Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

No Class!!

Remember: No class this week because I'm in Delaware. However, you should still be taking pictures!

Keep an eye here for some articles or something...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Studio, tonight!

I'll see you at the Studio at 5:00. Charge your batteries, and empty your cards!

Monday, April 12, 2010

White Balance

Do you remember your film pictures that you took at your cousin Grace's wedding reception about 22 years ago? You know, the ones that you used your camera's flash to light up faces with. They're the ones with white faces, but everything in the background is orange.

This is a white balance problem. White Balance has to do with the color of light coming into your camera. Daylight is very white, and florescent lights are green, and lightbulbs are orange, while outdoor shade is blue. Each of these colors of light must be dealt with or the pictures won't look quite right.

With Film, we either have to buy film specifically made for the color of light (daylight is the default), or we can counter it with filters on the front of the lens--blue filter counters orange light, pink counters green. Fortunately, in the digital world our cameras can adjust to the light without physical filters.

Unfortunately, your camera's default setting is "Automatic". This usually renders skin tones cooler than I prefer. Look for the White Balance setting on your camera, sometimes just WB. This adjustment alone will make your pictures look better immediately.

For this image, I had some trouble. There were regular old G.E. incandescent (tungsten) lightbulbs lighting the back of the shop to camera left, and large windows to camera right. The sun was not shining directly in the windows, so the light coming in is coming from the blue sky, which means it's very blue light.

So, this would be a very mixed up set up for white balance. I solved the problem by "gelling" my flash. This means I put a gel, a colored piece of transparent plastic, on my flash to match the color of the lightbulbs. This still doesn't solve the blue light from the window problem, though.

When using a flash, shutter speed controls how much ambient light is allowed to affect the exposure. Faster speed, less ambient light. The flash is fast, so it keeps up with a fast shutter speed without trouble.

The result is that the light making the exposure is almost all from the flash. there's a little bit coming from the lamp above the bench, but only because we're looking almost right at the bulb itself.

Besides the gel, I also put a diffusion dome on the flash, and shot it through my Zumbrella (though you can get the same one at a better value here). The flash is to camera right, triggered with the Nikon CLS system (that's the real reason I use Nikon).

At the Studio tonight

See you at the Studio tonight! We have some models coming, so you're off the hook once more for pictures of yourselves, but don't hink I'm not keeping track...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tonight's class

Bring your camera to the Studio, and be ready to shoot. Also, feel free to stick around for a class on travel photography and the CVP's monthly meeting. It'll be a great lesson from Mel Torrie and me covering our favorite tips for travel photography. Mel is a fabulous photographer.

Also, I recommend reading Photofocus today--it justifies what I told you about my four tips for becoming a better photographer, and I need all the credibility I can get!

My Tips:
   1. Shoot lots of pictures
   2. Look at lots of pictures
   3. Be in lots of pictures
   4. Read your manual

See you tonight.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Monday's Class

Don't forget that class will be at The Studio

106 N. Church Street, just north of the Tabernacle, right behind Zion's Bank (big red sign).

See you there!

Photographers' License II

You'll hear me talk about your photographer's license. It's what happens when people see a camera around your neck and allow you to talk to them without feeling affronted by a stranger. It's what allows to spend several minutes with complete strangers making a decent portrait where they stand.

It's allowed me to spend one hour filming Turbo, and then have him spend another hour or two helping create some other pictures. It's given me courage to coax smiles from people rumored to be the roughest in the world. Most of all, it makes me another person, one who is expected to be outgoing and personable. I guess since that's what the camera projects, it's simple to project it in fact.

I was reading and found this quote from a noteworthy photographer who specialized in photographing "freaks". I found I liked/related to her statement.

    "My favorite thing is to go where I've never been....The camera is a kind of license [in getting people to      open up].... There are always two things that happen. One is recognition and the other is that it's totally peculiar. But there's some sense in which I always identify with them.... [Yet] it's impossible to get out of our skin into somebody else's...somebody else's tragedy is not the same as your own."

One thing I think I learned is that everyone has some kind of "traumatic experience" as she says elsewhere, and that her "freaks" are merely those who show everyone their trauma, while the rest of us politely hide it. Part of a portraitist's quest is to photograph the real person, but that person is often hiding deep behind a mask. The freaks just don't wear a mask.

What do you think about your license?

Leave a comment and let us know how you feel about Diane Arbus' statement about how she goes about shooting people she feels are strange. You'll know first hand how it feels after you've had me in front of your lens!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Canon Deal!

Here's a great deal on a modern Canon 50mm 1.8 lens--only $65! If I had to choose one lens under $800, this would be the one I'd buy.

This price will go fast.

Most Powerful Light in your Bag

Here's a great little article on Tripods. is a great place to keep up on lighting techniques using flashes of all sizes.

On the Spot Portraits

Little E. gives his pops a hug when he gets home from work. It's cute, ya know? Plus, I'm still vetting one of my lenses, deciding whether I want to keep it. It's fast (f/1.8 maximum aperture), which makes for sharper images at wider apertures, but sometimes I feel like it's not as sharp as I'd like. I'm beginning to see, however, that it looks great for portraits, but perhaps not as good for landscape distances. This one was made at f/3.5, and E. has nice crisp eyes, but pops is out of focus. This brings the viewers' eye right to E.'s eyes and smile, right where the focus should be. This shallow depth of field sets this sort of snapshot appart from the kind that has everything in focus--this type feels more composed even though pops just walked in the house. But hey, with kids this cute you can't make a bad exposure.

The trick with kids is just being ready. I shoot in Aperture Priority modes ("A" on Nikons, "Av" on Canons). This mode allows me to control the depth of field and not worry about the other settings. This is optimal for me because nothing looks more professional than portraits with a controlled depth of field. 

Also, start coaching your spouse, kids, or whomever might be holding the little guys to turn toward the light automatically when you point the camera their way--that makes it much easier to get nice images. Remind your...mature mother-in-law that she is not the subject, and that she will look flatteringly out of focus; she'll begin to trust you, and she'll appear more relaxed and natural in pictures. Finally, show her the pictures on the computer or in print after you have finished them off with processing when she looks good--don't just show her raw on your tiny camera screen!

Nikon D90, 85mm lens, f/3.5, 1/160s, ISO 800, east facing window light in the afternoon (see the square catchlights in the eyes?).