Turn baby turn, or: point of view

Tip of the day: You should always feel free to tilt, and to chance your point of view, for more exciting photos.

Here’s a tilt, an looking up, yesterday afternoon in downtown Oakville:

I tilted to simplify, and to get the top into the corner of the photo symmetrically.

Here’s a street in Oakville, normal point of view:

And the same street tilted and low to the ground:

Much different. Go and tilt and choose viewpoints today.




Advanced on-camera flash technique

I usually advocate not doing this:

But this instead:

Flash backward, because you want the light to come from 45 degrees above your subject. That’s usually the way, since we usually use wider lenses for people shots, meaning we are close.

However, when you are using a long lens, like a 70-200, then to get to that same 45 degree point, you may have to aim the flash forward 45 degrees.

The problem with this is that with any flash angle that is even slightly forward, some light goes forward, straight from that flash to your subject. So you get this, horrible shadow:

The solution: Flash forward, but use a gobo/card, or even your hand, to shield the inch or two straight in front of your flash. So now the light can still go up to the ceiling, but it can no longer go directly forward to the subject. You could even use a grid but that eats a little more light.

You now get this:

I used my hand here, holding it an inch or two in front of the flash to block the path straight to the subject. Result, a well lit shot!


Timing is everything?

I would like to repeat a very important aspect of flash photography here, namely the following.

The background brightness, when there is any background light, depends on the shutter speed of your photo. Yes, also on the aperture and ISO, but these latter two also affect the flash brightness (assuming your flash power is constant).

This means the following.

If I want to mix in background light, I use a slower shutter.

Consider these two photos, both taken with a flash aiming straight into the student’s face (not great technique, but it was to demonstrate this fact), and at 400 ISO and f/5.6.

Picture 1 is at 1/60th second – and note, usually your simple modes like P and the scene modes, will restrict you to that speed or faster:


Typical “brrr, flash” picture.

The second shot was taken at exactly the same settings, except with a much slower 1/4 second shutter speed:

Clearly that is slow, but the face is still sharp due to the brief duration of the flash.

Backup tip

An advanced computing tip today on speedlighter…:

Have a Mac or UNIX-like computer? Then you can use a simple little command to synchronise disks. Let me explain.

I have two hard disks next to the Mac. Two 3TB disks (I just upgraded them).  I work on one: all my images and Lightroom files and office admin files live there. Then I have the other.

Whenever I work, as soon as I am done on one and am sure it’s all good, I run the following command on my mac:

I.e. the following is the actual commands; the lines preceded by # are just comments:

rsync -a –verbose –progress –stats –delete /Volumes/MVW-3TB-1/Lightroom/ /Volumes/MVW-3TB-2/Lightroom/

rsync -a –verbose –progress –stats –delete /Volumes/MVW-3TB-1/MVW-Docs/ /Volumes/MVW-3TB-2/MVW-Docs/

rsync -a –verbose –progress –stats –delete /Volumes/MVW-3TB-1/Photos/ /Volumes/MVW-3TB-2/Photos/

The rsync command intelligently compares the two disks and adds anything to disk 2 that was added to, or changed on, disk 1, while deleting anything from disk 2 that was deleted on disk 1. A perfect backup in seconds (the first time can take a day of course, depending on how full your first disk is).

Using the nano text editor, I put these commands in a little text file called “syncdisks”, and I make that file executable using the chmod command (chmod 755 ./syncdisks). I then call that file by typing .syncdisks every time I want to run it.

I could automate further but this is good for me – and it shows the power of the command line, doesn’t it? Of course you would modify this to reflect the names of your disks and your folders to be copied.

(If this was all a bit techie for you, ignore this post and move on to tomorrow!)


Lightroom tip!

In Lightroom, the catalog (the .LRCAT file) contains all your edits. But what if it gets corrupted?

In that case you can retrieve edits – eg edit the file in another app,like Photoshop – from small XMP “sidecar” files – IF you make these! This is off by default – turn it on in LIGHTROOM – CATALOG SETTINGS:

If that third tick mark is OFF in your Lightroom, then I advise you turn it ON right now!