Sometimes, you will experience lens flare, a lowering of contrast due to incoming bright light. Like here, from a recent event:

You can’t do much about this: it will happen especially with longer lenses and lenses prone to it.

What you can do is minimise it and its effects. Here’s how:

  1. Remove any protection filter that your lens has on it. These make flare worse.
  2. Ensure that the lens is totally clean.
  3. Use the lens hood your lens came with.
  4. In addition, shield your lens from incoming backlight with your hand if you can.
  5. Position yourself so as to minimise incoming backlight. As you can see in the photo, this is not always possible.
  6. Avoid overexposing.
  7. In Lightroom afterward, use “remove chromatic aberration” in the lens correction section of the Develop module.

If you follow those tips, you have done all you can!

SPECIAL–SPECIAL–SPECIAL! … I have a very special opportunity for you:

Have you always wanted to be able to shoot pro images? Well… a short course can get you to an amazingly professional level. And for just one week, all personalized individual or group training, at your location or at mine, or via the Internet using Google Hangouts, is $60 per hour instead of $100 per hour – that’s 40% off! 

This offer is valid only until 4 May, but you can prepay now for later training. Take advantage if this opportunity and kick start your craft: Contact me today to book.


Warm day

It was a warm-ish day today, so I went and took some car photos.

Since the sun was out, it is no surprise that I found available light a little boring:


So.. I added a flash, on a light stand. But as you will have guessed one flash was, of course, not enough to light a big subject like a car…:


…so I added two flashes. Left flash: half power manual 600EX, aimed direct at the car starboard side (zoom=50mm). Right flash: half power manual 430EX, aimed direct at the car front (zoom=50mm).

And that gave me this photo:


Desaturated slightly; otherwise this is the way I shot it.

But… say what—Two light stands? Fired by pocketwizards? Isn’t that complicated?

Yes, yes, and no, respectively. It is not complicated. And the results, as you see, get you immediately beyond the “snapshot”. And that is satisfying.

Michael teaches flash and other photography subjects; at Sheridan College and privately; and at his own school. If you want to know more, come to one of my regular courses (see www.cameraworkshops.ca).

A reminder

Today, a reminder of one if my magic “Flash Recipes”. Namely, the “Reception Recipe”. Otherwise known as the “Willems 400-40-4 setting”.

It goes like this. Camera on manual. Flash bounced, and aimed 45 degrees up, behind you.

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 12.15.07

400 ISO, 1/40 Second, F/4. (the numbers only fit one way: try!)

In most indoors environments that gives you great balance of background and foreground, as in the image above. If the ceiling is high or dark, increase the ISO as needed. Ideally, use a 35mm lens (24mm if you are using a crop sensor camera).

And that’s all. Great party pictures from now on!



The simplest…

Sometimes, when you are immersed in a profession, you forget that not everyone is even familiar with the language used in that profession, let alone with some of its principles and practices. As an engineer who teaches, I try never to fall victim to that thinking. But sometimes even I do. So in the next series of blog posts, I will briefly define some of the basics. Just in case.

Starting, today, with flash modes.

Your small, camera mounted, flash has a “mode” button. That button gives you access to some of the following modes:

  • TTL (also, “E-TTL”, or “TTL-BL”, etc). This means “automatic flash power”. The camera and the flash together sort out how much power is needed for every photo. They do that with a mechanism that I explain in my courses, books, and workshops. That mechanism is called “TTL”. You do not have to worry about your subject’s brightness, at least in theory: the camera and flash sort it out.
  • MANUAL (Also called “M” or “MAN).  In that mode, you set the flash power. You can, for instance, set it to 1/1, or 100% power: the brightest power level. Or 1/2 (half power), 1/4 (one quarter of its top power), 1/8, and so on. On some cameras, you can go as low as 1/128 power, a very low flash level. So in this mode, if your flash is too bright, you would turn it down to a lower level (or move back from what you are lighting); if it is too dim, you would turn it up (or move closer).
  • Repeating flash, or stroboscopic flash. In this mode, the flash will flash not once, but a defined number of times, with a defined interval. You need to define the number of flashes, the interval, and the power level. (E.g. “5 flashes, at a frequency of 10 flashes per second, at 1/16 power”). That allows you to make photos of, say, a runner against a dark background, where you see not one, but ten images of that runner as she moves through your photo.

There may even be modes additional to this. Depending on the flash you use, there may also be a setting that tells the flash that it is a remote flash, and there may be a setting that allows the flash to be used at fast shutter speeds, but at a reduced power level (“High Speed Flash”, or “FP Flash”). There could be other settings as well, like a “dumb slave setting” (Nikon calls this the “SU-4” setting).

All those additional settings are not modes, but they are what I called them: additional settings. I know, that may be confusing to you (“what is a mode and what is an additional setting?”), but if so, don’t worry about it. It’s what the engineers decided to do. The reasons for not calling these settings “modes” are not important right now.

So there you have it. Some flash “basic basics”.

In my flash courses, I explain al this in detail, of course.

Want to learn more: buy the pro flash manual, and if you are in Toronto, sign up right now for the 25 March portrait and model lighting workshop.  See you there?