From Beginning To End: Sagittarius – Part 2: The Shoot

October 24, 2013

Sagittarius Detail

Shoot days are normally about simply executing the concept. But there’s always things that happen during the shoot that evolve the concept and push it in unexpected directions and this was no different. As I mentioned in Part 1 I had my team of make-up artist in Nikki Reign, hair stylist of Malia Malir, and clothing stylist in Megan Lacki. I trust these people to be fantastic and they didn’t disappoint.

Shoot Prep
Both Megan and Malia brought in accessories that fit the theme. There were feathers, beads, loops of wire, and pieces of jewelry that we could use in various creative ways. Once I was able to see all the elements we were able to build a plan of attack. We mixed and matched jewelry and other accessories to develop the final look. We selected elements that would work well together as well as for the overall theme we were going for. We were specifically looking for pieces that went well together but that no one piece stood out. We could go heavier on the jewelry for this one because the theme allowed for it, rather than for Aries or Libra where other items like the props, the hair, the makeup, or the outfit were the “hero”, in this one it was more about the entire look rather than one piece or another. We chose a choker necklace but used it instead as a head-piece, and several feathers and beads to put in the hair. We also chose a necklace, bracelet, and belt to complete the look.

Then Madison, the model, went into wardrobe. Megan had modified a shirt she had bought at Forever 21 and matched it with a skirt and it looked fantastic on Madison.

Then it was time for hair. Malia did a wonderful braided look that worked with Madison’s existing hairstyle which was short on the sides and long on the top and worked in the various elements.

Then it was on to make-up. This was going to be the most extensive part of the look. Nikki brought in several doilies to use as stencils and ran several tests while wardrobe and hair were being done. When she got Madison in the chair she did our basic makeup look, accentuating the features we wanted to bring out. Then she used an airbrush on top of the doilies to paint what became feather patterns on her cheeks and other cool geometric patters on her forehead and around her eyes, contouring the stencils to the model’s face. I’ve never seen a make-up artist work this way and it was entrancing. She also whitened her eye lashes and her eye-brows to accentuate the ghostly theme.

While all this was happening I took the dark-wood bow outside and used a white temporary hair-spray to spray down the bow and several of the arrows to make the bow less contemporary and give it some texture.

Lighting Setup
I set up this shoot much the same way that I started Aries. I did this because I wanted there to be a distinctly “familial” feel to the series. So I brought out the same silver 60” PLM umbrella with the white diffusion panel and set it up at about 4 o’clock and then a gridded beauty dish above and opposite and behind the model in the same way I did Aries. My “studio” is actually a racquetball court, so there are white walls all around me, and the white wall to the left provided me with some bounce as a fill. I did end up moving the setup around a bit, eventually flipping the lighting to 7 o’clock because I really wanted her looking to my left (because that side of the hair looked better to me) and I wanted to get some shadows on the camera-side of the face.

Sagittarius Lighting Diagram

I’m a big fan of shadows. I like the way the add contrast and help contour the model’s face and I generally prefer to “short-light” my models, which means having the model facing away from the main light but having them turn their heads towards the light.

Posing And Direction
I envisioned this character to be haunting the viewer. To be threatening or intimidating but not in a “horror movie” sort of way. Like you’ve just turned around and caught a glimpse of her standing there watching you, stalking you, but then she evaporates into thin air so the viewer is left wondering if what they saw was a ghost or just a trick of the light.

Props generally make a shoot easier for me. It gives the model a role to play and something to interact with, and generally helps the model get into character. But I found the bow to be an especially tricky prop to use for several reasons. First of all, from straight on a bow can very easily look like a walking stick. It generally “reads” best as a bow from the profile, but I definitely didn’t want that. I wanted the character to be haunting and stalking the viewer, so that wasn’t going to work. Secondly, the way to draw a bow is you hold the shaft of the bow straight out in front of you, locking the elbow in place. I consider this to be a generally unflattering position from an aesthetic point of view. Not to mention that drawing the bow back properly close to the ear requires a great deal of force, and that force shows in the muscles of the arms as well as the face. I didn’t want my model to look like she was straining or tense. I wanted her to look relaxed and confident. Also, when drawing the bow there’s a good 2 feet of bow above the model’s face, which will reduce the size of the model in the frame. Lastly, the bow was a good 3.5-4 feet long and it MUST be carried in the middle, which makes it an awkward prop to work with. I quickly concluded that having the model drawing the bow wasn’t going to work for the look I wanted, so I opted for looks where she looks like she’s stalking her prey either standing or kneeling, holding the bow at her side or resting the end of it on the ground. I originally liked the idea of her kneeling because that would give me a realistic way to bring the horse’s head into the scene as I originally envisioned it, but standing would work as well, so I shot it both ways.

Sagittarius Poses

There are things that I look for in poses. I like to accentuate curves, especially in the hips, elbows, and legs. I also like to get the chin pointed in a different direction from the shoulders and having the model’s weight shifted onto one foot helps that. I picture how I want the hips, shoulders, and face positioned first in my head, and then figure out how the model should stand in order to get that pose. I try to give direction from the feet up as the pose really flows from how the model is standing. Putting the weight on one leg is almost always the best way to pose someone. It pushes the hip out and gives you a nice curve to work with. I really like asymmetry so having the hip pushed one way pushes the shoulders in the opposite direction and so forth.

Here’s the image I selected for my final image so you can see what I’m talking about.

Sagittarius Base Image

Shooting Post-Production Elements
After the shoot was done I still had to shoot the grasses that I had bought from Michaels. This actually happened AFTER I had made my final selects, but since it’s all part of the “shooting” phase I’ll describe that here. The grasses were white and I knew that I wanted to clip them out and put them into the photo, so to add contrast I shot them on a black background. I set up my lights to directly mimic the lighting in my final photo. I then grabbed a nice decent amount of the grasses and held them out at arm’s-length to take photos of them. I INSTANTLY understood the problem with this approach. All of the grasses were clutched in my fist, which meant that, although I had a decent spread at the tops of the grasses, they all angled down towards the center as if into a funnel at the base. If I had an assistant I could have had them hold them straighter, but sadly I did not have that option. I had only myself. So I came up with a rather ingenious solution, if I do say so myself. I clamped the grasses in the middle of a hard-back book (one of the later Harry Potter books if I remember correctly). This allowed me to hold out the grasses at arm’s length without getting that funneled “bouquet of flowers” look I was getting before.

Sagittarius Grasses

The smoke elements I simply used from the Paranormal shoot I did in September of last year. If you’ve already got it, why bother shooting it again? You can see the tutorial for that here.

That’s about it for the shooting phase. Lastly was the post-production phase, where it was all going to come together… or fall apart miserably. Stay tuned!

Reader Questions: How do I get better at indoor lighting with out reading that really long convoluted strobist blog?

September 22, 2013

Learning Portrait Lighting

One of my readers, the lovely Shawn Miles, asked me to write a blog post on indoor lighting. She’s struggled with reading the Strobist Blog but wants to get into lighting.

Now let me start off by saying that I am a big fan of the Strobist Blog. I think it’s a great resource to learn lighting. I confess I haven’t read it in years, mostly because I simply don’t have the time to keep up with blogs much anymore, but in my opinion it’s the single best resource for starting out with lighting and the community is amazing. I highly recommend starting with the Lighting 101 section and going from there.

But I understand that not everyone likes reading technical blogs. Some people just don’t enjoy processing technical information that way and it can be confusing and frustrating. We all learn differently. I tend to learn best hands-on in a face-to-face environment, and when I was starting to learn lighting, in tandem with the Strobist blog, I went to various studio Meetup groups that had very nominal fees which gave me the chance to interact with people who were more experienced. As I gained some confidence I also went to a couple of workshops. And while the workshops I attended were more about working with and finding models, they did have hands-on practice with lighting and different lighting setups.

In the interests of helping people learn, I’m in the planning stages of setting up an “open studio” night where photographers in the area can come together with the goal of learning lighting from each other.


April 30, 2012

Katherine vs Katherine

The second of my Tuesday Night Open Studio nights I was approached by my friend Priya about working together to get some shots of her friend Katherine, a local singer/songwriter. She had a concept that she wanted to work together on, and I wanted to play with using light to throw textures, so we started playing. Priya did a great job doing hair, makeup, and styling on this, and Katherine was fantastic to work with.

Aside from the Katherine vs. Katherine shot above (I did a full Photoshop tutorial write-up on it over here), where I was experimenting with background textures of light, I also wanted to they to project a texture onto someone’s face. Here I simply hung a piece of fabric just outside of the shot on the right and a Vivitar speed light set back about 7 feet at about 4 o’clock to get the light hard enough to get a nice projected pattern. To make sure that that side of the face had a nice shadow to it I set up my 60″ PLM umbrella with a white diffusion panel on it at about 8 o’clock.

Katherine Texture

Before I tore-down the Katherine vs. Katherine setup I also shot this fun and sassy photo of Katherine.

Sassy Kathy

After we were done and I was packing up Katherine treated us to one of her songs, and I had to get my camera out again and snap some photos of her singing. She’s amazing, and I can’t wait to see her on stage!

Katherine Singing

The Jazz Singer

April 25, 2012

Aviona Brown - The Jazz Singer

Oh, man… I’ve got a lot of catching up to do on the blog! There’s been a lot going on with my photography over the last few months that I think are really exciting and fun, but I’ve been really terrible about sharing those things here on the blog where I can elaborate on them more then just posting the images with a caption as I do on Facebook or Google+.

The biggest change I’ve taken on lately I started about 2 months or so ago. I had started to feel like my photography was in a rut. I felt like my lighting, while it was still improving and becoming more subtle, was beginning to become stagnant. I wasn’t trying new things as much. Whenever I did a shoot with someone I was just doing the shoot, and wasn’t really pressing myself to evolve, change, or try new things. So I decided to set aside a scheduled time to play with my gear. Try something new. Force myself out of the box I had put myself in. I call it my Tuesday Night Open Studio, and every Tuesday I settle on a concept or a theme that I want to explore. Maybe it’s a lighting setup I’ve not tried before. Maybe it’s playing with a pose or a new camera technique. The purpose is to get off my duff and schedule some time to experiment. Even if I fail, at least I’ve tried and that’s okay.

So I put out the word on my Facebook page that I was looking for someone to come out and take some photos with me and the wonderful Aviona here volunteered to be my first guinea pig. This first week’s experiment was on gelling flashes. I’ve only vaguely played with gels before (for trying to gel a flash to match the ambient), but I wanted to try something new. Aviona’s a singer and stage performer who’s home from school in New York, and I had recently got my hands on an old vintage microphone, so it seemed like a perfect fit. I had an image similar to this one banging around in my brain for a little while and it was time to let it out and asked her to bring an elegant dress that we could use for an old jazz singer performance. She had this fantastic red gown that fit the bill beautifully and gave her a really classy, elegant look.

The lighting setup was pretty basic. It’s the 3 Vivitar speedlight flashes in the background gelled as you see them combined with a beauty dish on my AlienBees AB800 right between me and Aviona un-gelled to give her a natural look. The beauty dish is just out of the shot, while the speedlights are set back about 8 feet or so behind her. The power is so low on the speed lights that it’s not having a ton of effect on the photo but since the lights are pointed straight at the camera there is a bit of flare that to me really adds authenticity to the shot.

Ultimately my takeawy for this shoot is this; schedule some time to be creative. Don’t wait for creativity to come to you. Work at it, and don’t be afraid to fail. I tried lots of things that night and every Tuesday night since this that failed. But I’ve also found a lot of things that were successful and I’m feeling more energized and creative then ever.

Wind Elemental

April 1, 2012

Becky Franklin - Wind Elemental

Last weekend I got together with model Becky Franklin who was home from college for Spring Break along with make-up artist Maddie Rose. The three of us have worked together several times, and each time it’s been magic. This time we decided to do something a bit darker. We decided to start a series of Elementals, starting with wind.

Several people have asked me how I shot this, so I’ve decided to do a tutorial on it for you all.

Another thing that I found highly successful with this image is the color tones I was able to achieve in post-processing. I’ve admired this kind of tobacco-stained tones for a while, but was never able to achieve it to a satisfactory level until now, and I figured I’d share that experiment with you too.

First up is the planning. Maddie wanted to do some body-painting. She applied both black and white make-up to Becky’s arms, legs, and face as well as over her hair, painting it on with a wide painter’s brush gave it that fantastic texture, and she did a wonderful job blending it all together. I told Becky to bring a white flowy dress to the shoot and we also bought a length of white chiffon fabric that would catch the breeze really well which we wrapped around her in such a way that it looked like it was part of the other dress. Maddie does a wonderful job of making wrapped clothing on the fly and I love her creative energy on shoots.

Next is the shooting process. I wanted to keep the lighting very simple, so it looked like some newly-abandoned room with hard-wood floors. I pulled out my 60″ silver PLM umbrella with the white diffusion fabric that I love for these kinds of shots. The light is nice and smooth and soft but still directional and easy to control. I set it up at about 8 o’clock to my subject and brought out a stool for Becky to sit on. Next, for the wind effect, I had Maddie wave a large 5-in-1 reflector at the draping part of the fabric. I wanted to try having Becky in several poses, but I really liked this sort of fetal position. It played really well with the creepy makeup and floating effect. That got me here:

Wind Elemental Tutorial - Step 1

Step 1: Clean-up
The walls of my racquetball-court-studio-space have these horribly distracting marks on the walls as well as years worth of scuff marks, so I went through and removed all of those as well as the stool and the corner of the reflector that Maddie is waving around. Having a nice clean background for this definitely made life easy. The challenging part was removing the stool from behind the translucent fabric, so that was a slow and arduous task, but it was manageable. This becomes my Base Layer.

Wind Elemental Tutorial - Step 2

Step 2: Black & White
To get that desaturated look I love so much I create a black and white version of the image. The easiest way to do this for me is with a Black & White Adjustment Layer. I prefer to do things with Adjustment Layers because they’re fully editable, maskable, and easy to tweak later as-needed. I try to play with the tool until I get the tones as good as I can so that I would be happy to present it as just a black and white image.

Wind Elemental Tutorial - Step 3

Then I changed the Blending Mode of my Black & White layer to Soft Light. This ups the contrast in the image while also creating a really cool desaturated tone. It does block up the shadows and blow out the highlights. You can also adjust the opacity of the Black & White layer adjustment to control the effect. I like to leave it at full blast though and control the shadows and highlights in the next step.

Wind Elemental Tutorial - Step 4

Step 3: Taming the Contrast
I duplicate my Base Layer and then go into Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights and bring up the Shadow detail and bring down the Highlight detail until I get the levels I’m looking for.

Wind Elemental Tutorial - Step 5

Step 4: More Clean-up
At this point the discrepancy in skin-tone between the arms and legs and the face was bugging me. I selected a nice medium skin-tone color from the face and created a new layer with a Blending Mode of Color, which I painted onto the shoulders, arms, and legs. There was also some more clean-up that needed to be done to the background, so I took care of that during this stage.

Wind Elemental Tutorial - Step 6

Step 5: A Bit More Contrast
I decided I wanted just a bit more contrast, so I created a new Curves adjustment layer and created a very slight S-curve. I didn’t want this contrast on the areas of black body-paint, so I simply grabbed a black brush and painted on the layer mask to hide those areas from the Curves adjustment layer. I also changed the Blending Mode of the Curves layer to Luminosity so that the colors would not be affected by the added contrast (which under normal conditions boosts saturation).

Wind Elemental Tutorial - Step 7

Step 6: Dodging & Burning
Next up was some finishing touches to my Elemental to bring out details and hide others. I do my dodging and burning on a separate layer. I create a new layer with a blending mode of Soft Light. I then grab a brush with a very low opacity. Painting white dodges (or lightens) the layers below it while painting black burns (or darkens) the layers below it. I like to use dodging and burning to bring out the cheekbones, to bring out details in the black body-painted areas, clean up the eyes, and to bring out details in the dress.

Wind Elemental Tutorial - Step 8

Step 7: The Tobacco Stain
I was so close, but I wasn’t fully happy with it. I wanted to try to get that tobacco stained look that I’ve admired for a long time, but I had no idea where to start. I decided to go with a Gradient Map effect. Gradient Maps are difficult to explain, but essentially you are mapping the tones in the image to colors in the Gradient Map from Black (on the left) to White (on the right). A simple Black-to-White gradient map will make the image black and white. If you reverse the Map you get a negative image. I tried a dark bronze-to-light-tan which created a sepia-tone effect.

Wind Elemental Tutorial - Step 9

This is, of course, not the look we’re going for, but simply changing the blending mode from Normal to Hue got me very close. Now, however, the skin-tones are a little TOO yellow, but I simply grabbed a brush with a low opacity and began slowly painted out the effect until I had the skin-tones I was looking for.

Becky Franklin - Wind Elemental

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Katherine vs Katherine

March 19, 2012

Katherine vs Katherine

A few weeks ago I had the fabulous local singer/songwriter Katherine Terrien come over for an Tuesday Open Studio Night along with my friend Priya Alahan who did hair, makeup, and styling on the shoot. We wanted to create the illusion of a “Good” and “Evil” Katherine holding her guitar. Part of the reason for the Tuesday Open Studio Nights is to play around with concepts and ideas that I’ve not played with before to add to my arsenal. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a rut creatively and this is a chance to push myself. Some of the techniques are just small things that I’m curious to try. Some of them are pretty major ones, but having an evening set aside specifically for the purpose of just trying something new has really helped me develop new tools for shoots. Here I wanted to play around with using light to create patterns. In this shot I wanted to light the background (a simple hanging blind) in such a way that it created an interesting pattern.

I’ll be the first to admit that this shot could have been planned better. There are a number of things I did “wrong” that, if I had planned this shoot in advance I would have done differently. I didn’t use a tripod. I should have used a wider-angle lens then the one had used (I was as far back as the room would allow), and I would have been more careful about marking the spots for the two Katherines to stand. If I had even more planning I could have rigged up a system to hold the guitar in place so that it wouldn’t move and all she’d have to do is put her hand on the hanging guitar. All of these would have made the post-processing on this image MUCH easier. But since this is a “play session” I didn’t really bother too much with getting the technical perfect.

We decided it would be really funny to have the Bad Katherine really struggling to pull the guitar away and have the Good Katherine effortlessly holding it, so this is the image we ended up with.

The Shooting
First I lit my background. I knew I wanted to create a gradient pattern of bars, so I twisted the curtains so they were mostly open and threw a Vivitar 283 with a grid just outside of the frame up high and I took some test-frames too make sure I got that light where I wanted it. These test frames became invaluable in the post-processing phase, but more on that in a moment.

Background Texture - Lighting A Background

Next we shot the Good Katherine and I set up my key-light for her. An AB800 through a 60″ PLM umbrella with a white diffusion panel on it at about 4 o’clock. I also put up black cloth as a flag so that the light wouldn’t spill onto the background.

Good Katherine

Next we shot the “Bad Katherine”. At this point we knew where the guitar was and roughly where the Bad Katherine would stand. Because we didn’t mark all this out ahead of time, however, it wasn’t going to line up perfectly in post, so I’d have to do a lot more photoshop to get it looking right. If you’re going to replicate this technique, proper planning really is key to saving yourself a lot of headaches. However it is what it is, and like I said, the purpose of the exercise for me is the shooting concepts, not the post-processing headaches, but it’s an important lesson to learn. The other key to getting the images to match, which is crucial is the lighting. Don’t touch the lighting!!! If you mess with the lighting between shots and make adjustments your two images will look like they were shot in two different environments and it will destroy the illusion. It’s the biggest dead-giveaway to a composite. To get the Bad Katherine to be able to pull the guitar we had Priya hold the guitar similarly to how the Good Katherine was holding it.

Bad Katherine

Post Processing
I do very minimal work in Lightroom. I pretty much use Lightroom for global adjustments to an image, and as a catalog, or a “down and dirty” post-processing when I don’t have the time to jump into Photoshop for an image. So here I just added a bit of contrast in the Curves dialog box and got the colors looking the way I wanted them to and then hopped over to Photoshop.

I used the Good Katherine as my base layer and dropped the Bad Katherine on top, dropping the opacity of the layer to 50% to help line up the layers. Now what I’m most concerned with here is lining up the neck of the guitar where the Bad Katherine is holding it with the same position on the guitar that the Good Katherine is holding. In doing so I encountered a problem. Namely because of small differences in the angle of the guitar the strings would not line up perfectly (had I had a suspended guitar that both Katherine’s simply put their hands on this would not be a problem), so I had to do a work-around which I’ll get to in a moment. Next I changed the opacity back to 100% and added a Layer Mask to the Bad Katherine layer and completely removed the entire background and the guitar.

50% Opacity Overlay To Line Up The Two Images

Not to shabby, but still a long way to go. Next I had to add back in the shadow on the neck of the guitar where the Bad Katherine’s hands are. Since the two Katherines are still on separate layers and I used a layer mask to hide the unwanted areas, this is really easy to do. I simply added a new layer between the two layers and changed it’s Blending Mode to Soft Light. Then I simply grabbed the Brush tool with a low opacity and painted the shadow in gradually. To check on the progress I simply Shift-Clicked on the Layer Mask icon which hides the mask, showing what the true shadow looks like. It’s an easy way to flip back and forth.

Lastly came the problem of the background. I simply did not have enough background to span the length of the photo, which meant I had to go in and mask the Good Katherine as well and drop in a whole new background. (See how much of a role good planning plays?)

Both foreground elements masked

After dropping in the new background I’m now at Square 1 of my normal post-processing cycle. I like a really contrasty-desaturated look lately, so I’ve been creating a Black & White Adjustment Layer at the top of my stack, and I try to make a good-looking black and white version of the image using that tool.

Create a Black and White version and set to Soft Light Blending Mode

Change Black And White Version to Soft Light Mode

Then I change the Blending Mode of the Adjustment Layer to Soft Light. This makes it REALLY contrasty, but we’ll fix that in a second. I liked the contrast in the background, but my foreground is way too contrasty. The good thing is that my background is a separate layer! I simply duplicated my fighting Katherines and merged them into a new layer. I always do this step on a separate layer because that way if you decided later it’s too strong you simply drop the opacity and you haven’t fiddled with the original image. (I will be a very happy camper when Adobe figures out how to make a Shadows/Highlights Adjustment Layer!!!) Then I went to Image -> Adjustments -> Shadows/Highlights and fiddled with the settings of both my Shadows and Highlights until I was happy with the look. That got me here.

Image With Shadows/Highlights Applied

Now I’m basically done. I run my skin-smoothing action and then did final touch-ups including removing the base of the guitar strings that were just peaking out at the bottom and doing some dodging and burning on the image.

Death And Bunnies: Post-processing Tutorial

July 26, 2011

Mila Dean - Death And Bunnies

Two week ago I finally was able to do this shoot with my friend Mila and makeup artist, the amazing Jenn Hill. I had been planning this for a while, ever since I saw Mila’s vintage rabbit-fur coat. We have 2 bunnies at home; Ferris (shown here) and Cameron (badum-dum-tish) so I thought it would be a great visual to combine this amazing goth-chick in a vintage rabbit-fur coat cuddling a rabbit. I really dig the ambiguity of this story. Is she collecting the rabbits a la Cruela Deville? Is she a sort of Rabbit Protector Spirit? The Dia De Los Muertos makeup came very much later in my planning, but as soon as the idea flashed into my mind I immediately knew that it fit and that I couldn’t possibly do this shoot without it. I had been introduced to Jenn Hill via a mutual friend and I’d been wanting to work with her for months. I knew immediately that she was the perfect makeup artist for this shoot.

I’ve shown this photo around and tend to get a lot of questions about both the lighting as well as the post-processing for this shoot, so I figured I’d cover both of those here.

Fur In Fashion

July 23, 2011

Becky Franklin - Fur In Fashion

Last weekend I had scheduled another photo shoot with the wonderful Becky Franklin. We had originally planned to shoot on-location on the streets of Seattle. Unforgivably, however, we forgot that this is Seattle and it’s got a rep to protect, so of course it was pouring down rain. We had the incredible Maddie Hibbert helping out with styling. For me this is photo-shoot gold. Both of these girls are pretty brilliant, fun, vibrant and know how to bring out some of my favorite work. I just think our styles mesh incredibly well and I love working with both of them, so having us all on one shoot was amazing. The quote of the day for this show was “They’re like wings… on her eyes.”

Before And After: My Portrait Retouching Workflow

May 5, 2011

Victories Are Often Hollow

I took this photo on Tuesday for a photo contest entitled “Victory” and I’ve titled this shot Victories Are Often Hollow. I wanted to have a very in-your-face gritty dark yet introspective self-portrait, and I think I pulled it off. I’ll take you through how I went through the post-processing on this photo from Lightroom into Photoshop as well as a bit of what was going through my mind.

Here’s my before and after shot:

Before And After


Panic! It’s Lighting!

April 24, 2011

Bold Grace

Lighting is one of those things that really intimidates folks. It certainly intimidated me when I first got into it. But learning to see and control light is the cornerstone of taking your photography from snapshots to crazy-awesome photos. And I’m not necessarily talking about getting out strobes and speedlights. You can control lighting by stepping into the shade or moving to a window or adding a reflector for some fill. These days there are some professional photographers like Kirk Tuck who are doing some pretty awesome things with LED continuous lights. Other photographers use nothing but sunlight, reflectors, and black cloth to control the light falling on their subject.

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