All articles by Chris Gampat
Contrast: How to Get The Most Out of Your Portrait Lens
Portrait lenses are available in all sorts of different focal lengths, prices and types. They’re the bread and butter of many of us as photographers, and they can help us put our creative vision forward onto pixels and film. These lenses, like all other modern lenses, are capable of doing awesome things overall. In fact,
This post is a note on some of the big changes that are coming to the Phoblographer, but even more importantly to La Noir Image. To refresh, La Noir Image is our black and white photography website that we’ve had on the side for around a year now. We did a Kickstarter to turn it into a magazine for tablets and phones, failed, and we’ve been at work doing revamps to the website since.
You’ve got one week left–We’re teaming up with Tamron to giveaway a Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC USD lens in Canon, Nikon or Sony DSLR mounts. In case you didn’t know, it’s a winner of our Editor’s Choice award.
For a number of years now, Really Nice Images has been working on creating loads of very film-like presets through use of science. These photo filters/emulsions/presets culminate in their latest offering: RNI Films 4.0 All Films. The emulsions are designed for use with different cameras and have things including camera profiles in addition to some of the more recently popular emulsions such as Fujifilm Natura 1600. That means that you can apply these emulsions to your digital photos in Lightroom or even Photoshop.
So far, we’ve covered how to light portraits with an umbrella, an octabank and a softbox–today we’re focusing on the beauty dish. Beauty dishes were used mostly by fashion and portrait photographers for a while and for the most part they still are. They’re designed to give a very specific soft look that is directional and uses light in an inefficient way. The look has been characterized as being like a softbox and an umbrella at the same time. That’s part of the beauty of a beauty dish–pun totally intended. There are lots that are available about there, and you can easily hack them to do what you want too.
One of the biggest mysteries that any photographer that wants to go pro and semi-pro is what to charge for their portraiture services. It’s pretty tough and a lot of it is usually figured out by the company we keep. Many photographers will sit around asking their friends, parents, peers, colleagues, etc what to charge. But that’s one of the worst things to do because you’re probably not going to be targeting or trying to get money out of these people!
Hey strobist photographers: if you’re shooting a portrait of someone, the best thing that I’ve learned over the years is to actually make them face your artificial key light source. Of course, you wouldn’t do this with a natural one light the sun–but you can surely create more flattering portraits with a strobe or flash in a light modifier like a softbox, umbrella, etc.
“This project was born from my desire to reflect the beauty and coldness of the current Hollywood royalty. says photographer Jvdas Berra. “I wanted to tell the story of a rich and powerful lady but lonely and desperate, surrounded by luxury and beauty, but sad and longing for adventure and love.” Jvdas often creates cool fantasy/fine art fashion work like this–and this project is a simple ode to that really interesting legend.
As my portraiture has evolved over the years, the mainstay of my kit remains to be large umbrellas. The light modifiers are incredibly versatile, give off a beautiful look, and are very portable in addition to being useful for creative applications. Umbrellas are so versatile that they’re used be a variety of photographers: fashion, wedding, studio portrait, food, etc. After softboxes, they’re probably the ones with the most versatility and popularity overall.
When you look at the landscape of portrait lenses available for the full frame Sony E mount, you’ll see that they’re growing at a high rate–and the Venus Optics Laowa 105mm f2 lens is only one of those options. This lens is very special due to the design incorporating an apodization element to produce images that the company claims will give you “smooth and creamy bokeh while maintaining excellent sharpness at the focal plane.” To that end, it loses some light gathering abilities and has a T rating of T3.2–meaning that the photographer loses more than a full stop of light.
These days, I’m generally not the type of photographer that shoots with a flash in the hot shoe of a camera–and in some ways it seems like the ExpoImaging Rogue Flash Bender XL Pro in Soft Silver wasn’t really designed for this. Photographers have loved the Flash Benders for a very long time due to how they bend light. They’re a staple for wedding and event photographers, but when the Extra Large came, out, they started to break more into the off-camera flash realm.
Sony’s 50mm f1.8 for the full frame E mount cameras is one of the lenses that photographers waited for for a while. When it was launched, it made everyone ecstatic. The system finally had its nifty 50 and would make loads of photographers very happy. As the first lens full frame 50mm lens designed for mirrorless cameras with autofocus, it’s bound to be exciting.
Hey folks, Just a reminder–We’re teaming up with Tamron to giveaway a Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC USD lens in Canon, Nikon or Sony DSLR mounts. In case you didn’t know, it’s a winner of our Editor’s Choice award.
I’ve been very quiet since the Kickstarter for La Noir Image failed, but as I stated in our last update a while ago, that wasn’t the end. To refresh, La Noir Image is out black and white photography publication–which is also currently under reconstruction.
Photographer Nathan Hostetter usually works with natural lighting and tries to emulate some sort of film look to his images. His photos can be characterized as having some sort of elegance to them while also finding a way to show off the humanity in his subjects. So when Nathan showed us a few of his portraits, we were quite impressed with one he shot of Naomi.
Today, Nikon is unveiling a load of new lenses for their APS-C DSLR cameras and the new Nikon D3400 DSLR camera. This camera is equipped with Bluetooth connectivity that lets it connect to the Nikon SnapBridge app.
Octabanks are one of the more recent light modifiers to hit the scene. They’re an interesting and odd combination of an umbrella, softbox and beauty dish. Most popular amongst fashion photographers, they’ve been growing in popularity with many other types of shooters.
“Some people feel inspired by pretty looking people, and I get inspired by people who makes me feel things with the music they created.” says Photographer Ebru Yildiz. Ebru is an New York based music and portrait photographer whose clients include The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR and Pitchfork. He’s been doing this for quite a while and is one of the many photographers shooting musicians quite literally living the dream.
The softbox is perhaps the most common and spoken of light modifier for portraiture and in general with photographers. They’re called softboxes because of their ability to take otherwise harsh lighting and make it look softer overall. This softer light references the quality of the shadows–the more opaque the light is the harder it is in general. This quality of light is highly valued in the photography community because of the very appealing look that it can deliver in the right situation.
We’re teaming up with Tamron to give away a Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC USD in our most recent portrait photography contest. Enter now!
It’s always important that every photographer working for taxable income also does lots of personal work–as is the case with many getting new gigs from their creative side work. “In 2009, I quite accidentally shot my first fashion campaign for designer Olga Gromova, which at the time I worked as a director.” says Ivan Tsupka, a Ukrainian fashion and advertising photographer whose Construction series . “And gradually began to more and more work in the field of fashion photography. In the last two years I my work is mostly fashion photography related.” Part of this is due to his creative art project–which he describes as being very experimental.
While being at odds with itself, the title is the best way to describe Retropan 320 Soft, the film Foma released in 2015. Being an avid film photographer, I was very pleased to introduced Retropan when dropping of some film of for developing. I use Blanco Negro to hand develop my film, and while more expensive than lab processing of film, the owner, Christopher Reid, is one of the unsung heroes, who quietly promotes the film cause. It was his recommendation that lead me to try Retropan, and armed with a couple of rolls, I decided to see just how good the film really was for portrait photography.
When you look at portraiture today’s trends lend themselves to a few looks that really seem to stand out the most amongst all the rest: high contrast and low contrast. In the photography world dominated by looking at images of stuff and things on Instagram, contrast and clarity have become the most important tools to make an image look sharper and punchier–especially considering that it completely removes the ability to pixel peep.
When it comes to underwater portraiture, one of the best photographers out there has to be Ken Kiefer. Ken has loads of experience and like many of us, he also still has a big fascination with comic books and heroes. So the story of how he created the image for today’s Creating the Photograph post surely comes from comics. When seeing an Iron Man costume, he wanted to photograph it underwater–but it wasn’t possible. However, two other costumes were.
Hey folks! We’ve been working really hard for a while now on our Sony Zeiss 50mm f1.4 lens review for full frame E mount cameras. Today, we’re announcing that it’s all done. The lens wins and Editor’s Choice award, but it’s got maybe two issues that may not be cool with. Head on over to
Dating websites and social media sites (more importantly) are places where people will want to look their best. Sometimes it helps to have a professional headshot of you for social media, but those headshots should really tell a little bit about the story of who you are. Environmental portraits do a great job of this, but so do portraits that include extra elements that can keep your subject’s mind busy but still showcase who they are.
The Leica M-D is a crazy idea–seriously, who decides to remove the LCD screen from a camera? It makes no sense, right? Honestly, you’d be amazed at how wrong you are. The Leica M-D is the closest thing that Leica has that fuses both digital and film. Indeed, it’s the true film photographer’s M camera. Scoff all you want at this camera, but after three weeks of time with it and the wonderful 24mm f1.4 Summilux, I genuinely started to understand it. You could indeed call it the Anti-Instagram camera, but I personally see it as one of the most important M cameras that they’ve released since the original M9 and the M Monochrom.
We’ve waited a long time for a brand new Polaroid camera if you’re in the analog market, and just this year the Impossible Project announced the I-1: which is in many ways a world’s first for analog film cameras. With a slightly retro design though in some ways embracing the future, the camera is pretty easy to operate and pretty simple to use if you know how Impossible Project’s film work and if you’re just willing to be a bit more experimental. The Impossible Project I-1 is also pretty fun–which means that it’s bound to start conversations.
Years ago, every photographer used to say that you should never backlight a portrait subject due to the way that lenses render the scene. For a long time, it was very difficult to get any sort of detail on a subject when the sun was behind them. But then things started to change. Lens technology and glass coatings became better and better which delivered more contrast in a scene and brought out more details despite the subject being backlit.
For many years the best places for photographers and models to be able to find each other and collaborate online was Model Mayhem. Craigslist also worked, but we generally don’t speak of it anymore! That’s the new void that FStop.FM is trying to fill right now but by updating it with an interface that lots of us are familiar with: Tinder.
When you finally want to get into studio lighting being involved in your photography, we will always recommend strobes over constant lights. Part of this is because they have something called a flash duration that can affect the way that the scene looks overall. It’s the difference between being able to darken a sky with ease or not.
When it comes to high end fashion photography, one of the first photographers that many think of could easily be Nigel Barker. The well known photographer, who is currently working on a special series called Top Photographer with Nigel Barker, has been shooting for many years and has learned more than any of us could even imagine after his years in the industry.
“A lot of my inspiration for a shoot comes from the actual location.” says Photographer Carl Jeffers–the winner for our Natural Light Portrait mission with EyeEm. “I spend a lot of time exploring and researching my locations, even down to where the light will fall at that specific point in the day.” The 27 year old photographer hails from Preston in the UK. Like many of us, he’s started out by photographing friends and finding ways to make them look great.
Portraiture is something indeed that is very personal to many of us. But so is film. We’ve went through our archives to round up a number of film photographers shooting portraits that you’ll be inspired by.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a slew of companies claiming a be all end all digital solution to mimicking film emulsion through a simple yet effective preset process. While many of these companies essentially slap your images across the face with a practically instafantastic palette riding saturation, fade and clarity like bucking broncos, others take the time to take a subtle approach, leaving the tuning up to you.
As a photographer, designer, or artist, you know that Instagram can be a powerful tool for getting your work out there. But curating your feed to attract new followers can be hard work. It’s all too easy to find yourself with an Instagram full of selfies and endless photos of your cat. How do you maintain that personal vibe while also successfully using your feed to show off your creative work?
Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here. One of the best things that you can do to make your portrait subject stand out more in a scene is to use color coordination. Backgrounds can always be some sort of stagnant-ish color, but then focus on the wardrobe and make it work accordingly with the person’s skin
Studio lighting is part of an element that can set you apart from many other photographers out there. Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being a “Natural Light Photographer” as long as you really genuinely are one that’s experimented with and understands lighting–including shaping it. The amount of stuff that you can do with a photo when you start to take control of elements like adding your own lighting and creating your own scenes opens yourself to more potential with what’s possible.
Portraiture is a process–and in today’s digital photography world it’s always wonderful to embrace the slower and more methodical process of film photography. Yes, it’s difficult and it’s nowhere as forgiving as digital photography. But that’s what makes you a better photographer.
Every photographer needs to overcome some sort of obstacle in order to grow. Whether you’re a professional trying to make it into an agency that will get you more work or you’re a portrait photographer that wants more followers on Instagram, you’ve got to figure out a way to overcome these roadblocks. We talked to eight different fashion photographers about how they went about overcoming some of these obstacles and what they were.
Hey folks, On August 21st, we’re doing a Photo Walk in Coney Island with the NYC Street Photographer Collective. This is going to be a special one limited to 25 people. This photo walk is going to be objective based and is designed to give photographers intent when they go out to shoot–which will also help
At this point in the game, if you’ve been trying to figure out which TTL monolight to purchase, then the Adorama Flashpoint Xplor600 monolight isn’t exactly going to make life any easier. In a photography world with options from Profoto, Interfit, and Phottix you’re already quite confused about what to go with. But now you’ve got a very affordable option. The Flashpoint Xplor600 is based off of the Godox system and even uses their transmitters. It’s capable of deliver TTL flash output for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras. Additionally, it can do things like high speed sync, stroboscopic modes, and offer almost full control over the monolight from the user’s remote.
“Women are often over-sexualized under the notion of art.” says photographer Liam Warton about his views on portraiture. “Shot in strips of beautiful light and shade on grainy black and white film. Their bodies are consciously bent and curved, lead onto display to indulge a particular crowd.” Liam describes the way that many women are portrayed is being vulnerable, weak and naked. To him, they don’t really seem to own their own bodies. To that end, he compared it to the way that men are portrayed and their own stereotypes.
At times, some of the best portraits of people are ones that seem candid. The reason for this is pretty simple once you understand how portraiture looks. When you capture a candid moment, you’re capturing something that’s organic and real. A person isn’t faking or forcing themselves to do something. But typically when you pose someone and try to get some sort of expression or reaction, it isn’t organic unless the person is an actor/actress. That is psychology at work in portraiture–and once you understand it you can find a way to make it work with more traditional, proper setups.
“I also would recommend that photographers take the time to have their own portrait taken by another professional photographer!” says photographer Jeff Rojas. “If you haven’t been under studio lights and being told how to pose, I would recommend trying it, it’s enlightening.” Jeff is the author behind a book called Photographing Men and recently published a book called Photographing Women–essentially on the fundamentals of things like fashion and boudoir.
There have been many rumors going around about Fujifilm discontinuing loads of multi-pack films very quietly since the company announced another discontinuation last week. Yes, it’s indeed true–but not so in the United States.
Hello Dasha, thanks for submitting your work! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, and thanks for your interest to my photography! I’m a conceptual photographer from St. Petersburg, Russia, currently based in Helsinki, Finland. I’m self-taught, mostly. I use photography for expressing myself. I’m not documenting reality, I’m documenting myself and my imagination in my photos.
I’ve got a major problem that I’m very self-conscious about: my chin. Sure, body positivity is a thing–except if you’re a business owner that has to look fleek most of the time is super young and is often known for being stylish *cough* *me*.
Today, BenQ is announcing their new PV270 monitor aimed at photo and video editors. To that end, they’re claiming consistently accurate color in the monitor that they’re also stating covers 99% Adobe RGB, 100% Rec. 709 and a 96% DCI-P3 colour gamut with IPS Technology.
While many manual focus lenses obviously lack AF mechanisms, they surely make up for it with cool features like fast apertures–and that’s the case with the new Samyang 35mm f1.2 lens. Aimed at APS-C mirrorless camera users, those with Sony E, Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm X series and Canon M cameras will be able to use this new lens. The new Samyang 35mm f1.2 boasts Ultra Multi Coating, two aspherical lenses as part of nine glass elements in seven groups. These are designed to minimize aberration and unnecessary light dispersion. Plus, it’s got a 62mm filter threat–which is fairly large for an APS-C lens based