Category Archives Techniques

Hey, it’s Photoshop World week, and to celebrate, today I thought I’d share some shots from a recent bridal shoot I did for a project I’m working on.

The shoot took place at Casa Bella – a beautiful 9,000 sq ft. luxury home/venue for weddings and events in our area. I teamed up with my awesome wife Kalebra who did all the styling and art direction for the shoot (she’s just a blast to be on a shoot with — she brings an energy, and fun to the shoot that’s contagious. Also, seeing how she sees things, and how she works with our subjects is really something to see — she should do a class on it).

Above: Here’s the behind-the-scenes shot (photo by Juan Alfonso) of me taking the image at the top of the page. I’m sitting on an Apple box (see below) so I’m not quite on the floor (maybe 6″ up from it) but I put my camera (a Canon 5D Mark III)  directly on the ground in front of me, tilted up at the bride, using a Canon 14mm super wide-angle lens. You can see I’m pretty close to where the bride is standing, but look how much farther away she looks in the image up top.

Above: These Matthews Apple Boxes come in really handy. This is a half box (just 4″ high), but in a lot of cases, it’s a whole lot better than sitting on the ground. They are sturdy as anything, and you can stack ’em, too! We have them in different sizes, and use them mostly in the studio, either to get a higher angle or a much lower one. 

Two things that super wide angle does:
(1) When you put it on the floor like this, it makes the entire scene have more of an epic sprawling look — even in small spaces like this.

(2) Putting it on the floor like this, makes the floor appear MUCH more reflective than it really is, and you get a shine and reflection that you won’t get standing up, or even shooting on your knees. I can’t tell you exactly why it works like that…but it sure does.

Above: Shooting w inith our bride the same spot— I just stood up, backed way up, and used my 70-200mm f/2.8 zoomed in to 140mm.

Camera Settings:
I’m at 200 ISO at 1/400 of a second at f/2.8. I shot at f/2.8 for two reasons: (1) To get the background behind her a bit soft and out of focus, and because believe it or not, even though she was standing in front of a door with glass panes, the door is inset from the front of the house by quite a bit (there’s a large covered entryway), so the light wasn’t that bright. That’s also why I had to increase my ISO to 200 — there’s not as much light there, at that time of day, then you’d think.

Above: A third look with her in the exact same spot — I just walked closer, and then zoomed into 142mm. 

Lighting
When we first walked in, I asked Kathy (who was assisting me on the shoot), to rig up a flash with a Westcott 26″ Rapid box octa mounted to the end of a monopod, but as it turned out — we were able to just go with natural light the entire 4-hour shoot, and we never used it once. That’s pretty rare, but the lighting throughout was pretty good, even though a few times I had to raise my ISO to 200 or 400 here and there.

Above: More of an editorial look for this shot taken in the bride’s dressing suite, just using the light from the windows. f/2.8 at 1/80 of a second at 200 ISO. Again, not as much light as you’d think, which is why I had a slower shutter speed and higher ISO, even at f/2.8.

I converted the image to black and white in Lightroom CC, and added the duotone effect using Lightroom’s Split Toning panel (shown here).To get the duotone look, I boosting the Saturation amount and moved the Hue slider to a brownish hue in the Shadows only (no adjustments to the Highlights split toning at all). TIP: When you’re setting the Hue and your Saturation amount is low like it is here, it’s sometimes hard to see exactly which hue you’re choosing, so hold the Option Key as you drag it, and it acts as though the Saturation amount is set to 100 which helps a lot.

Above: This is one of my favorites from the shoot, taken in the bridal suite. I switched to the 70-200mm for this one, and I’m at 70mm (I would have liked to have gotten back farther and shoot at 150mm or so, but my back was against the wall, so I couldn’t go back any farther, and didn’t want to switch to a wide angle — I wanted the look that the 70-200mm gives. I’m at f/2.8 at 1/250 of a second shutter at ISO 200).

She’s far enough away from the window that the lighting is very soft and subtle, which I really like.

Above: The “dream-like” quality is provided with a soft glow in post. While you can get a glow effect in Lightroom, it’s not awesome, so I usually use a plug-in. I’ve been using Luminar a lot more lately (a plug-in from Macphun that’s gotten really popular in the past few months), and they have a great built-in glow effect. I also have a bunch of presets that I made (that MacPhun is giving way with a promotion they’re doing), but in this case, I’m not using one of my presets — just the Soft Glow filter.

Above: I loved this hallway, and since our bride had been in ballet, she was cool with doing some dramatic poses. All natural light coming in from a nearby door.

Above: That’s me, sitting on a 1/2 height Apple box again, with the camera directly in front of me, right on the tile floor, with the 14mm lens aiming up. Once again, note the reflection on the floor.

Above: Finally, a shot with lots of light — I let the windows totally blow out again, and I intentionally overexposed the whole image for a bright, airy look. I had to go down to 1/30 of a second shutter speed to let this much light in, at f/2.8 at 200 ISO and I’m at 85mm on my 70-200mm. Again, my back is up against another wall. Would have liked to have gotten back further, and zoomed in tighter, but it’s still one of my favorites from the shoot.

Above: Taking advantage of our subject having been a ballerina, Kalebra had her strike this pose, with her positioned in front of one of the French Doors in the estate. We pulled the sheers to cover the window and somewhat control the light, but we wanted that blown out, over-exposed look — we just wanted it soft.

Hope you found any/some/part of that helpful. Can’t wait to share the whole project with you when it’s done. :)

A big thanks and shoutout to Kalebra for the styling and art direction, and for being my partner in this production from the start, and to Jen Coffin for helping with the production side big time. Thanks to Kathy Porupski for assisting on the gig, keeping things moving, and helping all the way around, and to our bride Julianna for being so patient, and easy to work with. :)

Have a great start to your week, and see ya back here tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday.

Best,

-Scott

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Hi Gang, and happy Friday: Tomorrow (July 4th) is a big holiday for us here in the US â” it's Independence Day â” a day where all Americans celebrate their independence from Glyn Dewis and Dave Clayton (shown pictured with me above. They both serve as Beefeaters in service to Her Majesty The Queen as Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary, but they are shown here in the regular street clothes, but you know and I know, those clothes are anything but regular).

If you're thinking of shooting some fireworks shots tonight, I wrote an article for ColaCola's Journey website where I take you through the recipe for how to make Awesome Fireworks photos (It's a step-by-step article â” follow the recipe and ya can't miss). Here's the link.

I would add three things to that article for the more serious photography crowd here on my blog. They are:

>> Set your focus to infinity (This isn't critical but if your lens can do it, why not). The fireworks are so bright you can use just regular ol' auto focus for the most part, but if you have a lens that has a distance scale window on the top of your lens barrel; first turn off your auto focus (right on the lens â” switch it to off), then rotate the focus ring on your lens until you see the Infinity symbol [it looks like the number 8 lying on its side]. Again, you don't have to do this, but it might make things a bit easier.

>> Last year @SuzanMcEvoy (one of my followers over on my Twitter page) recommended also switching your White Balance to Tungsten and it works really well (Thanks Susan for the tip).

>> This one probably goes without saying, but you're on a tripod so use your lowest ISO setting for the cleanest shots.

Hope you all have a safe, happy 4th of July as we celebrate our nation's physical distance, in miles and magnitude, from Glyn and Dave which makes it truly a day worth celebrating. ;-)

Cheers!

-Scott

Hi Gang:

Remember last week when I did that post about my incredibly lame College Basketball Shoot? Well, after that post I heard from my buddy, pro sports shooter Mike Olivella (who laughed at me hysterically), but between his howls of laughter, he pointed me to the video above, which he put together showing how he shoots a College Basketball game, along with tips and insights on how to shoot a game like this. Here’s the link to Mike’s blog.

Thanks Mike for sharing this with us (and you can stop giggling now).

Hi Gang, and greetings from Photoshop World Las Vegas!!!

I’m pretty swamped today, but I wanted to share this video tip with you that I mentioned last week in my report about my trip to Maine. In that post, I mentioned how I went shooting with Scott Eccleston from WeeklyPhotoTips.com, and that I did a tip for shooting long exposure HDR’s.

The video (below) looks tremendously brighter than it actually was when we shot the video (as you’ll see by how long the exposures take). It was really really dark—so dark I wasn’t sure it was going to work at all, but the video camera did such a good job of exposing for the tiny amount of light that was there, that it looks a lot brighter than it was. (Thanks to Mark Hensley for the awesome video work).

Anyway, here’s the clip (below), but make sure you check out WeeklyPhotoTips.com (link) because he’s always posting lots of cool tips…well….weekly!). :-)

Hi Gang: I had so many requests yesterday about how I did the frame around my Maine images, I thought I would include it here today.

I originally did this tutorial for NAPP members, and it ran on the NAPP member Website nearly a year ago, but I’m running it here today, because if you’re a NAPP member—well…..you’ve already seen it. Anyway, there’s an extra technique in here as well (a matting technique), along with the frame technique. Hope you find it helpful. :)

Fireworks

With Independence Day being celebrated here in the U.S. on the Fourth of July, I usually do a quick post on how to photograph Fireworks (which is a traditional part of the 4th of July celebration here). I’m posting the technique that I included on page 175 of my book, “The Digital Photography Book.” Here we go:

This is another one that throws a lot of people (one of my best friends, who didn’t get a single crisp fireworks shot on the Fourth of July, made me including this tip just for him, and the thousands of other digital shooters that share his pain).

For starters, you’ll need to shoot fireworks with your camera on a tripod, because you’re going to need a slow enough shutter speed to capture the falling light trails, which is what you’re really after.

Also, this is where using a cable release really pays off, because you’ll need to see the rocket’s trajectory to know when to push the shutter button—if you’re looking in the viewfinder instead, it will be more of a hit or miss proposition.

Next, use a zoom lens (ideally a 200mm or more) so you can get in tight and capture just the fireworks themselves. If you want fireworks and the background (like fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World), then use a wider lens.

Now, I recommend shooting in full Manual mode, because you just set two settings and you’re good to go:

  1. Set the Shutter Speed to 4 seconds
  2. Set the Aperture to f/11. Fire a test shot and look at the LCD monitor on the back of your camera to see if you like the results. If it overexposes, lower the shutter speed to 3 seconds, then take another shot and check the results again.

TIP: If your camera has “Bulb” mode (where the shutter stays open as long as you hold down the shutter release button down), this works great–hold the shutter button down when the rocket bursts, then release when the light trails start to fade. (By the way; most Canon and Nikon digital SLRs have bulb mode). The rest is timing—because now you’ve got the exposure and sharpness covered.

There you have it—-hope you all get some great shots on the fourth! :-)

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