Posts Tagged ‘Shoot’

How a Compact Camera Can Help You Shoot Stunning Images While Traveling on a Budget

20 Jul

Vacations can be a great time to capture some of the most captivating photos ever, and it doesn’t even require using an expensive equipment to do so. In fact, whether your vacation involves hiking, skiing, snorkeling, a safari, mountain biking, or a scenic road trip, a compact camera can also provide stunning results while traveling, with little effort and without Continue Reading

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How to hack a Bronica ETRS to shoot Fuji Instax Mini film

15 Jul

Photographer Brock Saddler has published a really interesting and comprehensive guide detailing how he was able to modify a Bronica ETRS film camera to shoot Fuji Instax Mini film. Saddler is, kindly, allowing us to share his hack with our readers.

The hack requires two cameras: the Bronica ETRS, of course, as well as a donor camera that supports Instax Mini film. In the case of this project, Saddler used an old Polaroid 300.

A broken Instax camera can be used for this project, according to Saddler’s guide, assuming the film plane is undamaged. The disassembly process is tedious and involves freeing the film plane from the other components, such as the electronics and lens assembly. The removal process will vary depending on the camera model used.

Once free from the donor camera, the film plane must be carefully modified so that it can rest flat on the back of the Bronica ETRS; Saddler used a Dremel tool and razor blade to do this, warning that any protrusions or dips in the plastic may impair the light seal.

Trickier still is the ejector hook, of which Saddler writes, “You’re pretty much fabricating yourself a new ejection system.”

The process is still quite involved from there, requiring the careful use of epoxy, a felt liner to help form a light seal, and the removal/addition of material and components depending on the donor camera.

Finally, a pair of rubberbands round out the Bronica Instax hack, forming the two units into a single ugly-but-functional camera.

If you plan to perform this clever hack yourself, you’ll definitely want to check out the full guide on Saddler’s website.

It’s definitely not for the DIY faint of heart, but if you’re willing to get your hands and workbench a little dirty, you’ll be rewarded with something original that produces pretty neat photos to boot:

All photos © Brock Saddler, used with permission.

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CamFi Matrix Time software makes it easy to shoot the ‘bullet time effect’

15 Jul

China-based camera trigger company CamFi has announced the launch of CamFi Matrix Time, a software application that is free for all of the company’s users. As the name suggests, the software is designed to produce the ‘bullet time effect’ made famous by The Matrix, doing so without the high cost typically associated with this effect.

CamFi makes wireless digital camera controllers, and its new Matrix Time software works in conjunction with those controllers. With the software, users can set up a multi-camera arrangement to shoot one after the other with less than a 1/100th-second delay. The images captured by each camera are then automatically grouped and compiled into a video featuring this special effect.

The company explains that its Matrix Time product can easily set all of the cameras in the multi-camera setup to the same shutter speed and aperture; a live view from the cameras in the software, meanwhile, enables operators to arrange the angle of each camera before shooting. All in all, it seems like a very simple and straightforward way to capture a complex special effect.

Of course, there is a catch… actually two. First, while the Matrix Time software is free, each CamFi Wireless Camera Controller costs $ 130 USD / $ 185 CAD / £110. And second, for now, CamFi Matrix Time is only available for the Windows operating system.

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Pulitzer-winning photographer uses Volvo SUV’s built-in camera to shoot photo exhibit

13 Jul

Consumer vehicles are increasingly built with integrated cameras as part of safety systems, and the Volvo XC60 is no exception. The only difference? Volvo is using their car cam to capture a unique brand of photography.

Volvo recently tapped Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Barbara Davidson and Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors to create a first-of-its-kind photography exhibit called ‘Moments’ that features images taken by Davidson using the SUV’s built-in camera. “Through art we’re connecting [viewers] with really important technology that saves lives,” Davidson explains in a video from Volvo Cars, “and I think we’re bringing the technical world and the artistic world together.”

Pulling photos out of the car’s video feed, Davidson managed to create a unique set of photographs using the Volvo.

Davidson staged the shots, a process highlighted in Volvo’s video. Talking about this, Davidson explained, “I’m really using the car as a camera, and I’m framing it as I would frame with my 35mm camera. So it’s very similar to how I would work as a photojournalist.”

Volvo premiered the ‘Moments’ project on July 4th in London, and will be showcasing it in various parts of the world throughout 2017.

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These Nikon videos break down the gear and settings you need to shoot the eclipse

08 Jul

The total solar eclipse that’s about to take place next month presents an extremely rare photo opportunity. We have some pointers (and a little bit of opinion) coming at you from an expert in the coming days, but in the meantime, the folks at Nikon have put together a useful pair of tutorial videos that will help you nail that perfect eclipse shot when the time comes.

To be clear: these videos were created by the Nikon USA YouTube channel. To that end, there are a few points in the gear video specifically where the branding is laid on pretty thick; however, if you can get past the PR, the information is very useful and, in fact, brand-agnostic. Photographer Lucas Gilman knows his stuff.

Nikon broke down their tutorial into two 3-minute videos: Gear & Prep and Camera Settings. If you’re planning to shoot the eclipse, grab yourself a pen and pad, scroll down, and click play.

Part 1: Gear and Preparation

The first stop on the gear and prep train is safety—get proper eye protection and slap a solar filter onto your lens to prevent sensor damage. Then, Gilman touches on the kind of camera and lens you should choose.

For his needs, he’s picked a D500 APS-C body for a bit of extra reach, and a Nikkor 200-500mm lens attached to a Nikon 1.4x teleconverter.

Finally, Gilman outlines some of the accessories you’ll want to bring along. Namely: a stable tripod, extra memory cards, a few fully charged batteries, and a cable release.

Camera Settings

Now that you have the proper gear, it’s time to set up your camera. In the second video, Gilman discusses how to determine the proper exposure for two key eclipse shots: a closeup of the sun at totality and photographing the crescent.

While your settings will obviously vary depending on the conditions on the day you’re out there shooting, the tips in the video above will get you most of the way there.

Photos courtesy of Nikon USA

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Craigslist ad wants wedding photographer to also shoot the… uh… consummation

02 Jul

The Craigslist ad headline reads ‘All Day Wedding Photographer Needed,’ followed by a small, but extremely important, parenthetical: (see details). That bit is important because when the couple in question says ‘all day,’ what they actually mean is ‘all night long.’

The ad, posted to Craigslist in Wisconsin and sent to PetaPixel by one of its readers, is seeking a wedding photographer who wouldn’t mind sticking around and photographing the couple’s first time. Their consummation. The… moment of truth, if you will.

“We are hoping someone will document the whole day from beginning to end,” reads the ad, innocently enough. “We are specifically hoping someone will document the end, which we are finding difficult to find someone who will.”

Now you see where this is going.

“We have both saved ourselves for marriage and understand our first time will be awkward,” writes the bride and groom. “But [we] do not think it will be that much more awkward for the photographer to be there and we’d really like it documented (in a beautiful and tasteful way).”

So… any boudoir photographers want to take their work to an extremely awkward new level? We’ve got a job prospect for you.

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How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

28 Jun

I frequently encourage people who attend my photography workshops to approach the day as though they have been assigned to shoot for a magazine editor and need to provide a strong series of images for a photo essay. One of the locations we visit is the local fresh market here in Chiang Mai, Thailand, so I’ll use images from this market to illustrate the point in this article.

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

The time it takes you to create a photo essay may be determined somewhat by your chosen subject. If you’re photographing your child’s birthday party, a social gathering at work, or a football match, you will have time constraints. With other subjects, you may have the luxury of being able to return many times over a period of days, weeks, or months to continue building your pictorial story. Whatever you choose as your subject you will be able to apply the points in this article to help you produce a strong series of photographs that a picture editor would welcome.

Approach to making photo essay

There are two main ways of approaching a photo essay – thematically or narratively.

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

I’ve chosen a series of images for my photo essay here with a thematic structure, showing the market as the overall theme. You may like to choose a narrative structure and tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. To follow a narrative storyline at the markets I could choose to follow someone who arrives to do the buying for their restaurant, follow one of the porters who haul produce for shoppers or spend time with a vendor documenting their daily routine.

Whether you take a thematic or narrative approach, applying some basic guidelines to the way you shoot and how you make your final selection of photos will result in a strong series of images.

You want to look for three types of images; wide, medium, and close-up. By shooting these three image types you will build up a broader perspective on your subject.

Wide Shots

Photo essay tips 01

At a market, I’m always looking to capture a great wide shot showing the lively hustle and bustle and feel of the overall vibe of the market. This is difficult to capture because I have no control over what’s happening. It’s important in situations like this to take your time. Find a good location where the lighting and background are pleasing and you will not be obstructing anyone, and shoot a lot. Be observant.

Watch and see the flow of what’s happening and anticipate the best time to shoot. If your chosen subject is more static you might want to include a single prominent feature in some of your wide shots. For example, if you are making a photo essay of your local park, try including one of the park benches, a drinking fountain, or a flowerbed in your wide compositions rather than taking just a wide shot with no main focus.

Medium Shots

Medium shots are best composed with one main subject as the focus, and including relevant aspects of the location as well. These shots will show a more intimate view of your subject, draw the viewer deeper in, and help them connect with your story.

At the markets, I like to shoot environmental portraits, often of the people who work there. Including some of their surroundings supports the theme by developing the context of my story.

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

Showing the mango vendor with her cart, produce, scales, and umbrella helps build the essay more than if I was to crop in tight and to make a portrait of only her.

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

Including some action in these shots makes for interesting photos too, as with this photo (above) of the butcher sharpening his knife. Neither of these photos was posed, but sometimes it’s a good idea to take a little control of the situation and ask someone to pause so you can make a portrait.

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

I asked this fishmonger with the lovely smile tray of smoked mackerel to pose for me.

Close-Up Shots

Coming in close to capture the details will definitely add depth to your photo essay. Look for elements to include in your close-up compositions that others may overlook. Single colors, patterns, and textures all work well as close up shots.

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

The neatly stacked fish in the blue plastic tub, the basket of (live) frogs, the bundle of soup ingredients for 5 baht and the bunch of flowers made from pandan leaves all add variety and interest to my market photo essay.

If you’re photographing a birthday party your close-up shots may be of the detail on the cake, some of the wrapped or unwrapped gifts, or tightly cropped happy children’s faces. Look for detail shots which fit in with the overall feel of your photo essay.

Other Considerations

As you are shooting, consider how your images will fit in with your overall story. Think about the five “W” questions – who, what, where, when, and why. Answering them with your photos will build up a very good impression for someone viewing your photo essay or picture story.

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

How To Shoot A Compelling Photo Essay

Traditionally, this market is where the people of Chiang Mai have gotten food. The market is over 160 years old, so it has real character.

When you’re shooting your photo essay be aware of the overall tone and feeling of the situation you are photographing. Become a part of it, not an outsider with a camera, and you will produce more intimate, interesting photographs. If you have time on your side, even consider visiting the location where you’ll make your photo essay without a camera. Doing this will give you a different perspective and may help you connect with your subject more easily.

Choosing Your Photos

Once you’ve completed your shoot and have downloaded the photos to your computer, begin by discarding any that are technically inferior. You don’t want to include shots which are out of focus, poorly exposed, or your timing was off. Remember, you are aiming to please the photo editor of a magazine (just pretend this is the case, even if you are shooting just for yourself, it will help you to have this mindset) and they will reject any images not up to their technical standards.

Photo essay tips 13

Photo essay tips 14

Take your time to look over your photos. Grouping them into the three types, wide, medium and close-up will help your decision-making process. Compare your photos within these groups and look for the strongest pictures that support your overall story. Think about how they might be laid out on the pages of a magazine and what they will communicate to someone viewing them that is not familiar with the subject of your photo essay. Finally, you will want to choose one main shot to be the feature image. The one you are most happy with that best conveys your feeling for the story you are telling.


So even if you have no aspirations to shoot for a magazine, this is a good exercise to help you put together a better photo essay. Consider printing a book or your completed project for yourself or to share with friends or fellow travelers.

Please put your comments and questions in the space below, and share your photo essay images.


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How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits

22 Jun

If you limit your portrait photography to daylight, you’re missing out on a chance to get some really cool people photos. Whether you just want something better from your camera automatically, or you want complete control of the light in the scene, there’s something in this article for you. Read on to get some tips to help you create and shoot night portraits.

Get off Automatic Mode

If you’re using your camera in Automatic mode, you’ll find one of two things will happen. With the flash off, you get a really blurry photo because the camera needs a longer exposure time at night. Or with the flash turned on, the camera restricts the shutter speed and while your subject is well lit by the flash (but is flatly lit), the background has gone black. It’s a lose-lose situation, especially if you want to mix a photo of your subject with a cool background.

How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits - automatic mode

With Auto Flash, the background gets rendered quite dark, and even fully black later in the night.

Night Scene Mode

Fortunately, most cameras have a set of helpful scene modes. On the command dial, there are modes like M for Manual and P for Program (or professional as some of my buddies like to joke). But you’ll also find a series of picture icons, like a mountain or a sprinter. The one you want here is the Night Scene mode (you may have to go into your menu to find it). It usually has the moon or a star with a person. This mode allows for a longer exposure, but your flash fires as well.

Night scene mode.

Set the mode and remember that because you’ll have a longer exposure, you need to hold the camera steady. Your flash will freeze the subject, but they need to stay still for the shot as well, to avoid going transparent. You’re not shooting ghosts here! Sometimes this mode will be called Slow Synchro instead of Night Scene Mode.

How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits - slow synchro or night scene mode

Slow Synchro/Night Scene mode exposes for both the flash and the background, although it can result in image blur from camera shake.

Moving to Manual

When I shoot nightclub portraits, I’m emulating this mode, but I have the camera set for Manual control. I use an aperture and shutter speed on the camera so the background scene looks good, maybe a little under exposed, then I use an automatic flash on-camera to capture my portrait.

How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits

A nightclub shot taken with the camera set to Manual mode, with exposure set to expose for the background. A mix of high ISO and a large aperture helped prevent camera shake. The flash was in TTL mode, setting flash exposure was set automatically.

Let’s look at how you can take even more control now. As you probably tell from how Night Scene mode works, you’re effectively taking two shots in one picture. The first is of your subject, the second is of the background.

Lighting the Subject

For complete control of light on your subject, you need to use a light that’s off-camera. This doesn’t have to be a flash. In fact, it can even be a street light, something we can touch on later in the article. It can also be a continuous light that you’ve brought with you, like an LED or video light. But before this, we’ll look at using flash.

To get your flash off-camera, you need a trigger to fire it. If you have a flash like the Godox V850II, it has a receiver built-in, so you just need a trigger like the XT-16 or the X1. The same applies to the Cactus RF60X flash paired with the V6II trigger. You’ll also need a light stand or someone to hold the flash and aim it for you. To get an idea of where you can point the flash to achieve great lighting, check out my article on lighting positions. If you want to control the look of the light, have a look at this article 4 Value Speedlight Modifiers that Won’t Break the Bank.

The Background

The background just needs a longer exposure to render on the sensor. If you want to avoid blurring your background, use a tripod. Even with a tripod, you can opt to use a higher ISO to make the shutter speed shorter.

How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits

This shot was in Manual mode, and the exposure was set for the background. The off-camera flash was set to manual and was dialed up or down as needed to suit the exposure for the background.

Getting the shot

The first step you need to make is how much of the shot you want in focus. A wide aperture like f2/.8 means the background will go out of focus, but you can use a shorter shutter speed to expose the background. When using flash, the shutter speed isn’t important for the subject, so you should get the subject flash exposure right first.

Set your aperture and your ISO first, 400-800 should be fine. If you’ve got a prime lens, you can even try wider aperture’s which will give a creamy out of focus background. The shutter speed can be anything below 1/200th (or your camera’s sync speed, which will be in your camera manual). Tip: If you can’t focus properly, use your phone flashlight to illuminate the face enough to focus, then switch the lens to manual focus.

Aim your flash at the subject at a low power like 1/32 or 1/16. Take a shot and check it. Firstly, if the subject is too bright, turn the flash power down. Alternatively, if they’re too dark, turn it up. Finally, if it’s still too bright at the lowest flash setting, move the flash further away from the subject.

This image was shot at 1/250th, which is the sync speed of the camera. Flash power is tied to the aperture below the sync speed of the camera, so you can safely open up the shutter speed to add more light in the background. 

With that working, you probably have a black background, like the image above. Have no fear, you’re only halfway there. Next, bring your shutter speed down. If you’ve got live view on your camera, use it. Make sure it’s set to Exposure Simulation or Preview Mode On. As you lower the shutter speed (make it slower), you’ll see more and more of the background. When you’re happy with how the background looks, you’re ready to shoot.

This lighter image was shot at 1/30th. Notice that the flash exposure on the subject is the same in both pictures. Both shots are at ISO 1600 and f/4.0. As a final note, the subject was completely dark, so to focus I had him use his phone to light his face. I used autofocus to lock focus, then switched to manual and indicated he should stay still.

If your shutter speed is really slow, like 1/15th of a second or below, encourage your subject to stay still so they aren’t blurred in the image.

Background Ideas

Your background can be an interesting building, a bridge or even just a street. For a really cool look, find somewhere with loads of lights. By using a really shallow aperture these look fantastic out of focus.

Bokeh background

Using Continuous Light

If you bring a something to light your subject other than a flash, there’s a different juggling act that needs to happen. First, you’ll probably need a higher ISO. For these shots, set your background exposure first and then introduce the light on the subject.

In the image below I brought in a $ 35 Godox LED video panel. The panel has both brightness and white balance controls from Tungsten to Daylight. It gives a nice soft quality of light and looks natural. Even better is that what you see in the viewfinder is what you’ll get when you shoot, not like flash, where you’re always guessing.

How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits - LED panel

Using an LED panel instead of a flash can be a great option. You can see the shot in the viewfinder and focus easily.

If your light doesn’t have a brightness control, you can move it closer or away from your subject to change the intensity on the subject instead. This applies to using a street light as well. If your subject is bright compared to the background, move them further away from the light to get a better balance.

How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits

Street lights can also be used for night portraits.

For this shot, I used a street light across the road as my key light. I moved my subject until I could see a triangle of light on the side of the face opposite the light. A slight tilt of the head helped as well. I chose this spot so I had the railway bridge and cars in the distance out of focus, but the background still retained interest.

Shooting with Style

To go the whole hog, you could get someone to do hair and makeup, as well as getting really stylish clothes to make the shot look even better. You can just use friends and clothes borrowed their wardrobe, but it makes it look properly professional.

How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits

Here’s a selection of night portraits that I’ve done and details about how they were made.

How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits

The band, Drown, photographed for The Thin Air Magazine. Here I used the Godox AD360 with a 120cm Octa box off to camera right. This post-sunset scene was exposed to capture a good exposure for the clouds, then the flash was set to expose the band correctly. Without flash, the band would have been silhouetted

How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits

This photo doesn’t contain a background, but I wanted to create the feel of a busy road. I used two bare-bulb speed lights to give the effect of passing cars lighting from the front and back. In reality, we were on an empty road with no traffic. The backlight was positioned as both a rim light and to add flare.

How to Create and Shoot Night Portraits

I’ve been doing a series of portraits with a red tulle skirt, so it’s appropriate that I include them here. This was shot using a speed light and a 120cm Octa box. The light was off to camera left to create a loop lighting pattern. I’ve balanced the flash and ambient light to get this exposure. There is a mistake in it though. I really should have used a CTO gel (Color Temperature Orange), or at least a half CTO gel to warm up the color of the flash a little. The flash can look quite blue when shot against tungsten lighting, especially the sodium vapor lights in the background here.

Get out there and try some night portraits

Nothing here will make any difference if you don’t get out there. If you’ve got no gear, you should start with a battery powered LED work light or even one of the Godox LEDP 120C panels (make sure you get a battery as well). Get your camera off automatic too, and give yourself more control!

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Video: How to shoot white products on a white background

03 Jun

Shooting products on a white background is a common setup for anyone selling online. But how do you handle shooting a white product on a white background? The trick is to completely separate one’s foreground lighting from the background lighting. Pro photographer David Patino breaks down how to do it in this short, but useful PDN video.

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How To Shoot Professional Portraits

10 May

Good weather is  when photographers like taking photos outdoors. A lot of photographers go to parks to take beautiful shots. But how can they stop taking casual photos and start creating professional portraits? This article gives you a lot of recommendations on how to create art photo portraits. Where to start? Of course, first you should begin planning your photo Continue Reading

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