Everyone loves looking at all those really cool photos and videos showing off exactly what a medium format viewfinder of some sort shows off. For the most part though, they’re a lot harder than you’d think to pull off effectively. Many photographers simply tend to use Photoshop or Lightroom to brighten up that specific area that you see within the viewfinder. Part of this has to do with the lighting in the area and another part has to do with just what type of camera you’re using.
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Think about this really quick: when you go into a room, where does light typically come from. Most people really prefer the look of lamp lighting. But the truth is that most light that we see actually comes from above us in some way or another. Think about the sun, or street lamps, or the ceiling in an office. All of these lights are from above.
So one of the ways that you can make flash output or off-camera lighting look more natural is to place the light source above your subject in some way or another. It could be in front and above, to the side and above, etc. This is just how we naturally see light. So when you place a flash in a scene, you typically shouldn’t light a subject from below. Think about placing your light source kind of like adding light to a room or a scene overall. Think about and consider the shape of it too.
This isn’t just how you’ll make the light look more appealing and flattering, but how you’ll also make it just look and seem more natural–by placing the center of the source above a person you’re photographing.
In the past few years, Sony has been receiving more and more third party support in terms of flash support–Godox, Flashpoint, Phottix, Profoto and others have started supporting the system and the new Impact Venture VE-TTL monolight is one of the latest offerings to offer TTL support with Sony’s flash system. Designed for professional photographers and semi-professionals, this flash system offers lots of power in one of the smallest packages I’ve ever seen. With 600 watt seconds of output, it’s incredibly capable and designed amazingly well.
Impact is a B&H Photo house brand and they’ve had products of varying degrees over the past few years. The LiteTrek and the original Powersyncs are some of the best. I saw this light at their offices a while back, and quite honestly became very excited and intrigued.
And as a Sony shooter that emphasizes the use of a minimal kit but the right lights to deliver my creative vision, I’m thoroughly impressed by the light.
Street Photography isn’t simple and instead is something that requires a number of incredible parallel factors to all line up accordingly–and when cameras start to do nothing else but constantly log life at a higher resolution, it will require human elements beyond algorithms scrubbing for “good images” to actually have someone call themselves an artist. The art form has obviously become more and more popular with Instagram, EyeEm, and VSCO becoming a norm for photographers and people who just like taking pictures. Everyone has the potential to become a fantastic street photographer; but not everyone has the affinity, devotion, and understanding of the art to truly make it work.
There are two different styles of product photography: lifestyle and the stagnant plain background. For years, both have challenged many people. Lifestyle product photography will always be more complicated while the plain background is more studio style in a controlled environment. But perhaps one of the simplest and most fun way of actually doing the stagnant, plain jane background type of photography is with the Foldio 360. As a super portable, app connected option, the Foldio 360 makes product photography really, really fun.
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Hey strobist photographers: if you’re shooting a portrait of someone, the best thing that I’ve learned over the years is to actually make them face your artificial key light source. Of course, you wouldn’t do this with a natural one light the sun–but you can surely create more flattering portraits with a strobe or flash in a light modifier like a softbox, umbrella, etc.
Having your subject face the light source:
- Makes the light look softer
- Makes the light more flattering
- Eliminates shadows on their face and sometimes body that may otherwise be unflattering
- Gives them what I like to call the flattering spotlight effect.
When they’re facing the light source and the light source is shining directly down onto them, they’re illuminated to a certain point where they’re clearly made to be the main point of the photo. However, the light source isn’t as harsh as a spotlight, so it’s naturally more flattering.
As an extra tip: place the modifier so that the actual source of light is slightly above eye-level of the subject.
Also note: It doesn’t need to be direct; the light source can be slightly off to the left or right too.
As my portraiture has evolved over the years, the mainstay of my kit remains to be large umbrellas. The light modifiers are incredibly adaptable, give off a beautiful look, and are very portable in addition to being useful for creative applications. Umbrellas are so versatile that they’re used be a variety of photographers: fashion, wedding, studio portrait, food, etc. After softboxes, they’re probably the ones with the most versatility and popularity overall.
Part of their popularity has to do with how they work and just how effective they can be at delivering a variety of looks.
Octabanks are one of the more recent light modifiers to hit the scene. They’re an interesting and odd combination of an umbrella, softbox and beauty dish. Most popular amongst fashion photographers, they’ve been growing in popularity with many other types of shooters.
In fact, they’re one of my favorite light modifers.