EASTER SPECIAL, ONE WEEK ONLY: my four e-books all for sale at a special reduced price. 25% off each book, or 50% off if you buy all four, This week only.

Four e-books to cover many aspects of photography. Photography is not difficult. Amateur or pro, you will benefit from:

  • Mastering Your Camera
  • Impactful Travel Photography
  • Advanced Flash
  • 52 Photographic “recipes”

See www.michaelwillems.ca/Book_Special.html and learn the secrets of professional photography—today. Act Now: This special is only valid for one week, after which prices will revert to their regular level.


Learning tip

Here’s a learning tip.

When you take a course or read a book (such as my e-books), you get all sorts of ideas. Great ideas that make you think “I must do that, next time I shoot”. Especially when travelling, the ideas can be very useful. Ideas like the use of negative space:

Or of using a close-by object (“close-far”) to introduce depth:

Great ideas. But you forget them, right?

So here’s the idea. Re-read your notes, or the book, and write down the 20 most important learnings. Make a list, whittle it down to about that number. Then write those 20 things down in shorthand, i.e. in simple form, on a piece of paper not much bigger than the size of a credit card. Have that laminated with plastic so it  lasts. Then carry it on you and before you shoot, look at the card for 20 seconds. Just 20 seconds. More is impractical: you’ll never do it. But 20 seconds is doable. That way, you refresh your mind when it matters. Namely, when you are about to shoot.


I made the first shot above in January at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, California, using my Canon 1Dx camera and my 16-35mm lens set to 35mm. I was at 200 ISO, 1/400th second, f/11.

The second shot was the same except for the focal length (here, 16mm) and the shutter speed (here, 1/100th sec).



Miscellany Musings

Learning opportunity: Tomorrow AM and Friday PM, you can see me talk at the Coast To Coast arts convention at Toronto airport. Come learn about camera basics (tomorrow) or Landscapes (Friday).

Cat Opportunity: always be ready to shoot your cats with a wide open lens in available light. And I never waste an opportunity to post a cat picture:

Theft opportunity: that is what you are giving thieves by leaving gear in your car. A good friend last night had her multiple cameras, multiple expensive lenses, and laptop stolen from her parked car. So sad, a terrible loss. The lesson can benefit us all: DO not leave cameras in cars. Even if you do not have a license plate like mine (NB: link is not suitable for work!).

But there may be light at the end of the tunnel: your home insurance, and if you do not have this your car insurance, may well cover part or all of this loss. Immediately make a police report, and then immediately contact your insurance company. Meanwhile collect serial numbers. in the EXIF data of each photo, things like camera serial number and often lens serial number are present. You can use a free utility called EXIFTOOL (Google it) to see the full EXIF data, if need be.


The colour of the day.

Why do we use colour?

Sometimes I like simplicity, like here:

Sometimes, on the other hand, especially when I print images, I like to fill the frame with colour. Like here, from last night:

(Make-up by Glam IX Studio; model Kim Gorenko.)

The colours match the dress and the eyes. Two speedlights aimed at the background.

That last shot also emphasizes again the importance of getting a glamour-type shot like this right in terms of pose, light, and make-up.  Look at the before/after. Nothing was done here, only make-up. Straight out of camera:

The make-up and hair took about three hours to do: these are serious skills.

For a successful shoot, it all has to come together!

Now on to my Video with DSLR course, which is about to start.  Check www.cameratraining.ca for details on upcoming courses.


The secret of darkness

The shot I showed you the other day had a darkish background.

How dark? It was my usual “two stops below normal”. I.e. when I look at the scene, my light meter indicates not “0″, but “–2″.

Today: what happens when you make the background even darker. Like, four stops below normal. I.e. I use an aperture even smaller (I still of course use 100 ISO and 1/250th second).

Now we get a very dramatic portrait:

Which one is right? That is an impossible question to answer. It depends on what you want. On your style. On the picture and its purpose. There is no one “correct” photo. What you need to learn is the techniques to do all this. Then you can make up your mind for each photo you make.

One thing to keep in mind: the lower picture used such a small aperture that the flash had to be sued without a modifier: else it would not have had enough power. If you take my Flash course I will teach you a trick you can use to always know when you have enough power–or not.