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November 2011 Archives

November 3, 2011

Lighting Styles and Setups from "Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook": Kid In A Candystore and More

The following is excerpted from “Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers” (Wiley). Look for three more informative excerpts in the November issue of Professional Photographer magazine.


Kid In A Candystore


The final image was processed in Lightroom with my Vintage 2 preset, from the Vintage Delish collection. I like the added warmth in the shadows, which feels like chocolate!

One of the best ways to get children to cooperate on a photo shoot is with good, old-fashioned bribes. Candy works really well, so why not do the entire session in a candy store and save a trip! The image I had in my mind was of this little girl sitting on the counter licking a giant lollipop. When we got there, however, the lollipops they had were not actually very giant. I knew I needed a wideangle lens to exaggerate the perspective and make the lollipop look larger than life.

The RayFlash ringlight attachment is an innovative photo tool. It fits to the front of any camera speedlight and encircles the lens. Unlike most other ringlight setups, the RayFlash is completely portable, allowing you to move about and try different angles. It also allows for normal TTL flash operation, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting the light manually. Normally, the RayFlash is used with semiwide to normal perspective lenses, but I decided to use it with a 10.5mm fisheye lens, which has such a wide angle of view that it actually shows the edges of the ringlight. I loved the effect as it felt like looking through a portal to a fantasy world of delectable treats.

A portable speedlight was placed behind the subject to add an edge light and separation from the background. A PowerSnoot from Gary Fong was used to constrain the light to a narrow beam. I balanced my flash exposure with the existing light in the shop using TTL mode on the oncamera flash and manually for the backlight. The second speedlight was triggered by the built-in optical slave, which works fairly well when in close proximity and indoors.

After taking a few images of our little lady delightfully devouring the lollipop, the candy smeared all over her face and an even better image came to light than I originally imagined. Can you say “sugar rush”?


I asked Mom to stand very close and keep an eye on her daughter in case she started to scoot off the edge of the counter. Fortunately, she wasn’t going anywhere—as long as the lollipop lasted.


The original image from the camera


Exposure Info:
10.5mm lens setting
f/4.0 at 1/160 sec. ISO 500
Exposure comp. +/– 0

Tools Used:
Nikon D300s 10.5mm f/2.8 fisheye Nikkor lens
RayFlash ringlight from Rogue Imaging
Nikon SB800 Speedlight
Gary Fong PowerSnoot

Go to the jump for two more tutorials!

Continue reading "Lighting Styles and Setups from "Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook": Kid In A Candystore and More" »

November 7, 2011

RED vs. Canon: Closing the Gap Between Cinema and Still

By J.R. Hughto

Five years ago, RED announced—with what was to become their signature bravado—that they were going to release a cinema camera that would revolutionize the industry. RED made 4K (4,096x2,304-pixel format) and RAW buzzwords overnight, and they promised that their system had the independent filmmaker in mind at a $17K price point. When the dust settled, it took over a year for RED to release what actually turned out to be a revolutionary camera, the RED One, though the actual cost to get a camera ready to shoot had ballooned to nearly $50K. That $17K price point, huge by amateur standards but a bargain in the film industry where cameras cost as much as Ferraris, must have remained in company founder Jim Jannard's mind, because on Thursday night RED finally released a camera that not only made good on their technological promises but on the dollar amount. RED's new Scarlet-X, the company’s less expensive companion to their higher-end EPIC, can indeed be set up ready to shoot for right around that $17K figure, depending on how many batteries or SSDs (RED’s recording medium) you wish to purchase.

(See how RED Epic is used in a wedding video trailer from Tonaci Visuals.)


RED’s announcement of the Scarlet-X came only hours after Canon had announced their own brand new cinema camera, the EOS C300, priced very similarly to the Scarlet-X at $20K retail with a rumored $16K street price. Based on the success Canon has enjoyed with their video-shooting DSLRs, and in the wake of the announcement of the March release of their flagship EOS-1D X, the C300 is a purpose-built video camera that bears the EOS label and marks the company’s first official foray into a market segment traditionally dominated by Panasonic and Sony.


Canon wasn't satisfied with simply announcing the C300, however. They went on to explain that the C300 was the first in a new Cinema EOS brand that would not only produce video-only cameras like the C300, but also include future DSLR releases designated with the new C that represents the line. Whether this means the well-equipped 1D X or the long-awaited 5D Mark III will be the first of the breed remains to be seen. Regardless, Canon seems to be finally taking the video side of their large-sensor cameras seriously by developing well-considered and designed responses to a rapidly changing camera industry and a more technically demanding user base.

When stacking the principle competition in the price bracket against each other, what advantages do each offer? All three prominent rivals—the previously released Sony PMW-F3, the Canon EOS C300, and the RED Scarlet-X—have Super 35mm sized sensors (roughly the same size of Canon’s APS-C format in use by cameras like the 7D). The Scarlet-X seems to have stolen Canon’s thunder in large part due to their 4K RAW recording, a feature that no other camera can boast in the price class. RED CEO Jim Jannard went so far as to boast that “1080 as a concept is discontinued”; RED’s always had the best hyperbole. Jannard described the camera as a 5K stills shooter as well as a 4K cinema camera, and when configured as such it is highly reminiscent of the Pentax 67ii, that old beast of a medium-format shooter that so many 35mm shooters preferred due to its SLR styling. By emphasizing the Scarlet-X’s still photography capabilities, he both distinguishes it further from the C300 and the Sony F3, and also places it in competition with still-image-priority cameras like the EOS-1D series. In fact, the RED has been used for magazine cover shoots for Vogue, Esquire and Vanity Fair due to its capability of pulling a single, RAW frame at 4K.

Continue reading "RED vs. Canon: Closing the Gap Between Cinema and Still" »

Steady in the Studio: Tether Tools and Tabelz Laptop Camera Stand Tables

By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP

While working in the studio, I've become very fond of my studio camera stand. Using a camera stand lets me focus on interacting with my clients, and allows me to set where the camera will be for a series of frames. If need be, I can leave the camera to adjust my client's pose without losing the in-camera composition that I had set up. The one shortcoming to working this way is what to do when you decide to shoot tethered to your computer. While many studio camera stands come with two mounting arms, it's not often you find one pre-equipped with a laptop table. So, after a little research, I found two companies that sell portable laptop stands, or tables. Both of the products I'll be discussing are designed to be installed on your tripod, camera stand, or even a light stand (depending on thread size).

The first table I tested was manufactured by Tether Tools (tethertools.com). Based on my laptop's dimensions, I opted for the Tether Table Aero Traveler (it comes in black or silver). I also received some other optional accessories, including a Secure Strap for securing the laptop to the table, an XDC Solo (external hard drive shelf), cupholder, an Aero ProPad (cushiony pad for on top of the table), and some Jerk Stoppers (tools for keeping your tethered cord securely attached to your camera and computer ports). In the image below, you'll see all these items, including an upside down view of the Aero Tether Table.


The Tether Table comes with three different mounting methods (see below). The knob at upper left is for securing the table to a lightstand (biggest hole). The other two threaded holes are for the standard tripod threads.


I found that the various accessories sold with the Tether Table were helpful in making sure my laptop wouldn't just work its way off the stand. In the image below, you can see the laptop sitting on the non-slip Areo ProPad; it is also secured by the Secure Strap (an elastic strap with hooks at the ends that hold the laptop in place). Additionally, both the front and back edges of the Tether Table have a raised lip, so if you do use this out in the field, you can use it at an angle without having to worry about losing your laptop.


Continue reading "Steady in the Studio: Tether Tools and Tabelz Laptop Camera Stand Tables" »

microGAFFER Tape Frees You From the Massive Grey Roll

By Ellis Vener

Do you need gaffer’s tape at all? Yes you do. Unlike duct tape, gaffer’s tape leaves almost no sticky residue, is waterproof, and is easy to cut and deliberately tear. At the same time it is strong and reasonably heat resistant. You might even need different colors of it.

We use gaffer tape for a wide variety of jobs, not only for taping down cables and identifying bits of gear, but also for holding props in place, marking where people need to stand, locking down focus rings (useful for aerial, macro and stitched panoramic photography) and de-linting subjects’ dark clothes. It’s also useful for making minor repairs. But, until recently, the problem with gaffer tape has been that it mostly came in long three-inch wide heavy rolls and only in black, gray, and white. We use gaffer’s tape a lot, but a single full-size roll of the stuff will last me a couple of years at least as mostly we only need small short lengths, unless we're taping down power cords. Rather than buy and carry around full-size rolls of different colors Visual Departure’s microGAFFER packages solve both the space, weight and price problem. It’s also an advantage that it comes in a range of colors.


For starters, the microGAFFER rolls are small—only 1 inch wide and 8 yards long—and come on small cores. A roll is small enough to fit a couple of them in your jeans pocket or in a small camera bag compartment. A package of four rolls is roughly the size of a 50mm Canon or Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens and hood.

Beyond securing cables, gaffer’s tape in different colors works great to create quickly identifiable markers for different tools. You use it to know this power cord goes to this light or this remote goes with this camera, this lens hood goes with this lens, etcetera. Even if you don’t have a lot of gear, this makes for a more efficient way of working and packing up before and after a shoot.

MicroGAFFER tape kits come in four-roll packs and in two options. The monochrome packs contain two black, one gray and one white roll. The microGAFFER Fluorescent tape kits each contain one roll of really bright orange, green, pink and yellow tape. The street price for either kit is $19.95.

Background: So what the heck is a gaffer and why do they have a need for a special type of tape? On a movie or television set, gaffer is the official title for the chief electrician. This means that the gaffer (and the gaffer’s assistant, known as the best boy) and the rest of the electrical department are responsible for all of the lighting instruments, a job that includes making sure all of the electrical cables stay safely and securely connected. Grips, on the other hand, are the people responsible for setting up and rigging the lights and modifiers. The worlds of cinematography and still photography have always borrowed from each other—some tools, like collapsible softboxes, have migrated from the world of still photography to film photography, while other tools—like gaffer’s tape and C-Stands—have migrated the other way. 

November 9, 2011

Damon Tucci's Essential Techniques for Location Lighting, Part I

By Damon Tucci
All images ©Damon Tucci

Want to achieve a beautifully lit image in any conditions? Master three lighting techniques and you can make it gorgeous anywhere.


In today’s fast-paced world of photography, you have to produce on demand, no matter what the conditions may be. This is especially true for wedding photographers. You can’t change the date of the shoot, so you must be able adapt to ever-changing lighting and weather conditions.

But whether you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, time is money; the more efficiently you can use your surroundings and enhance the light, the more effectively you can deliver above average consistent results. We practice and perfect our capture and lighting strategies so that we can tackle any assignment. We know them backward and forward so that we can implement them seamlessly.

Three lighting techniques should be part of any modern photographer’s repertoire: the use of available light, off-camera flash, and video light techniques.

Available light techniques revolve around working in open shade and using a reflector to accentuate and shape the light on the mask of the face. I use Radio Poppers and Nikon SB800 flashes for my off-camera flash and employ the camera’s high-speed sync capabilities to transform any average scene into a very dramatic one. Video lights enable us to capture images in modern hotels and subtly light the subject’s face without overpowering the background. This method is very fast and what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG).

In these two examples of off-camera light usage, you can easily see how underexposing for the ambient light and adding off-camera flash can dramatically improve the look of your image in bland lighting conditions.


Here we start behind my house against the fireplace on an overcast day. I used a Nikon D700, an 80-200mm lens at 80mm, two Nikon SB900 Speedlights and a RadioPopper to control the flash.  I underexposed for the ambient light 1 to 1.5 stops at 125-second at f/5, ISO 400. The overhead Speedlight is zoomed to 85mm. 


Below, I had a drab cloudy Orlando day to shoot this couple’s portrait.


By underexposing the ambient light 1 to 1.5 stops, I get a dramatic sky. I add light from the upper left with an SB800 Speedlight and use the RadioPopper and the camera's high-speed sync to make the exposure 1/2,500 second at f/4, ISO 400, to illuminate the couple. 


Look for Part II in December’s Web Exclusives, and even more in the February issue of Professional Photographer magazine.

Damon Tucci has been a professional photographer in Central Florida for the past 20 years and has photographed over 2,500 weddings. His award-winning work has been published in Professional Photographer, Rangefinder, Studio Photography and Design, InStyle Weddings, People, Brides and a host of other publications.

Come learn from Damon Tucci at Imaging USA, January 15-17

In My Head: Tapping into the Photographer Mindset
Tuesday, Jan. 17, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Want to create beautiful images anywhere, anytime? Who doesn’t? Join celebrity wedding and portrait photographer Damon Tucci to learn a methodology and mindset for producing exceptional images on demand. He will delve deep into the psyche of the photo creation process to show you how simple it can be … if you have the acute understanding of timing and technique that he’ll share! You’ll also learn about modern posing and lighting techniques, including off-camera speed lights, available lighting, strobe and video. Come learn Damon’s tried-and-true formula (and reap the benefits).

About November 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in November 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2011 is the previous archive.

December 2011 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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