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Useful Photography Tip

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The question of whether one should use TTL vs manual flash output is one that many photographers will experience at one point or another in their careers. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. The majority of flashes can shoot in manual mode (thought there are some that indeed can’t and there are also flashes that can do both). But not every flash can fire in TTL mode.

TTL communication requires specific pins on the camera hot shoe and flash to communicate and relay information about the exposure to make the two work together.

In general, TTL has been the king when it comes to photojournalism, weddings, events, and sports. But in situations where you are trying to mix ambient lighting with natural lighting, TTL can be a godsend and eliminate the need for specific metering that will need to be done. In my apartment, I sometimes like shooting a subject in front of a window. Evenly illuminating the subject while properly exposing the outside can be tough, but it is a challenge very easily done by using TTL metering.

Manual light output is typically used on editorial, portrait, headshot, commercial, and fine art photo situations where someone can take their time and set a scene up. It gives the photographer specific control over the light to make it look brighter or darker or exactly the way that they want it. In contrast, a TTL system will read your camera meter and adapt itself to deliver a result that you may not necessarily want.

Manual lighting also works best when working with large light modifiers as a TTL light can sometimes not work so effectively based on various parameters like how large a light modifier is and how far it is positioned from a subject.

Keep this in mind when you’re shooting, and be sure to also check out our massive lighting tutorial roundup.

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There are times in portraiture where your camera will render a person’s skin as way too orange. This tends to happen a lot during the golden hour. But getting rid of that problem is very, very simple and it can be fixed in less than 10 seconds. It has nothing to do with the desaturation slider–at least the one all the way at the top in Adobe Lightroom!

To start, the most obvious way to prevent this problem is to manually white balance. But that isn’t always possible and sometimes you just don’t have time to do so. After you’ve got your white balance just right, it’s time to work with the skin tones.

The secret is to work with the color channels specifically. We recommend turning up the luminance a bit to brighten the orange color channel and then slightly desaturating it to give the skin tones a more natural look. But to be sure that the program sees it as orange to begin with, we recommend choosing the dropper tool. Sometimes, Lightroom can see oranges as yellows or reds.

If it isn’t working for you, then take the adjustment brush and touch up the areas by brightening them a bit and desaturating them as well.

The results of this project are after the jump.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic GM5 first impressions images (4 of 5)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 5.0

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While this tip may seem completely obvious to those of us that have been shooting for years, we encourage you to pay it forward and share this with those that are newer to interchangeable lens photography.

This is the story of two different people who took the lens off of their camera and put the camera in their one pocket and the lens in their other pocket.

Again: I’m going to repeat that.

This is the story of two different people who took the lens off of their camera and put the camera in their one pocket and the lens in their other pocket.

If you’re a veteran shooter, you know much better than to do this–or at least you know to use a body cap and a lens back cap. But for the less initiated, doing this makes cloth, debris and dust get right onto your camera sensor and at the back of the lens. In both cases, the camera was taking photos with spots in the image and the lens wasn’t working. Why?

Imagine a person putting little bits of dust in your eyes. Would you be able to see? Probably not–and neither can your camera since the sensor is very much like the eye. Then also imagine putting on dirty glasses. Obviously, seeing wouldn’t be the easiest thing to do. That’s what happens when you put a dirty lens on your camera.

But even further, the second person got so much dust on the contacts that the lens couldn’t autofocus. If you want to fix a problem like this, use Isopropyl alcohol or use a special brush to clean the sensor.

And make sure that you maintain your camera. But whatever you do, always protect your camera’s sensor.

Chris Gampat Film scans from pinhole and personal 2014 (2 of 17)

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When it comes to shooting portraits, your aim for the final image should be to distinguish the person more so from the rest of the scene. This can be done in a number of ways and one of the primary ways is to use the bokeh effect. By blurring out the rest of the scene organically, the viewer is forced to focus on the subject that you photographed. While this is true, there are elements of the image that can make the subject blend in more with the rest of the scene. For example, their clothing type is extremely important. If you’re photographing a person dressed in camouflage against a background of similar colors, it may be tough to spot them and make them stand out. So for starters, try coordinating the wardrobe with the portrait subject.

But beyond that, adding lighting to the scene is a great way to make your subject stand out even more. The image above is from some of my personal work featuring my friend Dane in a suit. To make him stand out from the rest of the background, I added artificial lighting in just the right spot. The light made him and his clothing stand out from the otherwise dark background. The light also hit the wall that he was leaning on and separated that from his body.

Add into the scene the fact that the light also illuminated his skin and you’ve got yourself a portrait subject that stands out from the scene and forces you to focus on them. But you don’t necessarily need artificial light to do this–you just need to provide lots of contrast. If you’re outdoors, you can backlight a subject and expose for the shadows to make them stand out from what will otherwise be a very bright and washed out background. Sure, you’ll lose the highlight details, but all that matters is that you make your portrait subject stand out.


Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm X Pro 1 review images mxpx (14 of 22)ISO 6400

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When you’re shooting concerts in large venues or even bars, chances are that the lighting on the musicians will be bright–way too bright for aperture priority. If you pay attention to your camera’s metering system, it will often look at the contrast in the scene and blow out much of the highlights.

Due to changes in modern sensor technology, we all know that it is much easier to lift details from the shadows than it is to pull them from the highlights. So in order to get a better exposed image, we strongly recommend underexposing the scene by at least a stop. This way, you’ll get the details on the musician and anything in the shadows can be pushed in post-production.

To get started, choose an ISO setting that you’re comfortable with and make sure that your shutter speed is at least the equivalent of your field of view to keep in line with the reciprocal rule of shutter speeds. Then select an aperture that you’re comfortable working with and keep in mind that your musician may be moving around. Then try to underexpose the scene by a stop. By doing this, you may either be able to capture faster motion, get more of a scene in focus, and also have better files to edit in the post-production phase. And all you need to do is just underexpose musicians.

Just remember that not everything needs to be an HDR–so as long as your primary subject is exposed correctly you shouldn’t have too much of an issue.

Keep this in mind the next time you do concert photography.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus EM5 Link Cosplay shoot (7 of 23)ISO 200

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A couple of years ago, I faced a pretty big logistical problem on a shoot. I had a reflector, my monolight, the umbrella reflector for the light, my camera, and that was about it. While in a very dark spot of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, I had to find a way to make the output of my monolight look much larger and in turn better diffused while also making all of my images from that day not look the same due to the lighting effect.

With very little ambient light in the area, the best way to actually light Katie in the above image was to reflect some sort of light onto her. The idea of using a large five in one reflector and bouncing the light from my monolight off of it came to me. But instead of bouncing the light off of the reflective side, I configured it to be translucent. And by placing the reflector in the right spot, we were able to create this image–which was almost totally illuminated by the monolight output being diffused by the reflector. That’s when it hit me that a viable option is to always diffuse a flash with a reflector.

So despite the fact that reflectors are usually designed to reflect existing light, you should also try to use them as a normal bounce surface for a flash. The most common way for many people to use a hot shoe flash is to bounce it off of a ceiling or surface. But when that surface isn’t available, create one with a reflector.