The Phoblographer’s Guide on How to Use a Softbox for Newbies

Think about a softbox. And then think about a hose and the water spraying out. If the hose doesn’t have much of a nozzle on it, then the water is just going to spray. But consider one of those nozzles with lots of different shapes. Twist it one way, and the water will come out very tight and concentrated. Twist it another way and the water will come out almost like a showerhead. Twist it again, the water may come out more wide–perfect for getting lots of your friends wet during the summer. Think about all this when we explain how a softbox works.

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Quick Lighting Tip: How Light Diffusion Can Sometimes Kill Details in a Photo

Is diffusion always a good thing when it comes to photography?

Diffusion: in regards to photography, this is the softening of light as it pertains to the quality of it. There is hard light which is often much less diffused while soft light is very diffused. Diffusion can break things known as specular highlights–which are little bits of light and details that come out due to the illumination found with light. Flash duration and a number of other things also play a role. But with diffusion, light’s super powers can be nullified.

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The New Canon 70-200mm Lens Updates are Very Perplexing

The Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L III IS USM and Canon 70-200mm f4 L IS II USM are being updated today in sort of odd ways

Oh Canon, what are you doing? Today, the company is announcing that they’re making changes to both of their 70-200mm lenses. The more common changes amongst both are that they’re getting a newer white exterior to fully match the other telephoto L lenses in their lineup. In terms of consistency, that makes sense. Then there are new coatings on their lenses. But otherwise, when it comes to the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L III IS USM, those are the big, major changes. The optics are the same as the previous lens. Why? Well, I guess Canon believes that the optics are good enough, or they’re confident enough to say that it will be able to resolve the resolution of any sensors they happen to be creating later on.

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How to Use a Softbox: A Visual Guide for the Photographer New to Lighting

Give lots of photographers a softbox and they’ll know nothing about using one; but it makes lighting so easy

Over the years, I’ve used many different lighting modifiers, but one of the mainstays has always been a variation of the traditional photography softbox. Along with the umbrella, it’s arguably the most popular option on the market. Photographers of all types use them, but they’re perhaps most commonly employed with studio portraiture and headshots. Softboxes take the fundamental values of light and find a way to shape and mold it. To understand this a bit better, think about how fairy lights, a desk lamp, and ceiling lights all affect a room differently. They’re all different shapes, sizes, and are placed in different ways. This idea will help you get through this article and ultimately guide you on how to use one. But in the end, you’ll need to figure out whether or not you actually need one.

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“Plumes” Took A Lot of Experimentation And Careful Setup to Get “Almost Perfect”

All images by Andrei Duman. Used with permission.

“I think it is very important for a photographer to continue to be interested and curious about photography.” explains Andrei Duman about his project, Plumes. “For me, that means that although I may be known more as a travel/landscape/aerial photographer, I am still wanting to push myself and try something new. Stepping outside what you consider to be your comfort zone forces you to be uncomfortable which is when you have the greatest opportunity to learn.” Plumes is a bit of an experimentation that Andrei wanted to do in the studio. And believe it or not, the project ended up helping Andrei with his travel photography.

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What is High Key Lighting? How The Popular Lighting Technique Works With Portrait Photography

High key lighting is a technique that has been used for many, many years now. For the most part, you can associate it with a certain Amazon patent, but high key lighting has been used year after year for portrait photography and cinematography. Essentially, it gives your subject this sort of angelic, bright and airy look. These days it is typically more associated with backlighting a portrait subject. So if you love working with natural lighting, then you’ll probably really like high key lighting.

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Mastering the Art of Black and White Urban Geometry Photography (Premium)

Urban Geometry began as a major movement a few years ago as a combination of both street photography and architecture. It can surely be done in color, but many of the movement’s most effective images are done in black and white. Peruse Instagram, Behance and many other hubs for photographic artistry and you’re bound to find loads of captivating and incredible photos based solely on this medium. Urban Geometry is an interesting genre in that typically it’s a process centered around capturing something; but the final result only really comes out after processing. So if you’re looking to find a way to understand the art form better and get more in tune with your own creative abilities to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, then read ahead.

The Science Behind Geometry

Since we began being a species, human beings have tried to find a way to organize and make sense of the environment around them. This natural predisposition lends itself well to geometry. Henri Cartier-Bresson stated that he was an artist that found a way to look at geometric shapes in the world and capture them in an appealing way. Urban Geometry is the modern evolution of that idea and it has only progressed so fast as of recent due to the internet and the simple ability for people to upload and share photos at a moment’s notice. That’s part of what makes Urban Geometry so appealing–the fact that it uses shapes, tones, lighting, and the frame to lead the eye around in a way that it simple to digest.

Seeing the world in the form of shapes is pretty simple to begin with. Just look at the everyday objects around you: brick walls, shelving units, floors, etc. Then move into the very minute details of it all by looking for abstracts.

For example the photo above could have easily been thought of to be an area around a parking lot or a grate of some sort. It’s actually the exterior part of an air purifier. But there are things that work for it such as the stark contrast between the brights and darks combined with the darkness to the light.

When shooting, you’ll eventually learn how to see the world in different tones, but more on that will come later.

Geometric shapes, such as the example shown off earlier in this section, and your ability to see them will eventually come to you as you go around the world looking for them. In fact, I strongly recommend that you go around not photographing at all. Instead, look around the world and let it all just come to you. Start out in a big city with big buildings. You’ll eventually get that feeling of “I wish I had my camera with me.”

“For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to “give a meaning” to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of the mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry.”
― Henri Cartier-Bresson

Making it Work Within Your Format (4:3, 3:2, 16:9)

Besides just seeing the world in terms of geometric shapes, you’ll also need to figure out a way to frame it all. Most cameras work within the 4:3 or 3:2 formats, but your mind probably doesn’t see or think that way. Maybe you think square! As a tutorial example, take a look at how the photo above takes the buildings and finds a way to make them look seamlessly meshing together.

Now imagine if that were focusing into a more defined area.

Now here’s what a square crop of that idea looks like. It’s interesting in that it adheres to what the photographer is trying to accomplish but it also is focusing in on a more minute detail. This harkens back to the idea of finding the abstracts around you in everyday life. This was only possible with a square crop from the original 4:3 imaging area shot. Sometimes it’s easy to find a different sort of crop within a larger frame that works.

If that’s too tight for you, then maybe a 16:9 crop can work. This crop works for the same reasons that the square did but includes more shades, tones and patterns. It looks incredibly seamless and adds more balance to the entire scene.

LOOK FOR PATTERNS

In big cities, it can be difficult to not find patterns. Consider the following: many buildings in any given neighborhood are designed to look and feel the same due to the fact that it creates a sense of uniformity in a neighborhood within a city. So with that said, it can be tough to not find patterns or similarity. Lots of pre-war apartment buildings look the same if they were targeted to one social class vs the other. By studying the individual areas and pieces of these buildings, you’re going to find patterns. Similarly, if you look at larger, all glass buildings, then you’re bound to find patterns.

Let’s take a look at an example:

When looking at the building above, one can see that there are clear patterns. Let’s identify them:

  • The textures
  • The tones
  • The colors
  • The placement and distance of the windows

Now that you’ve identified them, we can find a way to focus on a specific section of the building.

This image was created using a 16:10 crop then working with the highlights, shadows, blacks, whites, contrast and clarity. It’s far different from what you may have been looking at, but part of the magic of Urban Geometry comes out in post.

It’s all about Contrast, Light, UpRight tool and Tones

Urban geometry has a whole lot to do with the editing process. With that said, photographers should look out for the contrast, tones, and lighting. To start, consider the ROYGBIV spectrum. The theories behind the spectrum state that colors on either end clash with one another. For example, Red and Blue are on total ends of the spectrum; so in terms of color coordination they contrast a whole lot. To that end, reds and blues will clash and create contrast within a scene.

But hold on, that’s not totally true. If they’re pastel shades of red and blue, then they’re going to contrast a whole lot less because they’re both lighter in color and mixed in with white. On the other hand, a darker red will create a whole lot more contrast with a lighter blue. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Where is the color on the RGB Spectrum?
  • Where is the main color in relation to Green?
  • What is the clashing color?
  • Where is the clashing color in relation to my main color?
  • What shades are the main color and the clashing color? That is, how dark are they?
  • Which is darker?
  • Is there a stark contrast between the dark and light?

The ultimate combination is finding a clash between darks and lights. In Black and white photography, that’s what it’s all about. Otherwise, it can be very difficult to tell a light, seafoam green apart from a shade of tickle me pink.

Additionally, in Urban Geometry the Adobe Lightroom Upright tool can be very useful. It will work to make your lines and straight and geometric as possible.

Now get out there and shoot!

The Foldio 3 Has Eight Cubic Feet of Photography Space That Folds Down to Less Than 3 Inches Flat

The Foldio 3 is designed for those who love that classic product photography look and also for those who need to do bigger products at times. We’ve previously reviewed the Foldio 360–which lets you also do 360 photography. But now, the Foldio 3 is on Kickstarter and is promising a lot of new potential including more lights, more space, etc. Specifically, this is the light tent that lets you create seamless whites and blacks in an image that’s pretty much the industry standard.

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White vs Gold Reflectors: How They Work for Portrait Photography

If you’re a natural light portrait photographer, then I simply cannot express to you how much a reflector can help you create better portraits. They’re so incredibly versatile–being able to reflect light of certain colors into a scene or even diffuse light as you see it coming into the scene. So YouTube channel Weekly Imogen decided to put together a video to show you just how reflectors work; but not just any reflectors.

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Elinchrom’s New Deep Umbrellas Are Offering Versatility For an Affordable Price

Image from Elinchrom’s website, shot by Quentin DeCaillet.

Today, Elinchrom is introducing a new lineup of umbrellas. These umbrellas are replacing the Varistar umbrellas and are promising to do quite a bit for photographers at a pretty inexpensive cost overall. The Elinchrom Deep Umbrellas come in silver, translucent and white offerings. Translucent umbrellas are a favorite choice for diffusing natural light, while silver is bound to deliver very specular light–therefore bringing out a ton of details in your subjects on top of the sharp lenses you’re probably using. White umbrellas tend to deliver the most color neutral offering (as it pertains to your flash or strobe) and is also fantastic for portraits.

But there’s an extra layer to all of this.

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Fujifilm’s New White Instax 300 Wide is an Urban Outfitters Exclusive

The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 has been out for a little while now in it’s not so beautiful gray and black color scheme. But now, you can score the camera in pure white–a custom color available only from Urban Outfitters. It’s got the same 95mm f14 lens as the original and overall shoots incredibly flattering images of people due to the large exposure area. Targeted at the obvious hipster crowd, the new white version allows you to customize its look a bit better so that you can finally get your PBR holding hands on that Hello Kitty edition that you’ve always wanted.

The new white Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 camera can be yours now for $130, which is quite a bit more pricy than the standard version.

Why Most Photographers Should Have Reflectors

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Reflectors are by and large the most versatile tool that a photographer can have in their tool kit. These light modifiers have many uses in various situations and can make almost any photo look better. If you’re a landscape photographer, you probably don’t need one of these. Same with you being an event photographer. But if you’re a wedding photographer, portrait photographer, photojournalist, or a studio photographer of any sort then you should have a reflector in your tool kit. If you have a five-in-one reflector, you’ve got even more versatility.

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Useful Photography Tip #129: High Contrast Black and Whites Are All About the Midtones

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The art of creating high contrast black and white images has to start with what first comes out of the camera. To do that, you first need to create an image with very bright whites and with darks as dark as you can possibly get them. You’re most likely to skew one way or the other. But the biggest edits come in the post-production stage. This is where you need to work with the entire dynamic range are of the image since the colors are more or less moot due to the color scheme being removed.

So at this point you’ll need to work with four critical areas in Adobe Lightroom:

– The Blacks

– The Whites

– The Tonal Curve

– Clarity

Blacks adjust the most extreme end of the dark area while the whites do the opposite. Then you’re going to need to work with the entire space in between–which are the midtones. You can manipulate these mostly using the clarity slider for quicker adjustments but more fine tuned adjustments should be done through the tonal curves.

At that point, you’ll be playing with the settings to get a look that you want. These are the basic tools that you’ll need to get iHigh Contrast Black and White images, so go ahead and give it a shot.

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Why the Photographic Umbrella is the Ultimate Light Modifier

I have a confession to make: ever since getting involved in the whole strobist world, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect light modifier. It has lead me down paths to experiment with beauty dishes, softboxes, ring flashes, umbrellas and octabanks. While every light modifier is very capable of doing their own thing very well, I’ve found that umbrellas are the most versatile. And because of this fact, I own four of them.

Umbrellas are great! They give beautiful catchlights in the eyes, can bring out lots of detail in a subject, have a beautiful and inefficient light spread that isn’t really directional but can be made so, and they’re super portable.

And more so than any other light modifier, I believe umbrellas rule them all.

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The Phoblographer’s Introduction to Collapsible Photo Reflectors

photography reflector

Photographers have been using photographic reflectors for years because of the pure simplicty they offer when trying to fill in shadows on a subject or even diffusing a large light source. Oh, right! They can also block light. And while we’re at it, they can even add some sort of specular color to the scene. In fact, collapsible photo reflectors are incredibly useful and very versatile. It’s totally worth it for every photographer to have one in their kit because of everything that they can offer in a smaller and portable package.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that they can do.

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Canon Announces Two New Zoom Lenses and the White Rebel SL1 in the US

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Canon has been unusually quiet so far for the year, but today they’ve announced two new lenses. The first is an alternative to their 16-35mm f2.8 L–which is first and foremost an f4 lens. Canon has also added in image stabilization of up to four stops. Plus there is weather resistance in the design. Additionally, the new 16-35mm f4 L IS boasts a nine blade aperture, three aspherical elements, two UD elements, and was designed to have an emphasis on creating high contrast images. That’s perfect for architectural shooters.

The closest it can focus is 11 inches away. Being an L lens, it is also obviously a full frame option.

But that’s not all Canon announced today.

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Canon Launches White EOS Rebel SL1 + 18-55mm Kit Lens on European Markets

Canon Rebel SL1 white edition

After the recent sensor debacle–as a reminder, two Canon cameras in a row scored poorly in DxOMark’s sensor tests–it appears that the brilliant marketing geniuses over at Canon World Headquarters decided that it was time for a new approach at winning new customers. Looking into the history books, they must’ve found a reference on Leica somewhere, more precisely on how Leica effectively re-launched one and the same camera over and over again for decades by making one special edition after the other.

Something like this must’ve happened for sure, as we have no other explanation for what Canon has just done: they launched a white edition EOS Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D + 18-55mm kit lens. Yes, both camera and lens are clad in exclusive Canon Polar White, which is just a little bit whiter than the white Nikon uses in their 1-series cameras. We’re joking of course. About the white, that is. Not about the white camera. That one’s real. And the lens.

If we’ve got you all excited now, better calm down and put that credit card back where it belongs: it appears the super special white Rebel SL1 will only be available on European markets. That’s too bad, because let’s face it, who wouldn’t fancy a white Rebel! Owning one of these would surely make you stand out from the crowd of DSLR users. That is, until some Japanese bloke comes along with his multi-colored Pentax

Via Canon Watch

Figosa’s Beautiful Italian Leather Straps Now Come in Colors

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We’ve previously reviewed the Vintage Leather strap by Figosa shortly after we first heard about them, and the strap even made it to a carefully curated list of our favorites. And today, the company is announcing that the straps are getting a little bit more swag to them: they’re now coming in colors. After a company announcement, Laura and Andrea (the creators) once again explained that these are still being hand made. At the moment, they only have white and lavender–which are both available in their Etsy store.

Because of the dyeing process, these straps are a tad pricier at $40.84; but considering the strength and quality of the Italian leather being used, that’s still a bargain.


Nikon Repair Center Taiwan Can Make Your Nikon Lens Look Like Canon L Glass

Pictures via Nikon Repair Center blog

Pictures via Nikon Repair Center blog

If there’s one major advantage that Canon users have over Nikon users, it’s that they can buy that gorgeous looking white L glass. Nikon has nothing like that. In you face, Nikon! But here’s the good news for all Nikon fanboys: you can actually have your Nikon lenses in white, too! Nikon’s repair center in Taiwan is apparently capable of camouflaging your lens to look like Canon L glass. Whether it’s just because you envy Canon users, because you secretly wish you had opted for the D800 instead of the 5D Mk III in our contest, or because you’re attending a meeting of the anonymous Canonholics–those guys over in Taiwan will paint your lens white for the inconsiderable fee of US-$ 320. So why wait? You can be just as awesome as a Canonista!

Via Nikon Rumors

Westcott Announces New Line of Pro Softboxes

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Westcott has been known for their Apollo softboxes for a very long time and are used by many professionals that want excellent quality for a good price. Their umbrellas are pretty awesome too. The company is once again trying to make a mark with the announcement of their brand new Pro Softboxes. They’re pitching the new modifiers at both photographers and videographers, and come with a 5-year warranty.

As for the construction, they feature double layer heat shield fabric (which is essential for tungsten lights), sprung steel rods to keep the shape and form, and tent style vents. The softboxes come in a 36 x 48 for $169.90, 24 x 32 for $129.90, and a 16 x 22 for $99 at the moment. But there are more in the works with silver and white interiors.

Also be sure to check Adorama for their listings.

Pentax Introduces the WG-3 In White

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Pentax has had the WG-3 tough camera out for a while and today the company is introducing a brand new color: white. Yes, it is gorgeous and we bow down to our Pentaxian overlords, but did anyone think about losing this thing in the snow? It has some black edges and some blue markings but if the sun is extremely bright then the snow is going to be tough to look at as it is. Just pray that you don’t drop it when you vacation over to Fargo or Siberia. And don’t worry too much about it, it’s probably tougher than you are anyway, you wimp.

This camera will be out in July 2013 for $299.99. And in the mean time, you can check out our review of its green cousin.