Mastering The Natural Light Portrait with Scott Kelby Join professional photographer Scott Kelby as he teaches you how to shoot with natural light. You’ll walk through an entire shoot from planning to post processing. Scott discusses his go-to lenses and camera settings to capture natural light and then discusses a variety of different lighting scenarios and offers tips of how to work with and modify it.
In Case You Missed It Natural light is all around us, but it is up to the photographer to control it in order to make a beautiful portrait. Join Erik Valind as he shows you how to tame that natural light, from direct noontime sun to overcast and shadowless days, and capture killer portraits with little more than just your camera and a reflector. No speedlights or strobes are required for this class. Erik teaches you about the factors that you can control, and then walks you various techniques you can use through a series of real world demonstrations, each one building on the last, that will give you the skills to start seeing and using natural light in new ways.
Don’t Wait To Create We all have great potential. It’s my belief that we’re all capable of more. I want to share my thoughts on how to achieve more than you thought you could handle.
I can’t stress how important it is to try your best to keep the fire burning for the thing that you love. Ideas and creative thoughts may seem to come and go, but when you think they’ve left you and you’re left with nowhere to go, just close your eyes and begin walking forward. So many times we let anxiety prevent us from even beginning our work. But that’s the moment we’re challenged with making the choice to let that frustrate and rob us of our valuable time, or we can choose to find a new a approach at drawing that idea or creative wave right back to us.
It’s not enough to say you’re “not feeling it” when it comes to creating content for companies that demand and expect proper turnaround and delivery of images. So until we can overcome the obstacles that fear and anxiety bring to the process, it may be difficult for us to elevate our creative hobby into a professional creative career.
I believe every creative comes to a bottleneck in their art making process, something that causes a hang up in time or productivity. For me, I used to get overwhelmed, not knowing where to get started on larger projects and productions. I realized if I wanted to get more done in a day, week, month, and year, I couldn’t waste time worrying instead of working.
I read a book on habits and realized that I can change the way I typically react in the moments when I feel like I’m stuck in my workflow and anxiety prevents me from being able to create or think.
When I’ve arrived at a bottleneck moment and notice I’m beginning to be filled with fear and anxiety, I now decide to stand up, take a walk around the room, and choose a different activity altogether to change both my physical environment and mental headspace. I typically find that when I change my scenery, my brain takes a break from stressing out and resets by taking in new surroundings. The goal of this exercise is to prevent stress-causing anxiety from stealing your productivity. Moments like these can cost us the better part of a day and lead to being even more frustrated after not accomplishing the long list of goals you had set for your day.
I find it important to be completely present and fully engaged when I’m working on my craft. I want to put everything I’ve got into every piece I create. I don’t want to hand a product or image to a client knowing that I could have done it better. I want to deliver the best shot I had at using all my skills to make the highest quality piece that I can. I also don’t have all the time in world to complete it. That’s why anything that steals your time is stealing the opportunity for you to present your absolute best. And who wants to turn in anything other than their best?!
First, recognize the value of time. It’s not that if you have more time, you’ll create a better piece of work. It’s that when you get started on time, and get to the place you would usually stop, you have time to take your finished work from an A to an A++ and given extra credit. I like to keep things as nice and natural as they come. So, not much over-editing in my post process, but pre-production is JUST AS crucial when processing your time. The more pre-production we can put into a project, the more room we can save for our entire project. We can then use some of that room for experimentation, and the extra wiggle room allows for creativity to elevate our projects.
Our own mental strength isn’t always as obvious to us as our physical strength. It’s healthy to give your mental strength a weigh-in from time to time. You may know that you can’t bench press a certain weight, and you can find out immediately by trying to push the bar and weights up and off the stand. However, it’s much less obvious to know just how strong and powerful our own mental strength and capacity are for heavy lifting. Sometimes we may be so used to reaching a point of exhaustion or stress, that we default to a time stealing activity to distract our minds from thinking about the stress. That’s the very moment we need to exercise that mental muscle and reach for one more attempt at staying in the creative element. Once succumbing to less productive activities and distractive activities begin, it’s so much harder to make the full swing back into our work.
Changing our scenery or just something about our current work situation helps tremendously. It can be as simple as standing instead of sitting while editing, or maybe as extreme as taking a weekend to go off the grid to find focused attention and intentional time for project creation, just try switching it up.
The point that I’m trying to make is that we should want to make our best work. Our best isn’t always what comes out in the first try, or third or fourth. But it is important to keep seeking and finding ways of getting our work to reach its personal best. By reaching for our best each time, we examine the most useful approach for us to complete our best work. So, be courageous and give yourself the push you need to get through any of those time stealing situations. And know just how valuable your time is in relation to the process of completing your most honest, truest, authentic art. Giving your best should show all of those great feelings and emotions you have for your work because it means you found the time to make it great! You’re not only happy, but proud to turn it in and be shown with the world. If YOU’RE happy with it, you can see that you pushed yourself and elevated your work because you poured more into it than you thought you had. That’s a great feeling. It’s one that drives us to work hard and make each project better than the last.
I think the best way to sum it all up is with this cheesy phrase I like to say from time to time… “Giving all you’ve got means giving your best, and if you give it your best, that’s all you’ve got to give!”
Breathtaking Bird Photography: Pro Settings and Techniques with Rick Sammon Join Rick Sammon in Bosque del Apache as he teaches you how to master the art and craft of bird photography! You’ll always have fun in Rick’s class, as he shares tips on stopping action, capturing gesture, shooting at different times of day, composition techniques, the gear he uses, and so much more. From birds on the ground to birds in flight, Rick covers all the situations and scenarios you’re likely to encounter!
Hey guys. Nick Fancher here. I wrote a couple of guest posts in 2015 after publishing Studio Anywhere and Studio Anywhere 2. I am wrapping up a new book of color techniques called Chroma, which will be released on Rocky Nook in July. I thought it would be appropriate to update some of the processes that I explained in my previous posts.
As I discussed in my last post, the science behind the multi-colored shadow technique is that when cyan, magenta, and yellow (or red, green, and blue) light overlaps, white light is created. Because of this, if we were to take three lights and gel them, where they overlap, colorless light is formed. Colored shadows occur when something blocks one of the colored lights, resulting in only one or two of the other colors lighting an area, Figure 1.
I first discussed this technique in my previous book, Studio Anywhere 2: A Photographer’s Guide to Shaping Hard Light (which bore that image on its cover). Two years have passed since I wrote it and I’ve had a lot of time to explore the many variations of using this technique. I’ve learned that you can still achieve neutral light without using magenta, as is illustrated by Kevin Hart’s yellow and cyan shadows (Figure 2). I’ve also experimented with different methods of creating shadows, including by hair movement (Figure3). I’ve also minimized my gear rig needed to execute this technique.
The technique requires the use of two or three flashes. I use Cactus RF60 flashes with a V6II transmitter. When I first began using this technique, I lugged three light stands with me to shoot. This is a frustrating task, especially when working alone, as I often do. I’ve since come up with a lightweight (and cheap) solution: cold shoe extension rails. In Figure 4 you can see that I have two, 16-inch rails, connected to a Nikon AS-19 speedlight stand (it’s way better than the one that comes with the Cactus flashes). I also used a small metal corner brace that I flattened out and used to join the two rails. The joint not only bears the weight in the middle (rather than the flash stand), but it levels out the two rails, which otherwise sag under the weight of the flashes.
The greater the distance between the lights, the longer the colored shadows will be. In Figure 5, the three lights are positioned next to each other, resulting in short colored shadows, but also a large, colorless shadow, where the lights all overlap. When I added one foot of space between each light, the colored shadows grew in space, while the colorless shadow decreased, Figure 6. Also, by having all three lights on one stand, it’s easy to quickly reposition them, if I wanted to position them to the side, for example, to get longer shadows, Figure 7.
I recently did a beauty shoot with a model in which she was covered in jewels. As in they were literally glued all over her face and chest. I was already planning to use this tri-colored technique, but I also decided to add a Hoya star filter to my lens, to transform the specular highlights that were coming from the jewels into starbursts.
I positioned my lights at such an angle in relation to my model that I could see the lights reflecting in the jewels, in order to maximize the starbursts, Figure 8. Since my flashes don’t have modeling lights, I always hit the “test” button on the transmitter as I watch to see where the light is falling (making sure to first tell the model to look away from the flashes).
The first thing you need to do when using this technique is balance the output between the three lights. Your light outputs will vary depending on the density of the shades of the colors you’re working with, Figure 9. I’ve found that my green light (1/2) tends to be twice as bright as my red light (1/4), which is twice as bright as my blue light (1/8), making the green light four times brighter than the blue in order to achieve balance, Figure 10. With the Cactus V6II transmitter, I can quickly adjust each output to a perfect balance, lighting in layers, one at a time. I can adjust each light in 1/3-stop increments and once the perfect color ratio is achieved, I can dial the global power up or down, maintaining the integrity of the ratio (pretty cool, huh?), Figure 11.
Once I had my settings figured out, I asked the model to make slight movements between each shot as I shot from a number of angles to ensure I get the best possible starburst, Figure 12. The best part of using this technique is the beautiful chaos that occurs whenever she moves, causing more colorful shadows, Figure 13. As you can see in my setup shot, I use a stool on castors, which allows me to move to my gear rack, to my light stand, or back/forth for my composition, without a lot of standing up/sitting down/walking on my knees. Basically it saves me a lot of time and energy.
In Lightroom, Figure 14, I decided to add a warm tone to the image, by lowering the highlight points in the green and blue tones curves (which added magenta and yellow to it). Though I could’ve simply adjusted the color temperature if I wanted a warmer image, by instead lowering the highlight points of the cooler tone curves, I added warmth to the highlight portions of the image, while at the same time reducing the shininess in her skin, Figure 15.
Now let’s take it step further an add an extra layer of colorful chaos. Many cameras have a multiple exposure feature. In the Canon 5DIII, there a few options to choose from before you get going. You need to select how many exposures are in one shot; if each exposure is saved or just the resulting image is saved; and how the images are blended together, Figure 16.
In Figure 17, you can see the colorful shadows on Curtis’ shirt, which were created by cyan/magenta/yellow light falling on his hair. As usual, I have each of the three lights on their own channel. When I make a multiple exposure, I set my camera to take three exposures with the blending mode set to “average”. For each 3-shot portrait, I start by toggling off Channels B and C, leaving on just A, and take a shot. Then I toggle off A, and turn on B and take a shot. Then the same with C, Figure 18. In the second between each exposure, as I am toggling channels on and off, my composition shifts slightly, as does my subject. This means that each colored exposure is different, Figure 19, resulting in an even more vibrant, chaotic image, Figure 20.
There are endless possibilities once you start experimenting with multiple exposures. When I am making a multiple exposure, I make sure to explain to my subject how many exposures there are in each sequence, giving them a better idea of what I’m doing and when we’ve moved on to a new shot. Sometimes I direct them to be still, while other times I invite large movements, such as having them look side to side or moving the camera dramatically between each exposure, Figure 21.
You can also experiment with using different numbers of exposures or different blending modes. You can see how dramatically different each image looks with each blending mode, Figure 22. In Figure 23 I used the same technique as I did with Curtis in Figure 20, except this time I used red, green, and blue gels, with the blending mode set to “bright”. That shot is straight out of camera. Zero editing. The resulting images makes me think of what it may look like if each colored layer of a screen print came to life and started moving on its own.
Based on the variety of techniques in this article alone, it should be clear that colored shadows can be created in a myriad of ways. Explore layering different color combinations or mixing in other techniques such as shutter drag with multiple exposures. The exploration is the best part.
How To Use The Nikon D850 Like A Pro with Moose Peterson Join Moose Peterson as he teaches you how to use the Nikon D850 like a pro! The D850 is an amazing camera that combines huge files with fast shooting and extremely high quality. In this class Moose teaches you the ins and outs of the D850’s menus and options to help you get the most out of the camera. From a tour of the buttons and dials on the exterior to a deep dive into the menus, you’ll finish this class with an understanding of how to configure the camera to maximize it for the way you shoot. As a bonus, Moose provides a PDF download containing his custom settings.
In Case You Missed It Join Moose Peterson for an in-depth lesson in how to pack your camera bag for air travel. If you’ve ever had to get from point A to point B with your gear, been worried about what to bring, what gear to check, how to make it all fit, and how to do it safely, then this is the class for you. Moose talks through several different job specific gear load outs, and packs each lesson with hard earned tips learned from traveling thousands of miles each year. It’s not all about the gear though, you’ll learn the importance of planning ahead, how your attitude can make all the difference, and much much more.
How I Went From Taking Photos Of Nothing To Award-Winning Architecture & Interior Photos Unlike a lot of photographers with a clear vision of their style and a desire to specifically shoot a certain kind of subject, I’ve been very happy to just get paid to take photos. Seriously, it’s the best job in the world and the happiest I’ve ever been. That said, I also don’t just take anything that’s thrown at me. I’ve worked at my craft and developed my business over the years to work specifically in a commercial and corporate photography field. I mostly deal with other businesses and, I think, I’m good at it.
I didn’t go to school for photography. I bought my first SLR just to take random photos of flowers, the ground, and my friends. I was soon asked to start taking photos FOR people, and that was how I started, way back, photography as a vocation. For the first several years it was events, headshots, a bit of editorial and almost anything anyone threw at me. A builder saw some of my landscape work and thought I might be good at interiors. I enjoyed shooting and was happy to take the work that was presented to me. I trimmed my portfolio down to the kind of work I was getting the most of: Commercial and corporate.
Interiors Focusing my work had the benefit of getting me more of it. Photographers always tell you to show what you want to shoot, but I found it difficult to let go of the “everything” mentality since I needed the cash. Interior work was also an interesting departure from portraits. A more controlled environment let me set my own pace to take images as I wanted them. I learned to move things around a scene, shift furniture and accessories to get the image near-perfect.
That level of perfection has, of course, changed over the years. I added lighting to help fill in shadow areas, or create contrast where there was none. I learned to wait, patiently, for the light to change and be in the right spot to get the best image. To show up before sunrise for east-facing exposures, and stay into dusk for the west.
I see myself as a technical photographer. I like the precision of straight verticals and good colours. I do extensive cloning to remove imperfections in post. I taught myself the pen-tool (thanks to my medium Wacom Intuos 4 for making this possible) to make precise masks for colour and tonal correction. Anything I can correct on location, however, I will. So with that in mind, I’ve invested heavily in my kit.
Gear Starting out with a used 1DMKII (1.3 crop) and the Canon 17-40 f/4.0 L with an aluminum Manfrotto 190 tripod, I quickly started acquiring specialty gear to improve on technical issues had on location: Lighting gear, more stable tripods with better ballheads, and tilt-shift lenses. If nothing else, I won’t compromise on quality if I can avoid it, and I have no regrets on any of the more expensive items that I’ve purchased to help me achieve it (and yes, this is a dream kit that I’m extremely fortunate to have).
Here’s an essentials list for me now:
Canon 5DMKIV, backup 5DMKIII with Really Right Stuff L-brackets
Canon 17mm f/4.0 L TS-E
Canon 24mm f/3.5 L TS-E
Canon 50mm f/2.8 L TS-E Macro
Canon Extender EF 1.4x III
B+W Circular polarizers
Really Right Stuff TVC-33 Carbon Fibre tripod
Arca Swiss D4 geared tripod head
2x Elinchrom Quadra ELB400
Elinchrom Ranger ELB1200
Microsoft Surface Pro for tethered shooting (I’ve recently made the switch from Adobe Lightroom to Capture One 10)
Tethertools AeroTab Universal Tablet System L4
TetherTools USB 3.0 USB Right-Angle cable & Tetherboost Pro USB 3.0 Core Controller
Another tripod that shall-not-be-named because it was cheaper, it’s broken twice, and I hate it
All of this lives in a ThinkTankPhoto Airport Takeoff, a Logistics Manager 30, and a Tenba 38” Rolling tripod Grip case (with stands and umbrellas).
Today over half my business is architectural and interior photography, a far cry from the events and portraits that I started out with. I’ve refined my business into specific niches. I still photograph people, places, and people in places (I will always have a passion for environmental portraiture).
I provide photos that have value to my clients. They help them to sell: sell themselves, or their projects, and their businesses. I’ve grown with a few and we both get better work to show. Many of these projects have gone on to win awards for my clients.
I admire photographers who have a singular vision and passion, and sometimes wish I had the same. But I’m also very fortunate and happy to be where I am and can support me and my family through photography, to be able to explore and grow and learn about myself too. At 36 I’m not the youngest person in my field, but I’m just as excited as anyone to see what will come next.