Archive for March, 2021

Sony adds AI-powered ‘Live Gallery’ feature to its Visual Story mobile app

31 Mar

Sony Electronics recently announced updates to its Visual Story, a cloud-based mobile application that works with various models of cameras the company produces. Built with event photographers in mind, ‘Visual Story’ Version 1.1 uses AI (artificial intelligence) to instantly recognize scenes and objects. The app will continuously select what it deems the best images for real-time gallery creation.

What this means, for these socially-distanced times, is that friends, family and colleagues can view the highlights of a wedding, conference or sporting match, while it’s happening, in the comfort of their own homes or offices. The ‘Live Gallery’ feature also applies presets to images as the photos upload, to maximize their visual appeal.

A newly-added object detection filter allows the photographer and viewers to locate a specific photo containing, for example, a wedding cake, soccer ball or table. The audience can also ‘like’ specific photos. This can aid the photographer in curating images for a final gallery before it’s delivered to the client.

Photographers can also add their own logo plus links to their website and social media profiles to galleries for branding purposes, not to mention increased exposure to the audiences.

Visual Story allows you to access photos from any specific time during the event. Photos are stored to the cloud for backup as well. Photographers can also add their own logo plus links to their website and social media profiles to galleries for branding purposes, not to mention increased exposure to the audiences.

Currently available for free on iOS, Visual Story is compatible with the following Sony cameras: a7C, a7R IV, a7S III, a9, a9 II, a1, a7 III (with updated firmware) and FX3.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Sony adds AI-powered ‘Live Gallery’ feature to its Visual Story mobile app

Posted in Uncategorized


The Rule of Space in Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ Examples)

31 Mar

The post The Rule of Space in Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ Examples) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

rule of space in photography: a comprehensive guide (+ examples)

In this article, I’m going to answer all your questions about the rule of space in photography:

What it is. How it works. And how you can use it for amazing results.

Specifically, by applying the rule of space to photography, you can embrace the quieter moments in visual imagery – and you can amplify the impact of your subject by balancing positive and negative compositional elements.

Let’s dive right in.

A photograph of a softly focused fly demonstrating the rule of space in photography
Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II with extension tubes | f/2 | 1/8000s | ISO 500

What is the rule of space in photography?

The rule of space in photography is a method of incorporating visual absence to give a subject room to breathe.

Although the rule of space is more like a guide than a rigid rule, it is a handy compositional device. It’s a great way to add a sense of vastness, depth, and/or motion to a photograph.

Why is the rule of space important?

To understand the rule of space, we first need to take a brief look at positive and negative space.

Photographers use the terms positive space and negative space to contrast impactful and more subtle areas in a photograph.

Generally, positive space refers to specific subjects that command a viewer’s attention. Negative space, on the other hand, is less visually demanding and provides a frame for the main event in an image.

For example, in the image below, the clouds represent positive space, whereas the sky and dark shadows create the negative space that frames the main subject:

rule of space in photography clouds
Canon 5D Mark IV | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/10 | 1/500s | ISO 100

So where does the rule of space in photography fit in?

In general terms, the rule of space governs the use of negative space within an image. By understanding the nature of the rule of space, a photographer can harness the intent of a subject, as well as add depth and perspective to the image.

The rule of space is important because it aids a photographer in articulating the energy of a photograph – and it guides the viewer’s eye by sculpting key visual events and affording the subject more room to move.

Working with the rule of space: the basics

To work with the rule of space in photography, first consider the behavior of your subject.

Ask yourself: What is the subject doing? Is it moving or stationary? How does it occupy space?

At the same time, visualize what you want to convey in the photograph. Is it movement? Perspective? Depth? Narrative?

The nature and behavior of your subject plus your intent should together determine how you apply the rule of space.


One of the main ways the rule of space can impact a photograph is through perspective. Abundant space around a subject can make the subject appear smaller or larger depending on the camera angle.

For example, a subject photographed from a high angle, surrounded with minimal detail, can seem smaller and more immersed in negative space:

a cat in an apartment window rule of space in photography
Canon 5D Mark IV | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/5.6 | 1/200s | ISO 100

Conveying momentum

The rule of space in photography can help you create the impression of movement.

To convey action, the rule suggests that space should be left either in front of or behind the subject (or both).

For example, if a subject is moving across a scene, you can aim to capture both the subject and the negative space surrounding the subject. The extra space conveys the subject’s movement, adding the momentum a tight crop may lack.

airplane flying
Allowing a subject room to move adds momentum.
Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/10 | 1/640s | ISO 250

Adding depth

The rule of space in photography is not limited to highly active subjects; it works for stationary subject matter, too!

For example, in portraiture, your composition can be governed by pairing the gaze or gesticulations of the subject with negative space. A subject’s gaze naturally directs our attention – we want to see what the subject sees.

But when a gaze is met by negative space, the viewer’s eye will often naturally return to the original source of the gaze. The rule of space provides an organic way of adding depth and directing viewer attention.

You can also use the rule of space with non-human/animal subject matter – based on their movement, perceived gesticulations, and extensions. By following the momentum, composition, or behavior of a non-human subject, you’ll find ideal placements for negative space.

In the example below, I surrounded several blossoms with negative space; this additional room suggests growth and depth. It also highlights the detail in the individual florets.

pink flowers rule of space in photography
Leaving extra room around specific flower heads to articulate their elemental composition is one way to emphasize non-human subjects through the rule of space.
Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II with extension tubes | f/2.5 | 1/1250s | ISO 200

Rule of space challenges

The process of applying the rule of space to photographs is not that difficult in itself. However, a tendency to cram each image with as much visual information as possible can get in the way of exploring negative space.

Instead, deliberately and mindfully take a minimalist approach. You can also zoom out or physically take a few steps back from a subject to refocus on the rule of space.

Tips and techniques for working with the rule of space

Here are a few tips for working with the rule of space:

Tip 1: Use other compositional rules, too

Applying the rule of space to your photography doesn’t have to come at the cost of other compositional rules.

In fact, combining compositional tenets with the rule of space in photography can increase the chances of creating a successful photograph.

Compositional rules such as the rule of thirds, leading lines, depth of field, and repetition can all be used in conjunction with the rule of space to create engaging imagery.

lightning striking above a city
Canon 5D Mark IV | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/5 | 30s | ISO 100

Tip 2: Let it breathe

The rule of space is all about giving a subject or a scene room to breathe.

So step back, zoom out, or even try a wider lens; that way, you can add a sense of spaciousness to your photos.

Tip 3: Experiment with different camera settings

Your choice of camera settings can help follow the rule of space more effectively.

For instance, you might use a shallow depth of field to surround a subject with negative space. You could also try using a slow shutter speed and panning your camera while leaving space before or after a subject to amplify movement.

fence with shallow depth of field rule of space in photography
You can amplify perspective with the rule of space in photography.
Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM | f/5.6 | 1/125s | ISO 200

The rule of space in photography: conclusion

The rule of space aims to create a mindful harmony of positive and negative space.

And by applying this rule, you can emphasize and frame positive subject matter while generating an evocative balance of weight and weightlessness within an image.

So the next time you’re out with your camera, remember the rule of space – and do what you can to apply it in your images!

Now over to you:

Have you been using the rule of space in your photos? How are you going to change your compositions to improve your use of space? Share your thoughts (and photos!) in the comments below.

Rule of space FAQs

What is the rule of space?

In visual art, the rule of space guides your inclusion of negative space within an image.

What is negative space?

Generally, negative space refers to areas in a photograph that are not occupied by the main subject matter. Often, negative space serves as a frame to emphasize the key subjects in an image.

How do photographers use the rule of space in composition?

The rule encourages photographers to make use of negative space. There are many ways to do this. You can focus on coupling subjects with negative space by selecting minimalist backdrops, or you can pair the gaze of a portrait subject with additional negative space.

Who are some photographers that use the rule of space?

There are countless photographers who make use of the rule of space. For example, photographers Martin Parr and Helen Levitt made striking use of the rule, as well as Hiroshi Sugimoto, Michael Kenna, and Eric Kim.

When can I break the rule of space in photography?

Photography is all about developing personal creative instincts and approaches. That’s why compositional rules can be broken. The rule of space in photography is simply a guide – so if an image looks better without extra space, then go with your instincts. And if you aren’t sure, try taking a series of photos with different spatial approaches and analyze the results.

The post The Rule of Space in Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ Examples) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on The Rule of Space in Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ Examples)

Posted in Photography


Canon’s EOS R5 gets C-Log 3, 120 fps Full HD shooting with 1.3.0 firmware update

30 Mar

Canon has released firmware updates for its EOS R5, EOS R6, and EOS 1D X Mark III camera systems, bringing new features and improvements, especially for its EOS R5 mirrorless camera.


Firmware version 1.3.0 for the Canon EOS R5 brings Canon Log 3 shooting to Canon’s current flagship mirrorless camera. Canon Log 3, commonly shortened to C-Log 3, is available in Canon’s Cinema EOS Series cameras and is a ‘logarithmic gamma curve designed to achieve very wide dynamic ranges and be compatible with cinema production workflows.’ This addition not only adds more flexibility to footage captured with the EOS R5 as a standalone camera, but should also make it easier to color match EOS R5 footage when used in conjunction with Canon’s Cinema EOS Series cameras.

Canon has also added Full HD recording at up to 120 frames per second (fps) as well as a new Low Bitrate recording option, which Canon says allows ‘users to shoot smaller file size footage with lower image details.’

Other updates in the updated include electronic full-time manual focus, a new LCD backlight off option, an FTP transfer status display, protected image transfer, save/load settings on card and a few bug fixes.

You can download firmware version 1.3.0 for the Canon EOS R5 using the link below:

Firmware version 1.3.0 for the Canon EOS R5


Firmware version 1.3.0 for the Canon EOS R6 isn’t quite as dramatic as it is for Canon’s EOS R5, but it still adds the low bitrate recording option, electronic full-time manual focus, the FTP transfer status display and bug fixes.

You can download firmware version 1.3.0 for the Canon EOS R6 using the link below:

Firmware version 1.3.0 for the Canon EOS R6


Firmware version 1.4.0 for Canon’s latest flagship DSLR adds the same low bitrate recording mode found in the EOS R5 and EOS R6 firmware updates, as well as the FTP transfer status display. Canon has also improved the connection reliability when using FTP and USB simultaneously.

You can download firmware version 1.3.0 for the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III using the link below:

Firmware version 1.4.0 for the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Canon’s EOS R5 gets C-Log 3, 120 fps Full HD shooting with 1.3.0 firmware update

Posted in Uncategorized


Leica and 1854 team up to introduce £5000 grants for its new Commission Series

29 Mar

Back in January, Leica reminded us of the importance of photography. Now it’s acting on its message by giving photographers the opportunity to tell a story through imagery with the help of a £5000 grant. In partnership with 1854, publisher of The British Journal of Photography, Leica is awarding one new grant, each month, through a Commission Series running from March through May.

The theme for the first of three installments of the Commission Series is Witnesses of: The Everyday. Photographers are required to submit 10 existing photographs from their archives accompanied by a 100-word proposal. In order to qualify, entrants also need to apply for membership to 1854. Besides a £5000 grant and camera gear, each winner will also get access to Leica Lab’s online courses to further develop their skills.

The deadline to apply for this month’s Witnesses of: The Everyday Commission Series is Thursday, April 1st. A panel of judges representing 1854 and Leica will review submissions. The winner will be expected to complete their series between April 26th and May 17th.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Leica and 1854 team up to introduce £5000 grants for its new Commission Series

Posted in Uncategorized


Spring colors: Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM sample gallery

28 Mar

$ (document).ready(function() { SampleGalleryV2({“containerId”:”embeddedSampleGallery_7468308170″,”galleryId”:”7468308170″,”isEmbeddedWidget”:true,”selectedImageIndex”:0,”isMobile”:false}) });

The Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM is a very compact, medium-aperture zoom lens for the company’s mirrorless RF mount. With an innovative design and advanced optical makeup, it offers the promise of high image quality in a package not much larger than most standard zooms. So how does it perform?

We’ve been shooting with a production sample for a few days, and you can view our gallery from the links above and below.

View our gallery of samples from the Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Spring colors: Canon RF 70-200mm F4L IS USM sample gallery

Posted in Uncategorized


How to Photograph Silhouettes in 8 Easy Steps

28 Mar

The post How to Photograph Silhouettes in 8 Easy Steps appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

how to photograph silhouettes in 8 easy steps

In this article, I’m going to show you a step-by-step process for doing stunning silhouette photography.

I’m also going to share tips and tricks that work really, really well for silhouette shooting; that way, you can get gorgeous results as soon as possible.

So if you’re ready to discover the secrets to amazing silhouettes, let’s dive right in!

silhouette photography statue

Silhouette photography: the basics

Silhouettes are a wonderful way to convey drama, mystery, emotion, and mood. They often stand out thanks to their simplicity as well as the story that they convey.

I love silhouettes because they don’t give a clear picture of the scene. Instead, they leave part of the image up to the viewer’s imagination.

silhouettes on a beach

Now, here’s the basic strategy for doing silhouette photography:

Place your subject (the shape you want to be blacked out) in front of a light source.

Then force your camera to set its exposure based on the brightest part of your picture (i.e., the background).

In doing this, your subject will be underexposed. It should turn very dark and sometimes even black.

There are a lot of very technical discussions surrounding silhouette photography and how to get a particular exposure. But I’d like to ignore the technical details and focus on what matters:

Getting you a great result!

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the step-by-step process for stunning silhouettes:

How to Photograph Silhouettes

Before heading out to shoot silhouettes, make sure you have a camera that lets you adjust the exposure. In other words, you should be able to brighten and darken the photo at will.

(All modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have this functionality and so do most smartphones.)

Step 1: Choose a strong subject

Almost any object can be made into a silhouette. However, some objects are better than others.

Choose something with a strong and recognizable shape that will be interesting enough in its two-dimensional form to hold the viewer’s attention.

Silhouettes can’t draw on the colors, textures, and tones of subjects to make themselves appealing, so the shape needs to be distinct.

silhouette of a biker

Step 2: Turn off your flash

If you have your camera in Auto mode, it’ll probably use flash – and this will ruin the silhouette.

Basically, silhouette photography requires as little light as possible on the front of your subject.

So make sure that your flash is off!

silhouette photography man standing on a rock

Step 3: Get your light right

When it comes to lighting your subject, you’ll need to throw out a lot of what you’ve learned about normal photography and think a little backward.

Instead of lighting the front of your subject, you need to ensure that there is more light shining from the background than the foreground of your shot. Or to put it another way, you want to light the back of your subject rather than the front.

The perfect setup is to place your subject in front of a sunset or sunrise – but any bright light will do the trick.

silhouette in front of a city

Step 4: Frame your image

Frame your shot so you are shooting with your subject in front of a plain but bright background.

The best backgrounds are often a bright, cloudless sky with a setting sun.

You want to position the brightest light source behind your subject (so that it’s either hidden or somewhere in the background).

silhouetted person walking from rock to rock

Step 5: Make silhouetted shapes distinct and uncluttered

If there is more than one shape or object in the scene that you’re attempting to silhouette, try to keep them separated.

So if you’re making a silhouette from a tree plus a person, don’t position the person in front of the tree and don’t have the person lean against the tree, because this will merge the two shapes into one and cause confusion.

silhouetted boat off a beach

Also, when framing, you’ll probably want to photograph silhouetted people as profiles rather than looking straight on. That way, more of their features (nose, mouth, and eyes) are outlined, and the person becomes more recognizable.

Step 6: Feel free to start in Auto mode

Most modern digital cameras are pretty good at exposing a photo so everything is nice and bright.

The problem is that most cameras are a bit too smart; they’ll light up your main subject instead of underexposing it to get a silhouette.

So what do you do?

You trick your camera.

You see, Auto mode generally determines the exposure levels when you push the shutter button halfway down (at the same time that the camera focuses).

So point your camera at the brightest part of your scene, then press the shutter button halfway (and don’t let go!). Then move your camera back and frame your shot how you want it.

Finally, press the shutter button the rest of the way.

With most digital cameras, this will result in a silhouetted subject; by forcing your camera to expose for the brightest part of the scene, you cause it to render the main subject as a dark silhouette.

Note that some cameras also have a spot metering mode that helps with the above technique. Spot metering puts the exposure meter on the central part of your frame – so you can accurately tell your camera the exact portion of bright background you want to use to set the exposure.

silhouette of a man on a beach

Step 7: Manual mode

If the Auto mode technique doesn’t work, and if your camera has controls to allow manual exposure, you might want to adjust the settings manually.

A simple way to use Manual mode is to actually start in Auto. Point your camera at the brightest part of the sky, look at the shutter speed and aperture that your camera suggests, then switch over to Manual mode and dial in those settings.

Next, take a test shot and review it on your camera’s screen.

If your subject is too light (i.e., you need to make it darker), increase the shutter speed and see what happens. And if your subject is too dark, decrease the shutter speed to brighten up the shot.

Eventually, you’ll end up with a well-exposed silhouette!

(You can also use a bracketing technique to get a variety of shots at slightly different exposures.)

silhouette photography of a person holding a child

Step 8: Keep your subject sharp

In most cases, you’ll want your subject to be crisp and in focus.

Unfortunately, this can make the metering process – described in Step 6 – somewhat tricky. You see, pushing your shutter halfway down to get the metering right also means that you’ll focus on a spot in the background rather than your subject.

If you’ve used Manual mode, you can always focus on the background, acquire your exposure settings, dial them in, then refocus on your subject.

But if you prefer the Auto mode strategy, then you have two options.

First, if your camera has manual focusing, you can try prefocusing on your subject. Next, meter off the background (and press the shutter button halfway). Frame up your composition, then trigger the shutter.

silhouette photography of a rooftop

Second, you can try adjusting the aperture to maximize your depth of field (i.e., the amount of your image that is in focus).

For this, you’ll need to set a small aperture (i.e., a large f-number, such as f/11 or f/16) to increase the depth of field. If the f-number is large enough, and your subject isn’t too close to the camera, you’ll end up with both a sharp subject and a sharp background, even if your camera is focused on the area behind your subject.

Bonus tip: try partial silhouette photography

While a total silhouette with a nice crisp, dark subject can be powerful, also consider a partial silhouette where some detail of your subject is left, such as in the photo below:

silhouette of people on a beach

Sometimes, a touch of light makes the subject slightly more three-dimensional and real.

And if you’re not sure whether to create a full silhouette or a partial silhouette, that’s okay; just bracket your shots! That’s the beauty of bracketing: it will leave you with both total and partial silhouettes to choose from.

Silhouette photography: conclusion

Well, there you have it:

How to photograph a silhouette in eight simple steps.

So head out when the light is right – and start doing some silhouette photography of your own!

Now over to you:

Have any silhouette photos you’d like to share? Post them in the comments below! And if you need inspiration, check out these 12 amazing silhouette example shots.

The post How to Photograph Silhouettes in 8 Easy Steps appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darren Rowse.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on How to Photograph Silhouettes in 8 Easy Steps

Posted in Photography


A Lighting Ratios Guide: How to Make (or Break) Your Portraits

28 Mar

The post A Lighting Ratios Guide: How to Make (or Break) Your Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darlene Hildebrandt.

lighting ratios how to make or break your portraits

Want to take your portraits to the next level with lighting ratios?

You’ve come to the right place.

Because in this article, I’m going to share everything you need to know about lighting ratios for amazing portraits, including:

  • What lighting ratios are
  • Basic ratios for portrait photography
  • Tips for using ratios

(And much more!)

So if you want to become a portrait photography master, then let’s get started.

lighting ratios portrait photography

What is a lighting ratio in photography?

As a math term, a ratio is a comparison of one thing to another.

So when calculating lighting ratios, you measure the light falling on the light or highlight side of the face and compare it to the light falling on the shadow side of the face.

For instance, if you have twice as much light falling on the highlight side of your portrait, then the lighting ratio would be 2:1. If you have four times as much light falling on the highlight side of your portrait, then the lighting ratio would be 4:1.

But how exactly do you measure light?

While you can do it with the built-in meter in your camera, it is much easier and more accurate to use a handheld incident light meter. You see, your in-camera meter takes a measurement of the light reflecting off your subject – whereas a handheld meter can measure the amount of light falling on your subject and therefore gives you a more accurate value.

Lighting ratios: key concepts

To properly measure and understand lighting ratios, you need to know a few things.

First, light is measured by f-stops. The aperture dial on your camera generally goes up in 1/3-stop increments, though the full stops for aperture are f/1, f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, f/32, etc.

(A simple way to remember all the numbers is to memorize f/1 and f/1.4; all the other pairs are doubled from these with a few rounded off.)

You also need to understand that shutter speeds are also representative of f-stops, with the full stops at 1s, ½s, ¼s, 1/8s, 1/15s, 1/30s, 1/60s, 1/125s, 1/250s, 1/500s, 1/1000s, etc. Shutter speed full stops are easier to remember as they are generally doubled (with a couple instances of rounding, such as 1/8s to 1/15s).

Finally, know that each full stop is double (or half, depending on whether you go down or up) the amount of light compared to the previous one.

For example, if you are shooting at f/4 and want to shoot at f/5.6, you will need to double the amount of light to get an equivalent exposure (you’ll need one more full stop of light). If you want to narrow your aperture by 2 stops, you’ll need to add 2×2 – or 4 – times more light. Likewise, 3 stops correspond to 8 times more light (2x2x2) and so on.

Knowing this, you can figure out how to create and measure ratios. In the next series of photos, I will demonstrate four different lighting ratios and how they were achieved.

1:1 ratio

1:1 lighting ratio

A 1:1 ratio is even lighting.

In other words, there is no difference in the meter readings on both sides of the face. As you can see in the photo above, 1:1 lighting is very flat, and it can be achieved in a couple of different ways.

First, you can use fill flash and make the flash equal to the main light source. This is harder to achieve until you’ve had some practice, and you’ll often end up overpowering the light with flash.

Secondly, you could use a reflector. It will need to be very close to the subject, and the goal is to eliminate all shadows on the subject’s face.

This is a 1:1 ratio, and it’s pretty easy to see and recognize visually.

2:1 ratio

2:1 lighting ratio portrait photography

As the numbers suggest, a 2:1 ratio occurs when one side has twice as much light compared to the other.

So knowing that plus what you know about f-stops, we can set up this lighting ratio.

First, put your subject into the light where you are going to photograph them.

Using a light meter, measure the light falling on the side of their face closest to the light source (i.e., the highlight side). Let’s say that measures f/8. (Keep your shutter speed the same for all measurements to maintain consistency.)

Then bring in your reflector and use the light meter again, but this time measure the light falling on the side of the subject’s face that is farther away from the light source (from here on in, this will be referred to as the shadow side).

Note: If you are using a handheld meter, make sure to shield it from excess light that comes from the other side of your subject. So if you are metering the shadow side nearer the reflector, shield the meter so the main light source isn’t hitting it.

Now, you know that your highlight side has a reading of f/8. To achieve a 2:1 lighting ratio, you’ll need to get your meter to read f/5.6 (which is one stop less light) on the shadow side. So adjust the reflector distance until the meter settles on f/5.6.

Also, it may help to study the image above and recognize the contrast range from the highlight to the shadow side of the face. It’s subtle, but you should be able to see it.

4:1 ratio

4:1 lighting ratio portrait photography

A 4:1 ratio is double a 2:1 ratio. So if 2:1 featured twice as much light – or one stop – how much light will a 4:1 ratio require?

The answer is four times as much light (2×2), which is a 2-stop difference from the highlight side to the shadow side of the face.

I teach an available light class, and I always recommend working with natural light before you advance on to speedlights. With available or natural light and a reflector, it is much easier to learn and practice lighting because you can see what happens as you make changes (WYSIWYG). Flash is harder to predict as you can’t see it without actually taking a photograph.

So if our main light (the window) is still at f/8, what should be the value of our fill light/reflector (or the shadow side) to achieve a 4:1 ratio? Let’s do the steps again: f/8>f/5.6>f/4.

Therefore, two stops less than f/8 is f/4 (and this is the desired measurement to create a 4:1 ratio). Look at the photo above and compare it to the 2:1 image; do you see how the shadow side is getting darker?

8:1 ratio

8:1 lighting ratio

The last ratio we’ll look at is 8:1.

The 8:1 ratio requires 8 times as much light, or 3 stops, on the highlight side of the face compared to the shadow side.

As you can see in the image above, 8:1 lighting is quite dramatic, and anything greater than 8:1 will not hold much detail on the shadow side of the face at all.

In fact, prints have a maximum contrast range of 4-6 stops, so unless you want one side of the face overexposed or the shadows pure black, I suggest keeping your lighting ratios at 8:1 or smaller.

Note that an 8:1 ratio can be a bit tough to create. You may need harsher lighting and possibly a black reflector to add blacks into the shadow side (rather than reflecting light onto it).

We calculate it the same way as above: if 4:1 is 4 times the light, then 8:1 will be 8 times the light, or 3 stops.

So if we are still at f/8 on our highlight side, we need to get our shadow side to read: f/8>f/5.6>f/4>f/2.8.

How to use lighting ratios

Now that we have this knowledge of ratios, let’s put it to use! Remember: The ratio can add to the success of your portrait, or it can ruin it.

If you look at the example images again, pay attention to how the mood of the image changes with the ratio. Notice how the higher ratios create more drama and power. Notice how the lower ratios are softer and more innocent.

Generally somewhere between 2:1 and 4:1 is the commonly used ratio for most portraiture. It’s enough to create three-dimensionality on the face, but not too much to create unattractive, deep shadows. I personally like a 3:1 ratio (1.5 stops) or a 4:1 ratio, myself.

For a child or baby, you often want a lower ratio because the softer result goes well with the subject matter. But a grizzled old cowboy with weathered, wrinkled skin and unkempt whiskers looks much better with 4:1 or 8:1 lighting. Why? He’s rougher, tougher, and can handle the increased contrast, plus it’s suitable for his look.

If you’re worried about not owning a handheld meter, you don’t necessarily need to go out and buy one. I’d only suggest you do that if you plan on getting into studio lighting. Otherwise, just practice seeing the difference between the various ratios (which is why I suggest natural light), and if they aren’t a perfect 4:1 or 8:1 or whatever, then it doesn’t matter. Just learn to recognize when it’s too strong and when it’s too weak for the effect you want to create.

Here’s another example of ratios at work. None of it is right or wrong, but which do you think is the most appropriate ratio for my subject? Figure that part out, and you’ll be ahead of the game!

headshot without a reflector
My first shot had no reflector, and I found the shadows too dark and the overall portrait too contrasty. So I brought in a reflector for the next shot.
headshot with a reflector
This is the second image I took, this time with a silver reflector. I found the ratio to be almost 1:1, and I wanted a bit more drama for a man’s portrait.
headshot with a white reflector
For this last image, I switched to a white reflector and backed it off a bit to get a ratio that I was happy with.

Note: I’d like to thank my subject, Gabriel Biderman from B&H Photo Video, for these shots.

Lighting ratio tips

Now that you understand the lighting ratio basics, let’s take a look at some quick tips that’ll make your photos look better.

First, get your subject out of the sun. Shooting in bright sunlight makes it almost impossible to control your ratios, plus the light won’t be desirable or flattering on the subject’s face. Use natural light from a window with indirect lighting (no direct sun coming in) if you can. And if the sun is streaming in, try adding sheer curtains or even stretching a white bed sheet across to diffuse the light.

Second, here are some lighting ratio starting points:

  • For babies and small children, use a lower ratio like 1:1 or 2:1. Children move so quickly that keeping them in the light and facing in the right direction is exceedingly difficult, and even light helps mitigate this issue.
  • For women, use a medium ratio like 2:1 or 3:1.
  • For men and business portraits, use a slightly stronger ratio, such as 4:1 or 6:1.
  • For artists, bands, and other dramatic portraits, use a higher ratio.

Finally, keep in mind that there are no steadfast rules on how to do ratios in portraiture. Like everything in photography, it’s about learning the techniques, then using them as suggestions while you experiment and find your own style or voice.

For instance, can you put 8:1 lighting on a glamorous movie star or 1:1 lighting on a coal miner? Absolutely!

(I’ll even give you some homework that’ll prove both ratios can be effective if they are done well.)

Homework and action steps

Your homework assignment is to research the following photographers. Tell me how they broke the general rules I’ve mentioned above, yet still had great success and amazing images:

  • George Hurrell
  • Richard Avedon
  • Yousuf Karsh

Those three photographers right there are some of the greatest portrait artists to ever live. Learn from them.

A lighting ratios guide: conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you know all about lighting ratios – and you know how to use them for stunning results.

So what’s the next step?

Practice! If you simply dedicate a few minutes per day to working with portrait lighting, you’ll become a master in no time at all.

Now over to you:

What do you think of these lighting ratio concepts? Will they help you in your portrait photography? Share your thoughts (and images) in the comments below!

The post A Lighting Ratios Guide: How to Make (or Break) Your Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darlene Hildebrandt.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on A Lighting Ratios Guide: How to Make (or Break) Your Portraits

Posted in Photography


Ultimate Guide to Using Lightroom Presets in Photoshop

27 Mar

Ansel Adams once said, “you don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Fortunately, with tools like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, producing that perfect image is a much less daunting task nowadays. Still, it can be hard to keep up with all the updates and changes. Have you ever fallen in love with a preset that you want to use in Continue Reading

Comments Off on Ultimate Guide to Using Lightroom Presets in Photoshop

Posted in Photography


Weekly Photo Challenge – Artificial Light

27 Mar

The post Weekly Photo Challenge – Artificial Light appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

There’s no question that when we start out in photography, at some point, we find ourselves needing to add light to an image we have in our mind.

But you only use ‘natural light’ I hear you say? Well, flash is available, so is a desk lamp or a torch – this is the week to try them out!

This week’s photo challenge is ‘Artificial Light’ you can use any light source that isn’t the sun (or you can combine the sun with artificial) for your photo. Use the hashtag #dPSLight

Light comes in MANY shapes and sizes, my first try with adding light to a photo came from a funny little desk lamp (We called it ghetto lighting) I used to stand around trying to get the ceiling light (one of those big paper ball things) in the right spot to give me the light I wanted, the addiction starting mostly on the 29th of September, 2008…

Simon Pollock Ghetto Lighting

These days lighting comes in many (as many as it always has, plus a couple more?) forms, I’ll share the ones I use – I have a single flash, it’s a Jinbei HD-2 Pro and a very capable little unit! If I need more power, and what I use on any commercial shoot, as well as the HD-2 Pro, are my two Westcott FJ-400 studio lights, they’re very nice, powerful enough for pretty much anything I need them for. Other lights I love and use often are the two little Aputure AL-MW lights (they’re waterproof) and I have two Spiffy RGB LED lights, too… A collection of many years I guess you’d say!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Artificial Light

BUT you don’t need to have “proper lighting gear” you need to have a desire to learn and a desk lamp! SO for this week’s challenge, we want you to use ANY sort of artificial light in your photograph (Just one photograph for the challenge, folks) and share it in the comments below or via social media (Tag us!) and make sure you tag #dPSLight on social media.

Missed a Challenge? Don’t sweat it, find all of our previous challenges here!

Share on Instagram or Twitter and use the hashtag #dPSEyes so we can see them!

How do I upload my photo to the comments?

Simply upload your shot into the comments field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see. Or, if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Looking Up

Have a great weekend!

If you get stuck, leave a comment below or drop us a note on the dPS help desk!

The post Weekly Photo Challenge – Artificial Light appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on Weekly Photo Challenge – Artificial Light

Posted in Photography


The Sigma fp L: A Full-Frame, 61 MP Sensor in a Minuscule Body

26 Mar

The post The Sigma fp L: A Full-Frame, 61 MP Sensor in a Minuscule Body appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Sigma fp L announcement: a 61 megapixel sensor in a minuscule (full-frame) body

Yesterday, Sigma announced “the world’s smallest and lightest pocketable full-frame mirrorless camera,” the fp L, which packs a high-resolution sensor into a minuscule, rectangular body:

the Sigma fp L announcement

And that’s what makes this camera special; it’s literally a pocket-sized full-frame camera, one that you can take anywhere yet boasts the power of a much larger model.

The fp L joins Sigma’s current full-frame mirrorless offering, the Sigma fp, another ultra-compact, ultra-light camera that launched back in 2019. 

But while the Sigma fp appealed strongly to videographers, the fp L seems to be more stills focused. First, there’s the 61-megapixel sensor, which serves up plenty of resolution for landscape shooters as well as commercial photographers in need of detailed files. 

Then there’s a 3.68M-dot external electronic viewfinder, which attaches to the side of the fp L and allows photographers to work with the camera the way they’d work with high-resolution competitors such as the Sony a7R IV. As a stills photographer, I can’t fathom the idea of shooting without a viewfinder, so this is a welcome addition to the fp lineup. 

the Sigma fp L electronic viewfinder

(In fact, the EVF is also compatible with the original Sigma fp, so folks who weren’t satisfied shooting via the LCD or the optional LCD viewfinder might want to give that camera another look.)

Unfortunately, the electronic viewfinder does cost extra, though you can save a couple hundred dollars by purchasing it in a bundle with the fp L. 

Sigma’s press release emphasizes the fp L’s new Crop Zoom feature, which gives users the option to zoom by cropping for up to 5x magnification. Of course, zoom in too far and you sacrifice significant megapixels, but given the impressive starting resolution, it may come in handy if you need a bit of extra reach.

The fp L also promises improved autofocus over the fp, thanks to a hybrid autofocus system that combines contrast-detection and phase-detection AF for “smooth autofocus that is high precision, fast, and excellent at tracking a moving subject.” While the fp’s contrast-detection system was certainly serviceable, street photographers, portrait photographers, and travel photographers will appreciate the boost in speed and tracking, as will plenty of videographers. 

Interestingly, Sigma also highlights another new feature of the fp L: “USB-C charging while the camera is on.” In other words, you can pop in the battery, start shooting, and then – if the battery gets low – you can plug the camera into a mobile power bank for what Sigma is calling “unlimited power supply.” If you’re a photographer who spends days in the field but doesn’t want to juggle stacks of batteries, this will be a huge help, and videographers will love the ability to film for hours without worry.

Speaking of videography: 

While the fp L may not be as video-centric as the fp, it’s perfectly capable of pro-level recording; you can shoot 4K/30p footage, and you get plenty of other video features, such as a mic port, zebra patterning, and RAW recording.

Regarding lenses: the fp L is compatible with L-mount glass from Sigma, Leica, and Panasonic, including a host of powerful Sigma L-mount lenses. 

So for those looking for a tiny camera that punches far above its weight, the Sigma fp L is a great option. You’ll be able to purchase the fp L for $ 2499 USD (or $ 2999 USD when bundled with the external EVF) as early as next month. 

Now over to you:

What do you think of the Sigma fp L? Is it a camera you’d be interested in buying? Is it missing any features that you’d like to see? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post The Sigma fp L: A Full-Frame, 61 MP Sensor in a Minuscule Body appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on The Sigma fp L: A Full-Frame, 61 MP Sensor in a Minuscule Body

Posted in Photography