For this blog post I’ll be sharing my technique for getting a busy background to look like a Black Portrait Background (similar to what you’d find in a photography studio). The final image was achieved with four flashes and camera settings that helped me to take the background right out of my final shot (without using Photoshop).
I was on a photography assignment in Michigan when I received a call to see if I was available for a senior portrait shoot in the area. It turns out Nichole already had a senior portrait session but she was really unhappy with the entire experience. It turns out Nichole was a beautiful girl and her bad experience was completely the fault of her previous photographer. I quickly said “yes” but because of the time of year we couldn’t go out to a nice location for her shoot. I love a challenge and this was sure to be fun. We created a bunch of images I really loved right in her living room. We started our shoot by simulating a black background.
Recently I had a chance to photograph Syd in my portrait studio. With a majority of my portrait work happening away from my studio I thought this was a great opportunity to share some of my thoughts, some behind the scenes shots of my gear and how I like to set things up.
Today I want to share a trick I use for Extending Focus Depth with Photoshop. It turns out there’s a feature in Photoshop that makes this super easy. I use this technique for lots of different situations but for this article I’ll talk about how it helps me when I’m shooting macro with a long lens. Continue reading →
For the last two weeks I’ve been Photographing Home Interiors for a Michigan based audio/video company that specializes in super custom design, engineering and installation. My primary job has been to travel to numerous homes and capture how they are able to integrate their systems into the unique lifestyles of their clients. For this blog post I’ll be sharing some of the images and giving a few thoughts about this kind of photography.
Today I want to talk about Flash Grids and why they are a must have accessory for controlling your light. Getting the most from your flash involves taking control. It’s important to place your flash where it will create the best illumination and shadows. On my hot-shoe flash I almost always keep a Sto-fen difusser attached to help soften and scatter the light for more pleasing results. Another great accessory I use often is a flag (also called a bounce card, flash bender or 80-20). People who follow me on this blog also know that I’m a huge user of colored gels to create unique looks or to match my flash with the available light. But another way to take control of your flash is to use an accessory called a grid. In this blog I’ll talk about the hot-shoe flash grid system I use.
For this blog post I want to talk about personal projects and exploring new forms of photography. I love being out in the scary unknown places that other photographers might try to avoid. I used to stay safely in my comfort zone but when I ventured outside of that safe place I grew as a photographer and I became considerably more creative not just behind my camera but in Photoshop as well.
I think it’s pretty easy to find safety in our photography. When I became serious about my location portrait work I quickly discovered it was anything but safe. My success as a photographer comes from being completely comfortable whenever I’m in a situation filled with challenges. I have confidence and I’m able to show leadership to my team and whoever is in front of my camera no matter what complications a location throws at me. To be at my best in these situations I embrace the unknown and put myself into new photographic situations as often as possible.
To get more comfortable with new situations I like to give myself personal projects and I like to get creative for the last shot of a shoot that is completely different from what I’ve done in the past. For this blog entry I want to share the story about an “end of the shoot” image that wasn’t like any shot I’ve ever taken.
Part of my recent engagement photo shoot with Tom and Julie involved some very special wine bottles. You see, Tom used two bottles of wine he had made with custom labels including one that was his marriage proposal.
While planning the shoot we talked about using the bottles in a few shots but I also knew that these bottles had plenty of potential for other uses (like save the date mailers). So when the shoot ended Tom and Julie agreed to leave their special wine bottles in my care so that I could give them a proper photo shoot. But like all product photography, getting a killer shot of a wine bottle is a lot trickier than it sounds. For this blog entry I’ll talk a bit about the challenges I faced, my solutions to common problems, and I’ll share my thoughts on this unique form of photography along with some behind the scenes looks into my product photography area.
People that have known me for a while know how much I enjoy using shoe mount flashes to get different looks for my photography. While I often share my wilder shots I’m happy to report that I can take shots without flashes, light modifiers and colored gels. In fact, when I’m shooting for clients I start with simple shots and when I’m certain that I have shots that they’re happy with I’ll see if there’s some interest in pushing things into more creative places. Most of the time my photo subjects have grown comfortable enough with me near the end of a shoot that they’re willing to try some different lighting setups to see where the shoot goes.
To get different looks I’m big on using flash modifiers like grids, barn doors, softboxes and colored gels. I use velcro straps from Honl Photo and LumiQuest and I use gels from Flash Zebra, GAM and Honl Photo. I take a ton of gels with me on a shoot and to keep things organized I’m using Case Logic CD cases (I picked mine up for about $5 each at my local Best Buy). For this blog entry I want to talk about colored gels and some of the different ways that I like to use them on a shoot.
Recently I was asked to photograph a good friends dog, Jordan, who is getting older and having some health problems.
Shoots like this are crazy important to me and before the shoot I’m spending a lot of time thinking about how I’m going to get the best shot possible. No tool or technique is off limits for shoots like this.
When the time came to have the shoot we chose an outdoor farm location to give us plenty of options. While I definitely wanted to get some outdoor shots I also knew that I’d need some studio style shots to get the images I had in mind. So I packed up my gear and arrived on location to set up a mobile studio in one of the buildings on the farm.
Location photography is all about showing your environment and making it look like someplace others want to visit. Location portraiture is all about getting great portraits and including a cool background (but not letting the environment dominate the shot). An easy way to get killer shots (and tone down the background in your portraits) is to shoot early in the morning or really close to sunset. Having a little less brightness in your background lets you bring out your own lights to take control of your final shot.
Whenever I walk into a location shoot I start by looking around and trying to figure out the story I want to tell with my final image. Sometimes I see my shot immediately and sometimes I have to search a bit to find my image. The bottom line is that you have to look past what’s in front of you and think about what it could become. For this blog entry I’ll be talking about how I get into the mindset of finding my shot and how I work through the process of setting up a shot using small flashes.