You’ve probably heard you need to have good light for portraits. Okay great, but what does that mean exactly, and how do you find that elusive good light? In this article you’ll get some tips on how to recognize different kinds of light, and make choices based on the look you want for the final portrait. You’ll also learn about open shade, quality of light, direction of light and how to bring it all together so that you can work faster, smarter, and with less gear. Let’s begin!
Right off the bat I have to clear up a misunderstanding some have to what a 50mm ‘standard’ lens actually is. Throughout my teaching career I’ve heard beginner photographers refer to them as prime lenses and, of course, they’re correct. However, as the conversations develop I’ve found that a good number also believe that only a 50mm is a prime lens. In actuality any non-zoom is a prime lens.
With that small but important point out the way let’s move on to why I think the prefix ‘standard’ can be a little misleading and undermine this focal length and the many advantages there are for using one.
Editor’s Note: I am a big SNL fan and I love their super stylish opening title sequence. The production of this sequence shows true mastery and understanding the photography format (they use freelensing, creative bokeh, light painting, tilt-shifting and just about any other creative tool out there). Alex Buono, the Director of Photography of the sequence shares how it was made.
…And we’re back! After a much-needed summer hiatus, it’s that time of the year again when my comrades in the SNL Film Unit all reconvene on the 17th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza for another season of filmmaking speed-drills.
While the usual shoot is a dead sprint from Thursday thru Saturday night, every few years we produce a new Title Sequence and that sprint becomes a 3-week non-stop marathon. Especially when it’s the 40th Anniversary season. The passing of Don Pardo — the legendary voice of SNL since 1975 — only amplified the feeling that this new sequence needed to be something extra special.
Hello Potential Client,
Regarding your last email in which you said:
“… if they (your client) saw the $700/ $1400 a day fee for the photographer they would dismiss the project immediately … (most of my client’s people make between $25 and $45 an hour)… Showing $100/hr was also a job-killer as you can imagine”.
Well sure thing. I see where you’re coming from… Let’s rewrite the quote to show the actual number of hours I will work on this job, instead of only those spent with my face in a camera. Maybe that will help.
Do you use long lenses for landscape photography?
When most people think about landscape photography, they often think Wide. Using wide angle lenses is very common with landscape photography and for a good reason. Wide lenses have some great advantages for landscape photography. They capture a wide view of the scene; they provide great depth of field; and they create a deep perspective which emphasize the foreground and minimize the background. But in many cases they’re not the best choice, and you shouldn’t fixate on shooting wide every time you see a great landscape.
Using long (or tele) lenses allows you to capture amazing scenes you wouldn’t be able to shoot with a wide angle lens for several reasons:
- The immediate foreground (which is closer to you) is not always interesting, and it doesn’t have to be included in the frame in every shot. Sometimes you only want a more distant part of the scene.
- Landscape is not always about huge and wide scenes, it can also be more intimate and include a small part of a scene like part of a water stream or mountain edge.
- A long focal lens does exactly the opposite of a wide lens in terms of perspective – long lenses compress foreground and background so you can capture and balance them both.
Here are some examples:
It’s the age-old question, should a wedding photographer put his/her prices on the website, or leave them off? I’ve asked myself this, and seen many photographers ask the same thing. Lots of opinions, some of them very strong opinions, but no one seems to back it up with actual data.
An argument I’ve heard for putting prices online is that the potential client wants to know if you’re within her price range. If you make it too difficult to find that information, she won’t bother to contact you because there are plenty of other photographers to look at. Would you go look at a new car if they wouldn’t tell you the price until you got to the dealership?
The counter-argument is that wedding photography can be expensive, clients don’t always have an understanding of how much they should expect to spend, and placing too much emphasis on price means that the client misses out on less-tangible benefits that the photographer has to offer. If you make the client ask for pricing, you can then strike up a dialog with the client and build a relationship before getting icky with numbers.
Both arguments seem reasonable. And those photographers who can’t make up their minds usually wimp out and put a “starting at $xxxxx” on their site! (That’s what I do currently. 🙂 )
But I’ve got some Actual Data!
I’m a convert.
Not to any particular religion, but instead to the idea that a field monitor is the most important piece of equipment you can have on a video shoot after the camera, a lens and some kind of support.
This represents a sea change in my worldview. As a still photographer for decades, until recently I thought the bane of my video production existence was audio. But a Zoom H4n, a shotgun, a couple of lavs and a wireless system later, I’ve changed my mind.
And that’s because while I took for granted my ability to obtain tack-sharp focus every time, I’ve learned the hard way once again that assumptions are the mother of all screw-ups.
Turns out it was easier to focus in the good old days of film, manual lenses, split image rangefinders, and coarse microprisms on ground glass than it is today through on-board electronic viewfinders (EVFs) and LCDs.
There’s a reason why third party EVF’s and monitors are so popular.
I recently had the opportunity to review a 7.7” diagonal field monitor, and it was a revelation (no religious undercurrent intended).
Developing your own signature style is a critical and integral part of becoming a photographer. InMyBag recently featured a pretty clever article about personal style which are sharing here.
Your style may flex a little to meet your client’s demands, but it should always be present to identify you.
Here’s 5 tips from the wonderfully stylish Brad Olson…
If there’s a downside in the shift to digital photography, it’s the mindless hours we now spend uploading, liking and clicking through endless online galleries. The instant gratification from the immediate applause leaves us with our best photographs buried in online albums, rather than appreciated and cherished up on our walls. It’s all too easy to ‘post’ a photo that you might have framed a decade ago, and then forget all about it.
Worse yet, if you aren’t social media savvy, these photos may sit on your memory cards, hard drive or permanent to-do list, collecting dust until you find the time to upload and share with the world.
The location for this light painting shoot is one of the most famous tourist spots in Kyoto, the Fushimi Inari Shrine. It is famous for its endless red gates, that look like tunnel! I’ve been there so many times, and always wanted to do something with this wonderful location, but this was the first time to actually take some photos!.