Useful Photography Tip #163: Creating the Window Light Look Anywhere You Go

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 25mm f2 Batis review sample photos (28 of 29)ISO 4001-200 sec at f - 5.0

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One of the ideas that we teach here often on the site is about how you can augment the look of natural light by putting a flash up against a window. But now it’s time to take that step just a bit further–and all you need is an off-camera flash and a large white/translucent reflector. How large? Figure around 42 inches.

Now it can be used in one of two ways:

  • Bouncing the light from the flash off the large surface to deliver more potent light

or

  • Configuring the reflector to be translucent (shoot-through) and putting the flash on one side of the reflector and your subject on the other side.

Either way, make sure that you set your hot shoe flash head to the widest setting using the wide angle diffuser. When you do this, it’s going to cover the most surface area and when bounced off (or shot through) the reflector, it’s going to give off coverage that’s going to look similar to what a window can do.

Shooting a portrait? Have the reflector to the side of your subject and a little bit above. Shooting food? Well have the reflector to the side and way above.

Go give it a shot and as always, have fun shooting!

 

 

Useful Photography Tip #162: The x2 And Difference Rule of Charging for Photos

Model: Justin Kirck

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Lots of photographers have absolutely no idea what to charge a client when they’re first starting out. So to help you out in some ways when considering pricing, keep these tips in mind. First off consider your expenses, time shooting, transportation, commute time, knowledge needed to actually create the images, post production time and effort on top of knowledge, etc. as a base. Then look at that and compare it to photographers that do similar work in your area and are of a similar skill level as you are. If you’re not as good as them or haven’t been shooting as long, then start bringing the price down.

Now whatever figure you had in mind, double it. Why? Taxes are a big reason for this, especially if you’re getting paid in checks.

Then consider a couple of differences: whether you can reasonably charge that much money, whether you can convince the client to pay you that, etc. Then also keep things in mind like if you’re working with a company, a person, and various things about them and who they are. The rest of it is way too much to honestly type out but getting these three videos and the worksheets that I created will help you immensely with this.

Just remember: it all starts with your identity as a photographer.

Useful Photography Tip #161: Flattening a Portrait Subject’s Mid-Section

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 85mm f1.8 Di VC extra sample images Jenn's portraits (2 of 4)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 3.5

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When it comes to photographing a person from the direct side, there are loads of portrait subjects who get self-conscious about how they look and may not necessarily want to. But you can fix that in-camera without Photoshop pretty easily just by doing a bit of stretching while creating a pose that looks natural.

How do you do this?

  • Have the subject face to the side: either have them shift their weight to the leg/side further from the camera or have them perfectly straight
  • Pull the clothing back to be a bit more form fitting
  • Have them straighten up their back without sucking in their gut.
  • Have them lean back just a bit while pulling their stomach in a bit
  • Then make the portrait subject turn their shoulder closer to you just a bit back and to the side

Again, while there’s nothing wrong with embracing who you are (and I encourage it) it could be more important for others when it comes to social media portraits, headshots, etc.

Useful Photography Tip #160: Making Cheeks Look Less Puffy in a Portrait

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.

Useful Photography Tip #159: The Simple Secret to Using a Flash

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

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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.

Continue reading…

Useful Photography Tip #158: Don’t Discount the Bounce Card on Your Flash

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.

Useful Photography Tip #157: Natural Light Portraiture in the Shade

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!

Useful Photography Tip #156: How to Make a Portrait Subject Really Pop

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.