Posts Tagged With: Techniques

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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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Techniques, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Interesting Links

I haven’t posted a “Links” post in a long time, so I have quite a few… Let’s get to it:

My good friend Bryan Lathrop finally got a website up.  He’s a freelance photographer in Philadelphia shooting all kinds of different stuff.  Check the “Things” gallery for some real cool “Painting with Light”-type still lives.  This is a technique I’ve been meaning to write a post about but I’ve been having trouble fining the equipment I need in Taiwan…  Soon though… soon.

Cool Iris is a great add on to Firefox.  (I’m not sure if it works with other browsers)  It a much faster and cleaner way to view multiple photos on flickr or facebook or most sites that have a lot of photos.  I found that I needed to change the settings a little to keep myself from getting sick as I scrolled through (you’ll see), but it’s definitely cool.

Anther great add-on I found for Firefox is Autopager.  It automatically loads the next page when surfing many sites with all those numbered pages at the bottom.  It also works great with flickr and similar websites and saves a lot of time.

Here’s just an awesome photo of a volcano erupting.

From the “Fake Human Being Files” comes a fake woman.  It’s just an example that portraits are so easy to take now that you don’t even need a subject… or flashes… or a camera.

Want to go to college for photography?  PhotographyColleges.org has all the info you’ll need on choosing the right one.

And lastly is the most comprehensively written article on choosing photo equipment that I’ve ever read.  Alexandre Buisse wrote an article for The Luminous Landscape about the photography equipment he chooses to take mountain climbing and why.  I know most of you aren’t going to go on a big mountain expedition anytime soon, but reading this article is a reminder of the thought that sometimes needs to go into choosing photography gear.  Whether it’s for a big mountain adventure or a walk down the street… And it’s also a reminder that you don’t need all that flashy-super-expensive equipment!!!

Cheers,
-neil

Categories: Inspirational Links, PHOTOGRAPHY | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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 #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 #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

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 #3 – DIY Photography Gear

DIY photography gear and specifically DIY “grip” gear has been quite the rage for the past few years.  Photographers are finding many ways to save some money on all that expensive stuff and then posting how do it all over the interweb.  There’s a lot of interesting things out there to try to make on your own: from DIY ring lights, to beauty dishes, to snoots and grids.  Also have a look at my DIY Soft Box for Strobes.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me explain a few vocabulary words:

  • First of all, DIY = “Do It Yourself,” …like, der.
  • “Grip gear” (or just “grip”) refers to all the stuff you need for photography that isn’t cameras, lenses, flashes, etc.  “Grip” is the stuff that holds the cameras and flashes.  It’s tripods, light stands, light boxes (aka banks), clamps, gels, and even duct tape and screwdrivers can be called grip.  Basically, it’s stuff that makes photography a lot easier but isn’t really quite as (take a deep breath studio photographers!) necessary.

This is the stuff that most amateur photographers don’t have, but every professional photographer has a closet full of.  These days though, many amateurs are learning that this stuff can help you get better pictures, and these things are really not that hard to use.

Lots more on DIY photography gear after the jump…

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Techniques #2 Patience

There’s nothing more important to photography that patience.  Whether you’re working with a nervous model or waiting for that perfect moment, you need to be patient. I’m going to talk about patients in regards to travel photography.

I can say for certain that 90% of my photographs are well planned out.  Often they’re planned out days or months before I get to where I’m going.  And yes, I’m even talking about travel destinations that I’ve never been to.  Go online.  Do a google image search for the place you’re going.  Check stock agencies like Magnum, Corbis, Getty, and PhotoShelter to see what the place looks like.  Try Flickr, TrekEarth, and National Geographic.  If you do some research on the place you’re going, you’ll be more ready for it when you get there.  You’ll know that sunrise is the time to be at Angkor Wat… sunset is a great time to be at India’s Golden Temple…

Learn more about patience after the jump…

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, Portraiture, Techniques | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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