Photography Equipment I use for a photoshoot
In fact, the choice of photography equipment when I visit a client is important to me.
As a result, portability’s a requirement of the Photography Equipment. Accordingly packed in manageable loads and easy to put together for setup also helps.
With this in mind here are the important items
Camera Canon 5dmk2
In this case, I have had this camera for a number of years. In addition, it produces high-quality full-frame images and has proved very reliable. Accordingly, I always mount the camera on a tripod.
In like manner, the choice of lens is very important. As a result, I use Canon prime lenses 24mm – 70mm and 70mm – 200mm both f2.8.
Equally important is the choice of lighting. Moreover, each shoot is unique and may require a different way to light the subject. Therefore, in most cases, I choose flashlights and pocket wizards to wirelessly fire them.
Photography Equipment Backgrounds
In this case, there may be a choice of options. For indoors I use either a portable collapsible backdrop (with stand) or a suitable wall. Consequently, if I am shooting outside I choose an area that has a bit of shade.
As a result of the above equipment, transportation is easy. Thus the setup time is minimal. Consequently, this gives the client, minimal downtime for themselves and their staff.
In like manner, at times it is necessary to take along a laptop to post-process the images. In fact, the screen at the back of the camera is small and only gives a representation of the image taken. Therefore to see the true image you require a laptop to see this on.
Therefore, as you can see the equipment required is not vast. Equally, it does allow for easy transportation and setup.
For your time-saving and minimal disruption, headshots contact Martin here.
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.
Processing RAW Images
In the first place, processing Raw images for me is about doing this in a set way. As a result, after uploading my images to the computer I open up Photoshop bridge. In bridge, I open the file and then pick the first image for processing.
Therefore, the first task is to correct any lens distortion. In this case, to do this I pick on the lens corrections icon (5 from the right). By the same token, next, tick the remove chromatic aberrations and enable profile correction boxes.
In the same fashion, the next icon selected is the detail icon (eight from the right). In this case, I look at the three sharpening sliders. Accordingly, move the amount to 50, the detail to 18, and the masking as desired. In this case, by holding down the alt key and moving the slider. As a result, you are looking for a sharp outline.
In addition, if you are using a high ISO (800 over) you may want to move the noise reduction sliders. Therefore, I find that putting them all in the middle is normally good enough. By the same token, this turns the graining (noise) down in the image.
Processing Raw Images Select all images
Specifically, at this stage, I select all the images. I then highlight them all, right-click and sync them all. You can then work on each image or a batch of images as you go.
In contrast, now the meaty work begins.
In the first place for processing Raw images, click on the basic icon (first on the left).
In this case look at the histogram at the top of the page are the triangles black? When the triangle show as black this indicates the image as perfectly exposed.
Accordingly, if they are red, green or yellow you will need to do some adjustments.
To make adjustments my preference is to start at the top and work down in the following process.
If you have created a colour profile then find this from the choice available. If not then use one of the options available.
White Balance (Temperature)
You can either click on a white article in the picture or if you used one a grey card. In general, this will set your white balance.
Move the tint slider only if you think you need to. In other words, moving the slider to the right adds red into the image. In like manner, but to the left adds green into the image. For this reason, hopefully, you won’t have to move it.
Slide this to either brighten or darken the image.
As a matter of fact, by moving this to the right you weaken the image, push left and you strengthen.
Processing Raw images Highlight and Whites
Consequently, the next four are related to the triangles in the histogram at the top. As mentioned before if they are red, yellow or green you need to move the sliders.
These sliders affect the triangle on the right when a colour shows (not black) move this to the left. In this case, by moving this slider you will see that the image loses some of its brightness. You only need to use the slider until the triangle changes to black. You might also find that this works together with the whites button. As a result, between the two you will get an image that looks better and right.
By the same token, if you move this slider to the right the shadows will brighten.
For one thing, this slider works with the left triangle in the histogram. As a result, if a colour shows (not black) you move the slider to the right to blacken the image. Consequently, as you move the slider the triangle will change colour. You need this black also.
In particular, moving the slider to the right does not resolve the triangle change to black, move contrast/saturation left. For this reason, a word of warning DON’T OVERDO IT.
This slider either softens (left) or makes the image harsh (right). In general, beware if your subject is female, too much to the right will not do justice.
In general, the best advice with this slider is that you use it on landscapes.
Likewise, this slider controls the vibrancy of the colours similar in operation to the tint slider. In particular, this weakens or strengthens the colour vibrancy.
Saturation for processing Raw images
In this case, the slider controls the saturation in the picture of the colours. In this case, move to the left the colours completely disappear to Black and White. Consequently, moving to the right you will add more saturated colour.
Advice for Processing Raw Images
Equally important, for processing Raw images with all of the sliders be careful. Don’t overuse it, the eye will tell you when the amount of movement is right. If you are a novice or not sure then try it. In general, note your starting points by writing the settings down and then play with the sliders. Once you’re happy with the result you can save the image (done) or open it in photoshop. This leads on to another blog for the future.
Want to know more? Contact Martin
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
Cutting out with Studio Magic 1
Cutting out with Studio Magic 1 enables you to cut subjects from a photograph with reasonable ease. Studio Magic 1 is a software plugin for Photoshop available from Layer Cakes Elements
Studio Magic 1 enables you to cut subjects from a photograph with reasonable ease.
Preparing the image to cut the subjects out.
For the purpose of this tutorial, I have prepared a short video. In this case, I am using a couple on a green background. In the first place, the task is to remove the subjects from the green background. To begin with I am using the magic wand tool set at a tolerance of 30. In like manner, select the green background by clicking all around the green. As a matter of fact, to make this easier you may want to go to the select tab, scroll down to similar and click. On the positive side, this picks up any other green that’s not highlighted.
As can be seen you may find that you have selected some of the subject as well. In that case, if you use the lasso tool to circle the stray unwanted area you can remove them.
With this in mind, go to select scroll tab and scroll down to inverse and click. As soon as you do this the subjects will have marching ants around them only.
Studio Magic 1 preparing to cut the subjects out
At this point use the studio magic 1 plug-in. In this case, select the cut-out tab and make sure the promask button is ticked. As soon as you have done this click the detailed cut-out button.
The select and mask process is similar to this. Use the refine edge brush tool to go around the hair and any areas that the green background is showing through. When you have done this just push the OK button. As a result, the subjects will now be on a grey background.
You need to ensure that all the green has been removed, zoom into the image and check.
At the same time to make life easier double click in the layers the grey thumbnail. With the colour palette displayed to change the grey to white and click OK. Generally speaking, the white makes the image easier to work on.
In the meantime, I have already selected a new background of a bar from Layer Cake Elements Virtual Studio Pak. In this case, copy, highlight the white layer in your composited image and paste. You can now see above the white layer a new layer with the bar in.
In addition, change the bar layer into a smart object by right-clicking on the layer. You can now see that there is a cross on the image.
As a result, you can now stretch the image to fit without distorting the pixels. Once stretched you have your image.
Adding a shadow
To make it a little more realistic you may need to add a shadow. Studio Magic 1 can easily help you with that too.
Ensure you are on the top layer and click the layer mask. Open studio magic 1 plugin and click the shadow caster tab, next click the Create New Shadow tab. You can preview the shadows using the preview tab and select which one suits your need. When you have selected the shadow you will have to adjust the settings to get the height, intensity, slant and softness to your liking.
You now have your image. That has to be easier than judging the settings in Photoshop. Don’t forget to save the image.
Cutting out with Studio Magic 1 could not be more simpler.
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