blue Painters Tape around the entire frame. Here you can see I'm using 1" … [Read more...] about Getting Taped Up
I don't use flash very often and I especially don't use it very often with wildlife but it is possible. For this image made with a Canon 1D MK II and Canon 500 f/4 lens, mounted on a tripod with gimbal head, I used a Canon flash with a Visual Echoes FX-1B "Better Beamer" Flash Extender because the eagle was hiding under the canopy of some trees. He was very tame and patient but there just wasn't any light to speak of. Because I didn't want the flash to overpower the bird and blow out the highlights I used on-flash exposure compensation of … [Read more...] about Wildlife Photography – You Can Use Flash
So often someone will take the time to light the talent to look great but forget to light the background and give the image some depth: One method is to use a Cucoloris. Some will refer to it a s a cookie cutter:The Cucoloris will create a shadowed texture onto your background depending on the distance the light source is from the Cucoloris. The general rule with light is that the closer the light the softer the light, the larger the light the softer the light. Allow me to show you this theory in practical application:As you can see in the … [Read more...] about Cucoloris for Shadowed Texture
One of the most used tools on a Hollywood set, oh heck on any set, is the C-Stand. C in Roman numerals representing the numeral 100 is how the C-Stand got its name, 100's of uses. When closed it's 53" high, it can be extended to 10'6", it usually is ordered with a 40" arm and Grip Head. The C-Stand is a very versatile tool in the photographer's arsenal. Allow me to show you how to take advantage of the C-Stand. One way is a reflector holder:You simply secure a piece of foamcore or any material that you're using to reflect light onto the talent. … [Read more...] about C-Stands 101
My good friend Eric Eggly came to town for a visit. He asked if I could help him with a new project for his portfolio. Of course I agreed. As we prepared for the shoot, I realized he wasn't asking for my help as a photographer he was asking me to be one of the models! Normally I would find a way to get out of it; but Eric is one of the most creative photographers I know, so I agreed. I fell in love with the final images but, most importantly, I fell in love with how he created the shot. I asked Eric if he would share his creative thought … [Read more...] about Creating a Portfolio With “A Little Help From My Friends”
Take a look behind the scenes on set with Vanelli as he shoots Florida Tech senior lacrosse player Evan Ryan. Vanelli starts by setting the stage and getting to know Evan. He then builds a set and brings in a few speedlights to light the scene. For the last pose, Vanelli adds in water and smoke effects to the scene for the ultimate sports portrait image. https://youtu.be/9-2VVFhX3SI Featured Gear Nikon D700 Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens Westcott Strip Boxes with grids Westcott Rapid Box Octa … [Read more...] about Behind the Scenes of Florida Tech’s Evan Ryan Photo Shoot
Some of the most used tools on a Hollywood set are C-Stands and Apple Boxes. Then there are these little babies, Baby Plates. What is a Baby Plate you ask? It's a 5/8 stud, about 3" tall, welded onto a 3.5" x 6" metal plate. It has many uses. Allow me to share a few of those that I've used on the set. One of the most common uses for a Baby Plate is a very low light stand:It has a very solid feel and is very stable for most strobe heads. As you can see in the picture, this Baby Plate has 8 holes in its base. Some will have 4. The purpose for … [Read more...] about No Sippy Cups here, just Baby Plates
Its a beautiful sunny day, you're shooting indoors looking out to a sliding glass door or window and its brighter outside than on your set. Your talent is moving so HDR is not an option. You really don't want a silhouette, if you expose for the talent then your sliding glass door or window blows out with light, what do you do? Allow me to share with you about Black Scrim material. You can purchase it as a open ended flag with various sizes as shown here at B&H, or just the fabric, stretching it over a 18x18 frame as seen here from NCIS:For … [Read more...] about Scrim for Lighting Detail
Hopefully you've started on your holiday shopping and aren't waiting till the last minute to get things out for people. If you're short on ideas, here's a list of main gifts that an Apple iPhone photographer or videographer techie would enjoy. I say that these are main gifts, because well... they're not cheap :D Polaroid ZIP printer This little printer is a nice portable printer that allows you to print out 2x3 prints instantly without any smudging! It connects through Bluetooth 4.0 to an app for iOS and Android and utilizes Polaroid's ZINK … [Read more...] about iPhone Photography/Videography Giftlist!
Most people refer to it as a clothes pin; in Hollywood it's referred to as a C-47. They were named that way because back in the day there were 47 pins in a pack. The C stands for clamp, hence C-47. We'll take them and reverse the way they clamp so that they have more of a pinch tip to grab stuff better: I like using these economical tools for clamping gels to lights and softboxes. Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores sells them in different sizes and colors. I like using the medium clamps to secure gels inside small to medium softboxes: The … [Read more...] about C-47: The most useful tool you have in your laundry room.
Category: Family Photograph: Christmas Family Photo- Jeremy W Cox Setup: Composite shot with individual shots of figurines, head shots and background. Key light above subject slightly to the right (variable distance based on subject size) with Lumiquest Softbox Ltp or Softbox III depending on subject size. Fill light with Westcott umbrella bounced off white ceiling. Accent light from back left. Background slate and shelf shot with mostly ambient light and added fill camera left. Originally shared on the Photofocus Flickr community, right … [Read more...] about Photo of the Day: Christmas Family Photo
Here is a great economical way to soften your light. They're China Balls: These were used on the set of Grey's Anatomy. You can buy these light diffusers from World Market or Pier 1 Imports. Here's a link to Filmtools. Filmtools is a great resource; however, on some items they are a bit pricey. They cater to the movie and television industry. They range in cost from around $3.75 for a 12" China Ball up to about $17.00 for a 30" China Ball. Most are made of paper; however, some are made of silk. You do not need the silk ones unless you're … [Read more...] about Lighting with China Balls
I live in a cave. Not literally, but it sure feels like it. My house is so dark. Even with the windows wide open, on a bright sunny day, I still have to shoot at a minimum of ISO 1600. Sometimes I embrace my cave, I shoot with the high ISO, and I don't sweat it. But, honestly, the images that I love, the images that I keep, the images that I share of my family in my home almost alway use my flash aimed at a corner of my ceiling. Why Bounced Flash? Because it is flexible and easy. There are lots of ways to bring in extra light to shoot indoors … [Read more...] about Bounced Flash for Casual Shooting
When I sold my Canon 5D Mark III and 7D Mark II cameras and bought into Sonys A7 camera system one of the deciding factors was the Sony cameras ability to use Canon lenses via third-party adapters. As someone who has a long-standing love affair with Canons L-series glass, I was loathe to give them up. A have also been a fan of Canons underrated 600 EX-RT Speedlites and I am happy to report that they work wonderfully with my Sony A7R Mark II thanks to the Yongnuo YN-E3-RT commander module. Clone Wars When I invested in the 600 EX-RT system a … [Read more...] about Canon 600 EX-RT Speedlites with Sony A7 Cameras? Yongnuo to the Rescue
I often spend a lot of time at a wedding wrestling with light. Different sources, color temperatures, intensities are all over. Often, I find I like to shoot into the light to create a dreamy, open, bright feeling to my images because those are all qualities that typically go along with weddings. However, sometimes, I find myself in a spot that just needs more oompf, more drama. When that happens, I shoot with the light, not into it, not perpendicular to it. I point my lens in the direction the light is falling, spot meter for my highlights, … [Read more...] about Want Drama? Shoot With The Light
In the first part of my thoughts on aesthetic judgments I introduced the first two considerations on my list of five that inform my work. This post discusses the rest of them starting with... Composition Composition is the pleasing expression of the elements in a space. I prefer to lock the camera on a tripod then adjust the elements in the frame. Shooting tethered into a computer also assists me in this quest. Finally, I always give myself permission to frame my subject loosely to allow for cropping. No where in any of the works on … [Read more...] about Aesthetic Judgments: Composition, Color & Story
I'm a huge advocate of creating depth in a photograph. One of the ways is to use a back light or at times referred to as a hair light when shooting talent. Some of the challenges I might have are when the talent has blonde or gray / silver colored hair. I'll lose hair detail in the hair light. I found a great method for helping gain back that detail without losing the depth that a hair light can create. First I'll spray paint the inside of one of my reflectors from metal to flat white. This will soften the contrast: The next thing I will add … [Read more...] about Hot Hair Lights
Wes Maggio from Wacom joins us to share a quick tip on processing a portrait of Skylar he shot in the desert in Las Vegas during Photoshop World last month. Starting in Lightroom, Wes works through the develop module, but then jumps into Photoshop for a window replacement made easy by using a Wacom pen tablet. https://youtu.be/8jfBbRFjg6I Wes is a Senior Evangelist for Creative Products at Wacom Technology. He can be found on Twitter here or at the Wacom Community website here. … [Read more...] about Fast Retouching in Photoshop with Wes Maggio from Wacom
One of the many "joys" of wedding photography is that, try as we might to advise clients on the best photo locations and times of day, inevitably we're thrown some of the trickiest lighting setups in the book. Mixed lighting color temperatures, ceremony restrictions on flash in churches that might as well be dungeons they're so dark, time restrictions forcing you to photograph in blinding sun or dead of night, the list goes on and on. It's one of the reasons why I think wedding photographers can often be some of the best all around … [Read more...] about Battling Bright Light at Weddings