As you know, I am not a fan of leaving UV filters on your camera all the time – they can increase flare.
And a polarizing filter (a dar-looking filter that can turn) should definitely not be left on, because it eats several stops of light. But it does have its uses. Main among these: make a blue sky more saturated blue.
Like this “blaah” sky of last May (oh how I wish it was May again):
Put on a polarizer (“c-pol”); turn it just right; and voila:
Note that this works best at angles perpendicular to the sun. If the sun is right in front of you, or right behind you, the polarizer will not do much. This also means that very wide lenses will give you an uneven sky.
But yes, carry a polarizer for your lenses (other than the widest, perhaps). For this and other uses, too, like removing reflections off non-metallic surfaces.
A repost of an article from exactly three years ago, because someone asked “Michael, what do you mean, you would have added more flashes”. Sometimes, you do this for cool colour. Here’s that previous article:
Further to Thursday’s post, I thought I would brighten your day with some more colour.
You see, sometimes you need to shoot things that are a bit, well, drab. Like this wall – the screen is great but the wall is a bit dull:
Wall with screen
So then, as you also saw two days ago, I shot it again, this time with two speedlites:
Wall with screen with gels
How was this rainbow effect achieved?
- Two 430EX flashes were fired using TTL, by means of a 580EX on my 1D MkIII.
- They were aimed at the wall, one above the other, aimed in the same direction (good idea from my assistant!).
- They were fitted with Honl speedstraps and with a Honl gel each: red for the bottom flash, green for the top one. No other modifiers: other than the gels, they were bare.
- The ratio between red and green was set on the back of the 580EX until I was happy.
That was simple, and I think you will agree it’s a better shot.
Here, from yesterday’s class at Sheridan College, is talented student Darryl. First with just one light. Then with a second light. Then with that second light brighter. Then with a hair light added. And finally, with a background light also. Four flashes. Can you see how important it is to light a portrait just right, just the way you want it? Light makes all the difference.
Now we’re talking. And that took the following:
- Camera with 24-70 lens.
- Four flashes.
- Five pocketwizards (one for the camera, one for each flash).
- Five cables between PW and flash (from Flashzebra.com).
- Three light stands.
- Two umbrella brackets and one ball head.
- Two umbrellas (main=shoot through; fill=reflective).
- A Honl photo snoot for the hair light.
- A flash meter.
- A Honl photo egg yolk yellow gel fopr the background light (this coloour complements his blue sweater).
- A few minutes.
And that’s all – not complicated once you know how. And that’s what I teach, and as a photographer, you should know how to do a portrait like this in a few minutes.
Yesterday’s flash seminar at Vistek reminds me to warn you about one of TTL’s drawbacks.
Usually, metering is “evaluative” (Nikon calls it “Matrix metering”). Good. Even good for tough chiaroscuro lighting like in these pictures from the course (one flash, off camera):
But that metering method, while generally very good for tough shots like those, has one possible drawback. Namely this: one small reflection will lead to the entire photo being underexposed, since the metering system tries to avoid overexposing that reflected area. And with evaluative/matrix metering (“smart” metering), even a tiny area can cause that problem. As in this image:
Ouch. Yeah, that got me. So then I remove the reflective object and all is well:
This happens, and you need to be aware and ready. So why not go to centre-weighted flash metering? Yes, that is an option, but then pics like these will be averaged out, which is also not what you want!
And all that is why light and metering and the other technical aspects of photography are not about to go away. A billion iPhones notwithstanding: you need to learn this stuff to be able to do any creative photography.