Thursday, October 30, 2014

Navigating the sea of lenses


When it comes to interchangeable lenses the choices can be very overwhelming. The number one question I get asked, which is also one of the most common ones found on internet forums, is, "what kind of lens should I get?"

It's an unfair question since no one can guess individual needs, considering there are so many variables. What do you have already? What do you like taking pictures of? What is your budget? What is the intended end use of your images? What kind of camera do you have? What is... well, you get the idea.

While the above question may be a common one the core problem is the lack of knowledge about lenses in general. I will try to cover some of the more common answers here, just keep in mind that it is by no means complete nor comprehensive.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

DIY Lightstand Table


As a product photographer, shooting tables are a necessity. I have several DIY tables that I have built over the years that have served their purpose and been quite adequate for their needs. However, as an instructor I needed a very small elevated table for holding up a screen projector. It seems that not every venue I lecture at has presentation equipment. What to do... well, time for a do-it-yourself project.

Analyzing my needs was easy. I needed something small enough to be unobtrusive but large enough to hold my projector. It had to be stable enough so it doesn't come crashing down during my lectures yet light enough to transport. It also had to be high enough for a proper projection angle. Building a table that small and that tall wasn't so much the issue, but how do you transport such a beast? There had to be a way of utilizing or re-purposing some of the more transportable equipment I already had. Then it hit me. Make a small platform for something that's already designed to be small but stable, a light stand. This is the result of my brain storm.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Building your scene back to front


Most beginners approach a photograph like this; they find a subject they want to photograph, bring the camera up to their eye, meter the scene for proper exposure, compose their subject in the frame then click the shutter button. After the photo is taken, a quick glimpse at the LCD screen on the back of the camera lets them know if the photo came out alright. If yes, they move on. If no, adjustments are made and the shot is retaken (if possible). Sounds familiar? That, my friends, is the anatomy of a snapshot.

The snapshot, something we all do. When all we want is a quick documentary photo, something just to record a scene or situation, the snapshot is quite appropriate. If that is all you want out off your camera, that's fine, you can stop reading here. Somehow I feel you want more from your images and for that you have to start thinking about building your images and that means approaching your scene like a pro. To do that you have to build your scene from back to front. Here is what I mean by this.

At it's most simplistic form a photograph consists of three main elements; your subject (the object of attention in the photo), the background (or setting in which this object resides) and the light (which allows us to see the object). Of course there are other elements to consider, but for the purpose of this tutorial we will be concentrating on these three.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

5 tips for using reflectors in portrait photography


One of the most versatile tools to use in your natural light portrait lighting arsenal is the popular 5-in-1 reflector. They are inexpensive, light weight, easy to carry and offers some styling above what you can get with natural light on its own.

Although often used in outdoor natural light portraiture, the 5-in-1 can easily be implemented in your studio lighting set up as well. You can use it with continuous lighting, strobe lighting or to maximize your natural light set ups when working indoors.

Simple as they look, using a reflector isn't as easy or intuitive as it first appears, specially if you do not have an assistant.

Before we get into the tips on using these handy little tools let me first explain what they are so those who may not be familiar with them can get caught up to speed.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Carry you camera manuals the easy way


A couple years ago I posted an article about dusting off your camera's instruction manual in order to pick up a few tips and tricks about your camera's abilities. If it's been a while and you haven't opened up that manual to brush up on some camera functions, I suggest reading up on that post and following the advise.

But I'm not here to discuss what you should or shouldn't do with your camera knowledge. I know you're a smart person and don't need me to tell you to read your manual! I will, however, share a useful tip in how to keep that instruction manual handy for when you really need it. Like at one of my workshops when I ask you to set your camera in a specific way and you can't quite remember how to do it. Don't worry, it happens to many of us. Specially me, who has 'senior moments' more and more often. So what's this tip I mentioned? Read on...