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With the recent flooding of the market with battery-powered monolights, it might seem as if the humble speedlight will only ever be found on top of the photojournalist's camera from now on. The Profoto B1 and B2, the Broncolor Siros, and offerings from various small brands have given us options for high-powered flashes in much smaller packages than before. But sometimes, it is still more convenient to use speedlights than to lug around heavier and bulkier offerings.
A few months back, I explored the idea of asking for what you want, and the worst that can come from that. We talked about your desire to shoot, and the only thing really stopping you being yourself. The power of letting go of your insecurities, and stepping up to the plate is liberating and will drive changes in your photography that no shiny new piece of equipment can give you. Today, I would like to take that one step further, and explore what it takes to create a significantly large body of work.
Learning is a process that takes time. Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule applies to the so-called mastery of anything. By working hard on our craft, we are able to become proficient in the tools and techniques required to make the end product we desire. We go through stages of understanding and breaking our understanding. These are natural parts of our learning cycle, and the end goal should be to learn not how to do things, but how to ask the right questions to get where we want to go.
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen a cinemagraph or two floating around the Internet. You know the ones, those cool animated stills that you see on people’s Facebook profiles and online ads. You may have even seen people making animated portraits for weddings or that one time a guy took a selfie. They can be quite challenging to do well, but can be a lot of fun to make and become a great marketing tool.
I love Fujifilm's X Series cameras. They're small, light, quick, and have wonderful image quality. The lens collection is at the top of the game, especially the primes. I went back and forth for quite some time in the lead-up to my recent personal work trip to Myanmar. I would be creating a book and needed to choose carefully. Which gear should I take? Should I take my DSLR system, or should it be the Fuji X system? In the end, I went for the Fuji X, as it allowed me to carry a couple of extra lenses and fit all of my flash system in the same pouch as well. But how would they perform?
Much to the excitement of the Fujifilm community, Fuji released their XF 90mm f/2 WR in the middle of 2015. Many a voice hailed it Fuji's best yet, and pixel-peepers rejoiced. Some claimed it had the nicest bokeh from a Fuji lens yet, and others the fastest autofocus. Just how good is this latest prime offering from Fuji?
Adobe Lightroom was a game changer for me when it was introduced. I used to spend hours in Photoshop tweaking this and that, creating actions to batch a set of images I had shot, and output different resolutions from the giant PSD files I was working in. Lightroom gave me 90 percent of the control I use in PS anyway, and allowed me to do it quickly, easily, and without an ever-growing collection of PSD files. I was in love.
Photography, at its core, is a tool for communicating meaning between human beings. We use it to advertise, share memories, and occasionally Photoshop an aeroplane in to add to the meaning we've already captured. In the right hands, photography can be an extremely powerful tool to do good in the world. It can bring about change, help people, and communicate ideas we couldn't otherwise communicate.
The jump from hobbyist or part-time to full-time photographer can be a daunting experience. About three years ago, I took the plunge into full-time photography. Overnight, I dropped my career as a teacher and decided to pursue this creative art. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have made and one of the most rewarding.
Finding the best quality of light is most of our job as photographers, and a great place to start looking is window light, especially north-facing window light. This type of light creates a soft transition from light to shadow, and can be very flattering on our subjects. Sometimes, however, we need to get consistent results all day, as in the case of this menu shoot, and using a window will cause too much variation in the light.
A few weeks back, we discussed the idea that you really need to know your gear so that it will get out of the way for you. The next step is to know what to use when. The old adage goes that you can't fit a square peg in a round hole. As much as this applies to misfits or carpenters, it also applies to the art and craft of making images. The idea that certain tools or ways of thinking are not a fit for the task at hand is a powerful one. It can help us make purchase decisions, technical choices, and even post-processing choices.
Late last year, I wrote here about choosing your next lens for photography. In the comments, I was asked to write a similar guide about cameras. So today, we will be discussing the important factors in choosing a new camera body, or if you are just getting into the world of interchangeable lens systems, your first camera body.
One of the great documentary photographers of the 20th century, Mary Ellen Mark, is featured in this short documentary by Profoto. It contains so many small truths and pointers that we can all learn from.
First and foremost, gear is not the be all and end all. Creativity will bring the most out of the simplest of gear. We stand on the shoulders of giants now. Remember that it was only a few years ago that high ISOs were all but unusable and that once you'd shot a black and white frame, it stayed black and white. The fact remains, though, that understanding what your gear is capable of is the key to exploiting its strengths and weaknesses, which is where creativity lives. Learning a few simple things about what your existing gear is capable of will do more for your images than any shiny new purchase. Use these five simple exercises to learn more about what the tools you have can do.
In a recent discussion with a friend over coffee, I was asked how it is that I gain access to photograph so many different people, specifically about the portraits that I have set up for some of my personal projects regarding artists and craftspeople. Some of these images require quite a bit of setup and a significant contribution in time and skill from the subjects of the photographs themselves. The answer to this question was quite simple: I ask.
In my last article on flash photography, I gave you a few simple techniques for keeping your flash looking natural and allowing it to blend in with your existing light without calling attention to itself. This time around, we're going to do exactly the opposite, and look at how varying the amount of ambient light in a photograph can affect the way your flash appears and how this can be used for dramatic effect.
John P. Hess, over at FilmmakerIQ.com has launched a second video about lens technology this week. This time dealing with the properties of camera lenses. The information contained relates to both still photography and cinematography, and also details the subtle differences between the two as they relate to lenses. He covers topics such as focal length, aperture (or iris), the differences between primes and zooms, and even a look at anamorphic and parfocal lenses.
Flash can be an exceptional tool for creatively lighting our images. Whether it be speedlights or high-powered studio strobes, there are infinite ways to create or augment light in our photographs. Photographers work extremely hard to create amazing lighting setups for dramatic effect or sometimes simply for their own satisfaction, but keeping the light subtle can often be the best way to make use of the power of flash.
As I use my Fujifilm X-Series cameras more and more for event work, I've needed fill flash here and there to enhance some of the portraits I'm asked to take on the fly. With there being very few good options for the Fuji system at the moment, I picked up a Nissin i40 back in April. Initially, I just wanted it as a fill flash, but more and more, I have been using it as a backup for outdoor flash work. Below, I'd like to share my experiences with the flash.