web analytics

Useful Photography Tip

Pro Tip: The larger the light modifier is, the softer the light will be on your subject in relation to distance from them.

Pro Tip: The larger the light modifier is, the softer the light will be on your subject in relation to distance from them.

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

Your camera is at the lowest ISO setting it could possibly organically be at, your shutter speed has hit the maximum setting, and you still want to shoot an image with the lens wide open. The challenge: the sun is way too bright and giving off too much light to let you get anything near a correct exposure.

So how do you shoot the photo? There are three different ways.

The first one is the simplest and least expensive. Try to backlight the subject. Of course, this is tougher if your subject is a flower or your children running around because it means you need to get very low to the ground. But otherwise it’s a solid option.

The second option: use a shoot through umbrella or a translucent reflector to diffuse the sunlight. This will usually kill enough of it to let you get a more balanced exposure. In the case of the umbrella, it can also be used as a fun prop.

The final option: try a variable ND filter–which is what film photographers used to use. These filters let you cut out a specific amount of like that you set them to just by turning them. The quality of these filters has improved so much that it’s bound to not ruin the quality of your image.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer GM5 Panasonic hand (1 of 1)ISO 4001-320 sec at f - 2.8

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

While many street photographers tend to shoot with their cameras in shutter or aperture priority, lots of street photographers shoot in manual mode. If you’re looking to give this a shot, then we recommend a very handy trick (literally) to make metering a scene and people in the scene even easier.

When you point your camera at someone, it’s bound to try to meter for skin or for the person. In that case, a good place to start is to point the camera and lens at your hand, take a meter reading and adjust the shutter speed, ISO and aperture based on this. Then depending on if your scene is more dominated by shadows or highlights, you fine tune the exposure from there before even putting the camera up to your eye to shoot.

By metering off your hand, you’re exposing for a similar subject in most likely similar lighting and you’re that much more likely to get the exposure correct the first time around. Plus, folks don’t think that you’re posing a threat to them.

Go ahead, try it out the next time you go to shoot street photography.

Chris Gampat Lauren Englebert portraits Early winter 2015 first batch (3 of 8)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 2.8

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

“Smile.”

“Come on, smile.”

The problem with this is that your portrait subject can end up giving you some sort of really awkward expression that isn’t genuine and that clearly translates into that when you take their photo.

Meet Lauren: a fantastic woman I know here in NYC that wanted her portrait taken and that gave me the very same situation. So with this, I, as a photographer, faced the problem of not only making her deliver a genuine smile but also delivering an image that looked great in the end. So here’s how I did it and how you can, too:

– Pre-focus on an area of their face (in this case I chose her right eye that is camera left, closest to the light source and also closest to the camera.

– Politely ask for a slight sliver of a smile

– When the subject states that they hate their smile, try to figure out a way to make them genuinely elicit a feeling that will render a facial expression in the direction of what you’re going for.

– When Lauren gave me an awkward smile, I very seriously yet jokingly said, “A little less awkward and terrible please.” Because she knows me, it got a genuine giggle out of her. Because I had been pre-focused, I snapped the photo at that exact same time.

Yes, Lauren knows me, but even with other people that I’ve done this method with I’ve gotten it to work. The way that you get to this to work has to do with sitting down with the person first, getting comfortable with them, understanding where they’re coming from, having an actual conversation, and most importantly getting them comfortable with you.

So what’s the overall secret? Do something on the spot that makes them elicit a facial expression or body language that you want to capture. But first, have a personable conversation and relaxation time. Have a cup of coffee with the person first and chat a bit, it makes them realize that you’re a human and not just someone with a camera.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 85mm f1.4 review images (1 of 3)ISO 1001-125 sec at f - 4.0

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

When photographing a portrait subject, we can’t always expect everyone to have the best fitting clothing for them or always have the best fashion sense. But we as creatives and photographers can help them with just a couple of slight modifications.

Firstly, we recommend that you bring safety pins, hair ties, and gaffers tape with you to your shoot. Generally when you’re shooting portraits, you’re photographing the front of the person. So let’s say that their button down shirt doesn’t fit them in such a way that makes their body look the best.

Now you’ve got a couple of ways to approach this but it all has to do with working with what’s behind the subject.

– You can go behind the subject, pull the shirt in tighter on them, and tie it in the back to hold it in place.

– Pull the shirt in a lot in the back and tuck it in.

– Pull the shirt in and use safety pins to hold it in place.

– Pull the shirt in and tape it into place

All of this doesn’t affect the front, only the back. You can do the same with pants, blouses, dresses, etc. Just work with the back of the subject and you’ll be all fine.

Give it a shot at your next portrait session.

Model: Lulu Geng

Model: Lulu Geng

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

Before we get to the big, meaty part of this post that you’re all here for, let’s quickly go over the elements of flash photography. To control what the image looks like, you have your shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and flash output. For argument’s sake, we’re going to say that you’re dealing with a manual flash instead of a TTL light–and we’re also going to assume that the light is off-camera.

– Shutter speeds: control the ambient lighting in the scene

– ISO: controls the overall sensitivity of the other parameters.

– Aperture: controls the depth of field and how much light from the flash actually affects the scene.

– Flash output: a specific powerful level. If you have a 500 watt second monolight and are shooting with it at around half power, you’ll be shooting at 250 watt seconds. That’s around three or four standard hot shoe flashes.

Using the different combinations of these parameters you can blend the lights accordingly to look more natural. Then there is the other obvious part: using a large light modifier to make the light even softer.

Finally, we now get to what’s really important. The biggest secret to making flash output look more natural has to do with its positioning. Much of the light that we normally see in life is above us. Ever notice that?

Walk through a hallway, and the lights are in the ceiling. Go outside and sun is shining down on you from up above.

So one of the biggest tips that we want to give you is to raise the light up above your subject and aim it downwards at an angle. Additionally, bring the light to the side and forward. By doing this little trick, the light in your scene can look a thousand times more natural than if it were from below.

Just think: how many times do you see the light coming from below someone?

Want more? Check out how to make strobe look natural, using an ND filter with strobes and blending strobe and ambient light.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 4.38.42 PM

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Click here.

The art of creating high contrast black and white images has to start with what first comes out of the camera. To do that, you first need to create an image with very bright whites and with darks as dark as you can possibly get them. You’re most likely to skew one way or the other. But the biggest edits come in the post-production stage. This is where you need to work with the entire dynamic range are of the image since the colors are more or less moot due to the color scheme being removed.

So at this point you’ll need to work with four critical areas in Adobe Lightroom:

– The Blacks

– The Whites

– The Tonal Curve

– Clarity

Blacks adjust the most extreme end of the dark area while the whites do the opposite. Then you’re going to need to work with the entire space in between–which are the midtones. You can manipulate these mostly using the clarity slider for quicker adjustments but more fine tuned adjustments should be done through the tonal curves.

At that point, you’ll be playing with the settings to get a look that you want. These are the basic tools that you’ll need to get iHigh Contrast Black and White images, so go ahead and give it a shot.

[click to continue…]