Invisible Waves: NPR Science Video Shows Exactly What Sound Looks Like

Screen Shot from Video.

Back in the mid-1800s, August Toepler gave us a way to be able to look at sound. Not synthetically visualize it- but actually be able to look at it. His invention was called Schilieron Flow Visualization; by implementing the complex technique into your camerawork, you’ll actually be able to see waves. Whether it’s the waves made from the snap of your fingers, or the waves from the hiss of an opened Pepsi bottle- you can see the noise they make. And NPR released a video that shows you how its done.

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A Man Films Himself Walking Backwards in Tokyo… And Then Reverses the Video

Screenshot from the video

Tokyo Reverse is a movie with a running time of 9 hours, and it was broadcasted in its entirety on a network in France. As strange as that sounds, the network is known to do things like this, and this clip from the film shows exactly how the entire thing was filmed: with a guy walking backwards.

It’s strange to look at on first glance, but you’ll notice how cleverly put it all really is as the clip goes on. Ludovic Zuili, the man in the video, films himself walking backwards in a way where it’d look like he was walking completely normally if the clip were to be reversed. [Read more...]

Daniel Boschung’s Cartogaphy Gives Us an Unsettling Look at the Human Face

Screen Shot from ROBOPHOT

For those who don’t know, cartography is the making of maps. The word comes from the french terms carte and -graphie, which literally mean map and writing. Daniel Boschung is a face cartographer, and he does exactly what that title suggests: he makes geographic landscapes out of portraits of the human face.

The maximum resolution of a perfect human eye is around 450 pixels per inch (PPI). That means if you’ve got a smartphone, like the iPhone 5S, you probably wouldn’t notice the separate tiny pixels that make up the screen because of its display of 326 PPI. The screen looks almost as sharp as real life. Keeping that in mind, if you were to take a 90 x 90 inch portrait of one of the faces photographed by Daniel Boschung in this project, the final resolution of the picture would amount to somewhere at 111,000 PPI. [Read more...]

Photographer Robert Harrison Gives a Great Workshop on 1940′s Glamour Shots, and it’s Free to Watch Online

Screen grab from the Workshop Video.

After the Great Depression, American cinema began to evolve, and Hollywood slowly started to become the country’s primary source of theatrical entertainment. Most of pop culture began its growth in that period, the 30′s and 40′s, with influences stemming from films like King Kong, Gone With the Wind, and Citizen Kane. There’s something about the photography that grew through inspiration from that age that has kept its appeal even up to today; after all this time, the 1940′s is an era that is recognized today for how glamorous it was through the art that it bred. And while we now have new and more modern approaches to portrait photography, sometimes it’s fun to try something different and go for a look that gives the portraits an entirely different dimension. Robert Harrington just recently held a workshop on how to achieve a “1940′s” look in your photography through tools you may already have. And for the good amount of people who didn’t have a chance to attend it, he just posted it online.

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Stop shooting the same shot over and over again

Screenshot of a series of similar images in lightroom

Today we’re going to talk about letting go of your zoom ring, moving your feet and dealing with a habit a lot of us have, me included, the habit of shooting the same safe shot over and over again.

I realize I’m generalizing here, but most photographers have “safe shots”, shots they know how to pull off 10 out of 10 times, shots they know will please the client and shots that will put money in the bank. Now let me be very clear from the get go, this is a good thing. I know that a specific light set up, a specific vibe at the shoot and a specific way of asking questions and talking to the client will get me a specific kind of portrait, that makes people happy. I’m so dang happy that I have those set ups ready to go, because a bunch of times those shots are exactly what the client want, and other times when my head just isn’t working and I’m not feeling it, I can use those setups to make a shoot work. What I don’t like is that I have at various points, and I assume I’ll get there again, been stuck in only shooting these safe shots. It is an easy place to get stuck because you know the shots work, and you know you aren’t risking messing the shoot up. But if you get stuck there, you stop developing your vision, and that is a really bad thing. So, without more intro-ado, let’s get to the point of the thing, stuff that I know have helped me a truckload with getting out of the safe-shot-rut. [Read more...]

The Standard 3-Point Lighting Technique

3-point-lightingOne of the oldest lighting techniques in the book is called “Three Point Lighting”. It is vastly used in studio photography and by snobby fashion photographers. It is also a very good basis for any portrait photograph. In this technique you use three lights:

The first light is a key light. Usually this is the strongest light and this light sets the lighting of the scene.

The second light is called a fill light, this light helps fill the shadows that the main light casts.

The last light is called a backlight (because it comes from the back), and is used to create a contour and separation. It is common to use a snoot or a gridspot on the backlight to avoid a spill.

The guys at mediacollege have created a nice illustration and explanation of that basic technique. They have also created a cool flash simulator (After writing this, I’ve noticed that this is a pan, so no credits here. Kudos for the great pan) that can help understand the concept of a three point lighting. Or you can just click the various lights and enjoy seeing how the model reacts to each type of light. The flash simulator is also good way to understand key light and backlight in general.

While in general the guys (or girls, I don’t know who works there) deal with video, the lighting stuff is great for still photographers as well.

Related links:
- Media college lighting tutorials
- Flash Simulator
- Homemade snoot

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Painting With Light

painting with lightPainting with light is a fun technique that gives great results. It is called painting with light because this is what you are actually doing while taking the shot – painting with light.

You don’t need much to experiment with this kind of shot, just make sure you have the following items:

1. A camera capable of long exposures – film cameras will work OK, but if you really want to get the most out of the shooting session, use a digital camera. You will be able to see the results in “real time” and make corrections as you go.

2. A nice tripod. Since you will be doing some long exposures you want to make sure your camera sits still. If you don’t have a tripod you can make one in a few minutes (see this article or this one).

3. A flash light – and by flash light I do not mean flash as in a speedlight, but the flash light or what our British will call a torch.

4. A dark location. This one is tricky. If you are going to shot at home – a dark room will be OK. If you are going to shoot outside – make sure that you are not doing this under a street light, or where a car can come by and “paint its headlight” all over your shot. [Read more...]

DIY – Reverse Macro Ring

reverse macro ringAs everybody knows, macro lens are expensive. Daniel Kyaw has a great way of creating a macro reverse ring for practically nothing.

Reverse rings can be used to shoot macro shot using non-macro lens like 50mm. We can buy original reverse ring from dealer, the price is ranging from 30~40 US$. And normally they do not have stock in hand since this is slow moving stock item.

Well, so I want to share my idea with you to make your own reverse ring from your old/unused accessories which will cost you about 3-4 US$. [Read more...]

Lighting tip – 4 ways to bounce a flash

As you probably can tell from the lighting articles on this site, I am not a great fan of on camera flash. The thing is that you don’t always have a choice. Sometimes you need to be both portable and have that extra few stops that a flash can produce. In that situation it is best to have a flash that can be attached to your hot-shoe mount. If you get really stuck, you can also use the pop-flash (AKA build in flash), but by doing this you are stepping to the realm of red-eyes, flat pictures and burnt people.

The best way to use an external flash is by triggering it by remote. (see the strobist for some great techniques on off camera flash use), but even if you get as creative as the strobster, sometimes you just have to have the flash on camera. For example: You are shooting a wedding and only have one or two flash units. Or is you are on the move along with your subject, and cant take the time to set up. So here are four simple ways to bounce your flash:

The way allot of photographers go is not to bounce at all. They place a stofen (A.K.A omni-bounce) on the flash, set the head to 45 degrees and shoot like there is no tomorrow. Now, the way the stofen works is it spreads dome of the light forward and bounce some of the light of the ceiling. so it only works if you have a nice, relatively low, white ceiling. This is considered a good solution by many photographer.

Why bounce?

  • when you bounce your flash, the light is coming to your subject in a diffused way. you will have less hot-spots (hot-spot is that shiny light at the tip of the subject’s nose that just cries for attention).
  • Red eye will not be an issue since the light is coming far off the subject-to-lens axis.
  • you will avoid those harsh shadows.
  • Today’s modern DSLRs and flash units can calculate the light power you will need for the bounce, so you don’t have to make recurring measures to correct for the bounce.

Now I’m going to recycle some pics from the lightsphere article to demonstrate what happens when you use direct flash. when you use a bounce that “effect” is gone.

 

direct flash

 

 

Why not bounce?

There are three main reasons why you would avoid bouncing your flash:

  • Nothing to bounce from – if you are in an outdoor location, and there are no white walls, ceiling, canopy of people dressed in white
  • Loss of light – you when you bounce your flash the light that your flash provides, need to travel further. remember that geometry class where the teacher says that the sum each two sides of the triangle is bigger then the third side? So light has to travel further. Also the bounce itself is taking some light. Even a completely white wall eats up a bit of light.
  • smoke! smoke is the enemy of flash. if you are in a smoky area (or under the control of an 80′s smoke machines obsessed DJ), and you try to bounce you might end up with a big picture of white. That happens because the smoke reflects the light. If the light has to go through allot of smoke you will get a white wall.

OK, after we covered the PROs and CONs, here are some flash bouncing techniques you can use. You can use those even if you have no accessories. I am assuming, however, that you can tilt and swivel your flash – most flash units like Nikon’s SB-800, SB-28, or Canon’s 550EX or Vivitar’s 285 can both tilt and swivel.

Bounce 1 – off the ceiling

This is the most trivial bounce of them all. To do the ceiling-bounce, just tilt your flash to the ceiling (or at a ~75 degrees angle) and take the picture. The ceiling will act as a huge reflector, bouncing the light softly on your subject. If you are using TTL, eTTL, iTTL or heckTTL, the flash will take care of the output power to compensate for the loss of light. The con of this method is that you might get some shadows below the eyes, since all the light is coming from a high place, this is why you may want to consider the “reverse ceiling bounce”.

Bounce 2 – The reverse ceiling bounce

In this method you tilt your flash 45 degrees backwards, so you are actually flashing the wall and ceiling behind you. The ceiling and wall will give you great diffusion, with a “softbox” even bigger then the ceiling from “bounce 1″, and the light coming back from the wall will take care of eye shadows. The big tow minuses for this method is that you need a wall behind you and that you loose a ton of light, that just goes floating around the room. A personal TIP – take a quick peek behind you before shooting – just to make sure that aunt Jessi is not getting a load of flash in her new contacts.

Bounce 3 – The wall bounce (also known as the side bounce)

In this method, you swivel your flash 90 degrees sideways and bounce of the nearest wall. Again you get a wall-sized softbox. The nice thing about this method is that the light is directional – you will get great depth and character. Can’t find a wall? look to the other side, still can’t find a wall? try the person bounce.

See the bellow picture for a wall bounce (see other picture of my daughter in the children photography article)

side/wall  bounce

Bounce 4 – bounce off a person

I got this one from Eric Vichich, and have been using it with great joy. This is good when you are out doors and you find someone who is waring white T-shirt. swivel the flash head to point to the person and shoot. It is best to use when there is still some day light, other wise the Ad-hock reflector person might get a full load of flash in his eye, and change from a friendly human reflector to a not so friendly red-eyed bull.

Well there you have it. happy bouncing. you can look at the lightsphere article for some bouncing diagrams.

Got some other neat flash techniques? share them on the comments.

DIY – Create Your Own Bokeh

create your own BokehBokeh is an adaptation from a a Japanese word meaning blur. In photography this term is used to describe the quality of the areas in the picture which are not in focus.

When referring to Bokeh, we can distinguish some of it characteristics:

- Is the light/dark gradient smooth or sharp?

- What shape will a small dot of light take what it is in the Bokeh area? (mirror lenses for example, create a bagel like Bokeh)

We can play with those two variants to create a special Bokeh.

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