831 Tattoo Removal

Chris found a great video with a look behind the scenes of how the Canon Flash system configures and triggers flashes with nothing but light. The code is decoded and if you’re good with electronics, you now have a great way to trigger Canon flashes remotely with an infrared LED. Chris is also fascinated by a photo project about the Maori culture of New Zealand and their Ta Moko face tattoos.. and how they don’t show up in an ancient photographic process.

Photo by Alex Hockett

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Photo tours with Chris Marquardt:
» May 2017: Svalbard — Arctic (sold out)
» Oct 2017: Bhutan — The Happiness Kingdom (only 1 spot open)
» May 2018: New York Tilt-Shift
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» all photo tours

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tfttf729 – Makers, Filters and Styles

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Chris talks about MakerFaire and Arduino in the context of photography. Dan has a question on high-speed sync flash and how it would work on his Pentax in a sports photography situation. Troy wonders if variable ND filters are any good and Jeremy has a question regarding picture style settings in your camera. We’ll also listen in on a wonderful discussion between Magnum photographers Martin Parr and Bruce Gilden.

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Upcoming events:
» Jun 2016: Lofoten, Norway
» Sep 2016: Donegal
» Feb 2017: Lake Baikal, Siberia
» May 2017: Svalbard/Spitzbergen
» Nov 2017: Bhutan
» all events

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tfttf725 – Diamond In The Rough

Receive free updates Frank is interested in color spaces and wonders which one to choose in the camera, Hampus calls in from the Himalayan trek and needs some hints regarding what to see in Ireland (hint: Donegal) and Iceland. Ben finds weird artefacts on his flash photos and wonders if it has to do with … Continue reading "tfttf725 – Diamond In The Rough"

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How the Shot was Done: SNK Police Cosplay

Cosplay-shoot-first-shot

I do a lot of cosplay (short for costume play) photography with friends, and I was asked by some to do a cosplay crossover photo shot (Shingeki no Kyojin / Psycho Pass) with them. They sent me some reference shots from which I decided to create a slightly futuristic, detective movie kind of look. I also thought I’d experiment with shooting to fit a wide movie crop to suit the look of the shoot. In this article I’ll show you how I set up, shot and processed two photos from the shoot, including the one above. If you’d like to see more photos from the shoot, you can do so here.

So on to how the shot was done . . .

The right location

Our location for the shoot was the rear of Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia. It’s a futuristic looking building with lots of metal, glass and interesting angles in its construction. For the shot above I wanted to take advantage of these textures to accentuate the futuristic look, so we first went to the alcove depicted below in this behind the scenes photo.

Cosplay-shoot-first-shot-BTS

Lighting the shot

It was dusk so there was little light getting into the alcove from what became camera left. I wanted to keep that light in the shot as a fill, but my key light was going to be a ring flash – my Orbis ring flash. This kind of light gives a dramatic look with almost no shadow. It’s stark and flat but works well with this kind of scene. In my first test shot I noticed a fantastic unexpected effect of the brushed metal backdrop: anistropic reflection. This created a bright diagonal streak across the back of the shot.

To get the right balance of fill to key, I set the camera to 1/125sec f/2.8 ISO160 and adjusted the power on the flash to get the right brightness for the shot. This ended up being towards the bottom end of the flash power. Following is a lighting diagram and the photo as it came out of camera:

Cosplay-shoot-first-shot-diagram

Cosplay-shoot-first-shot-raw

Processing the image

In post processing the major changes I made were to increase the contrast and clarity, as well as a significant temperature move towards blue, and tint shift to green. With a movie aspect ratio crop and heavy vignette, plus a few small tweaks to the exposure settings, I ended up with this final photo (below).

Cosplay-shoot-first-shot

The second location shoot

I love the self-conscious, melodramatic, slow motion walking scenes in movies, and these guys’ outfits were perfect for a shot like that. I wanted to keep a consistent look with the first shot, but give this one its own twist. To do this I took the group out into an area with more space and a cool geometric glass patterned wall as the backdrop. I added a pair of flashes behind the group for some rim lighting, but I deliberately chose to keep them in view for some dramatic lens flares. I replaced the ring flash with an on-camera flash and balanced that to be under the exposure from the rim lighting. This gave me a low key dramatic look (drama was the theme of the night!). Again I set the camera exposure to just give a hint of the background – 1/40sec f/4.5 ISO500 – and dialed the power of the flash to get the balance I was after.

Rather than try and pose the shot, which would look too forced, I got them into a staggered starting position and simply asked them all to walk toward the camera. To get them in an appropriate mood and make them feel badass, I played this tune (which I consider to be the best slow walking music ever) on my phone and it totally did the trick.

Following is a lighting diagram and the photo straight out of the camera.

Cosplay-shoot-second-shot-diagram

Cosplay-shoot-second-shot-raw

I processed this photo in essentially the same way as the previous shot, to get a consistent look and feel between it and the rest of the photos in the shoot. Please visit this gallery to see all the images at a decent size.

Cosplay-shoot-second-shot

I really love cosplay photography because I get to go crazy and pull out all the creative stops, to make over the top photos, that suit the over the top characters and plot from anime. I’m fortunate to have fun, creative and energetic friends to work with to create these shots. If you’d like to see more of my cosplay and other photo shoots, you should like my Facebook page where I post photos regularly, and occasionally discuss how they were made.

Which of the two shots is your favourite, and why?

Models featured in these photos:

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An Introduction to the Inverse Square Law

I don’t know about you, but I was never much of a math student.  I needed a tutor in high school for both geometry and physics.  I chose a double major in college (Journalism/English) that required no math.  I practiced law for fourteen years, where any math I needed was either pretty easy or done on a calculator.  Even when I ditched my briefcase for a camera bag and embarked on a new career, I felt pretty secure in the knowledge that confusing math had no place in the world of photography.

And then the Inverse Square Law reared its ugly head.

It didn’t jump out and attack me right away.  No– the Inverse Square Law is much too cunning for that.  It was patient.  It bided its time.  It waited for me to get comfortable in my new skin a professional photographer.  It waited for me to feel secure in my knowledge and execution of studio lighting and off-camera flash.  And then it showed itself.

We all deal with light.  It is the defining element of what we do.  We capture light in a box and use it to tell a story.  Some photographers put themselves in the “natural light” category, while others work their magic with a firm grasp of off-camera flash.  While the Inverse Square Law comes into play more often with strobes, it is absolutely a concept that applies to every light source, and therefore affects every photographer.

So, what is it?  In all of its overly technical glory, the Inverse Square Law– as it applies to photography– is an equation that relates the intensity of a light source to the illumination it produces at any given distance.

Huh?

Regardless of how you classify yourself as a photographer, you already know that light travels.  It can be diffused.  It can be reflected.  It can be deflected.  But it travels.  This means that over time and distance its intensity can and will diminish.  What does that mean for your photography?  It means that doubling the flash-to-subject distance reduces the light falling on the subject to one-quarter.  Logically, we might assume that doubling the distance would reduce the power by half.  In actuality, however, doubling the distance reduces the power by 75%  More simply put, the Inverse Square Law is used (among other things) to determine the fall-off– the difference in illumination on a subject as it moves farther away from the light source.

Let’s take a look at a graphic that will help us get our heads around this.  We are looking at a blank wall approximately ten feet long, illuminated with a single light source.  Meter readings along the wall show the progression of one-stop increments.  Notice how we move one stop from f/22 to f/16 in a matter of inches, yet we move one stop from f/4 to f/2.8 over the course of a few feet.

The Inverse Square Law relates the intensity of a light source to the illumination it produces at any given distance.

The Inverse Square Law relates the intensity of a light source to the illumination it produces at any given distance. One-stop increments are spread over a wider area the farther the light travels.

Now that we understand what the Inverse Square Law is and how it affects the intensity of light, how do we apply it to our photography?  Let’s assume that we are photographing a family of four on our wall.  If we position them closer to the light– let’s say in the f/8 – f//11 range– we are going to have a lot of contrast between the subjects.  Those closer to the light source catch the brunt of the light and may be overexposed, while those further from it could be underexposed.  The variance in the light over such a short distance means the light falling on our subjects will be very uneven.  If, on the other hand, we move our family down the wall to the 7- or 8-feet mark, we have a wider area in which to achieve a more even exposure across the group.

Remember, though, that the same principles apply not only to our subjects, but to the relationship between the light source and the background as well.  If we are photographing our imaginary family with a plain white wall for a background, simply moving them closer to or farther away from the wall will affect whether the wall appears white, gray, or even black.

So far, we’ve discussed what the Inverse Square Law is and how it applies to off-camera flash.  But what about natural light?  The same concept applies, whether you are using window light, a reflector, a sunset, or any other non-electrical light source.  The principles of how light travels do not change just because the light in question has no batteries.  Doubling your subject’s distance from the window, for example, is going to result in the same 75% drop in intensity that you will experience with strobes or speedlights.

So, what’s the bottom line?  The best advice I can give about the Inverse Square Law is to simply be aware of it and understand its potential impact on your photos and lighting setups.  The more you understand light and how it behaves, the better equipped you will be to efficiently compose and create consistent images with less trial and error.

 

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

An Introduction to the Inverse Square Law

Lighting Setup: The Athlete

For this shot, only the strip box was used, to camera left. The back light was also used, but I turned the kicker light off for more dramatic lighting.

For this shot, only the strip box was used, to camera left. The back light was also used, but I turned the kicker light off for more dramatic lighting.

I was contacted by a local model who also happened to be a tennis player, and she wanted to do a tennis shoot for her portfolio. We discussed ideas, as well as location.  A tennis court was the obvious choice for location.  I had decided I wanted dramatic lighting, similar to what’s seen in sports drink ads, or athletic apparel ads.  I knew that would require two or three lights, and a darkened overall scene to get the look I was after.

Since the shoot took place in the later afternoon, when there was still plenty of daylight, in order to get the darkened look, I needed to play around with my exposure. I was using the EOS-1D Mark IV, which has a top sync speed of 1/300. For lighting I used two Canon 580 EX II speedlites off camera in softboxes. One softbox was a Westcott Apollo 28″ softbox, while the other was a Westcott 18×42 strip box.  For the shots where the model was backlit as well, I used a Canon 430 EX II speedlite on a light stand with no modifier.  The 18×42 strip box is asymmetrical offers the ability to light a full length figure with soft falloff at the lower legs, while the 28″ Apollo softbox lights the upper half well when close up, or when pulled back can light a full length figure.  I used the strip box to light the model from the front, and the 28″ softbox as the kicker light from the right rear. For the dramatic backlight, I used a bare Canon 430 EX II speedlite pointed back towards the camera.

In order to allow the speedlites to be the main source of light, I needed to deaden the daylight.  I did this by setting the flash to E-TTL, and the camera to shutter priority.  I then dialed back the camera’s exposure compensation to -3.  This served to darken the ambient exposure, allowing the speedlites to provide lighting at the proper exposure.  This made it appear I was shooting at night, or in a darkened stadium.  It’s important to understand that there is a difference between exposure compensation and Flash Exposure Compensation.  Exposure compensation will affect the exposure of ambient light, but will not affect flash output. This allows you to balance the flash exposure with the ambient exposure in any way you prefer. The speedlites were set to ratio their exposure based on E-TTL metering.  Canon speedlites can ratio A:B. If a third group of speedlites is set to Group C, these can be adjusted using flash exposure compensation.  The main ratio used was 4:1, but I did vary this throughout the shoot.  The backlight was set to E-TTL, Group C, with Flash Exposure Compensation set to +3.

For athletes, in order to give them that larger than life look, it’s best to shoot from a low angle. I instructed the model to vary her poses between intimidating looks and stances.  I used tennis balls to add to the theme, and by sending the backlight through the net, added a dramatic shadow to the foreground. This ended up being a set I was really happy with, and the model was happy with her shots.

In this shot, the backlight was turned off, and the 28" softbox was positioned behind and to camera right of the model. This created a dramatic shadow to the front of the model while strip box lit her left side. The backlight was turned off for this shot.

In this shot, the backlight was turned off, and the 28″ softbox was positioned behind and to camera right of the model. This created a dramatic shadow to the front of the model while strip box lit her left side. The backlight was turned off for this shot.

For this shot, all three lights were in play.  The backlight caused the dramatic shadows and a highlight effect, while the kicker illuminated the model's right rear, and the strip box lit her face and front side.

For this shot, all three lights were in play. The backlight caused the dramatic shadows and a highlight effect, while the kicker illuminated the model’s right rear, and the strip box lit her face and front side.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Lighting Setup: The Athlete

Studio Lighting: Unravelling the Complexity of Multiple Lights

As one gets started in studio lighting I think it is pretty common to get over ensconced in the lighting scenarios. It is funny because everything you read tells you to start with one light until you really start getting a feel for how to shape, angle and manipulate it with purpose. Most of us end up getting lost in multiple light set-ups struggling to find proper lighting solutions. I was not any different.

Soon after I got started, I found myself using 4-5 lights in every setup and then getting frustrated with the nuclear explosion of light that was going off with each shutter click. It makes me laugh now, because at the time I was solely focused on getting light on the subject, background and in most cases everything else in the room that was touched by the mushroom cloud of illumination. I did not understand the importance of shadow, shape, depth and form.

Maturing with studio lighting takes time and patience, and always remember that each light should have a specific purpose. Understanding how to build the lighting with intent in mind takes plenty of practice and a fair number of mistakes and experimentation. Just remember to keep an open mind and never stop learning from both your successful and failed attempts. So, let’s get down to business and walk through a more challenging lighting set-up being mindful of the reasons and rational for each lights use.

Creative Winter-106(sRGB-websize)

Concept

In pre-planning for any shoot it is always good to have some structure and direction to the idea or concept. Some focus, no matter how vague, will always be helpful. Understand what sort of mood, feel or emotion you hope to portray and have some insight into what you want presented in your final image. In the shoot presented in this article, the overall theme was a creative portrait based on the beauty of ice, winter and cold.

This already set most of my color palette to blues, whites, silvers and other cooler tones. I also wanted to give a feeling like the model was being seen through a pane or block of ice and knew I wanted some crystal like texture incorporated. Simply put, I needed a lighting set-up that would maximize the crystalline texture, but that would also provide a flattering light for the model. Sounds simple right?

Lighting Plan

Let’s think through this lighting for a moment. In order to light for texture, one needs to light from the side so that the light skims the texture and creates shadows that give some shape, depth and form to the surface. Great! We can side light our crystalline forms. Oh but wait, if we side light the model we are likely going to see every blemish, hair or imperfection on the skin and either are going to resort to a lengthy saddle-sore ridden editing session, or have a very unflattering photo of our model.

How can I get a nice beautiful light on my model? I know, butterfly or clam shell lighting provides a very flattering look and has a way of smoothing out the complexion. Awesome! But wait, if I front light the texture, I will lose the depth and form of the crystals. Quite a conundrum, huh? Well, at least it provides a framework to help me set-up my lighting. I want some sort of combination of side lighting and butterfly lighting that will accomplish both of my needs. Lets break it down in a diagram.

LightingSetup

Set-up

All make-up and styling was performed by the amazingly creative Dina Bree. The model, Leslie, was shot against a blue seamless background through a piece of plexiglass that had been treated to create a crystalline or frozen texture. White and silver confetti was released over the model during shooting to gain an effect as if snow was falling lightly.

I had two strip boxes, one on either side of the plexiglass skimming the surface and providing some side lighting to the model. The key light was a diffused beauty dish that was placed directly above the plexiglass and angled down at the model and positioned so that it would not spill light on the textured surface. My fill light was a 7” reflector with blue gel bounced off of the floor beneath the plexiglass up at the model again trying to avoid spill on the plexiglass. I knew I wanted both the textured surface and the model in sharp focus so I chose a very small aperture at f/16 to gain a large depth of field.

Thus, I had found a pleasant combination of side lighting and butterfly lighting to accomplish my goals within the original framework I had outlined.

When I conceived the idea for this shoot, I have to admit I was not sure if I could pull it off effectively. I knew the lighting would be tricky and that it could take some subtle changes or modifications as I progressed through the shoot. I also knew that it could be a complete disaster with an ultimate failed result. Either way it was going to be a great learning opportunity. Lighting with intent and purpose is critical as you move into multiple light set-ups. Planning and understanding the need for each light serves to unravel a lot of the complexity encountered in studio lighting scenarios.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment within the set-up. This final shot was a fantastic accident as I decided to turn the key light off for some production shots and I got a whole new look and feel to the image. Take your time and think it through and make sure you have an idea of where you are going before you start. There is no need to fly completely blind. Be confident, clever and calculated and you will soon find that you can amaze yourself and satiate that starving creative beast inside you with a nice healthy meal.

Creative Winter-314-Edit(sRGB-websize)

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Studio Lighting: Unravelling the Complexity of Multiple Lights

Using Gobos To Create Dramatic Lighting

When lighting a subject, one of the things you want to try to do is create drama, or a context, using the light. This often means modifying your light source. One of the easiest ways to modify your flash to create a context, or drama, is to use a gobo.

In this shot, the gobo was used on the background light, to create the illusion of light shining through window blinds. The off camera flash was a Canon 580 EX II, with the gobo positioned in front of it. The light on the model was a 580 EX II in a Westcott 18x42 strip box.

In this shot, the gobo was used on the background light, to create the illusion of light shining through window blinds. The off camera flash was a Canon 580 EX II, with the gobo positioned in front of it. The light on the model was a 580 EX II in a Westcott 18×42 strip box.

Gobos are templates that go in front of your light source (“Goes Between” your light source and the subject)  that have patterns cut out that control the shape of the light.  They can help add mood, create the idea of a setting or context, and add interest.

This is my homemade "windowblinds" gobo.  It's probably a bit larger than it needs to be, but this helps ensure that it blocks out any unwanted stray light. You want to use flat black oak tag or mat board, as the black minimizes any reflecting light.  Using a lighter colored material would reflect light that may not be wanted in the image.

This is my homemade “windowblinds” gobo. It’s probably a bit larger (about 20×30) than it needs to be, but this helps ensure that it blocks out any unwanted stray light. You want to use flat black oak tag or mat board, as the black minimizes any reflecting light. Using a lighter colored material would reflect light that may not be wanted in the image.

Gobos can be purchased, but often times, the available patterns may not fit your need.  In addition, they are relatively easy to make yourself and thus customize as needed.

Simply go to the nearest arts and crafts store, choose a piece of black oak tag, and a razor blade or exacto knife, and cut the desired pattern out.  The pattern doesn’t need to be too large, keep in mind how large the flash beam is going to be at the point that it hits the gobo. 

You may need to experiment a bit with the size and distance before getting the desired effect.

I will place the flash on a light stand, and then simply use a second light stand and use an A-clamp or two to hold the gobo in place.  This way I can experiment easily with how far the gobo should be from the flash, and how far from the subject or background.  A magic arm attached the light stand holding the flash will also work for holding the gobo.

For the accompanying photos, I wanted to create a night time mood, light projecting through the window blinds onto the wall from a street lamp.  So I simply took the piece of black oak tag and cut a series of rectangles in it. When projecting flash through it, it resembles light shining through window blinds.

There are myriad other patterns that could be used to create various moods and effects.  Play around and see what you come up with!

You can also use the gobo to modify light projected onto your main subject. In this instance, it creates an air of mystery about the subject.

You can also use the gobo to modify light projected onto your main subject. In this instance, it creates an air of mystery about the subject.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Using Gobos To Create Dramatic Lighting

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