Techniques

Photography tips and techniques. This category could cover flashes, shooting techniques, or software.

Making a Panorama

Making a panoramic image is a fairly easy process these days.  There is lots of software out there that will easily stitch together several photos into a very wide panorama.  But there are a few things you need to remember when taking the photos that will make things much easier in the end.

Below is a panorama made up of 6 separate images of a very nice sunset over Taipei, Taiwan, stitched together in Photoshop.  Read on to learn how to do this for yourself…

A beautiful sunset over Taipei.

A beautiful sunset over the Taipei, Taiwan skyline.

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Exit 3 – A Study in Light

Had a great time shooting some beautiful light tonight so I though I’d share.

The following photos were all shot within about a 30 minute period in the late afternoon here in Taipei.  I shot 270 images in that time, and decided to share the best here, and make a video of the rest.

Every image was made with a 50mm lens set at various settings and they were only lightly retouched in post.  They’re all in chronological order, except for the first one.  What’s important though, is to look at the light, how it changes, and the things that can be done with it.

Light…
Shadows…
Lines…

Enjoy…

Stairway 1

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Don’t Forget to Have Some Fun!

Now for something completely different…

I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut lately.  Why?  Let’s just say that I now understand why some of of the greatest artworks from some of the greatest artists came from them when they were at their lowest (life’s been good).

In an attempt to get out of this rut, I’ve tried a few things (sabotaging my life isn’t one of them).  Some failed, some succeeded, and some are still under wraps.  But I have rekindled my love of  photography and hopefully some new personal projects will be coming forth.   I suggest that if you’re also in a creative rut, think of something silly like this to get you take your camera out more often.  (I also recommend you watch this video.)

About as far as it can get from my usual portrait work, I present you with my “Face Project”.

funny faces

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Taipei Cosplay

”Cosplay” is a combination of the words “costume” and “play”.  In Taipei, it’s an event held about twice a year at NTU in conjunction with a manga (Japanese comic books) exhibition called Fancy Frontier.  During a cosplay event, people dress up as their favorite manga character and parade and pose for photographers.  It began as a Japanese phenomenon but it’s caught on in many other places in the world, including Taiwan.

Cute girl in a cosplay costume

A girl poses while dressed in a "cosplay" costume at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan.

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How to Shoot Travel Portraits

Learning how to photograph people while traveling can help your photography on the road and at home.  I use a few different methods to approach people whom I want to photograph while traveling, and I’ll try to explain that process below.  I’m sure there are many other techniques that other photographers might use, and if you have any you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments.

I’ll start out by telling you that I’m not an outgoing person at all.  I’m a shy guy.  I always find it difficult to approach people.  But I’ve learned that missing a good portrait because you didn’t ask hurts a lot more than getting rejected.  If you’re also a little shy, you’ll need to practice being more bold and get out there and ask people if you can take their picture.  I’m here to tell you that it’s not as hard as you think, and there’s even a little bit of a scientific process to doing it…

An blog post on how to photograph people while traveling

Kyoto, Japan - I was standing in this alleyway, waiting for someone interesting to walk by and pose for me in front of that nice wooden door in the background... Along came this Geisha. (See "The Trapping Approach")

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Painting with Light – Light Graffiti

Painting with light, aka light graffiti, is a fun way to stay creative.  My friends and I have been playing around with it over the past week or two and I thought I’d share.

We’re still getting the hang of it, but I’m happy with some of the pictures that we’ve done so far.  It’s a lot harder than it might look, as most of the time you have no point of reference to help make the lines meet up.

This is the first one we did and its still my favorite.  Chris Jones made the drawing and I pushed the button.

This is the first one we did and it's still my favorite. Chris Jones made the drawing and I pushed the button.

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Urban Skimboarding

There are currently three typhoons out in the Western Pacific.  Two of them are forecasted to hit Taiwan next week.  This has most people scared, but it has me excited.  During the last typhoon, I went out with my buddy Ed to do some “Urban Skimboarding” and I’m hoping conditions will be good this week for some more photos and fun.

Skimboarding at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

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Daan Model Shoot

Photographing models is probably a lot of men’s dream.  What most people don’t realize, is all the work that goes into those pretty pictures.

I recently had a shoot in with a model in Daan Park 大安公圓 in Taipei, Taiwan and would love to share them with you.  Usually for big shoots like this, I like to try to tell you how we did the photos and all the technical information.  But… I’m on vacation right now and just can’t wrap my head around it!

Like my last post, I’ll just tell you the basic-basics, and let you have a look at a pretty model from a fun afternoon of shooting.

Taiwan Model Photography

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Portraiture, TAIWAN, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Controlling Ambient Light – A Commercial Portrait

Portraiture of all types can be the cornerstone of many photographers’ business.  Sooner or later, in one way or another, someone will want you to take a portrait.

The difference between a good portrait and and a great portrait is in the details.  Below I offer you the details to what might look like a simple location portrait, but was actually quite complicated to shoot.  Lucky for me, the most unpredictable factor in many portrait sessions, the subject, was incredibly natural and easy to work with.  Unfortunately, another important factor in a portrait, the light, wasn’t as cooperative.

Read all about this photo after the jump.

Taiwan Portrait Photography

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Photographing Lightning

Photographing lightning is a misunderstood technique that’s actually quite easy to do… once you learn the basics.

Most people seem to think that you have to have a quick trigger finger.  They think that you wait to see the flash of lightning, then quickly press the shutter button.  Truth is, this technique might actually work…  I’ve never tried it but some forms of lightning seem to linger in the sky for 1/4 sec or more… so if you have a fast enough finger and camera you might be able to catch the tail end of the flash.

But, if you want to learn the proper way to shoot lightning and get the whole flash!-boom!-bang!… read on!

This is a 30 second exposure at f/13 and ISO 200.  I set the shutter at 30 sec, then adjusted the aperture until the temple was properly exposed.  Louang Prabang, Laos.

This is a 30 second exposure at f/13 and ISO 200. I set the shutter at 30 sec, then adjusted the aperture until the temple was properly exposed. Louang Prabang, Laos.

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Techniques – DIY Soft Box

DIY photography gear being all the rage, and me being a bit of a Mr Fix-it, I decided to see if I could build my own soft box.

I feel that I should start this blog by telling you that you can buy a mini-soft box for fairly cheap, but if you’re like me and like building stuff (or are incredibly skint), read on…

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Techniques #7 – Handy Corporate Portrait

Corporate portraits are something you almost have to do as a professional photographer.

I recently shot a portrait for a client that wanted a very specific looking style.  They’ve been running a series of ads for a long time that have a consistent look to them.  Basically, one of their art directors must have come up with this brilliant, easy way to get consistently-styled photographs from different photographers.

The brilliance of this portrait is that it has style and is easy to reproduce…

Here’s how you can do it:

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Portraiture, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Techniques #6.1 – Off Camera Non-TTL

That last post explaining the basics about how to use remote flashes and strobes had a picture in the end that I never fully explained.  Shot with two strobes, this is a good one to help visualize how to set up a simple, two flash set up.

Two flashes were used for this quick skateboarding shot.

Two flashes were used for this quick skateboarding shot.

More remote strobe set-up after the jump…

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Techniques #6 – Off-Camera Non-TTL Flash

Once you’ve mastered the on-camera flash techniques you might want to start thinking about how to take that flash off and get really creative.  This is the good stuff.  This is the “Strobist” stuff that you’ve heard so much about.  There’s lots of information out there about choosing the right umbrella, the right softbox, making you’re own DIY grip gear, snoots, grids…bla, bla, bla, bla.

None of that is going to do you any good if you don’t know the basics.  This article is dedicated to helping you figure out those first few steps.

First Thing: Make Those Flashes go POP!

i-TTL and E-TTL:
One way is to use the relatively new i-TTL (Nikon) or E-TTL (Canon) systems.  These are pretty good systems but have their limitations.  To use them, you need an on-camera flash, even if you don’t want it to fire.  You also need all new, expensive flashes, and they have to be in the “line of sight” of your camera.   Old flashes aren’t going to work, and forget about hiding a flash behind a rock or wall.  The truth is, I don’t know a lot about these two systems because I don’t use them, I do it the old fashioned way.  But they are very interesting and may be the future of flash photography.  If you want more information look in your camera’s user’s manual or do some googles.  Maybe I’ll cover Nikon’s i-TTL in the future, but it’s really not on my radar.

Words, words and more words about multiple remote flashes after the jump…

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Techniques #5 – On-Camera TTL Flash

Using an on-camera TTL flash (aka “strobe”) properly is one of the easiest ways to take your photography to the next level.  Once you have a DSLR and a lens or two (or three), probably the next piece of photographic equipment you’re going to want to buy is a flash.

Many DSLRs come with a built-in “pop-up” flash right on the top of the view finder.  This flash can work OK in certain situations, but it can be limiting due to its low power and inflexibility.  Buying a larger hot shoe mounted strobe will drastically increase the creativity you can get out of flash photography.

Much, much, more on on-camera lighting techniques after the jump. Continue reading

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