I knew the second I had the email come through offering me the chance to review Jake’s latest tutorial that I was going to be in for a marathon of content. RGG EDU are renowned for 20+ hour slabs of content and this is the first time I’ve delved in with a professional capacity for writing about it.
DIYP reviews the (totally kicking) Jake Hicks Gel Pack
I recently got my hands on some of Jake Hicks’s gels from Amersham Studios that are made by Lee Filters and hand picked by Jake Hicks for their placement and ability to work together based on his preference and experience.
Now that I’ve had them in my possession I can honestly say 2 things:
Man are they handy,
Creativity opens up.
The New the Old and the Vintage – Nikon’s ‘Worst’ & ‘Best’ Zoom Lens Comparison
I’m going to preface this by saying that this isn’t a lens review article, there are many photographers better suited for this topic, so if you’re after refraction index comparisons and chromatic aberration charts this article probably isn’t for you. This article is however my personal thoughts on three Nikon zoom lenses and their resulting images but also a broader look at how we as photographers covet lenses and other photographic gear. Is the latest and greatest piece of kit actually worth the investment?
Models Beware! Warning and safety tips for new models
For the second time in as many months somebody has tried to use my images to deceive models about their skill level in photography.
Because of this deception it’s certainly no giant leap to accuse these individuals of ill intent, especially if they are actively seeking out images of models in their underwear in their first messages of contact.
At the weekend I received a concerning email from somebody who follows my work. I have said that I will keep their name anonymous and they have kindly let me share the situation but I will change the models name in question to Sue for the purpose of this article.
Creating the Perfect Gelled Background
At first glance this seems like an easy thing to achieve, how hard can it be to get a great looking gelled background in your shot?
As anybody who has used gels in the past will tell you, there’s certainly a few key things to pay attention to if you want to avoid those flat, washed-out and uneven gelled backgrounds. If instead you want clear, saturated and brightly coloured backgrounds by using gels alone then simply read on.
Using CTO & CTB Utility Gels for Creative Effect
As a lot of you may know, I like to use the occasional gel in my shots to add a bit of interest. Sometimes these gels are rich and vibrant colours that drench an image in saturation and other times I just want to add a little something extra colour-wise without overpowering the whole image with a synthesised coloured look.
For a more subtle colour look you’ll want to use tones that our eyes are more accustomed to seeing, for example orange and blue tones are heavily present in our daily visual journeys already. Orange tones are found in sunrises and sunsets and blueish tones are often found in twilight and overcast days. These are what I call ‘natural’ colours compared to the rich pinks and purples or reds, these are great for adding effect but can sometimes overpower an image quite quickly. The ‘natural’ tones that I am referring to are measured in Kelvin and we use this value to adjust the white balance of our shots in our cameras.
So to add a more natural colour effect to your shots what better place to start than by looking at the tones already found in the Kelvin values in your camera via the the white balance. I’m sure we all know we can add a little extra warmth to a shot simply by increasing the Kelvin via the white balance and conversely we can cool down an image be decreasing the Kelvin value.
Do clients buy our photography or our retouching?
Hi my name is Jake Hicks, as someone who does both the photography and the retouching for my shoots, (learn my flow here), I got wondering if clients buy our photography or our retouching?
As technology becomes more and more accessible our clients are becoming increasingly more aware of what is possible with image retouching software like Photoshop. I asked a client of mine about a recent shoot they had with another photographer, their response was painfully honest. “We loved his lighting and ideas but when we got the images back we weren’t happy with his Photoshopping. The skin on the model looked awful. As a photographer you should be able to offer both fantastic photography and great retouching all in one package. We won’t be using him again”. This was an unprovoked response and I made no leading questions about retouching but it does prove to me that from a clients point of view, its about the final image not what you did to get there. In my field clients are expecting to receive a ‘perfect’ image, they are expecting to see flawless skin, tidy hair and sparkling eyes. Some of them may not realise that these images have had any retouching done at all, they may even believe it comes out of the camera like that but they are expecting to see it looking perfect regardless of how it got there.
First look at the Lensbaby Twist 60
I was super excited to hear a few weeks back that Lensbaby had a new lens in the works and even more excited when I heard it was going to be a lens with the swirly bokeh effect.
In the past this swirly visual effect had been the money-train for Lomo and their Petzval lenses in the form of the 85mm and the soon to be publicly available 58mm. I own a lot of the Lensbaby lenses and I’ve been very pleased with the resulting optical effects from their previous products so I was certainly pleased to hear Lensbaby were taking a crack at the swirly bokeh effect now too.
The Simplest, Fastest and Most Effective One Light Setup I’ve Ever Used
Sometimes, getting a sweet lighting setup is a matter of pure luck and this is the case with this setup. I’ll collect setups like tools, so this one is just another tool in my toolbox now. Anyways, back to the story.
Here is my issue, taking a portrait whist using a single key light and reflector and fighting with the reflector in one hand and the camera in the other cant be something unique to me. You know what I am talking about, super quick and clean ‘clamshell’ lighting with the key just above the models eyeline and the reflector just below the chin bouncing some well needed light back up to fill in the shadows. This means micromanaging the reflector with your left hand (assuming you are a righty) while trying to bounce just the right amount of light back into the shot. There is really no way out of this not-enough-hands-mess: you’re scooping, flapping, bouncing and bending the damn thing around the key-light stand with one hand desperately trying to look professional. The result? I wish I could say that I mastered it but when I load the images up on the laptop I find that half the damn shots have an annoying reflector part peeking in the bottom of the frame! Not good.
A while back I found myself in a pinch. The setup included a model, and two hair lights positioned behind her and a reflector bouncing light back into the shot. I placed the reflector on a stand and I was literally holding the camera up in front of it so that the viewfinder was pressed against it and taking pictures using the blessings of autofocus alone because I couldn’t look through the lens.
I then had an epiphany. I cut a very rudimentary hole in the middle of my reflector so I could see what was actually going on, standing behind the reflector and having only my lens poke through.
I did change the lights a bit and replaced the two hair lights with a big softbox behind the model and having the reflector double duty as both the key-light and the fill-light. In actuality this super simple setup produces such a flattering light that its got to be one of the cheapest ring flashes you’ll ever find. (diagrams courtesy of set.a.light)
Lensbaby Velvet 56mm f1.6 Lens Review
The Lensbaby brand has been around for a while now and it’s a name that is synonymous with helping photographers see in a new way but perhaps most importantly in my opinion they also help to inject a bit of the creativity and art back into this slightly more clinical digital age of photography.
Up until now Lensbaby has always been about making lens for photographers that would add a creative edge to the image taking process. They make a variety of lenses, some of which distort the field of focus on a horizontal plane like their Edge 80 lens or their Composer Pro lens that distorts the image on radial focal point all fully adjustable by the user. I have used one of their lenses at some point during nearly all of my shoots for a long time now and although the effects produced are incredibly dramatic I have never thought to use a Lensbaby on an entire shoot from start to finish, that is until now.
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