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Photofocus Episode 98

Special Guest: Tamara Lackey ()

Show notes by Bruce Clarke ()

Discussion – Portrait Trends for 2012

Scott and Tamara discuss portrait trends for 2012. Scott thinks that the big trend in 2011 was strongly backlit photos with blown-out hilites. Tamara saw a lot of HDR in 2011 and thinks the trend of everyone applying the same set of actions to their photographs to the point where you can’t tell anyones’ photos apart, will unfortunately continue. Tamara thinks that a good trend would be to just be yourself and not worry so much about what everyone else is doing – a topic that Tamara discussed with Scott on a recent episode of her show Redefine.

Scott thinks that everyone should focus on shooting from the heart rather than trying to copy other peoples work and that will result in consistency in your work. If you just spend time trying to figure out what is important to you, that will be how you figure yourself out rather than spending time trying to mimic other successful photographers. Tamara thinks that one way to focus on things that you like is to find things that you really dislike and then try to focus on the inverse.

This week we kick things off with a question about Australian Shepard dogs:

Question One – Photographing Australian Shepard Dogs

Brandy has some Australian Shepard dogs and is wondering if there is anything she can do in camera to photograph them without blowing out the hilites?

Tamara: Check her custom functions to see if she has some kind of a contrast boost or something set that is making it more difficult to get a more even capture. If she is shooting with either a Canon or Nikon, there are additional custom functions which deal completely with hilites (Canon – hilite tone priority. Nikon – Active D Lighting).

Scott: In the old days, we had to make a choice on which part of the scene is important. Are we holding on to the hilites because of the religion of blown hilites or because there is actually detail there? Today you can do a lot with Photoshop but try to make good decisions when capturing the image.

Question Two – Octabanks for Speedlites

Steve Scheneky would like our thoughts on Octabanks for Speedlites.

Tamara: I haven’t messed with this too much myself but they do tend to produce a nice soft light.

Scott: The main advantage of an octabank is that the catch light will be round. In my experience, based on the cost of everything you’ll need to put a kit together, you’ll spend more than you would if you just went out and bought a mono light and put a softbox on it.

Question Three – Lighting When Displaying Prints for Sale

This question originally came to us over at the GoingPro website and I wanted to ask Tamara about her thoughts on displaying and selling prints in gallery shows. Ror Engmim asks what kind of lights we use when displaying prints.

Tamara: I haven’t done any gallery shows but I do have a gallery in my studio where I sell my work. I have also used the Color Munki and the Xrite colorimeter to have a color managed workflow.

Scott: I do use special lights and you want to approximate pure daylight. There are daylight balanced bulbs that we use for that purpose. I can’t recommend a specific brand or model number because they change all the time. Look for a light that matches the light you are color proofing in.

Question Four – Lighting for Middle-Aged Models

Susan Koppel writes: I’ve been experimenting lately with some more dramatic lighting. This seems to work well if your model is 19 years old and has perfect skin but it looks awful on older models with less than perfect skin. What kind of lighting would you suggest using with middle ages models that is flattering but still retains depth and dimension.

Tamara: To do more dramatic lighting you should step back and take a look at your overall lighting setup. Make sure you have the proper perspective and you’re using the right lens. Make sure that you have proper separation between your subject and the background and if you’re going to use a hair light that you are actually lighting the hair. That has a big effect before you get into dramatic lighting. I use a fill light on everything I shoot and can make a huge difference on how I use the fill. A wide close light is going to be more flattering and use shadows to create the depth you need.

Scott: It’s important to understand the role that lighting plays in the show. Light illuminates and shadow defines. I like to start with the shadows.

Question Five – 50mm Lenses

Back in the film days, a 50mm f1.4 was the standard kit lens. How do the 50mm lenses of today compare to ones of yesteryear?

Tamara: I don’t think I’d be experienced enough in yesteryear because I haven’t worked with any vintage lenses.

Scott: The lenses today are much better in general. Almost every lens today – the technology behind their manufacture and design is far superior. You really see it in the zooms. The 50mm lenses that we used to have weren’t as bright or as sharp as the ones that are available today.

Wrap Up

We want themes and questions from you. Be sure to visit the blog at for articles, how-to’s, videos and more. E-mail us at [email protected]follow us on Twitter. Don’t just take pictures – make pictures.

Tamara Lackey is at

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