Category Archives: Tutorials

Outdoor portraits using high shutter speed sync

The downside to shooting in the shade of trees is the greenish cast that comes from sunlight filtering through green leaves. Shooting in camera raw helps.
The downside to shooting in the shade of trees is the greenish cast that comes from sunlight filtering through green leaves. Shooting in camera raw helps. ISO 400 1/160 @f2.8 80mm setting on 80-200 zoom lens. Available light only not Speedlite used.

When photographing people  outdoors, besides the esthetics of your location,  the time of the day is probably the single biggest factor in determining how good your picture will look.

Lighting especially its intensity is critical because available lighting in any scene outdoors determines

  • if your subject will be squinting
  • if you can overpower the ugly patchiness of your background
  • if you can control the contrast between your shadow and highlights
  • the mood and color temperature of your final image

Continue reading Outdoor portraits using high shutter speed sync

Belly dancer portraits at “Shimmy for Critters 2014”

Nancy, Brenda and Mary pose with "Burrito" during the Shimmy for Critters fundraiser at the Riverside Animal Shelter.
Nancy, Brenda and Mary pose with “Burrito” during the Shimmy for Critters fundraiser at the Riverside Animal Shelter.

A common mistake when selecting a photoshoot location is not accounting for 3 dimensions around your subjects.

If all you are photographing is one person for a headshot and not their full body, then you won’t need a lot of room.

But when you take on  3 or more people in a photo, then you will encounter all kinds of headaches. Continue reading Belly dancer portraits at “Shimmy for Critters 2014”

Lighting outdoor portraits at noon hour for better control

Asia was photographed with a studio strobe WL800 inside a Photoflex Octodome gelled with 1/4 CTO. Lens was fitted with a fader filter which I could darken by turning to dial in a shutter speed and aperture combination to give me a handholdable shutter speed and wide aperture to blur out the palm trees in the background.
Asia was photographed with a studio strobe WL800 inside a Photoflex Octodome gelled with 1/4 CTO. Lens was fitted with a fader filter which I could darken by turning to dial in a shutter speed and aperture combination to give me a handholdable shutter speed and wide aperture to blur out the palm trees in the background.ISO 100 1/350sec @ F2.8 80-200 zoom set at 140mm

I am a fan of Westerns.

But I always wonder why their directors choose to film gunfights at high noon.

I suppose it makes sense  from the gunfighter’s perspective.

The entire scene is lit by the sun.

As long as a gunslinger doesn’t have eyes that are too light-sensitive and those eyes  are shielded from the glaring sun overhead, it totally makes sense.

But for portrait photographers, high noon is the devil. Continue reading Lighting outdoor portraits at noon hour for better control

Overpowering and changing the mood of available light

Lizelle photographed by Steve Fetbrandt 1/250sec f4.5 55mm. Notice the background and how distraction abound because of the available light.
Lizelle photographed by Steve Fetbrandt 1/250sec f4.5 55mm. Notice the background and how distraction abound because of the available light. Notice the highlights? Those are from the sun on the right.

Overpowering our sun is a tall order even with the most powerful of studio strobes.

So to attempt that with small flash units or speedlites that run off 4AA batteries requires either the sun to be covered by clouds or one has to wait till the sun is past its most powerful noon hour.

In case there are those of you reading this wondering why is this desirable, the answer is for control.

One of the techniques I teach during my Small Flash Lighting workshop is how to change the mood and feel of a scene.

When relying strictly on available light to make pictures, you constantly have to find backgrounds that are not lit or backgrounds that are lit in such a way it is less subdued against your subject.

Remember,  in your scene, whatever isn’t lit is less of  a distraction.

For my pictures below which were taken  at about the same time as Steve’s, I made sure to use my longest focal length lens so I could blur out the backgrounds. (The longer the focal length, the shallower the depth-of-field)

Steve used 55m to 200 mm Nikon lens but set his lens at the 55 mm setting.

I picked up my 80-200 Canon zoom and set mine at 175mm. Continue reading Overpowering and changing the mood of available light

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