A new generation of lights has hit the market, including some innovative continuous light sources. Here's a look at the advantages and disadvantages of these different types of lights.
Text & Photography by Tom Bol
If you’re a portrait photographer, chances are you started out with a continuous light source. I remember my first “hot lights,” inexpensive tungsten lights reflected through a simple silver reflector. Imagine a household lightbulb being reflected by a large silver dinner plate, and you get the idea.
As the name implies, the lights were hot, and...
Keep your expensive equipment warm, safe and dry when shooting this winter
Cold weather has arrived all across the United States, though the definition of cold is different for each of us. Minnesotans, for instance, are soon to be dealing with sub-zero temperatures for months, while Southern Californians and Floridians may just feel a little chill as the mercury occasionally drops to 50. When the temperature falls below freezing,...
Illuminating bright backgrounds requires the right know-how and deliberate positioning of the subjects, the lights and the light modifiers
Text & Photography by William Sawalich
For consistent white background illumination, place two lights behind a subject on each side of the frame. This ensures even lighting without hotspots.
One of the most popular requests I get from portrait clients is to photograph them in front of a white background. It’s for good reason, too. The look has a timeless quality, plus it’s clean and...
Keeping the camera steady and choosing the right shutter speed are crucial for sharp pictures
Want to ensure your pictures are sharp every time? Then you’d better get good at keeping the camera steady and choosing the correct shutter speed based on the lens you’re using. Most of us know that a too-slow shutter speed won’t freeze a fast-moving subject—like an athlete running or speeding car—but those are pretty specialized circumstances....
Great candids and portraits aren’t always as simple as getting the right expression
Text & Photography By Russell Hart
If this photograph had been shot from a position more directly behind the woman taking a snapshot, the three people who are her subject would have been blocked or overlapped by her body. Shooting from a position more to the left caused the photographer (in the image) and her subjects to be horizontally more separated—especially important in a two-dimensional...
Kick off the New Year on the right foot by conquering three photography challenges
It’s that time of year again when we’re all making New Year’s resolutions to improve our diets, kick our bad habits and take care of all those things we keep putting off every year. Why not add to the annual to-do list with a handful of things to improve your photographic pursuits as well? Here are three suggestions to help get every photographer’s...
Learn to control aperture and shutter speed independently for technical and creative control
Many photographers have the same simple goal on their to-do lists: to learn to master manual exposure control. And while photographers shouldn’t feel bad for relying on automatic assistance, it’s understandable why so many of us want to get good at making manual exposures. It’s because manual exposure settings offer complete technical control,...
A different photographic style to shoot friends and family on the road
Text & Photography by Mark Edward Harris
A Backroads bicycle trip around Japan’s Noto Peninsula led to person-to-person cultural exchanges, making for a much deeper and more rewarding experience.
During four very different Backroads tours—hiking through the Japanese Alps, cycling around Japan’s Noto Peninsula, crossing western Cuba and biking/cruising down the Danube—I focused my cameras...
This simple lighting technique is an effective way to add shape and definition to portraits, tabletops and more
When photographers learn to use lighting controls, step one is the key light, which is the main illumination in a scene. Step two is learning about fill light, which adds illumination to the shadow side of the subject to prevent the shadows from being too dark and overly dramatic. In my opinion, though, the next step should be the reverse of fill light—when...
Send high-res photos easily with this iCloud-enabled trick
Have you ever tried to diagnose a computer problem over the telephone? It’s incredibly frustrating—usually because the person at the other end inevitably doesn’t understand much about computers. You might be surprised just how many people aren’t especially tech savvy. This is particularly problematic for photographers who want to send those...
Learn to overcome the challenges of winter subjects
Text & Photography by Brian Matiash
Snow is a challenging element to include in a composition. It can wreak havoc with exposure and make it difficult to direct your viewers. However, when you get a lock on proper exposure settings and add more prominent colors, it can be magical.
Shooting photos in snowy conditions brings with it a number of technical and compositional challenges that...
How sports photographer Paul Kitagaki Jr. captures that unexpected moment
By Mark Edward Harris / Photography By Paul Kitagaki Jr.
Shawn Johnson (U.S.A.) captures the silver medal in the women’s individual all-around competition at the 2008 Olympics on Friday, Aug. 15, 2008, in Beijing, China.
Like the athletes they capture, photographers have been gearing up for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Both have to be at the peak of their games to produce the desired outcomes.