The Photographer’s Legal Guide
If you’re in business, you will make a mistake. Nobodyknows that better than Jack Reznicki and Edward Greenburg. Join them as they take you through the finer points of terms and conditions in invoices to help you avoid costly mistakes in your photography business.
Photo Pro Expo Photo Pro Expo in Cincinnati kicks off today and goes through Sunday! It features speakers Scott Kelby, Jerry Ghionis, Lindsay Adler, Joel Grimes, and many more, plus a trade show and print competition! If you haven’t already registered, you can still sign up using promo code PPESK12 for just $149. All the details are over at PhotoProExpo.com.
Lindsay Adler on The Grid
Yesterday’s guest on The Grid was fashion photographer Lindsay Adler! Easily one of the best episodes yet, Lindsay answered tons of questions on how she’s built her career, including great advice on business and social media. It’ll be up later today, so keep an eye out over at KelbyTV.com (or subscribe in iTunes).
LensProToGo February Promo
This month only, LensProToGo is offering an extra 7 days to any 7-Day Rental! All you have to do is place an order for a 2-week rental and use the promo code 7DAYSFREE to get the second week free. You can find all the details over at LensProToGoBlog.com.
As photographers, we are an interesting bunch of people. We tend to disagree on just about everything in terms of what makes a great picture. We all have opinions on image content, composition, what we like and dislike in an image and the choices we each make in terms of equipment and post processing. But we all agree when we see a great image. Even if it is something we don’t usually do in our own work, we know a good picture when we see one. And one of the main characteristics present in every great picture is great light. And light is, well, everything. An image without good light may be interesting and it may be a good record keeping documentation of someone or some thing or some event. But unless there is great light present it tends to fall a little short and not stay in our own personal image memory bank. You all know the image memory bank I speak of. We all have one.
I like movies. I mean really like movies and see more than most people I know. I study the work of great cinematographers and listen to their interviews and techniques of lighting they utilize. While they all tend to agree with photographers on how light can most effectively be used, they almost all agree across the board that they place as much or more emphasis on shadows as they do on light. As we discuss light heavily in this post let’s also try to keep in mind the importance of shadows and how they play an important role in the making of an image.
By its nature light has to exhibit sufficient illumination to record an image and it has to direct the viewer’s attention. It has to provide depth and dimension. What it can do is make the viewer feel a certain emotion, tension, warmth, and more. Coupled with composition, camera technique and subject matter, light helps to tell the great story. Let’s take a close look at the foundations of light.
I generally tend to begin my workshops discussing the three specific things I call the “Elements of Light:” Light Quality, Light Quantity and Light Direction. Creating a systematic way to approach these elements is key to creating predictable results. Clearly I am not talking about removing anyone’s creativity in the face of image making. But I am talking about a quick sort of mental checklist of all the things you have available to use in making a great image.
Light quality can be summed up quite simply if you break it down to the lowest common denominator. For example, to me light quality is usually about selecting the right lighting tool and the right lighting application for the job or task at hand. In every picture I have ever seen or have ever taken there is always one of these following tools used along with one of the following applications. Think of it as “one from column A and one from Column B.” I have found that it breaks down to a 4 X 4 thing. There are four Tools of light and there are four Applications of light.
All of the lighting tools available fit into one of these four categories. Once we understand what these tools are we have to master their use. Of course, as working photographers we need to know not only what each of these tools can do for us but also what they cannot do. For example, I would not suggest photographing a group of 300 people with a single speedlight. But advancements in speedlight technologies have pushed their capabilities further than some realize and if you haven’t used them lately, give them another look. At the same time, studio strobes coupled with sunlight can yield amazing results. And certainly my tool of choice in the studio for a headshot will tend to always be the studio strobe with the appropriate light-shaping device for the job. I added ambience to the list as a catch-all of things such as the light reflecting off of a warm toned building, light bouncing off of a projector’s screen, mini-spots in the ceiling in a hotel bathroom, soft window light on a rainy day, or light from a computer screen, lighting the face of an office worker. Each tool of light has a right to exist and it’s own specific need and has a proper time to be used. Understand each and know not only when it is appropriate to use each one but just as importantly, when not to use each one.
These applications of light are plugged into my head and when I get onto a location for a shoot I know I have these four to select from. As the location, client’s need and opportunity is revealed I then make the decision on which application to couple with which light tool from above.
Additive is the use of flash in an ambient situation. In my world this is most effectively used when I need to change the brightness of the ambience, specifically the background, to add drama and to overcome the limitations of the dynamic contrast range of today’s digital camera.
Subtractive refers to the technique of removing light from a specific area of a picture to either create more drama or improve the light quality, such as on a face. A good example would be to move a portrait client under a porch or doorway in order to redirect light falling on the face to less top light and more front light in an ambient situation. Subtractive can also define or describe the use of a black panel to redirect light away from a face on an overcast day.
Transmission might describe any light that travels through an interruption of some type, such as a diffused material. Transmission light is best used in high-contrast lighting conditions and while improving on the light quality on a face by making it appear much softer, will change the light quantity on the face and in the background.
Reflective light ideally is used when strong directional light needs to be redirected back to the subject or object of a picture. A strong backlit subject will often need a reflector to bring the dynamic range of contrast under control to prevent the clipping of highlights from strong backlighting.
Light Quantity (the appropriate exposure)
To my way of thinking light quantity is the most elementary aspect of what we do in the world of photography and knowing how to effectively utilize exposure to help tell the story is of critical importance in our image making. Its not the easiest thing to master but we have to be able to place an exposure correctly in an image to record reality or create a stylized look. And the more we can do this at the time of capture the better off our lives will be.
The Light Meter
As we made the transition from film to digital we were faced with an interesting situation. For those who were working with color negative film the transition was much more difficult. Working with the less forgiving range of exposure in digital capture created clipped highlights, blocked shadows and lots or problems for many. However, for those who were working with transparency film the transition was much easier. The tighter exposure controls were a given and easier to understand. They were also use to working with a light meter more effectively or more accurately, based on need. I remember hearing a well-known photographer state that he was so glad digital came along so he didn’t have to use a light meter anymore. I happen to disagree. I feel we have never needed a light meter more. The use of a light meter can save so much post-production time if the photographers of today would just settle into to using it as a discipline. Think of a carpenter using his or her measuring tape for every thing they do throughout the day. We should treat our important exposures no differently. I know we can see the back of our camera, I know we have the histogram there to aid in getting it right and I know we have the flexibility with shooting RAW to bring exposure up and down depending on the need. But the fact is that all of this takes time. And of all the things I possess, additional time in my world is not one of them. The closer I can get to getting the exposure correct, the closer I can come to getting out from in front of a computer and back behind the camera. Understanding correct use of the light meter is paramount to the successful photographer.
Of course we all know the importance of the histogram and the role it plays in getting us on track in terms of our exposures. The histogram on our camera, the histogram in our post processing software. They both allow us to know where we are in terms of relative brightness levels throughout our image. So allow me to simply say that since the early inception of digital capture I have thought of the histogram and more importantly the window in which it is displayed, as a rectangular tube or pipe. Anything within the tube will print properly. Anything outside of the tube will not. This is how I tend to think of the histogram as I see information slammed against the right or left of the representative window of the histogram. Whatever is inside, GOOD. Whatever is outside, BAD.
Light travels in a straight line. Yea, I know how basic that sounds but it might help to dispel the rumors and myths about light wrapping around a face. Light doesn’t wrap and in fact doesn’t bend unless it goes through water. But the direction from which light strikes the surface of a subject has a lot to do with creating impact in our work. I know that early on most of our photographic careers we learned the old rule that says “the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflectance.” Basically light comes off of a surface at the same angle it hit the surface. The efficiency of the surface to either absorb or repel light has a lot to do with how we perceive it. A highly polished black 8-ball has a completely different way of returning light than the porous of an unpainted ceramic mask. As the surface changes so do the angles we can “get away with” in terms of light direction. In addition, we learn through trial and error that as a given light source travels further away from the camera, more towards the background, it becomes more efficient in terms of its brightness as seen from the camera. Therefore as the direction of light changes, even if the distance does not change, the exposure can be affected.
I have learned over the years that anytime I use an accent light, hair light, “skim” light the exposure of that light as measured with an incident light meter aimed at the source from the subject, should read at least 1-2 stops BELOW whatever I am shooting at based on the key light on the subject. This will prevent clipping the highlights of the accent and light and provide a big difference in image quality.
Light direction is a big part of the controls over which we have command Understanding more about the things we can do with light direction can keep you testing a lot but can also result in great creative work.
Light can be controlled, enhanced and even created during post-production. All who know me know how much I live and die by the use of Nik Software. When I discovered Color Efex Pro in 2004 it literally changed the way in which I work. And of course today I work with Nik Software in their San Diego office and understand the tools better than ever. Within these tools I can create light effects and paint them in certain areas, I can also utilize very specific control points to apply an effect to a specific subject or object and generally optimize my “look.” But to best understand the appropriate use of the software I must start with the best quality image possible and that takes discipline. I can apply an effect to any image. But to enhance an already top image is far more rewarding than to try to save a bad picture in post-processing.
Spend time learning light. Watch it, read about it, test it. Oh, and don’t forget the shadows. Anytime there is a great light, there will also be a great shadow waiting to be explored.
Tony Corbell is a 32-year Veteran Photographer and Sr. Manager of Industry Relations and PR at Nik Software, Inc. You can see more of his work at at CorbellProductions.com
Issue 5 of Light It Magazine is now available! Brad Moore here to tell you a little about it :)
This issue features tips from Jim Schmelzer on the importance of subtractive lighting:
Photo Recipes from Scott Kelby:
My personal favorite, the Gear Watch section ;) :
Plus Tom Bol on sports portraiture, Erik Valind on high-speed sync with small flash, Kevin Ames on reflectance, Jason Groupp on what to do with stage lighting during wedding receptions, an interview with Frank Doorhof, sixty seconds with stock photographer Nicole S. Young, and work from featured photographers Sean Arbabi and Jennifer Wu.
If you don’t already have the free Light It Magazine app, download it from the iTunes store and grab the first issue for free. Each issue after that is only $2.99, a hard deal to beat for valuable info from the people listed above!
And, if you’re an Android user who’s been asking for Light It on your platform, it’s time to rejoice! We’ve started development on this and will be keeping you posted as things progress.
(Also, Scott did a little write-up on the issue over on Google+ if you’d like get his take)
Hey everyone, Brad Moore here with another edition of Free Stuff Thursday!
Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. Live! Scott Kelby is bringing his Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. Live Tour to Austin on Monday, January 30, so leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket! Also, keep an eye out for new dates in Atlanta and Tampa to be added soon!
Photo Pro Expo After Austin, Scott is heading to Cincinnati to speak at the Photo Pro Expo on Sunday, February 5. Make sure you come see Scott speak alongside other instructors likeJerry Ghionis, Vincent LaForet, Lindsey Adler, Joel Grimes, Skip Cohen and more!
The expo takes place February 3, 4, & 5, 2012 with 16 Speakers, 25 hours of programs, and 4 fun Parties. The convention is taking place near downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. There is also a trade show with 90 full booths cruising to an expected attendance of nearly 800 people!
The Expo trade show will also be hosting a two-day, 4-Bay Fantasy Model Shoot-Out sponsored by Westcott. Add to that a fully juried photographic print competition, over $15,000 in prizes and awards, Flash Clinic & Help Desk, Coach?s Corner Image Review, and a Super Bowl Tailgate party Sunday night.
The cost of PhotoPro Expo 2012 is only $139 for readers of Scott?s blog ? just use Promo Code PPESK12, will reduce your cost to only $139 for all three days! It expires next week so act now to reserve your space. AND… Leave a comment for your chance to win a free pass to the show!
The latest classes at KelbyTraining.com are from none other than Joel Grimes! Check out the two-part class Creative Compositing where Joel shows you how do do everything from the lighting and shooting of photos for compositing, to showing you how to put everything together in Photoshop.
Kelby Training Book & DVD Blowout
This is the last week to save up to 70% off during the January Book & DVD Blowout at KelbyTraining.com. Great deals on CS5, LR3 and photography books and DVDs at KelbyTraining.com
We’re giving away a copy of Scott & Matt’s new Photoshop Elements 10 Book. If you or someone you know uses Elements 10, this is a killer title because it shows you how to create amazing images in Elements using the settings, tips and tricks the pros use. Enter the random drawing to win a copy by leaving a comment about the book. We’ll draw next Wednesday.
As much as I appreciate the invite, it likely seems odd that somebody who shoots on automatic with a Nikon D60 would be writing anything on Scott Kelby’s blog. Despite my own ineptitude behind a lens, many of my close friends are photographers. Just don’t ask me what an ISO is or how to use a speed light, and don’t expect me to join you on a 3am photo walk in Vegas. Fool me once.
I’m a cartoonist, illustrator, and painter, and in addition to a pencil and sketchbook, my tools of the trade are Photoshop and a Wacom tablet. What may surprise you is that I had never planned on being an artist, and I didn’t go to art school. For most of my life, I only doodled and rarely created any finished work. I didn’t start down this path with any kind of effort until I was in my thirties, and I’m only 40 now.
My wife and I were living in Banff, Alberta, Canada, and I had a decent job working at a hotel. In 1997, the local weekly paper advertised for an editorial cartoonist, and I figured it might be something fun to do on the side. Nobody else applied, so I got the gig. In 2001, I became nationally syndicated and four years after that, I quit my job. These days, my editorial cartoons run in papers across Canada, I’ve had illustrations in international magazines, and my paintings are selling in galleries. Summed up in a couple of paragraphs, it may seem like I knew what I was doing. Let me assure you, I did not.
Over the past decade, I tried adding a few other skills to my creative repertoire. For awhile I attempted graphic design, because that’s what people told me I should do and that’s where the money was. The fact that I disliked it intensely and wasn’t very good at it probably should have been taken into consideration.
When the newspaper industry began to struggle, many of my colleagues figured that online animation was the future. Wanting to get in on the ground floor, I learned all I could about Flash, created a weekly animated cartoon and even had a couple of TV networks and newspaper chains wanting to run it on their websites. They did not, however, want to pay for it. After five months of no time off, I found out the hard way that I didn’t want to be an animator.
As a cartoonist, I’ve always tried to improve my caricature skills, and eventually I became pretty good at painting detailed caricature portraits. For awhile, there were a few commissions, but the economy suddenly tanked and the price I had to charge to justify the work, had become unaffordable for most people. I just couldn’t provide detailed studio paintings for a quick-sketch price. Looking into my future, I didn’t see this being a big part of it.
When I returned from my first Photoshop World in 2009, I found myself inspired. For years, I’d been looking at what others were doing in the cartooning industry and I’d somehow convinced myself that I had to follow them, even though they weren’t actually leading me anywhere. I finally asked myself the most important question. “What unique work can I do that I will really enjoy, and be able to sell?”
Having lived in the mountains for so many years, I knew that tourists came here for the scenery and the wildlife. As painting landscapes didn’t interest me, the choice between the two was easy. In the Fall of 2009, I painted a portrait of a funny looking grizzly bear, and it changed everything.
It felt completely right, and best of all, people loved it. After the Grizzly came the Raven, then the Elk, and I was hooked. In February, 2010, browsing in an art gallery on a slow day in Banff, I got to talking with the assistant manager. She asked what type of work I did, and I showed her the three images on my phone. After only a moment, she offered to sell the paintings in the gallery.
With another area gallery wanting them as well, the next year was a crash course in the business of canvas and paper printing, limited editions, live painting demonstrations, and everything else I didn’t know about selling work in a gallery. And I kept painting.
In September of that year, I was a finalist for the Guru Awards at Photoshop World in Las Vegas. Not only did my Moose Totem win the Illustration category, but to my great surprise, the Wolf Totem took Best of Show. In a moment of reflection, I recall thinking, “All this time, I’ve been painting people…”
I’ll always be a cartoonist, editorial or otherwise, and I’ve no plans to give that up anytime soon. Commercial work, portrait, caricatures and cartoons, all still pay a good chunk of the bills, and it’s not like I’m working in the salt mines. I’ve got a pretty sweet gig. But that which I am most proud of, that I can see being a big part of my future, are these animal paintings.
This work has opened many doors for me. The prints sell well in the galleries, I’ve recorded training DVDs on cartooning and painting, and I’ve twice been a guest on Wacom webinars this past year. They even hired me to represent their tablets last summer in Calgary at Scott’s ‘Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it’ tour. Personally, I can think of no better validation as a digital artist than being noticed by Wacom.
So what are you supposed to get from this odd story? Well, here are some things I now know for sure. There is no one map to success. When it comes to finding your creative niche, learn from everyone, but copy nobody. Never be completely happy with your work, because you will always have room to improve. Take risks and be willing to fail.
People may tell you that you’re doing it wrong, and while it’s wise to consider that they might be trying to help you and could be right, there is an equal chance that they’re not. When I first started promoting my Totems, more than a few people told me I should do more realistic paintings of wildlife, because they’d probably sell better. Asking my galleries for their thoughts, they told me they weren’t interested in that, because that’s what everybody else was doing.
While working on my latest painting this month, the Cougar Totem in the video above, I woke up at 4:00am on a Sunday, because I knew that I only had a few hours left before the painting was done, and I was excited to finish it. When you find that which you would do even if nobody paid you, that creative work that feels indescribably right, then that is the work you’re supposed to be doing.
If you haven’t found it yet, keep moving forward. Challenge your own assumptions, be willing to experiment and get comfortable with rejection. I’ve always learned much more from my failures than my successes. Most importantly, keep trying new things, because the next one could be it. And even if you are lucky enough to find the work you’re meant to do now, it’s still only a stepping stone to the work you’re meant to do later.
It’s time for another installment of Free Stuff Thursday! Brad Moore here to help you win a copy of…
Frank Doorhof: Live In Boston DVD Frank Doorhof has released his brand new Live In Boston Workshop DVD! You can pick up your copy right here, or leave a comment for your chance to win one of two copies.
Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
Check out the latest book from Laurie Excell, Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots! Laurie takes you through equipment, camera settings, lighting, and composition to help you get the great shots of birds, bears, and other wildlife. Plus it features Laurie’s own beautiful photography!
Leave a comment for your chance to win one of two copies of this book.
Kelby Training Affiliate Program
Good news for bloggers and website owners! KelbyTraining.com has partnered with Commission Junction to bring you a great affiliate program! Earn up to 35% commission on referrals!
KelbyTraining.com Composition Made Easy with David Ziser is the latest addition to the KelbyTraining.com library! David shows you his on-location composition techniques as he teaches how to recognize and shoot a wide variety of visual elements to create spectacular, one-of-a-kind compositions. Check it out over at KelbyTraining.com!
Kelby Training Live
Coming soon to a city near you…
OnOne Software On Sale – TODAY ONLY!
Today is the last day to take advantage of OnOne Software’s big sale! Get 20%, 30%, or even 50% off the latest versions of OnOne’s plug-ins, and even the Perfect Photo Suite which includes all seven plug-ins!
Cockpit Panos from Moose Peterson
If you’re a fan of aviation, check out these 360-degree cockpit panoramas of various warbird planes that Moose Peterson has been doing. It’s pretty cool be able to see everything in the cockpits of these planes, and even zoom in to read their checklists and instrumentation panels.