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New Backgrounds With Nothing But Light

Changing the look of the background is discussed

I was recently working with a new assistant on location making portraits for a corporate client, when the topic of changing the look of the background came up. I explained to her that our middle-gray background (lit with a focused spot from a gridded strobe) could be turned into anything from white to black, simply by adjusting the amount of light on... Read more

Making Cookies (The Photographic Kind)

I love cookies. I’m not talking about the edible kind (though I do love those too)

I love cookies. I’m not talking about the edible kind (though I do love those too). I’m talking about the kind of cookie that’s used in photographic lighting. Its name is short for cucoloris, which is the industry standard device for casting patterned shadows for specific photographic effects. And these cookies, too, can be homemade.... Read more

Build A Speedlight Softbox

When it comes to modifying my speedlight, I’ve always been a bit of a do-it-yourselfer

When it comes to modifying my speedlight, I’ve always been a bit of a do-it-yourselfer. For instance, my favorite flash modifier is a simple white card and rubber band, employed to create a great bounce when the flash is pointed straight up. More important, though, it’s dirt cheap and easily replaceable—a prerequisite for DIY flash modifiers,... Read more
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How To Photograph Cars

Did you ever find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation trying to pull off a tremendous photograph

Did you ever find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation trying to pull off a tremendous photograph? Only all the time, right? It seems like I’m always trying to pull a proverbial rabbit out of my photographic hat. Like when a client recently hired me to photograph a beautiful car in a much less than beautiful situation. What it taught me was... Read more

D-I-Y Beauty Shot Mode

Here’s how to recreate the effect in camera and in post

The first thing the beauty shot mode will do is slightly overexpose—whether that’s via flash or available light. So, if you’d like to start there in-camera, simply set your manual exposure to be a half-stop or more overexposed. If you’re shooting on an auto mode, adjust the exposure compensation to overexpose by 2/3, or even a full... Read more

Mastering Low-Light Flash Fill

Low-light flash photography can be frustrating, especially when you’re new to it

Low-light flash photography can be frustrating, especially when you’re new to it. Balancing ambience nicely with flash seems like the mark of a masterful photographer, but it’s actually fairly easy once you know the basics The trick to balancing ambient light with your flash is to think of these two types of light as two separate exposures... Read more

Master the Art of Shooting Sunrise and Sunset

We hear it all the time: sunrise and sunset are two of the best times to shoot because of the quality of sunlight during these “magic hours”

We hear it all the time: sunrise and sunset are two of the best times to shoot because of the quality of sunlight during these “magic hours.” But what, exactly makes these times so special? More important, what makes shooting at the beginning of the day different from shooting at the end of the day? And how does the light change during the... Read more

Ten Reasons To Use A Tripod Other Than Long Exposures

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: You should use a tripod when you shoot with slow shutter speeds to make long exposures

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: You should use a tripod when you shoot with slow shutter speeds to make long exposures. I know, tripods are old news. But, there are many more reasons to use a tripod other than when you’re using slow shutter speeds. In fact, here are 10 great reasons to use a tripod for better pictures other than... Read more

His Pictures Look Better Than Mine! It Must Be The Camera!

I recently received an email from an old friend who is also a new photographer

I recently received an email from an old friend who is also a new photographer. She was working on an assignment and had a second photographer working with her. What she noticed was at the end of the day, the other photographer’s pictures seemed better than her own. “Her pictures seem so much brighter,” she said, “with less noise... Read more

Multi-Image Compositing Tips – Part Two

Last week we covered my favorite in-camera tips for making multiple image composites

Last week we covered my favorite in-camera tips for making multiple image composites. Assuming you’ve followed that great advice and created separate individual images that are all nicely aligned and ready to make the merge into a single composite, you’ll have an easier time compositing those exposures in the computer. But still, you’ll... Read more

Tips and Tricks for Multiple Exposure Compositing

There’s an old saying that it’s always better to get a shot right in the camera whenever possible, as opposed to fixing it in post

There’s an old saying that it’s always better to get a shot right in the camera whenever possible, as opposed to fixing it in post. And this is certainly true, I’ve found, in most circumstances…But, not all the time. I also know that there are certain situations in which a little bit of planned post-production wizardry can help you... Read more

Build Your Own Strip Light

There are all sorts of studio gadgets and light modifiers that I would love to add to my arsenal

There are all sorts of studio gadgets and light modifiers that I would love to add to my arsenal, but unfortunately I just don’t have the budget for them all. At the top of that list is a set of strip lights. Strip lights are softboxes a few feet long and a few inches wide, and they’re designed to create a fairly narrow light that still... Read more
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