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Video thumbnail for youtube video Photographer Joel Grimes Shows You How Effective Reflectors Are - The Phoblographer

They have to be the most underused and overlooked light modifiers out there, but reflectors are also some of the most useful that every photographer should include in their kit. They come in many different shapes, sizes and colors to help you accomplish exactly what you need to do. Adding reflectors are also often a much better alternative to filling in shadows than slowing down your shutter speed is.

Photographer Joel Grimes recently did a video with Westcott featuring their Rapid Box (which we weren’t the biggest fans of) and showing us how a single light positioned above and in front of a model can illuminate them very well but can leave shadows under their chin–which can sometimes make the model look not as flattering depending on the situation. In the one presented in the video, it isn’t that terrible at all.

However, Joel also adds a reflector to the show and shows us a comparison between the two–and effectively demonstrates how the shadows are mostly eliminated.

What’s also important though is the model’s stance and pose. If you look at her during one of the side shots, you can see a bit of Peter Hurley’s influence in the way she sticks the chin out.

Joel’s video with Westcott on how reflectors kill shadows is after the jump.

Via ISO 1200

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Stephs first edits (17 of 18)ISO 160

When it comes to working with a flash during the daytime, one of the best ways to do this and ensure that your entire exposure isn’t blown out is to use an ND filter. To begin with, you’re supposed to use flash during the daytime to prevent shadows. You’ll start by positioning the sun behind your subject–but if you’re just working with ambient lighting then you’ll have blown out skies. And that method of backlighting is totally fine if you want that look.

But if you want to balance the background with your subject in the foreground, the best bet is to use a flash. One option is high speed sync or a fast flash duration, but one method that photographers have been using for years is the ND filter. We’ve used it too, but photographer Craig Beckta demonstrated this very well in the video below that shows the difference that an ND filter can make.

One big warning though: an ND filter can also affect your camera’s autofocusing abilities because it cuts down the amount of light in the scene that the sensor sees until the flash goes off.

Try it this weekend, and check out Craig’s video on using an ND filter to balance ambient light and strobe after the jump.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Leica XE product images (1 of 10)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 2.5

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Yes, many of you photographers love to complain about vignetting. But you can actually embrace it and use it creatively. We’ve talked about proper techniques to making your images look sharper and making colors pop out more, but another way to emphasize a subject more in an image is to add a vignette to it. Chances are that based on your composition of a scene, the subject will be somewhere around the center or on one of the intersecting points of the rule of thirds. A vignette will make someone stare at your image and complete ignore the blacked out areas.

Of course, this doesn’t need to be a heavy vignette but we can’t tell you how many times we’ve used vignettes on product photos on this site and not a single person has sat there and complained.

If your creative vision calls for it, light vignetting can be a great thing and because of the way the human eye works, it will put higher emphasis on your subject in addition to making them pop out more on a screen or on print.

Beyond this, we recommend bumping up the contrast and tweaking the black levels. But those are all part of the process involving making your images look sharper that we linked to above.

Give it a try: and don’t be afraid to do something that the mainstream may say otherwise.



Macro Flash Adapter

Image courtesy of the Flash Adapter website

We don’t think we’ve ever encountered something this special ops looking in the photo world, but this new Macro Flash Adapter may take the cake. It has an incredibly interesting design that takes light from your hot shoe mounted flash and distributes it to the four panels that you see. It is much different from the contemporary ring flash adapter which ideally is in the shape of a perfect ring. But this adapter fills in the sides, top, and the direct light. This takes the light from a single flash and spreads it out over a smaller area compared to a ring flash but puts the light in the spots where it really counts. There is no word on how much light loss there is but based on previous ring flashes adapters that we’ve worked with, we’re guessing around a single stop of light loss. If you’re shooting in TTL, then get ready to add +1 EV to your flash output. All of the panel are really big too when talking about objects at the macro scale–so the light will obviously be very soft.

The Flash Adapter is of Polish origin and created by photo enthusiasts Agnieszka and Ernest Lysak.

A video of how this crazy contraption works is after the jump.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Impact Quikbox and LiteTrek photos (8 of 17)ISO 200

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One of the greatest things that you can accomplish technically as a photographer is shooting with a flash during bright daylight and nailing exposure perfectly. If you’re doing this, then chances are that you’ll use a TTL lighting functionality or high speed sync or even making sure that your flash duration is just at a fast setting. But even this can become tedious and frustrating for the best of photographers–especially when using light modifiers like softboxes.

The best approach to a situation like this is to use spot metering on your camera. When you switch to spot metering you can figure out what the exposure is for the ambient/natural light and the flash/strobe output. Spot metering literally meters off of the area that you’re choosing. It ignores things like tying to make the entire scene completely balanced in terms of exposures and works well because it helps you make a more informed decision about what to do with your artificial light.

So where do you begin?

– Set your camera to spot metering mode and meter your subject’s face (providing that you’re shooting a portrait)

– Meter your camera accordingly.

– Use a handheld light meter to judge what aperture you should be shooting at if you’re using a light without TTL. Otherwise, set your aperture to whatever you want and the flash will meter itself hopefully. If it doesn’t then switch to manual mode and do the same method as when using a handheld light meter.

As an extra tip, set your handheld light meter to the fastest shutter speed so that it doesn’t see the ambient light and doesn’t try to work along with it.

WhiteCupMacro_03_inuse

Sometimes getting soft light for Macro images can be tough if you don’t have very much control over the lighting. But a new tip published on Lynda can help you solve some of those problems on the cheap. They’re telling you to attach an opaque white plastic cup to the front of your lens after cutting the bottom off and by using Gaffers tape. Once that is attached, put the cup down on top of the subject.

The effect is more stability (ie less camera shake), keeping the subject in one spot more or less, and soft light diffusion. In fact, we’d be inclined to also add that you should use the pop-up flash on your camera to add extra bounce light from the surface and also provide even more soft light.

Of course, you should consider that if you’re doing this in a spot with sufficient light, then you’ll really need to crank up your ISO.

Looking for more Macro tips? We’ve got a more in depth tutorial right here.