Posts Tagged ‘difficult’

How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings

21 Apr

A wedding photographer has to be prepared for pretty much anything. Big belly laughs, impromptu outbursts of song and bear hugs can happen at any moment. Not to mention that the light is constantly changing and you’ve got yourself a schedule to keep. Let’s just say weddings keep you on your toes.

That’s why it’s always worth planning ahead and being prepared. Weddings rarely take place in just one location and moving from indoors to outside, or from sunshine to shade can cause a huge change in exposure. When not competing with the sun, indoor lighting poses new problems. Tungsten bulbs mixed with daylight causes all sorts of white balance issues. But this is why we love weddings, they keep us sharp.

Being prepared and practice is key to achieving consistent results. Here are three top tips on how to make the most of difficult lighting situations.

Couple portraits – How to find good light on a dull day

Believe it or not, it is raining at the point of capture in the image below. This photograph was taken in July in Surrey, UK. The British weather was doing all it could to play up to the stereotype it would seem.

Couple portrait weddings

Not every wedding takes place on a gorgeous sunny day and it’s not always feasible to shoot at sunset to capture the golden hour of light. What can you do to create images that your clients will love and to which you’re proud to put your name? Especially when the heavens decide to play against you. Here is the process I use when assessing lighting conditions and how this photograph was taken.

Understanding the principles of lighting is fundamental in any photographer’s quest to a beautifully lit photograph. Fortunately, these principles are consistent regardless of where you are located in the world or how expensive your equipment is. Whether you’re using the latest Canon or a generation old Smartphone, light can be manipulated to your advantage.

Approaching every scenario with the same set of questions can radically change how you see light and ultimately how you take pictures. Where is the light coming from, where is the even light and where are the greatest differences in the light?

Place the subjects in shade

Shade weddings

Here you can see the scene exposed to what the human eye sees. The background is correctly exposed which throws the foreground into darkness. What we want is to do is correctly expose the foreground to create a clean canvas with an overexposed background. In this scenario, there is about three stops difference in exposure, which is perfect.

Shade overexposed weddings

By placing the couple under the branches of the tree they are instantly evenly lit. There are no stray light rays coming through branches or dappled light on faces, and the pebbles on the driveway aid in reflecting light back onto the subjects. By exposing for the skin tones the background will be overexposed, providing a clean canvas.

A few tweaks in Lightroom to warm the skin and recover some of the highlights and voila! An evenly lit portrait on a rainy day. The added benefit of the tree branches is that they, of course, provide shelter from the wind and rain. This technique of using trees as shelter can also be employed on dry days that are windy. Even if the sun is shining, a venue on a hill can increase the risk of a veil blowing away!


Why is this difficult? Depending on the location of the venue or church, you may be competing with changing light that the couple will walk through as they process down the confetti line. This is problematic as you are going to be walking backward, trying to capture the action, as well as tracking the changing light.

It is quite common in the UK for churches to have tree lined pathways, this creates a lighting issue as a break in the trees will cause the couple to walk from light to shade to light, etc. This can mean a dramatic jump in exposure.

Confetti lighting weddings

Take pictures of your hand

This is probably the easiest method to test the exposure of skin tones which can and should be used to test all of the techniques in this article. Take a photograph of your hand, inspect the screen and adjust accordingly. The wedding guests may look at you in an odd way, but when you’re working at a fast pace this can be a life saver.

Take images of your hand in both the light and the shade and note the difference in exposure before the bride and groom appear. Depending on how you shoot, it makes sense to only change one setting as you will be multi-tasking. The control for shutter speed on Canon cameras is located where the index finger naturally rests, and logically is the easiest of the settings to change.

Pay attention as the couple moves from light to shade, remembering the readings of your hand. The camera settings are displayed in the viewfinder and alternate between the two as the light changes. Where possible, pre-plan your shots, performing a mental run through of where people are likely to be and what lighting difficulties you may encounter.

Confetti lighting 2 weddings

First dance

Who knows what kind of lighting setup the DJ will have. Will they make a beautiful white spotlight for the first dance, or will they bust out some crazy laser snowflakes? Anything could happen. One method to overcome this is to shoot into the DJ’s lights and use them as compositional features rather than compete with them.

This isn’t the only option, sometimes shooting with the lights are beneficial as it gives you scope to capture the guest’s reactions. To create this shot, one flashgun at both corners of the stage (pointing at the center of the dance floor), elevated on tripods, and attached to Yongnuo wireless triggers were used.

First dance weddings

This setup offers two things. Firstly, by backlighting the subject even exposure on the skin can be achieved with no unwanted shadows. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about what the DJ is doing with their lighting setup.

It pays to ask the DJ before any dancing commences, what they plan to do and work with them. You would certainly be unlucky should you encounter anyone who wasn’t amiable in having a discussion. However, the point remains that they have a job to do. If they feel the song warrants a change in lighting then they will adapt it for the benefit of the wedding, not for your advantage. This is completely understandable, however, lighting surprises aren’t often welcome. This is why it makes sense to pre-plan and take control of the lighting.

Lens chimping technique

A caveat to shooting in this way is that it is possible to end up with equipment or the DJ themselves in the background. For this reason, an interesting tactic to employ is Sam Hurd’s lens chimping technique. By placing a convex lens element in front of your lens it creates cool flares and throws the background out of focus.

First dance 2 lens chimping technique

Practice is certainly recommended as an incorrect application of this technique can result in the lens element focussing all lights onto your sensor and completely blowing out the shot. The first dance is often a tricky one to shoot, it would be interesting to hear about your ideas and innovations below. Happy shooting!


Hopefully, these quick tips will help you deal with challenging lighting situations at weddings or any other photography opportunities. Do you have any others you want to share? Please do so in the comments below.

The post How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings by Liam Smith appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Against All Odd (Shapes): 12 Homes Tailored to Tiny & Difficult Plots

24 Nov

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]


Plots of land long considered too small and strangely shaped to build upon prove to be more valuable when they seem thanks to some creative thinking. Across the world (put particularly in cramped Tokyo), architects are rising to the challenge to expand available living spaces in heavily populated cities, designing structures that fit these ‘odd lots’ without sacrificing privacy, comfort and outdoor spaces.

Wedge-Shaped Home by Oof! Architecture





The geometry of this triangular site in a residential neighborhood in Melbourne presented a major challenge for OOF! Architecture, especially due to strict building rules. The architects created a three-story structure full of split-level living areas to avoid wasting space on internal walls, doors and hallways.

House in Horinouchi by Mizuishi Architect




One of Tokyo’s most distinctive odd-shaped houses, ‘House in Horinouchi’ by Mizuishi Architect Atelier had to fit within a strip of land roughly the size of a parking spot while still having a place to store bikes outside. The ultra-narrow result features a tapered cantilevered end, a slightly wider area containing the living spaces, and a play loft for the owner’s children.

Grass Cave House by Makiko Tsukada




This plot is squished between several existing houses in the suburbs at an odd angle, which could easily have resulted in a dark structure with very little privacy and no outdoor spaces. Instead, Makiko Tsukada Architects built a step-shaped structure consisting of three grass-covered volumes, including a carport roof and the home itself. Large windows face these elevated lawns to bring sunlight inside.

Mountain House by Hiroki + Tomoko Sekiguchi




Monolithic and windowless from outside, ‘Mountain House’ by Hiroki and Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects has to accommodate a large four-wheel-drive car on its lowest level and contend with the prying eyes of neighbors. The result frames views of the sky and accesses daylight via skylights.

Triangular House by H.ARCHITECTS




Strict Japanese setback requirements prevent architects from building right up to the edge of the plot, including roof overhangs, yet the typical Japanese plot is incredibly small. This one was considered too awkward to build on and used as a parking lot for many years, but H.ARCHITECTS found a solution that makes the most of the adjacent park. A z-shaped interior layout allows for the creation of a few outdoor spaces, like the third floor balcony.

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Against All Odd Shapes 12 Homes Tailored To Tiny Difficult Plots

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[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

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The long, difficult road to Pentax full-frame

19 Feb

Pentax’s road to full-frame has been long, winding and not without a few wrong turns. But it could all have been so different. 

Way back in 2000, when the 21st Century was just beginning to find its feet and photography journalists were starting to get used to putting a ‘D’ into ‘SLR’, Pentax announced that it was making a full-frame (D)SLR. Had it shipped, that camera – which was developed out of the company’s then-flagship film model the MZ-S – would have predated anything from Canon, Nikon, Kodak or (unthinkable at the time) Sony. And Contax, too, but the less said about that, the better. 

Ambitious, powerful, innovative and ultimately doomed, the original Pentax full-frame DSLR was in some ways the Spruce Goose of cameras, but tragically it never even achieved the short, thrilling first and final flight of Howard Hughes’ most famous creation. 

The progenitor. The original, unnamed Pentax full-frame DSLR, which was to be based around a 6MP Phillips CCD sensor, and was originally intended to ship in spring 2001. Officially, the camera (which has become known as the MZ-D) was canceled due to concerns over cost, but it’s likely that the poor performance of the sensor (which made it into the very poorly received Contax N1) played a part.

Instead, like Hughes himself the camera withdrew from public view amid a swirl of rumors. Whispers around the glass case at PMA in 2001 hinted at problems with the troubled 6MP Phillips CCD sensor (later confirmed in the woeful Contax N1). The camera would be too costly to produce, became the official line. The brash confidence behind its announcement at Photokina the previous autumn faded into memory. Meanwhile, Pentax’s projected ship date of spring 2001 came and went, and other full-frame cameras stole the headlines. A nurse was called for, the screens were drawn, and they remained drawn for almost 15 years. 

And we never even knew its name.

Over time, people forgot about the Pentax full-frame DSLR. Pentax representatives (and later, representatives from Hoya and Ricoh) didn’t seem to like talking about it, when they admitted to remembering it at all. A whole generation of tech journalists emerged whose only experience of full-frame photography with a Pentax camera was that one roll of film they tried to put through that old K1000 they found in a junk shop that time. 

And Pentax moved on. 

In 2003, Pentax created the *ist D, its first APS-C DSLR and in 2005, the company announced that it was leapfrogging full-frame altogether in favor of developing a medium-format DSLR. A couple of years later and with no shipping MF camera in sight, the company was acquired by Hoya. Shortly after the takeover we heard that actually, medium format digital was no longer a priority, but two years after that, in 2010, the 645D – with updated specs in the five years since its development was first announced – was officially unveiled.

In 2011, a full ten years after the original Pentax full-frame DSLR should have shipped, the company was bought again, this time by Ricoh. 

The original 645 model, the 645D, saw Pentax branching out into the medium format digital market. The 645Z, which succeeded the original 645D, has proven very popular. 

And all the while, through the course of two buyouts, Pentax was doing what it did best – creating a string of capable, solid, workman-like DSLRs and compact cameras that attracted a small and loyal customer base but which didn’t do much to bother the fortunes of the bigger players in the camera market. The company’s one and (so far) only large-sensor mirrorless camera, the K-01, was not a success, but the medium format 645D did well and was followed by the excellent 645Z. It seemed for a while that with some solid differentiators in the APS-C and medium format spaces, Pentax didn’t really need to create a full-frame camera.

But now, almost 16 years after that fated Photokina announcement, that’s exactly what Pentax (or rather Ricoh) has done. 

‘So why now, and who is the K-1 for?’

So why now? Ricoh claims that the timing is very deliberate. The company seems to recognize that after the late-2000s its chances of making a meaningful dent in the full-frame market were very slim. After leaving the full-frame space to its competitors for more than a decade, it made more sense for Ricoh to attack the much less competitive medium format digital market, and position the Pentax brand as a serious but affordable player in a marketplace that for years has been dominated by stupendously expensive systems from Hasselblad, Phase One and others. 

Meanwhile, although Ricoh / Pentax never managed to wrest a particularly big share of the APS-C market from its competitors, cameras like the K-3 II quietly introduced a host of impressively innovative features. These days we take image stabilization for granted, but Pentax deserves credit for iterating on the basic principle of in-body stabilization over several generations of DSLRs, ultimately leading to the various imaginative and effective sensor-shift features that grace the K-3/II and, now, the new K-1. 

The K-1 becomes the first conventional DSLR to offer a stabilized full-frame sensor. But as well as image stabilization, the K-1’s sensor can also be shifted by minute degrees for higher color resolution capture, AA filter simulation, and star tracking. 

So after all this time, who is the K-1 for? In conversations with DPReview, Ricoh representatives have never tried to deny the fact that after 15 years of inactivity in the full-frame space, a lot of their customers (especially semi-professional and professional photographers) have defected to Canon, Nikon and Sony. But some of these professionals have rediscovered Pentax – and others have discovered it for the first time – thanks to the 645D and 645Z. 

When I spoke to Kazunobu Saiki, general manager of Ricoh’s Marketing and Communication department last year in Japan, he told me that the company’s forthcoming full-frame DSLR was aimed at ‘our existing customers’. I.e. those new 645D/Z fans and a whole generation of DSLR photographers (especially in Asia) who love Pentax cameras for their features, pricing, and custom color options. Plus of course the ultra loyalists around the world who have stuck with the Pentax brand over the years and refused to switch systems in the hope that one day, a camera like the K-1 would eventually be produced. I know they’re out there. They send me emails. 

‘The K-1 is primarily a camera for Pentax fans, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.’

At this point in time, Mr Saiki’s strategy makes perfect sense. The K-1 is primarily a camera for Pentax fans, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. It seems highly unlikely that anyone who’s been happily using a full-frame camera from another manufacturer for the past few years will suddenly throw it all away and buy a K-1. The K-1 looks like a pretty good camera, and $ 1800 is a pretty good price, but it’s still a considerable chunk of change, and that’s not including lenses. 

And lenses, it seems to me, is where Ricoh has a real battle on its hands, not only in terms of attracting potential system switchers but (probably more importantly) also catering to its existing user base.

It has been 13 years since the last full-frame Pentax camera, and understandably, neither Pentax nor third-parties have had much incentive to release full-frame K-mount lenses in the intervening time.

The existing audience of digital Pentax users may very well have a collection of autofocus lenses for their DSLRs, but most are designed for the APS-C format (and many contain the notoriously troublesome SDM focus motor). They’ve got modern coatings, they’ll fit on the K-1, and some will offer almost a full-frame imaging circle. But like training wheels on a bicycle, I suspect that most self-respecting photographers will be keen to stop using them as soon as possible in favor of a more authentic, grownup experience. Why rumble along at 15MP when you could be enjoying 36?

I suspect that a lot of former Pentax users still have one of these in a closet somewhere – the 50mm F2 was bundled with mid-range Pentax SLRs in the 70s and 80s, and still gives ok-ish, more-or-less-acceptable performance on digital cameras. As long as you don’t look too closely, especially at the edges.

Before you leave an angry comment, I know there are plenty of better manual focus lenses in Pentax’s historical lineup (we just happened to have this one lying around the office), and the K-1 will work with pretty much all of them. 

But what about the legacy manual focus lenses? Ah yes. With decades of compatible K-mount lenses, Pentax users are very well-served. In theory. I have a collection of 70s and 80s-vintage Pentax primes, and I can’t wait to try them out on the K-1. Unfortunately, while putting old glass on high-resolution cameras is a lot of fun, it does tend to show up the defects in that glass pretty glaringly. There are some excellent lenses in Pentax’s historical lineup, but there is a very real risk that a zoom or even a prime that always delivered lovely 6×4 inch prints on film might not quite live up to customer expectations when paired with a 36MP sensor. 

And unfortunately for the proud new K-1 owner, Pentax K-mount lenses are their only option. Like Nikon F, the Pentax K mount is old, and cursed with a particularly long flange-back distance. What this boils down to its that lenses from other mounts cannot be adapted to work on the K-1 (not without the addition of extra corrective elements, at any rate). So unlike the Sony a7R II, for instance, which will accept pretty much any lens you can think of, made by anyone, ever, with the correct adapter, that’s just not possible with the K-1. 

‘Once you’ve bought a couple of lenses to go with your new K-1, that fairly reasonably $ 1800 has turned into a much, much bigger investment.’

Which for a quality-focused enthusiast K-1 owner arguably leaves only one genuinely safe option. Buy a set of new Pentax full-frame zoom lenses. The new 15-30mm and 24-70mm seem to perform well (they should do, since they’re most likely based on proven Tamron lenses with the stabilization mechanics removed and some proprietary coatings) and we enjoyed using the 70-200mm when we shot with the K-1 recently. But once you’ve bought a couple of lenses to go with your new K-1, that fairly reasonably $ 1800 has turned into a much, much bigger investment.

All that being said, I want the K-1 to succeed, and I think it deserves to. It’s truly innovative, bold, and represents a brave move by Ricoh (and one that I suspect was motivated by a certain amount of justifiable pride on the part of the engineers). To an extent, my investment in the K-1 is emotional. My first proper camera was a Pentax MX, and along the way I’ve owned various other Pentax cameras (including for a few brief, glorious weeks, an LX) all of which I have enjoyed. I was genuinely excited when Ricoh told us, some time ago now, that a full-frame Pentax DSLR was once more being prepared for launch. Hopefully this time it will get a little higher off the ground – and hey – at least this time it has a name. 

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Aerial Urbex: 7 Difficult Deserted Places Filmed with Drones

17 Feb

[ By WebUrbanist in Travel & Urban Exploration. ]

drone footage abandoned deserted

Drones have changed the landscape of urban exploration and building infiltration, allowing their navigators access to toxic, irradiated, forbidden and structurally unsound places. These haunting videos illustrate how drones have been used to document inaccessible spaces and find amazing forgotten places.

St. Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, Scotland, is set to be restored thanks to millions in grants and donations, but for now it remains in a remarkably ruined state – crumbling, overgrown and vandalized.  The scenes shot for this film are amazing as they not only fly over and around the building by right through it, passing between levels missing both floors and ceilings that would otherwise be impossible to see in person.


Underdrone combines upside-down footage from the “Lost Places Project,” a world tour including destinations within France, Argentina, Sicily, Greece and China using a DJI Ph2, H3-3D and GoPro3. The inverted perspective adds a layer of eerie vertigo to these spectacular and strange settings.

drone fair discoery

Drones can also provide the means to uncover new abandonments, discovering long-deserted places that have fallen from maps and have no landmarks pointing the way, as was the case with this abandoned Renaissance Faire. Locate in Fredericksburg, Virginia, it was found thanks to the use of a quadcopter and TBS Discovery with Naza GPS. The remote location is possible to reach, but thanks to ticks in the area may be best enjoyed remotely (or: via remote control).

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iFixit finds it difficult to tear down Microsoft Surface Pro

14 Feb

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