Tammy Hineline is a Sergeant in the US Marine Corps serving as a Combat Photographer / Videographer. And … Tammy follows the Tangents blog! She graciously responded to my request asking if she’d be interested in writing a guest article about the life as a military photographer in the Marines. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a photography career outside of what most of us would ever experience.

Since enlisting in 2008 Tammy has done two deployments and has provided photographic support to multiple training evolutions, humanitarian operations, and other military events. She recently returned from Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In her spare time she enjoys taking pictures of people that aren’t Marines and assisting on weddings.

life as a military photographer in the U.S. Marines

a guest post by Tammy Hineline

In January of 2008, I enlisted into the United States Marine Corps. I was taking photography classes at my community college and shooting baby portraits at a Wal-Mart Portrait Studio. I wasn’t doing so hot in school and barely putting enough effort into my work to pass. I was beyond bored with everything I was doing.

One day, a Marine Corps recruiter set up shop at my school. I went home thinking, “Wow, wouldn’t it be crazy if I joined the Marine Corps?” So I did it. A break up with my loser boyfriend and some good timing on the recruiter’s part brought me to the famous yellow footprints at Parris Island.

I enlisted into the Combat Camera MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) and since then I’ve done two deployments, traveled to seven different countries, blown up a lot of stuff, eaten a lot of Meals Ready-to-Eat, sailed on a Navy ship, trained alongside foreign soldiers of various countries, once stood in line for two hours just to eat corn dogs, flown in more aircraft than I have ever wished to, and have taken a ton of photos.

The military is a beast of its own kind and a lot of people don’t really understand what we do; let alone what a photographer does in and for the military. I’m hoping today we can answer some of those questions.

The one thing to remember: We are Marines first, photographers second. We do all the things regular Marines do. We go to bootcamp, we shoot on the range once a year, get paid the same, have to meet the same physical fitness requirements, and everything else the entire Corps has to do. It’s the nature of the job.

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creating foreground bokeh effects in-camera

The closer you move to a foreground object, the more it’s shape and color and opacity will affect the image … in unpredictable ways. It’s a well-established technique then to create unusual color splashes and shapes in the image by creating flare highlights. It is often called “foreground bokeh effect”.

Ulorin Vex is an unusually photogenic model that I have photographed on a few occasions. When Ulorin visited the East Coast again recently, I jumped at the opportunity to meet up with her again and play in the studio. Her striking looks and colorful latex dresses would work perfectly with this technique – the random kaleidoscope patterns and colors wouldn’t be incongruous.

With a standard lighting setup in the studio, using a beauty dish, I also added an extra light to throw light directly towards the camera. I then held up various colored objects right in front of the lens – a colorful translucent plastic flower with colorful petals and leaves worked best. Shooting through an opening between the petals and leaves of the decorative plastic flower, all kinds of interesting random patterns appeared. It was unpredictable, and that is what made the effect interesting in part – you wouldn’t quite know what you’re going to get.

If this effect appeals to you, it would make sense to collect all kinds of objects to try out – glass elements and prisms work well too. Anything that will create a pleasant visual surprise.

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available light portraits – composition and light

Over time I noticed that my style in photographing portraits have gravitated to a specific look where everything is quite simplified – the lighting, the background and the framing of the shot. Whether I use the available light, or video light, or off-camera flash, or even on-camera bounce flash, there’s a certain uncomplicated look. I’d like to think of it as elegant unfussy simplicity.

Analyzing this, it is easy to see there’s a specific method here. It’s a method which helps especially when under pressure. Here, even allowing extra time for the crazy peak-time traffic here in New Jersey, I was still running late for the photo session with Christy. When I arrived, falling back into a familiar rhythm of shooting portraits, allowed me to get images that work, very quickly.

The essential idea is that the light has to be good, and the background has to be complimentary. Then it is a matter of posing our subject, and composing the frame. Invariably then, the starting point is finding that intersect between good light and a good background. And if  you don’t have great available light, then you need to create it with additional lighting.

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paying for Facebook likes

February 10, 2014

consider carefully before paying for Facebook likes

If you have paid for FB likes for your page, then you have to, absolutely have to watch this video clip. Watch it to the end and let it sink in. Yes, we’ve all been had.

If you have a Facebook page for your business, then you may have been tempted to pay for Facebook likes. There is then the immediate obstacle in that Facebook wants you to pay again to get to that exact same audience that you paid to accumulate. This has been a topic that has been hotly discussed on various forums. It even got a mention on the Tangents blog a year ago – Facebook’s diminishing value for page owners. There are regular articles that hit the news about this and similar topics, for example: Warning: If You Have A Facebook Fan Page, Read This

Of course, Facebook tries to spin what they are doing – trying to sweet-talk this as them giving you what you really want – e.g., an article on Mashable: FB news feed – high quality content. I don’t fall for this line of explanation, because the reason I follow certain pages on Facebook such as a favorite band, is that I want to hear more about them. But now FB is squeezing them to pay for their audience to see their posts. It’s an disingenuous game that everyone is wise to.

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wedding photography – posing and sequencing the family groups

The fourth video tutorial in conjunction with Craftsy, is an interesting one – photographing the family groups at weddings. This is one area where newer photographers have difficulty in finding traction. Suddenly under pressure and with dozens of people pulling in different directions, it is easy to come apart. With this video tutorial, we’ll cover ways of sequencing and posing the family groups.

With numerous useful tips, I cover this topic and explain how I keep everything on track during this part of the wedding day. We’ll cover the topic thoroughly, working from a diagram layout of the family groups, all the way to lighting and posing.

The links here have a $10 discount for readers of the Tangents blog.

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step-by-step guide to using a flash meter with manual flash & ambient light

A question posted on the Tangents forum was on the topic of exactly how to use a light meter to get to correct settings for manual flash. This article covers that first tentative step in what exactly you should do with this brand-new light-meter in your hand. It will help you cope with that initial “what now?” moment.

How exactly would you have used the flash meter (with the strobe in manual mode) to arrive at the correct settings to illuminate the model properly without changing your in-camera settings? Values entered into the flash meter?

It is much easier than you think, so let’s take it step-by-step:

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my book on off-camera flash photography is available again!

So here’s a crazy thing – it appears my book on Off-Camera Flash Photography, went out of print temporarily. And I suspect some retailers on Amazon have automatic price adjustment when an item goes out of print, but there’s still demand for it.

So for a few months now, some retailers via Amazon, had my book listed for anywhere up to $999.00 … yup, a thousand dollars. Now, I think the info in there is priceless, but even then, a thousand bucks seemed a little excessive. Anyway, the book is now available again at normal prices, as are my other books.

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Brian Friedman is an event and publicity photographer based in NYC. When I first became acquainted with Brian and his work, my reaction was, “damn! I wish I could shoot this type of work.” Looking at his website, you’ll see the kind of gigs that Brian shoots – interesting and diverse. Quite exciting.

Good news then for those attending WPPI 2014, Brian Friedman is presenting a class called, Shooting Stars: A Guide to Landing Your Dream Client In Any Area Of Photography. Yup, exactly that. I won’t be at WPPI this year, but this is one class I would definitely have signed up for.

So there’s good news for those of us who won’t be attending WPPI this year – Brian was gracious enough to describe the behind-the-scenes activity of a recent photo session: “Kitten Bowl 2014”

anatomy of a “simple” photo session for a client

a guest post by Brian Friedman,
New York portrait and event photographer

The assignment. Take a portrait of the gorgeous Beth Ostrosky, as well as some “action shots” of kittens. Kittens just “being kittens” and playing. Football that is. Say What!?

And so it is bestowed upon me by my client to do so – and not in a photo studio. I had to create my own studio in a common room of a sound stage. Okay then. It’s time to get to work. Here’s what I did for “Kitten Bowl 2014” gallery shoot which will be broadcast during the Super Bowl half-time show on Sunday, February 2, 2014.

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boudoir photography and the 50mm lens

With shooting space often times so tight for boudoir photo sessions, there is the temptation to use a 50mm lens for tighter headshots on a full-frame D-SLR. Instead of stepping back a bit and using an 85mm lens or longer, a bit of visual laziness comes into play, and we rely on the 50mm lens too much. It really is too short a focal length for a tight portrait. I think many photographers are even too in love with their 50mm lenses, and use it without thought of how this would distort someone’s face when used too close to their subjects.

I totally understand the need for compromise. Quite often the angle we need to shoot from, dictates a shorter-than-ideal focal length – whether because of the shape of the room, or the direction of the light. This still doesn’t make the 50mm a good lens to shoot tight portraits with. A longer focal length would still give you more flattering results.

The example photographs in this article are by Petra Hermann, Kansas City boudoir photographer.
(Also check out Petra’s workshops on boudoir photography.)

She used a 50mm lens for these images, but kept to half-length as the closest distance to photograph her subject. The 50mm really is more of an environmental portrait type lens, rather than a tight portrait lens.

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The Tangents blog has seen numerous iterations over the past 10 years that I’ve maintained it. Originally it was PlanetNeil, which was based on an HTML template. Right now, my website consists of various WordPress installations, spread over two domain names. It’s huge! And it is a massive under-taking to maintain and constantly improve it. For the past few years, my web techie guy, has been Griffin Stewart who has been invaluable in working with me on improving and expanding this site. Learn more about Griffin at the end of this post here.

I specifically mentioned that this website is based on the WordPress platform. It is a powerful platform, and one which is easy to use, yet endlessly adaptable. I would strongly recommend to anyone to use WordPress if they are looking to improve their website. There are also numerous WordPress plug-ins that make life easier for anyone who maintains a website …

 

5 Free WordPress Plugins to help maintain your blog

a guest post by Griffin Stewart

Thanks to Neil for inviting me to guest post.  I have enjoyed working with Neil since 2011 to help design, update, organize, consolidate, and tweak his various sites and I hope that you, his readers, have enjoyed and liked the front-end changes and back-end improvements we have implemented in that time.

Today I would like to share with you some helpful and free plugins that you can use to help you maintain, clean up, and customize your WordPress website or blog.

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