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Useful Photography Tip

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 85mm f1.4 portraits extra (1 of 1)ISO 1001-125 sec at f - 2.8

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In the photo world, there are loads and loads of tricks that you can use to make viewers of your images believe that you’ve shot something with either all natural light or with one primary light. And if you have only a single light to begin with, there are ways that you can make your image appear as if two lights were added to the scene. All it requires is a bit a strategic placement of your lights or some extra knowledge of exposures.

For starters, keep in mind that when working with an artificial light (strobe or flash) that your aperture will control your flash exposure while your shutter speed manipulates the ambient lighting in the scene. Somehow or another, you’re going to have to figure out a way to balance the two out.

So how do you do this?:

- A very large light modifier in relation to your subject: Usually a six or seven foot umbrella being placed in front of and slightly above your subject can make your scene look like it was lit with two lights when the according shutter speed is dialed in.

- One Light and a Reflector: When your light is on one side of the subject, either set the light to its widest zoom setting or put it into a large softbox.. Next, place a reflector on the other side of your subject–we recommend using either white or silver. Then use the shutter speed to mix in enough ambient lighting to fill in the shadows while balancing out the flash output.

One light and the shadows for evenness control: To make this one work, you’ll need to work outside and in a shadowed area of some sort. Bounce the light off of a surface or once again make the flash zoom out to its widest setting. After this, you’ll just need to mix the ambient lighting from the shutter speed accordingly. We recommend underexposing your shutter just a bit then raising the shadows in post.

Now get out there and go experiment.

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Shooting during the middle of the day can be tough sometimes. One option is to backlight your subject, but another option to give you better control over the exposure of your images and the evenness of light is to shoot in the shadows. Taking your subject into the shadows (such as the shadows provided by a building) allows them to have even light all over by cutting it down in the first place. In contrast, bringing them into the light provided by the sun on the other hand will create shadows under their nose, eyes, and chin–and depending on the situation that can look flattering or not; and it’s usually the latter. To be fair, during an overcast day, the clouds will fix this problems for you.

By keeping your ISO low, your shutter speed high, and your subject in the shadows you can also shoot with a wider aperture to therefore send the background into a bokehlicious haze. Considering the fact that you’re also shooting in the shadows, it is also usually a great idea to expose for the shadows or even spot meter. In general, you may want to be anywhere from 1/3rd to 1 full stop overexposed to compensate for the shadows’ darkness and to also even out the lighting on the subject. That’s how we shot the image above and were able to get the look above.

And always remember: not every single image needs to be an HDR.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Phase One IQ250 more with Nat (1 of 2)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 2.8

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When you’re shooting a portrait of a person, keep in mind that one of the facial features that everyone is self-conscious about is their nose. If you shoot it straight on, it can look a little large and if you shoot it at too extreme of an angle it can be downright unflattering. The secret to making a nose look better has to do with angling it at just the right way to still look natural. And guess what–folks that have been doing selfies and photos back in the Myspace days have been doing it for years.

The secret has to do with tilting the face at an angle just a bit to the left or the right. This helps to hide the size of the nose and also makes the eye think that it is smaller than it actually really is by making it blend in with the rest of the skin on the face/cheek.

What also helps is proper lighting. Harsh, direct light coming from either direction could leave a shadow that makes the nose look enormous. So a great idea is to use a reflector and/or overexpose the image enough so that the shadows are very subtle or completely gone.

Trust us–folks will love you for your portraits that much more when you actually put the effort into posing.

 

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Lomography Petzval Lens review images samples (16 of 24)ISO 4001-200 sec

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When shooting portraits of a subject straight on, consider the fact that environmental stresses may have caused one shoulder to become higher than the other to cope with weight of bags and other reasons. So for starters, ask your portraits subject to stand straight at you and take careful notice of their shoulders. Then adjust their shoulders accordingly. To do this, we recommend asking the subject to move the higher shoulder back slightly so that when you shoot an image of them straight on, they shoulders will look straighter and proportionate in the image.

To master this, it takes practice and minor calculations based on shoulder height difference. But you can also look through your camera’s lens and see what the results will look like.

To further ensure that the shoulders don’t bulge, we recommend shooting an a lens no shorter than 85mm. By this, we’re not talking about a field of view, we’re talking instead about the actual focal length. The reason for this is just because an 85mm lens may render an image of 127mm on an APS-C sensor, it still acts like an 85mm lens. This applies to any shorter focal length too.

Try it–you’ll be creating better portraits in no time.

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Lots of folks say that you should only use a flash during the evening hours and in dark situations. But the truth of the matter is that during the daytime is perhaps the best time to use flash. For example, let’s say that you want to photograph someone and there is bright sunlight in the scene. If you make them face the sun, they’ll squint a lot. Conversely, if you make them not face the sun, you’ll need to overexpose a lot to get the details on their face–which is called backlighting. The solution then is to backlight the subject and expose normally while illuminating their front with a flash. That way, you get a more balanced image overall in terms of exposure ratings.

But besides this, using a flash during the day only adds to the beauty that natural light can deliver. It can bring out details in your subject that you wouldn’t see otherwise (specular highlights) and it can also fill in shadows when done correctly to give a very beautiful and shadowless look. But to do this, you’ll need to either set your flash to the widest zoom head angle or bounce it off of  very wide surface. Alternatively, you could also use a softbox of some sort.

When adding flash to a daylight scene, it’s best to add it a little bit at a time–gradually making it stronger until you feel that you have something close to the image that you want.

Try this quick tip, and be sure to check out our other bite sized useful photography tips.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Holdfast camera bag with fur review (9 of 9)ISO 2001-500 sec at f - 2.8

Packing for any trip is a trip in itself. Clothing aside, figuring out how much gear to bring can often be the most challenging because it factors into your carry on. We’re sure you know, but it’s worth mentioning that gear (read: cameras and lenses) is not something you’d want to leave in your checked luggage, and keep in mind that some airlines have downsized carryon limits. So, with your carry on bag, how much gear are you going to pack?

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