About Michael Willems

Michael is a professional photographer and photography teacher and private coach. Based in Ontario, he teaches and shoots worldwide. See more at www.michaelwillems.ca and www.speedlighter.ca

Big News!

OAKVILLE, 24 November 2014—After many months of preparation, Michael Willems has tonight released his sixth and latest e-book, “Powerful Portrait Photography: Making Portraits That Tell 1001 Words”.

This book is available for immediate download now from http://learning.photography.

If you, like most of us, are attached to people, you will find enormous satisfaction in shooting their portraits. But only if you do it well. This all-new e-book takes you through the jungle of terms, shooting techniques, lighting schematics, posing techniques, and types of portrait and for each one, outlines in a logical fashion what it is you need to do to perfect your technique. From equipment to psychology, award-winning photographer and educator Michael Willems leads you through it one step at a time.

This extensive and richly illustrated e-book is $19.95 plus applicable taxes: it comes as a PDF file conveniently optimized for freely viewing on your iPad or other tablets, computer, small cell phones and similar platforms.

The Table of Contents shows that the subjects will teach you everything from technical needs and lighting schematics to psychology and special tools and techniques:

The book is available for immediate order and download.

But Wait! There’s More! The set of all six of Michael’s books is now also available at $79.95, a $40 discount over the regular price of $120. What better Christmas present for yourself or a loved one? Or even better: get them now so you can shoot great portraits during the upcoming festive season.  Head to http://learning.photography/ now to order your downloads or DVDs.

 

Lighting schemes

A short note today. About portrait lighting.

There are many lighting schemes photographers know. One of them, as you know, is split lighting:

Split lighting means that you light exactly half the face.

Let me take away a misconception: It has nothing to do with where you shoot it from: this is short lighting; if I shot the subject from his other side, it would be broad lighting.

More on all the lighting schemes in my upcoming book “Powerful Portrait Photography”… stand by for an announcement!

 

My must-have. My preciousssss….

I actually have many “preciousssses”. But this one is among the most precious. My lightstand/bracket/umbrella combo. This here:

This kit, which is just about glued to me, consists of:

  • A light stand.
  • On it, a bracket for mounting flash and umbrella.
  • A pocketwizard. (Plus one on the camera).
  • Cable from pocketwizard to flash (from Pocketwizard or from flashzebra.com).
  • A small flash, e.g. a 430EX/SB710, or any other flash. Any brand will do if I use “manual”. As long as you cam disable the timeout and set the power level manually.
  • Umbrella. Shoot through as well as shoot into (i.e. removable cover).

It folds into a very small package, and often, it’s all I need. Since I know how to mix ambient and flash, that umbrella allows me to do so much. Including this:

Oh, and a student spotted me and took this photo, of the exact flash stand used for that shot:

 

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Want to learn? I do remote training over the Internet, using Google Hangouts, so you can now do my courses wherever you are in the world. Better still, for a limited time, it’s cheaper than here, in person. See learning.photography to order now.

 

Dragging the shutter

You have seen me talk about this many, many times. Flash pictures start with the background, And to get light into the background, often you will want to use slower shutter speeds. These affect ONLY the background, not the flash part of the photo. Look here; an example from the course I taught today at Vistek:

Like here. f/8, 200 ISO, 35mm prime lens, flash on manual on 1/4 power, fired through an umbrella. The only thing I will change is the shutter speed.

1/125 sec:

1/30 sec:

1/15 sec:

You see? The background gets brighter, the women in the front, who are lit primarily by the flash, do not change. Analyze that carefully.

  • The woman on the left: lit by flash, so does not change.
  • The store in the background: lit by ambient, so changes with every shutter speed change.

And that is how the cookie crumbles.

Why did I use manual flash power setting? Because it is consistent. The same for every shot. No variation. Once I have it right, it’s right for every shot.

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See http://learning.photography/collections/books for my collection of e-books. These contain my collected knowledge, both of photography and of how to teach it. They are all 100-200 pages long and are simply PDFs, so you can put them on all your computers and tables and large-screen phones, for convenient reading and reference. Enjoy!