technique

Using back-button focus (BBF) on your Canon camera

There are two ways to initiate (and lock) focus on your Canon DSLR
- using the shutter button, and / or
- using the AF-ON button on the back of the camera, near your thumb.

The AF-ON button can be set to be the only way to initiate focus, disallowing the shutter button from doing so. Depending on how you program your camera, the AF-ON button could allow you to trip your camera’s shutter independently of your focusing. Whether this is useful to you, (or perhaps even cause problems for you), depends on:
- your style of shooting, and
- the focusing mode that you use on your camera.

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best photography tips

April 24, 2012

best photography tips

There are numerous tips and ideas in photography that helped me improve as a photographer over the years. This came via magazines and books and other photographers. Many sources.

One of the best tips that helped me develop a style over time – when using a zoom lens, zoom to the longest focal length, and then frame your shot by walking forward or back, to where you have the composition that you want.

Doing so will result in the most compression in the image, helping to isolate my subject against an out-of-focus background. (Of course, using a long lens with a wide aperture makes the difference here.) I touched on this topic with a recent article: composition for full-length portraits – step back!

I would like to hear from other readers of the Tangents blog, what their best or favorite photography tips are.

And we’ll make it a contest for the best entry.
The contest has now closed, and a winner has been announced – check my comment #190

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photographing in bright sunlight – find the shade!

Hard sunlight must be one of the most difficult lighting scenarios to work under. But with a bit of thought, we can work around it and still easily get photos that look great. It’s a topic that we’ve touched on a number of times on the Tangents blog, (see related articles at the end here). The simplest approach for me though, is where I can, is to just not deal with the hard sunlight. I find shade.

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composition for full-length portraits – step back instead of zooming wide

A comment in the article on a simple lighting setup for the family formal photos, asked why I recommended that a photographer should step back rather than zoom wide when photographing a group. The reason is that the perspective distortion that a wide-angle lens will give to your subject, is not all that flattering.

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off-camera flash photography tip – find your background, then your settings

With flash photography on location, we nearly always start off by figuring out what we want to do in relation to our available light. We might just need fill-flash, or or flash might need to do the “heavy lifting” and expose correctly for our subject in relation to the available light.

When we have our subject in (relative) shade, and need to figure out our flash exposure, we also need to decide exactly what our background is. It usually works best to be specific about our background … and how we position ourselves and our subject in relation to that.

So let’s run through that thought-process, using the image at the top.  Alex was our delightful model today during an individual workshop in Manhattan.

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back-lighting with flash for dramatic silhouetted wedding portraits

One of the easiest ways to create dramatic light for a silhouette when photographing the wedding portraits, is to add a flash behind the couple. The beauty of this is that there is a fair amount of leeway as to what would work. We need not be all that exact, but there are some a few things we should check …

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gelling your flash for effect

The idea of gelling your flash for effect has been a topic here a few times. I most often use gels on my flash to correct my flash when working with tungsten / incandescent light. There are times though when I gel my flash just for effect, creating a shift between my foreground (lit by gelled flash) and my background.

In the examples shown in the several articles here, there wasn’t the type of background where the effect can clearly be seen on easily recognizable “neutral” background. In the article turning day into night, we turned the sky a dark shade of blue. With the sequence of photos of a model, Bethany, there was a reflective mirrored wall as background that we changed the color of. The effect looks stunning, but the mirrored wall might not be something that makes the color shift obvious to the casual visitor here.

With that, during a recent individual workshop in Manhattan, while working with Anelisa again, I took the opportunity to specifically take this sequence of images. They will hopefully clearly show how we can create a more dramatic effect by shifting the color balance of our flash in relation to the available light …

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finding that photo opportunity

November 24, 2011

finding that photo opportunity

We stumbled upon this opportunity for this portrait of Jessica, my infamous assistant with an attitude. The reception room for a wedding we were photographing had several large boxes of lights against the walls as a kind of light mural, with baubles inside that were lit up. And the back of each of these displays was a mirror …

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making your images pop – through choice of lens and technique

The immediate reaction when considering how you could make your photographs *pop* might be to juice it up in Photoshop. But the process should start much earlier – in camera. With a few easy techniques, we can consistently create images that jump off the page or screen.

The most recent photo session posted on my Facebook photography page, had some comments about the 3D look to some of the photographs, and that prompted this article on how to make your images pop …

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wedding photography – favorite image – city lights

This photo from a event wedding received a lot of favorable comments when I posted it on my Facebook page, as well as questions about how it was shot.

For the romantic portraits, I often take a couple around the venue – the light is just different than during the day. This is where video light comes into its own. Here though, I wanted some of the city lights and light from the traffic outside the venue to appear in the background. The way I envisioned it, was as a stream of cars behind them, but in the first few test images, the cars were too distinct, even at f2.8 and 200mm focal length. Looking at how the approaching cars lined up at the traffic intersection, I decided to use that instead, and let the cars’ headlights flare out.

Then I just needed some light on the couple to complete the image …

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