Saturday, July 28, 2012

Finding your Mojo

I just read a great guest post on Rick Sammon's Blog.  You can find the full article here:

This is where I have found myself on occasion (still do at times).  I would guess if you are a new photographer this is where you are there right now.  Insecure with your work.  Do you take an image and then let it set on your computer because it doesn't live up to the level of a Rick Sammon or a Joe McNally?  (if you don't know who they are look them up)  Here is the deal...  Not everyone is a Rick Sammon or a Joe McNally...  at least not yet.  In order to get better you have to not only take photos but receive honest feedback from your friends, family, and other photographers.  Seek out unbiased professional feedback. 

Should you copy everything you see?  No, but knowing how it was done can certainly help you in your own photography. 

The point is we should not let our own insecurities stop us from picking up the camera.  You're not a Joe McNally but if you leave your camera in the bag you never will be.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Technique Tip Thursday: Get the Flash off the Camera

Have you noticed when you take a picture with the flash on the camera you take decent DMV photos but not very good portraits? Are you confused why the flash that you paid several hundred dollars for delivers these types of photos?

What’s the answer?
“Shadows are the soul of the image” –Frank Doorhof

Many new photographers are so focused on removing the shadows that they fail to see the benefit that they provide. Shadows add the illusion of dimension to 2D Images. When you place the flash on top of the camera you eliminate defining shadows thus you get the pasty DMV look.

So, how do I add shadows?

There are several ways you can accomplish this. The following list is not all inclusive but it will get you started in the right direction.

  • You can use window light and position your subject so that the light casts shadows across your subject
  • You can use a reflector to redirect light to where you want it to fall, whether that be window light, sunlight, or a flash
  • You can bounce your flash on to a white wall.
  • You can use a flash that has been taken off your camera

We are going to talk about getting the flash off the camera. With technology the way it is today this is a relatively simple task. Most modern cameras (Nikon or Canon) can use IR (Infrared) to trigger a flash that is located off the camera. There are many radio triggers out there that let you do this at greater distances without line of site as well. These triggers range in price form a few dollars to several hundred like the Pocket Wizards. The more expensive ones typically have greater range and offer TTL (Through the Lens) metering. Whichever method you choose you will see a massive difference in your flash images once you take the flash off the camera. Once you get to this point you must start paying attention to where the shadow falls as well as specular highlights you may get on the flash side of the face.  If you have any specific questions feel free to contact me!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gear Talk Tuesday: Foursquare Flash System by Lightware Direct

Welcome to Gear Talk Tuesday!  This is a new series on the blog where I talk about gear!

The Foursquare Flash System by Lightware Direct is really a nice piece of equipment to add to your gear bag. The foursquare itself starts around $105.00. It is a square piece of aluminum that allows you to add up to four speedlights (or speedlites if you’re a Canon person) at one time. With the correct add-ons (Mini-mounts) you can attach Pocket Wizards for remote triggering as well. These packages go all the way up to $409.95 which comes with most of the accessories and a great softbox.

This has helped me out when photographing ourdoors. By adding up to 4 flashes I have more power to take on the sun. With the proper adapters and a second Foursquare you could go up to eight speedlights to really squeeze some power out.

It does a great job indoors as well because it allows the flashes to recycle almost instantly for general shooting. This is because the required power is shared between all the flashes so you never really have a full power dump.  Battery changes are also far and in-between. If you have been looking for an off camera solution then take a look at the Foursquare Flash System by Lightware Direct. You can find out more information on their website here: