Tag Archives: Photography

The DEVYN dressed with decor suitable for a king!

Sarasota Wedding Details suitable for royalty!  Where? The DEVYN!  Who? Carl from All Event Rental, Bee Ridge Florist, and The DEVYN!  Sarasota Wedding Photography by who? Rick Sieminski Photography Inc.


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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.
Learn how a simple ND filter can take your location photography to the next level and beyond.
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.



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