Useful Photography Tip #13: How I Photograph Most Products Here On The Phoblographer

Today I’m giving you a very quick behind the scenes look at how I sometimes photograph items for the site. I’ve got one style with a black background where I just point a speedlite at the ceiling, and then there is a more complicated setup, like what I did yesterday for the Zeiss 15mm f2.8 review.

Years ago, I took a box and glued white pieces of paper to it: the same type of paper that you would find in those large art sketch pads. I did this all over in varying layers. The front and top are cut off. On top of the setup, I usually place a light. In this case, it is my Chris Gampat Beauty Dish Hack and 580 EX II. However, I shot all of the photos with my Olympus 17mm f2.8 and EP2. In order to set the flash off, I needed a hard connection. My Phottix wireless triggers didn’t work, so I instead opted for Syl Arena’s OCF TTL cord. Olympus and Canon’s TTL systems don’t play nice together, so I set the flash to manual. Then I adjusted all of my settings and blasted the item with light.

Very little post-production was done to the images.

Be sure to check out our other useful photography tips.

Please Support The Phoblographer

We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.

Useful Photography Tip #12: Use an Old Polaroid Land Camera With Your Modern Speedlite Flash

As many of you know, we’re fans of film here at The Phoblographer. Pretty much every staff member shoots with film at one time or another and we have a real feeling that all of photography’s faces and mediums should be experienced in order for someone to find themselves and their identity. Personally, I’m smitten with my Polaroid Land Camera 210. But it’s limited in that I have pretty much no manual control over the shutter or aperture. In practice, that meant that I was shooting photos with some weird looks to them.

And then I decided to start using a flash. I’m smacking myself for not doing this earlier; as it’s so easy to use and will immediately improve the quality of your images by tenfold.

Editor’s Note: Thank you so much to my very good buddy Gabe Biderman for the Instant Film.

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Useful Photography Tip #11: Use Belts to Fit a Shoot Through Umbrella To a Flash

We love, love, love our lighting modifiers here at The Phoblographer. We also love hacks. The other day while on a gig, I was trying to figure out how to use a shoot through umbrella with my speedlite. Because I didn’t have the correct bracket with me, I needed to improvise.

Using a Rogue Flash Bender and a rubber band, I was able to develop a great setup to use a shoot through umbrella.

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Useful Photography Tip #10: Holiday Pet Photos

Stanta Claus #3

Stanta Claus #3

The holidays are upon us and with that comes many pictures. It seems like people are more likely to take pictures around this time of year. The gatherings, get-togethers, work functions, parties, these are all camera magnets. Along with pictures of family and friends, the family dog (or cat, rabbit, lizard, trained sloth) makes its way in front of the lens, or rather you put them in front of the lens.

Read on to check it out. And for more Useful Photography Tips, click here.

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Useful Photography Tip #9: Get the Most Out of Your Mac

Mac users enjoy a level of virus free stability Windows users can only dream of. A poorly written app might crash but it’s unlikely to shut your whole computer down. However, demanding creative professionals (like us photographers) will often complain their Mac is too slow. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your Macintosh computer if you’re not ready to shop for a new one. Sorry PC guys, I have no idea if any of these tips work for Windows or not, I’ve been using Macs since my first computer in 1994. If you use Windows and want to but haven’t moved yet, I’m sorry, let’s try again.

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Useful Photography Tip #8: Give the Bride and Groom a Moment to Breathe

Wedding couple 2
wedding couple

wedding couple

Let me first admit that I’m not a wedding photographer. I’ve photographed a grand total of four weddings. However I have learned a few things in the ones I’ve done. If you’re a full time wedding photographer perhaps this tip sounds obvious, but if you’re not and find yourself shooting one, this might be something you wouldn’t think about.

Remember your telephoto lens – If there’s one thing that’s true for practically any wedding, it’s that the bride and groom don’t really get any time just for them. The whole day is packed with things to do, people to talk to, food to eat, dancing to do. Many couples will later admit they barely remember the day and that kind of sucks. What I do is ask them for a bit of time, often between the ceremony and the reception. After warding off the hordes of other people with their cameras trying to get the same shots as me, I put the longest lens I own on my camera and  find somewhere where they can be alone for a while. Then get out of the way and wait till they forget there’s a camera 50-100 feet away from them. They’ll appreciate and remember those moments forever while you make sure they do with the intimate, personal and unposed shots you’ll be able to capture.

Wedding couple 2

Wedding couple 2

If like me you don’t use a telephoto lens in your normal photography often enough to invest in one, this is a good time to pull out the Tamron 18-270mm (available for Canon and Nikon). Read our full review here. Lastly, also take a look at our Ultimate Wedding Photography Checklist.

Please Support The Phoblographer

We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.

Also, please follow us on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.

Useful Photography Tip #7: Cross Your T’s and Dot Your I’s

Don't wind up behind bars
Don't wind up behind bars

Don't wind up behind bars

In light of the most absurd photography lawsuit I’ve ever heard of, I thought this might be a good time to remind you to make sure you always have your paperwork in order. It won’t protect you in every case, but a signed contract, liability release form, model release forms, copyright licensing terms and whatever else is needed for your specific business model. I say business, but even if you’re shooting for fun or as a favor you should still get your documents signed to be safe.  I recommended 3 books in the Business and Legal section of The Phoblographer’s Library. The free software PhotoByte can help you generate custom forms and many photography stores carry generic ones.

Although forms and signatures will help with these things, none of them replace the benefit of having liability insurance like that offered by Hill & Usher (866-977-4725 x134).

Finally, you should always be smart and work to avoid the problems of liability in the first place. Take a look at The Phoblographer’s Checklist on How to Not Kill Yourself in a Photo Studio if you do studio work, but just like each discipline has its’ own set of legal documents, the same applies for how to be safe in your type of photography.

The resources I have provided in this quick tip should help you figure out the particular risks of your business and hopefully keep you out of court and protected if you do end up there.

Please Support The Phoblographer

We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.

Also, please follow us on FacebookFlickr and Twitter.

Useful Photography Tip #6: Making Your Subjects Look Better

Shoot from a low angle
Help your subjects look their best

Help your subjects look their best

The most common question I get at the beginning of a shoot from non-professional models, especially females is “Can you make me look skinnier/prettier/younger?” They’re generally saying it in jest and are thus surprised when I answer in all seriousness “Yes, I can. It will still be you, just the best you.” How do I do that without changing what the person actually looks like? Well here are a few tricks to do just that.

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Useful Photography Tip #3: Finding Inspiration For a Music Shoot

Inspiration has many sources. Sometimes it comes easily, leading or even creating the photo shoot. Other times it’s like pulling teeth. Fortunately when doing a music shoot someone’s already done some of the work for you – the musician. Whenever I get a call to do an album cover the first thought is to ask what the band name and album title are and to send me the music.

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Useful Photography Tip #2: How to Save a Mixed Lighting Shot in Post-Production

Mixed lighting fixed
Mixed lighting photo unedited

Mixed lighting photo unedited

As a follow-up to my post on coping with mixed lighting while shooting, here is a way you can save an image where you didn’t get it right in-camera. There are many different ways of doing this that take varying amounts of time, this is just one way to do it and a pretty quick one.We’ll use this image as our test:

You can see that the majority of the image is quite yellow from the incandescent lighting at the event, but there are blue reflections in the platter from the flash as well. There are other issues but for the tutorial let’s just focus on those two obvious problems.

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Useful Photography Tip #1: Lose Unwanted Glare With a Polarizing Filter

With polarizing filter
Glare on table without polarizing filter

Glare on table without polarizing filter

Glare is caused by diffused reflection (as opposed to direct reflection). While there are techniques for eliminating this with proper lighting, sometimes that’s not possible. Other times the glare is on a secondary object such as a table when the primary object is already lit exactly as you want. An inexpensive addition to your kit which can solve this problem in seconds is a circular polarazing filter. A 52mm filter runs about $20 and larger ones aren’t much more. Just place one on the front of your lens and rotate it till the glare disappears, and in seconds you have a better photo.  Here are two photos, one without and one with a polarizing filter attached.

With polarizing filter

With polarizing filter

Other Uses for a Polarizing Filter

This is not the only time a polarizing filter can help your photos. It will also add color to washed out skies, reduce haze and other uses. When working in a studio keep in mind you will lose approximately one stop with this filter attached so adjust your metering accordingly. If you’re metering through the lens your camera will make that adjustment automatically.

To find out which thread your lens requires, look on it for an ø followed by a number – that’s the size filter you need. My Nikon 50mm f/1 says ø52 and my Tamron 28-75mm says ø67. Then get the right size circular polarizing filter for your lens.

Please Support The Phoblographer

We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.

Also, please follow us on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.