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What is a Flash Bracket and Why Do You Need One?

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

A flash bracket is a device that attaches to your camera and allows you to keep your flash at a greater distance than your built-in or shoe-mounted flash. The result is lighting that is more attractive and consistent. But it comes at the expense of adding quite of a bit of extra bulk to your camera.

In this day and age of MagMod and other portable lighting modifiers, are flash brackets still relevant for photography? Perhaps. Let’s dig into when and why you might need a flash bracket (or not).

Camera flash bracket

Parts of a flash bracket

Flash brackets typically consist of a metal frame that attaches to the tripod screw on the base of your camera. The top portion of the flash bracket will also have a cold shoe mount for attaching an external lighting source such as a speedlight flash.

Camera flash bracket

As a result of your flash no longer being connected to your camera’s hot shoe mount, you’ll have to add an extra accessory to complete your flash bracket setup. You’ll need a flash trigger, which can take the form of a dedicated TTL cord, sync cable, or a wireless radio transmitter.

Once you put it all together, you’ll have a beast of a camera rig.

Why use a flash bracket?

The reasons for needing a flash bracket depend entirely on what kind of photography you do, and the gear that you have. Generally speaking, flash brackets are useful for the following reasons.

Predictable, consistent lighting

Flash brackets allow you to have predictable, consistent lighting. This is especially key for event photographers who may need to roam between rooms with differing ambient lighting conditions. A flash bracket can help you achieve consistent lighting no matter the ambient light.

Among the most common applications for a flash bracket is at a red carpet event. If you look a the photographers working the event, almost all will have a flash bracket of some sort. That’s because they have no control over the ambient lighting at the event and must quickly take horizontal and vertical images of a fast-moving subject.

Camera flash bracket on a Canon camera

No need for an assistant

It holds your flash slightly off camera without the need to physically hold your flash off-camera or use an assistant. Again, this is most useful for event or wedding photographers who may not have an extra set of hands.

Helps you shoot in a vertical orientation

If you shoot a vertical image with direct flash attached to your camera’s hot shoe mount,  you might notice that your photo subject has a sideways shadow. You’ll have a similar challenge even when trying to use your flash’s built-in bounce card or a lighting modifier such as the MagMod MagBounce.

Most speedlights don’t rotate 90 degrees, with the exception of select Sony flashes with the Quick Shift Bounce feature. In order to keep your flash position consistent when shooting horizontal and vertical photos, you need a pivoting flash bracket to help you swivel the flash to always keep it above the camera.

Camera flash bracket

Shooting a vertical photo with the flash mounted to your camera’s hot shoe means your flash is at a sideways angle.

Camera flash bracket

Resulting image when shooting vertically without a flash bracket. Note the heavy shadow to the subject’s side.

Camera flash bracket

Shooting a vertical photo with a flash bracket keeps the flash on top of your lens, allowing for more consistent lighting.

Camera flash bracket

Resulting image when using a flash bracket. The side shadow is almost totally eliminated.

What about bounce flash?

Bouncing your flash off the ceiling or using the built-in bounce card is a great way to achieve nice lighting. But depending on the type of photography you do, you can’t always guarantee there will be a good surface to bounce your flash. When you need consistent lighting in unpredictable photography environments, a flash bracket could help you out.

Camera flash bracket

Shooting a vertical image with a bounce card results in awkward angles when shooting without a flash bracket.

Camera flash bracket

Resulting image when shooting without a flash bracket.

Camera flash bracket

Shooting a vertical image with a bounce card and a flash bracket results in an image with more balanced lighting.

Camera flash bracket

Resulting photo when shooting with a flash bracket.

Recommended flash brackets

Flash brackets can range from very simple and inexpensive, to more complex and thus more costly. A straight flash bracket such as this one by Vello will be pretty cheap, costing $20 or less. It’s much harder to find a rotating or swiveling flash bracket that will do so smoothly and without adding too much bulk. After much research, I ended up purchasing the model below, used mainly for my red carpet photography shoots.

Custom Brackets RF-PRO Rapid Fire Flash Bracket

This flash bracket (Custom Brackets RF-PRO Rapid Fire Flash Bracket) stands out for several reasons. First, it is somewhat thin and compact, especially when folded down. This makes it easy to store and carry with me on location. The layout of the flash bracket is also such that it keeps my speedlight relatively close to my camera body and lens, making for an overall low-profile rig.

Many other flash brackets such as this option from LimoStudio end up being extremely bulky as they elevate the flash way above the camera. This might be helpful if you need to move your flash around a lot, but it makes for a much bigger footprint.

Constructed of sturdy aluminum, the Custom Brackets unit is very solid, yet relatively lightweight considering the load that it is meant to carry. And finally, it is one of few flash brackets out there that easily and quickly rotates the flash.

Camera flash bracket

So do you need a flash bracket?

If you have the luxury of setting up lighting and controlling your photography environment, you probably don’t need a flash bracket. However, if you do a lot of on-location photography and don’t always have control over your lighting factors, a flash bracket could help you out, and be a handy addition to your bag.

Do you use a flash bracket for photography? If so, tell us what brand you use and in what photography scenarios below in the comments areas.

The post What is a Flash Bracket and Why Do You Need One? appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

A Lensbaby lens is a dream come true for artistic, creative, and ground-breaking photographers. A company made famous by their innovative effect lenses and optics, Lensbaby has captivated the industry for nearly 14 years. This company’s newest pride and joy is the Lensbaby Burnside 35, an f/2.8 lens that is unlike any other in their arsenal.

Swirly Bokeh

The Burnside 35 features the iconic “swirly bokeh” that Lensbaby is famous for. This effect is seemingly influenced by the Petzval objective which causes a swirly bokeh and vignette, and it is created by pairing two doublet lenses with an aperture stop in between.

The first lens corrects spherical aberrations and the second lens corrects for astigmatism. However, the pairing creates the swirly distortion that we all love.

You can adjust the intensity of the swirly bokeh by changing the aperture: f/2.8 will be most intense, while something like an f/16 won’t have any swirl at all. The thing that I find most compelling about Lensbaby is the fact that all of the effects are in-camera/in-lens, hence saving you a lot of time on the editing front.

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

Built-in vignetting

I was very intrigued to stumble upon this lens, as it has a feature I have never before seen in any other – a built-in vignette slider. Instead of needing to darken the edges of your photograph in post-processing, you can do an in-camera effect and save yourself the editing trouble.

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

It’s a manual lens

That being said, much like other lenses in the Lensbaby collection, this one is fully manual. The aperture is adjusted by rotating the aperture cuff at the very back of the lens rather than in the camera as is common for other lenses. The vignette slider is located near the cuff on the opposite side of the lens.

When rotating either the vignette slider or the aperture ring, you can feel each stop as there feels to be a minor indent that pops into place – a welcome feeling when wanting to make quick adjustments without looking up from the lens.

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

The focus is also manual, which may cause a bit of a learning curve for photographers that rely heavily on autofocus. However, I found that it was rather easy to see when the focus was captured or not and I was able to become proficient in a matter of a half hour.

Keeping the fully manual aspect of the lens in mind, this may not be the right piece of equipment for fast-paced action shooting. That being said, the artistic look of Lensbaby Burnside 35 can even make out of focus images look intentionally fuzzy (although any stylistic choice should look intentional, not as a mistake).

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens


The lens’s build feels incredibly sturdy (it’s made of metal) and it is visually striking. Though I’d consider the lens fairly light in comparison to other 35mm lenses, it is still a significant weight that adds to the impression of a very sturdy build.

The lens does not come with a case, and I’d highly recommend one. Despite a sturdy build, a good bump could crack something, and that’s not a risk worth taking.

The metal front lens cap is easy to slide on and off but holds very tight when it’s on; exactly how you’d want it to be. The rear mounting cap is equivalent to all the ones I’ve seen from other lenses. The box comes with a user guide with tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your lens, a welcome addition to any lens purchase.

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

The vignette slider in action

The vignette slider makes a significant, visual difference in the image. It’s great to be able to see right-off-the-bat how the image will look at the various vignette stops. As well, from a purely aesthetic perspective, it can be rather fun to watch the vignette open and close on the glass itself – it’s a bit like a reptilian creature blinking.

Do keep in mind that the frame will darken significantly when the vignette slider is set at its most closed point. As such, I actually found myself using the vignette slider almost like a neutral density filter to bring out the colors of a very bright sky.

The versatility of this lens is also notable enough to bring up. You are certainly not obligated to photograph at a low aperture number and a shallow depth of field, when bumping the aperture up to f/16, architectural photographs are exceptional at the 35mm focal length. Add the vignette slider and you have a dramatic image worthy of any gallery.

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

The vignette slider at the dark end of the scale.

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

The vignette slider at the light end of the scale.


This 35mm lens is nice and wide and can focus up to 6 inches away from the glass itself, excellent for macro photography. There isn’t much distortion on the subject that is in focus in the center, which is much appreciated.

Compatible with both full-frame cameras and crop sensors, I tested the Burnside 35 on my Canon 5D Mark IV (full-frame) and Canon 7D Mark II (crop sensor) to see how well it performed. I was brilliantly satisfied with its abilities for both, though it was clear to see that the full-frame yielded even more fantastic results than the crop sensor.

It’s worth mentioning that I was exceptionally pleased with how fluid the manual focus was as well as the vignette slider, both moved with ease and can be adjusted with just one or two fingers! This lens is exceptionally sharp when the focus is right, making sure that whatever you want to be the subject is very clear.

The equipment is small and easy to carry, another welcome sight in lenses.

Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens

At a retail price of $499.99 (available now), the Lensbaby Burnside 35 is worth every penny if I do say so myself. The Burnside 35 is available in the following mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, Sony Alpha A, Fuji X, Micro 4/3, Pentax K, and Samsung NX.

The post Review of the Lensbaby Burnside 35 Special Effects Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Choosing the Right Camera Bag for Outdoor and Wildlife Photography

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

Choosing a camera bag as a photographer can seem like a never-ending task, with no single model ever seeming to fit perfectly for all types of occasions. As wildlife and nature photographers, we are outdoor people. So predominately a backpack certainly makes the most sense in terms of getting our gear to the location, in a safe and comfortable manner, while also freeing up our hands for shooting or negotiating tough terrain.

Of course, a decent bag is essential when carrying and transporting heavy and expensive equipment. Protection is a key consideration, not only for the expensive gear, of course, but also for your back! Poorly designed packs that lack adequate padding and harnesses can be real torture on a long hike. If fitted wrong, long term that can manifest as back problems, something none of us want to increase our risks of getting. So picking a good camera bag is certainly worth spending some time on.

Wildlife photography camera bag

Load Capacity

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a camera bag or backpack is about the load capacity. How much photographic gear will you take, how much personal stuff do you need, do you need a laptop, or other items as well as your main kit? These are all considerations to think about.

Camera bag layout 24 wildlife

A good way to gauge the size of bag that you need is to lay out your camera gear as if it is going to be in a bag.How would you like it to fit, what cameras would you want to kit up in which combinations? Laid out on the floor, it will give you a good representation of the size of camera bag you’re going to require and what sort of size main compartment you’ll be in need of to house your core gear.

If you use long telephoto prime lenses, often you’ll find you need the largest of packs in order to fit them all. Especially if carrying additional lenses and back up bodies is something you require.

Strong durable materials

Strong durable materials.

Customize the Inside

Of course, for those of us who work with a variety of kits, from large lenses to smaller landscape packs, customization is also a factor. If a bag is solely focused on telephoto shooting, and maximizing on camera gear, it can seem cumbersome on days when you only require a single camera and pair of short lenses. To handle this issue, bags that have flexible inserts can be a great feature. They have the ability to swap out camera gear for personal gear, or just strip down the bag for a smaller load.

Internal dividers help organization - camera bag

In regards to the internal compartment’s design, most camera bags offer movable, custom dividers. These allow you to make sections within the main pack for housing and organizing your gear while protecting it from knocking and banging around while in transit.

In some models, the dividers are thinner to maximize gear space, with others offering more protection. However, I often find that due to the fact most companies use a velcro system (hook and loop) for repositioning the dividers, you can mix and match to get that perfect setup across bags. Yes, this is because you’ll probably end up buying a few camera bags.

Padded inserts camera bag


In addition to simply considering the capacity of a new camera bag for your gear, it’s also important to consider the size for travel. If you’re planning to use the pack when flying, be sure to check that it falls within the airline’s maximum allowance for carry-on luggage. There’s nothing worse than potentially having your bag gate checked because it’s too large.

Companies such as ThinkTank have a range of options for those who fly regularly, but for wildlife photographers, they are less practical for field work, once at your destination.

Another great option from the F-stop range of packs is removable inserts which then allow you to check the main bag, taking out the photography gear within the insert and safely storing it on board. A great best of both worlds solution. However, in my experience, camera bags with a noted reference to airline carry-on compatibility are rarely a problem.

Side access camera bag

Wildlife photography camera bags 22

Harness System

The carrying system is one area I can’t stress the importance of enough. When you are carrying heavy loads (my pack can often be over 20kg / 44lbs) having a comfortable and supportive back system is key to aiding in comfort and protecting your back!

With heavy loads, a padded waist belt is a must. When carrying a fully loaded kit, you’ll want the weight to be taken by your hips and not your shoulders. Waist belts can range in padding from thick to thin, with the former being great for longer hikes and heavy loads. However, the latter is better when traveling and pushing your bag into an overhead locker on a flight.

Good systems will have a strong buckle. Some even feature pockets on the waist belt that are handy for fast-access gear, such as a compact camera, trail snack, or a spare battery.

In regards to the shoulder straps, padding is less of a problem as long as they fit well (as the weight should be taken by the hips). Personally, I find straps that are too wide with too much padding uncomfortable. So I prefer the thinner, hiking-style designs of the more outdoor geared packs.

Companies such as F-Stop and LowePro offer good options. However, they are still not up to the perfection of true outdoor packs such as Osprey. In addition, some packs offer the customization of the back length. That is key to getting a perfect fit, adjustable heights in the back system means less stress pulling over the shoulders, again reducing fatigue on the trail.

If you hike a long way, these added features really make a difference. When testing the harness systems you’ll need to do it in person. So take your gear to your local camera store, load the bag up with weight, and get it fitted properly. Adjust the length of the back (if you can) to your height, so the waist belt is just above your hips and the shoulder straps come neatly over without pulling upwards, keeping tight, but not strained to your frame. Adjusting the sternum strap will keep them in position and aid in fit.


Pockets for accessories

In addition to the main compartment and harness, there are also a number of extra features to look out for.

Rain Cover

Rain covers are great for working in the elements as they add extra protection, from rain dust and sand, as well as also being handy to pull out and use as a dry/clean place to set your bag down on the ground. I prefer the type that is sewn into the pack, as they are less likely to be lost or forgotten and also are always there when you need them!

Camera bag rain cover

Outer Pockets

Of course, in addition to camera gear, we photographers also need personal supplies. External pockets are important for additions like spare layers, coats, as well as food and water to keep us going.

Personal storage

Tripod Carrier

Of course, you most likely haul a tripod on location, so having a decent attachment system on your pack is extremely handy for carrying your three-legged friends any extended distances. Lots of packs have options to carry a tripod on the side or back of the bag, depending on your preference. Having this ability to free up your hands when hiking is brilliant.

Laptop Sleeve

If you work on your laptop or travel a lot, a compartment to store or protect a laptop is an important addition for when you’re on the road. Some bags include padded sections designed for a laptop at the front or rear of the bag. Those that have them close to the harness area can make bags seem stiff and uncomfortable for any length of hiking, so are best used only when getting through an airport.

Hydration Pack Compatibility

For an extended hike, a hydration bladder is extremely handy for re-hydrating on the go. Packs that feature sleeves to keep the bladders separate often have them water sealed to help protect your gear from leaks. However, I always place mine in an additional dry bag for added precaution.

Custom Bags

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just can’t find the perfect camera bag or one that suits your style, needs and fit. In that case, another option to think about is that of customizing a regular bag for use with cameras.

Take a well-designed hiking bag with many of the features you need (good harness, lightweight, the right size, and ruggedness) and team it up with a way pod protecting your camera gear inside. This could be through the use of an insert, such as those made by F-stop bags or Tenba, or through the use of simply wrapping gear individually in padded camera wraps, to store your gear safely.

This is a super option for when you want a high volume of personal gear for hiking, traveling, and exploring but still want to carry a DSLR with a number of lenses safely. I’d also recommend looking into a small organizer case as well for organizing any miscellaneous items such as batteries and memory cards.

Custom bag


Overall, choosing a camera bag for wildlife photography can be tough. With so many options and requirements, in many ways, there will never be one perfect bag. However, by working through the list above, deciding on your most important and specific needs, you’ll certainly find a great option. One that suits you and keeps your gear safe on location for all your photography adventures.

A backpack is a simple essential for wildlife and nature photography. Spending time to make the right decision choosing a camera bag will be something you’ll certainly be glad you made the effort to do!

The post Choosing the Right Camera Bag for Outdoor and Wildlife Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Upgrading Your Camera – New Camera Body or a New Lens?

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

A point of contention amongst photographers everywhere who are budgeting for their new gear is one question, “What should I invest most in when upgrading my photography equipment, the camera body or the lens?” This can be a rather complicated answer, as it does depend on the type of photography that you’re interested in doing.

However, for the sake of a thoughtful article, we will be speaking in generalizations. To break it down, the image quality and ease comes from the lens but the capability comes from the camera body. Here is why.

Upgrading Your Camera - New Camera Body or a New Lens? featured image

dogs 2 - Upgrading Your Camera - New Camera Body or a New Lens?

The Camera Body

The body of the camera contains all of the controls necessary to record digital pictures. The camera is basically a container to house the sensor and the lens along with the electronics and controls. Camera bodies come in all shapes, sizes, and weights. The sensor can be a full-frame or a crop which affects how your images are sized and cropped.

Upgrading Your Camera - New Camera Body or a New Lens? - photo of a dog

The camera body you use will affect the dynamic range of your images, amount of noise in low light, a significant part of the autofocus, the frames-per-second, and the megapixel count (among many other things, but the aforementioned are the most commonly referenced). The camera body is what influences the number of pixels in a photograph and how fast you can shoot. It is also an integral part of the autofocus system.

From a physical standpoint, the camera body is what you’ll hold most in your hands and its comfort is very important when shooting for long hours. Higher end cameras also have better weather sealing than lower end cameras. From a logistics perspective, different camera bodies allow you to control more or fewer aspects of the picture taking process.

people in dark clothes - Upgrading Your Camera - New Camera Body or a New Lens?

The Lens

In laymen’s terms, lenses gather and focus light. Light strikes the front surface of the lens and passes through the glass element. Keeping this in mind, the difference between a good lens and a bad lens is that the former does a much better job at producing properly illuminated and sharp images. Lenses vary in focal length, aperture, type of glass, and so much more.

Upgrading Your Camera - New Camera Body or a New Lens? - portrait of a guy

The lens will make the biggest impact on the final outcome of an image. In regards to the artistic look of a shot, the lens will be in far more control than the camera body. This is because aperture, focal length (the perspective achieved due to the focal length), and sharpness are all dictated by the lens.

Lenses with a wide aperture are considered “fast” lenses because they can achieve the same exposure with a faster shutter speed.

Bonus question: What influences the autofocus, the camera or the lens? The electronic autofocus system is basically a motor. The motor housed inside of the lens will generally provide the greatest performance and highest accuracy. However, the focus motor in the lens is only one part of the process.

The camera body is what drives the motor. In addition to the mechanical components, the firmware in the camera body is what operates the autofocus system. The reason the lens is still the go-to even for autofocus is that it controls the accuracy, and the accuracy tends to be more important!

dog running - Upgrading Your Camera - New Camera Body or a New Lens?

Which Will Last You Longer?

Everyone will outgrow their equipment eventually, whether it be due to an improvement in skill, a desire for something better, or equipment dating itself too much. Essentially, interest in upgrading equipment comes from someone’s image-quality criteria.

Keeping this in mind, on the grand scale most camera bodies won’t differ in overall image quality unless you are shooting in difficult situations such as low light (in which case higher-end cameras have lower noise levels than others, as an example). The lens will make a significant impact on the final image result.

A good example of this is pairing a high-end lens with a low-end body and a high-end body with a kit lens. You will find that the audience will gravitate towards the photograph produced with the high-end lens / low-end body combination versus the opposite because the lens will impact the shot that significantly.

You’ll likely never be able to figure out what body is used in a shot, but you can often pick out the quality of the lens.

Which is the Better Investment When Upgrading - a New Camera Body or a New Lens?

A good lens will withstand the test of time as you try many different camera bodies (so long as it is compatible). The lens will travel with you from camera to camera. The lens will also help you create your specific style of shooting, as the aperture and perspective will mold to your personal preference.

Are you someone that prefers a shallow depth of field? Wide-angle fisheye? What about epic action shots with a tight zoom? All of the aforementioned are thanks to the lens, not the body.

Which is the Better Investment When Upgrading - a New Camera Body or a New Lens?

The Lens is a Better Investment

In my opinion, in regard to financial investment, a good lens is the better choice because it’ll last you much longer than the body (as you’ll generally be changing camera bodies faster than lenses). The lens also opens the door for you to create the images you dream of making.

That being said, the camera does determine if you’re capable of photographing what you want to photograph – but you can work around many limitations with an excellent lens. Cheap, low-quality lenses will affect both your shooting experience and the final product far more than the camera body will. This is because cheaper lenses tend to be slow, which results in a harder time capturing low-light scenes or achieving a super shallow depth of field.

Which is the Better Investment When Upgrading - a New Camera Body or a New Lens?

The lens will also retain more of its value (both from a monetary and photography standpoint) than the camera body when talking about resale value. This is because camera bodies are upgrading and advancing at a far faster rate, thusly, older bodies become obsolete quickly.

The same lenses, on the other hand, will likely still be used five to 10 years from now (if not even longer).

The best investment is the lens that lets you capture all of the pictures you want. You’ll find ways to work around body limitations, I guarantee it! Though when you do upgrade that camera body, you’ll appreciate the ease even more as you’ll no longer have to work around previous limits.

Which is the Better Investment When Upgrading - a New Camera Body or a New Lens?

The post Upgrading Your Camera – New Camera Body or a New Lens? appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Quick Video Review – What is the Best Camera Bag or Way to Carry Your Gear?

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

There are many ways to carry around your precious camera gear – so which is the best? Well, that is a very subjective question, that only you can answer. In this video from the Camera Store, Jordan demonstrates some of the pros and cons of the most popular options.

Here is a list of all the camera carrying bags, straps and other options mentioned in the video and a few extras.

List of camera straps mentioned:

Photography backpacks:

Other kinds of bags:

OR read this to avoid having a bag collection in your closets like I do – 5 Camera Bag Hacks to Help You Curb the Temptation of Buying More.

Others options not mentioned:

What do you use?

So of all those options, which do you use to carry your gear? Are their other options we’ve missed? Please tell us in the comments below.

The post Quick Video Review – What is the Best Camera Bag or Way to Carry Your Gear? appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Avoid Blurry Long Exposure Images with Proper Tripod Setup

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

A tripod is an important piece of gear for all photographers, but even more so for those who are hooked on shooting long exposure photography at the blue hour like myself (I primarily shoot waterfront cityscapes). Those photos require exposures lasting for minutes with a use of neutral density (ND) filter. Therefore, a sturdy tripod is absolutely essential to keep photos sharp.

Avoid Long Exposure Photographers’ Worst Nightmare by Setting Your Tripod Low

A sturdy tripod is a must for long exposure photography, as there is no chance at all of shooting sharp photos by hand-holding a camera for minutes.

Get a Best Tripod Within Your Budget

This article is not your ultimate tripod buying guide (dPS already has an excellent article on that here), but let me mention a few brief pointers first.

First of all, unlike your camera body, a tripod isn’t something you will upgrade very often. In fact, a good one could last a lifetime, so it’s advisable to get the best possible tripod within your budget. Here are a few other things to look out for when choosing your tripod.

Load Capacity:

The maximum load capacity of your tripod should be at least twice or preferably three times the maximum weight of your camera body and biggest lens combined. For example, my trusty Manfrotto MT190CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod supports up to 7kg, which is more than sufficient for my Nikon D610 (850g) and Nikon 18-35mm (f/3.5-4.5) (385g) combined (1.25kg).

Tripod Head:

Your tripod head also has a maximum load capacity, and it should at least match that of your tripod. If your tripod supports up to 7kg, but the head only supports up to 5kg, then the load capacity of the entire tripod system is to be 5kg, as the maximum load comes from the weaker component. For your information, I own the SIRUI K-20X Ballhead, which supports a whopping 25kg.

Tripod Weight:

Decent tripods are commonly made of aluminum or carbon fiber. Both are equally good, but carbon fiber tripods are lighter yet more resistant to vibration (hence they are also pricier, too). My Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod weighs 1.6kg (3.5 lbs.) while its aluminum counterpart the Manfrotto MT190XPRO3 weighs 2kg (4.5 lbs.), with all the other specs being pretty much identical).

Tripod Leg Sections:

While 3-section legs provide a more stable platform, tripods with 4-section legs have a shorter closed (folded up for transportation) length and make it easier to pack into a suitcase when traveling. For example, closed length for my 3-section leg Manfrotto MT190CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod is 61 cm (24 inches), but its 4-section counterpart the Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4 is only 52 cm (20.5 inches).

If you ask me, I recommend choosing nothing but 3-section tripod legs. I personally won’t compromise stability for convenience. That said, my tripod still fits into my check-in luggage (after taking out the center column). Before purchasing, I even tested it by bringing my luggage to the camera shop!

Tall Isn’t Always Cool

Having a good tripod is one thing, but using it correct way is another. I see way too many photographers fully extending tripod legs even when it’s not necessary. The rule of thumb is that the higher the tripod legs are extended, the less stable it gets, leaving more prone to high winds and undermining your chance of taking sharp photos. The photo below (at Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, with an altitude of 552m) is a good example.

Victoria peak - Avoid Long Exposure Photographers’ Worst Nightmare by Setting Your Tripod Low

To take blur-free shots here, I kept the tripod low and put the lens through the bars, rather than fully extending the tripod legs and center column to shoot from above the railing.

Instead of fully extending the tripod legs (and even the center column, which is a big NO-NO) to position the camera above the railing, I put the lens through the bars and kept the tripod as low as needed to minimize the risk of vibration.

Actually, I learned this from a previous mistake. I shot at this exact location the previous year but screwed up the opportunity by setting up the tripod too tall (over the railing by extending the center column) in high winds, and none of the photos came out sharp.

Center column - Avoid Long Exposure Photographers’ Worst Nightmare by Setting Your Tripod Low

Extending the center column in high winds or when shooting long exposure photography is a recipe for a disaster. It’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to capture sharp photos this way.

Long Exposure Photographers’ Worst Nightmare

Let’s say you’re shooting waterfront cityscapes at blue hour with a few minutes of long exposure at a tourist-centric area (places like Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, The Bund in Shanghai, etc.) on your holiday. It may be your once-in-a-lifetime trip, and the weather is clear and perfect.

Such places are always crowded especially at sunset and dusk times with herds of tourists flocking to take snaps, selfies, and groupies. Extending all the tripod legs inevitably takes more space on the ground, which has a huge risk of someone accidentally kicking it during long exposure and ruining your potentially epic shot. This is long exposure photographers’ worst nightmare (and happened to me once).

Crowded spot - Avoid Long Exposure Photographers’ Worst Nightmare by Setting Your Tripod Low

At a crowded photography location like this (Merlion Park in Singapore), keep your tripod setup as low as possible so that it takes less space on the ground and reduces the risk of someone accidentally kicking your tripod legs.

Tripod Alternatives

To avoid such a nightmare, I’m also using a sort of a tripod alternative that helps stabilize my camera setup. A clamp tripod like the Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp without Stud comes in handy at places with high winds or at crowded city shooting locations where you feel worried about someone accidentally kicking your tripod legs.

It’s not that you can use a clamp tripod anywhere you want, as it needs a railing or something that it can be clamped onto. But where possible, this setup can be rock solid (with a load capacity of 15kg) and the resulting long exposure photos are appreciably sharper than those shot using a regular tripod.

Super clamp in use - Avoid Long Exposure Photographers’ Worst Nightmare by Setting Your Tripod Low

A Super Clamp is like a game changer, it’s small and strong.

Set up clamp - Avoid Long Exposure Photographers’ Worst Nightmare by Setting Your Tripod Low

To mount a DSLR on a Super Clamp, first, plug a separately-sold Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter (or a cheaper alternative Manfrotto 037 Reversible Short Stud) into a Super Clamp socket and secure it with the double lock system. Then mount a tripod head with DSLR on the mounting platform adapter, just like you do with your regular tripod.


I hope these tips help you avoid making the same mistakes I did. Don’t blindly follow the mantra that says, “Extend your tripod and place the viewfinder at your eye level” (you’ve probably heard about that before!).

There’s nothing wrong with setting up your tripod low and bending down. This increases your chance of capturing sharp long exposure photos in high winds and also prevents your tripod legs from getting accidentally kicked.

If you have any other tips or experiences to share, please do so in the comments below.

The post Avoid Blurry Long Exposure Images with Proper Tripod Setup appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Review of the New Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Holster

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

As more camera harnesses and holsters hit the market, it seems that traditional camera straps are becoming a thing of the past. The latest takes the form of the Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Holster.

Designed by professional landscape photographer Andy Cotton, this holster is made for the active photographer. The compact carrying system attaches your camera to any bag for easy access while keeping your hands free and your gear safe. The G3 Strapshot launched in October 2017 and I tested it out to see if it was a viable camera holster option. Here’s what I found.

What’s in the box

The G3 Strapshot Holster is available in two color choices: Charcoal Grey and Realtree Xtra Camouflage. The latter color is intended for wildlife photographers wishing to blend in with a variety of habitats.

Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Camera Holster

I opted for the neutral Charcoal Grey option and appreciated its tough yet stylish synthetic canvas material. The product arrives in an accessory-laden box. Here’s what you get:

  • Velcro-Wrap holster
  • Mounting strap
  • Hand strap
  • Quick release safety tether
  • High-Impact split ring
  • Two sets of camera attachment pieces (an aluminum camera hub and rubber washer with screw)
  • One set of tripod mount attachment pieces
  • Allen key (to tighten screws)
  • 3-year warranty against manufacturing defects

Setting up

Given all of the accessories in the box, one of the best inclusions was a visual setup guide. You should absolutely read the instructions at least twice as the initial setup can take some time.

One thing to note is that you don’t necessarily need to use all of the accessories in the box. For example, the hand strap seems optional as you could use the holster just fine without it.

Attach the holster to your bag

Initiate set up the system by attaching the Velcro-wrap holster to your bag or belt of choice. Big Velcro flaps make it quick and easy to attach to straps or belts of just about any thickness. You’ll notice a long strap up top known as the Top Tether, which is adjustable and can be looped through the top handle of your bag for extra security.

Mount attachments to your camera

Next, attach the aluminum camera hub and rubber washer to your camera’s tripod mount. This is when you can also add the hand strap as part of it attaches to the camera in the same area. Secure everything using the included screw and Allen key.

If you added the hand strap, finish attaching it by looping the velcro through your camera’s built-in metal loop (where you would normally attach a neck strap).

Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Camera Holster

Finally, the camera is secured one last time via the bottom quick release camera tether. This strap attaches to your camera using the included High Impact split ring. You can also secure the tether through your camera’s built-in metal loops if they are big enough.

Now you’re ready to secure the camera to the G3 Strapshot Holster. Simply slide the camera in at 90 degrees and twist to lock it into place. Your camera is now secured to the holster.

Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Camera Holster

What works well

Lots of extra security

First off, I greatly appreciate the extra security build-ins factored into the G3 Strapshot Holster. Having used many other “alternative” camera holding systems, I’ve had my fair share of them fail, resulting in broken cameras and lenses. The G3 Strapshot gives you not one but several extra tethers to make you feel like your camera is ultra secure.

You get a hand strap

The inclusion of the hand strap was a nice surprise. Even though it doesn’t seem absolutely necessary in order to use the G3 Strapshot it’s a compact, well-built accessory that you can use on its own.

Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Camera Holster

The hand strap in action.

Solid construction

Finally, the overall construction of the G3 Strapshot Holster is very solid and feels like it would hold up well over time. The Velcro-Wrap holster is made of durable canvas, and the big flaps make it very easy to add and remove from a bag.

Compare that to other holsters that might be smaller, but require tedious fiddling with small screws and knobs just to secure it to your bag.

What could be improved

Too many accessories

As you can probably tell from the summarized setup instructions above, there are lots of pieces to the G3 Strapshot Holster. This can be initially very overwhelming and a potential problem if you ever wish to use your camera without the holster. The same problem of having too much stuff also applies to the extra straps and tethers included with the holster. Yes, they give you added security, but at the cost of a more bulky rig.

Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Camera Holster

The awkward fit on small cameras

Initially, I tried the G3 Strapshot on a Sony a6300 with the kit lens attached. Even after following the instructions, the camera didn’t securely lock into place. That is, it felt locked into the G3 Strapshot’s proper mount and wouldn’t fall out, but the camera itself freely spun around in circles. After calling Cotton Carrier directly to see if this was an issue, they insist it is part of their design.

Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Camera Holster

Small cameras such as the Sony a6300 with 16-50mm kit lens tend to sit at an awkward angle, probably due to not enough weight to hold them in place properly.

Once I tried the G3 Strapshot on my bigger, heavier Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens attached, it felt like a more secure connection. While it was still possible to spin the camera around even when in the mount, the weight of the camera held in place.

Conclusion: the G3 Strapshot seems to work better with DSLRs or heavier cameras. It’s not necessarily a good option for small point and shoots or really compact mirrorless cameras with small lenses attached. Also on that note, the hand strap also feels too big when attached to smaller cameras, but it fits my DSLR perfectly.

Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Camera Holster

Best used on a backpack (or upright surface)

Cotton Carrier’s website claims that the G3 Strapshot Holster will “fasten to the strap of a backpack, sling style bag, or even your belt.” While it’s entirely true that the holster can fasten to all of those straps, it isn’t necessarily comfortable in each scenario.

I tried attaching the holster to my Think Tank TurnStyle Sling Bag. Everything secured properly, but it was very uncomfortable to wear the bag with the holster attached to a strap running diagonally across my body. I also found it challenging to remove my camera from the holster since it has to line up in a certain way that is hard to do from a diagonal angle.

Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Camera Holster

In Conclusion

Overall, it’s tough to give the Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Holster a conclusive rating. On one hand, it seems perfect if you’re shooting with a heavy DSLR and wearing a backpack. But if you’re attempting a more compact setup such as a small mirrorless camera and a bag other than a backpack, it leaves much to be desired.

Overall rating: 7/10 – It would be a 9/10 if I was still shooting primarily with a DSLR and a backpack, but a 7/10 when using a mirrorless with a sling bag (my current go-to setup).

The post Review of the New Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot Holster appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Review of the Godox AD200 Pocket Flash

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

Can you think of the ideal camera flash which can fit in your pocket, has almost 3-times output or regular speedlights, and also features a modeling light? The Godox AD200 is one such pocket flash (not if you are wearing skinny fit jeans) which meets all three of those expectations. That is why this flash has been my personal favorite outdoor fashion shoot light source.

To give you a quick overview of some of the features of the Godox AD200 flash, it features TTL, HSS (high-speed sync) up to 1/8000th of a second, 60 guide number, multi-stroboscopic flash feature and second-curtain sync.

If these specifications make you interested in this Godox flash, let me share my personal views and experiences after using it for more than six months now.

Review of the Godox AD200 Pocket Flash

Built Quality and Physical Overview

When you hold the Godox AD200 flash in your hand your first reaction might be that it is too heavy, as it weighs about 1 kg (2 lbs). Although it is heavier than any flagship flash than you might have used to date, at the end of this review you may realize that it is still worth carrying along to a shoot.

The built quality seems and feels durable and strong, almost a par with Canon and Nikon speedlights.

Talking about the physical overview, the front side of Godox AD200 has an interchangeable flash head mount. This allows you to mount the standard Fresnel flash head or the bare bulb flash head.

The only difference between this flash as compared to a speedlight is that the head of the AD200 cannot be rotated. And, the AD200 cannot be mounted on a camera, it can only be used as an off-camera flash. This could be a concern for some, but actually, this flash is not built to be used on-camera anyway.

The standard Fresnel head

The Fresnel flash head is ideal for situations when you are shooting without a light modifier and want to use it as any other speedlight. But an additional feature that the AD200 has is two LED strips on this head, which can use used as a modeling or continuous light. The continuous light could help the camera to focus in low-light conditions, instantly.

Bare bulb

The bare bulb flash head is ideal when while using this Godox flash with a light modifier, as the bulb is omnidirectional. I would choose to avoid using this head otherwise, as it is fragile and could easily be damaged shooting without a light modifier.


On the back side of the flash rests an AV display panel which is big enough for you to clearly see the various icons being displayed. There are five buttons dedicated to respective functions, a dial to adjust the flash exposure and the infrared sensor panel. The placement of the buttons, dial, and the screen is exactly what you as a photographer would desire in a flash.

On one side of this pocket flash, you will spot the Lithium battery slot, an unlock switch to change the flash head and a rubber cover which covers the 3.5mm sync cord jack and wireless control port. On the other side sits the ON/OFF switch, mini USB port, and a 1/4″ tripod/stand mounting hole.

Review of the Godox AD200 Pocket Flash

Highlighted Features and Performance

TTL (Through-the-lens)

This pocket flash by Godox features TTL metering, a technology which allows the flash to sync with the camera and automatically set the flash exposure based on the camera exposure. Using a flash in TTL mode is exactly the same as using the camera in automatic mode. The camera exposure helps the flash to set its own output value accordingly to correctly expose the frame or the subject.

The TTL mode performance on the Godox AD200 is precise in a majority of situations and it works perfectly in sync with the camera exposure to properly expose the subject. I rarely came across any instances where I got an underexposed or overexposed photo when shooting in TTL mode. Even if I did encounter exposure issues, I used the FEC (flash exposure compensation) feature to overcome it.

HSS (High-Speed Sync)

The Godox AD200 can sync up to 1/8000th while using its HSS functionality. This is ideal for situations where you want to freeze a fast-moving subject or shoot at an outdoor location where you need to control the light.

Review of the Godox AD200 Pocket Flash

Rear-Curtain Sync

Using the rear-curtain (or second-curtain) sync feature of the Godox AD200, you can shoot some really creative and cool photos with long exposures.

Ideally, when you shoot using a flash, the light gets fired from the flash the moment the shutter opens. So if you are shooting a long exposure photo of two seconds, the flash will fire the moment you press the shutter release button and whatever happens after that does not get exposed properly.

But by using the second-curtain sync feature, you can instead make the flash fire right before the shutter closes. Considering the above example, the flash will now fire just before the 2-second exposure is completed and the shutter closes.

Using this feature might sound confusing, but trust me, once you practice you may fall in love with it.

Flash Exposure Compensation

Assume flash exposure compensation to be exactly like the exposure compensation feature of your DSLR camera. If you feel that you are not getting the desired exposure in your photo while using the flash in TTL, or if you plan to try something different, you can adjust the flash exposure compensation.

This amazing feature lets you reduce or increase the flash output as per your desire, all you have to do is adjust the exposure value to your requirements. This is basically like shooting in aperture priority or shutter priority mode, without getting into manual mode.

Review of the Godox AD200 Pocket Flash

Flash Output

The AD200 has a guide number of 60 and the flash output that you get is almost three times of what any flagship speedlight can provide. I was able to expose my subject correctly while shooting outdoors in bright daylight conditions, and believe me when I say that the flash is powerful enough to overpower the background light.

Imagine using three speedlights at a time and on the other hand using just one Godox AD200 flash. The light output shall be almost same. For me, it has performed amazingly well even in low light conditions as I used the built-in LED light to ensure that the focus and flash exposure were correct.

Godox AD200 Flash Recycle Time

The recycle time also plays an important role while deciding on the perfect flash, so here are some tests that I conducted to figure out the recycle time of this flash at various powers.

The recycle time on this flash at full power is quite impressive:

  • While using the flash at 1/1 (full) power, the recycle time that I got was just less than 2 seconds.
  • While using the flash at 1/2 power, the recycle time that I get was almost half a second.

I mostly use a flash when I’m shooting fashion and portraits, and with this swift recycle time I hardly miss any shots. Even if you plan to buy this flash for wedding, action, or event photography, I am sure you will thank me later.

Review of the Godox AD200 Pocket Flash

Would I recommend this?

At $299, this pocket flash by Godox looks like an ideal choice for a fashion, wedding, event, or even sports photographer. This flash has almost all the features that you, as a hobbyist or as a professional photographer, would require to get the desired results, with almost three times the power of a regular speedlight.

I have been using this portable flash for almost 6 months now, and I do not have any major complaint about this beauty, except for the display panel which could be better for outdoor visibility.

The best part about the Godox AD200 is that there is a universal model of this pocket flash. This means that you can pair this flash with the compatible trigger (Canon, Nikon or Sony) and use it as an off-camera light source. So if you own multiple brand cameras, this is another reason you should consider investing your $299 in this Godox flash.

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How to Choose the Best Portrait Lens According to Three Professional Photographers

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School, Portrait Photography

Here on dPS, we’ve covered this topic in previous articles. For example: How to Choose the Perfect Portrait Lens.

In the following videos, see which lens these photographers chose and why.

85mm versus the 70-200mm f/2.8

Portrait photographer, Manny Ortiz takes you to a live shoot in this video. Watch as he shoots the same subject, in the same location with both the 85mm f/1.4 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses.

See how they differ and watch all the way to the end to find out which is his favorite lens and why.

Is there such a thing as the “best” portrait lens?

In this next video, Gabriel Sanchez (Gabe) talks about the four lenses he uses most often for portraits and which are his go-to and favorites.

He goes over the 24mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.2, and a Sigma 85mm f/1.4, and the benefits and results you can get with each lens. See why he says there is no “perfect” or best portrait lens, watch to the end.

Favorite lenses – fashion photographer

Finally, get a different point of view from fashion photographer Julia Trotti as she explains why the 35mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.2 are her favorite lenses.

Which lens do you use for portraits?

So at the end of the day which lens are you going to choose for doing portraits? Do you have any favorites? Tell us which lenses you use and why in the comments below.

If you’re still undecided here are some more dPS articles to help you out:

The post How to Choose the Best Portrait Lens According to Three Professional Photographers appeared first on Digital Photography School.


Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School, Portrait Photography

In this article, I’ll show you several easy and simple portrait setups you can create even on a tight budget.

Find a model to trade with

Getting started in the photography business is difficult, especially if you have a tight budget and not a lot of extra cash floating around. The same can be said for starting a modeling career. The trick is to get noticed and get your name out there. You need to show people what you can do. That means you need to create a portfolio of work. People need to see what you are capable of creating.

Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget

One of the images from the shoot. I used just the one light and the flash.

Ironically, models need the same types of experiences. They need a portfolio they can show off. If you are just starting out in either industry, one of the best things you can do is find someone who is willing to trade services with you. Find a model looking to build their portfolio and then work with him or her to help you create a body of work that shows off your abilities.

It’s a win, win situation for both of you. The trick when starting out is to find ways to network and connect with people so that you are creating mutually beneficial relationships. My main focus has always been natural light and fine art photography. I do shoot family portraits and sporting events as well, but the majority of my focus is on natural portraiture and creating art.

Recently, I met a young woman who was interested in modeling. We got to talking and agreed to help each other out. I would supply her with finished images for an Instagram feed she wished to start. In exchange, she would help me with several upcoming projects and also help me create some images for my stock portfolio.

Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget

In this shot, we added props found at a thrift shop. You can see the wainscoting we used as flooring.

Doing it on a budget

The trick then became how to complete the project on a tight budget. I don’t own a strobe light or any beauty dishes. I use sunlight to create my portraits, and I own one flash which I rarely use. The reality is I prefer natural light. Given a choice between studio lighting or natural light, I will always choose the later.

Open shade is one of my favorite ways of creating beautiful soft even light that flatters every type of skin. The model in question wanted to create several different looks, and after discussing the images with her, I realized I would need some lighting. There was no way we could create those different looks she wanted using just natural light.

The project became more about following through with our plans on a very limited budget. Meghan, the model, agreed to be in charge of planning the wardrobe and finding the props. I needed to provide the photography expertise. Between the two of us, we created 10 different looks for less than $200.

Let’s take a look at the set up for three of those shots.

Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget

Cheap lights don’t have a lot of power. In this shot, you can see how close I had to position the lights.

Any artificial lighting used in the following images was created using a very cheap continuous lighting kit (under $100), my Canon Speedlite and a large piece of white styrofoam we used as a reflector. The backdrops are all old table clothes, the flooring we used is two pieces of wainscoting purchased from a local home reno store, and

Meghan’s wardrobe was a combination of her clothing, some borrowed from friends and items found at thrift shops.

Setup #1

This image was shot using natural light. I am very lucky to have a 9-foot wide window in my studio that never receives direct sunlight. It makes for lovely soft directional lighting. The backdrop was set up at a 90-degree angle to the window.

Then one of the small continuous lights was used to illuminate the backdrop. Meghan’s blue pants needed some separation from the blue background. Without the light, it would have been easy to lose her clothing in the backdrop.

Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget

The whole shoot took place in my house in my studio which I have converted from a living room.

One advantage to shooting indoors in a protected space is the luxury of tethering the camera to the computer so you can assess the images before shooting a bunch of different poses. In this case, the first few shots were created and assessed through a tethered camera but then once we had the settings correct we shot the remainder of the images untethered.

Here are the results of this first setup.

Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget

In this image, I edited the background and took the wrinkles out of the tablecloth. Please note this is my favorite type of light, natural.

Here’s the untouched image. Despite our best efforts to iron the backdrops before use, the wrinkles were quite evident. It’s a lot of work to remove the wrinkles.

Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget

Here is the file with the wrinkles. I do think that sometimes a less than perfect backdrop can add depth to an image.

Setup #2

The goal when creating a portfolio is to show some diversity, especially for the model. A model needs to adapt to different situations and be able to morph into different types of looks.

So with this in mind, this second set up is much different from the first set of shots. Natural light plays far less heavily into the look. In this case, the flash was used. The flash was aimed upwards and back at a piece of white styrofoam which bounced and diffused the light.

In this setup, the flash cast a large shadow on the backdrop. So to lessen the shadow on the backdrop, the large continuous light was once again placed behind and to the side of the model – this time to light the backdrop. This second look is far darker and different from the first set we created.

Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget

There are some slight changes to the lighting in this setup.

Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget

This is a much more dramatic look.

Simple Portrait Setups You Can Create on a Tight Budget

Here’s a headshot of the same clothing set up. The lighting was only changed slightly.

Setup #3

This final image was shot without the use of natural light at all. By this time it was 9 pm, and the light was completely gone.

The setup utilizes two continuous lights as well as the flash. One light was placed behind the backdrop. It shone through the red backdrop to create a vignette of sorts. The second light was placed on the left side of the model and illuminated her face.

The goal of this shot was to create something fairly dramatic. Once again a few simple adjustments allowed for a totally different look. The end of the softbox around the continuous light was also included in the frame again trying to create a diverse look.

The light placed behind the backdrop created a pretty glow and a natural vignette.

In Conclusion

The changes to the setup took very little time. We shot lots of different outfits and poses using just a few simple principles.

  1. Be diverse in the looks created.
  2. Highlight the beauty of the model.
  3. Be picky and get the best photo possible using the equipment available to you.

Setting up a photo shoot doesn’t have to be complicated. Be smart! Plan ahead! Find ways to make something that could potentially be an expensive endeavor work to your advantage.

Below is a collection of some of the other images we shot that day. It was hard work, but it was also a lot of fun.

Same clothing and backdrop as setup #3 but we moved both lights around the front and used the flash. Again a different look.

Converting images to black and white and using dramatic lighting is a lot of fun to try.

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