using bounce flash vs. available light vs. using the videographer’s light

The expressive trumpet player in the band at a wedding – a simple portrait of this musician, sweetened with some bounce flash. The light on his face, is by now perhaps predictably, on-camera bounce flash with the black foamie thing.  Looking at the light pattern on his face, you’ll see there was no direct flash of any kind.

camera settings:  1/60 @ f2.8 @ 2000 ISO // TTL flash
Nikon D3; Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR II (Amazon);   Nikon SB-910 Speedlight (Amazon)

In comparison, here are a few other images.  One with no flash, so we can see the effect of the bounce flash.  Another image with just available light; and another image where I was able to use the light from the videographer’s camera

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studio photography: never shoot at 320 ISO @ f/5.6 against white seamless

…  because Amazon’s patent on how to shoot against a white background, 
(with camera settings given as “about 320 ISO” and “about f/5.6″ ) 
has been granted to them by the US Patents office

Yes, I know, this makes no sense. One of the oldest studio photography techniques – shooting against a white backdrop – has been patented by Amazon. 

Udi Tirosh at DIY photo reported on this.

So I guess the easiest way to circumvent this, (aside from easily proving prior use), would be to shoot at … let’s say 100 ISO @ f/8 in the studio?

Oh, perhaps not:

“It should be noted that angles, dimensions, distances, settings, parameters, and other numerical data may or may not be expressed herein in a range format. It is to be understood that the numerical data is presented herein and used for convenience and brevity, and thus, should be interpreted in a flexible manner to include not only the numerical values explicitly recited as the only workable parameters, but also to include all the individual numerical values that can be employed in a studio arrangement 100 to achieve the desired effect discussed herein.”

 

I wonder if this will all fall apart when the first photographer sued by Amazon simply shows prior use?

What is your take on this ridiculousness?

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promotion: Ed Verosky’s online tutorials and e-books

Ed Verosky’s series of ebooks have proven to be very popular, and he has a few new e-books available, including Successful Photo Shoots (only $10 for a limited time).  This 90 page ebook is loaded with examples from 4 different shoots. The posing direction dialog and general lighting info is part of the material that is covered with this book.

Several of Ed’s eBooks come with online bonus videos and instruction covering everything from photography fundamentals, to working with flash, studio portraiture, boudoir, and growing creatively as a photographer.

You can get Ed’s Entire eBook Library (9 eBooks) and all online bonus content for one low price!

 

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photography: posing tips – the leaning pose

Even when you’re photographing a bride as graceful as Patricia, there’s still a need to adjust and guide the pose. I liked the roughness and color of this gate, and I also knew the background would be an out-of-focus mush behind her.

When you ask someone to lean against something, they tend to fall back onto the wall or object, with both shoulders and their back flat agains the surface.

My starting point with this pose, is that I show what I want. Remember, people don’t usually know what you’re after, and they most definitely don’t know the composition you’re getting. So I like to get in there and physically show the pose. (And yes, she did laugh at me doing that.)

Then it’s series of gentle verbal nudgings to where the photograph will look good:
- roll against your (left) shoulder towards me,
- separate your (right) shoulder away from the wall,
- lean a tiny bit towards me,
- pop your knee out,
- use your hand to shape your body / leg / arm.
- drop your chin / lift your chin.

And with that, I’ve finessed the leaning pose that I showed to my subject.

With the leaning pose, those are my general instructions, and it usually gets us to where the photograph will look good! I don’t rigidly pose, but use a few verbal instructions to finesse the pose. In that sense, the way that I pose someone is fairly “loose”, and helps keep the momentum of the photo session going, because we don’t get stuck in the minutiae of every limb’s every position. We get to a point where “yes, this looks great!”, and then we move forward to the next place. The momentum is also important.

(This photo is from Patricia and Erwin’s wedding, where I was the 2nd photographer for JC Carley.)

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photographers, what have YOU done today to advance your business?

How serious are you about succeeding as a photographer in your business, whether part-time or full-time? I know, I know, we are all serious about photography. After all, we all have a passion for photography. So there’s that. But really, how serious are you, and what are you doing to advance your photography career?

A while back I did a presentation to a group of photographers, and as usual, there are distractions that you as the presenter have to overcome and work against. Distractions can be as crazy as competing on the floor of a photo trade-show and trying to get and keep people’s attention. But for a presenter, there are always some kind of distraction that you have to overcome and keep the audience engaged. This evening though, there were people playing pool in the background at this venue. Not noisy or disrespectful or obnoxious at all, but I had to wonder why they were there – the photography group invites various photographers to speak there once a month, and you’d think that regardless of the topic, everyone would be attentive.

My presentation about photographic lighting on location, deviated momentarily towards a more immediate topic – competition in the photography industry.

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The Business of Boudoir

Petra Hermann, (who you might remember from the guest article, increase your sales in boudoir photo sessions), and Lynn Clark, (who you might remember as the subject of photo homage: a regal portrait with a ferret), have teamed up for a new website dedicated to one topic – The Business of Boudoir.

The Business of Boudoir, is a free resource for boudoir photographers worldwide who share an interest in the beauty and art of this genre  - but with a specific intent: building and maintaining sustainable businesses. Their scope is broad enough that they want as many perspectives as possible, to allow you, the boudoir photographer, to create a business that works for you. So check them out.

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NJ headshots photography

headshot photo-session: what makes for a good headshot?

A few out-takes mixed with a few keepers from this headshot photo session, and it helps illustrate some of the process of getting to a good headshot.

The lighting is key. Posing is important. But there’s another aspect that makes a great headshot – your subject’s personality needs to come shining through. So, yes, it is in the lighting. It is in the posing. It’s in the expression … but a very important key is the personality of the photographer – how to make your subject feel relaxed. How to make the photography not feel like an intrusion.

For most people, being photographed is a fairly vulnerable thing – we don’t want to appear foolish or unpresentable to the wider world. Although you could make a valid argument against that idea, with the bad snapshots that people post of themselves on social media. So there is that. Still, I’d say it is quite a vulnerable thing to do – to be photographed. And it is up to you as the photographer to make someone feel relaxed in front of the camera.

The key here – your personality. It starts with a warm handshake and a friendly smile. That handshake is important. Not limp, but firm. Go so far as to ask friends to honestly give you their opinion – a brutally truthful opinion about your handshake. Your body language needs to be confident.

By now your skills in basic lighting should be such that you don’t stress about that, but can concentrate on getting the best out of your subject. It’s up to you.

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review: Nikon D4S – auto-focus / AF performance

The Nikon D4s (vendor) updates the already-awesome Nikon D4. The short summary lists some improvements, which while they may appear incremental, overall make for a solid new release by Nikon:
- a newly designed sensor, offering better high-ISO performance,
- an additional AF mode has been added – Group Area AF – for more accurate subject tracking,
- 11 fps continuous shooting with continuous AE/AF (compared to the 10 fps of the D4)
- ‘small’ Raw size of 8 Mpx,
- 1080/60p video
- faster processing with the new Expeed 4 processor
- improved battery performance,
- Multi-CAM 3500FX Autofocus Sensor Module with “thoroughly recalibrated AF algorithms”

For this review, I want to highlight the auto-focus performance. AF speed and accuracy is in a way subjective. There’s no numerical value we can attach to it that will tell us in discrete steps how much better the “thoroughly recalibrated AF algorithms” with the new AF sensor module will improve on the D4 camera.

My friend Yasmeen Anderson specializes as a fitness portrait photographer in NJ, and I asked if I could tag along on some of her shoots. With this photo session of actor / model Joe Monbleau, we shot in a colorful urban area in NJ. Joe tirelessly sprinted and bounced and jumped for numerous sequences. Enough time for me to fire off the D4S and see how it perform in grabbing crisply sharp images of someone moving fast.

And yes, I am very impressed. The Nikon D4S is noticeably more responsive with auto-focus on moving subjects. I’ll blame those “thoroughly recalibrated AF algorithms” in the new AF sensor.

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my hard drive has died – what should I do?

“What do I do right now!? I don’t know what to do!”

These were the sounds the angry woman next to me at the Apple Store counter made, while crying about her hard disc that had died.

“But it was fine this morning!” *sob sob sniff*

My sympathy was with the blue-shirted geniuses who had to take her anger with a calmness that I would’ve have been able to muster. My sympathy for her? Well, I just thought to myself, “now there is someone who doesn’t understand the concept of single point of failure.”

Back your data up, all the time. Constantly. Back it up to different devices and the cloud. A hard drive crashing should be no more than a minor annoyance. So if you’re running this risk of not having your data backed up, DO IT NOW. And get a system into place. Now. I mean, NOW!

If you don’t know how, ask someone. The tools and software aren’t expensive or difficult to implement. But if you need help, ask. In other words, if you lose data on your hard drive, you have no excuse.

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infra-red black & white photography – urban landscapes

Funny how personal projects often work – there’s the initial enthusiasm, and then life and work takes over. Last year I bought a used Canon 5D mark II that had been converted to Infra-Red. I did take it out twice for walkabouts in New York – and posted the initial results. But then the work-load added up, and then a particularly harsh winter where it was just too miserable outside to go exploring in the city – and I never took it out again, until now. With the weather improving now and the sun shining, it was just a good time to go out and shoot for fun again. 

A photographer friend, Amanda Stevens, joined me with her Fuji X20 that had been converted to deep Infra-Red … and we went exploring in Manhattan. One trick that Amanda showed me that  should’ve been so obvious to me from the start – since you can’t really meter for infra-red, it made sense to view the scene via Live-View, and then adjust the camera settings until it looked good on the back of the screen. So obvious, and yet, I still worked within the old-school mindset of looking through the viewfinder, and trying to read the scene.

The image at the top was taken at Columbus Circle, NYC – the bit of green shrubbery started to turn white where the sun hit it. The sun behind the globe also gave a glow to the image.
Canon 5D mark II (converted for IR);  Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II (vendor)
1/50  @  f/16  @  1600 ISO

Here are some of the other images that also worked particularly well:

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