photo session – Modern Gypsies – golden birds

Another series from the recent publicity photo session with the Modern Gypsies, with two of the girls in costume, as golden birds. With costumes this detailed and complex, I wanted a simpler background. One that didn’t intrude, and somehow complemented the subjects. Classic architecture!

Here are the behind-the-scenes images to how we came to some killer photographs for them …

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online video class: off-camera flash photography

The second video tutorial series in conjunction with Craftsy, is on the topic of: Off-Camera Flash Photography.  Craftsy is a company that produces professional looking online video tutorials, and with their help, we created what is a kind of online workshop. The first class is Portraits with On-Camera Speedlight, and has received great feedback from those who enrolled. This follow-up class is about using Off-Camera Flash and is now available.

As the instructor, I’m able to offer a big discount for everyone via these links.

The online classroom has a platform where anyone who is subscribed can ask questions. So it is an interactive method, and not just a static video-only class. There is also no time limit on this, so you can watch it anywhere, any time.

Learn more inside…

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online video class: portraits with on-camera speedlight

There have been many requests for a video tutorial series or a kind of online workshop of the articles on the Tangents website. Working in conjunction with Craftsy – a company that produces professional looking online video tutorials on a number of topics – we created two video classes.

The first class is Portraits with On-Camera Speedlight, and has just been completed and is available! The follow-up class is Off-Camera Flash Photography, and is a natural extension of this class.

As the instructor, I’m able to offer a big discount for everyone via these links.

The online classroom has a platform where anyone who is subscribed can ask questions. So it is an interactive method, and not just a static video-only class. There is also no time limit on this, so you can watch it anywhere, any time.

Learn more inside…

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destination wedding photographer Aruba

photographing a couple – posing and composition

Re-editing and re-vamping photographs for my blog post of a destination wedding in Aruba, I found it enlightening to realize how much my style has progressed over years in post-processing too.

As part of destination wedding photography coverage, I offer extended photo sessions around the exotic locale after (or before) the wedding date. While we’re there, we may as well use the opportunity.

The photograph at the top was taken on the day after the wedding when we took a rented car and drove around the arid areas of the island – away from the touristy parts. There was a short rainstorm while we were driving, and the landscape looked really crisp. Offsetting the couple against this landscape just seemed like a great idea. I posed them into the light. I had various compositions of this, but liked the off-center image the most.

In this way, for any single setup, I always shoot wide & tight; vertical & horizontal; high & low viewpoints. This way I get a variety of images, and in the culling process later on, I can pick the few that work, or give me the most variety.

But there’s usually more than just one photograph …

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review: Westcott Rapid Box – 26″ Octa Softbox

The Westcott Rapidbox – 26′ Octa Softbox (vendor) caught my attention, even among the huge variety of light modifiers available for off-camera speedlights. I bought one of these softboxes to try out at the most recent on-location photography lighting workshop in New York. And I like it a lot!

It is relatively fast to set up, and collapses to a compact size and comes in a handy carry bag.

Here is another photograph, with the comparative shot at the same camera settings, that shows exactly what impact the light had in the final image. For me, there’s just the right amount of contrast with wrap-around light. I like this softbox a lot!

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Nelson Mandela / Madiba

To celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday – July 18th – here are two images from my archives. I had the pleasure of photographing Nelson Mandela, then president of South Africa, at a function in March ’98. I was one of several photographers covering the event where he addressed people attending a function.

The challenge with this photo-shoot was that no camera flash was allowed. Which is especially tough inside a dimly lit marquee tent in early evening. This no-flash rule was an attempt not to aggravate eye problems the president experienced. So all photographs were taken with ambient light alone. I remember being the only photographer there with a tripod.

date:  March ’98  –  Johannesburg, South Africa
camera gear:  Nikon F90x;  Nikon AF-D 80-200mm f2.8
camera settings: 1/15th @ f2.8
film:  Fujicolor 800 Super G Plus

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Photography podcast – my interview on Photography 121

Stephen Cotterell, a photographer in the UK, visited New York a few weeks ago –  and he graciously made the detour to New Jersey to visit me and interview me for his Photography 121 podcast.

What makes this podcast interview different than others I have done, is that there was no theme here. Usually a podcast interview would center on something specific like flash photography.
With this interview however, Stephen’s questions were more freeform, and it was the first time I’ve really talked about where I come from as a photographer. How my career started, and how it is progressed, and where I’d like to see it head towards.

And as always, I went off on various tangents and down various side-streets during this interview.

The full 90 minute interview can be found on iTunes.
(Or search for Photography 121 in the podcasts section.)

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off-camera flash with a small softbox

Most of the images shot as part of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG lens review, were with available light only. But for one sequence, I used off-camera flash. I didn’t intend carrying a lot of equipment, so I stripped it down to the minimum. That meant forgoing my usual softbox, the Lastolite EZYBOX 24×24″ softbox (vendor). Instead, I opted for the much smaller Lastolite 8.75″ speedlight softbox (vendor). And instead of a light-stand, Nicole’s friend, Andrew helped out on the day by holding the softbox and slave speedlight.

In getting to the final image, the thought-process was similar to that described in this article: off-camera flash for that extra bit of drama (model: Olena).

So let’s run through the sequence of images …

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review: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM wide-angle lens

I have to admit upfront that I am a lens snob. Not so much for a lens being esoteric or collectible, but rather that I have a particularly strong preference for the name brand lenses. When I shot with Pentax way way back, I only used Pentax lenses. Similarly, I only have Canon lenses for my Canon bodies, and Nikon lenses for my Nikon cameras.

Part of it is that the styling of the lens and camera is more consistent. Yes, I do like my cameras to have a certain aesthetic appeal. I know, I know … how pretty a lens looks has no real correlation to how spectacularly it performs. But actually, there is a correlation of sorts. The spendier equipment (which performs well), tend to be designed to look good. But I digress.

The main reason though why I keep within a certain brand, is that the top names tend to have the top lenses. A recent test I did between the Sigma, Tamron and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 zooms, showed once again that the Nikon optic had the edge: photography: how good do your lenses need to be? Therefore, most often, it is a simpler choice to just get the lens which has the brand name, and forego a lot of testing. Of course, there is always the possibility of an expensive disappointment. But generally, staying with the big camera brands is a decision that can be made with confidence.

My interest was piqued though by the news that Sigma is releasing new lines of lenses, and tightening up their quality control. From Sigma’s website: “all newly produced interchangeable lenses from Sigma will be designed for and organized into one of three product categories: Contemporary, Art and Sports. Each line has a clearly defined concept to guide shooters in the selection of the right lens for their photographic interests”.

One of the first lenses to be released, is the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG wide-angle prime lens, and I was able to get a copy for review purposes.
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG (for Nikon) (vendor)
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG (for Canon) (vendor)

The lens has a noticeably different look than Sigma lenses in the past, and actually looks quite sleek and modern, but this all wouldn’t mean much, if the lens didn’t perform spectacularly, and was at a more affordable price point than the Canon and Nikon equivalents:

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off-camera flash photography essentials – video tutorials

I would like to remind everyone that the video tutorials – Off-Camera Flash Essentials – that were created for the ClickinMoms as a Break-Out Session, are still available for purchase.

It’s essentially a flash photography workshop – 90 minutes of video tutorials for $60.

The first section is a 45 minute video seminar where, with the help of images, the basics of flash photography and off-camera flash photography are explained. The final 45 minutes are divided into different sections, including a section where we work on-location.

Learn more inside…

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