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
Im going to share an exercise with you that is so simple, some of you may have trouble believing it can work. But it does. Over the years Ive shared this with hundreds of photographers - in person, at workshops, seminars, etc. Ive also extended this information via blogs and podcasts to countless thousands. Of those who have gotten back to me to let me know about their progress, 100% have agreed that it works. So whats the magic? Read on and be prepared to be surprised. Remember this costs you no money. It shouldn't take more than 15-20 … [Read more...] about Four Simple No-Cost Steps To Being The Best Photographer You Can Be
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
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
A great way to challenge yourself and enhance your skills is to shoot some personal projects. Here is an opportunity to stretch your imagination. Building sets, buying props, coordinating wardrobe, scouting locations and casting talent are all part of the process of shooting your personal projects. When you apply all these things, your ideas will come to life. I'll get an idea visually, and then I need to make it happen. Like this 30's Hollywood glamour shot:Once I cast the beautiful actress, Sarah Deakins, I needed to get hair and make-up. … [Read more...] about Shooting Personal Projects
Photographers have struggled with limited dynamic range for as long as there have been photographers. Expose for the highlights in most scenes, and you will end up with crushed shadows where no details can be extracted from the inky blackness. Conversely, if you expose for the shadows, the highlights will blow out, leaving nothing but garish white the absolute absence of detail. To capture the broad range of light in many scenes, photographers use High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing to combine multiple images shot at different settings into one … [Read more...] about Beat the Bracket Racket – Shooting HDR Base Images the Right Way
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.
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
What's in your bag? Do you really think that the cameras and lenses that are in my bag are going to get you my job? Stop! I'm not being arrogant, however, how you shoot and I shoot are so radically different it doesn't matter if you use the same gear as I do. We are creative knuckleheads and do what we do as individuals. Wanna know about some of the "stuff" that's in my bag? Allow me to share with you my camera brethren:Altoids, gum, Mentos, or anything that will freshen your breath. I hate working around bad breath. Whether it is from food, … [Read more...] about “What’s in Your Bag?” Stuff!
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
I suspect a lot of photographers can relate to the scenario of arriving on location with your camera but without much certainty about what to do with it. This happens to me a lot. Its not like we always have the luxury of having every frame mapped out before we even arrive. Sometimes, there is a foggy vagueness that you need to contend with before things begin falling into place. When this happens, it helps to have something to pull out of your bag o trickssome go-to thing that you can do to at least engage the creative portion of your brain. … [Read more...] about Quick Photo Tip: Have doubts? Just pan!
Far and away my favorite subject to photograph for relaxation and practice is in the Landscape venue. Having grown up in the Blue Ridge mountain region of Southwest Virginia, learning to make better landscape photographs has been a staple in my own learning curve over the years and an ever-present means of practice to this day in terms of shooting and processing. The Normal Approach In days gone by, when presented with a scenic landscape of any kind, being overwhelmed with the newness of the sight itself, I would likely frame the best overall … [Read more...] about 3 Keys to Adding Interest to Landscape Images
Photography is one of those professions that, from a distance can appear as an idealistic, fun and (dare I say) easy existence in terms of a career. Yet upon entering the world of paid photography, would-be pros find themselves immediately faced with a demand for an exceedingly high-level of image quality, and an even higher degree of understanding in terms of marketing and business practice if the hope is to succeed in acquiring a piece of the competitive market. Fortunately, tools for applied learning are in place for creatives and … [Read more...] about My Favorite Courses to Learn the Fundamentals of Photography from lynda.com
The act of creating a photograph typically falls into two broad camps. I would argue that in both camps, there are several fundamental tips around composition to always keep in the forefront of your creative mind whenever you reach for your camera or smartphone to capture something photographically. But before we get into that, let's take a look at the two broad camps of photographs that I just referred to. They are: Camp 1: There is the off-the-cuff snap, usually relegated for documentation purposes, like receipts or parking spot reminders, … [Read more...] about Four Photo Tips To Improve Your Compositions
While we were at the Las Vegas Photoshop World, Photofocus hosted a focus group breakfast. Our mission, ask our loyal subscribers what topics they want us to write about and give us honest feedback on how we are doing. Several people commented, "We want more controversial articles that make us think, don't be afraid to hold back." So, here is an article that I'm sure is going to offend a few people, well only those that are not holding their camera correctly! Last week I photographed a swim meet for Aran, talented 13 year old multi-sport … [Read more...] about For God’s Sake, Hold Your Camera Correctly!
Editor's Note: All gear for this post provided by our friends at LensRentals.com. In the last article, Getting Started with Real Estate Photography - Exteriors, we discussed a basic approach to a typical real estate exteriors shoot plus all the gear I used and rented from LensRentals.com. Today, we'll get into interiors shooting and run through a few good habits to keep in mind moving forward. Picking up where we left off in the last post, it's time to kick off the shoes and head inside, starting with a quick pre-shoot … [Read more...] about Getting Started with Real Estate Photography – Interiors
I'm sure many of you photographers reading this post can sympathize with the plight of ever-maneuvering ourselves and our cameras around so that we can omit any obstacles from our frame. Whether we're contorting in some undiscovered yoga position or have our tripods defying gravity with the way they're being balanced, we go to great lengths to remove obstacles. And in a lot of cases, it's probably warranted. Why have them there? They'll only serve as distractions, right? Well.... not so fast. What if you simply couldn't get past omitting an … [Read more...] about Improve your composition by using obstacles
At the time of writing this article, we're just entering my favorite time of year: Autumn. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the temps are starting to drop, rainclouds are beginning to move in, and my favorite seasonal veggies and ales are making their way to the tabletops of my local farmers market. I'm very fortunate to live in close proximity to a wonderfully quaint one called Hollywood Farmers Market. On most Saturday mornings, Nicole and I will meander on over to with cameras in hand and create art out of produce. With all the beautiful and … [Read more...] about 5 Photo Tips While at a Farmers Market
Let's say you just got a shiny new package from your local camera store or Amazon or B&H. In it is a brand new camera body or lens or [insert gear type here]. You've probably spent some hard earned money on it, right? So, it would stand to reason that you'd want to do everything in your power to keep it safe, protected and in optimal condition, right With that, let's take a look at how properly protecting your gear can ensure many years of productive and creative usage.Protection from general use Ok, this is an easy one but one of the … [Read more...] about The Basics of Protecting Your Gear
If you're like me, you're constantly trying to think of different ways to infuse creativity within your photos. This is especially true if I'm returning to a place that I've photography at many times before. Your goal is to be able to engage your viewers and a great way to do so is to try and set yourself, and your photos, apart. An easy and fun photo tip I want to share is to introduce panning into your repertoire of photo tricks. I first started giving panning a shot during my 14,000,001st visit to Times Square in New York City. I set a goal … [Read more...] about Using Panning to Add Motion To Your Photos
It goes without saying that one of the chief goals as a photographer is to clearly convey what the subject is within your photo. Effectively doing so makes it easy for the viewer to focus exactly where you intended them to. However, it is not always that easy to do so when you're in the field. Maybe it's a limitation with the lens you have, or it could just be that you're unsure about what you want to set as your visual anchor. That's where adding a simple Tilt Shift effect can do wonders, and the great thing is that there is no shortage of … [Read more...] about Creating A Tilt Shift Effect Using Snapseed On Your Mobile Device
One of my favorite ways to make a break from the normal daily routine is to grab the kids and a GoPro Hero and head for the hills in search of water. Fortunately, here in the Blue Ridge mountains of SW Virginia this is but a matter of choosing a direction and within minutes we're rock-hopping down a mountain stream, exploring the shallow climbs for vibrant color and life. If you have access to a GoPro Hero or similar compact waterproof camera and like the idea of adding a variety of aquatic color to the library, here are a few simple tips to … [Read more...] about Fishing for Photos – Shooting Underwater Aquatic Life with the GoPro Hero
In this tutorial, we'll be taking a look at one approach to combining HDR (High Dynamic Range) composite images in Photoshop to remove any undesired detail, and easily blend softness back into a landscape composition as needed. Questions? Drop me a line at and . If you're looking for a great gear guide for landscape photographers, check this out. … [Read more...] about Blending HDR Images in Photoshop for Smoother Landscapes
The initial act of sifting through a bulky project can be a daunting task. When a shoot is complete, thoughts are typically confined to the stack(s) of material awaiting our review. One simple approach to initially reviewing a project is to take advantage of the filtering power of Lightroom to aid in the selection process. When faced with a folder of work to analyze and compare, Library Filters are a close ally in making informed selections and establishing a firm direction for organizing and storing each project. Let's take a quick tour of … [Read more...] about Harnessing Library Filters in Lightroom & Bridge
If you'd like to get your camera off the tripod and add smooth-motion capture to your video work, take a look at this modified setup of the Flycam Nano DSLR system adapted for use with the GoPro Hero. If you're not currently shooting with a GoPro system, no worries, the information in this post can be equally applied to any small or mid-size camera on the market today. I do however recommend the Hero for its frame rate capabilities, specifically the ability to capture 60fps (frames-per-second) at 1080p resolution, not to mention its usefully … [Read more...] about Steady As You GoPro
Shooting in the full midday sun can present creative challenges to any photographer. The high position and brightness of the sun projects an even downward cast, leaving an exposure void of the depth and dynamic range we're accustomed to in the long shadows of the morning and evening (golden) hours. While it may not always be convenient to schedule work at these ideal hours of the day, there are some ways to make the most of shooting in the broad spectrum of midday sun. http://youtu.be/FDuTPhGSp_I If you have any questions, please feel … [Read more...] about Fearless Full Sun Shooting
More often than not when shooting in the mixed light of partially-shaded areas, such as under canopy or near water where available light can be a spotty mixture of shadow and highlight, it can be difficult to locate a neutral tone on which to meter an accurate exposure. Seasoned shooters will typically carry a gray card in their bag to combat this common issue. For those new to metering, our cameras see and relate a white tone as a neutral gray. In a nutshell: when we (spot) meter on something bright, the camera will attempt to bring that … [Read more...] about Camera Bag Metering
Outdoor events can be challenging to capture in a way that is meaningful, or that equals the experience from a competitor's perspective. Aside from the well-deserved physical rewards, event sports like mountain bike racing and endurance running (etc) can be thankless work for the athlete and they tend to value those images that best represent their effort and experience. http://youtu.be/nGDywOQw5oY Nothing conveys speed like a well-placed blur. Today we'll explore the use of pan and zoom shooting techniques to enhance motion and add interest … [Read more...] about Enhancing Motion with Pan & Zoom Blur