Author Archives: Rick Sieminski

Maggie and Brady’s Engagement

        We met Maggie at the Nuovo Bridal Expo.  Lisa and I gave away several Engagement Session Fees that day in a drawing. After the show, Lisa and I were hammered with emails from Brides-to-be, asking if they had won. We decided to pick 2 more names, and Maggie was one of the lucky winners!  We met Maggie and her Fiance’ at our studio one night after they got off work, and found out what they wanted for their personalized engagement shoot.  We were the lucky ones! We hit it off right off the bat, and knew this was going to be a fun shoot!  They are so perfect for each other, such good people, and are so sweet.  They wanted a Country theme, and Sunset images.  Lisa and I researched locations to fit their vision, we planned the shoot timeline, and few weekends later, when everyone was free, we packed up lights and camera gear, and we headed off to several different locations.  Well,… the rest is history, and you can see for yourself…..but, they TOTALLY NAILED this shoot! What a great looking couple! So many amazing images!  Brady fought off some fire ants, we all fought off the crazy winds, Maggie rocked several different outfits, and we all had such fun.  I think we’ll be friends for a long time to come!

(Click on the little small grey curly arrow do-dad at the lower right of the gallery for larger images, and then hit f11 for full screen).

Thanks guys!! Enjoy the images!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarasota Engagement Photography by Sarasota Engagement Photographer, Rick Sieminski

Rick Sieminski Photography is anything but your typical Sarasota Engagement Photographer. Each Engagement Session is unique, and treated with care and creativity not found with any other Sarasota Engagement Photographer. Your Engagement Session is carefully captured to offer the one of a kind, unique experience, and photography you deserve in the Sarasota area. Your Engagement Photography experience is personalized specifically for you and your needs.

Creative. Amazing. Exceptional. Elite. Passionate. These are the words typically used to describe this Sarasota Engagement Photographer. This is Sarasota Engagement Photography that is on a completely different level. Rick Sieminski Photography is an amazingly creative, exceptional, top tier Engagement Photographer based in the Sarasota County area. Offering Engagement coverage in Sarasota County, Manatee County, Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Charlotte County, and destinations worldwide, this Engagement Photographer is one of the top Engagement Photographers in the country and is located right here in the Sarasota County area.

We take pride in offering our clients the type of high end, luxury Sarasota Engagement Photography services they are looking for. Anyone can take pictures. We capture moments to create art for our client’s enjoyment for years to come. Our Sarasota Engagement Photography clients are typically looking for timeless artwork pieces for their home, personalized service, and impeccable attention to detail, and that is what attracts them to our Sarasota Engagement Photography services, and that’s what really separates us from the rest.

Serving Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Charlotte, counties and Beyond

Rick Sieminski Photography offers Sarasota Engagement Photography coverage in the Sarasota County area, including but not limited to: Manatee County, FL, Pinellas County, FL, Hillsborough County, FL, Charlotte County, FL and the surrounding areas.

Not looking for a Sarasota Engagement Photographer? Please be sure to consider us for your Wedding Photography, High School senior photography, Family photography, Boudoir photography, and children’s sports photography needs.
We are located conveniently in the Sarasota County. Please call or email us for more information.
Learn more about Sarasota Engagement Photography

Posted in Engagements Tagged , , , |

Beverly and Andrew’s Engagement

        Our initial meeting with Bev and Andrew was at our studio, and just from the first 2 minutes of our conversation, we knew this was going to be a fun journey with them! We love the fact that Bev says what’s on her mind, and tells us exactly what she wants, and how Andrew smiles and tells us, “whatever she wants!” :-) He is already learning the ropes!

        Bev and Andrew’s Engagement shoot was a great time! This couple is very creative, and had tons of cool ideas for places, themes, and scenario’s for shots. Lisa did most of the location scouting for this one, and between all of us, we got some breathtaking images, at some beautiful places. We packed up lights, props, and camera gear, and set out to the a beautiful area not far from our studio. We snapped some super cool images of Master John, with Mom and Dad! Then, just the grown ups, headed off to several locations. We thought we had everything we needed for the shoot, but we definitely should have brought some insect repellent. This was NOT an LOL moment, seriously…OUCH!! (look closely at image 26) I have never seen no-see-ums that thick before! We risked life and limb at the tracks, the bridge, and finished up with no-see-ums at the beach…oh, sorry, I mean sunset at the beach. We had a pretty sunset, but we were hoping for more a colorful sunset, SO we shot another Sunset Set with them a couple of weeks later (this was the perfect excuse to hang out with Bev and Andrew again). :-) Of course, THEY ROCKED IT!! ALL of the images came out sooooo good. What a great looking couple! So Lisa and I are honored to present to you, our friend’s Engagement Session. Enjoy guys!!

 

(Click on the little small grey curly arrow do-dad at the lower right of the slideshow gallery for larger, full screen images, and then hit f11 to get rid of the bar at the top, for full screen).
 
Here are some highlights from the shoot in a slideshow……. (don’t worry Bev, I gotcha covered)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarasota Engagement Photography by Sarasota Engagement Photographer, Rick Sieminski

Rick Sieminski Photography is anything but your typical Sarasota Engagement Photographer. Each Engagement Session is unique, and treated with care and creativity not found with any other Sarasota Engagement Photographer. Your Engagement Session is carefully captured to offer the one of a kind, unique experience, and photography you deserve in the Sarasota area. Your Engagement Photography experience is personalized specifically for you and your needs.

Creative. Amazing. Exceptional. Elite. Passionate. These are the words typically used to describe this Sarasota Engagement Photographer. This is Sarasota Engagement Photography that is on a completely different level. Rick Sieminski Photography is an amazingly creative, exceptional, top tier Engagement Photographer based in the Sarasota County area. Offering Engagement coverage in Sarasota County, Manatee County, Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Charlotte County, and destinations worldwide, this Engagement Photographer is one of the top Engagement Photographers in the country and is located right here in the Sarasota County area.

We take pride in offering our clients the type of high end, luxury Sarasota Engagement Photography services they are looking for. Anyone can take pictures. We capture moments to create art for our client’s enjoyment for years to come. Our Sarasota Engagement Photography clients are typically looking for timeless artwork pieces for their home, personalized service, and impeccable attention to detail, and that is what attracts them to our Sarasota Engagement Photography services, and that’s what really separates us from the rest.

Serving Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Charlotte, counties and Beyond

Rick Sieminski Photography offers Sarasota Engagement Photography coverage in the Sarasota County area, including but not limited to: Manatee County, FL, Pinellas County, FL, Hillsborough County, FL, Charlotte County, FL and the surrounding areas.

Not looking for a Sarasota Engagement Photographer? Please be sure to consider us for your Wedding Photography, High School senior photography, Family photography, Boudoir photography, and children’s sports photography needs.
We are located conveniently in the Sarasota County. Please call or email us for more information.
Learn more about Sarasota Engagement Photography

Posted in Engagements Tagged , , , |

This week’s assignment is about “Subject Separation” with an emphasis on “Selective Focus”

Happy New Year Everyone! I’m looking forward to great things this year! This week’s assignment is about “Subject Separation” with an emphasis on “Selective Focus” (background blur, or that overused term Bokeh).

We’re photographers right? Well, we have a camera or cameras and we take pictures, so we’re photographers, right? Well, I’d like to think of you and I as more than that. My Grandma has a point and shoot (PNS), and takes snapshots at all of our family gatherings, so she, by definition, is a photographer. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great thing to do, and it makes her happy, and I encourage it. It’s fun! But, I strive to produce better pictures that Grandma does, or Uncle Bob does, not to show them up, but to make myself happy. Creating great images, making great images, is what makes me happy. It gets me excited! That’s what makes us different. We make images. I’m an image maker, more than a photographer. I don’t just take pictures.

The image you make should make sense. There should be no question what the image is about, or what the story is. There are several ways to tell your viewer what the subject is in our image. The emphasis should clearly be on the model. Three ways to do this are to make your Model be: the brightest, the biggest, and/or Selectively Focused.

Using Selective Focus on location, outside, with OCF, will be the subject of this week’s assignment. Simple right? Well it really is. This will be a simple portrait, not an environmental portrait. The BG will be blurred, because this image is all about the model, and has nothing to do with the surroundings. It could take place anywhere. Mastering this simple skill will allow you to make amazing portraits of anyone practically anywhere, even in the ugliest environment or location.

Ok, so we already know how to balance exposure outside from the “Reliable, Light Weight, Super Portable, Inexpensive, Location Lighting Kit?” meetup. Basically meter the image, using about 1/2 your camera’s sync speed, (In my case this will be 1/125th of a second), and your cameras base ISO (In my case this will be ISO 100). Using these restraints, adjust your aperture for a proper exposure using your camera’s meter (In my case this was f/8.0). Now in keeping with our 3 methods of subject emphasis, we will underexpose the BG by a stop or 2. In this case I went from 1/125th of a second to 1/250th of a second (one stop less light). If you wanted to underexpose by 2 stops, you’d change the shutter speed like we did, and stop down by changing the aperture to f/11. Your settings will be different than this of course, but you get the idea. You just can’t go over sync speed with the shutter speed. If you still have questions review the “Reliable, Light Weight, Super Portable, Inexpensive, Location Lighting Kit?” outline. It goes over this in much greater detail.

The next thing we want to do is light our model with OCF, so they’ll be the brightest (because we underexposed the BG by a stop or more). Using the modifier, distance and angle of your choice, light your subject (In my case it was with that 24×24 softbox that I gave out links to, with 2x YN460-IIs inside, mounted with the triple bracket that I gave links to). So I took a shot, and raised or lowered the power until the model was correctly lit. Viola, a beautiful image right? Well, it’s already much better than Grandma’s snaps, but we can make it better. What’s that thing behind him? Easy enough to get rid of that distracting BG, right? Just shoot wide open. Well we can’t open the aperture up anymore because if we did that we’d have to increase the shutter speed to get the same exposure, and we can’t increase the shutter speed because we’re at or near max sync speed. Here’s where the magic comes in.

I am from the age of photography when you used colored filters on your lens. Well today every filter can be reproduced in post production with Photoshop, or Gimp, or some other editing software except 2: ND (Neutral Density), and CPL (Circular Polarizer) filters. Thanks to the ND filter, once I get the exposure and BG to subject ratios where I want them, pop the ND filter on, and I can shoot wide open in most situations. For our example here, the original shot was at f/8.0. I wanted to shoot at f/2.0, so I screwed a 4 stop ND filter on the lens, opened my aperture by 4 stops (from f/8.0, past f/5.6, f/4.0, f/2.8, to f/2.0). That’s it! Shoot away. The same exact exposure, except you’ve blurred the BG. You’re shooting wide open in the middle of the day. Uncle Bob, and Grandma are left in the dust.

 

Now compositionally, I’d really like to see his head in a clean spot, but in this example, hypothetically, this was the only place to shoot this portrait, and to make the best of a bad situation, we can now blur the BG, and almost eliminate that distracting element.

The assignment:
In the middle of the day, outside, use OCF to take your Grandma’s style portrait (of course it’ll be better than hers right off the bat, because she does not use OCF). Then Using an ND filter to get Selective Focus, MAKE a portrait.
Objective:
Learn how a simple ND filter can take your location photography to the next level and beyond.
Tools:
1. Camera and lens (50mm to 85mm+ for a more flattering perspective)
2. Speedlight or studio strobe with a way to trigger off camera
3. a modifier with diffusion. (umbrella, brollybox, softbox, octas, etc)
4. Lightstand
5. A Model
6. An ND filter (if you don’t already have one, and are unsure, buy a cheapy 3 or 4 stop from Ebay, to try it out before you put out $50+ for a good one)

Adorama is the best place to get a high quality ND filter.






 

The setup and execution:
1. Take a portrait outside, underexposing the ambient by a stop or 2, and properly light your model with your OCF (a tripod can help to maintain the same framing).
2. Attach your ND filter, open up your aperture by the appropriate amount, and make the same portrait, with the same framing, only this time you will have separated your subject from the BG, MAKING a portrait that separates YOU from the uncle Bobs.
3. As always when creating pleasing BG blur, a longer lens, shot at a large aperture, and a little distance between subject and BG makes for better BOKEH. It helps to pick a busy, distracting BG to see this effect work under the worst conditions.

Post up your 5-6 images to the Sarasota Portrait and Lighting Group album Sunday sometime after 7am. Post questions to the blog, and I’d be happy to answer them.

What I have learned about ND filters

I have tried half a dozen brands of Variable ND filters, and half a dozen single density ND filters, and did IQ testing on all of them. I have some very expensive glass that I have paid lots of my hard earned money to get the IQ that great glass can give you, so the last thing I want is to put a piece of glass on the front of my lens that will negatively effect the IQ. I have found that, unfortunately, you get what you pay for with ND filters. As far as the Variable ND filters, Singh-Ray and Hiliopan Variable ND filters to be the only acceptable ones in both IQ and color cast, but they are $300-$400 for a 2- Stop Variable ND filter. As far as the single density filters, I have found that anything less expensive than HOYA, or B+W to be unacceptable. I have found that the HOYAs are better calibrated to their rated density. In other words a 4 stop HOYA ND filter is almost exactly 4 stops, but with the B+W, a 4 stop may be 4 2/3 stop. They all give a slight color cast, the more dense the more color cast. HOYA and B+W are hardly even noticeable IMO. I usually always do a custom WB, so that takes care of even the slightest color cast.

ND filters are rated based on their density in stops, like 3 Stop, or 4 Stop, but they can also be labeled to their light blocking ability ND8, ND16. This is a little more difficult to understand, but not impossible. Think of it as base 2. A 1 stop ND filter (If one was made) would be ND2 (for ½ as much light). A 2 stop ND filter would be ND4, 4x less light, or 2 to the 2nd power less light. A 3 stop ND filter would be ND8, 8x less light, or 2 to the 3rd power less light. A 6 stop ND filter would be ND64, or 2 to the 6th power less light.

 

 

Posted in Tutorials Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

This week’s assignment is all about “The Color of Light”

Well, we have talked a little about, quantity, Contrast, and Quality, the only thing left is Color. All of these topics we will go into in greater detail, but I think we should get our feet wet on the subject of “The Color of Light”.
“The Color of Light” can be expressed as temperature in degrees Kelvin. Kelvin is a unit of measure for temperature on the Centigrade scale, except the Kelvin scale starts at Absolute Zero (-273*C, 0*K). The color of light matches that of a theoretical iron rod heating up to a certain temperature measured in degrees Kelvin. We’re not going to get into this in too much detail here as there are many good books on the subject, and we really don’t need to know about it in all that much detail. Here are a few approximate examples:

Embers    800*K
Candle    1800*K
Sunrise or Sunset    2000-3000*K
Incandescent    2800*K
Tungsten    3200*K
Florescent    4300-4700*K
Speedlight    5000-5800*K
Noon Sun    5000-5600*K
Computer Monitor    6500*K
Shade    8000*K
Skylight    12,000-20,000*K

Colors with a value below 5000*K are considered warm, and colors higher than 5000* on the scale are considered cool which is kind of strange because red hot metal, is cooler than white hot metal, but red is photographically warm, and blue is photographically cold. This color temperature is important to us as photographers because for white to appear white in an image it would need to be illuminated by equal amounts of Red, Green, and Blue light. If for instance you take an image of someone in a white wedding dress illuminated by an incandescent light overhead, the whole scene, including the dress will have an orange color cast, because incandescent light bulb emits warm light. Fortunately this is easy enough to correct in post production, and easier still, if you take care of it in the camera first.

Color casts effecting the entire image, and the overall balance in color (cool or warm) is called White Balance (WB). The easiest way of dealing with WB is to set the camera on Auto White Balance (AWB), and today’s DSLR’s do a pretty good job of correcting for white balance, but AWB will fluctuate between shots, it cannot account for lights of different colors in the same image, and if there’s nothing truly white in the image, it often gets it wrong. The solution to this is to take an image of a gray card, and do a Custom White Balance in the camera. By taking a proper exposure of a gray card, and setting a CWB, you’re now telling the camera that under the current lighting conditions this color is gray. The camera looks at this card and evaluates the color cast of the lighting, and corrects for it by adding the complementary color to the next images captured, until you change the WB setting. By doing this, it takes out the color cast, and makes the image look like it’s been shot at 12:00 (5000-5500*K depending on your body).

It does not even have to be a calibrated white card to get satisfactory results. I have shot CWB’s using: A white piece of paper, A Styrofoam cup, The white shirt of the guy sitting in front of me, The white paint on the side of a car/van/building, etc. So long as you’re not shooting products, fashion, or clothes getting “Close Enough” is better than the inconsistent AWB of the camera. If you are shooting products, fashion, or clothes. getting proper WB is essential. The clothing Mfg wants the Crimson sweater to be Crimson in the images. For our images, a piece of paper will suffice much of the time.

I won’t go into how to set a CWB in the camera, you’ll have to read your manual, as every camera is a little different. I have it set to a custom function, and it literally takes me 15sec to do. When I go to post process my images, I usually warm the, up a few hundred K, but after I do one, I know that I can apply that setting to every image in that series, and maintain consistency.

Knowing all these things, this lets us do some rather cool things with gels. I use the Rosco Swatch Book:
http://www.adorama.com/ROSB.html?KBID=67888
It’s around $4 for the book, and contains hundreds of colors. With a little clear tape on the end of each gel, and a rubber band they will perfectly fit the front of your speedlight(s). Why they are so important is because if you shoot someone with a speedlight (5000-5500*K), and the rest of the image is lit with Tungsten, depending on your WB, the scene will have a uncorrectable color cast. If your camera is set to AWB, and depending on how your camera interprets the scene, it’ll make your model a Smurf, or make your model look like they just got a bad spray tan. So, in the above situation, you gel your speedlight with a Tungsten (CTO) gel, set the WB for Tungsten, and now your image has normal colors throughout.

The way the camera behaves to correct WB works to our benefit, and adds to our creative control. We learned how to control exposure, what tools we will need to control Off Camera Flash, and light our Models, about the Quality of light, and how we can change that, and we learned how to control the direction of light , and how the look and feel of our images changes, all in previous assignments or meetups. Through the use of gels, we have another creative tool, we can control color in our images. We already discussed how to balance the color of our light to the ambient light, but now let’s throw WB off intentionally to change the color of our image, but only the background (BG).

Say you want to do a quick portrait and you envision a cool blue sky behind your subject, but all you have is that pale blue mid day Clear Sunny Sky, or even cloudy sky. Pop a CTO gel on your speedlight, do a CWB, or change your WB to Tungsten, and kazam, like magic your BG sky is a beautiful shade of blue. Want it a little deeper, under expose the ambient by a stop or two (We learned how to do this in Light Weight, Super Portable, Inexpensive, Location Light Kit), and bam, a beautiful medium blue sky. I should mention that the colored gels eat about a stop of light, depending on their density, so you’ll have to open up your aperture, or increase flash power to compensate.

Before gel, and CWB:

After Gel, and CWB:

On to the assignment (this one’s going to require a more little work than just snapping a few images of something):
Explore The Color of Light by capturing images of a model before and after the application of a colored gel to your speedlight(s), and a CWB applied, to give you more creative control of your BG.

Objective:
Learn about the Color of light, Gels, WB, CWB, Complementary colors, etc.

Tools:
1. Camera and lens
2. Speedlight or studio strobe with a way to trigger off camera
3. Lightstand
4. With or w/o a modifier
5. Colored gels.
6. Someone to shoot
7. A Gray card or sheet of white typing paper.

I use Rosco’s Swatch Book, but any colored gel will work for this assignment. Look in the office dept of a Super Store, and you’ll find spiral notebook dividers that are colored, and will work. Expect them to eat at least 2 stops of light, depending on how deep a color.
Tip: Pop a Green gel on your flash, for Sunset/Sunrise portraits, do a CWB and your camera corrects by adding a Magenta tint to your BG.

The setup:
1. Set up to light your subject, get proper exposure, and shoot your Gray card, or sheet of typing paper, filling most of the frame.
2. Set that frame to be your CWB per your manual’s instructions
3. Shoot a headshot of your model, but make sure to leave enough space around your model, to see some of the BG to see the effect.
4. Attach a colored gel to your speedlight, adjust for a proper exposure, shoot the card/paper again, and change the CWB to use that frame you just took
5. Shoot another headshot of your model, using the same framing
6. Evaluate your results.
Post up your 5-6 images to the Sarasota Portrait and alighting Assignment album Sunday sometime after 7am.
Some more quick snaps:
Before gel, and CWB:

After Gel, and CWB:

Posted in Tutorials Tagged , , , , |

This weeks assignment is “Around the Clock” An exploration of the Direction of light

I speak to some photographers about lighting, and they reply “I am a natural light photographer”.  Well, what this really means is that they haven’t got a clue as to how to use Off Camera Flash.  Sure, set your model down in front of a window, and have them look toward the light, put that camera in “P” mode, and spray.  One of them is bound to be Ok. But what happens at night, or when the sun is shining directly through the window,…. Your chances of getting an amazing image are dependent on the time of day, the weather man, and what the camera thinks is a great exposure.  I’d rather have the ability to create my own window light, or harsh light, or something in between.  Sometimes I see this same “Natural light photographer” pop a speedlight on top of the camera for situations when it’s too dark, or the light’s not ideal.  Which creates the most horrible, flat, light with ugly shadows on the wall behind the model.  I have even seen weddings (mine included) shot like this.  …AND THESE ARE “PROS”.  All these and many, many more reasons to have at least a small lighting kit.  (See: Reliable, Light Weight, Super Portable, Inexpensive, Location Lighting Kit )

Don’t get me wrong, when there’s amazing natural light, take advantage of it, but when there’s no good natural light, create your own.  Use available light, like from the available light that comes out of your available speedlight tucked away in your available camera bag.

When light comes from any other angle but the camera axis, it creates dimension, it reveals texture (see Texture assignment), and gives your images that, almost, 3D look.  Highlights and shadows are how we define the texture of everything we see.  Is it rough, bumpy, smooth, round, …etc.  Flat, on camera light just obliterates texture, shape and dimension.  We know better.  We’re not going to put that speedlight on the hot shoe of our camera, unless it’s the only way, and if we do we’re going to bounce it off of something (that’ll be covered in an upcoming assignment).

This time we’re going to explore the direction of light and what it looks like on our model. This assignment lets you pre-visualize what the light will look like in both single and multiple light setups.  If you’ve been following along, by this point you should be becoming real familiar with manual settings, both on the camera and on your speedlight.

The assignment:
Explore The Direction of Light by capturing headshots of a model with deliberate, and specific settings (remember we want consistent exposures, and want to be in total creative control): 1/160th of a second, f/5.6, and ISO 100 (If your base ISO is 200, then change your aperture to f/8.0  instead of f/5.6, and the same 1/160th of a second shutter speed)
Objective:
See what changing the light position does to the light, and shadows falling on your model.  You can use these images later to previsualize single and multiple lighting setups for model, and product shoots in the future.

 

Tools:
1. Camera and lens (50mm to 85mm+ for a more flattering perspective)
2. Tripod
3. Speedlight or studio strobe with a way to trigger off camera
4. Lightstand
5. A Model

 

The setup:
1. Mount your camera on the tripod, with the camera at eye level to your Model. The frame should tightly include the models head, down to the clavicle level, facing straight forward, Looking at the camera.
2. Roughly mark out 12 spots all the way around your model, like a clock, with 12 O’clock directly behind the model, and 6 O’clock directly in front of the model, right next to the camera lens.  The radius of the circle should be about the same distance that your camera is away from your subject to get proper “Headshot” framing.  Mount the speedlight on the light stand a few feet above your model, so that it’s pointing down at ~30 degrees.
3. Make sure that it’s high enough so that when the speedlight is in the 12 O’clock position, it won’t be shining directly into the lens. You’ll want your lens hood on for this one to further avoid flare.

Execution:
1. Adjust your camera for ISO 100 or 200 (base ISO), f/5.6 or f/8.0 respectively. Move the tripod so that you maintain the tight “Headshot” Framing. (~6-8’)
2. Start with the lightstand right next to the camera lens, and adjust the speedlight for a propper exposure.  Move the lightstand to each position, maintaining the same distance to your model, so that the exposure does not change.
4. Rinse and repeat until you’ve gone all the way around your model, and you have 12 images, one for each location.  Do not adjust exposure or flash power.  We’re not expecting to see anything but a rim of light for the 12 O’clock position.
5. Remember, these are headshots. We only want to see from the top of the head, down to the clavicle or just below, with their face looking straight at the camera.

Using the tripod helps with this because your model will be in the same place and you can flip back and forth and really notice the differences. Look at the highlights and shadows fall on the subject.  Look at how the face is sculpted when in the 4-5 and 7-8 position. Examine the effect of the light at the 10-2 positions.

Post up your 12 images to the Sarasota Portrait and Lighting Group album Sunday sometime after 7am.

Example:

Posted in Tutorials Tagged , , , , |

This weeks assignment an extension of last week’s “The Quality of Light”

I was really hoping more photographers would have participated in last week’s assignment, as it would help with proficiency and familiarity of these concepts. Think of these assignments as building blocks. One skill building on the other. If you did the last assignment, it’ll help you with this one.

It’s one thing to whip out a speedlight/strobe, on camera (ugh!), or off camera, and light a subject, but did you do everything intentionally, deliberately?
Why did you put the light where you put it?
Why did you use X number of lights?
Why did you use a beauty dish, an octabox, an umbrella, or gridspot?
Why did you shoot at f/8.0 or f/1.4?
Did you expose, and light the image according to your vision for the shot, or did you just worry about getting a proper exposure?

This weeks assignment is more exploration of the quality of light, but this time it’ll be with a live model (from here on out your subject will be referred to as the model, it does not matter who it is). If you did last week’s assignment, it’ll be familiar to you, and this won’t take long. If you didn’t do the last assignment, this will be a good time to do it, so you’re not fumbling with the gear, while your model waits, and looses interest. Nothing says amateur more than fumbling with your settings.

The assignment:
Explore The Quality of Light by capturing headshots of a model with deliberate, and specific settings: 1/160th of a second, f/4.5, and ISO 100 (If your base ISO is 200, then change your aperture to f/6.3 instead of 4.5, and the same 1/160th of a second shutter speed)
Objective:
Learn about the Quality of light, size, distance, and even a little about the Inverse Square Law (and have fun doing it)
Tools:
1. Camera and lens (50mm to 85mm+ for a more flattering perspective)
2. Tripod
3. Speedlight or studio strobe with a way to trigger off camera
4. a modifier with diffusion. (umbrella, brollybox, softbox, octa, etc)
5. Lightstand
6. A Model

The setup:
1. Mount your camera on the tripod, with the camera at eye level to your Model. The frame should tightly include the models head, down to the clavicle level, facing straight forward, Looking at the camera.
2. Mount the speedlight at 90 degrees to the camera position (split light, or side light), about 8 or 10 feet away, pointing down at your model at about 30 degrees.
3. The modifier should be placed so that the back edge is even with the models ear, and the front extends out past the models face. This is only really relevant when the modifier is close.

Execution:
1. Adjust your camera for ISO 100 or 200 (base ISO), f/4.5 or f/6.3 respectively, and adjust the speedlight power to capture a properly exposed image with the bare speedlight. From the last assignment, you might have an idea where to start powerwise.
2. Mount a modifier (with diffusion), and capture a properly exposed image, adjusting only the power of the speedlight. (note how much light the modifier eats)
3. Move the lightstand approximately half the distance closer to your model. So if you were at 10 feet away, move the lightstand to approximately 5 feet away. You’ll have to move it down a little as well, to keep the light hitting your model at that same ~30 degrees (or so, no need for a protractor or Trig here) Capture a properly exposed image, changing only flash power. (The Inverse Square Law at work.)
4. Split the distance in half again, and capture a properly exposed image (adjusting only flash power). You should be getting a little more comfortable with the flash power.
5. Repeat until the modifier is just outside of the frame.
6. Remember, these are headshots. We only want to see from the top of the head, down to the clavicle or just below, with their face looking straight at the camera.

Throw out the under and overexposed images and evaluate the results. Using the tripod helps with this because your model will be in the same place and you can flip back and forth and really notice the differences. Look at how soft the highlight to shadow transition on the models face became as the light first got softer, and then closer, and closer. Look at the skin, pores, and sking imperfections. They almost disappear. Which do you like best and why? Alternatively, do it with a shoot through, and with a softbox. Which do you like better for this portrait? For this model?

Post up your 5-6 images to the Sarasota Portrait and Lighting Group album Sunday sometime after 7am.

Example:

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This weeks assignment is all about “The Quality of Light”

  • As photographers, we describe light by: Quantity (measured in stops), Contrast (the ratio between highlights and shadow), Color (measured in degrees Kelvin), and Quality (softness or hardness of the light)

    The Quality of light is determined by the softness or hardness of the transition from highlight to shadow, and is controlled by the relative size of the light. Relative size is the key phrase here, because a bare speedlight is small in comparison to a person, but huge in comparison to an ant. A person lit by a single speedlight will produce hard light, but when you light an ant with a speedlight, it’ll produce very soft light, assuming it’s close enough. That brings us to distance. A 4′ x 6′ softbox produces very soft window light…if it’s close. Move that softbox 30ft away, and it becomes a hard light source. It’s relative size has diminished because it’s so far away. So the closer the light, the softer it becomes, the larger it’s relative size. (TO ME) There is a magic distance that the modifier provides it’s best light. This seems to be no further away from the subject than the diameter of the modifier. Try it, and you’ll see. Bring your modifier closer, and closer, and closer, and evaluate your images. All of the sudden the light will just turn buttery smooth. The skin looks amazing, the pores look great, and blemishes all but disappear. Just outside this distance the light is still soft (relatively speaking), but there’s something magic about that light if you can get the light close enough.
    On to the assignment (this one’s going to require a little work):
    Explore The Quality of Light by capturing an image of an egg on a white tablecloth.
    Objective:
    Learn about the Quality of light, size, distance, and even a little about the Inverse Square Law (and have fun doing it)
    Tools:
    1. Camera and lens
    2. Tripod
    3. Speedlight or studio strobe with a way to trigger off camera
    4. a modifier with diffusion. A shoot through umbrella works real well for this exercise (umbrella, brollybox, softbox, octas, etc)
    5. Lightstand
    6. White tablecloth, or sheet
    7. Egg
    8. Water bottle cap

    The setup:
    1. Lay out a white tablecloth, or sheet on a table
    2. Balance your egg on the upside down water bottle cap
    3. Mount your camera on the tripod, with the camera pointing down at the egg at a 30 to 45 degree angle. The frame should tightly include the egg, and all of it’s shadow (so a little of the surrounding tablecloth)
    4. Mount the speedlight at 90 degrees to the camera position (split light, or side light), about 8 or 10 feet away, pointing down at the egg at about 30 degrees.

    Execution:
    1. Adjust your camera for it’s base ISO, full flash power, and adjust the aperture to capture a properly exposed image with the bare speedlight (at full power).
    2. Mount a modifier (with diffusion), and capture a properly exposed image, adjusting only the aperture by opening it up. (note how much light the modifier eats)(so your flash should still be at full power)
    3. Move the lightstand approximately half the distance closer to the egg. So if you were at 8 feet away, move the lightstand to approximately 4 feet away. You’ll have to move it down a little as well, to keep the light hitting the egg at that same ~30 degrees(or so, no need for a protractor or Trig here) Capture a properly exposed image, changing only flash power. (Note that you gained about 2 stops of light, and had to lower the flash power by 2 stops. Eg. if you were at Full power, you’re now at 1/4 power) The Inverse Square Law at work.
    4. Split the distance in half again, and capture a properly exposed image (adjusting only flash power). Check it out, you could predict that it needs to be adjusted about 2 stops down again to get the same exposure.
    5. Repeat until the modifier is just outside of the frame.

    Throw out the under and overexposed images and evaluate the results. Using the tripod helps with this because the subject is in the same place and you can flip back and forth and really notice the differences. Look how the shadow line on the table cloth is almost cookie cutter sharp on the bare speedlight image, and look how in the image where the modifier is right on top of the egg, the transition is so soft you can’t even tell where the shadow begins. Look at how soft the highlight to shadow transition on the egg became as the light got softer, and closer, and closer.

    Post up your 5-6 images to the album at Sarasota Portrait and Lighting Group Sunday sometime after 7am.
    If you like this one, you’re going to love the next one!

    Example:

    One thing that I learned from doing this test is thst my speedlight’s power is not calibrated.  In other words, when I halved the distance it was not exactly 2 stops difference power-wise on the speedlight. Physics is right, speedlight is wrong.

     

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Reliable, Light Weight, Super Portable, Inexpensive, Location Lighting Kit?

Location lighting does not have to be expensive.  This is by no means an exclusive list, and it does not cover all the options, but it does represent what I would consider to be the Reliable, Light Weight, Super Portable, Inexpensive, Location Light Kit that includes everything that you need to take amazing images on (most) locations.  Setup is about 7min from the time that you walk into the location until your making images. 

Reliable —Everything in this kit I have used for years without problems.  Some of the items are not as durable as the more expensive gear, and lack the bells and whistles (like the flash), but this kit will do what you need it to do for a long time (just don’t throw it around).

Light Weight–The whole kit weighs a couple of pounds.

Super Portable–I put a strap on the lightstand, bungie the umbrella to it, and I sling it over my shoulder.  The speedlight and triggers go in my camera backpack.

Inexpensive–The whole (basic) kit costs like $160

Location Lighting Kit–Well, you’re not going to overpower the sun with it, but it’ll allow you to make a beautiful image in just about any location or situation besides that.

  • Lightstand
  • Umbrella Swivel
  • Trigger
    • Yongnuo RF-602 Transmitter and Receiver
      • $30
      • Radio triggers – long distance – 2.4 GHz
      • Reliable
      • Ebay
  • Speedlight
    • Yongnuo YN460 II
      • $39.99
      • About the same power as a Canon 430EX II
      • Perfect for indoor locations, especially shooting at large apertures
      • Built in Optical Trigger
      • Easy to adjust manual controls
      • No ETTL/ITTL
      • Ebay
  • Umbrella
    • Adorama 40″ White Interior Umbrella with Removable Black Cover
    • (Better option) 60” Adorama 16 Rib Parabolic Convertible umbrella
      • $29.95
      • Shoot through or reflective
      • Single person or large groups
      • Super, Super soft light
      • Fiberglass ribs
      • 16 Ribs for more even coverage, durability, and rounder catch lights
      • Good for a single person to a group of people
      • Can become a kite in the wind
      • http://www.adorama.com/LTU60BC.html?KBID=67888
  • Additional Stuff
  • Flash Exposure
    • 5 Variables of Flash Exposure
      • Exposure Triangle
        • Aperture– How much light enters the lens
          • Controls the flash exposure
          • Shutter speed– The amount of time that the sensor is exposed to light
            • Controls the ambient exposure when using flash
            • ISO –overall Sensor sensitivity to light
      • PLUS :
        • Flash Power
        • Flash Distance
          • Inverse square Law
            • Double the distance = 75% light loss
  • Practical Application (7-10min from walking in the door, to setup, to shooting subject)
    • Set up Light Kit (5-6min)
    • Measure ambient exposure with in cam reflective meter (1-2min)
      • Set shutter speed to 125th
      • Adjust ISO, and Aperture for how you’d like to expose scene (ex. under by 1 stop)
        • Ex. I like to shoot wide open, so I set SS for 125th, and adjust aperture to f/2.8 for instance, and adjust ISO until I am 1 stop under.  Sometimes I have to use ND filters, but that’s a different workshop. So say I meter the scene at 1/125th, f/2.8, and ISO 200
    • Place light just outside frame, adjust flash for 1/4th power ( I usually start at 1/4th or 1/8th), take an exposure
      • Look at image and histogram and blinkies, adjust flash up or down (1-2min)
    • Shoot, shoot, shoot
  • The Ultimate Lightweight Location Kit
    • 2x stands w/adapters
    • 1x Monopod
    • 1x transmitter, and 2-3receivers
    • 3x speedlights
    • 2x 40” convertible umbrellas
    • 1x 60” parabolic Convertible umbrella w/front diffusion fabric
    • 1x 70cm x 70cm Umbrella Style softbox
    • 1x 32” 5 in 1 reflector
    • 1x 48×72 5 in 1 reflector
    • 1x+ pack of gels
    • 1x+ snoots
    • 1x+ grids
    • 1x Stoffen
    • 1x Triple Flash Bracket
    • 1x+ ND filters

    You can help to support this website by shopping at Adorama through this search box, or using the links above.





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Bokeh The subject of way toooo much discussion

BOKEH refers to the OOF (Out Of Focus) area behind your focal point, usually used to separate the subject from the BG (Background)To get the best BOKEH that you can, you want to use the lens at it’s widest aperture (to keep the DOF (Depth Of Field) as shallow as possible), use the longest focal length (to compress the BG details), be as close to the subject as possible to maximize the effect of the shallow DOF, and BG compression, and have distance between your focal point and the BG.  Below I have shot images with duplicate framing all at the same aperture, but different FL (Focal Lengths) to see the effect of BG Compression.  The next series of images show the differences in the BOKEH when using very fast primes with very large apertures.

 

This shows the compression of a longer focal length, and how it has a dramatic effect on bokeh. All images were shot at the same aperture(f/2.8), except the last 2 at (f/5.6 and f/1.4 respectively). I wish I had a 400mm f/2.8!

 

Love the bokeh of the Sigma 50 f/1.4 and Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, but the Siggy 85 is FAV! Wish I had the legendary Canon 200mm f/1.8(drool), but you can’t loose with any of those mentioned. The CHEAP 50 f/1.8 is the REAL BARGAIN in this dept at ~$99!

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DSLR Exposure Control Basics

This is the 1st step into being a photographer, and MAKING images.  This step separates you from the “Uncle Bob’s”, and GWC’s (guy/girl with a camera).  Anyone can capture image with today’s DSLRs that are pretty darn good, just by putting that camera in program mode and pressing the shutter, but after today, what will set you apart, is that you will learn how to control the camera.  You’ll be in control of every aspect of exposure.  You’ll take creative control away from the camera and you’ll now be making those decisions.   It’ll be a little confusing for a while, but soon it’ll become second nature, and you wont even have to think about all this stuff.  Settings, Exposure, ISO, Shutterspeed, Aperture, … etc.  It’ll just be automatic.  Then and only then your photography will take a huge leap, because you’ll no longer be thinking about settings, you can just concentrate on creativity.  You’ll be able to predick, and you’ll know what the image will look like when you change the settings, and you’ll use those settings with deliberate intention, according to your vision.  Dive in!

  • Put your camera in M (manual mode)
    • Creativity, Control, Make the image that you want,
    • You’re smarter than the camera don’t give creative control to the camera
    • Exposure triangle –3 adjustable variables to get a proper exposure w/o flash
      • Shutter Speed–the time that the shutter is open, exposing the sensor to light
        • Rules of thumb
          • Handheld w/o IS(VR, OS, etc.) to prevent camera shake effecting IQ
            • 1 over FL times Crop Factor
            • Eg. 200mm lens (1/200th) times 1.6 (crop factor) = 1/320th
        • Panning–Tracking with the lens following the subject
          • Kids Sports -1/250th to 1/320th and higher to stop hand/foot blur
          • Bicycling -1/60th to 1/320th for wheel spin and sense of motion
          • ATV/Motocross/Car/Truck Races -1/60th to 1/250th  for wheel spin and sense of motion
          • Airshow
            • Prop Plane -1/160th -1/250th for prop blur
            • Fighter Jet -1/2000th +
          • Horse Jumping -1/320 +
        • Tripod or monopod –Gives extra stability for, much longer shutter speeds can be used
          • Fireworks -1-3sec
  • Aperture–The blades in the lens that controls the volume of light hitting the sensor
    • Aperture valueis based on a mathematical formula –The FL divided by the aperture = hole dia
      • Eg. f/1.2 is a large aperture, and f/22 is a small aperture
      • Controls DOF –the perceived depth of sharpness in the image
        • Longer FL lenses have a shallower DOF for the same aperture as a shorter FL lens
        • FF sensors have a shallower DOF for the same Aperture, FL, etc.
      • Rules of thumb
        • Landscape –the larger the aperture, the more DOF (larger area of perceived focus)
        • Portraits –
          • Environmental –smaller aperture to include some of the environment
          • Studio/Fashion –can use smaller aperture to make sure everything is in focus
          • Outside –wide open so you can isolate subject from bg (long FL, close to subject)
        • Macro –DOF is much shallower
  • ISO–Overall sensitivity of the sensor
    • Usually the last setting that I adjust
    • The lower the better
      • Higher the ISO, the higher the sensitivity, but the more signal noise (grain)
      • Guidelines
        • Outside daylight 100-400
        • Indoors w/o strobe 400+
        • Metering–Measures the luminance value of the scene for proper exposure
          • In cam meter –Reflective meter, tries to make everything 18% gray
            • You cannot always believe the in cam meter
              • White suit in black BG
              • Black suit in white BG
      • Metering modes
        • Spot
        • Evaluative
        • Center weighted avg
        • Etc.
  • Histogram
    • Expose to the right
    • Blinkies
    • Look at the red channel
    • Raw -vs- JPEG
      • Raw
        • More adjustability
        • WB does not matter
  • JPEG
    • Less time in Post
    • White Balance–The Global adjustment of all the color values
      • Calibrated gray card
      • Coffee filter
      • Towel
      • Gels
      • Reciprocals –All the same exposure
Aperture f/2.0 f/2.8 f/4.0 f/5.6 f/8.0 f/11.0 f/16.0 f/22.0 f/32.0
Shutter 1/6400 1/3200 1/1600 1/800 1/400 1/200 1/100 1/50 1/25
ISO 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
  • Semi-Auto Mode  –Eg. In and out cloud cover with inconsistent exposure, and no time to fumble with controls
    • AV Mode
      • When scene exposure is changing rapidly, but aperture is most important to creativity
      • EV Compensation
  • TV Mode
    • When scene exposure is changing rapidly, but SS is most important to creativity
    • EV Compensation
    • Assignments –Properly exposed Creative images  (a tripod will help with most of these)
  1. Take an image of a fast moving object and stop the action
  2. Take the same image but show motion
  3. Take an image of a subject stopped down to f/22, with everything in focus
  4. Take the same image wide open, showing subject separation
  5. Take an image of a subject that is backlit in auto-mode
  6. Take the same image, but expose for the subject
  7. Take an image at the lowest ISO your camera has
  8. Take the same image doubling the ISO until it’s as high as it will go, and getting proper exposure by changing only the shutter speed (reciprocals with SS and ISO)

Assignments:

Numbers 1&2

Numbers 3&4

Numbers 5&6

Numbers 7&8

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