Thursday, April 12, 2012
I photograph a lot of people. I shoot executive portraits and environmental portraits and babies and kids and models and all sorts of people doing all sorts of things. And almost all of them are posed in one way or another. Sure, I have some favorite poses that I regularly rely on, but with posing—as it is with so many photographic techniques—it can be all too easy to get stuck in a rut and fall back on the same basic poses time and again. Well there's a great way to help you get out of your posing rut, or to learn new poses if you're not especially experienced. It's an app for your iPhone called, appropriately, Posing App. It does just what you'd think it would: it categorizes illustrated poses into groups of men, women, children, couples, groups and weddings, and it includes a total of 140 different poses that you can incorporate into your photo shoots. Best of all, since it's on your phone you'll always have a hundred new pose ideas right in your pocket.
Grecco On Lighting
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Just a few weeks ago I wrote about the awesome collection of behind-the-scenes videos that portrait guru Michael Grecco has been doling out via his YouTube channel. But now I've got another reason to mention the man's great work to you, and it's courtesy of his book "Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait," which has been updated and re-released for the digital era. The 2006 book pre-dated the iPad, which also mean that Grecco's publisher wasn't particularly keyed in on electronic publishing rights, so the photographer retained them. And that has allowed him to release his best-selling lighting book for 2012 audiences as an e-book. David Hobby convinced Grecco to break down a shot from the book in greater detail for Strobist readers, and it's well worth a look. But the real takeaway here is to take your iPad, Kindle or Nook and download Grecco's lighting book. Not only will you gain a lot of insight into high-end lighting techniques, but you'll be supporting the photographer directly, as 90% of every purchase goes straight to him.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
If you're like me—and so many photographers nowadays—then you're interested in making time-lapse videos. So you'll definitely want to be sure you've got an intervalometer. I've got an intervalometer that's made specifically for my D-SLR, and it's not only perfect as a cable release for long exposures, but it's also the ideal tool for making multiple exposures automatically at specific intervals over a long period of time. That's exactly what an intervalometer does, in fact. But at about $150, it's not the least expensive cable release you can buy. Still, if you're going to make time-lapse movies you definitely don't want to fire the shutter by hand, so that price is a small one to pay for such a technological advantage. My biggest complaint about my intervalometer is that I have to remember to carry it with me. Enter the Trigger Happy app for the iPhone. It's a camera controller app that comes with a small piece of hardware inline on the cable that connects your phone directly to your camera (various models are promised to be supported) and it's been overwhelmingly funded via the company's Kickstarter fundraising page. More than a cable release and an intervalometer, though, the Trigger Happy controller can also auto-bracket exposures up to nine frames—which makes it possible to combine two technological marvels into one HDR time-lapse video. Thanks to Digital Photography School for pointing out this great product. Peter West Carey has a nice preview of the project at DPS, so after reading that head over to Kickstarter and order yours today.
Free Lens Shade
Monday, April 9, 2012
I hate lens flare. I think it's insidious, and it sneaks in and ruins your photos if you're not paying careful attention. I hate flare enough that I'm going to recommend that you read this post from DIY Photography about the most half-fast, cheapskate, makeshift lens shade you can possibly imagine. And I'm going to suggest you actually use it in a pinch. It's a coffee sleeve. You know, the folded piece of cardboard that the coffee shop barista wraps around your to-go cup of joe to keep you from burning your fingers on a hot cup? That's a coffee sleeve, and it just so happens that it's cheap and disposable and flexible enough to be the perfect lens hood. Plus, if you're a coffee addict like me, you're never more than a few steps from the coffee shop, which means these sleeves are the very definition of "readily available." The most important thing, when it comes to flare, is keeping it from entering the lens. If a coffee sleeve helps you do that, I say go for it.
Simple Studio Lighting With Fluorescents
Friday, April 6, 2012
Regular readers know I'm a big fan of the DIY Photography blog. The site does a wonderful job of compiling the best homemade photo gear solutions from around the Internet. And today they brought me a nice, simple, effective and above all super-affordable lighting solution that I've wondered about for quite a while. It's turning dirt cheap fluorescent lights into beautifully soft studio sources. DIY-er Joe Edelman has created a pair of videos that explain not only how he assembles his fluorescent studio lights, but also how he puts them to use. I love the idea of having lights that slide on a simple track system, and the ability to create a great soft source that can work for both stills and video… that's a heck of a solution at any price. If you're interested in making an affordable fluorescent lighting studio solution for yourself, I can't think of a better place to start.
Lens Lessons Learned From Real Estate
Thursday, April 5, 2012
My wife and I have started shopping for a new home. We're in the "keep our eyes open and visit the occasional open house" mode, and if there's one thing I've learned so far it's this: it really helps to set foot in a house rather than to rely solely on pictures. The reality is often quite different from the picture. This has served to remind me about the power of photographs, and more specifically, the power of a wide-angle lens to expand a scene. Small (er, "charming") homes use this technique regularly to make a living room look large and comfortable rather than cramped and claustrophobic. So here's what I've learned: first, not only should I be more deliberate about what I'm trying to say with a given picture (do I want to make someone look old or young, should I make this element prominent or minimize it in the scene, and so on) and two, when I want to make a space look huge I probably can't do better than to use a wide-angle lens. If a real estate agent can make great pictures with this simple bit of knowledge, think of what us photographers can accomplish? If you'd like a leg up on working with wide angles effectively, check out this article I wrote for Digital Photo a little while back. It includes tips for composing successfully with wide lenses, as well as advice for minimizing distortion in camera and in the computer.
Cold Shoes For Radio Triggers
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
I only recently learned, I'm embarrassed to say, that my radio strobe triggers work better when they're properly oriented. For years, I've laid my Pocketwizard receivers wherever it was convenient. But it turns out that if the receiver and transmitter are oriented in parallel—meaning that the receiver should also be standing upright—they will work notably better in almost all circumstances. I learned that little tidbit in the first place from David Hobby, the Strobist, so it's fitting that today I learned a great trick for affixing those radio receivers (Pocketwizard or otherwise) to the pack or strobe heads I'm using also straight from the Strobist. Here's the tip: take a discarded cold shoe (the non-electrified version of the hot-shoe on top of your camera) from other random strobe accessories (like the brackets designed to hold umbrellas for use with handheld flash units) and glue it to your pack. Then you can mount your receiver directly to the pack and keep it perfectly oriented for better reception. See how Mr. Hobby does it at his blog, and then do what I'm gonna do: glue some cold shoes to practically everything I own.
The Photoshop Quiz Game
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Apparently this is the week of "Why didn't I think of that?" Not that I'm the Photoshop expert that Dave Cross is; frankly, he's a guru. But his new idea is so great that definitely makes me envious. Along with offering awesome advice via his daily blogs, he's now created an iPhone and iPad app called The Photoshop Quiz Game. It's comprised of more than 600 questions: true/false, multiple choice and "name that dialog" questions that will test your knowledge of the industry standard image editing program. What makes it really genius, though, is that it's got three levels of difficulty, which means anybody can use it. That's right: not play with it, but use it. You can use this game to learn more about Photoshop! And that, my friends, is the mark of a great idea. Like I said, I wish I'd thought of it first.