Posts Tagged With: lighting

Must See Taiwan – Jiufen 九份

JiuFen (Jeoufen), Taiwan (台灣九份) is a popular destination about an hour east of Taipei.  It’s popular with tourists and locals alike, but has a certain charm to it that can’t be missed.

I recently visited Jiufen for an evening and had a great time wandering around.  I wasn’t planning on writing a full blog post about it, but I left with some fun photos that I thought I might share…

Jeoufen Taiwan Old Street at Night

Jioufen Old Street, as seen at night after the tourists have left.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Belly Dancers, et al.

I recently had the opportunity to photograph a belly dancer and a male model at a recent get-together for the opening of First Zoom Studios, in Shilin, Taiwan.  It was fun to get together with some other local photographers.

I had an idea right from the start for the belly dancer, and with some additional advice on dance moves from the lovely Eszter, we came up with a photo that I’m quite happy with.  For the main light, I used a softbox umbrella on a Alien Bees 800 and two black cards to turn it onto a strip light.  The hair light was a Sunpak 555, orange gelled and snooted.

A belly dancer dances seductively.

After shooting with Eszter, I wanted to shoot a strong portrait with the male model on hand, Eduardo.  For something a little different, I decided to take Eduardo into the alleyway behind the studios and use a brick wall as a background.  I used a single small softbox with a Nikon SB-800 to light him up.  Simple, but effective.

A latino male model leans confidently against a brick wall.

Sorry I haven’t been blogging as much lately, but life has been very busy in good ways!  I’ll try to step it up in the next few months and get a few more blog posts up.

Cheers,
-Neil

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Portraiture | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Skateboarding, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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

Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Portraiture, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Lighting Lecture at the Taiwan Photo Club

The Taiwan Photo Club will be having its monthly meeting this Sunday, Feb 22 at noon at Yuma Southwestern Grill in Taipei.

These meetings are a lot of fun and if you live in Taiwan and would like to meet some other photographers stop-on-by!

The presentation this month will be on portrait lighting and given by yours truly.

Here’s a quick run-down of what I’m going to talk about:

The basic concept is how to get good lighting for portraits but I’ll also show you a few other ways that this stuff can be used for non-portraits. I want to be sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn something, whether you just have a point-and-shoot camera or a DSLR.

We’ll start talking about how to get good, natural lighting for portraits. I blogged about this a few weeks ago, and I’ll basically just review and elaborate on that.

Then we can start to talk about flashes and some good techniques that you can use to make your flash pictures look better. We’ll briefly talk about pop-up flashes and move to bigger on-camera flashes. Then we can get a bit more advanced and play around with off-camera lighting.

The cool thing about doing all this flash lighting is that we’ll be able to do it in real time. I’ll shoot all the flash pictures tethered to my laptop and we’ll be able to see the results instantly on the big screen at the restaurant. We can’t really use the natural lighting techniques because we’ll be in a basement, but I think all of that is easy enough to understand by just looking at some pictures and diagrams.

There’s a lot that we could talk about with these subjects, but I’ll try to move fast. At any point, I welcome questions and comments and other opinions, so let’s try to make this more of a discussion rather than a lecture!

I’ll write on my blog about it after we’re finished and I’ll include all the pictures and stuff. In the mean time, have a look at the blog on natural lighting for portraits to get a preview of the first part.

I hope to see you all there, and please don’t heckle me!  ;O)

Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Techniques #4 – Natural Light for Portraits

Getting good natural light for portraits is an easy concept to understand.  It can often be difficult to find the perfect location, but once you know what to look for, it becomes easier.   This post is dedicated to helping you take good portraits and learn how to see and use good natural light.

I recently posted a series of portraits on Flickr. I got a great response, so I though I’d explore why these portraits were successful.  I was just playing around with a new camera and decided to shoot some quick pictures of a bunch of kids that I teach English to here in Taipei, Taiwan.

I use the term “quick pictures” very deliberately.  All of the portraits were taken on a playground at playtime and I’m sure you know that 5 year-olds don’t stay still for very long.

What’s nice about this playground is that it’s got great light that is fairly even all over it.  Before we talk about the light specifically, let’s look at some other things you need to remember to get a good portrait.

First, of course, you want an interesting subject.  Cute kids, old wrinkly people, skateboarders, and monks are among my favorite subjects.

Learn more about natural light portraiture after the jump…

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Portraiture, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Techniques #1

It seems like everyone these days has a website dedicated to lighting techniques.  Why should I be different?  I’ve always liked helping people learn about photography, so I guess this will be my attempt.

I’ll start off with an easy one that I shot last night.  I was too lazy forgot to take a picture of the set up, but this is an easy one to visualize, so close your eyes and continue reading.

  1. Step 一 – Never admit to anyone that you’re a hippie.  Then burn some nice incense in the living room while listening to SLAYER…  That’ll keep ’em confused.
  2. Step 二 – Hang a dark sheet behind the incense.  The one in the picture above might look black, but it’s actually dark brown.  The reason it looks dark black is because I shot with a shutter speed of 1/250 and an aperture of f.8.  That’ll kill the ambient light and guarantee that no light from the room will make it to you camera’s sensor (or film, if you all artsy and stuff).
  3. Step 三 – Set up your camera on a tripod.  I used a Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 lens and kept adjusting the focal length, but about 150mm seemed to work pretty well.  That said, I don’t think the focal length matters that much.
  4. Step 四 – It’s time to decide on an aperture.  I wanted as much of the smoke in focus as possible so I decided on an f-stop of 8.  This gave me a pretty good depth of field and also made sure the background would be black and not get contaminated by the ambient room light.  Why didn’t I use f/11 or f/22 or whatever?  Because that would require entirely too much from Step 五.
  5. Step 五 – Set up a flash.  For this one I used a snooted* Sunpak Auto 555 set about 2 meters (9 feet) to the right of the smoke.  I think it was set on 1/2 power and pointed directly at the smoke.  The reason I used a snoot* was to keep the light from the flash from hitting the background (that would have ruined all my careful “kill the ambient light” settings mentioned above).
  6. Step 六 – Focus on the tip of the incense because smoke isn’t really there and you can’t focus on something that isn’t there (or is it?  I’m a science major and I never figured that one out).
  7. Step 七 – Import it all to Apple Aperture and change the color temperature to really, really blue.  This last step is actually a mistake.  If you’re smarter than me, you’ll think ahead and realize that you want it to be blue and set the white balance on you’re camera to tungsten.  After I did it in Aperture and cropped it a bit, it brought out some digital noise.  So then I had to take the noise out using some other fancy software.  No matter how fancy your software is, doing too many steps like this will degrade the end picture quality.

Thanks for reading!

* If you don’t know what a “snoot” is, stop laughing, you really should be reading strobist!

Note:  This was originally a page, now it’s a post.  I didn’t realize that I couldn’t add to pages like I can posts on the home page… live and learn.

Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Saturday Skate Day in Taipei

In Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday often means skateboarding day for me and my friends.  We’ll go to many different street spots around the city and county and often head to another city like Taichung.  It’s usually the same group of my friends: Dave, John, Chris, myself, and lately Gav.  We have a few friends in other cities, and a few other guys in Taipei skate, but we don’t seem to see them as often.

Taiwan is a great place to skate because unlike most places in the western world, we rarely get kicked out of spots by angry security guards.  Lucky for our group of (slightly) older skaters, there are also a lot of banks, wall-rides, and transitions to skate.  There’s also an abundant supply of 7-11s for when the session starts to wind down.

This past Saturday, I was in the mood to shoot some pictures.  I don’t always like shooting skate pics, because usually I’d much rather skate or just hang out.  It’s also difficult to carry all the gear required needed to get good pictures.  We usually take the MRT or walk/skate from spot to spot and the nearly 80 lbs of gear can obviously wear me down.  Sure, I could just carry a camera and shoot natural light photos, but skateboarding photography usually requires a few remote strobes to isolate the subject from the background and give the picture more “pop”.

I actually wanted to get some lifestyle pictures this weekend, and the first picture of John was an attempt at that, but as the day went on, we ended up shooting a lot more skate photos.  It’s alright though, because we got some good ones.

Post Script – Please, please, please don’t wear black shirts on skate photo day!!!

John with his lifestyle shot.  Not exactly what I wanted but it worked out ok.  John walks around like that all the time... I swear.  He also thinks Sanchong is Awesome, Dude.

John with his lifestyle shot. Not exactly what I wanted but it worked out ok. John walks around like that all the time... I swear. He also thinks Sanchong is "Awesome, Dude."

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Skateboarding, TAIWAN, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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