A family shoot

This, a couple of samples from a family shoot I just did, is why you probably want to hire a photographer for a family shoot rather than using an iPhone to just snap away:

Those are pretty much straight from the camera. So what does that take? Well, experience, insight, plus:

  1. A large battery-powered flash fired into an umbrella.
  2. A couple of pocketwizard radio triggers.
  3. Set your shutter to 1/250 sec, ISO to 100.
  4. Start at f/8 and be ready to change the aperture to set the background 1-2 stops below nominal (f/11 in this case).
  5. Turn the subjects away from the sun.
  6. Position them right.
  7. Shoot at just the right moment.

Simple once you know. And if you don’t know, I have two pieces of advice: One, learn (I teach, and I write books!) and two, start by hiring a pro.

 

And another event

Sunday I shot an event: a baby shower. In a back yard and inside, and in a tent. Portraits, with two strobes (one with umbrella, one with small softbox), as well as event pics.

The portraits, with or without props, looked like this—and you will see it is all about the light. Hence the strobes, and the subjects in the shade as much as possible. I used a 24-70 for this, as well as the 85mm f/1.2 lens.

Some spontaneous, like this – don’t forget to look for those spontaneity moments…:

Indoors shots were like this, shot with thew 24-70 f/2.8 lens and using a bounced flash—here too, look for people interacting or “doing things”:

And outdoors with a flash aimed directly at the subject, which gets us the subject as the “bright pixels” and saturated colours. And when there’s something happening, look for the right moment. either to get the right pose:

And if you pay attention you can often get “the decisive moment“, in this case the piñata falling to the ground in pieces.

Photos were, as far as I can tell, universally liked, and I bet those who did not have their picture taken regretted it in the end.

Oh and the human species will probably survive, judging by the number of pregnant women present. Like half of them, it almost seemed.

 

Flare.

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!


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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:

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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…:

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…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:

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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).