Useful Photography Tip

Paige Owen Headhots 2016 by Chris Gampat (21 of 32)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.5

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“That feels really weird.” said Paige to me this past weekend as I was doing headshots for her. She was referring to a tactic I told her to do in order to make her face look less puffy in a portrait. Besides using an 85mm lens to compress the scene, Peter Hurley will tell you that a good tactic is to stick the chin out a bit. For the most part, that works very well: but an even further step can be taken after that.

Try this:

  • Ask your portrait subject to open their mouth and drop their jaw. This will eliminate any immediate puffiness in the face and thin it out.
  • Then ask them to smile with the mouth open and the jaw still dropped.
  • Finally, have them close the mouth just enough so that if they wanted to, their tongue could still go in between the top and bottom front row of teeth. Their mouth can remain open or not.

Combine this with soft, flattering lighting and sticking the chin out and you’ll have a portrait that will look much better.

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If you’re one of those people who is secretly afraid of using a flash and because of that calls yourself a “Natural Light Photographer” you’re going to realize that the simple concept behind using a flash is really, really, incredibly simple.

When lighting novices think about using a flash, they think about it based on the fact that you’re trying to make an image brighter. And so to that end, they raise the ISO, open the aperture and slow down the shutter speed. In reality, that isn’t really what a flash is designed to do or how it’s designed to be properly used in today’s digital photography realm.

Instead: a flash is designed to create light in a scene that isn’t there to begin with. Let that sink into your head. So in the image above, I had the option of backlighting Asta with the lights on the left or just raising the ISO and adjusting the settings to get a good enough exposure that would be pleasing. I could have also just moved her towards the light. However, what I did was had those lights blend into the scene and also add my own light source. The results? Well, they’re after the jump.

The point: that the lighting that you’ll see on Asta after the jump couldn’t have been created without adding in my own light source.

So start thinking about using a flash differently.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Roundflash dish review images with Asta extras (5 of 5)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8
Model: Bec Fordyce

Model: Bec Fordyce

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Consider the fact that years ago, all photographers using a flash were encouraged to stop using the little bounce card and wide angle diffuser in favor of something like the Rogue FlashBender series of modifiers. If you’ve been using those or other modifiers, you probably haven’t really thought twice about two things that can really help your flash output control.

One of them is the wide angle diffuser: spreading light over a larger area can make it look softer in certain situations.

The second one is the little bounce card. If often can bounce just enough light into an area to give off a really nice effect. That’s how I created the image above with model Bec Fordyce. The direct flash head was way too powerful even when the power was really turned down. But when the flash output was bounced off of a little card, it created hard shadows that still worked with the overall image and effect.

So don’t ever discount all the tools that you have available to you: and also be sure to keep them in mind accordingly.

Model: Clay Von Carlowitz

Model: Clay Von Carlowitz

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When shooting portraits in natural light there are three different scenarios: in full blown sunlight, in the shade, or a combination of the two. Each lend themselves to different situations and effects, but by far the most reliable for a standard portrait is to shoot in the shade.

The biggest reason: consistent lighting. 

With two types of light, you’re getting a result that you need to meter twice for.

With sunlight, you’re often getting a result where you may create unflattering shadows or have a super crazy difference in metering (which could be okay).

But when shooting in the shade, you get completely even lighting to work with when it comes to the exposures. The lighting also usually comes from the side if you’re working with something like an awning. This can give off a natural softbox effect.

Keep this in mind when shooting portraits!

Model: Bec Fordyce

Model: Bec Fordyce

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Before you go on, I want you to note that I’m purposely using a black and white photo because it simplifies the way things are rendered.

I’ve talked before about to create a sharper portrait in the camera, and this short tutorial is kind of an addition to that. To make your subject truly pop out in an image you need a couple of key components:

  • Effective depth of field (shallow depth of field)
  • Light in the right places (two lights can be enough, and sometimes even one is good)
  • Contrast between colors and shades.

Take the image above: parts of Bec really pop out from the rest of the scene because of the depth of field and the color scheme. The right side shows a lot of separation due to the contrast but the left and the top ould surely use more.

So how could I have fixed the image? By adding a flash behind and to the left of Bec. These are sometimes called hairlights and they provide a nice rim lighting effect. In a situation like the one above, it would’ve been enough to make her pop out more because again, it would have created more contrast.

Part of this has to do with color theory: if your subject is wearing red and they’re against a red background, then they’re not going to contrast much. If they’re against black or white though, they’ll surely stand out a lot more.

Don’t think that this is enough information? Give it a once over and then apply it to your photography. It really is that simple.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer MyMiggo camera strap large review images (7 of 9)ISO 4001-1000 sec at f - 2.8

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Here in the US, professional photographers are getting ready to pay their taxes. One of the biggest things that you learn as a business owner though has to do with paying what are called quarterly estimates. This means that you pay taxes each quarter of the year in smaller bits rather than one large bit once a year. At the end of each year, you submit your expenses and income and readjust what you pay each quarter.

It works much better than paying once a year and also means that you discipline yourself much better on top of managing your monthly budget on a different level. Of course, there are also sales taxes and other things involved. The added benefit is that since you’re budgeting yourself in a different way then you’re also not spending excess money that you possibly may not have if you just pay once a year.

Additionally, you also end up paying taxes in a different way than regular employees do. For example, you can write off a certain percentage of business meals, marketing promotions, travel, office expenses, bills, etc. because they’re all seen as costs for your business. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should splurge; but instead be honest about everything.

There are many benefits to photographers paying their taxes quarterly; and if you’re just getting started be sure to talk to your tax consultant about it.

 

Image-1

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The above photo is not an emboss or done with any sort of special filter in Photoshop. Instead, it was all done manually by hand and with Adobe Photoshop Sketch on the iPad Air 2. It’s an image from my Sony a7s Mk II review and was rendered into a black and white simply because I liked the look of it.

What a lot of people don’t realize about photography is that the best still you’ll ever have is your ability to see light and judge it to help you create a better exposure. Black and white photography can help with that but so can literally taking a stylus and sketching over a photo of yours. By doing this, you’re matching specific colors to certain areas and learning more about the way that shadows and lighting works. With this photo, I was able to better understand how the image came to work–because of the lighting coming from the windows hitting Evelyn from one side being blown out and the shadows working to help create a pleasing scene.

By doing this, I was able to clearly differentiate how lines worked in the scene, how shadows worked, and the simplicity behind the entire photo. It’s what many black and white photographers talk about often: colors can be complicated to work with unless done really well.

Though it isn’t specifically involving you shooting an image, it’s still an exercise that will help you to carefully judge lines, lighting, shadows, etc if you pay attention to the parts of the scene that you’re painting over.

Give it a shot.

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 8.37.48 PM

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If you’ve ever tried creating a black and white image in Adobe Lightroom, most of the advanced photographers know that you should start by converting the image using the Black and White Treatment option. But the problem here is that sometimes you don’t really get just pure black and white photos. Instead, what you’ll get is a mix of some sepias or other tones that oddly look something like Kodak Tri-X or Kodak BW400 CN.

To create images in pure black and white that instead look something like Ilford Delta 400 or Delta 100, the process is fairly simple.

  • In the basic adjustment panel, move the black levels to the left a specific number. Then adjust the exposure of the image to be basically what you want.
  • Move the white levels to the right the inverse number. So if your blacks are -38, move the white to +38.
  • Scroll down to the color channels and you’ll see options called Black and White mix with specific color regions and channels.
  • Click the color selection tool and move the mouse pointer over areas of the image that aren’t quite either black or white. Then click and raise or lower their exposure levels.
  • After this, come back to the basic adjustment panel, lower your contrast and adjust your exposure.

That’s it! That’s how you create more pure black and white photos using Adobe Lightroom and all in less than a couple of minutes.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica M9 at Bryant Park (10 of 27)

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For many readers of the Phoblographer, you’re probably celebrating the Christmas holiday today. And today should be not only a day that you spend with those you love and care about the most, but also one that makes you remember to not only take photographs, but make them. Beyond just making the photographs, make them special.

In today’s mostly digital-centric photography world, we take photos, post them online and forget about them. But truth be told, that wasn’t photography was designed for. Photography was designed to capture a moment that will last forever. To that end, the way that we have to remember the images that we take these days is to physically surround ourselves with them. Shoot a photo and then print it. But don’t just print any and every photo, print the ones that mean something to you and that tug at your heart.

Though it may not physically last forever, it’s bound to always make you remember that very precious moment in your life.

Happy holidays to everyone.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Direct flash Macro tutorial (3 of 3)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 2.8

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One of the best ways to get even illumination in a macro photo is to use a flash. But you don’t need to use a giant ring flash. At the same time, ring flash attachments for hot shoe flashes tend to cut down on the amount of light that comes out–which forces the flash to work harder than it really has to.

Instead, just simply set the zoom head of the flash to the longest focal length, set the lens to the macro focusing range, and shoot. In the case that you’ve got a TTL flash, this is very straight forward if you also have radio triggers. Otherwise, you’ll need to set the flash manually–which really isn’t such a big deal and allows you to have even more control in an even more straightforward way.

This method can make the output from an older lens like the Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro lens look really great. And as far as flashes go, there are loads of affordable flashes and triggers from Yongnuo, but in the image above I’m using the Phottix Laso with a Canon 580 EX II. Sample photo is after the jump.

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