Portrait Photography Tip: Light Adds Up

Learn how the additive quality of light impacts metering and lighting ratios, so you can light your subjects for your desired look
photography lighting tips
In an effort to explain how some light plus a little more light becomes even more light, let me explain how this might matter in the first place. Let’s say you’re photographing a portrait in a studio setting, so you set up a light to illuminate the subject. (It could be a strobe, a hot light, an LED, in a softbox, with a snoot—as long as it’s... Read more

Level Your Horizons

Got a crooked picture problem? Here’s how to fix it.
In the Tip of the Week, learn how to level the horizon line in your photos easily using a camera’s built-in feature or these Photoshop tools.
I’m naturally crooked. I don’t mean psychologically, or even physically. I mean that when I handhold my camera and try to keep it level in relation to whatever horizon is in my picture, I almost always fail miserably. What my eye and hand think is level is always tilted to the right. You might find yourself producing similar results no matter how... Read more

Make Mystery With Lighting

How to create low-key, edge-light images that leave a lot to the imagination
low-key, edge lighting
Using a specular light source to create a dramatic image. Want to make a mysterious portrait? Or maybe you want to show the shape of something without showing all of its detail. It sounds like you might want to make a low-key, edge-lit image. The technique is simple and straightforward, and the result is dramatic. The key is to illuminate the subject... Read more

The Patch Tool

This Photoshop resource is magical when it comes to retouching large areas of a photo, particularly those of one color and luminosity with small details that need to be removed
Photoshop’s Patch tool is a pretty special retouching tool that works along the lines of the Healing Brush and the Clone Stamp. In fact, it’s found hidden beneath the Healing Brush on Photoshop’s toolbar. It works in a similar fashion to both of those spotting tools (to use the old-school darkroom vernacular), but it does a great job particularly... Read more

7 Steps To Getting The Best In-Camera Exposure

Use the benefits of digital imaging technology, but it’s essential to get the composition right in-camera. Follow these tips from Rick Sammon, with images from his workshop in China.
China, Rick Sammon
If you ever shot 35mm slide film, you know that it was essential to get a good exposure in-camera. Slide film was not forgiving, as opposed to negative film, which was forgiving, that is, your exposure could be “off” by a stop or two over or under the correct exposure and you could still make a good print. Slide film shooters had to spend time thinking... Read more

How To Interact With Portrait Subjects

Portrait shoots are no place for shy photographers. Here are a few tips for coming out of your shell to help portrait subjects come out of theirs.
portrait photography
Bedside manner is crucial for portrait photographers. But it wasn’t until I became a professional photographer that I realized the importance of personality. If you’re not a “people person,” portrait photography is going to be challenging for you. While it may not get the coverage of camera and lighting techniques, the truth is, it’s the photographer’s... Read more

Get Perfect Shots Every Time

By following these guidelines, it’s easy to get precisely exposed images of the outdoors with practice and patience
perfect exposures
With a wide range of highlights and shadows in this panorama of Glacier National Park’s Swiftcurrent Lake, understanding a camera’s exposure settings is key to a properly exposed image. When I talk with other photographers, many confess that they always shoot in one of the camera Program Modes. The consensus seems to be something along the lines... Read more

Retouching Basics: The Clone Stamp And Spot Healing Brush

New to Photoshop? Start here for your quick fix of digital magic.
Photoshop retouching
Portrait after retouching in Photoshop If you’re a new Photoshop user and you want to know what tools you should try first, keep reading. In my opinion, the most magical, and simultaneously most useful, Photoshop tools are the Spot Healing Brush and the Clone Stamp. The former is a one-click fix for spots, repairing and replacing them seamlessly with... Read more

How And Why To Use Auto-Exposure Bracketing

In tricky lighting situations, hedge your exposure bets with auto-exposure bracketing
auto-exposure bracketing
When you’re working in difficult lighting conditions—say, a contrasty midday scene, a backlighting situation or a scene that’s very dark or very light—it can be difficult to determine the correct exposure. In this situation, you might think it’s best to use automatic exposure controls, like program mode or shutter priority or aperture priority.... Read more

Better Pose, Better Portrait

Help portrait subjects feel at ease by giving them something to hold on to
portrait photography
When photographing people—whether that’s in studio, in their living room or in the great outdoors—there’s one posing trick that will help the subject look and feel more comfortable every time. It’s giving the subject something to ground them. Frequently this involves providing the subject with something to sit on, lean against or physically... Read more

Seeing The World In Black & White

Create striking images with these essential qualities of monochrome photography
black-and-white photography
Contrast. The human eye sees in color. When colors are converted to black-and-white, we see shades of gray. Light colors become highlights. Dark colors become heavy tones. The difference between these two ends of the spectrum is called tonal contrast. Contrast is an important consideration in any photograph, but even more so for monochrome images. This... Read more

Lighting Modifier Must-Have: Cinefoil

This matte black, heavy-duty aluminum foil is a tremendous lighting solution
There’s a product in your kitchen that works great as a lighting modifier. It’s affordable and disposable, and it won’t catch fire no matter how hard you try. It’s aluminum foil, the same stuff you wrap your leftovers in. Technically, the studio variety of aluminum foil, also called Cinefoil or black wrap, is matte black in color, and it’s... Read more