Natural Light Portraits
In the first place, Natural Light Portraits, what is it?
In this case, Natural light portraits are about using the available ambient reflected light to light a subject. As a result, this produces a soft light that complements the subject.
In this case first, you need your camera. In fact, I use a Canon 5d mk2. Accordingly, this is a full-frame and has the capability of photographing in very low light.
In addition to the camera, I use either a 24mm-70mm 2.8f lens or 70mm-200mm f2.8 lens. Accordingly, both lenses have the capability of operating in low light.
I also prefer to use a lightmeter. Accordingly, the one I use is the Sekonic L-478DR. Consequently, this enables me to measure the light and set the camera accordingly.
In addition, the next item is a reflector. Furthermore, in my case, it is a 40-inch round 5-in-1 reflector. In this case, the reflectors used freehand or on a stand. In addition, should you use a stand you will require a means to hold the reflector and sandbags.
Background for Natural Light Portraits
In this case, the choice of background for this type of photography is outdoor. In this case, the choice of background for this type of photography is outdoor. Consequently, the rule of this is the subject being the focus of the viewer’s attention. For this reason, the background is out of focus.
Lighting for Natural Light Portraits
Likewise, the advantage of using natural lights the reduction in the amount of equipment needed for the shoot. As a result, you have no requirement for heavy bulky lights or flashguns. For this reason, the reflector’s used to reflect light onto the subject.
Consequently, reflectors have the following uses.
- To light the subject as the main light
- As a fill-in light where the light is coming from behind and the subject is in shadow.
- Diffuse the light onto a subject
Accordingly, the diffusers surfaces used to place in front of a light to diffuse the light. This will soften the light source so that the shadows on the subject’s face are less harsh.
In this case, the white side of the reflectors used to reflect your main light source to create soft fill light.
When using the reflector to bounce light, you can experiment by moving the reflector around. Closer will boost the light, further away will reduce the light.
Equally, the silver reflector works the same way as the white one except it’s more reflective. The light coming from the silver reflector is stronger so it might be useful in situations where there is very low light.
Likewise, the gold reflector surface works the same way as the white and silver reflectors except it creates a warm, golden light.
Consequently, the black surface does the opposite of the above surfaces, absorbing or blocking light.
When you have too much light coming from every direction, the black surfaces used as a kind of “anti-fill” light. In this case, the black surface removes the light from one side of the face to add more shadow.
With the information that is contained here, the next thing is for practice. So if you haven’t got a reflector, go and purchase one. Then find a subject to practice with.
As a result of this information, if you still want advice, feel free to contact me.
Lens Depth of Field
To begin with, depth of field (DOF), what it is and how to understand how to use it.
DOF can be viewed as the amount of a picture that is in focus. As a matter of fact, this could be a short/narrow DOF to a long and wide DOF. Generally speaking, three factors determine the DOF.
The focal length of the lens
In the first place, the focal length of the lens is the ability of a lens to magnify the image of a distant subject. As a result, it is the distance in mm from the optical centre of a lens to a point where a subject at infinity appears in sharp focus. This is usually the cameras digital sensor. In this case, think of this as the physical length of a lens in very simple terms.
In the first place, each lens has a maximum aperture and a minimum aperture. As an illustration, the range could be from f2.8 to f22. In other words, this means the amount of light that can enter through the lens. At the same time, the small f-number (f2.8) allows loads of light to enter the aperture which is wide open. On the contrary, the large f-number (f22) allows the smallest amount of light in. As a result, this means the aperture hole is small.
Different distances decide what the DOF is likely to be. If you are photographing something at distance you are going to get an image where most things are in focus. This may mean that anything close to the camera is out of focus. On the other hand, if you photograph something close then the subject close to the camera will be in focus. You will also notice that the background is blurred or out of focus.
What DOF can do for you?
A shallow depth of field is great if you want to make your subject stand out. That’s a portrait subject with a nice out of focus background. This means the subject stands out no distracting background.
For a landscape photograph, the camera’s lens can only focus on a single point. This means that areas before and after this point will appear out of focus. Although in reality, the area in focus will be a lot of the image. The out of focus will be near and far away from the lens.
The Depth of Field is notoriously difficult to work out when you first start to understand it. The good thing is that apps for mobile phones are available that take the guesswork out of it. For apple phones here is a link.
To find out more contact Martin
STUDIO LIGHTING (part 2)
In this case, this blog is about Studio Lighting Setup.
To begin with, in the last blog I wrote about the choice of studio lights available. As can be seen, in this blog, I am going into a bit more detail about setting the lights up.
Furthermore, as mentioned in the previous blog, for this type of backdrop four lights give you a good photo. In this case, my studio lighting setup for four lights is:-
- Main/key light.
- Fill light
- Hair light
- Backdrop light
Studio Lighting Setup
In this case, the lights placed to one side of the camera to highlight the subject. Therefore this lights one side of the subject. In general, the light level for this would be around f8-f11.
Generally speaking, you would place this light on the opposite side of the camera that the main light is on. In contrast, the role of this light is to put light into any shadow created by the main light. To clarify, it lifts the shadows and is not a strong light. In general, the light level for this would be f5.6-f8.
In addition, the hair lights placed at a high level over the top or at the side of the backdrop. In this case, this light lights the hair of the subject. The typical value for light level is f5.6
Coloured/Dark Backdrop Lighting
Accordingly, this lights placed low level behind the subject light the backdrop. In like manner, the light level is similar to the hair light.
In this case, the main light and fill stay in place. At the same time, the hair and backdrop lights become redundant. With this in mind, place these lights to the side to illuminate the white backdrop. In this case, the lighting levels for the two side light is around f11. Equally important the lights must light the backdrop evenly.
As an illustration, the diagrams above should help with you setting up your lighting for profile headshots. However, feel free to contact me if you require help.
Studio Lighting (part 1)
Accordingly, studio lighting takes many forms. As a matter of fact, there are flashlights, continuous lighting and strobe lighting.
As a result, you have to consider which benefits you best.
In this case, Flashguns used off camera.
Likewise, as the name suggests the lighting does not change although it can be dimmed or brightened.
Accordingly, this normally has a modelling light that allows you to judge the final lighting setup. In addition, it has a strobe light that supplies the actual lighting for the subject when fired.
When I started the business I choose Stobe Lighting. For this reason. that it was a portable unit. In this case, the units are mains electricity or battery powered. You can also use a variety of light modifiers over the strobe to soften the light.
Moreover, all forms of studio lighting require setting up for light level and colour balance. That is to say, to do this accurately you need a light meter and a using a grey card. If you don’t do this then you will get inferior results. Must be remembered, each light requires setting up individually to produce the effect the photographer is looking for.
You can use 1 or multiples of, in most cases, you would use more than 1. In this case, the ideal studio lights for portraits is four.
1. would be the main/key light.
2. would be your fill light
3. would be your hair light
4. would be your backdrop light
For this reason, these lighting setups are normally used for coloured backdrops.
Generally speaking, if you’re using a white background, you remove the hair and backdrop lights. These then get placed pointing at the white backdrop.
In addition, with the lights in position and set to the levels required, the cameras set to the settings. In this case, the cameras set to the main/key light setting.
Watch out for part two. Want to know more then drop me a line.
The camera histogram is one of the most important indicators of how well exposed your photograph is. The graph that is displayed represents on the left shadows, in the middle mid-tones and on the right highlights.
Thank you to digital camera world for the graph.
For a well-exposed image, you are looking for a rise from the left bottom corner to a peak in the middle and then dropping down again to the corner on the right. However, remember this is a perfect world.
The camera histogram graph may have peaks and troughs. Meaning that it might start at the bottom in the left-hand corner Rise to a peak the drop slightly rise to another peal and then drop to the left-hand corner.
Either of these scenarios will indicate a well-exposed image.
When looking at the camera histogram what you don’t want to see is the peak starting high on the left-hand side then a gentle curve upwards in the mid tones and then finishing high on the right-hand side. You may also see starting high on the left dropping, rising and dropping in the mid tones then rising high on the right. This indicates a badly exposed image which may be over or underexposed.
If a portion of the histogram is touching either edge this is called clipping. It means that there is a loss of detail in the image. On the left side, the clipping occurs in the shadows and will be completely black (no detail). On the right side in the highlights will be completely white (no detail).
If a certain portion of the histogram is “touching” either edge, it will indicate loss of detail, also called clipping. Highlight clipping (areas that are completely white and absent detail) occurs if the graph is touching the right side of the histogram. Shadow clipping (areas that are completely black and absent detail) occurs if the graph is touching the left side of the histogram.
HOW CAN YOU CORRECT THE GRAPH ON THE CAMERA HISTOGRAM
The best way to do this is to use a light meter. This way you can set the ISO, aperture and shutter speed to the readings taken. This will give you a well-exposed image. I use the Sekonic L478DR
The other way is adjusting the shutter speed on the camera. This adjusts the exposure. By dialling in a faster speed you will darken the image. If you want to make it lighter then use a slower speed.
You must remember that ensuring you have the correct white balance is also key to this process. See here for further information on white balance here.
Finding these articles interesting? Then let Martin know.
Mastering manual mode in your canon camera.
Mastering manual mode in your canon camera is something that takes photographers out of there comfort zone. For this reason it also means getting everything right before you take the image. In this case that’s colour balance, exposure and focus. As a result the image requires only a small amount of post camera software work.
Mastering manual mode means setting the camera yourself. In the first place the first thing you do is set the custom white balance. All things considered you can set this by using a grey card. In this case take a photo of the grey card in the light conditions you will be using. Above all set the custom white balance in accordance with your camera manual.
Generally speaking the best way to do this is with a light meter. For this reason the light meter means that you can get precise measurements. Henceforth by inputting your ISO and aperture or shutter speed you get the readings to set the camera too. For this reason I use a Sekonic DR425 light meter. As a result this works well with natural light, studio lights and flash with pocketwizards.
What if you have no meter?
In that case if you have no meter you set your own camera ISO and aperture. Then looking through the viewfinder adjust the shutter speed until the moving line is in the centre of the scale.
No matter which method you use you can still adjust the exposure to lighten or darken.
Generally speaking Focus, automatic or manual is really important in seeing your image clearly. For the most part this is really a personal choice. For this reason I like mainly to use automatic and change the focusing point in the camera.
Mastering manual mode doesn’t stop after the image has been taken. All things considered the software you use allows you to manipulate the image as you want.
How do you use manual? Let Martin know.
Basic DSLR Training Flash
This Blog is about Basic DSLR Training Flash. There are two ways to provide light from a flash.
- The pop-up flash found on the domestic DSLR.
- By using a flash gun that you buy as a separate unit. You can use this on the domestic and pro DSLR cameras.
To begin with you find the pop-up flash on the domestic DSLR camera. To activate the flash you push its button or it pops up automatically when called for.
Generally speaking you us a flash to add light into a photo. In this case where the subject has there back to the sun and a little light will lift the shadows. When you are in a dark room and you need light to see the subject.
Disadvantages of the pop-up flash
The big disadvantages with the pop-up flash are:-
In reality the pop-up flash is mounted in a fixed position, above the lens meaning the flash is thrown forward. As the flash fires so quickly the pupil cannot close, the light passes to the back of the eye and bounces back. As a result there is a greater chance of having the red eye look, in the eyes. In this case you can get rid of this by using digital photo software.
As a result of a fixed flash this means that you can only direct the light straight forward. In contrast this causes a lack of shadow in the image. In addition this gives the appearance of the photo looking flat (harsh) and having no definition.
By all means to reduce the harsh light you could use some equipment accessories available to lessen this.
In this case this type of flash fits in the camera hot shoe or can be used off camera. At the same time if you use it on camera the same disadvantages are present as in the pop-up flash. For this reason better diffusion is available and it can be turned or lifted (bounced) to soften the light.
Use the flash off camera by using either flash cords or infra-red/radio triggers.
Picture courtesy of Pocketwizard
For this reason the big advantage with this is that by adjusting the light output of the flash you can create shadow across the subject. In addition by using two or more flash guns you can produce stunning photos. It must be remembered that this is not possible at all with a pop up flash.
Pop up Flash.
The basic diffusion equipment is cheap and won’t make that much improvement to your photo.
Picture courtesy of Shopify
To take the flash off camera A variety of Infra-Red/Radio triggers, flash cord are available.
Several different types available, most fit onto the flash gun. Flash Cap and Gary Fong fit over the top of the flash. You use soft boxes to soften and diffuse the light. As a result by using these, you will need to put the flash lights on light stands. To support them and consider sand bags to weigh the stands down.
For further information on Basic DSLR Training Flash or other posts in this series. Contact Martin
How can one become better at photography?
To become better at photography you have to be prepared to leave your comfort zone. It’s also about understanding your equipment and how it works.
I would also advocate that when you buy photography equipment that you buy the best you can afford. As the saying goes buy cheap pay twice.
Gaining Knowledge and experience
There are several ways to gain knowledge and experience.
- Find an online website that encourages photographers of whatever experience to help each other. www.all-things-photography.com
- Look for a book that encourages you to undertake exercises to get to understand your camera. A Year With My Camera, Book 1
- Look for a social media site with like-minded photographers All things photography on Facebook
- Find a local photography club.
- Subscribe to a decent magazine. Photo Plus Canon or Nikon
All these have the same common goal, to give you knowledge.
Using this knowledge
Generally speaking in the early days of gaining your knowledge there is a lot to take in. The best way to gain knowledge is to use the equipment. That means practice, practice and more practice.
If you purchase a book or magazines try some of the subjects that are shown. Don’t worry about making mistakes. This is how you learn. The important thing is to learn from those mistakes. By joining social media groups or websites you can use the forums to ask others. You will find that every photographer whether a pro or amateur has made mistakes.
Enjoy taking photographs
Now it’s time to make a start. So charge your battery and place it in the camera. To begin with go for a walk and snap away. But before you push that button think about what you want to achieve. Remember what you read, if not take a copy with you and practice. When you get home download your images and have a look at them. Are they what you were trying to achieve?
As a result are you happy with the results or disappointed? In that case if you didn’t succeed, guess what, yes you try again. When yo can’t get it right, talk to others in the forums and they will help.
Looking for further information, contact Martin and have a chat.
Flash and its use in Photography
Flash, why use it in photography? Simple answer is to light the subject. This works fine for something that is close. Can you really light up a subject on a sports field when you are in the rafters? Of course the answer is no.
What is it?
Flash is a portable light source that produces a burst of light to illuminate a subject. This can be a fixed item that can be used on or off the camera.
The fixed camera flash is a pop up unit that is located on the top of the camera. Although diffusion covers can be added to this, the light produced is reasonably direct. This does not produce a flattering image. Light from this is not easily controlled.
This is a very versatile item and when used off camera can produce some superb images. Various accessories can be used to diffuse or bend the light. Light output is better controlled and harsh light is avoided.
Flash is used to light the subject. This can be similar to studio lights with main, fill and hair light. It could be as a fill in light with the subject outside in bright sunlight and there face is in darkness. A little fill in light will bring out the details and you will be able to see them. Flash depending on the output and shutter speed will also change what detail you see in the background.
In my opinion portable flash(s) is the way to go. The flash can be used in an automatic setting where the flash syncs with the camera control. The theory is that for the settings of the camera the flash output will be right.
However if your just starting to use flash, start in manual settings. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.
To set up your flash(s) correctly so you don’t over or under underexpose, you will need a light meter. I use the Sekonic L478DR that works with pocket wizards. It will also work on a time delay for the flash if you don’t have pocket wizards. See Sekonic L478 Blog For further details. You can also visit Sekonic L478
Getting–the–photo–right–before–taking–the–shot requires photographers to set the camera up correctly. This reduces the amount of post processing requiring to be carried out.
Camera with lens, Tripod (if needed), remote camera trigger (if needed), flash (if needed to lift the shadows), light meter, grey card and colour checker.
The camera, tripod, trigger and flash speak for themselves. You need these to take the photo. What about the other items, do you need them?
In my opinion yes you do.
Grey card and Colour checker.
I use an Xrite Colour Checker Passport. This comes with a grey card and colour chart. This allows me to set a reference for white balance and colour within my photos. This comes in a hard plastic wallet and the use is very easy.
This allows you to set the correct custom white balance for the light conditions you are working under. Before doing anything get this right first and the rest falls into place. It’s easy to do but check your cameras instruction manual to find out the correct method for your camera.
For a canon, take a photo of the grey card. Open the wallet and take a photo of the grey card filling at the least the focusing circle. Go into the menu to find custom white balance. Bring the photo of the card up and accept it, remember to set the camera to the custom white balance symbol. Now the camera is at the correct white balance for the lighting conditions.
Change to the colour checker chart and take a photo of this. The rest of the work is carried out in Lightroom or Photoshop.
Your camera is now set to take photos almost.
Recent advances in these mean that the photographer now has a reliable method of ensuring correct exposure of their photos. I know the camera is digital and contains its own light meter. For someone who doesn’t worry too much about the end result then the camera should be good enough.
For the professional where quality is key, the light meter is an essential piece of kit. I use the Sekonic L478dr. http://www.sekonic.com/united-kingdom/products/l-478dr/overview.aspx
The meter measures incident and reflected light (accessory required). It works with ambient light (existing/natural light), studio lights, pocket wizard controlled lights and has cine functions as well.
The setting up procedure is easy to follow and you calibrate your camera by using Sekonics DTS (DATA TRANSFER SOFTWARE) software.
This meter is more accurate than the cameras inbuilt meter. It will give you more accurate reading for setting your ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed. Where you have calibrated your camera with the DTS by imputing the meter readings you achieve a better exposure.
Having set up the camera for the light conditions you should now have less work to do when post processing. You are now getting the photo right before taking the shot.
Give it a try and lets see some of your images.