Tutorial: How to Shoot Great Portraits with a 135mm Lens

If you’re shooting portraits and using a 135mm lens, here’s what you need to know.

The 135mm lens is a favorite of many portrait photographers for great reason. They compress your subject quite a bit, make everyone look fantastic, can be used for headshots and wider portraits, and blur the background into oblivion. While many photographers often reach for an 85mm due to its versatility, those who want even more compression go for 135mm lenses. This can be solved with a 70-200mm lens option of some sort, but what a 135mm prime lens does is so much better. Luckily, there are a number of great 135mm prime lens options on the market, and if you want one here’s what you should know.

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Blending Flash with Natural Light (And Getting it Right in Camera!)

Blending flash and natural light is all about listening to the light meter in the camera.

“Why can’t I just do this in post-production?” is what I heard in a recent event I attended on mixed lighting and flash. Many times the answer is that a photographer can’t get an organic look and effect in the scene. Further, why work a long time in post-production when you can just get the image right in-camera? Why can’t you achieve your creative vision without the use of a computer or an app? And why do you need to live by that preset life? In this tutorial, we’re going to walk through the ideas behind blending natural light and flash.

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How to Make Your Photo Look Like a Painting In-Camera

Making your photograph look like a painting in-camera is all about embracing camera shake.

One of the best things about photography is that it can combine with a variety of other mediums and  deliver really unique images. Even better, lots of those images can be done in-camera without the need for Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. Sure, you can shoot and fix it in post-production–but why bother? Why not get it right in the first place and worry less later on? If you’re a photographer with an excellent grasp of the technical side and also in touch with your artistic side, then this tutorial on how to make images of landscapes look like paintings is for you.

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Tip: An Ice Container Is a Great Way to Shape Light

Sometimes all you need to boost your creativity is to play around with light.

If you’ve been into lighting for many years, then you know what a Gobo is. For the rest of us, a Gobo is basically anything that goes between a light and the subject. A softbox can be a Gobo, but the vernacular refers to it being more homemade and put together. It’s designed to shape light. Sometimes all you need is a bit of light shaping.

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Why Doesn’t My Camera’s Flash Freeze Fast Moving Subjects?

If you want to stop fast-moving subjects, the effects that a flash provides can help.

While newer photographers will always try to stop a fast-moving subject by cranking up their ISO setting and increasing the shutter speed, it isn’t always the most effective method. In fact, it can cause a more problems for you in post-processing where you’ll enjoy creating awful photos. One of flash’s biggest benefits is what it can do for photographers, not only for providing light on a subject but also for extra benefits like stopping motion. However, not all flashes are created equal in that capacity.

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You’re Doing it Wrong: How to Shoot Flash Photography During the Day

The key to using a flash on camera during the day is all about power output.

When you think about using a flash, you’re probably thinking about only using it at night where you need more light. But, believe it or not, the best time to use a flash is during the day. It essentially helps you get a better histogram reading by filling in details all across the board. It’s also much better than using constant lights.

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Want to Get Your Dog to Look at the Camera? Here’s How

Getting your dog to look at the camera is all about training them to do it, and here’s how.

If you’re someone who gets frustrated about how to get their dog to look at the camera for a photo, then fear not. The answer is pretty easy and you’re going to kick yourself for not thinking about it first. To understand this, you should think about your dog and what they like. It’s obvious that belly rubs aren’t going to be easily communicated to your pup in order to get them to look at the camera, but a toy could do the trick. Even better though–so could a treat.

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The Phoblographer’s Introduction to Shooting Photos in Hotels (And How to Not be a Jerk)

Take it from a photographer who travels more than I’d like to, shooting in hotels can be a logistical nightmare sometimes.

The first time I shot in a hotel, I made a big mistake. Looking back now, I honestly think that I still wasn’t in the right, but luckily I didn’t do anything that went on to scar my career. Additionally, I was quick, quiet, polite, and careful. I think that most folks who go about shooting in hotels tend to treat it like they’re on Spring Break all the time; but that shouldn’t be the aim. You’re there to work; even if you’re doing it for fun you should still conduct yourself professionally and be responsible. If you remember that you’re privileged to be able to shoot in nice hotels and not entitled to it, then you’ll already have one of the biggest ego checks in place. If you don’t have this, then please cease to continue reading this article. But if you want to get serious, read on.

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How to Protect Your Camera and Gear at Fireworks Parties This 4th of July

If’ you’re not the official photographer at any fireworks parties this year, immerse yourself, have fun, and capture unique moments just for you; just be careful with your gear.

As photographers, we find ourselves being asked to be the photographer at all sorts of events, even family events like firework parties. That means we don’t get to be as wholly immersed as we would like, but if you find yourself being able to skip the party photography in an official capacity, you can go about taking images for fun and for yourself. There are some things you should be aware of, though, because as we all know, accidents can and do happen, and you wouldn’t want anything to happen to your gear. Continue reading…

Comparison: Sigma’s Lenses for Studio Portraits (Here’s What We Found)

We already know that Sigma’s lenses are fantastic, but which one is best for portraiture?

Portrait photographers these days enjoy using a multitude of focal lengths, and Sigma’s lenses offer a whole lot for the portraiture photographer. The company has spent years revamping their lineup with their Art series lenses and these lenses often top the charts on many proper lab tests. But we know that photographers don’t use lenses to shoot charts or brick walls and so we took them into a studio with models and lights to figure out which ones we liked the most. Our opinions may surely vary from yours and any professional working photographer will always lean towards a telephoto focal length. While this test has a lot of implications for professional photographers, it will also apply to lots of us who shoot and don’t demand the most professional needs.

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How to Create Watercolor-Like Photographs of Dancers

A while back I started out with creating a new series of watercolor like photographs of dancers.

Being a legally blind photographer, part of my ambition has always been to tell stories the way that I see them and to let the world understand how I see the world. Something that I often describe it as is looking at the world and seeing it as a painting. I’ve learned more and more about how to make images look like paintings much to the dismay of pixel peepers. But personally speaking, I don’t care too much about those folks and never have. Instead, I’ve embraced creativity since the beginning. And to that end, I decided that I’d take a moment to share with folks how I’ve been doing a series that I’m currently creating.

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The Cinematic Look: Three Tips for Candid and Street Photography with an 85mm Lens

Street photography with an 85mm lens isn’t totally unheard of; it can give us a much different look than what’s out there.

Though the purists in street photography will tell you that you need to get up close and personal to someone on the streets, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with using an 85mm lens. Of course, any wrongdoing comes with the intentions of the photographer. In this case, your intentions should be to try to get a different look at the scene and capture it as it happens with less chance of being seen. If you feel like calling it such, you can think of it as being a fly on the wall. Something many street photographers aspire to be when they shoot.

So after years of testing various 85mm lenses, here are some of our tips.

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Every Photographer Should Learn How Photograph Darker Skin Tones

Darker skin tones can still use some extra attention from photographers and even industry professionals like make-up artists and stylists.

Portrait and fashion photography should be an all-encompassing craft, especially at this time and age when we’re supposedly more open-minded and accepting of other cultures and perspectives. This means that photographers today should be able to use their expertise to create photos of darker skinned models and individuals in a way that highlights their natural beauty. A video by Buzzfeed reinforces this idea with a photoshoot done with dark-skinned models, encouraging photographers and even industry professionals like make-up artists and stylists to do the same.

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Travel Photography Tip: Comparing 35mm vs 50mm Lenses

If you’re just getting started with travel photography and have been browsing around for some tips on the best lenses to use, this 35mm vs 50mm comparison should help.

Are you an aspiring travel photographer who can’t decide between 35mm and 50mm lenses as the better choice for the job? In case you’re still looking for tips and resources, Australian fashion and portrait photographer Julia Trotti comes to the rescue with a quick comparison video for both focal lengths during her recent trip to Gdansk in Poland. Since Trotti specializes in portraits, it’s only proper for her to begin the comparison with a bunch of portrait shots. She works mostly with prime lenses given her genre of choice, hence the focus on 35mm and 50mm prime lenses for this comparison. She also shot with the Full Frame Canon 5D Mk IV, so keep in mind that you’ll get different results if you shoot with a camera with crop frame sensor. Since this is about travel photography, she made sure to give examples for portraits we’d typically shoot during a trip: mostly half body or full body shots with careful attention to  include the landmarks behind or around the subject. Apart from portraits in both half body, full body, and close up, Trotti also provided some examples for other popular subjects in travel photography: food and landscapes.

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The Beginner’s Guide on How to Do Your Own Firefly Lamp Portrait Photography

That firefly lamp portrait photography trend is pretty simple to do on the cheap!

The trend that has taken over Instagram and lots of cinema is firefly lamp portrait photography. Lots of folks don’t know how to do it themselves or simply just associate it with other photographers. But the truth is that it doesn’t need to be that way. You can put your own twist and spin on it using Christmas lights, which is very affordable and gives you a ton of options. The bottom line: it’s all about being in touch with your own feelings.

Trust us, this isn’t difficult; let’s take a look!

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Portrait Photography: Connect with Your Clients Easier with These 3 Tips

portrait photography

When it comes to portrait photography the way you communicate with your client is far more important than the gear you’re using.

We’ve all been there at some point in our careers: we have a great model, or an awesome client, but we just don’t know how to effectively communicate or connect with the person standing in front of the camera. A lack of communication skills can kill a shoot quickly, so being able to build connections with those you work with is far more important than the gear you use. The three tips that are shared in a new video after the break will help get you set up for success and will hopefully help you figure out what to do to connect with your clients. Continue reading…

Try This: When Photowalking, Shoot in Manual Mode Not Aperture Mode

fall landscape photography

The mere act of putting the extra effort into taking your photos will result in naturally better images that you’re paying more attention to.

The next time you go on a photo walk, I encourage every single one of you to turn off all the automatic modes and shoot completely manual. While this may sound like something lots of folks do, I’m sure that you all know in the deepest darkest parts of your hearts that you’re not doing this. Many folks shoot in aperture priority or even P for Professional mode. I did it. You most likely do it. Lots of folks do. And I think that we should all stop operating on autopilot and instead make more concerted efforts to take better images instead of just shooting hundreds just because we can. It genuinely isn’t going to make any of us any better no matter how hard you’ll try to argue against it.

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How to Light Your Macro Photos and Get Sharper Images

Macro photography doesn’t need to be shot at ISO 32000; but you can do it with just a little bit of help from a flash.

When you think about macro images, we often imagine those really, really detailed close up photos. As long as there is good lighting, it’s simple to do with focus stacking or even just stopping the lens down with enough light in the scene. Many photographers on their spare time adore the meditative act of fixating on an object and photographing it to get every single detail of the subject. These objects are typically small toys, food, insects, plants, etc. It’s fun and requires the photographer to make a number of very repetitive but careful movements. But of course, every bit of lighting is always useful and we don’t always have good lighting naturally around. But don’t worry: using a flash in this situation is pretty much brainless.

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How to Shoot Natural Light Portraits in Flower Fields (And Posing People!)

The ultimate dream of mine as a photographer is to shoot in beautiful fields of vast picturesque flower fields.

Every spring and summer my clients know where to find me and my camera. Finding the perfect location for a portrait shoot is always one of the greatest challenges in photography. And once you think you have found the perfect location for your photoshoot, coming up with the creative idea for how to capture both the subject beautifully and the location cohesively can be equally as difficult to execute. The perfect combination of a beautiful location, stunning natural light and eager subject is all a photographer can dream of to create dramatic and ethereal images.

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