various scenarios: balancing flash with ambient light

Adding flash to ambient light – its’s a topic that can appear to be confusing. With advic that ranges from under-exposing the ambient light by a stop or two … or dialing FEC down for fill-flash, or advice that you should be metering for the background … it all appears confusing and contradictory.

What we do, and the thought-process we step through, depends on the (lighting) situation we find ourselves in. There isn’t one blanket do-all method. No single piece of instruction that will fit every occasion.

So let’s try to work through various general scenarios, to see how we’d approach each one:

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My latest book is now available for pre-order!
Lighting & Design for Portrait Photography

A follow-up of sorts to Direction & Quality of Light, this new book is available for pre-order on Amazon now. It’s a slightly eclectic mix, showing and discussing the thought-process with portraits. The examples use available light, bounce flash, off-camera flash as well as studio lighting.

The idea is that in every one of the 60 sections, there is something to be learnt and applied, regardless of your level as a photographer or where you shoot.

Some of the material has appeared on Tangents before, but has been shaped to form a cohesive narrative arc throughout the book. About 50% is new material.

The date when it will hit the streets (or your mailbox) is 16 December. Like before, if you want, autographed copies can be order then.

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wedding photography – macro photography: options and alternatives

With wedding photography, I mostly use a macro lens just for detail images at the bride’s place – rings & jewelry. I do use a macro lens for detail photos of the rings. However, during the early part of the day at the bride’s place, I try to bring as little equipment as possible. Then carrying a macro lens for just a few detail images might just add too much bulk to the shoulder bag. Also, if your budget is constrained, then it might seem a bit much to spend that much money for a lens that will see so little use. There are other options though than a full-blown macro lens.

A macro lens attachment that I often use, is the Canon 500D 77mm Close Up Lens (vendor). Screwing this onto the front of a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens like a filter, gives you very good macro results!

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non-photography goodies in my camera bag / roller case

Work as a wedding photographer isn’t just about taking photographs of key moments, or about the photo gear. Often enough it is up to you as the wedding photographer to help guide the day’s time-line and flow, and also just to help.  For me, wedding photography isn’t just a passively observed event where I take photographs. And if you shoot with a photo-journalistic style in mind, it doesn’t mean you have to remain uninvolved.  I’m there to record the day’s events, but also to help, if necessary, making it a spectacular day.

In the photo above, I took over from the maid of honor when her fingers weren’t strong enough for that final button and clasp at the back of the bride’s dress. My fingers were stronger, so I finished the last button. So as a photographer I’m often called on to do more than just take photographs.

With that in mind, here’s a look into my camera bag, and the non-photography related goodies I keep handy:

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I attended a wedding!

September 3, 2014

Angie & Johan’s wedding – One & Only, Cape Town

I attended a wedding! You may well laugh at that, but at 500+ weddings deep, this was the first wedding that I attended as a guest in about 20 years now.

Angie, who I’ve been friends with for more than 20 years, invited me  to her wedding in Cape Town. And you know what? It’s a huge compliment when a friend invites you to their wedding. With a bit of free time now, and a bit of financial wriggle room, and on top of that, not having visited friends and family in South Africa for 9 years now, I thought it was time. I had to go.

Oh, Angie has appeared on Tangents before: on a photo shoot with fashion photographer, Angie Lazaro

With this entire 2-week visit to South Africa, I decided to forego all the heavier, bulkier camera gear, and only take my Fuji X100s (vendor). It is compact and light, yet the image quality is superb.  It’s a specific decision where I forego the versatility of a variety of lenses, and just accept the single 35mm-equivalent lens.

I specifically wouldn’t have taken a larger camera to the wedding anyway – I wasn’t the photographer, but a guest. Still, I wanted to be able to take a few photos. Here are some of them. All shot with the Fuji X100s, and available light:

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feminine portraiture – Pure: the authentic beauty project

Since 2012, Stacie Frazier, owner of Haute Shots Beauty and Boudoir Photography in Las Vegas, has been on an interesting mission – one to help women relinquish the control of cosmetics and see their own authentic beauty in the form of beauty and/or boudoir portraiture. Recently Stacie invited others to join her in this mission by announcing the PURE: authentic beauty project on the Business of Boudoir website.

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boudoir photography: couples boudoir photo session – gesture and connection

With portraits of a couple, the way they connect with each other is often the main factor whether the image is compelling. It could be through gesture and touch. The gesture might even be subtle – if a couple snuggles in, they don’t have to look at each other – it’s entirely possible to give that sense of connectedness, even with a downward glance. As long a it looks like they are concentrating on each other or responding to each other, it works.

With the image at the top, Olena and Austin are directly looking at each other, hands intertwined and legs touching. Connection clearly there.

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hot-air balloon ride

August 26, 2014

hot-air balloon ride

During my visit to South Africa, two of my friends, Jerry & Linde, arranged a surprise for me – an early-morning ride in a hot-air balloon in the Magaliesberg area. This was a first time for me – and I have to wonder now why I had never done this before – it is exhilarating! (This must be old news for those who have done this before.)

With this entire 2-week visit to South Africa, I decided to forego all the heavier, bulkier camera gear, and only take my Fuji X100s (vendor). It’s a specific decision where I forego the versatility of getting every angle from super-wide to tele, and just accept the single 35mm-equivalent lens.

So that’s all I had with me – just this one small camera. Within the limits of that single lens, it became a fun challenge to still get meaningful and interesting images.

Here is the slideshow with 24 images, from the start to a few seconds before touch-down. I hope it shows some of the beauty of this winter-time landscape in the Magaliesberg area. There was a certain 3-D look to the scenery, with the sun coming on low over the horizon. You can see various antelope dot the grassland by the shadows they cast.

The one thing missing from these images is the sheer stillness of gliding over the landscape, with just the dogs barking way below, and some cars driving by. Oh, and then the rushing sound of the burner filling the balloon again to remain buoyant.

This experience was a high in every sense.

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finding interesting available light & white balance options

It’s always a feel-good moment to discover interesting available light while out on a photo shoot. Something unusual to add a new flavor to a different sequence of images.

While photographing a model with Tilo Gockel and Mike Silberreis (both from Germany on a visit to NYC), we started off with off-camera flash to help with the strong sunlight. (You might remember Tilo from a recent guest article on product photography on a budget.)

Then, while positioning Olena, I saw part of her dress had a patch of bright light on it. Turning around to see where this came from – I expected sun flare from nearby building window – I saw that it was actually the sun reflecting off a traffic sign right next to us. The light that was reflecting off this traffic sign was pretty hard, but had an interesting specularity, yet appeared flattering. So we shot an entire long sequence here, ditching the off-camera flash.

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photography video tutorials by Craftsy

Boudoir Photography, with Jennifer Rozenbaum

Capture gorgeous images that celebrate your client’s sensuality with professional photographer Jennifer Rozenbaum as your guide. Learn how to collaborate with your client to develop a styling concept, and discover flattering wardrobe and makeup recommendations to match. Master lighting for boudoir photography with simple setups that complement three photo-shoot themes: sexy, romantic and edgy. Empower your client in front of the camera with poses that emphasize her favorite assets and minimize problem areas. Discover expert image selection and editing tips, plus a three-step action plan to help you jump-start your own boudoir business!

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