Useful Photography Tip #171: Placing Off-Camera Flash to Make it Look Natural

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Shanny EX600 EF flash samples portraits (4 of 4)ISO 2001-250 sec at f - 3.2

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

Think about this really quick: when you go into a room, where does light typically come from. Most people really prefer the look of lamp lighting. But the truth is that most light that we see actually comes from above us in some way or another. Think about the sun, or street lamps, or the ceiling in an office. All of these lights are from above.

So one of the ways that you can make flash output or off-camera lighting look more natural is to place the light source above your subject in some way or another. It could be in front and above, to the side and above, etc. This is just how we naturally see light. So when you place a flash in a scene, you typically shouldn’t light a subject from below. Think about placing your light source kind of like adding light to a room or a scene overall. Think about and consider the shape of it too.

This isn’t just how you’ll make the light look more appealing and flattering, but how you’ll also make it just look and seem more natural–by placing the center of the source above a person you’re photographing.

Useful Photography Tip #170: When Shooting Portraits, Raise the Chin

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master lens portraits Megean (3 of 5)ISO 1001-2500 sec at f - 1.4

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

One of the biggest problems that everyone faces in portraiture is making chins look good. Peter Hurley and other photographers tell you to direct portrait subjects to push their neck out just a bit. That works all the time, but another trick that also works well is making sure that the positioning of the chin is at the right elevation to begin with. This trick is a bit more complicated and requires you to “see light” so to speak.

Bringing the chin down more towards the chest squishes the area below it and therefore also makes a person look less flattering. Always have the subject bring their chins up just a bit. But to avoid having the scene look like they’ve got their nose in the air, have them stick their neck out a tad and place their face slightly off to the left or right.

Generally, I suggest that everyone faces the main light source in your scene if you’re working with off-camera lighting.

 

Useful Photography Tip #169: Creating the Out of Focus Effect in Lightroom

One layer

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

In situations where you want to get a bokeh like effect to a significantly weaker degree than what an actual lens will give you, you can rely on the adjustment brush in Lightroom. To do this, all you need to do is create a custom brush setting with the sharpness and clarity all the way down. Then you brush it onto the areas that you want out of focus.

To make it even stronger, click on done and then add another layer.

Big warning though: this doesn’t work with every photo, but it can work a lot of the time.

More image samples are after the jump.

Continue reading…

Useful Photography Tip #168: Pitching Various Publications to Feature Your Portfolio

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Asus ux501 laptop (8 of 9)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

So how does a photographer become more famous? As I state many times in my workshop, you often need to put your work out there and pitch yourself to various outlets. When photographers try to pitch themselves they often just do a massive, widespread pitch. Many times, it’s the same pitch over and over again instead of being tailored to specific people. This honestly makes no sense.

Let’s put it this way: would you talk to your boss in the same way that you would talk to the CEO of your company? Or would you talk to your local senator in the same way that you would talk to your President? To get even more in depth, would you talk to a plumber the same way you would a doctor?

Though it isn’t the exact same thing, it shows you that very different people and outlets need to be spoken to in different ways because of rankings and the way that they cover a specific beat. To that end though, I always recommend being respectful and pitching to smaller publications, influencers, and editors first. As you move up the line, you’ll have a number of publications and places under your belt to show off to the larger sites.

Working from the other way down can work, but sometimes doesn’t because it can be tougher for the smaller outlets to compete.

Just a bit of psychology about how to pitch yourself as a photographer.

Useful Photography Tip #167: Have Your Subject Face Your Key Artificial Light Source

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Expoimaging Rogue Flashbender soft silver portraits of Anna (1 of 12)ISO 1601-250 sec at f - 2.8

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

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.

Having your subject face the light source:

  • Makes the light look softer
  • Makes the light more flattering
  • Eliminates shadows on their face and sometimes body that may otherwise be unflattering
  • Gives them what I like to call the flattering spotlight effect.

When they’re facing the light source and the light source is shining directly down onto them, they’re illuminated to a certain point where they’re clearly made to be the main point of the photo. However, the light source isn’t as harsh as a spotlight, so it’s naturally more flattering.

As an extra tip: place the modifier so that the actual source of light is slightly above eye-level of the subject.

Also note: It doesn’t need to be direct; the light source can be slightly off to the left or right too.

Useful Photography Tip #166: Keep Colors in a Portrait Very Simple

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer 85mm f1.4 G Master review portrait samples Fernando (2 of 3)ISO 1001-40 sec at f - 4.0

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 tones. But more or less, try to keep the scene to three primary colors.

To do this, what I generally say is look at the color scale: ROYGBIV. In the photo above:

  • Fernando’s skin is correlated with orange/red undertones
  • Green background with some white
  • Blue tones in his clothing.

See how each of those tones are different? An image that sticks to the BIV or the ROY can sometimes be tough to make a subject really stand out unless you’ve got very effective lighting. Now, to be fair, we see all this just fine, but cameras don’t necessarily do. Adjusting the HSL of the color tones individually can also help. Saturation can really help in the same ways that it did during the film days.

Useful Photography Tip #165: How to Make a Thick Chin Look More Flattering

Yes, that's me.

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

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*.

The beard often helps with the look of what I’m calling a thick chin/neck. It’s something lots of folks are conscious about and sometimes don’t want to be portrayed in a not flattering way. Peter Hurley tells us to stick the chin out a bit. Indeed it works–to a certain point.

The way that you can take this further is to also position yourself at either eye level or a bit above your portrait subject’s eye level. On top of that (no pun intended) tell them that after sticking their chin out a bit, to also bring the chin down just a bit by bringing down the entire head. Don’t just tilt the head–quite literally shift it down a tad. Imagine a turtle sticking its head out of its shell and then bringing its head down a bit.

Additionally, also try not to lower your jaw any bit because it can create more of a look that blends your jaw right into your neck.

Give it a try! You’ll end up with more flattering photos.

Useful Photography Tip #164: 5 Tips for Better Photos of FireWorks Using Your Phone

2639830050_c30dc58853_b

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here. Image by Andy Karmy.

For everyone here in America, Happy July 4th! But if you’re not reading this on the 4th, then consider these quick tips on taking better photos of fireworks with your mobile phone.

  • Use a manual settings app: Use an app that lets you set at least the focus manually. This way your phone isn’t searching in the darkness for the fireworks to appear. You can also use said app to adjust settings like shutter speed, locking ISO, etc. Go for long shutter speeds and a lower ISO setting. In general, underexpose just a bit.
  • Stabilize your phone: I’m not expecting everyone to use a tripod with their phone so instead just remember to tuck your elbows in when you shoot. This will keep the cameraphone much more stable. Also be sure to hold it with both hands.
  • Use the burst shot ability: Using burst helps a whole ton when it comes to getting the exact photo you care about a lot.
  • Scope Out and Claim a Spot: By ensuring that you get a good spot to watch the fireworks, you don’t have to worry about issues like people getting in the way of your images. Of course, that is if you’re super serious. This tip especially goes out to those of us (like me) who are vertically challenged.
  • Turn Your Flash Off: It’s honestly rather useless at that far of a range. That little LED bulb isn’t going to light up the night sky.