Available Light Glamour Photography: Professional Techniques for Digital Photographers 9781608955244, 2012936507

Presenting every facet of using available light to create sumptuously stylized portraits, acclaimed photographer Joe Far

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Available Light Glamour Photography: Professional Techniques for Digital Photographers
 9781608955244, 2012936507

Table of contents :
Front Cover
Author Biography
Why Available Light?
The Three Phases of Photography
What’s in This Book?
1. Seeing the Light
Shooting with Natural Light
Only Natural Light
The Color of Light
White Balance
Automatic White Balance
Daylight: Approximately 5200K
Shade: Approximately 8000K
Cloudy: Approximately 6000K
Fluorescent Light: Approximately 4200K to 6500K
Tungsten Light: Approximately 3200K
Flash: Approximately 5400K
“K” Settings
Manual or Custom White Balance
Sidebar: RAW Capture and White Balance
Postproduction Color Balancing
2. Light Reading
What Is Proper Exposure?
Mad About Lighting: Exposure Techniques
Brightness Range
Darkest Object
Brightest Object
How to Make Those Readings
Exposure Realities
Sidebar: Do You Have the Blinkies?
SLR Metering Patterns
Spot Metering
Camera Exposure Modes
Program (P)
Sidebar: Depth of Field
Shutter Priority (Tv)
Aperture Priority (Av)
Manual Mode
Sidebar: Exposure Compensation
Bulb Mode
ISO Speeds Affect Exposure Too
If All Else Fails, Bracket
3. Lighting Indoors
Rescuing Underexposed Images
Digital Noise
In-Camera Noise Suppression
Photoshop-Compatible Plug-Ins
Contrast and Shadows
Scene Mode Secrets
Don’t Be Confused
Night Scene Portrait
Surf and Snow
4. Lighting Outdoors
Sidebar: Eight Quick Tips for Better Outdoor Portraits
Sunny Days
Cloudy Days
Sidebar: Lenté Loco
Made in the Shade
Sidebar: Control Color by Going Monochrome
Low-Light and Night Photography
Fast Lenses
Sidebar: The So-Called Multiplication Factor
Useful Accessories for Night Photography
5. using Reflectors and Scrims
Reflectors and Scrims
Indoors or Outdoors
6. Where Do Speedlights Fit In?
Sidebar: Guide Numbers
Perfect for Fill Flash
Sidebar: Shutter Speeds for Flash Synchronization
Flash Accessories
Getting the Most from Speedlights
Getting the Most from Built-in Flash
7. Digital Workflow
Before the Shoot
When to Shoot JPEG
When to Shoot RAW
When to Shoot JPEG + RAW
Sidebar: Some RAW Facts
Space: Not Necessarily the Final Frontier
What About No Color?
Five Steps to a Digital Portrait
Step 1: Capture an Image
Step 2: Image Enhancement
Step 3: Draw Some Invisible Lines
Step 4: Apply Special Effects Filters
Step 5: Draw Some Visible Lines
Back Cover

Citation preview


light glamour photographY Professional Techniques for Digital Photographers

Joe Farace Amherst Media



This book is dedicated to the one person in my adult life that has both inspired me and made me supremely happy. Besides being the most loving and caring person that I know, she’s also a great photographer. That’s why this book is dedicated to my wife and best friend, Mary Farace.

Check out Amherst Media’s blogs at: http://portrait-photographer.blogspot.com/ http://weddingphotographer-amherstmedia.blogspot.com/

Copyright © 2013 by Joe Farace. All photographs by the author unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Published by: Amherst Media, Inc. P.O. Box 586 Buffalo, N.Y. 14226 Fax: 716-874-4508 www.AmherstMedia.com Publisher: Craig Alesse Senior Editor/Production Manager: Michelle Perkins Assistant Editor: Barbara A. Lynch-Johnt Editorial assistance provided by Sally Jarzab, John S. Loder, and Carey A. Miller. ISBN-13: 978-1-60895-524-4 Library of Congress Control Number: 2012936507 Printed in the United States of America. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded or otherwise, without prior written consent from the publisher. Notice of Disclaimer: The information contained in this book is based on the author’s experience and opinions. The author and publisher will not be held liable for the use or misuse of the information in this book.


Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Author Biography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Why Available Light? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 The Three Phases of Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 What’s in This Book? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15



1. Seeing the Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Shooting with Natural Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Only Natural Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 The Color of Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 White Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Automatic White Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Daylight: Approximately 5200K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Shade: Approximately 8000K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Cloudy: Approximately 6000K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Fluorescent Light: Approximately 4200K to 6500K . . . 29 Tungsten Light: Approximately 3200K . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Flash: Approximately 5400K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 “K” Settings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32


available light glamour photography

Manual or Custom White Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Sidebar: RAW Capture and White Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Postproduction Color Balancing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 2. Light Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 What Is Proper Exposure? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Mad About Lighting: Exposure Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Brightness Range . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Darkest Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Brightest Object . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Substitution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 How to Make Those Readings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Exposure Realities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Sidebar: Do You Have the Blinkies? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 SLR Metering Patterns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Multi-Segment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Center-Weighted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Spot Metering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Camera Exposure Modes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Program (P) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Sidebar: Depth of Field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 Shutter Priority (Tv) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Aperture Priority (Av) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Manual Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Sidebar: Exposure Compensation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Bulb Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 ISO Speeds Affect Exposure Too . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 If All Else Fails, Bracket . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 3. Lighting Indoors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

Rescuing Underexposed Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Digital Noise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 In-Camera Noise Suppression . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Photoshop-Compatible Plug-Ins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Contrast and Shadows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Scene Mode Secrets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Don’t Be Confused . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Night Scene Portrait . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Surf and Snow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 contents


Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Sunset . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 4. Lighting Outdoors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77

Sidebar: Eight Quick Tips for Better Outdoor Portraits . . 78 Sunny Days . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Cloudy Days . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 Sidebar: Lenté Loco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Made in the Shade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Sidebar: Control Color by Going Monochrome . . . . . . . . 86 Low-Light and Night Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 Fast Lenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 6

available light glamour photography

Sidebar: The So-Called Multiplication Factor . . . . . . . . . . 90 Useful Accessories for Night Photography . . . . . . . . . . 92 Tripods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 5. using Reflectors and Scrims . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

Reflectors and Scrims . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Indoors or Outdoors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 6. Where Do Speedlights Fit In? . . . . . . . . . . 111

Sidebar: Guide Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 Perfect for Fill Flash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 Sidebar: Shutter Speeds for Flash Synchronization . . . . . 116 Flash Accessories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 Getting the Most from Speedlights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Getting the Most from Built-in Flash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122 7. Digital Workflow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

Before the Shoot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 JPEG vs. RAW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130 When to Shoot JPEG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134 When to Shoot RAW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 When to Shoot JPEG + RAW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Sidebar: Some RAW Facts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .136 Space: Not Necessarily the Final Frontier . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 What About No Color? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138 Five Steps to a Digital Portrait . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Step 1: Capture an Image . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Step 2: Image Enhancement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Step 3: Draw Some Invisible Lines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 Step 4: Apply Special Effects Filters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146 Step 5: Draw Some Visible Lines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155





his book completes a trilogy of books about lighting, glamour photography, and portraiture that began with Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography and continued with Studio Lighting Anywhere. Books like these are not produced in a vacuum, and many different people helped make them possible. A big thank you goes out to editor Michelle Perkins for suggesting the concept and to Amherst Media’s dynamic publisher Craig Alesse for giving me a chance to write all of these books. Thanks also to Barbara A. Lynch-Johnt for her superb editing skills. Thanks also go out to the companies who offered technical assistance and product shots for this book, including Adorama’s (www.adorama .com) Jerry Deutsch, Booth Photo’s (www .boothphoto.com) Jeff Cowdrey and Sheila Tait, Mark Astmann of Manfrotto Distribution (www .manfrottodistribution.us), Westcott’s (www.fj westcott.com) Amber McCoy and Jennifer Holtsberry, as well as the creative staff at Grin&Stir (www.lightwaredirect.com). In my first two books, I asked several guest photographers to contribute images, but for this one there are fewer. Barry and Matthew Staver contributed images to the chapter on using reflectors, and my wife Mary Farace not only made some of the pictures in this book but was kind enough to pose for a few of them as well. And that’s also why a big thank you goes out to all of the people who posed for the photographs that 8

appear in this book. Photographing people—no matter what kind of lighting you use—is a shared endeavor, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of them. I would also like to thank my personal support team, who encourage as well as bail me out of technical and creative problems. This includes photographer Barry Staver (www.barrystaver .com) and technical guru Kevin Elliott of DigitalMD (www.digitalmd.net). Lastly, I would like to thank my wonderful wife Mary who is an outstanding people photographer in her own right and who over the years has taught me a lot about lighting. Mary has been and is my greatest fan and is as much responsible for what’s in this book as anyone. I will always be grateful for her love and support.

available light glamour photography

Author Biography


oe Farace’s interest in digital imaging combines an engineering education from Johns Hopkins University with training in photography he acquired at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Joe is the author of many books about photography, digital imaging, and the business of photography, and this one represents the thirtysecond book he’s published. He is Contributing Writer and Photographer to Shutterbug magazine, which also publishes his monthly “Digital Innovations” and “Web Profiles” columns. His

writing also occasionally appears in other domestic and foreign magazines. Joe’s honors include the Photographic Craftsman’s Award, presented by the Professional Photographers of America, and honorary membership from the Independent Photographers of Colorado for “dedication and services to the photographic community.” Please visit Joe’s daily how-to blog (www .joefaraceblogs.com) where he posts a photographic tip, tool, or technique. You can follow Joe on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joefarace.

My wife made this available light portrait of a slightly heavier me outside our favorite Mexican restaurant in Denver using the brick column as a gobo to block the harsh light from the left. To capture the image she used an Olympus E-500 with Zuiko Digital ED 40–150mm lens. The exposure was 1/50 second at f/5.6 and ISO 100. © 2011 Mary Farace. (As you can see, the techniques in this book can be applied to subjects that may not fit into the glamour genre.)

author biography



available light glamour photography

Introduction “Portraits are the most intimate photographs. The image will survive the subject.”—Victor Skrebneski


hen you look at photographs of people in magazines, books, newspapers, or on your iPad, do you notice how some images— more than others—grab your attention? These special photographs force you to take a second look and you may even wonder how they were made. My goal for this book is to take you behind the scenes and show you how a number of natural light portraits were created and, in the telling, help you improve your own available light photographs. Sometimes your best portraits will be made with available light, unavailable light, available darkness, low light, or whatever euphemism you prefer. It doesn’t matter what you call any of these challenging lighting conditions; the truth

is that there’s something rewarding about the process. First, there is the thrill of overcoming technical obstacles that normally prevent you from producing a well-exposed image. Second, photos made under conditions different from the “f/16 and the sun over your right shoulder” instruction-sheet standard have a more eye-catching look. Third, since most photographs are made during the middle of the day, taking the

Facing page—One of the tools that will be discussed later in the book is the use of wide aperture lenses such as the f/1.4 Planar Carl Zeiss 50mm T* lens that was used to make this low-light portrait. The camera used was a Canon EOS D60. The exposure was 1/80 second at f/6.3 and ISO 400. Right— Shooting portraits under the kind of mixed industrial lighting conditions that you typically encounter in factories is a challenge too. This available light image was made using a Canon EOS 10D and EF 28–105mm f/3.5–4.5 lens. The exposure was 1/20 second at f/4 and ISO 800. Increasing the camera’s ISO setting (something that’s covered later in the book) compensated for the low-light condition.




available light glamour photography

Facing page—One of the most traditional forms of available light used for portraits is window light. This image was captured using only the light from a narrow window in my living room. The model was posed midway between the window at camera left and my sofa at right, a distance of less than three feet. As you will see, you can make available light portraits anywhere. The camera was a Canon EOS 10D with EF 85mm f/1.8 lens. The exposure was /180 second at f/2.8 and ISO 400.


time to search out other than “normal” lighting conditions can produce images that look different from those made by the rest of the pack. And that’s just outdoors. Just as challenging can be the prospect of working indoors under a combination of various light sources. WHY AVAILABLE LIGHT?

Let’s get started by defining what I mean by “available light.” To some photographers it means using “every light that’s available,” while to others, like myself, it means using only or mostly the light that’s available within a scene. Sometimes I cheat by using a reflector or supplemental light from a shoe-mount or a camera’s pop-up flash, but that’s as far as I’ll go. Most of the light that you’ll see in the images that appear in this book is what was available at the time. Here are a few of the things that I like about making portraits with available light: 1. It’s free! There is no electronic flash or other lighting equipment to purchase, set up, plug in, or chew through batteries. You can make photos outdoors using natural light or indoors using window light, and all you need is a camera and a subject. Of course, you can supplement the available light with inexpen-

sive reflectors that you can buy (see chapter 5) or make yourself using a piece of foam core board, although that style is a bit harder to fold for travel. 2. It’s easy. You can see the light falling on the model and won’t have to guess about lighting ratios or worry about moving two or three lights around or dealing with light stands, hair lights, or booms. It’s all WYSIWYG, or as Flip Wilson used to say, “What you see is what you get.” In this setting, you will find that the subject is more relaxed. Also, because you won’t be wasting time fiddling with lighting equipment, you’ll be less distracted, and you will make better portraits. 3. It’s fast. There are no lights to set up, tear down, pack, drag through airport security or, even worse, ship as checked baggage. You eliminate the need to buy expensive shipping cases for lighting gear or the specter of damage or theft (it happens) in transit. You can also work faster with the models, getting more and better photographs while allowing your subject to relax at the same time. It doesn’t matter what person, place, or thing you’re photographing, the ultimate subject of any photograph is light. Light, whether it occurs naturally or artificially, has four basic characteristics: quality, quantity, direction, and color, and it’s the quality of the light on a subject that ultimately determines the effectiveness of your portrait. That’s why I’ll take you behind the scenes describing the conditions under which all of these images were made so you can see how each of these three characteristics are handled. The descriptions of the technical and aesthetic decisions that were made are intended to help you “see the light” so that you can benefit from my introduction


experience; however, the best way to learn how to see light is to shoot pictures and examine the success and failure of each photograph and the way you handled light in the final image. THE THREE PHASES OF PHOTOGRAPHY

While learning and refining their skills, most photographers progress through three distinct phases in their development. The first phase occurs immediately after they get their first “good” camera and discover the medium’s potential for fun and creativity. During this time, novice shooters enthusiastically explore their world, and they fill every memory card with images that look so much better than they could have

ever imagined. Unfortunately, this blissful period doesn’t last long and is quickly replaced by the next phase. During phase two, the photographer’s level of enthusiasm is still quite high, but it is diminished when he or she reviews the latest images and finds they are much worse than they expected. This phase can last a long time, but as the photographer continues to improve their skills by reading publications like Shutterbug, reading books such as this one from Amherst Media, and practicing their art, they eventually reach the third and final phase. In phase three, the images the photographer sees in their viewfinder and what they actually capture is exactly what they expected. There are

One of the biggest influences on all my photography, not just portraiture, is the movies. One of my earliest available light portraits was this homage to François Truffaut’s 1971 film Two English Girls. The shot was made in a friend’s backyard using a Contax 137 MD Quartz with a Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 lens. I used Kodak color negative film, but the exposure was not recorded. In those days, one of my reasons for using the Contax system was those superb Carl Zeiss lenses and the delightful bokeh effect (see chapter 4) they produce when used wide open.


available light glamour photography

no surprises. While reaching this phase can be fulfilling, some of the magic is understandably lost. This book is aimed at the phase two and three photographers, although I am sure that some phase one photographers will discover that the tips, tricks, and techniques in this book can help propel them along the learning curve. Part of learning involves making the inevitable mistakes. That’s why I would be remiss if I did not mention that most august institution of higher learning, The School of Hard Knocks. Many of the photographs in this book would not have been possible without lessons learned from making lots of mistakes and—the important part—remembering not to make them again. As I mentioned in Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography, I didn’t start out as a people photographer. I photographed things——mostly architecture and some products. Every now and then because of scheduling and availability I would make a business portrait or headshot, but people were really my wife Mary’s game. When she took an extended sabbatical from the studio’s day-today operations, things changed, and I started making and enjoying making portraits. Along the way to this realization, I had sold all of the studio’s lighting equipment because I wasn’t ever going to photograph people. That was when I learned that you can never say “never” or “ever” and started learning how to make glamour images with little or no lighting equipment. And that’s where my attraction to using available light began. What all this background means to the reader is that all of the trials, tribulations, mistakes, and sessions without a memory card in the camera (hey, it happens) that occurred on my way to a trilogy of books are still fresh in my memory, and

I’ll be sharing portraits from my own three phases of exploring portraiture, such as that Truffautinspired image from my own phase one. I loved every photograph from that session, and I strive to this day to bring the same level of excitement to each new shoot. Sometimes that right combination of lighting, subject, and photographer’s mood and inspiration will capture a magic moment, and that’s why I like working with available light; you remove all the headaches of dealing with lighting equipment to focus on the subject using only the light that appears in front of your camera. If you would like to experience some of that same thrill of discovery that occurred during that first phase of your photographic education, I’d like to suggest that you make a few photographs when the available light may not be so available. WHAT’S IN THIS BOOK?

I’ve tried to keep the methods used to make my images in this book as transparent as possible. Nothing was held back. You don’t have to attend a workshop or buy a DVD to learn any of my secrets. All of the available light “secrets” that I’ve learned over the years are right here on these pages for you to see and absorb. Unless otherwise noted in the captions, all of the photographs are © 2011 Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved. The cameras and lenses used for each shot are gear that I own. Occasionally images were made while testing photo equipment for product reviews for Shutterbug magazine, but that is the only exception. You may be surprised to learn that after reviewing this equipment, I have to return it to the manufacturer. There are no freebies. Since I pay for all of my own gear, some of the cameras used to make these photos may introduction


seem old in Internet years (it’s like dog years), which only goes to prove that you don’t always need the very latest gear to capture available light portraits. In fact many of my cameras were purchased as used or “refurbs” at less-than-retail price. It’s a good idea to be a thrifty shopper, and you should consider used camera purchases from stores, eBay, or friends upgrading to newer, more expensive cameras. I am not employed, under contract, or sponsored by any camera or photography company. My mention of any specific equipment or digital darkroom tools used to make the images in this book does not constitute an endorsement of any brand or model of camera, lens, or equipment. This is just the stuff that I actually use. You may prefer to use something else, which is okay with me because I am not a “my way or the highway” guy. The information on the gear used is provided because photographers like to know this kind of information, but ultimately you should use this technical data as a guide. I strongly believe that the attitude that you bring to a shoot is more important than the equipment. When mentioning a specific product in the text or caption information, I’ll try to provide a link to the company’s web site so you can check price and availability. In all the other photographs that appear on these pages, I’ve made an attempt to provide full technical details with each caption including the camera, lens, and exposure—plus an occasional lighting diagram. Since I’m often asked, “how did you do that?” the products mentioned are my answer to that question. I’ll also try to tell where the image was made, and some of those indoor locations may surprise you. For photographs contributed by guest photographers, I’ll provide as complete caption detail as possible. 16

The version numbers or the software featured in the book have been omitted so as not to distract from how I accomplished a particular effect for a specific image. Software, especially Photoshop-compatible plug-ins (see chapter 7) are updated on a regular basis, so it’s possible that a newer version may be available by the time you read this. That may also explain why the interfaces for the screen shots shown in this book and the then-current version may look slightly different but will still have the same goal as the original product. In addition, because everyone has their favorite software, a tool or method mentioned here may not be the only one that could have been used; these are simply the products that I used for that specific portrait. You can use whatever works for you and budget to accomplish similar and, who knows, maybe betterlooking effects. In case you were wondering, all of the screen shots were made with SnagIt for Windows (www.techsmith.com) or SnapZ Pro X for the Mac OS (www.ambrosiasw.com). The subjects who appeared in front of my camera for this book’s photographs represent many different looks and ethnicities and range in age from 18 to late 40s. Some are professional or aspiring models, while others are nonprofessionals just posing just for the fun of it. I’ve tried to use their photographs to enhance the ideas and concepts explained in each chapter’s text, not just show you a cool photo, though I hope that’s part of the deal too. None of these images were made during workshops conducted by other photographers. Some were made at group shoots or events that were sponsored by regional photographer/model associations and some for commercial shoots, but all of the photographs were captured when working one-on-one with the subject and never when there was one or

available light glamour photography

more photographers shooting next to me or when there was somebody telling me what to do or setting up the shot. All of the shots, as successful or unsuccessful as they may be, are strictly the result of collaboration between the model and me. If you don’t like the photo, it’s my fault, not the subject’s. When working with digital image files, I won’t assume that you know all of the computer buzzwords or digital photography terms that I might use in these pages, so if there’s an acronym that I think you might not be familiar with, I’ll include the definition in parentheses. I assume that you know the major differences between RAW, TIFF, and JPEG file formats, but just in case you

don’t, you’ll find the pertinent information on these formats, when I use which one, and why, in chapter 7. During these explorations, be sure to enjoy yourself. After all, having fun is the single most important component of photography. Thank you for joining me in what I like to think of as adventures in available light portraiture. I wish all of you lots of success. —Joe Farace Parker, Colorado, 2012




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1. Seeing the Light “The pictures have a reality for me that the people don’t. It is through the photographs that I know them.” —Richard Avedon


ll of the ingredients necessary for making great portraits are easy to find. All you need are a subject, camera, and some light. However, it’s how these components of the recipe are prepared that determines how successful the results

will ultimately be. Don’t worry about where you can make portraits because everybody has access to the great outdoors. Let’s take a look at two available light images of two different young women made outdoors

Facing page—This colorful wall in San Juan, Puerto Rico, complemented this model’s dress, so I used it as a background. The camera was an Olympus E-3 and Zuiko Digital ED 12–60mm f/2.8–4.0 SWD lens. The available light exposure was 1/200 second at f/6.3 and ISO 200. While seemingly not the type of lens typically used for a portrait, the E-3’s 2x lens multiplication factor applied to the 46mm focal length used equates to 72mm. Left—This photo was made at a group shoot in Arizona and was captured using a Canon EOS D60 and EF 135mm f/2.8 SF lens. The exposure was 1/200 second at f/3.5 and ISO 200. Right—This image was made at a small park in Colorado and was shot with a Contax Aria and a Carl Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 lens. The shot was recorded on Kodak ISO 200 color negative film, but the exposure was not recorded.

under similar lighting conditions. The models are about the same age and are even wearing outfits that are similar in color. Even the pose is similar, but the biggest difference is the model’s attitude and perhaps the photographer’s expertise. When making the second photograph (right) I was still struggling with idea of photographing people; I was far more confident when making the first one (left). Is one better than the other? That’s up to the viewer and ultimately the person being photographed to decide, but I know that both models liked their photographs. SHOOTING WITH NATURAL LIGHT

Light has four basic elements: quality, quantity, color, and direction. As photographers that are seeking to master the art of portraiture, seeing

the light falling on the subject is the key to mastering proper exposure. If there’s any secret at all about shooting with natural light, it’s learning how to see the range of shadows and highlights—chiaroscuro, as Italian Renaissance painters called it—within a scene. We must use this range of tones to achieve a sense of three-dimensionality within a two-dimensional frame. Part of seeing the light isn’t just looking at what you think the subject of your photography may be, but looking at the shadows and the highlights and keeping in mind that the difference between the two determines the image contrast. Sometimes you’ll hear the term “dynamic range” used to refer to the range of contrast in a scene. A photo’s dynamic range is the ratio of contrast, tonal range, or density

This phase one image was an exposure nightmare with lots of contrast, dark shadows, and blasted-out highlights. However, I think the photo works because it replicates the mood of the situation. My wife Mary and I were hiking on the island of Kauai (trying to get our Lost groove on) when I saw this natural pool and asked if she would climb out to the rock. She did, but the pose was all her idea. I shot with a Nikon FM2 and a Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 lens. The medium was Ektachrome 200 slide film. The exposure was not recorded.


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Top left—The original photograph of Tomiko was inspired by some of the poses produced by the late Peter Gowland. It was made at a group shoot in Arizona with a Canon EOS D60 and EF 135mm f/2.8 SF lens. The available light exposure was 1/160 second at f/3.2 and ISO 200. Bottom left—Topaz Adjust is a Photoshopcompatible plug-in that lets you produce image enhancement effects by applying presets or using the built-in sliders or, as I prefer, picking a preset that gets you close and then tweaking the effect using the sliders. In this case, the Photo Pop preset was used. Right—The various pseudo HDR effects plug-ins can create a less than flattering image of a person’s face. I applied Topaz Adjust to a duplicate layer, then used Photoshop’s Eraser tool to partially erase Tomiko’s face and body on the effects layer. This meant that the background was more affected by the HDR effect than the model herself.

seeing the light


between black and white. It can be interpreted as the range of f/stops from clean white to total black. Landscape photographers may recognize these tonal areas as what Ansel Adams’ Zone System calls Zones IX and 0. The problem facing all photographers is that most digital and film cameras compromise when it comes to capturing the overall tonal range of a particular scene. With normal image capture, when the dynamic range of that scene is too great for any part of the digital capture process, something’s got to go and you have to choose between losing detail in the shadows or the highlights. (A medium’s ability to handle over- or underexposure and still render the image acceptably exposed is called its latitude. We’ll return to this topic in chapter 2.) There won’t be a quiz later, but you should be familiar with the language of exposure so that you can understand other concepts, such as High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR imaging allows you to create an image with overall tonal values that match the luminance or brightness the human eye perceives. This is made possible by combining multiple images captured at different exposures using specialized software or the HDR capabilities built into recent versions of Photoshop. As multiple exposures of the same scene are required, HDR imaging isn’t the best bet for photographs of people, but some software, such as Topaz Adjust (www.topazlabs .com), lets you emulate the effect. Understanding the technology is just one part of making consistent and correct exposures; the other part is learning how to see the light, a tired cliché that’s nevertheless true. Learning to see light is not difficult, but it does take some practice. Make sure that you photograph someone, something, anything, each week until you reach a point where you don’t have to 22

think about how to operate your equipment. If, for example, you’ve found that when working in the shade (chapter 4), you need to dial in some plus exposure compensation to get the best exposure, make a note of that for the future. Most importantly, don’t worry about producing masterpieces every time you go out. Use your camera as a sketch pad to explore possibilities, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Sometimes these “sketches” will be successful, sometimes not. Don’t worry about it, just learn from your analysis of the images. As Yoda says, “There is no try, just do.” ONLY NATURAL LIGHT

Search for interesting locations with equally interesting lighting. Not too long ago, there was a discussion on an online photographic forum asking about what inspires people to create new images. For me, new stuff inspires me. It can be a new camera, new lens, or just a new area to make photographs. While driving around my state, I look for and make notes about locations that look like they would be a fun place to make new images. Even better are those places that can serve as a location for a portrait session. That’s how I found the park with the crumbling structure and columns used in the photograph at the beginning of this chapter. You can even go looking for portrait locations on purpose. Recently, I went to a state park that has a large lake while looking for a beach-like location for swimsuit photographs, only to find water levels at an all-time high and the beach underwater. I had a point-and-shoot camera with me, and while walking around the lake’s edge saw some other spots that, while not quite beach-like, would still produce interesting backgrounds for swimsuit photographs.

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When you look for the lighting in a scene, you usually want your main subject to be in the highlight area because when you look at a photograph, your eye is usually drawn to the brightest part of the scene. In fact, when looking at photographs, the eye “reads” the image in the following order: sharpness, brightness, and warmth. Your eyes will seek out the sharpest part of an image as its main subject, then progress to the brightest, then the warmest parts. Don’t believe it? Analyze your own images and see what you discover. You can reduce or increase your scene’s brightness range by using natural or man-made objects to control the lighting. Even simple everyday objects such as window shades, mini-blinds, or curtains can be used to control the quality and quantity of the light. Later in the digital darkroom, you can use the traditional techniques of burning (darkening) or dodging (lightening) areas of the photograph to place emphasis and direct the viewer’s attention. Walls can act as reflectors or scrims, or you can use overhead objects as scrims. The key is looking for natural or man-made objects that can modulate the light just as scrims and gobos might in a studio. (See chapter 5 for more information.)

This shot was made in my north-facing kitchen, which has three windows with blinds that were adjusted to get the desired effect. The subject even had her back to the window, which was the main source of light, though the EOS 10D’s pop-up flash was used for fill. The exposure was 1/60 second at f/4.5 and ISO 200.

Keeping things simple will do more than speed your shoot along. By taking advantage of natural light, you’ll enhance a photograph’s marketability because a few years from now a clean, natural-looking lighting scheme won’t look dated. Just as trendy fashions or hairstyles can date a photograph, so will any lighting scheme that calls too much attention to itself. Ringlights produce flat lighting with odd catchlights in the subject’s eyes that were once popular, then they seeing the light


Color Temperatures of Common Light Sources


12000˚to 18000˚K

Overcast sky


Average daylight 5500˚K Electronic flash 5500˚K

White-flame carbon arc


500-watt, 3400˚K photo lamp


500-watt, 3200˚K tungsten lamp


200-watt lightbulb 2980˚K

100-watt lightbulb


75-watt lightbulb 2820˚K

weren’t, and now they are again! Strong sidelighting, spotlights on faces, and even Hollywood-style glamour portraits with deep shadows and multiple hair lights are all lighting styles that can date a photograph. Having a natural look to your lighting will help to ensure that the images you make today won’t look dated in the years to come. The Color of Light

If light is the main ingredient in a photograph, then the quality of the light becomes the driving force in producing successful images. The quantity of light has to do with how you determine the correct exposure, which is covered in the next chapter. This third aspect of light deals with the color temperature emitted by light sources and is measured in degrees on the Kelvin scale. The sun on a clear day at noon measures 5500 degrees Kelvin. On an overcast day the temperature of light rises to 6700 degrees Kelvin, while 9000 degrees Kelvin is what you’ll experience in open shade on a clear day. These higher color 24

temperatures are at the cool or blue end of the spectrum. On the lower side, household lightbulbs measure about 2600 degrees. When you photograph during sunrise, its color temperature is about 1800 degrees Kelvin. Where did the Kelvin scale originate? Long before Edison or Joseph Swan (if you’re a skeptic) invented the incandescent light, Lord Kelvin, in the nineteenth century, proposed a temperature scale that was suitable for measuring low temperatures. Kelvin suggested an absolute zero temperature as the basis of his scale to eliminate the use of negative values that occurs when measuring extreme temperatures in either Fahrenheit or Celsius scales. In honor of Lord Kelvin’s contributions, this system is called the Kelvin scale and uses the unit “Kelvin” or sometimes just “K.” WHITE BALANCE

Color correction is managed by your camera’s white balance function, an internal setting that’s built into all digital cameras. It’s long been a part of video too. News videographers, for

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example, have always white-balanced their cameras as a standard practice since portable color video cameras became available thirty years ago. White balancing allowed the cameras to use electronic circuits to neutralize whites and other neutral colors without having to use filters as film cameras required. In the past, 35mm camera shooters would use a specific film or filters to help match the color temperature of the existing light, but all that’s changed with digital capture. Your digital SLR can automatically check the light and calculate the proper setting for the light’s color. It can also be set to specific light conditions or can be custom-set for any number of possible conditions. White balance settings fall between certain color temperature values and are measured in degrees Kelvin too. These values correspond to how cool (blue) or warm (red) the light source may be. Higher temperatures are at the cool or blue end of the spectrum. Lower temperatures are at the warm end of the spectrum. Our eyes are very good at judging what is really white under different lighting conditions, but film and digital cameras need processors to accomplish what our brain does. When set in AWB (Auto White Balance) mode, cameras au-

tomatically compensate for the light’s color, but they can also be set to daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, or manual white balance. You’ll need to look at your camera’s User’s Guide to see what settings are available for your specific camera. Automatic White Balance (AWB). Most cameras’ automatic white balance operates with a color temperature range of approximately 4000 to 8000K. The camera’s AWB setting automatically interprets the light, within its range of parameters, and adjusts accordingly. Sometimes this works extremely well, and depending on the mix of light sources, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it works better with some lenses than others, and images made with a wide-angle lens may have a slightly different color balance than those made with lenses of a longer focal length. Many times, this white balance setting will produce spot-on color the first time without any color temperature gymnastics. If all else fails, you can use the camera’s built-in controls to create a custom white balance for a specific lighting setup. The key for doing this is having a dependable “white” color source that can be used to calibrate your camera. The flip side of the Kodak Gray Card is white and makes a good reference

Setting the white balance on a digital SLR is easy. On a Pentax K100 D for example, you press the Fn button on the back of the camera, then the lefthand button in the four-way controller to see the preset white balance settings that are available. Photo courtesy of Pentax Imaging.

seeing the light



available light glamour photography

Facing page—I made this portrait while shooting the Tokyo motor show in the Makuhari Messe under a combination of mercury vapor, fluorescent, and colored spotlights. The camera was a Canon EOS Digital Rebel with EF 18–55mm lens. The exposure was 1/60 second at f/9 and ISO 400. The camera’s automatic white balance setting was used. The tiny pop-up flash (Guide Number 43) was used, and while it added some catchlights to the model’s eyes, it did little else. Right—According to my EXIF data, this photograph of Natali was made at 12:19pm, but obviously not in direct sunlight. Daylight white balance was used, but to tell the truth, when working outdoors my first shot is always a test shoot for exposure and color balance and more often than not is made in AWB mode. If I like the color balance, I leave it alone. If I don’t, I explore my other options and make a few more test shots. The camera was a Canon EOS D60 and EF 135mm f/2.8 SF lens, with the soft focus set at one. The available light only exposure was 1/250 second at f/4 and ISO 200.

tool. My approach has always been to try AWB first when the lighting gets tricky. I am amazed at how often this produces a pleasing color. When it doesn’t, then it’s time to look at the other options. Daylight: Approximately 5200K. This is a bit of a misnomer because the color of daylight changes during the passing of the day, but in this case it means that you’re shooting “outdoors” and is usually based on midday (the worst time of day to photograph anything, anyway). Colors perceived under the midday sun usually serve as the standard for color reproduction, and shooting in this mode make the colors look the way they should under midday sun. If you shoot with the daylight setting indoors under lighting that typically has a color temperature around 3200K,

the pictures will have a warm, golden look that you might like or hate. So if you don’t like the color of the images on the camera’s LCD screen, chances are you’re using the wrong white balance setting. Shade: Approximately 8000K. If you’ve been making photographs for a while, you know that shade can add a bluish cast to portraits made with film. That’s why in the film days many photographers would use skylight or warming filters when working under these conditions. On most digital SLRs, the shade setting warms up images that are “made in the shade.” Some of the shade settings can be too warm, so as always, make a few test shots. Cloudy: Approximately 6000K. This setting warms up images, but not as much as the seeing the light


Left—This portrait of my wife Mary was made in the shade of a porch at Colorado’s historic Broadmoor hotel, with the roof acting to block the harsh overhead sun and provide shade. It was also more comfortable for the subject because she could relax her eyes without squinting from the sun. The camera used was a Canon EOS Rebel T2i with EF 18–55mm IS lens. The available light exposure was 1/200 second at f/5.6 and ISO 200. Right—Mix a bit of soft focus with the warm-up effects of the cloudy white balance setting and you not only remove all the cool blue light from the scene but also completely change its mood. The camera was a Canon EOS D60 with EF 135mm SF (soft focus) lens. The availablelight exposure was 1/400 second at f/5 and ISO 200. A plus 2/3-stop exposure compensation was applied. The diagram on the right shows the setup.


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shade setting does. In fact, you might prefer to use the cloudy setting when making some portraits in the shade since the effect is slightly weaker and may be more appropriate. It’s also a good white balance setting to try for sunsets in order to punch up warm tones. The camera’s LCD screen lets you preview all of these effects as you experiment. Fluorescent Light: From Approximately 4200 to 6500K. Fluorescent lights produce a greenish X Files or Fringe look to photographs. Some SLRs offer several fluorescent options: D is for daylight (6500K) balanced tubes, N works best with natural white (5000K) lights, and W is suggested for white (4200K) fluorescents. Out here in the real world, it’s a mix-and-match situation, so many times, all three kinds of tubes will be used in a single light fixture. My best advice is

to make a few test shots using each of the three settings to find out which one works best. If you don’t like any of them, try the camera’s manual white balance setting (more later). All of these white balance settings have creative uses too, and any of the fluorescent options can be used to add a dash of pinkish warmth to sunrise or sunset images. Tungsten Light: Approximately 3200K. The tungsten setting (called the incandescent setting on some cameras) found on digital SLRs is primarily designed for photography under quartz or photoflood lamps that have a color temperature of 3200K. However, it also works well under household lamps (the temperature varies depending on wattage but usually hovers around 2800K). This setting is designed to cool off the light. It can be used for creative reasons

Left—Mary likes American Bantam automobiles (www.american bantam.com), so when she saw this one at a large private automobile collection that was illuminated by fluorescent lights, she asked me to take this photograph. The shot was captured with a Canon EOS 30D in AWB mode. The automatic color balance tried but couldn’t handle it. Right—The EOS D30 has seven white balance settings: auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, and custom. Switching the camera into fluorescent color balance produced this result, which was further tweaked with some burning and dodging and a bit of retouching.

seeing the light


as well, such as to add a chilly blue look to a snow scene. Using this setting is like loading a film camera with tungsten color slide film or a forgiving color negative film, such as Fuji 800. When shooting under typical living room lights, you may want to shoot a few test shots to see if you have to increase the exposure, but the color balance should be right on. Flash: Approximately 5400K. Light from electronic flash units—whether studio lights or speedlights—tends to be cooler than daylight, so

you can use this setting to warm up your flash images. This setting is similar to cloudy, and some photographers use both settings as a form of digital warming filter. The way that each camera manufacturer handles flash color balance varies quite a bit, and I found that Nikon and Canon’s versions are quite different, with Nikon’s being a bit warmer than what some would consider “normal,” although when it comes to color balance, one photographer’s warm is too cool for another.

The only illumination on the casual portrait of my wife Mary is a table lamp that is outside the left-hand edge of the photograph. While her hands and the area close to the lamp look overlit and contrasty, the light through the shade is softer, complementing the Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 soft focus lens used to make the image. The camera was an EOS D. The exposure was /4 second at f/3.5 and ISO 160.


The shot was made using the camera’s tungsten white balance preset. 30

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Left—Just because the white balance setting is incandescent or tungsten doesn’t mean you can’t use it outdoors. This portrait was made outside on a movie set in Phoenix. The Canon EOS D60 was placed in Incandescent mode, which accounts for the extra blueness of the sky and background, but an orange Rosco (www.rosco.com) gel was placed over the 420EX flash to keep the subject’s color correct. This technique takes some practice, and success ultimately depends on the flash’s power output and how correct the gel is to get a specific effect, but you should try it to give your portraits a different look. Right—I am usually not happy with the color balance that many digital SLRs produce (Olympus is a big exception) when used with studio flash and often just shoot in AWB, but sometimes I’ll use other white balance settings. Here I used the camera’s landscape picture style setting to punch up the portrait’s color and contrast. This studio-looking image was made with three speedlights and one reflector. You can see the lighting setup and read more details in chapter 6.

seeing the light


Left—Since the runway at New York’s Fashion Week is lit by television lights that have a color temperature of 3200K, I was able to set my Olympus E-1 to that specific color balance. Exposure for this shot was 1/250 at f/3.5 and ISO 400. I shot in shutter priority mode to minimize the effects of any subject motion. Facing page—I made this portrait while working in a factory under a combination of mercury vapor and fluorescent lights. The image was made for a client and a calendar project that was never published. It is being seen here for the first time. Exposure through an EF 85mm f/1.8 lens was /125 at f/4.5 and ISO 400.


“K” Settings. In addition to all these presets, digital SLRs that are aimed at pro and aspiring professionals offer a setting that allows you to set a specific color balance based on your knowing what the color temperature of the light source may be. Canon calls this the “Color Temperature” setting; Nikon refers to it as “Fine Tune by Kelvin Color Temperature” setting. Some cameras, including SLRs from Olympus, offer white balance compensation in plus and minus steps in each Red-Blue/Green-Magenta axis, so there’s no excuse for not getting perfect color. At a fire truck factory where I was doing a calendar shoot, the color temperature fluctuated 500 to 1000 degrees Kelvin depending on where I was standing. The large colorful vehicles 32

parked all around tossed additional color pollution into the mix just to make it more interesting. Who ya gonna call? The Gossen Color-Pro 3F (www.bogenimaging.us), that’s who. You place a color temperature meter in the same position that you would to make an incident light meter reading, push the button, and it displays the color temperature in degrees Kelvin. In the old film days, I would need to translate that into a color correction filter, screw it onto the camera (and lose exposure due to the inevitable filter factor), and hope for the best. Here, I just set the number on my Canon EOS 10 and made pictures. Manual or Custom White Balance. There will come a time when none of the preset white balance settings will work, and that’s when you

available light glamour photography

seeing the light


Top—The Gossen Color-Pro 3F is specifically designed for measuring the photographic color temperature of flash and ambient light and indicates the measured results in degrees Kelvin. A second diffuser for extending the measuring ranges for flash and continuous light is included with each meter. Image courtesy of Manfrotto Distribution. Bottom—Did you know that the flipside of the Kodak Gray card is white? That’s my favorite tool for setting a manual white balance, and it’s easy to stick an 8x10 card in my camera bag. If your camera case is small, cut the card in half. Photo courtesy of Eastman Kodak.

need to use the manual option. Sure, it’s a little more labor intensive, but after you try it once, you’ll be amazed at how well it works under difficult and mixed lighting conditions such as indoor exhibits, convention centers, and museums. Start by photographing a sheet of white paper under the lighting conditions you want to correct. Tip: You might want to shift your focus settings to manual as well, as focusing on blank white paper might confuse your camera’s 34

AF settings. If your test image is extremely overor underexposed, proper white balance may not be achieved. If that happens, adjust the exposure accordingly and start over again. Select the manual or custom option; that typically displays the images stored on the memory card. On many Canon models, you then press the white balance button (sorry, but you’ll need to read your User’s Guide to see how it works for your specific camera). The main point is to show you that it’s just a matter of making a photograph under the lighting conditions you’re working in, pulling up a few menus, and pressing a button. No matter what camera you use, it’s that easy. There are some alternatives to this method: ExpoImaging’s (www.expodisc.com) ExpoDisc is a custom white balance filter that lets you easily set a custom white balance without having to carry, hold, position, or fumble with gray cards, white cards, or targets. Using your camera’s built-in custom white balance capability, ExpoDisc turns your camera into an incident colormetering tool enabling it to receive, scramble, and transmit light from the front of the disc through to the camera’s image sensor for a faster and more accurate white balance. Simply place the ExpoDisc in front of your lens and capture the incident light while setting your camera’s custom white balance. ExpoDisc Digital White

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raw capture and white balance

Since the RAW format allows you to change a photograph’s white balance in the digital darkroom, you might be tempted not to worry about setting proper white balance when shooting in RAW. Don’t. White balance choice is important because most RAW processing software opens the file in the captured image’s white balance. You can always edit this with software, but starting with as good an image as possible means that minor tweaks can make a good image into a great one.

Balance Filters are available in six standard sizes: 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, and 82mm. They are available in flat versions for modular filter systems. Postproduction Color Balancing. Try as you may, sometimes it just seems as though you can’t get the color balance exactly right. That’s when I wait until I get into the digital darkroom (chapter 7) and use correction tools such as Picto Color’s (www.pictocolor.com) iCorrect Portrait Photoshop-compatible plug-in. The skin tone technology in iCorrect Portrait is different than what’s used in the company’s iCorrect EditLab Pro, and it may be the best skin tone algorithm available in plug-in form. With its new interface, iCorrect Portrait sets black and white points, lets you adjust brightness and contrast, and automatically corrects color balance and skin tones with

The ExpoDisc consists of multiple layers of matched optical-grade materials and is individually calibrated to strict tolerances of light transmission and color neutrality. Each ExpoDisc is guaranteed for neutrality (+/– 2 percent) for picky shooters. Photo courtesy of ExpoImaging.

a single mouse click! You can save corrections as custom settings and apply them to multiple image files. iCorrect Portrait is action-enabled, and it is compatible with both Mac OS and Windows.

seeing the light


Left—The original shot of Tia was made using window light, with the Canon EOS 5D set in AWB mode. Her clothing and the window frame were white. Color temperature can vary depending on the time and time of year, and who knows what colors were bouncing in from outdoors? Top—I opened the image in iCorrect Portrait and clicked on the window frame to correct the color. One click using the neutral-balance memory color, and the skin tone looked great. I could have followed up with the skin tone memory color and clicked on her cheek. Alternatively, I could have used the auto white point or auto black point; sometimes I do that too, depending on the image’s contrast. In this case, one click was all it took. Bottom right—Here’s the image with correct color, some retouching, and a bit of burning and dodging. The original exposure was /160 second at f/5 and ISO 400. A 550EX flash provided fill. Facing page—I photographed supermodel Anna


Leib in the shade on a hot Arizona day. Not only did it make the model feel cooler, but it provided soft light. The exposure was 1/80 second at f/7.1 and ISO 200, with an EX550 speedlight used as fill. Since shade has a cooler color temperature than daylight, I used I used PictoColor’s iCorrect Portrait software to achieve the color shown here.


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2. Light Reading “...Amateurs worry about equipment, professionals worry about money, masters worry about light, I just take pictures. . . .”— Vernon Trent


ight, as a wise photographer once told me, may just be light, but you’ll need to measure the amount of light to get an accurate or a correct-for-the-mood exposure. If your chosen exposure doesn’t allow enough light to reach the sensor, the image or part of it will be too dark. Conversely, too much light reaching the sensor will result in blown-out highlights (you can’t get ’em back) or an overexposed shot. Accurate exposure begins with correctly setting the lens aperture and shutter speed in relation to each other. You can select your exposure settings manually or let the camera do it for you. The manual method may require a handheld light meter, or you can use the camera’s builtin meter by selecting manual mode. For 90 percent of photos made, the automatic metering systems found in digital SLRs do a fantastic job in producing correct exposure, but the other 10

percent can drive you crazy, and that’s what this chapter is all about. WHAT IS PROPER EXPOSURE?

Correct exposure is critical, maybe even more so for digital capture than film (especially color negative film). That’s because latitude, or the ability to handle over- or underexposure, is greater with color negative film than for any other capture media. Slide film has the least amount of latitude, especially on the overexposure side. The current generation of image sensors respond more like a hybrid of the two types of color film: overexposure wipes out image data, while underexposure has more latitude almost but not quite as much as film. The downside of digital underexposure is the inevitable creation of digital noise, especially in the shadow areas. You’ll learn more about noise and how to cope with it in chapter 4.

Facing page—This image encapsulates the problem of obtaining proper exposure. There are blown-out highlights in my back door’s window and deep shadows at the bottom of the frame. In the middle is the subject, and that’s where the emphasis on my manual mode exposure was placed. That is not a mirror at camera right; it was a glass-framed poster that, depending on the camera angle, lens focal length, and the model’s placement results in showing the subject’s reflection in the glass. The camera was a Canon EOS 10D with an EF 28–105mm lens. The exposure was 1/160 second at f/6.3 and ISO 400. The original image was slightly underexposed, and with the higher than normal ISO, digital noise resulted. I reduced the noise using Nik Software’s Dfine (www.niksoftware.com) in combination with one of Seim Effect’s (http://prophotoshow .net/seim_effects) Photoshop actions to add some soft focus and diffusion to mute the noise a bit more.

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Top—The model wanted a “moody” shot for her portfolio. The underexposure created the right mood, but it also resulted in noise (this may or may not be visible on the printed page, but even after retouching it is plainly visible on my monitor). The camera was a Canon EOS D60. The exposure was /80 second at f/6.3 and ISO 400. Bottom—When


viewing a histogram on an Olympus E3 and some other digital SLRs, the LCD screen superimposes the graph on top of the image it represents. In this histogram, there is a slight gap on the right-hand side indicating slight overexposure, which can be seen on the subject’s forehead.

Proper exposure is a perfect storm of shutter speed, aperture choice, and ISO setting that produces a pleasing result. Pleasing to whom? You are the ultimate arbiter of what is “correct,” and 40

one way to objectively evaluate a particular image’s exposure is by using the camera’s histogram function. This capability is unique to digital photography and is a feature of all digital SLRs and even some point-and-shoot cameras. The histogram (a graph showing the range of brightness in a photograph that shows light values in 256 steps) appears on the LCD. Zero is on the far-left side of the graph and represents pure black; 255 is on the far right-hand side and represents pure white. In the middle are the mid-range values (e.g., grays, browns, and greens). In a typical photograph, all of an image’s tones are captured when the graph rises from the bottom-left corner then descends toward the bottom right, creating what statisticians call a bell-shaped curve. If the histogram’s curve starts out too far in from either side or the slope appears cut off, then data is missing, and the image’s contrast range may exceed the sensor’s capture capabilities. While the classic histogram features a bell-shaped (a.k.a. Gaussian) curve, not every photograph will have this type of tonal distribution. Dramatic images with lots of light or dark areas often have lopsided histograms, but

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that doesn’t mean they aren’t correct for that image. MAD ABOUT LIGHTING: EXPOSURE TECHNIQUES

“Lighting ratio” is a term that’s used to describe the difference between the main light and any fill light. This relative strength can be measured using a light meter. Handheld meters measure

two kinds of available light—incident or reflected—and some measure flash as well. In-camera meters only measure the light that’s reflected by the scene to be photographed. Handheld incident light meters measure the amount of light that’s falling on the subject. All in-camera meters are reflected-light meters, but some handheld light meters can be used for measuring incident or reflected light. Don’t let the term “spot

Backlighting always calls for additional exposure, and here I applied a plus one-stop exposure compensation to an available light exposure of 1/800 second at f/4 and ISO 400. Why such a high shutter speed and ISO for what looks like a normal daylight shot? The Olympus E-300 I was using has a Zuiko Digital ED 150mm f/2.0 lens (300mm equivalent) that weighs 3.5 pounds!

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Above—You can also view an image’s histogram in software such as Adobe Photoshop (shown here). The histogram is for the image shown on the left. It’s evident that the image was underexposed by one and one-half stops. What is the correct exposure? Additional exposure would have changed the mood—so a perfect graph does not always make a perfect image. Left—A lopsided histogram? Yep, everything is on the left side of the graph, but I like the mood of the photograph that the exposure of 1/30 second at f/8 and ISO produced. The camera was a Canon EOS 1D Mark II with a EF 85mm f/1.8 lens.


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meter” confuse you. Unlike the broader coverage of in-camera meters, and even handheld meters for that matter, spot metering measures a narrowly focused area in a scene, but it’s still reflected light that is measured. If you have a handheld or in-camera meter reading for a subject of 1/500 second at f/11 and want to use a slower shutter speed to allow for normal subject motion and choose 1/125 second, you will have to adjust the aperture (make it smaller) so that the same (equivalent) amount of light will fall on the sensor. By selecting either the aperture or shutter priority automatic exposure modes, your camera calculates the equiva-

lent exposure for you, eliminating all the guesswork. Sometimes you will see or hear the term “exposure value” (EV) used. An exposure value is a number used to indicate all combinations of shutter speed and aperture that produce the same exposure. This term originated in Germany during the 1950s and persists to this day with purists who are more comfortable with it than the more common “stop.” Brightness Range. This exposure method suggests taking two different readings from the scene you’re about to photograph. The first one, or second if you prefer, is a meter reading made in the highlight area where detail is desired.

Brightness range is a good method in deceptive scenes like this where I wanted to maintain the texture of the wood on the porch and the shadows at the same time. The camera was a Canon EOS 60D with EF 28– 105mm lens. The exposure was 1/125 second at f/7.1 and ISO 200. The diagram shows the setup for the shot.

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Facing page—This image, done in homage to Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, was made at the entrance to a barn. The exposure for this mixed flash and daylight portrait was 1/60 at f/5 and ISO 200. I used a minus one-third stop exposure compensation to make sure the black dress stayed black. If you force the exposure toward middle gray tones (a typical approach using only the metered exposure), you’ll end up with blacks that look gray. Right—Metering the brightest object in the scene often creates silhouettes, which was the exact effect I wanted to achieve with this Acapulco beach scene. The nearsunset exposure at ISO 400 was 1/2000 second at f/8 with a Leica D-Lux2.

A second reading is taken from the shadow area of the scene, again where you want the detail to be held. Your camera settings will be based on an average of the two readings, and that will probably be close enough, although you might try to bracket your exposure. For information on bracketing, see “If All Else Fails, Bracket” later in this chapter. Darkest Object. If the shadow areas of the scene are most important, you might prefer to just take a meter reading only from this area. This method actually overexposes the image and can cause total lack of detail in highlight areas. Back in the film days, one methodology suggested that you expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights. You can do the same kind of thing by capturing the portrait using your camera’s RAW file format, but I’m guessing that sometimes the highlight may be totally lost anyway. One rule of thumb says to use the shadow reading and then narrow your aperture two stops. So even using the “darkest object” method, you have a choice and you can use one, both, or chose whatever

with certain kinds of subject matter based on your experience. Brightest Object. If you read the above section, you’ve probably already figured out that this method asks you to take a light meter reading from the highlight area within a scene. However, if you remember how in-camera and handheld meters work, you’ll realize that this will produce the equivalent of medium gray and will result in underexposure in the other areas of the scene that reflect less light. That’s because reflected light meters are calibrated to give an accurate exposure when pointed at a subject with reflectivity somewhere near 18 percent; the exact value varies and the details are complex, with some meters measuring 12 percent (the most common) and others at 14 percent. So here’s light reading


The Kodak Gray Card is a standard reference for exposure evaluation and grading. The card consists of a large 18 percent neutral gray area, and the surface is specially treated to minimize glare. The back of a Kodak Gray Card is white, making it an excellent source for manual color balance (see chapter 1).

of consistent exposures, but be sure to read the fine print instead of just accepting that reading as perfection. Instructions included with the card contain the following advice about adjusting the meter readings taken with the gray card:

another rule of thumb to help you cope: when using the brightest-object method, open up two or three f/stops from the indicated exposure to produce a good average exposure. Substitution. When using the substitution method, you replace an object in the scene with an object of known reflectance (e.g., a Kodak Gray Card) and take a reflected-light meter reading from this object. You can substitute objects that match the light reflectance quality of the object in the scene. Don’t have a gray card? Back in the film days I used to take a meter reading of grass (if there was any in the scene) and just open up one stop, but I don’t remember the last time I tried this old “rule of green thumb.” By placing a Kodak Gray Card in the scene to be photographed and taking a reading off it with a reflected light meter or the spot meter function of your in-camera meter, you can be assured 46

Normal subjects: “Increase the indicated exposure by 1/2 stop.” Light subjects: “For very light subjects, decrease exposure by 1/2 stop.” Dark subjects: “If the subject is dark or very dark, increase the indicated exposure by 1 to 11/2 stops.” HOW TO MAKE THOSE READINGS

Many SLRs have a feature known as auto exposure lock (sometimes called AE lock) that enables you to lock in an exposure from a view that’s different than that used for your final composition. After locking the exposure, you can recompose the shot while maintaining the desired settings. This feature is useful for backlit subjects and for applying any of the previously mentioned exposure methods, although you’ll have to do the math for averaging brightness range readings. Some handheld meters, on the other hand, will average multiple readings for you. Here’s how AE lock works: 1. Focus the camera. 2. Press the exposure lock button.

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3. Recompose and take the picture. Some cameras require you to continue to hold the exposure lock while you make the exposure, so it may feel like you need three hands until you get the hang of it. EXPOSURE REALITIES

Even when shooting with film cameras that had automatic exposure modes, capturing photographs with the proper exposure was a challenge requiring knowledge of the characteristics of a

Don’t let strong backlighting confuse the exposure. I used the AE lock button on the Olympus E-1 (it’s just behind the on/off switch atop the camera) to lock in an exposure of 1/160 at f/8 and ISO 200 and capture this image in a friend’s backyard. Fill from FL50R flash. The lens used was a Zuiko Digital 14–54mm f/2.8–3.5.

particular film and how it responded to various lighting conditions and even subject matter. But all that’s behind us, right? With digital SLRs, all you have to do is look at the LCD screen and, if it looks good, then the exposure is correct, right? If you answered that question with “yes,” you may be wrong. That’s because the size, resolution, and type of backlight that illuminates the LCD screen varies by manufacturer. Even cameras from the same company often use different technology on different models, so the view

do you have the blinkies?

Some digital cameras offer a highlight alert feature. When the image you’ve captured has overexposed highlight areas, the object or area of the frame is surrounded by blinking dotted lines (my pal Barry Staver calls them the “blinkies,” and some people call them “marching ants”). Some digital SLRs also offer a shadow alert. I find both of these features distracting and don’t use them. As we’ve seen before, just because you’ve got “blinkies,” doesn’t mean the image is unacceptable. It’s up to you, the photographer, to be in control of the exposure.

Top—The camera’s LCD is handy when making photographs such as this portrait of my wife Mary, in which the only illumination came from Christmas decorations in a neighbor’s yard. To get the image, I shot in manual mode with an exposure of 1/30 second at f/1.4 and ISO 800. I used a plus one and two-thirds exposure compensation that gave me an effective shutter speed of approximately 1/10 second. I used the LCD screen as my light meter to get me in the ballpark and then tweaked it in-camera to get this final exposure. Bottom—This photograph was made using a Canon EOS D60 evaluative metering system that links to the camera’s autofocus points. The program mode exposure was 1/200 second and f/10 at ISO 400. The camera’s built-in flash was used for fill, but in this case it didn’t add much to the overall exposure. 48

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Left—I used center-weighted average metering (as Canon calls it) for this EOS D60 shot in which the subject fills the frame. It was captured in manual mode with an exposure of 1/200 second at f/9 at ISO 200. The flash used for fill helped the subject pop out of the background. Right—Spot metering is an ideal approach when photographing a runway shot in available light with a spotlighted model who’s set against a dark or black background. The camera was an Olympus E-1. The exposure was 1/160 at f/8 and ISO 400. I shot in shutter priority mode to minimize the effects of any subject movement.

represented on the screen is far from consistent throughout a camera manufacturer’s product line. SLR METERING PATTERNS

These days, most digital SLRs offer multiple methods for metering how that light is reflected in a scene. The most common systems include: Multi-Segment. This system, also called matrix or multi-zone metering, divides the screen into multiple segments (the number of segments varies by camera model and manufacturer). The camera’s CPU automatically determines the

overall lighting level, including front and back lighting, and sometimes the color found in each segment, and compares it to a database of similar scenes to calculate a proper exposure. Some systems also integrate the data for the focusing point used, subject size, and distance. For many cameras, this is the default metering setting. It works fine for the average photograph, which is why I use it most of the time. Center-Weighted. In this mode, the camera’s metering measurement is heavily weighted (75–80 percent) toward the center of the light reading


For a long time, program mode was my preferred mode for making available light portraits such as this one. Exposure with a Canon EOS D60 was 1/250 second at f/4 and ISO 200. I used a plus two-thirds stop exposure compensation adjustment, as I was shooting in the shade.


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should use center-weighted metering when the main subject covers a large area of your photo. This mode does not compensate for backlit scenes, but the next one does. Spot Metering. With spot metering, brightness is measured only within a limited area (often 1 to 3 percent) of the image in the frame. You can use this type of metering for backlit scenes by placing the spot (a circle) on the subject and not the background. This metering mode may serve you well when photographing a performer or speaker on stage, or perhaps a runway model who is illuminated by a spotlight. The secret of successfully using spot metering is to place the spot where you want the scene properly exposed. When using this option, however, always consider its limitations. CAMERA EXPOSURE MODES

focusing screen. It’s an improvement over early built-in light meters, which took an average of all the light values in the screen and were heavily influenced by extremely dark or light areas on the edges and corners of the photograph. You

Most digital SLRs are equipped with several automatic and manual exposure modes that allow you to capture any subject at any point of your personal photographic development. Each mode offers specific advantages and allows you to control the creative elements in a photograph. With experience, you will learn which mode will work best under a given lighting condition, but if you’re just getting started, you should begin with the easiest one. Program (P). In program mode, the camera automatically selects a suitable shutter speed and aperture for the subject and lens focal length used. However, in this mode, the photographer can override some of the settings; for instance, in most cameras, you can use the feature as you would aperture or shutter priority mode, or you can use the camera’s exposure compensation button to create an intentional over- or underexposure effect. light reading


depth of field

One of the basic laws of imaging is that only one part of a three-dimensional object can be truly in focus at the image plane, and areas that are located in front of and behind that focus plane will appear more or less in focus. At the point of critical focus, there is a range of acceptable focus that is one-third in front of that point and two-thirds behind it. Depth of field is affected by the camera’s distance to the subject; it increases as the lens aperture is stopped down (larger f-numbers) and decreases as the lens aperture is opened up (smaller f-numbers) and the camera-tosubject distance decreases.

Shutter Priority (Tv). Shutter priority mode—a.k.a. time value mode, hence the abbreviation—is ideal for photographing subjects in motion, such as sports and action photography. Selecting Tv on the mode dial means that the camera automatically selects an aperture to match the shutter speed chosen by the user. You will usually be able to use another camera control (consult your manual) to select any desired shutter speed. The camera will select an aperture based on that shutter speed, the selected ISO, and existing lighting conditions. Shutter priority mode gives you control over whether a moving subject is captured in sharp focus or the subject is blurred. When using telephoto lenses, you should choose a shutter speed that is equivalent to the reciprocal of the lens’s focal length as a starting point. When using a 300mm lens, for example, you’d choose 1/250 second. In this mode, unlike program mode, you

This photograph is part of a series of images for a fitness model that were made in shutter priority mode with a Canon EOS 20D that later included some action shots. Exposure was 1/800 second at f/5 and ISO 100.

Left—I wanted to extract as much depth of field as possible when I captured this portrait in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. The exposure for the image, made with my Olympus E-3 in aperture priority mode, was f/9 and ISO 200. The camera determined the shutter speed to be 1/1000 second, so I could have probably chosen f/11 and still gotten a shutter speed that would allow me to handhold the camera. This black & white photograph was captured directly as a JPEG file using the E-3’s built-in monotone mode. Top right—This color digital infrared image was made with an EOS D30 converted to IR capture by LifePixel (www.lifepixel.com). The camera was fitted with an EF 85mm f/1.8 lens. Exposure was made in aperture priority mode to maximize depth of field at 1/200 second at f/16 and ISO 400. Bottom right—How would Tia be rendered under available light using conventional capture methods? This image was made just a few minutes before the infrared shot. I used a Canon EOS 10D and EF 28–105mm lens with an exposure of 1/60 second at f/5 and ISO 200.

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Facing page—I used manual mode to create this available light portrait, made in a factory. The camera was a Canon EOS 1D Mark II. The exposure was /30 second at f/6.3 and ISO 400.


exposure compensation

To me, the exposure compensation control is one of the most important features on

should make sure that the available aperture range is sufficient to provide a correct exposure at the selected shutter speed. Most cameras provide some kind of indication when the selected shutter speed is too fast or too slow for an adequate exposure. When that’s the case, you’ll have to use a different shutter speed to get an exposure that works. Aperture Priority (Av). In aperture priority (a.k.a. aperture value) mode, you set the desired aperture using the main dial and the camera selects a shutter speed that is appropriate for the given lighting conditions. The initial value that appears in the viewfinder and on the LCD panel is the last aperture that was used by the camera to set the exposure. The main reason for using AV mode is to control depth of field. Manual Mode. Earlier in the chapter, I said that most SLRs’ automatic modes would produce acceptable results 90 percent of the time. When you find yourself in that 10 percent territory, it’s time to switch to manual mode. This mode is for more experienced (phase two) shooters and those who would rather drive a car with a stick shift than an automatic transmission. There are lighting situations that can confuse even the most sophisticated automatic exposure metering system. Manual exposure can be especially helpful when you’re faced with high subject contrast or strong backlight, and also when a specific mood is desired. Some purists claim that manual exposure mode is the only one to use, but I only use manual exposure mode when working under

a digital SLR. The camera’s designers recognized that no amount of automation will produce a “perfect” exposure under all possible lighting situations, and what appeals to some won’t appeal to others. Since you are the final arbiter of what’s “correct,” the exposure compensation feature lets you increase or decrease the automatic exposure by one-half or one-third stops. Usually this involves pressing a button and rolling a control wheel, so refer to your User’s Guide for specific directions for your SLR. If you can set the amount of compensation by one-half or one-third, use the one-third stop option, as it provides you with more choices and allows a more nuanced difference in exposure.

extreme lighting conditions or working with studio lights. The only reason why you should use manual exposure is to maintain maximum control over everything in the scene, including the exposure. Bulb Mode. Most cameras offer a bulb mode. In this mode, the shutter stays open as long as the shutter release button is pressed. This allows you to make really long exposures for subjects such as holiday lights and fireworks, or to create special effects in images of carnivals and amusement parks. Time exposures can only be made using a sturdy tripod, and you can further light reading


Left—This photograph made of the Makuhari Messe outside Tokyo was shot handheld at ISO 400 using the Canon Digital Rebel’s tiny pop-up flash as fill. I used the EF 18–55mm kit lens with an exposure of 1/125 second at f/9, but applied the exposure compensation control to slightly underexpose the photograph to get the shot you see here. All the dark areas in the scene fooled the camera’s program exposure mode, which tried to increase exposure to compensate, but it was too much! Right—The EOS Rebel T2i’s built-in flash does an excellent job of fill, even though there may be times when you have to raise the ISO a bit to avoid the dreaded flash-on-camera look.

reduce the risk of camera shake by tripping the shutter using a cable release. ISO SPEEDS AFFECT EXPOSURE TOO

The ISO is a standard method for quantifying a film’s/image sensor’s sensitivity to light. Lower numbers, such as 50 or 100, represent less light sensitivity; higher numbers, such as 400 or 800, show more sensitivity. ISO numbers are magically proportional to their sensitivity to light. As you double or halve the ISO number, you double or halve the image sensor’s sensitivity to light. The math is simple: An ISO of 800 is twice as sensitive to light as 400, and 800 is half as sensitive to light as 1600. 56

Pssst! Let me tell you a secret: Digicams don’t have a true ISO speed, which is why you’ll often see the term “ISO equivalent” used on camera specifications sheets. Manufacturers developed technologies to make image sensors react in a way that is similar to the way film responds to light. The range of ISOs that a camera offers differs depending on the make and model. And here’s where the greatest advantage of digital over film occurs: you can change ISO on a frameby-frame basis. With film cameras, changing the ISO means loading a new roll of film with a different ISO rating.

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Pianists practice their scales; photographers need to practice exposure. Sometimes the best solution is to shoot a series of frames with slightly varying exposures to increase your odds of capturing an ideal exposure. This strategy is called “bracketing,” and many SLRs offer an automatic bracket option. In auto bracket mode, the first frame is exposed at what would be considered the “normal” exposure, the second is underexposed by a predetermined amount, and the third is overexposed by that same amount (typically a fractional adjustment, but in extreme examples, full stops might be used). Clicking the right button of the four-way controller lets you

set bracketing parameters. Some cameras even let you change the order in which the exposures are made from minus, zero, plus (for traditionalists; it’s also my favorite) or plus, zero, minus with variations on that theme. Because the LCD preview screen on most digital cameras can exaggerate the image’s contrast, you can be led to believe that you have a well-exposed image when, in fact, the shot is slightly underexposed. Only the image’s histogram reveals the truth. Practice bracketing. In time, you will learn how to evaluate the image on your LCD screen and make exposure adjustments without looking at the histogram.

Here is a bracketed series of three exposures made in the classic order of underexposed, normal, and overexposed. I typically try to make an exposure using whatever manual or automatic mode I think is best suited for the scene, then evaluate the image’s histogram and make exposure compensation adjustments accordingly. When in doubt, though, it’s a good idea to do what photographers have done since the invention of 35mm film—bracket like crazy.


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Left—High key: This portrait, shot in an old house in Phoenix, was made using only the light coming from the lace-curtained window. The camera was a Canon EOS D60 with an EF 28–105mm f/3.5–4.5 lens. The exposure was 1/160 second at f/5.6 and ISO 800. Right—Low key: The natural window light in my office produced all the illumination I needed for this image. The camera was a Canon EOS D60 with an inexpensive (under a hundred bucks), now discontinued EF-S 22–55mm lens. The exposure was /100 second at f/7.1 and ISO 400. A minus one and


one-third stop exposure compensation (chapter 2) was added, but I think I went too far, and the image needed a bit more than the normal tweaking.


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3. Lighting Indoors “Available light is any damn light that is available!”—W. Eugene Smith


ortraits made indoors without flash can be a challenge. You have to use your ingenuity to find light sources that will produce lighting that flatters your subjects. That light can be sunlight coming through windows, but it seems that in many new homes, windows are placed sparingly. There seems to be a trend toward using just the minimal number of windows that building codes require to save the builder money. In some older homes, windows are on the small side, so even these homes present challenges. The secret is to look for and work with whatever natural light you can find, wherever you find it. This means that you’ll need to contend with color balance (chapter 1) and use higher ISO settings to compensate for an overall lack of the quantity of light. Unfortunately, bumping up the camera’s ISO setting will, with many cameras, produce digital noise, and I’ll show you how to cope with that later in this chapter. The use of wide-aperture (“fast”) lenses can also be an important part of this equation. Be-

cause their use is just as important outdoors and indoors, they are covered in chapter 4. Portraits are all about light, so if you want to conquer indoor lighting, start by looking around your home for places where there’s plenty of existing light. The best and greatest quantity of existing light is found in my kitchen. The walls are painted a soft white color, and there’s a large north-facing bay window comprised of three

The kitchen is my favorite place to shoot in the house year round. The classic window light image was made with a Canon EOS 10D and EF 28–105mm f/3.5–4.5 lens. The exposure was 1/60 second at f/4.5 and ISO 400. I bounced an EX420 flash with a Sto-Fen (www.stofen.com) diffuser mounted on the ceiling for overall fill light. The shot was made in color and converted to monochrome using Alien Skin Software’s (www.alienskin.com) Exposure plug-in.

lighting indoors


Top—This photograph was made in my dining room during the same session that produced the “reflections” image that kicks off chapter 2. I shot it with a Canon EOS 10D with an available-light-only exposure of 1/80 second at f/4.5 and ISO 400. As you can see by the histogram, the image, while theoretically not underexposed, produced a lopsided exposure with too much in the shadows. Bottom—Create a duplicate layer using the Layer>Duplicate Layer command. You can name it (or not), then select Screen from the Layer palette’s Blending Mode popup menu. If you’re lucky, the underexposure will be instantly corrected, but you may have to use the Layer palette’s Opacity slider to change the overall exposure of the duplicate layer. When it looks the way you want it, flatten the layer (Layer>Flatten) to create a single-layer file. Facing page—The final image has its underexposure corrected and is lightly retouched. As with any underexposed image, you can expect to find digital noise. The problem—and its solutions—is described on pages 62–67.


large individual windows, each fitted with miniblinds that let me control light better than I can in any studio. For moody lighting, the back door to my house, where I made that image in the Introduction, is a good choice. You may have more or fewer windows and doors in your own home, likely in different locations, but the key to getting started is looking at these openings as light sources for your photographs. You may be surprised at what you discover. 60

Window light is one of the best sources of natural portrait lighting indoors, but because of the contrast ratios it produces, underexposure can result, and you may not notice it until you look at the images on your computer. Everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes when shooting I lose track of the available light and my camera settings don’t keep up with changing lighting conditions. More often than not, that results in an underexposed image. Here’s how I fix that problem in Adobe Photoshop: In this situation, many people use the Levels command (Image>Adjustments>Levels) and move the right-hand slider to the left to increase exposure. However, doing this also increases

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lighting indoors


Top—This non-portrait image was captured using a recipe that guarantees noise—a camera with a small (18x13.5mm) imaging chip, high ISO, and long exposure. With the image printed at this size, you may not be able to tell that the left-hand half of the image shows no noise reduction, and the right-hand side shows the effect of applying noise reduction. The exposure with an Olympus E-3 was 1.3 seconds at f/10 and ISO 400. Bottom—Let’s take a closer look at an area of the same image. You should be able to discern a noticeable difference between no noise reduction (left) and the standard noise reduction (right). Lots of multi-colored noise can clearly be seen on the left, while noise on the right-hand side is fine, controlled, and much smoother, with image sharpness maintained.

the contrast. Some people prefer to use Curves (Image>Adjustments>Curves) to increase overall exposure, but I like Photoshop’s Layer command. (See the images and captions on page 60.) DIGITAL NOISE

The downside to increasing your camera’s ISO setting to cope with a lack of available light is noise. Noise in digital photographs is the visual equivalent of the static that you hear in AM radio 62

signals, and the unvarnished truth is that most digital cameras add some level of noise to image files. The nearest equivalent in traditional photography is grain. In film, grain is more noticeable at high ISO settings and is most visible in areas of uniform color, such as skies and shadow areas. In digital capture, noise is most prevalent during long exposures made under low-light conditions, such as night photography, and it is always more obvious in underexposed areas.

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There are as many different kinds of digital noise as there are causes: Dark noise is created by the heat produced in the camera’s sensor during capture when dark current is collected along with image data from light passing through the lens. Random noise is produced by fluctuations within the camera’s circuitry, and even electromagnetic waves outside the camera, including some effects from extraterrestrial events such as sunspots. Signal noise is caused by fluctuations in the distribution of how light strikes an image sensor, which is why you sometimes hear the term “signal-to-noise-ratio” (a measure of signal strength relative to background noise). Amplified noise is caused by using high ISO speeds, and it’s the digital equivalent of chemically “pushing” film to achieve greater light sensitivity. Finally, there’s accumulative noise, which is caused by slower shutter speeds. In-Camera Noise Suppression. You may think the sensor is the key to image quality, but its signals are not recognizable as an image until they’ve been gathered and processed. That’s why some imaging processors prevent noise from occurring during the processing stage. What noise remains is only that which is produced by the sensor itself. The way most manufacturers describe in-camera noise reduction is a mash-up of marketing buzzwords and high technology. How it is handled varies from one manufacturer to the next, and it is highly proprietary. The Nikon D3S/D3, for example, incorporates three stages of amplification circuitry within the image sensor to minimize the accumulation of noise that can occur when low-level signals are transmitted to a single-stage output amplifier. By amplifying electrical signals at the earliest point, the signal is strengthened and the influence of circuit noise reduced. Most cameras,

including those from Canon, offer some kind of built-in noise reduction. High ISO noise reduction is a feature on recent EOS Digital SLRs and is a custom function option in most recent models. It’s different from the long-exposure noise reduction feature that has been a part of EOS digital cameras for some time. Once again, do some tests to see which settings produce the best kind of results under the kind of low light and ISO settings you use to capture images. The method that a camera uses to reduce noise is based, in part, on the type of noise that’s being processed, and noise comes in two basic flavors. Fixed-pattern noise is produced by uneven signal boost among different pixel amplifiers on the sensor. Random noise occurs when shooting at different times of the day. Random noise is typically suppressed when the sensor resets the photo-diodes that store electrical charges. Canon’s method for suppressing random noise is called complete electronic charge transfer or complete charge transfer. It ensures that the sensor resets the photo-diodes storing electrical charges. Some digital SLRs offer a user-selectable noise-reduction function that attempts to eliminate this noise after the file has been captured but before it’s written on the memory card. Fixedpattern noise can be suppressed by on-chip noise reduction technology using correlated double sampling (CDS), which permits one light signal to be read by two circuits. Initially, only the noise is read, and then it’s read along with the light signal. When the noise component is subtracted from the combined signal, a lot of fixed-pattern noise can be eliminated. More power creates more heat and noise. At long shutter speeds, CCD sensors increase power consumption, and more electricity flowing means heat and noise problems. The millions lighting indoors



Top—Some digital cameras, such as the Olympus E-3 used for this test, let you decide how much in-camera noise filtration will be applied. The E-3, for example, lets you choose low, standard, or high noise reduction. In my test images, the low filter showed subtle but noticeable improvement. Standard made additional improvements while maintaining sharpness, but the high setting began to soften the image too much. Bottom—The Olympus E-3’s standard-level option works great for removing noise in most situations, but picky shooters will choose the low setting to maintain maximum sharpness, while less particular shooters can sacrifice sharpness for noise reduction in high mode. Please read your camera’s User’s Guide to see how noise reduction is implemented in your specific camera. 64

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Left—Some plug-ins work with Adobe’s Lightroom, but its plug-in architecture is dissimilar to Photoshop, so be sure to check if a particular plug-in works directly or, like Imagenomic’s Noiseware, requires a droplet to allow you to bounce back and forth between the noise reduction software and Lightroom. Imagenomic has a library of free droplets and actions on their ActionBook page (http://www.imagenomic.com/actionbook. aspx). Right—Contrast noise (a.k.a. luminance noise) and color noise (a.k.a. chrominance noise) can be present in an image. In some images, both kinds of noise may be present. JPEG artifacts can be extensive in some photos too (this looks like noise, but it’s not). Nik’s Dfine allows you to control where the noise reduction is applied and the degree of the reduction. This makes it easy to eliminate noise while maintaining detail and sharpness.

of photodiodes and amplifiers that are found in a CMOS sensor can produce noise in the output image. One of the best ways to minimize noise is to use RAW capture. True, manufacturers incorporate fancy in-camera image-processing technology that’s used to eliminate noise during JPEG capture, but it can also eliminate detail. Any noise that remains on your processed RAW file can then be eliminated or at least minimized using any of the Photoshop-compatible plug-ins that I’ll show you in the next section. Photoshop-Compatible Plug-Ins. Although Adobe defined the standard, you don’t need Photoshop to use plug-ins. Fully compatible

plug-ins can be used with other image-editing programs. Note, however, that not all plug-ins work with Photoshop Elements, and many plugins are not compatible with Apple Aperture. Postproduction application of noise reduction offers some advantages. It can be used for older image files that were made with a digicam that didn’t have built-in noise reduction. When applying noise reduction after capture, you also have more control over how and where the noise is reduced. Noise reduction can be applied to a duplicate layer, and changing the new layer’s opacity can moderate the effect. Noise reduction can also be applied to part of an image via the use lighting indoors


Left—Noiseware is available for Mac OS and Windows as a plug-in or standalone product. It’s available for both the standard and professional version, with the biggest difference being 16-bit capability in the pro version. Both use heuristic programming, which continuously perfects processing, so every time you process an image, Noiseware learns more about your camera or scanner. Right—Noise Ninja uses a proprietary type of wavelet analysis that avoids introducing artifacts, such as ringing or blurring edges, to the final image file. To refine its noise reduction capabilities, it uses camera profiles that are offered free on its web site. They also offer a profiling chart that lets you build your own profiles.

of selection tools or applied to a duplicate layer and selectively erased to allow the original image to show through, preserving sharpness in critical parts of the photograph. Both Photoshop and Lightroom have built-in noise reduction functions, and that may suffice for some shooters. If you need something stronger or more flexible, you’ll want to turn to one of the following power tools. Nik Software’s (www.niksoftware.com) Dfine is a Photoshop-compatible plug-in that provides control over how much and where to apply noise reduction, making it easy to eliminate noise in your photographs while maintaining detail and sharpness. The software performs automatic camera profiling, so you won’t have to purchase profiles. This fine-tunes the plug-in’s noise66

reduction engine to produce the best results for your specific camera. Nik’s U Point-powered Control Points allow you to reduce noise only where it’s needed, maintaining detail everywhere else. You can download a free trial version of the plug-in from Nik’s web site and test it with your own photographs. Imagenomic’s (www.imagenomic.com) Noiseware removes high and low ISO noise and JPEG compression artifacts from digital files as well as grain from scanned film. The interface is intuitive, and you’ll get excellent results without having to read the help file. Noiseware’s self-learning mechanism automatically calibrates a noise profile and chooses the optimal noise-removal settings without requiring camera-specific profiles. The plug-in allows the detected noise levels

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Wavelet-based methods of noise reduction were developed ten to fifteen years ago. Neat Image uses an even newer and more efficient approach to noise reduction. This approach can be used to draw a clear distinction between noise and details in noisy images.

to be adjusted by tonal and color range while it preserves image detail based on tonality range, all the while processing to guard against excessive changes. PictureCodes’s (www.picturecode.com) Noise Ninja runs on both Windows and Mac OS X and is available as a standalone application or plugin. The Professional version works with 16-bit TIFF files (48-bits per pixel) and supports batch processing and multiprocessor computers. Noise Ninja uses a proprietary type of wavelet analysis that avoids introducing artifacts that can cause blurred edges. It includes a set of tools for automatic and manual noise analysis and a noise brush that lets you undo or redo the effects of noise removal in luminance, chroma, or color channels. PictureCode recommends that photographers use Noise Ninja even if an image was shot at a low ISO setting, as they claim you’ll be able to make bigger enlargements before noise becomes a problem. Neat Image (www.neatimage.com) is available as a standalone application or plug-in. It builds and uses device profiles from any image-acquisition device (camera or scanner). It lets you build noise profiles automatically or manually. Auto Profiler is the easiest and quickest one-click way to build a noise profile, but you can manually select an image area for analysis and let Neat Image do the rest. Profile Matcher automatically selects the best-matching noise profile based on the input image’s EXIF data. You can manually

select the desired noise profile, rely on default filter settings, or manually adjust the noise filters. You can save and reuse noise profiles and filter settings. These are not the only noise reduction products that are available, they’re just the ones that I use on a regular basis. If you already have noise reduction software that you like, keep using it. If you’re in the market for a noise reduction program, note that most of the plug-ins I’ve mentioned are available in trial or demo versions. Be sure to visit the manufacturers’ web sites and download any that interest you. CONTRAST AND SHADOWS

Contrast is simply the difference in brightness between light and dark areas in a scene. It can be a function of the subject matter or the lighting conditions, or a little of both. Controlling contrast in-camera can be a challenge. At the simplest levels, using a lower ISO setting will slightly increase contrast, while higher ISO settings can decrease contrast. Other in-camera techniques can be found in your digital camera’s menus. Olympus, for example, offers several picture modes, including natural and vivid mode. The natural setting produces images with more natural tones with less contrast. The vivid mode lighting indoors


Left—As with many other manufacturers’ DSLRs, you can fine-tune image parameters such as contrast via a menu. This image shows the options offered on a Pentax K100D. If you’re concerned that you may not be happy with your approach later on, use RAW+JPEG capture (see chapter 7) so you’ll have an untouched file at your disposal. Center—Olympus’ Shadow Adjustment Technology (SAT) is available on several models. It allows you to capture greater detail in the shadow areas of the scene while maintaining detail in the highlights. Shadow adjustment is part of the camera’s gradation menu. When the weird little infinity symbol is displayed, gradation is set for normal. When both the infinity symbol and AUTO are displayed, SAT is active. Right—Some cameras, such as the Canon EOS 5D, do not offer shadow control options. If this is the case for your camera too, you can use the contrast controls to lower the contrast and “open up” the shadows to reveal more detail. The downside is that sensor noise is more likely found in shadow areas than mid-tones. Facing page—This low-key, contrasty image was made in my dining room using only the available light coming through the back door to my house. The camera was a Canon EOS D60 and EF 85mm f/1.8 lens. The exposure was 1/60 second and f/5.0 at ISO 1000. I didn’t use flash or reflectors to get this shot, I just increased the ISO sensitivity.

renders image colors more intensely, with greater contrast. Many photographers feel that shadows make or break a photograph. Sometimes, however, the shadows in an image may be too heavy. The Shadow’s Lamont Cranston used mind control taught to him by monks in Lhasa, but we have other options at our disposal, starting with the shadow adjustment technology available on some SLRs, including those from Olympus. Nowadays, we have Photoshop to control shadows and sometimes highlights too. The Shadow/ Highlight tool (Image>Adjustments>Shadow/ Highlight) is one of Photoshop’s secret weapons. The interface features individual sliders that can be used for varying the intensity of the

shadows and/or highlights, as well as controlling color and midtone contrast. Unlike some shadow control tools that blow out highlights while emphasizing noise in the shadows, Photoshop’s Shadow/Highlight keeps the noise where it is, and if you shot the image at a low ISO, that means there isn’t any. SCENE MODE SECRETS

Most digital SLRs offer a program mode that sets the shutter speed and aperture with a given ISO setting. Scene modes work like program mode on steroids. You turn the whole exposure over to the camera, which makes exposure decisions biased toward specific conditions and may, for example, automatically trigger the built-in lighting indoors


Top left—This test shot was made for Megan’s model portfolio. She wanted a moody image with lots of shadows. I used a Canon EOS D60 with an EF 28–105mm zoom lens at 55mm. The exposure was f/7.1 at /125 second and ISO 400. Natural light came through a narrow window


to the left with the mini-blinds open to minimize harsh light on the model. When evaluating images like these on an LCD, they often appear brighter and more contrasty than they really are. I’ve tried adjusting the panel’s brightness to compensate, but it doesn’t seem to help. Bottom left—This is the result of using Photoshop’s Shadow/Highlight control’s default settings. The mood that the model and I were trying to produce was diminished. Right—Megan is a redhead, but this was the result of tweaking Photoshop’s Shadow/Highlight control. The “Goldilocks” look minimized shadows but maintained the mood. The diagram shows the setup.

flash! Scene modes are underutilized because few people seem to know about them. Some cameras have a SCN setting on a control knob, while others have them tucked inside the camera’s menu structure, but almost all point-and-shoots and entry-level digital SLRs offer scene modes. That term is not universal, however; Casio, for example, uses the unfortunate abbreviation BS (for “best shot”) on their EXLIM Pro EX-F1. As with any camera-specific feature, see your User’s Guide for specific details about this feature. One of the problems with scene mode (or whatever a specific manufacturer calls it) is that each manufacturer has decided there will be little or no standardization on what scene modes are offered or even what their names will be, so similar features may have different names in a camera from another manufacturer. In the image below,

you’ll see a round-up of some common names, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a King Kong mode offered for photographing giant simians climbing buildings. Don’t Be Confused. Scene modes set many different parameters on the camera, including shutter speed, aperture, and even the use of flash. Other modes affect the actual look of the image. For example, most recent Canon digital SLRs include a set of picture styles that emulate the characteristics of various films and adjusts the camera’s settings for image processing parameters such as tone curve, sharpness, or contrast. Picture styles make it simple for users to get optimum image quality by making choices that are more or less like selecting a particular type of film in 35mm photography based on its color characteristics, contrast, and sharpness.

Left—The mode dial on cameras, such as the Pentax K100D, lets you select SCN (scene mode) and other options that sometimes get confused with it. In a recent online survey, readers were asked to name their favorite scene mode. Some picked aperture priority (really an exposure mode, not a scene mode), while one respondent said, “they are all useless.” Right—The Pentax K100D’s scene modes show up on the rear LCD screen. The camera’s four-way controller is used to select the scene mode, but it also gives you some information about what the given mode does.

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Facing page—Casio’s EX-F1 offers a best shot (BS) mode that blurs the line between image manipulation modes—such as picture styles—and scene modes by combining them into one easier-to-use selection of shooting options. When you think about it, this approach makes a lot of sense. This dancer was captured during a Cinco de Mayo celebration in Denver. Exposure was 1/320 second at f/9.9 and ISO 200, using the Casio EXLIM Pro EX-F1’s best shot mode. Right—My friend Tony photographed me after shopping in Tokyo’s Akihabara district. The shot was made with an EOS Digital Rebel in night scene mode. The camera determined an exposure of 1/60 second at f/3.5 and ISO 400. © 2011 Tony Gomez.

Canon is hardly unique in offering the ability to capture images in various color renditions. The Nikon D40x’s Retouch menu offers in-camera image-editing features including monochrome (black & white, sepia, and cyanotype) and filter effects (skylight, warm, color balance). Samsung and Pentax’s digital SLRs offer a wide range of capture options including a setting called image tone, which offers two choices—bright (which produces snappy images with more contrast and sharper focus) and natural (which produces photographs that Samsung says are “finished naturally and suitable for retouching”). Reading between the lines, it means less contrast, a slightly lighter exposure, and softer focus. But none of these are really scene modes. Night Scene Portrait. This scene mode was designed for taking pictures of people at night using the camera’s built-in flash to illuminate them. In this mode, a slow-sync shutter speed allows you to capture detail and color in the background. When making a portrait in front of a cityscape or sunset, the foreground or the background will be exposed correctly, but it’s

unlikely you will achieve a balanced exposure between foreground and background. Night scene mode automatically selects a long exposure time so the background will have sufficient exposure. The flash will accurately illuminate the main subject in the foreground, and the background will be properly exposed by the exposure time. Since you may end up with a slow shutter speed, a fairly wide aperture, and the flash turned on—that’s the whole point of trying to balance flash and background—be sure to carefully lighting indoors


Going out to play (or shovel) in the snow? Try some shots in surf and snow mode to see if the exposures aren’t better than they’ve been before. This shot of Mary, made on New Year’s Day, was made with a Sony point-and-shoot camera. The camera chose an exposure of 1/500 at f/10 and ISO 200.


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focus on your subject using the camera’s focus lock feature. There are a few more tips about night scene mode in chapter 6. Surf and Snow. While night scenes fool metering systems with points of light and lots of darkness, beach and snow scenes do just the opposite: they have a lot of light, making the built-in meter want to underexpose the shot. Choosing the surf and snow scene mode tells the camera what it’s up against and produces wellexposed images. Text. If you think about it, photographing text, in most cases, is not too different from photographing in the snow—there is a lot of white background with thin black text for foreground. Though the mode isn’t very exciting, it’s a great

option when you’re shooting copy work and want the text to be sharp and clear. Sunset. Sunsets and sunrises are notoriously difficult to shoot because you have lots of dark areas and a brilliant light source in the same frame. With your camera set to this mode, you can more easily record the beautiful color that draws your eye but is always difficult to render in a photograph. In the photograph below, you can see the ant-like people (as silhouettes) walking on the beach. It’s always a good idea to have some foreground interest in sunset scenes such as this one.


Nothing says sunset like the classic “sun slowly setting in the west” shot, and this photograph of the beach at Acapulco benefitted from the sunset scene mode. The camera-determined exposure was 1/500 second at f/4 and ISO 80.

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4. Lighting Outdoors “Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”—Diane Arbus


he best-looking portraits will often be ones that allow the subject to contrast with its background, as this allows the subject to stand out and creates a sense of drama in the photograph. That’s why it’s a good idea to look for a background that is darker (or lighter) than your subject. Sometimes, this requires a small adjustment in camera position, so take the time to pick the right spot. Ansel Adams once said that “A good photograph is knowing where to stand,” and that’s just as true for portraiture as it is for landscape photography.

One of the best portrait techniques is to work with the depth of field and deliberately set a sharp subject against an out-of-focus background or foreground. Try different apertures to change the look of an out-of-focus background and use longer lenses, which inherently have less depth of field than wide-angle lenses. Another one of my favorite techniques for outdoor portraiture is backlighting (see chapter 6) because it produces

Facing page—A classic use of backlighting adds drama to this shot of an aspiring model who was posing for the first time in a friend’s backyard. The camera was a Canon EOS 5D with an EF 28–135mm IS lens. The exposure was 1/200 second at f/7.1 and ISO 400. Fill was provided by an EX550 flash unit that later had its hot shoe ripped off when I stumbled carrying two cameras, each with a speedlight mounted. Nobody’s perfect. Right—This aspiring model has lots of beautiful, luxurious hair. Before this shot, I asked her to spritz her hair with water from a spray bottle kept for this very purpose, and this was the result. This phase one image was captured on Kodak black & white negative film using a Contax 167 and Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 lens.

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eight quick tips for better outdoor portraits

1. Avoid large jewelry. Make sure that your subject’s face, especially the eyes, are the photograph’s main focus. Ask the model to remove her wristwatch too. 2. Ask them to wear solid colors. Nothing detracts more than clothes covered in busy patterns and prints. 3. Ensure the clothes fit. If a subject’s clothes don’t fit as well as you might like, use wooden clothespins (out of camera range) to snug them up. Subjects wear oversized clothing more often than you might think. 4. Ask the subject to wear her hair differently (from up to down to down from up, for example) for each change of clothing. One of my favorite tricks is to have them spray their hair with water; some subjects’ hair gets curly and some goes straight, but either effect can produce some great looks. 5. Have the subject vary her expressions. Some models look great with a smile, while others look better without one. The only way to find out which way your subject’s looks best is to try both. If you’re lucky, the subject looks great both ways, providing lots of different looks. 6. Use different makeup styles. When changing hairstyles or outfits, ask the model to change her makeup style and color too. The change doesn’t have to be drastic, maybe a different lipstick color or darker eye shadow. Avoid the flat monochrome look so popular these days. It may look great (I don’t think so, but some people love it) for every day, but it looks dead in photographs. Get the subject to try some red lipstick. She will be surprised by the change, and again, you’ll achieve some different looks. 7. Have the subject choose great footwear. For a more a statuesque posture, ask the model to wear her highest heels. No high heels? Ask her to stand on her toes for a few shots. 8. Relax. A shoot is a team effort. The model and photographer must work together to achieve the best-possible images.

bright edges on your subject. Backlighting can produce beautiful highlights on the subject’s hair and blow out the background to create a high-key effect and perhaps minimize the impact of a less-than-exciting background. 78


The classic way of exposing images on sunny days is the famous “Sunny 16” rule. The Sunny 16 rule states that, on a sunny day, you can set your aperture at f/16 and choose a shutter

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Left—This sports fan was photographed on a bright, sunny day on the grounds of a nearby recreation center. I thought that the bleacher stands added just the right touch. The image was made on the kind of day that the little slip of paper Kodak packs with the film says requires an exposure of 1/125 second at f/16. In this case, however, I went with an exposure of 1/200 second at f/8. In theory, these settings would produce a slightly underexposed image, but I compensated for the obvious backlighting by using an EX550 flash for fill. Right—When the weather is nice, I like to visit a state park with a lake that’s nearby my home. The park is almost deserted during the week, and the few fishermen there have never even gawked at a model wearing the skimpiest of bikinis. Please note that some state and local parks may require permits for “commercial” photography, but I’ve found that the mostly female rangers in this park have always been polite and welcoming. Camera was a Canon EOS D60 and EF 28–90mm lens with an exposure of 1/200 second at f/6.7 and ISO 100. The camera’s pop-up flash was used as fill.

speed that approximates the reciprocal of the ISO you’ve selected for the scene. For instance, if your camera is set at ISO 125, the sunlight exposure would be 1/125 second at f/16. The correct exposure at ISO 400 would be 1/400 second at f/16, but since most cameras don’t have a 1/400

second shutter speed setting, a 1/500 second speed should work. Modern camera technology has relieved us of the guesswork methods of checking exposure for most common lighting situations, including sunny days. The ability to tweak exposure lighting outdoors



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Facing page—Give the subject something to do with her hands. It will make her relax because she will have one less thing to worry about, and she’ll be better able to concentrate on you. The camera was a Canon EOS D60 with an EF 135mm SF lens. The exposure was 1/320 second at f/4 and ISO 200. I used an exposure compensation of plus one stop to make up for the shade (more later) caused by the building’s overhang.

with today’s sophisticated cameras can make or break your image quality and content. I’m astounded at the number of people who don’t care about correct exposure, using the already wornout phrase, “I’ll just fix it later in Photoshop.” Where exposure is concerned, Photoshop is not a cure-all. You can use digital darkroom techniques that I showed in the previous chapter, but I use them only when I make mistakes. The best photographs are made from the best-possible exposures. A digital image that is too far over- or underexposed cannot be completely saved with image manipulating software. Please re-read the last sentence. The biggest mistake many photographers make when working on a bright, sunny day is having the subject face the sun. Their idea is that this pose will put the most light on the subject. While that’s true, placing the subject in this position also makes the individual squint, and nobody except Clint Eastwood looks good when squinting. Let the model relax and turn her back to the sun, then use flash to illuminate her face. When used correctly, this fill flash (see chapter 6) won’t look out of place and will add a little sparkle to the subject’s eyes. Don’t get fussy about posing the subject. Watch what they do naturally and try to have them interact with the background in some way

that’s physically comfortable. To show a subject how to stand, I’ll put myself in the pose but let her give me her interpretation. Once she’s in a pose, I select camera angles that accent a model’s good points and minimize anything she is self-conscious about. Never just point the camera and hope that’s the right shot. Move around and watch the background too. I talk to every subject differently too. It’s your job to find the best way of working to put her at ease. By using the fewest number of lenses and lighting equipment, you can focus on composition and pose the subject to produce interesting photographs. The most technically perfect photographs made with the most expensive equipment won’t make up for the look—you’ll see it in the eyes—of a subject who isn’t part of the creative process. One way to increase communication during the shoot is to show the model some of the images on your digital camera’s LCD screen as you make them. I don’t like to show every shot, just the ones I like and am excited about. Doing so often gets the model excited too, resulting in better images for both of us. Seeing how great she looks gives her confidence in your abilities and makes the session progress more smoothly. CLOUDY DAYS

There are all kinds of cloudy days. On days that are heavily overcast, you get what I call “muddy light.” On days like this, it’s difficult but not impossible to create good-looking portraits. When you’ve simply got to get the shot, you’ll find that using a speedlight can help (see chapter 6 for more information). On other days, the conditions are what Eastman Kodak famously refers to as “cloudy bright.” These are the best days to photograph people because the light scattering through the clouds produces a wonderful lighting outdoors


Left—My wife Mary made this “cloudy bright” photograph of another photographer’s wife at an impromptu gathering of photographers and aspiring models at a friend’s home. Her camera was an Olympus E-1 with a 14–54mm zoom lens and an exposure of 1/125 second at f/4 and ISO 200. Right—In a cloudy bright setting, the model is relaxed while the soft light wraps around her, leaving her eyes bright with no dark shadows. The camera was a Canon EOS 10D with an EF 28–105mm lens. The exposure was 1/125 second at f/5.6 and ISO 200. Bottom—Here is the data sheet for Kodak Gold 100 and 200 color negative films, which were “designed for general picture-taking situations in daylight or with electronic flash.” Note the different lighting conditions that Kodak mentions, including “cloudy bright.” 82

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lenté loco

Lenses like Canon’s EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM are very fast. On a sunny day, I shot with this particular lens on my Canon EOS 30D. I used ISO 100 with the lens wide open, and the required exposure exceeded the camera’s maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 second. I had to stop down to f/1.6 to get proper exposure with the least-possible depth of field. On a cloudy (really cloudy, not a “cloudy bright”) day, I was able to shoot wide open at ISO 100 and get good

Canon’s EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM has an integrated high-speed CPU and uses a ring-type ultrasonic motor (USM) for fast and near-silent autofocus; it’s

exposures at /1600 second, which produced

a feature that is useful when shooting wide open

tack-sharp images with a delightfully shal-

when you want to shift focus by a silly millimeter

low depth of field.

or two. At f/1.2 you can keep a model’s eye sharp


while blurring the ends of her eyelashes. The shallow depth of field possible when the lens is used at its widest aperture makes this an ideal portrait lens in the studio or on location.

wraparound lighting that is soft, non-directional, and bright enough to keep shadows away from the eye sockets—and there’s no worrying about squinting or backlighting. It’s the best of all worlds. MADE IN THE SHADE

Shady areas are one of my favorite location portrait destinations. The light is soft, not directional, and this softness helps put the subject at ease, increasing the odds of a good portrait. The downside is that the lower light levels in these locales also means slower shutter speeds, which can result in what looks like an out-of-focus image but is really the outcome of camera movement.

Unfortunately, sometimes this ever-so-slight softness may be difficult to see on an LCD preview screen. Take the time to learn about and use your camera’s magnification control to enlarge the image on the LCD so you can see if it is sharp before ending the portrait session. The best test is to look at the subject’s eyes. If they’re sharp, it doesn’t matter how sharp anything else in the frame may be. One of the best ways to avoid this problem is, of course, to use a tripod, but that isn’t always practical. I’ve started using lenses such as the Canon EF 28–135mm f/3.5–5.6 IS USM; the image stabilization technology allows you to hold a camera three stops slower than you could otherwise. lighting outdoors


The only other problem with shooting in the shade, especially among a lot of trees, is that the overall color balance can be affected. This can

often be remedied by using your camera’s shade color balance preset—but sometimes you simply forget.

This model was photographed in the shade of a tree at Buffalo Bill State Historical Park (there’s a small admission charge, but it’s a great place to shoot) in North Platte, Nebraska. The camera was a Canon EOS 5D, which was fitted with an EF 28–135mm f/3.5–5.6 IS USM lens. The exposure was /125 second at f/7.1 and ISO 200.



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Top left—Using your SLR’s shade white balance preset is a good idea, especially when working outdoors, where there are lots of reflections from foliage—but what do you do if you forget to dial in that option, or if you find your LCD screen isn’t as color correct as it should be? Here is an example of beautiful Shannon Marie (a similar but different image of her appears in Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography) that makes her look more like Shrek than the beautiful wood nymph she’s portraying in this portrait. Bottom left— PictoColor’s (www.pictocolor.com) iCorrect Portrait is an inexpensive Photoshop-compatible plug-in that is useful for making these kinds of color corrections. For the portrait of Shannon Marie, I merely clicked on her cheek, then checked set white point for some additional color and density adjustment. I also added a plus 20 points on the Lighten control, all from within the plug-in. Right—After a few tweaks with Photoshop’s Curves function to bump up the contrast, and a bit of burning and dodging, here is the final result.

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control color by going monochrome

One of the easiest ways to eliminate color casts is to eliminate the color! Maybe you think that’s cheating, but sometimes a monochrome image is just what you need to focus the attention on the subject and not the colors. And monochrome doesn’t have to mean black & white. A classic definition of the term is “a picture done in different shades of a single color,” which in the photo world often means toning. In Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography (www.amherst media.com), I show you how to use in-camera toning to produce a monochrome but not necessarily black & white image. It’s one way to take a weak color image and transform it into a more dynamic color photograph—at least I hope you agree. To create this faux cyanotype, I photographed Lorie using the Canon’s EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM and window light. (The cyanotype was invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842 and was the first successful non-silver photographic printing process. It’s blue, hence the name.) The image was captured directly in monochrome using the Canon’s EOS 30D blue toning capabilities. The exposure was 1/125 second at f/2.8 and ISO 320. I made the shot with the camera in shutter priority mode and deliberately underexposed by one-third stop to increase shadows and blue saturation.


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Left—Here is the original, unretouched JPEG file. It was made with a Canon EOS 10D and EF 28–105mm lens with an exposure of 1/100 second at f/6.3 and ISO 200. My EXIF data shows that flash was used, but a tiny catchlight in the subject’s eyes seems to be the only visible effect of using the flash. Right—Here, the image is shown cropped. I used selection tools to copy, paste, and rotate the model’s head to make it appear more square to the camera. Since I was already cheating, why not go all the way? I cropped the shot into a shape that would fit Amherst Media’s cover format, so I could present it as one of my favorite cover options. Next, I did some retouching using Photoshop’s clone tool and healing brush. I wrapped things up by turning the underutilized dodge and burn tools.


I converted the image to black & white using Nik Software’s (www.niksosftware.com) Silver Efex Pro, which created the first layer (working from bottom to top). Then I used Nik’s Color Stylizer filter, which is part of the Color Efex Pro package. This was followed up with the Glamour Glow filter—it’s one of my favorites—that’s part of the Color Efex Pro Complete Edition package. Because all of the effects are applied to different layers, you can vary the intensity of each one to produce the look you’re after. I turned off the background layer because I wanted to use the black & white version for the basis of the final images.


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Facing page—Here the subject’s red hair and color outfit have been controlled, allowing the viewer to focus on her beautiful face. The top she is wearing is still busy, but I can’t control what people bring to wear for a shoot. I could have continued working in Photoshop to change it to a solid color, but I have my limits. Once you start retouching, especially at higher magnifications, you begin see little details that you want to improve, but sooner or later you have to quit. I have a 20-minute rule: if the finished photograph isn’t the way I want it to look after 20 minutes, it’s never going to satisfy me, so I start again with another image. Right—This is for readers who are wondering where the photographs of half-naked men are; here’s one of them. This was made under extreme low-light conditions in a hotel ballroom where these “living statues” were posed under a single spotlight. It was shot with a Canon EOS 3D fitted with a 28–105mm lens. The exposure was 1/125 second at f/5 and ISO 1250. Yes, there is noise, but the EOS D30’s built-in noise suppression did a surprisingly good job of controlling it.


There are few if any secrets about capturing images when light is low. The ingredients are a simple witch’s brew of fast lenses, high ISO settings, and appropriate camera supports. What sets a successful image apart from a less successful one is how these ingredients are combined and what you did before the image was made. When shooting at dusk, a sunset can happen rather quickly, so it’s important to have most of your work done in advance. You should already know which ISO setting and lenses you are planning to use, so it’s a good idea to scout the location and determine the best spot to place your camera. Getting you planning done before the

golden hour arrives leaves you free to concentrate on the proper exposure as the light changes and gives you time to properly frame the image. Fast Lenses. Just as with sports cars, computer processors, bullet trains, and Internet connections, being fast is great for camera lenses too. It’s much easier to take photographs in low light with an f/2.0 or f/2.8 than an f/4.5 or f/5.6 lens, mainly because it’s easier to look through your camera at these larger aperture settings, but also because you can shoot at a smaller than wideopen aperture and still maintain a crisp image. Most lenses are designed to work under “normal” lighting conditions, and in photographic terms, this means outdoors. Normal lighting may be workable in overcast weather, the shade lighting outdoors


Left—Nikon’s AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED has a natural wide angle of view and extreme light-gathering capability. It offers extraordinary performance, rising to a wide range of challenging assignments. Its two extra-low dispersion (ED) elements effectively minimize chromatic aberration to produce superior sharpness and color correction at the widest aperture settings. Right—The Zuiko Digital ED 7–14mm f/4.0 is a wideangle lens that, because of the E-System’s 2x multiplication factor (see sidebar) has a zoom range equivalent to 14–28mm. By incorporating large-aperture aspherical elements and a two-sided aspherical ED element, the Zuiko Digital ED 7–14mm corrects the kind of distortion and astigmatism normally associated with wideangle lenses—especially zooms. As with all lens components of the E-System, the 7–14mm lens is built on the Four Thirds System standard.


Not every digital SLR has an imaging chip that’s the same 24x36mm format used in 35mm film cameras. The rest have chips that are smaller in size, and this difference results in a lens multiplication factor that turns a 50mm lens into something longer (how much longer depends on the camera). The 4:3 System Olympus used in their E-System produces a multiplication factor of 2.0X. This means a 50mm lens attached to an E-Volt 3000 shows the equivalent area of a 100mm lens, but it’s important to realize that I haven’t attached a teleconverter; the focal length of the lens remains the same. The image in the viewfinder looks like a 50mm shot that was cropped into the angle of view of a 100mm lens.

of trees or buildings, or brightly lit rooms (ones with skylights or plenty of large windows). The inexpensive kit lenses supplied on point-andshoot cameras and entry-level SLRs have maximum apertures around f/3.8 to f/4, f/4.5, and 90

f/5.6 and some point-and-shoots only have an f/6.3 maximum aperture! Zoom lenses for SLRs come in two varieties: fast or slow. Many slower zoom lenses have a floating maximum f/stop, where the

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Mary Farace made this photograph of Dawn Clifford as The Unsinkable Molly Brown in the model’s living room using an Olympus E-330 and a Zuiko Digital ED 7–14mm f/4.0 lens. The final exposure was 1/160 second at f/4.5 and ISO 400 in auto bracket mode. The main light was coming from the bay window, and on-camera flash was used as fill. © 2011 Mary Farace.

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Top—Op/Tech USA’s Tripod Leg Wraps keep cold metal legs under wraps and away from your skin. They also protect the legs against damage and give you added protection against shoulder fatigue when schlepping your tripod from place to place. Bottom—The Tiltall tripod uses a timeless classic design and has been manufactured almost continuously since 1947. This colorful prototype was made for me as a potential new model, but it never saw the light of day. The physical design of this Tiltall is the same as was originally produced by Caesar and Mark Marchioni, and it’s the same as the tripods you can purchase today from major retailers such as Adorama (www.adorama.com) and B&H Photo (www .bhphotovideo.com.) © 2010 Mary Farace.

maximum aperture changes within the zoom range of the lens. A 24–105mm f/3.5–5.6 zoom lens is a good example. At the widest focal length of 24mm, the maximum aperture is the f/3.5. As the lens is zoomed toward the telephoto end, that maximum aperture shifts to the f/5.6 opening. Useful Accessories for Nighttime Photography. To make successful pictures under lowlight conditions, you’ll need a few extra nonphotographic tools. Even though many cameras have backlit panels for their control LCDs, you’ll want a small LED flashlight so you can see the camera and make all the proper settings. It beats working in the dark. I use a NightStar (www .appliedinnotech.com), which is made in Colorado, but if you’re looking for other options, visit the LED Museum online (http://ledmuseum. home.att.net) to see what’s available. It’s often cold during some of these nighttime sessions, so my next favorite accessory is fingerless gloves. These gloves let me work with the camera while keeping my paws warm. I use 92

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a pair of woolies from Eastern Mountain Sports (www.ems.com), but these kinds of gloves are available in lots of outdoor stores. Get a pair of mittens for your tripod too. Op/Tech USA’s (www.optechusa.com) Tripod Leg Wraps keep cold metal legs under wraps and away from your skin. They also protect the legs against damage and give you added protection against shoulder fatigue. The Cordura Leg Wraps are available in 1, 11/4, and 11/2-inch diameter leg sizes. If you’re serious about nighttime architectural photography, you’ll also need a ladder, so why not get one with wheels such as Franzus’ (www.adorama .com) industrial-grade aluminum LadderKart. It’s not only indispensable for getting a little elevation during your next late-night photo shoot, it’s also a less tedious way to schlep all that gear! TRIPODS

Tripods come in many sizes, from tiny tabletop models to heavy-duty camera stands, for studio use. A properly designed tripod provides better image sharpness than is otherwise possible at handheld speeds. The average person can handhold a camera at a shutter speed equal to the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens. When in doubt, many photographers increase the shutter speed. With focal plane shutters, the effective speed of the curtains at 1/1000 second is the same as it is at 1/30 second. At higher shutter speeds,

the only thing changing is a narrowing of the space between the two curtains. As you get older, the threshold between handholding a camera and using a tripod extends to higher and higher shutter speeds. There are just a few basics needed for a good tripod: it must be sturdy but lightweight enough so that you’ll use it! After that, it’s a matter of choosing a tripod that is well suited to your way of working. When I realized I could hold a camera steadier than my first tripod could, I threw it out. I ignored the first question you should ask yourself when buying a tripod: what kind of camera am I going to use with this tripod? The weight of the camera was too much for the head, and it wore out. The kind of camera you use affects the type of tripod that’s right for you. While tripods have three legs, those legs are made up of a different number of sections. A tripod with three sections or less will be stronger

Flashpoint (www.adorama.com) offers a family of three-section carbon fiber tripod leg sets that include a case. The 28mm tubular legs are extremely stable, and they are more lightweight than some tripods on the market. The legs can also be adjusted to three different angles to facilitate use on uneven ground or with low-angle shooting. They are shown here with some of the optional heads.

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and less expensive than one with more sections. For travel, tripods with four or more sections may appeal to you; they may be more compact, but they won’t be as rigid. There are at least three kinds of legs: The tubular style is strongest because a metal wall completely surrounds the leg. The open side of the channel leg can be attractive, but it doesn’t provide as much structural rigidity and the leg is weaker and easily twisted. Some professional tripods use square legs closed on all sides for strength but retain the aesthetics

of the channel leg. The size of the leg has an affect on stability; the wider the leg’s diameter, the stronger the leg, but “crutch style” legs provide extra stability without extra weight and have always been popular for pro video tripods. Round legs generally have threaded collets, and they can always be tightened enough to lock the legs in place. Tripods with channel legs typically have locking levers. These levers are easy to use but can wear out faster. Manfrotto’s round legs use rapid-action lever leg locks that easily

Manfrotto’s (www.bogenimaging .com) CX-Series line of carbon fiber tripods has—for tripods—a stylish design. It features a Q90° (Quick Center Column System) that allows the column to be rotated to a horizontal position with a single motion, without removing the head or disassembling the column. The feature makes switching between framing and positioning a snap. 94

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snap open or lock, which can be especially handy when working outdoors in cold weather when collets can be sticky and difficult to open with gloved hands. Some tripods feature leg braces that extend from the center column to each leg. This type of construction prevents the legs from closing when you don’t want them to. While braces make the tripod heavier and more difficult to fold quickly, they add to the overall rigidity. If the tripod legs’ diameter is large enough, braces may not be necessary. There are as many different kinds of tripod feet as there are sneakers for your feet at the local Foot Locker store. The most basic foot is the crutch tip, a rubber cup that prevents metal legs from scratching the floor. Some tripods feature rubber tips for wooden and other slippery surfaces, plus a retractable spike for outdoor use. Some manufacturers offer a choice of leg and head types, allowing you to mix and match. You may want to use one manufacturer’s head on another company’s legs. There are two types of heads—ball or pan—with variations in between. Ball head aficionados tell you their favorite is quick, easy to use, and you don’t have to turn different levers to move it where you want. Pan head advocates say it’s easier to level the camera or follow movement. Try both and pick the option you like best. Camera stores tell me they sell an even number of ball heads and pan heads. Make sure the head is appropriate for the camera. The larger the platform, the more securely the camera can be seated and balanced. Using a larger head also provides space for positive locking mechanisms. Ball heads are compact and feature a knob or lever that locks and unlocks the ball mounted under the camera platform. By unlocking the

ball, you can move the camera freely in any direction. A pan head usually has two or three levers to control forward and backward motion, plus the ability to change from horizontal to vertical. Two-lever models make you reorient the camera for vertical or horizontal photographs, but some provide flexibility by using a small lever for this flipping action. Each movement of a pan head requires locking that movement. Unlike a ball head, with a pan head, one axis can be adjusted at a time. This can be especially important when doing architectural photography. The most common type of center column is the lift type, which uses the photographer’s arms to raise and lower it. Locking is provided by a screw lock or collet. With a geared center column, a crank is used to raise or lower the column. This provides precision in raising or lowering the column but is slower than the lift type. Check to see if the gear teeth are sturdy enough for your camera. Some professional tripods use a clutch system, which provides a combination of lift and crank types. The center column is unlocked by depressing a spring lever that’s automatically locked when the lever is released. Some kind of friction control is also important. If you’ve ever had a camera come crashing down, you know what I mean. The tripod should have some type of control that adjusts to the weight of the camera so the camera remains balanced, even when unlocked. Photographers who need to change cameras quickly will find the quick-release feature that’s built into some heads very handy. The device allows the camera to be removed without unscrewing it from the head. This is usually accomplished by screwing a foot into the camera’s base that slips into a shoe in the head, although Hasselblad builds a foot into their cameras, lighting outdoors


making a QR attachment a must for users of these cameras. Because of the availability of so many types, sizes, construction materials, styles, and even colors, there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution— and like eating potato chips, you can’t have just one. That’s why most of us end up with a collection of camera supports, with different tripods used for different kind of tasks. In this age of high-tech, image-stabilized camera bodies and vibration-reduction lenses as well as anti-shake capabilities built into cameras from Sony, Olympus, and Pentax, you might wonder if you even need a tripod. I think so. Let me tell you why: For portraiture, a tripod can be a three-legged assistant to hold your camera when you walk up to your subject to touch up a pose. Some pho-


tographers prefer to have the camera on a tripod so the subject can look at them instead of seeing a face blocked by a camera. When you want to work at smaller apertures, especially for those close-up shots, you’ll need a tripod to hold the camera steady for those l-o-n-g shutter speeds. Infrared photography, whether film or digital, often requires filters that are seemingly opaque and have filter factors approaching infinity and producing long shutter speeds that even the best anti-shake or image stabilization technologies can’t handle. Tripods are also helpful for maintaining precise registration between successive images. This is important for HDR and panoramic images, no matter if they’re virtual reality or conventional.

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5. Using Reflectors and Scrims “The review in the paper said, ‘the aesthetic subtext of his work is the systematic exposure of artistic pretension.’ I thought I was just taking pictures.”—Elmore Leonard


t should come as no surprise that there are few—maybe no—real secrets in available light portraiture. Instead, what you’ll find are informed opinions based on experience and blended with some stylistic preferences. The recipe for producing available light portraits is well known and includes a few basic ingredients: a high ISO, fast lenses, and slow shutter speeds—topics that

are covered elsewhere in this book. That’s it. As you will learn in this chapter, you can sprinkle in some reflectors and add a dash of camera supports, but the main components remain the same. It’s the creativity you use in blending all the elements of available light portraiture together that creates pleasant variations. Some photographers prefer softly lit images diffused with filters, but

I shot this image near an abandoned farm that had become part of a new road’s right of way. My wife Mary was at camera left and low (out of the frame) holding a 42-inch Flashpoint (www.adorama.com) 5-in-1 reflector, which kicked light into the model’s face. I shot with a Canon EOS 20D and EF 85mm f/1.8 lens. The exposure was 1/250 second at f/8 and ISO 200. The pop-up flash put some catchlights in the model’s eyes.

you may favor sharper, more saturated images. The choice is yours. The late Edward DeCroce, a true master of photography, once advised me to work with as few light-control devices as possible. I try to do that because the less time spent working with 98

my gear, the more time I can spend putting my subject at ease. These days, most all of my people photography is done with natural light using a single reflector or light diffuser. Reflectors need not be commercially produced. When I was testing a digital field SLR for Shutterbug

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Although I use reflectors outdoors, one of my favorite applications for reflectors is when shooting window light portraits (chapter 3), mainly because you don’t have to deal with windy conditions that can blow a light stand with a reflector away or make it difficult for an assistant to hold. This image was made with Canon EOS D60 and EF 28–105mm lens. The exposure was 1/160 second at f/5.6 and ISO 800.

magazine, I handed the camera to photojournalist Barry Staver to make a portrait of me using the available light coming through the window at the diner where we were having breakfast. To add some light into my eyes, Barry grabbed one of the menus and placed it on the table in front

of me just out of camera range. Guess what? It worked. You will notice that this is the shortest chapter in the book, and for good reason. Reflectors are simple and easy to use, yet they provide the biggest bang for the buck. If you get only one thing using reflectors and scrims


Left—Westcott’s (www.fjwestcott.com) Illuminator reflectors are ideal for shooting portraits, whether indoors or outdoors. The 4-in-1 reflector kits include two separate panels, which allow you to diffuse and reflect light in tandem. The product is compact, lightweight, and easy to carry and handle. Photo courtesy of F.J. Westcott Co. Right—Reflectors, such these from Booth Photographic (us.boothphoto.com), come in many sizes and shapes and are easy to use because you can immediately see their effect. Photo courtesy of Booth Photographic. Facing page—This image was shot with a Canon EOS D60 and EF 28–105mm f/2.8 SF lens. I used window light augmented by Flashpoint’s Circular Collapsible Disc at camera left, with the silver surface facing the model. The exposure was 1/60 second at f/4.0 and ISO 400.

from this chapter, it should be this: don’t shoot your next portrait session without having some kind of reflector handy. REFLECTORS AND SCRIMS

The difference between a successful portrait and something that’s just a picture of somebody often boils down to lighting. One of the simplest and easiest lighting tools to understand and use is a reflector, which is simply a flat surface that reflects light from a main light source, such as the sun, back onto the shadow side of your subject. Reflectors follow the same rules as all lighting 100

devices: bigger sources positioned close to the subject produce soft light; smaller sources placed farther away produce harder light. Usually reflectors are made of some kind of reflective fabric. They are available in different colors, allowing you to change the color of the reflected light and, more often than not, reflectors collapse into a portable form for travel. Reflectors are available in many sizes and shapes and are easy to use because you can immediately see their effect through the viewfinder and on your camera’s LCD screen. What’s more, reflectors are inexpensive and simple to use, but

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Facing page—The closer the light source is to the subject and the larger it is in relation to the subject, the softer the light will be. (See Joe Farace’s Studio Lighting Anywhere from Amherst Media.) Conversely, the smaller and farther away from the subject the light is, the harder it becomes. For fulllength shots, reflectors have to get bigger. Just how big? That depends on where the sun is located in the sky and how you direct the reflected light. This image captured was with a Canon EOS D60 and EF 28–105mm lens with an exposure of 1/200 second at f/8 and ISO 400 with a reflector at camera left. Right—Some 5-in-1 reflectors, such as Flashpoint’s, drop the zebra (a patterned mix of silver and gold) surface and offer a black (non-reflector) side that’s useful for eliminating dark shadows under the eyes caused by overhead light. Flashpoint’s reflectors are available in several sizes from 22 inches up to the super-sized 52-inch model that costs less than $40 as I write this.

they have a huge impact on your portrait lighting. You can even make your own reflectors out of scraps of foam core board or cardboard covered in crinkled aluminum foil, but there are several disadvantages, including the fact that they can be large and can’t be folded and easily carried to a shoot location. Then there’s the price: a 50 square foot box of Reynolds Wrap heavy duty aluminum foil costs about five bucks, but Flashpoint’s (www.adorama.com) 12-inch Portable Collapsible Reflector (it’s silver on one side and white on the other) costs less than ten bucks. When folded, this reflector will fit in most camera bags. It works great indoors or out for headshots or when you want to use it for lighting just a model’s face. The white side reflects light, while the silver side provides a snappy light and is used to open dark shadows to create detail.

One of the most interesting variations of the one or two-sided reflector is the 5-in-1 model. All of the usual suspects make some version of this versatile reflector; it may cost a little more, but it does more, too. The basic structure of the 5-in-1 reflector is covered in translucent material that’s ideal for removing hot spots from a model’s face or softening and diffusing light if the available light is too strong. The other half of the kit is a four-sided (it’s reversible) skin for reducing contrast, warming skin tones, eliminating shadows, or just softening light. One side of the original Flashpoint 5-in-1 reflector is silver with a zebra (i.e., two-toned reflector) on the back; turn it inside out and have access to a gold or white surface for soft reflected light. These kinds of collapsible reflectors are available from many other sources, including Bowens, Lastolite, Norman, Photoflex, SP Studio Systems, and Westcott, so be sure to visit their web sites for specific details on specific models. I used Flashpoint here as a versatile and inexpensive example but no one product is perfect for everybody’s particular application. You should use whatever works for your photography and your budget, including scraps of foam core board. using reflectors and scrims


Left—Mary Farace is the kind of photographer who likes to work with lots of lighting equipment or hardly any, as she did here. For this shot, she used a reflector at camera left to bounce light into this high school senior portrait. The image was captured in a pocket park in the neighborhood using an Olympus E-300 and a Zuiko Digital ED 40–150mm lens. The exposure was 1/160 second at f/4 and ISO 100. Right—Aurora Lite Panels are available in three styles (silver/black, silver/white, and soft gold/white) and two sizes (32x48 or 40x72-inches). Photo courtesy of Booth Photographic. 104

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This before-and-after comparison shows the kind of lighting that a single reflector can add to a photograph. Images were made in program mode using a Nikon D100 EOS 50D in manual mode. The photo on the left was captured with available light only, while the other one was made using Booth Photographic’s Cameron 5-in-1 (silver, gold, black, white, and translucent) reflector kit with the gold side placed at camera right. The exposure for both shots was 1/100 at f/4.0 and ISO 200. Photo courtesy of Booth Photographic.

Aurora Lite Panels (www.boothphoto.com) are an alternative to the collapsible reflectors so popular today. The panels are sewn to size, double-sided and supported by poles, very much like tent poles. You assemble them one corner at a time and insert all four rods into a center ball head that allows you to swivel the panel in any direction and almost flat to the floor for a “belly pan” style reflection, all the way to full vertical for a more traditional side reflector use. As I write this, they are sold in complete kits that

include reflector fabric, rods, ball head, and an entry-level light stand for about $200.00. Many shooters prefer this style of reflector because of its large surface area, flexibility, and small breakdown size. Aurora also offers a 40x72-inch translucent panel fabric kit for shoot-through or scrim applications. Adding to the flexibility is the availability of a portable background kit that consists of two-sided muslins that you can hang on the 40x72-inch rod kit. These backdrop kits are ideal for location headshots, as they tear down quickly using reflectors and scrims


Top—This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D and EF 24–70mm f/2.8L lens with an exposure of 1/30 second at f/4 and ISO 1000 in aperture priority mode. © 2011 Barry Staver. Bottom—Here, Barry Staver photographed a bride and groom in a museum setting. Although he had a flash attached to the camera, it was not turned on, and a museum PR person was hovering over his left shoulder making sure he didn’t use it. © 2011 Matthew Staver. Bottom right—Booth Photographic also offers a 4-in-1 kit that consists of 13x19-inch gold/white, silver/sunlight mini reflectors. Photo courtesy of Booth Photographic.

To help you get started, Westcott offers four versions of the Scrim Jim standard kit. Each one includes a frame, 3/4-stop diffusion fabric, silver/white reflective fabric, and a carrying case. The Scrim Jim Clamp allows for attachment into the optional grip head, allowing 360 degrees of rotation. The system includes sixteen different diffusion fabrics, eleven “nets” for a true scrim application, and fourteen reflective fabrics.

to a minimum space and can set up easily in small office/boardroom scenarios. There are as many ways to work with a reflector as there are types of reflectors. You can always hold a reflector in one hand and your camera in the other, and I have seen many photographers do this. I often ask an assistant or a model’s escort to hold the reflector. If you’re without help, you can mount the reflector onto a light stand, even though this means acquiring two new bits of hardware: a reflector arm and a light stand. (We’ll get back to this a little later.) The word “scrim” is typically defined as a screen-like metal mesh that’s used in front of a light to reduce intensity, not necessarily to diffuse light. In common usage, however, devices that produce a diffusion effect are often called scrims anyway. Westcott’s (www.fjwestcott.com) Scrim Jim system is a strong, collapsible diffusion and reflector system made up of a series of frames, diffusion and reflector fabric, and grip accessories that make it all work the way you want. The

square section frames are made of lightweight aircraft aluminum that looks much heavier than it really is. They are easy to assemble using builtin connectors; their modular construction allows you to create four easy-to-handle frame sizes: 42x42-, 42x72-, 72x72-, and the super-sized 96x96-inch model. The modular design allows for easy portability as well as quick setup and teardown. The fabrics used have hook and loop tape sewn around their perimeter to produce an even, snug, secure fit to the frame, even during strong winds. INDOORS OR OUTDOORS

When working with reflectors indoors, you can mount your reflector on a light stand. Like tripods, they are available in a range of sizes, styles, and prices. A well-made stand will last a lot longer than a cheap one, so you should purchase the best light stand you can afford. Also consider a light stand that has castors on its legs, as this feature will make it easy to move the stand around. using reflectors and scrims


You can save money by looking for good deals on used light stands and reflectors from other photographers. Any reflector can be attached to a light stand with an expandable reflector holder. These accessories, which may set you back another fifty bucks, allow you to mount reflectors ranging in size from 22 to 58 inches. They can also be rotated and swiveled for precise reflector positioning. Westcott’s Illuminator Arms, for example,

allow you to attach a reflector to a light stand and control where you want it placed to achieve the desired effect. Having the reflector on a light stand is extremely useful when working alone with your subject, but I prefer to use an assistant whenever possible. It’s much easier to talk to an assistant from camera position to get them to move the reflector than it is to walk back to the light stand to make an adjustment.

Light stands are useful when using reflectors indoors, especially if you don’t have an assistant. If you mount a reflector on a light stand outdoors, you may find it won’t stand up well to the wind, so if you still don’t have an assistant, look into sandbags or shotbags to keep the light stand planted on the ground. One of the best places to find these accessories is Advantage Gripware (www.advantagegrip .com), which also makes other useful accessories for the onlocation photographer.


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Left—This photograph was captured with window light only using a Canon EOS 50D and 85mm f/1.8 lens. The shot was made in program mode at ISO 400. Right—This photograph was made by placing a two-sided Westcott (www.fjwestcott.com) Illuminator reflector at camera left. Because of the light added by the reflector, the camera adjusted the exposure from 1/500 second at f/5.0 (no reflector) to /400 second at f/4.5 (reflector).


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6. Where Do Speedlights Fit In? “I do not believe that the average person wants a ‘map’ of his face. I believe he wants to be idealized.”—Louis Fabian Bachrach


peedlights can be used as fill light, but they can also be used as the main light. The key is to skillfully blend the light so it doesn’t look as if artificial lighting was used. When used correctly, flash fill adds a bit of crispness to the photograph, and with modern speedlights and wireless triggering, it’s possible to use one dedicated flash on the camera that acts as a master unit, remotely triggering one or more similar speedlights in the scene. Here’s a homework assignment that will reveal a little secret: study the images in books and magazines, specifically looking at the subject’s eyes for the catchlight. A person’s eyes will reflect the light source used when the image was taken, and you can often tell what kind of lighting was used to make the photograph. A small dot of light reflected in the subject’s eye indicates a small light source, like an oncamera speedlight, while a larger round (or square or rectangular) catchlight indicates an

umbrella was used. A square or rectanglular catchlight might tell you window light was used, but it might be that lightbanks, which emulate window light, were used. You can also look at the shadows that are being cast to “read” light placement. Using a fill light outdoors in bright sunlight isn’t as crazy as it sounds. There’s nothing worse than portrait photography under harsh direct

Facing page—When people see at a picture like this, they might imagine I was walking down the street, saw the woman, asked her to pose for a picture, made just one quick snapshot, and kept walking. Nothing could be farther from the truth. After a wardrobe consult and 40 minutes to an hour in makeup, I asked this model to pose next to a wishing well in a friend’s front yard. The shot was made with a EOS 1D Mark II with a 28– 105mm lens. The cropping was done in-camera. The image is one of 28 shots made with varying poses and angles. The exposure was 1/200 second at f/7.1 and ISO 200 with a 550EX flash fired as fill. Above—One of the things I like about Quantum Instrument’s (www.qtm.com) QFlash is that you can remove the reflector to produce real jumping-up-and-down bare tube flash, something that can only be emulated with other speedlights by using snap-on diffusion devices that ultimately reduce the amount of light. © 2011 Mary Farace.

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guide numbers

Some people prefer to use guide numbers (GN) as a measurement of flash output because it more or less considers the entire lighting package, including the reflector. Depending on where you live in the world, guide numbers are quoted in feet or meters and are valid for a given ISO setting. The Nikon’s inexpensive Nikon SB-400 Speedlight i-TTL has a guide number of 98 at ISO 200 with an 18mm lens. It uses Nikon’s i-TTL Flash Exposure Control and has bounce capability. Image courtesy of

higher the guide number, the greater the light output. Guide numbers can also serve as a way to calculate aperture when shooting without a flash meter. To determine the

Nikon US.

correct aperture, you divide the guide number by the distance from the flash to the subject.

overhead light. That’s why the golden hour is so special to photographers. When forced to shoot at high noon, fill flash is a lifesaver, filling in the eye sockets to soften an otherwise nasty image. Proper exposure is easy if you’ve got a dedicated flash for your camera, although there are some flash units that work well in TTL mode on a variety of cameras. First, make sure the camera is set for the proper overall exposure, set the flash to TTL mode and make a test shot. By zooming into the image on the LCD you can see the effect of the fill light in the subject’s eyes. The best way to increase or decrease the amount of fill light is to adjust the power of the flash unit, although many new cameras offer flash exposure compensation. It works pretty well, too! It is common for high-end digital SLRs to not have a built-in flash, and while I could whine 112

about the lack of a pop-up flash for the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV or Nikon D3X, the companies are not likely to put one on their pro cameras, at least not when they can sell you a speedlight. (That may be changing; Nikon included a popup flash on the D800.) If you want to add just a little fill flash to your images, you really need a small speedlight such as Canon’s 270EX or Nikon’s SB-400. They are small, inexpensive, and work perfectly as a fill light source. PERFECT FOR FILL FLASH

Have you ever looked at someone’s outdoor portraits and wondered who the subject was? The face was so dark you couldn’t tell if it was your best friend. And don’t you just hate those “raccoon eyes” portraits? You know what I mean— the ones with big circles of shadow under your

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subject’s eyes? This can really be a problem with outdoor portraits made with the sun shining behind your subject, directly toward the camera. If you take photographs outdoors at the beach, on the ski slopes, or anywhere else for that matter, and you don’t use a flash, chances are you’ll find that the subject’s face was too dark or had harsh shadows under the eyes. A literal definition of fill flash is simple: adding light via an electronic flash to supplement the existing light present in a scene. Before the

through-the-lens flash era, this was a difficult process to master. Complicated formulas were available to help you incorporate the power of the flash, the speed of the film, the f/stop, and the flash-to-subject distance to help you determine proper exposure, but not anymore. You can use fill-flash with almost any camera, all you have to do is to turn the flash on. It’s that simple! Most cameras with built-in flash or those that accept dedicated flashes will automatically adjust the flash output so the fill is just right.

Left—I made this available light photograph of my wife Mary with the EOS 1D Mark IV with an EF 28–135mm IS lens. The program mode exposure was 1/200 second at f/5.6 and ISO 200. Right—I slipped my older, less versatile Canon 220EX flash onto the Mark IV’s hot shoe and just turned it on for this shot, made at the same exposure. A built-in flash would have been more convenient, and I’m guessing Canon has reasons, like additional weight, for not including one on any One-series camera—at least so far.

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Above—The automatic flash systems built into today’s digital SLRs (such as Canon’s E-TTL and Nikon’s iTTL systems) automatically balance the output of the speedlight and the scene’s ambient light, making using flash outdoors much easier than it was in the past. This image was captured outdoors in a local park with a Canon EOS 10D and 550EX flash. The program mode exposure was 1/125 second at f/11 and ISO 200. Facing page—I photographed Mary in the shade near a graffiti-covered wall, but there was still sunlight to her back, producing backlighting conditions, as evidenced by the highlights in her hair and around her clothing. When I tried photographing her in the shade and close to the wall, I occasionally experienced AF problems with the EOS 1D Mark IV I was testing for Shutterbug magazine. A short-term fix was to move her away from the wall to where she was backlit and to use the 220EX flash as a fill. Exposure with an EF 28–135mm IS lens was 1/250 second at f/5.6 and ISO 200. The diagram above shows the lighting setup used to create the shot. 114

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where do speedlights fit in?



In order for the firing of an electronic flash to coincide with the shutter opening and allow light to strike the image sensor, the shutter speed must be set at or below the maximum sync speed for your specific camera. If it’s set faster, only the ambient light—not the flash—will be captured by the image. In low-light settings, you may only see one-half of the photo that was exposed by the flash. This problem was more common when shooting with film cameras, as we had to wait for the film to be processed before we could find out there was just half a photo, but it can be a problem when using flash for fill in high ambient light conditions. Most cameras have the ability to magnify the image on the LCD screen. Learn how to activate that option and use it when making portraits to enlarge part of the photograph where the subject’s face is so you can see if their eyes are open and the fill flash is doing its job. Some cameras blink a warning when a flash is mounted, turned on, and set for a shutter speed that exceeds the sync speed. If your viewfinder display is blinking, don’t make a photo until you know why.

If you have a camera with an optional dedicated flash, just set the camera and flash to TTL mode (the camera might do this automatically; consult the manual). You might want to experiment and adjust the amount of the flash fill to suit your taste. Most dedicated flash units have plus or minus settings or use the camera’s exposure compensation dial to control the amount of flash. Generally, photos made in bright sun require more flash fill in the shadow areas than images taken in shade or on an overcast day. The best advice is to make your own tests with your own equipment. There’s a certain amount of art to this fill-flash technique, but there isn’t as much guesswork as there was in the past, so work with it until you get results that suit your taste and style of working. One of my favorite techniques for outdoor portraiture is using backlighting to produce 116

highlights on the subject’s hair and around their body. Want to try it? The next time you plan to photograph a subject outdoors, place her in the kind of position you might normally use with the sun on her face, then turn her around. She will be more relaxed with the sun behind her, and she won’t have to squint! Next, turn on your flash, whether it’s built-in or a shoe-mount speedlight. Be sure to use flash because otherwise she’ll appear as a silhouette in the portrait. In order to get a final image you can live with, you may have to open up the lens a few stops from the metered exposure, just as you might with any backlit subject, or you may not. Shoot a few test shots. If you plan to shoot full-length portraits instead of close-ups, a more powerful shoe-mounted flash will be more effective for fill light than the weaker pop-up flashes found on entry-level digital SLRs.

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Top left—What happens when you shoot at a shutter speed that exceeds your camera’s maximum flash sync speed? Let me show you one of my many mistakes when shooting with my Contax film cameras. While most digital photographers will catch such obvious mistakes on their LCD screen, film shooters weren’t so lucky and had to wait until their film was processed. Argrhhh! Two-thirds of the photograph looks pretty good, but that other third is useless—or is it? Bottom left—I started by cropping the image but left some of the black edge on the left-hand side. I used OnOne Software’s (www.ononesoftware.com) PhotoFrame to add a creative edge to the portrait. Right—The finished image shows part of the black edge on the left, but if you were viewing this image without seeing the botched original, you’d just think it was part of the edge effect. I could have cropped the black edge completely out of the frame, but leaving just a bit maximized how much of the original photograph I could use. This is not a perfect solution, but it works, and it’s better than a big black edge.


The key to using your camera’s built-in flash is knowing the right time to use it. If there’s any

secret at all to knowing when, it’s learning how to see the light falling on your subject, especially the range of shadows and highlights within the

Left—To avoid the dreaded “flash-on-camera” look with a built-in flash, I use LumiQuest’s (www.lumiquest.com) Soft Screen, which is specifically designed for the built-in, pop-up flashes on many digital cameras. Here I used it with a FujiFilm S100FS as fill light. The main light came from the window at camera right. The exposure was /100 second at f/4.1 and ISO 400.


Right—LumiQuest’s (www.lumi quest.com) Soft Screen softens hard shadows and reduces hot spots. It folds flat to roughly 4x4 inches so you can keep it in your shirt pocket. It attaches to the front “name plate” of your camera, but some recent digital SLR models have smaller plates so LumiQuest includes tiny Velcro fasteners to solve the problem. Photo courtesy of LumiQuest. 118

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Left—Gary Fong’s (www.garyfongestore.com) “Puffer” flash diffuser softens the harsh light of an SLR’s builtin flash to eliminate shadows and create professional-style diffused lighting perfect for portraits or close-up photographs. Affixing directly to the camera’s hot-shoe, the variable-position Puffer is adjustable for center positioning for most Canon, Fuji, Konica, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Samsung, Sigma, and Sony models with a pop-up flash, regardless of size. Photo courtesy of Gary Fong Inc. Right—Mary Farace photographed this high school senior in a pocket park using the natural backlighting and fill from an Olympus FL-50R flash with Sto-Fen’s Omni Bounce flash diffuser attached. The camera was an Olympus E-300 with Zuiko Digital ED 12–60mm lens. The exposure was 1/60 second at f/4.5 and ISO 200. © 2011 Mary Farace.

scene. Learning to see light is not difficult, but it takes a bit of practice. Using the digicam’s preview screen will help you instantly analyze those flash photographs after you’ve made them to see how successful your efforts are—or aren’t. GETTING THE MOST FROM SPEEDLIGHTS

There is no denying that shoe-mount flash units have become more sophisticated. Today’s units feature built-in electronic links that make pro-

ducing correctly exposed images, even under outdoor or difficult lighting conditions much easier. While the exposure accuracy and quantity of output from on-camera flash have improved and increased, one factor that’s changed little is the quality of the light these units produce. Sure, you can always rubber-band an index card to the flash head to act as a bounce “kicker,” and some flashes even have built-in, slide-out reflectors—no rubberband required.

where do speedlights fit in?


Top—One of the best $20 bargains for improving on-camera flash photographs is Sto-Fen’s (www.stofen .com) Omni Bounce flash diffuser, which is available to fit various flash units from many different manufacturers. The diffuser easily slips on the front of the flash and produces a diffused bare-bulb look that softens shadows and reduces the harsh effect of direct flash. It’s compact and easy to use in either direct or bounce mode and is the simplest, easiest way to improve the quality of your flash photographs—indoors or outdoors—without taking the flash off the camera. Photo courtesy of Sto-Fen. Bottom—Here Sto-Fen’s Omni Bounce flash diffuser was used indoors on Canon’s EX550. The camera was an EOS 10D with an E 85mm f/1.8 lens. The TTL mode exposure was 1/60 second at f/2.8 at ISO 400. For this shot, I simply put the camera in program mode and the flash turned on. The diagram shows the setup used to create this image. 120

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If you want to soften and broaden the light source, you’re going to need something bigger and better. The Mini/Max family (us.booth photo.com) includes two lightbanks that fit on the front of your shoe-mount flash. The bigger (6x8-inch) BHB model has a large front panel for more dramatic effects. The 3.5x4.75-inch QLB model features a smaller front panel for quick and easy shooting. The lightbanks attach easily and fold flat for storage. Both follow the old rule that the bigger the light source and the closer it is to the subject, the more diffuse the lighting. These modifiers also reduce hot spots and soften shadows. It’s time to chuck out that 4x6 index card and replace it with one or both of the Mini/Max bounce cards. While the larger (FBC) card is designed for groups, Mary and I use it for portraits because it reminded us of the results produced

by an old Vivitar 283 accessory that attached a Kodak Gray Card (as mentioned in chapter 1, the opposite side is white) to the flash as a bounce accessory and produced deliciously soft lighting effects with on-camera flash. If you fondly remember that device and want to get the same

Top—You can even produce a studio lighting effect using speedlights. The image of the model against a studio background in chapter 1 was made using three speedlights, as shown here with a mannequin standing in for the model. A Canon 550EX was placed inside the FourSquare lightbank (www .lightwaredirect.com), and a reflector was placed at camera left. A Nikon SB-800 with Sto-fen (www .stofen.com) Omni Bounce diffuser was at camera left and aimed at the background, while a second SB-800 was placed high and behind the model with a Zoot Snoot (www.zootsnoot.com) acting as a hair light. © 2011 Jack Dean. Bottom—You can mount up to four speedlights in the FourSquare lightbank, but I only used one for the photograph in chapter 1. The lightbank’s front diffuser panel was removed for this product shot to show how the speedlights mount on the FourSquare “block.” Photo courtesy of Lightware Direct.

where do speedlights fit in?


kind of lovin’ feelin’ with your camera system flash, get the FBC card. If you use the camera and flash vertically, be sure to move the subject away from the wall. Otherwise, the big kicker will produce big shadows. If you can’t move the subject, switch to the smaller QBC card.


These days, most cameras have some kind of built-in flash. Many digital SLRs also have a popup flash, but not all of the so-called professional models do, even though having a small flash available with the click of a button can make the difference between a good photograph and a not-so-good one. When should you use the built-in flash? The most obvious answer is when the light is low and you need to illuminate your subject—but that may not always be the best way. If light levels are low and you use the built-in flash, you may get an overexposed foreground and an underexposed background. What kind of flash picture do you think people in the stands photographing night baseball or football games get with their point-and-shoot cameras? (You see this on TV all the time as waves of flash erupt from the stands during sporting events while the clueless announcers refer to them as “flashbulbs.”)

Top—One of the most clever design aspects of both small Mini/Max lightbanks is that they have flaps in their top and bottom that can be opened for multidirectional lighting effects when working indoors. You can use these flaps to add bounce lighting off a wall or ceiling depending on the orientation of the camera and flash, or you can use the lightbank as a bounce and open the flap to aim semi-direct light at your subject. Photo courtesy of Booth Photographic. Bottom—Mary Farace photographed this aspiring model in a hotel lobby (she asked permission) using the light from a large window plus fill from an Olympus FL-50R flash with the larger (BHB) Mini/ Max softbox. The camera was an Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital ED 12–60mm lens. The aperture priority mode exposure was 1/160 second at f/4.5 and ISO 200. © 2011 Mary Farace.

Top—Mary photographed this aspiring model outdoors with fill from an Olympus FL-50R flash with the smaller (QLB) Mini/Max softbox. The camera was an Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm lens. The shutter priority mode exposure was 1/250 second at f/5.6 and ISO 200. © 2011 Mary Farace. Bottom left— The Mini/Max 5x6-inch QBC Quick Bounce Card is perfect for photographing one or two people. If you want to shoot a group, reach for the larger 10.5x7.5-inch model FBC fan-style model; it produces soft, diffused light when photographing small groups of people. It also folds in half for easy storage when not in use. The Mini/Mac bounce cards produce wonderfully soft results with either Olympus or Canon flashes. Photo courtesy of Booth Photographic. Bottom right—Mary photographed this aspiring model indoors with fill from an Olympus FL-50R flash with the smaller (QLB) Mini/Max softbox. The camera was an Olympus E-3 with a Zuiko Digital ED 12–60mm lens. The shutter-priority mode exposure was 1/250 second at f/5.6 and ISO 200. © 2011 Mary Farace.

https://sanet.st/blogs/polatebooks/ Left—This image was captured on a movie set in Phoenix using a Canon EOS 10D. The camera’s pop-up flash was used for fill. The exposure was 1/200 second at f/10 and ISO 200. Right—Since this image has such a Goth feel, I created a black & white version using Nik Software’s (www.niksoftware.com) Silver Efex Photoshop-compatible plug-in. Which one is better? I like both for different reasons.

If you’re photographing a static subject, sometimes the best way to get a properly exposed image is to place your camera on a tripod and use the available light. If you don’t own a tripod, another alternative is to kick up the ISO setting so the digital noise looks like grapefruits. Your next-best option is flash. Using a camera’s built-in flash as the sole source of lighting for indoor people pictures will produce a portrait, but the lighting may be flat and a bit contrasty. Nevertheless, the small pop-up flashes found in digital SLRs do a surprisingly good job in deliv124

ering well-exposed pictures if you don’t exceed the maximum flash distance. Read the manual and use your camera’s red-eye reduction mode if it has one. A much better way to use your built-in flash indoors is when there’s some ambient light to serve as fill for harsh shadows. This separates your subject from the background and focuses the viewer’s attention on the subject. In fact, when you have too much ambient light indoors flash is the best way to control contrast and add dimension to the image. The downside of built-

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in flash is that because the flash is so close to the lens you’ll often get a shadow if your subject is close to the wall. Try to move your subject away from the wall as much as possible to minimize or eliminate the shadow. Tip: A rule of thumb is that if you move the subject away from the wall a distance equal to their height, all shadows will fall behind them. Also the shadow will move when you change from horizontal to vertical shots because the position of the built-in flash will change, too. When shooting portraits during the day, turning your built-in flash on is one of the simplest ways to improve your photographs. Instead of getting underexposed pictures, your subjects will pop out of the background, as will the colors. So what’s the secret of good fill flash outdoors?

Basic photo books are full of rules to follow that help you obtain the mathematically correct ratios of daylight to flash, but I feel only you know what looks best. Take the time to do some testing: shoot some exposures with your digital SLR at all the flash’s automatic settings or bracket by changing the camera’s exposure compensation dial. A few cameras even permit bracketing exposures using the camera’s built-in flash. Make a few notes, even though the image file’s EXIF data will collect most of what you need for comparison. Typically, I just make outdoor flash shots with the SLR set in program mode and adjust the exposure compensation to get the look I want, but not every camera/lens combination works the same. In that case, I switch to manual mode, using the base exposure selected

Top—John and Yoko look-alikes were photographed in a dimly lit room at Orlando’s Hard Rock Cafe using a Sony DSC-R1 with the built-in flash set on red-eye reduction mode. Ergo: no red-eye. The aperture priority mode exposure was 1/50 second at f/4.8 and ISO 160. Right—Lighting inside the Messe for the Tokyo motor show is mixed and contrasty, but I used the EOS Digital Rebel’s small pop-up flash to provide some fill and illumination on this model’s face. I used the EF-S 18–55mm kit lens to make the shot. The exposure was 1/60 second at f/5.6 and ISO 400.

where do speedlights fit in?


Left—Tia was eight months pregnant when I photographed her in my kitchen’s bay window. In contrast to the photograph of “John and Yoko,” there was plenty of light. Still, I used the Samsung DigiMax Pro815’s built-in flash for fill precisely because there was so much light coming through the windows. Without the flash, Tia would have been a silhouette. The exposure was 1/250 second at f/4.55 at ISO 800. Is the shot noisy? Kinda—but it’s not objectionably so. Top right—Mary is a teddy bear collector, so when I saw this big bear in Orlando, I knew I had photograph her with it. Using the camera in just plain old flash mode would produce a well-exposed picture of Mary, but the background would have been dark. Shooting in night scene mode, the camera selected the correct shutter speed for the background and proper amount of flash for the foreground. Bottom right—Wanna have fun? Move the camera during a night scene exposure. That long shutter speed gives you time to creatively blur the background, while the flash properly exposes your subject. Night scene users have the most fun!

Left—This portrait was made in the shade using a Canon EOS 20D. The white balance was set in auto mode, and no flash was used. While the backlighting is nice, the AWB still produced an underexposed and slightly blue image. The subject’s eyes won’t sparkle without light to illuminate them. Right—In this shot, the EOS 20D’s flash was popped up, which not only provided fill but also produced extra warmth. The AWB warmed up the entire photograph.

by the camera in program mode as a starting point. One of my favorite outdoor flash modes is night scene. It produces impressive sunset or night shots because the camera sets the shutter speed to properly expose the background and uses slow-sync flash to illuminate the subject. If you can’t use a tripod (why not?), be sure to brace the camera against a solid support so that the background remains sharp during the exposure. The flash should (key word) keep the subject sharp while blurring the background—

creatively or otherwise. If you want to experiment, deliberately move the camera during the exposure.

where do speedlights fit in?


7. Digital Workflow “When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black & white, you photograph their souls!”—Ted Grant


he computers used for writing this book as well as working with all of the images are the same ones I use every day to manage and manipulate images. In case you’re wondering, I drew all of the lighting diagrams using pencil and paper. Amherst Media’s artist made them look good. My main desktop computer is an Apple MacPro with 5GB RAM, 1.5TB of internal storage, two built-in DVD-R drives, and an external recordable Blu-Ray drive. My Windows machine is an Apple iMac with 500GB of hard drive running Microsoft Vista Home under Apple’s Boot Camp and a 4TB network drive. The computers are networked using a Cisco router that also lets me connect wirelessly with a MacBook Pro laptop that I use for location shoots. I have an Apple iPod Touch that I store images on, and I am just starting to use an Apple iPad. In the digital imaging universe, these are what I would call middle-of-the-road machines. Some photographers that I know work with less com-

Facing page—This image was originally captured using the Olympus E-1 RAW+JPEG mode. There’s more later on why this is good choice for some image captures. The RAW file is a color image, while the black & white JPEG was made using the camera’s built-in monotone option. Exposure was 1/100 second at f/3.5 and ISO 200. The camera’s pop-up flash was used as fill.

plex computers, and others use more extensive and expensive systems. A few of them use Windows computers, but most photographers that I know personally work with the Mac OS. Digital imagers with systems that have more power, larger memory, and higher-capacity hard drives than me will be able to produce all of the effects in this chapter faster than me, while those with smaller, slower systems may have to be more patient. BEFORE THE SHOOT

The first decision I make before a shoot is choosing between RAW, JPEG, or RAW + JPEG capture. What this really means is that I am making a decision about the color depth of the captured file. Trivia: Color depth is sometimes called “bit depth.” Color depth measures the number of bits of information that a pixel can store and ultimately determines how many colors in the photograph can be displayed at one time on your monitor. Computers present all data (including photographs) using digits or numbers that are measured as bits or binary digits. Binary is a mathematical system based on working only with the numbers one and zero. Each electronic signal therefore becomes one bit, but to represent more complex numbers or images, computers combine these signals into 8-bit groups called bytes. What this means is that an 8-bit JPEG image file offers 8 bits of data for each pixel, digital workflow


Pop quiz: Was this image captured as a 16-bit RAW or 8-bit JPEG file? The camera was a Canon EOS 10D with EF 28–105mm lens. The exposure was 1/60 at f/7.1 and ISO 200. The camera’s pop-up flash was used as fill. Answer: It was shot as a JPEG file.

providing a palette of 256 colors or tones. A 16bit RAW file provides more than 32,000 different colors for each pixel. JPEG vs. RAW. When an image is captured as a JPEG file, the camera takes all of the light information gathered along with the white balance 130

information (temperature and tint) and then processes the image using programmed settings (contrast, saturation, black point, etc.) into the programmed color space. JPEG is an 8-bit, processed, lossy compressed file format. The more compressed the file is, the more information

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that’s lost. A typical JPEG file uses an approximate 10:1 compression, which results in minimal perceived loss. This processing takes all of the actual captured colors from the camera, brings them into the color space (we’ll get to this soon) and makes adjustments including black point, brightness, contrast, and saturation along with others. The result is an image that has saturated color and is ready to print or show off digitally. It is best to think of a JPEG as a secondgeneration image because some information that the camera actually captured is clipped in processing down to 8 bits and the selected color space. RAW files contain all of the information that the camera captured, but until these files are processed, they are not ready for print or editing. There are many programs available including Adobe Camera Raw (Photoshop, Elements, and Lightroom) that will process RAW files. These programs will allow you to process one image at a time or batch process many images at once. Because the files are unprocessed, you can easily adjust white balance and other settings to minimize

information clipping. Being that most RAW files are 12 or 14-bit (even though they open as 16bit files in Photoshop), there are more colors available compared to a processed JPEG. This difference is most noticeable in gradation areas in an image. The fact that 16-bit images have more data is why they theoretically offer better image quality. I say theoretically better because it’s still up to you to capture a properly exposed and sharply focused image. The oft-heard quip “just shoot and fix it later in Photoshop” doesn’t work if you are striving for maximum image quality. Since you start with a larger image file there is less image degradation that can be produced by the inevitable rounding errors that occur when a file is processed in an image-editing program such as Photoshop. Image manipulation using 16-bit techniques also takes advantage of the program’s floating point (that’s the math stuff that happens inside the program, which is why there can be rounding errors) operations, which produce smoother histograms and tonal transitions.

There’s an old computer adage that goes: “Garbage in, garbage out.” You can use any of Adobe Camera Raw’s controls (the program is bundled with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and Elements) to make up for a helplessly under- or overexposed shot. If your digital camera has a histogram feature, use it to home in on exposures while you’re shooting! If it doesn’t, use the camera’s auto bracket control or put the camera in manual mode and bracket exposures for critically important photographs. One of Farace’s laws is “The best captured files make the best photographs.”

digital workflow




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Left—This portrait of Carolina was made using studio lighting and an Olympus E-20N in manual mode. The exposure was 1/125 second at f/8. The image was captured at the camera’s lowest resolution (1280x960) with maximum compression, producing a tiny 293K file. Above—If this image was only a tiny 293K file, why does it look so good in this book? Simple—I used Genuine Fractals (www .ononesoftware.com) software to “res up” or increase the size of the file to make it acceptable to the book’s designers and printer. In previous versions of Genuine Fractals you had to save the file in GF’s proprietary .stn format, then re-open it and scale it to the new, desired size. It’s all a one-stop operation now.

digital workflow


A downside of working in 16-bit mode is that fewer power tools, especially some Photoshopcompatible plug-ins, are available to work in that mode (however, this seems to be changing). Another issue is the “Incredible Hulk” factor. Bigger files take more space and demand more computing resources. That bargain computer you bought at Crazy Charlie’s Flea Market isn’t going to work all that fast with 16-bit files, so you’ll need a fast microprocessor chip in that

computer, big hard drives, and recordable DVD drives to store these puppies. At some point, you will need to do something you may not be able to accomplish using 16-bit files, and when that happens, you should save a copy of the image and convert it into 8-bit mode, retaining your original 16-bit file in a project folder. When to Shoot JPEG. One of the best reasons to shoot JPEG is when there’s limited space on your memory card. I think that it’s better to My Canon EOS D60 was converted to infrared-only capture by Life Pixel (www.lifepixel.com). It has only 6 megapixels, so I always shoot using RAW to maximize image quality. This available light IR photograph was made using a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens. The exposure was 1/45 second at f/1.8 and ISO 400.


available light glamour photography

Left—This RAW image file was captured with a Canon EOS 20D and made using light coming from a window in my home’s back door, off to camera left. A Westcott reflector positioned at camera right added fill. Right— By using RAW+JPEG capture, I simultaneously captured this photo as a monochrome with purple toning and one with standard color. The exposure was /200 second at f/3.5 and ISO 400.


Identical retouching was applied to each image file.

get an image instead of missing it because your card is full. It’s happened to me, and it can happen to you. A few years ago, I was in Miami, teaching a workshop that included a studio session working with a model. It was at the end of the day and I saved a card specifically for this session, but one of my students asked me if I had a spare card because all of his were full. How could I say no? I lent him the card. All I had was room for one shot on my camera, so I chose the JPEG file option with the highest-level compression possible. This allowed me to capture six small, low-resolution files, one of which is shown here. You may also want to shoot JPEGs when you need speed. JPEG allows you to shoot more images faster because it won’t fill the camera’s buffer as fast. If your subject is moving quickly or you frequently hold down the shutter for a continuous burst of photos, you may want to consider JPEG-only shooting to capture the shots faster and for a longer period of time, without pause. The Internet lives in small color spaces, some users won’t see correct color because of the

way they’ve set up their system, so you might as well save the space by shooting JPEGs. If all your work is going out to the Internet and you’re not having anything printed, you could just shoot JPEG—but be aware that somebody could see your shot and want a 4x6 foot print for their boardroom. When to Shoot RAW. You should shoot in RAW format when you need to extract the maximum quality from your image files. This is especially important if you have an older camera with perhaps fewer megapixels and want to get the most from your camera. It’s also a good idea if you process your images anyway. Many photographers shoot RAW because they will process and edit a large percentage of the images they take before showing the client. They only want to show the client the better photos and won’t bother with the bad ones. When to Shoot RAW+JPEG. I like to record my images in both file formats when I want to capture a color (RAW) shot and a monochrome (JPEG) image of the given subject or scene at digital workflow


some raw facts

Every digital camera uses its own proprietary RAW file format for storing image data, and the camera company usually includes software to convert that RAW file into something more portable. As some companies include RAW conversion inside the camera, we may see this software become simplified or even disappear. Some, but not many camera, manufacturers use Adobe’s DNG (digital negative) format as their native RAW file format. The Open RAW movement’s (www.openraw.org) goal is to have camera manufacturers publicly document their RAW image formats because they are concerned that photographers will find their older images inaccessible, as future software versions lose support for older cameras. In the worst cases, entire brands may disappear, as has already happened with Contax. If you don’t think file formats can leave you hanging, let me tell you a story that will convince you that it happens: Ever hear of a file format called FlashPix? This was going to be “the next big thing,” and it was supported by industry giants including Kodak, who offered a service where they would process your film—this was back in those days—and give you a disc of scanned images saved in FlashPix format. The problem is that after lots of hullabaloo, Kodak and all those other “industry giants” decided to pull support for the FlashPix format, leaving many thousands of people, including myself, stranded with discs full of image files that were seduced and abandoned. As of this writing, I could not find a single Mac OS or Windows program that would read a FlashPix file. But, as they say on TV, “wait, there’s more.” Remember Photo CD? It was yet another Kodak file format that was going to provide a perfect gateway between film and digital imaging. Photoshop used to support Photo CD, but the only program that I found that will read the files is Apple’s iPhoto. So if you don’t think the same thing is going to happen to RAW files from older cameras, dream on.

This is a real, live jumping-up-and-down Kodak-produced disc full of FlashPix files made from a roll or two of film that I sent them. Kodak and other industry giants promoted FlashPix as “the next big thing.” Can I read any of the files on the disc? Nope.


available light glamour photography

Left—A color space simply describes the range of colors, or gamut, that a camera can see, a printer can print, or a monitor can display. You can set an image’s color space in-camera or in software. In Photoshop, this is done via the Color Settings control panel, shown here. Right—This all available–light–outdoor portrait was captured with a Canon EOS 1D Mark II with an EF 100mm lens and an exposure of 1/160 second at f/5.6 and ISO. Its color space was sRGB, but can you tell?

the same time. If storage space (either on your memory card or computer’s hard drive) is not an issue, then this is more than likely a great option for you. Once you go through a selection process after shooting, you can easily print your JPEGs into a proof book, then go through the prints to select any shots that you want to edit and/or print at larger sizes. It’s the best option, if you want the best of both worlds: easy to use JPEGs and powerful RAW files.


At some point, you’ll assign a color space to the image file, even if you don’t know it (many times, there’s a default set by the camera). You can also set the color space using the Color Settings control panel in Photoshop. The choices available in both Color Settings and Camera Raw’s popup menu are Adobe RGB (1998), ColorMatch RGB, ProPhoto RGB, and sRGB. Why should digital workflow


you even care? Here’s the problem in a nutshell: Computer monitors are RGB. Most desktop printers use CMYK inks, but the software that drives the printer uses an RGB model to interpret colors, so you may need some help. The sRGB color space was developed to match a typical computer monitor’s color space, and it is the default for lots of software for the Microsoft Windows operating system. It is also the color space that’s tucked inside most digital cameras, although most SLRs will give you options, which are described below. Adobe RGB color space is designed for printing using CMYK inks. It includes a wider range of colors (gamut) than sRGB. Since digital SLRs give you a choice of sRGB or Adobe RGB, take time to review the camera’s User’s Manual to determine how to make the change. ColorMatch RGB was originally based on the gamma—a measurement of contrast that affects an image’s midtones—of the now defunct Radius PressView Monitor. It is a color space that is smaller and less uniform than Adobe RGB (1998). Photographers with archives of old scanned images will find this color space useful. ProPhoto RGB has a larger gamut than Adobe RGB, which itself cannot represent some of the colors that can be captured by the newest digital SLRs. ProPhoto RGB has a large gamut that’s especially useful if your devices can display saturated colors. All of these color spaces, with the exception of Pro Photo RGB, show some clipping, especially in the Red channel, which means if you choose one of the other color spaces, you will lose some data. Yet, most photo labs want you to give them sRGB files because their digital printers can output any pixel data as long as it fits inside their standard gamut space. Out-of-gamut colors will 138

not be printed and will simply disappear. Try to avoid bouncing back and forth between color spaces because every time you convert a file you lose some data. If you want to use a color space that’s not listed in the Space menu, choose ProPhoto RGB, and then convert to the working space of your choice after opening the file in Photoshop. WHAT ABOUT NO COLOR?

One of the reasons why purists often refer to black & white prints as “monochrome” is that it’s a much more precise term that also covers images made in sepia and other tones. However, there is much more to black & white photography than simply an absence of color. Maybe we wouldn’t feel this way if the first photographs had been made in full color, but that didn’t happen and, like many photographers, I grew up admiring the works of W. Eugene Smith and other photojournalists who photographed people at work, play, or being themselves—in glorious black & white. One of the advantages of working with monochromatic digital photographs is the original image can come from many sources. Some digital cameras offer modes for capturing images directly in sepia or black & white, but more often than not these images are shot in RGB. As a creative medium, traditionalists may still call it “monochrome,” and digital imagers may prefer the computerese “grayscale,” but, to paraphrase Billy Joel, “it’s still black & white to me.” Black & white can also be a wonderful media for making portraits because the lack of color immediately simplifies the image, causing you to focus on the real subject of the photograph instead of their clothing or surroundings. Sometimes the nature of the portrait subject demands

available light glamour photography

This window light photograph was made using a Canon EOS D60 with 28–105mm lens. The exposure was 1/125 second at f/6.3 and ISO 400. Originally captured in color, it was converted to black & white using Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro. Next, it was vignetted using the Blur Vignette filter found in Color Efex Pro.

that an image be photographed in black & white. Arnold Newman’s portrait of composer Igor Stravinsky at the piano could never have been made in color and have the same impact that it has as a monochrome image. Some publications print photographs in black & white because it is more economical than printing in color. This is especially true for small runs of brochures or newsletters produced by companies and non-profit organizations. There are

also the trendy aspects associated with creating images in black & white. MTV, motion pictures, and fashion magazines periodically “rediscover” black & white as a way to feature images that are different from what’s currently being shown. Right now, many professional photographers are telling me that they’re seeing a higher-thannormal demand for black & white portraits. Individual and family portrait purchases like these are driven by the same trends. digital workflow



available light glamour photography

Facing page—This is from my Martin Scorsese period of photojournalistic portraits. The portrait was made in front of the same—now restored—building that was used in the previous image. The shot was made using the now late and lamented Epson (yes, that Epson) RD-1 digital rangefinder camera that used Leica lenses. The exposure was 1/290 second at f/8 and ISO 400. Below—In this homage to Ruth Bernhard’s Nude in a Box, the model is neither nude nor in the kind of box Ms. Bernhard used. The image was captured using natural indoor light and flash fill. The camera was a Canon EOS 10D and 28–105mm lens. The image was converted to monochrome using Alien Skin’s Software’s (www.alienskin.com) Exposure: Black and White Photoshopcompatible plug-in.

Left—This portrait was originally shot in color using a Canon EOS D60 and EF 28–105mm lens with an exposure of 1/200 second at f/7.1 and ISO 400. Flash was used to balance the light on the subject, who would otherwise be in silhouette, inside an old building with natural light outdoors. Center and right—Color images converted to black & white using the Nik Silver Efex Pro monochrome conversion plug-in have more of a gritty look. Running the program minimizes some of the clutter and puts the focus back on the subject. Here the Dark Sepia preset was used to create a warm black & white effect similar to what Agfa’s Portriga paper accomplished back in the wet darkroom days. The diagram on the right shows the lighting setup.

Above—Nik Silver Efex (www.niksoftware.com) is a Photoshop and Aperture-compatible plug-in that allows you to emulate eighteen different black & white films from Agfa, Fuji, Ilford, and Kodak. It also has a grain engine that mimics the traditional silver halide process. In the Film Types area on the right-hand side of the interface, you’ll also find controls for Sensitivity and Tonal Curve, which allow you to fine-tune the conversion. Facing page— How about something that combines monochrome and color? The Monday Morning filter that’s part of the Select and Complete (not Standard) Edition of Nik Color Efex Pro tones down the color while adding a soft, dreamy effect.

digital workflow



My concept for the image shown in this section was to use four or more different digital manipulation techniques on a single portrait. Let me start by reminding you of my personal “twentyminute rule.” If you can’t make the image on the computer monitor look like it did when you saw it in your mind, chances are you never will. Okay, this concept may have taken me slightly more than twenty minutes, but like any creative activity, ideas come to you when they come to you. Step 1: Capture an Image. This portrait was made on an outdoor movie set near Phoenix, Arizona, using a Canon EOS D60 digital SLR and an EF 135mm f/2.8 SF lens. Exposure was 1 /250 second and f/3.5 at ISO 200. Only existing light was used, with no fill flash or reflectors, and the image is a bit underexposed.


Step 2: Image Enhancement. Much as using power tools makes construction projects go faster, digital power tools help me keep within my own 20-minute rule and, more often than not, produce better results than doing it “manually.” There are lots of ways to tweak a photograph’s color and density, but one of the easiest methods is a Photoshop-compatible plug-in such as PhotoTune (www.ononesoftware.com). Step 3: Draw Some Invisible Lines. Because I wanted to divide the portrait into four equal sections, I had to define those parts. To do this yourself, make sure that Photoshop’s rulers are active (go to View>Rulers). Next, click the vertical ruler with your mouse and drag to pull out a blue line onto the portrait. In fact, pull out three lines and place them in a position that will divide the photograph into four equal strips.

available light glamour photography

Step 1. (top left) I think it’s a good idea to make an image look as good as possible before starting any manipulations. This way, you can spend less time in postproduction. In this case, I wasn’t happy with the color shift that was caused by reflections from the adobe building. Step 2. (bottom left) If you’ve ever had an eye exam, you know how PhotoTune works: after launching the plug-in, you’re presented with several pairs of images, and you must click on the one you like best. After a few mouse clicks, you’re finished color correcting the file. (top right) My last tweak for this portrait was using Photoshop’s burn tool to darken the part of the adobe building in the foreground. Step 3. (bottom right) Don’t worry, these blue lines are just guides. They will not appear in the final image.

Step 4: Apply Special Effects Filters. Special effects will only be applied to three sections. I want to leave one strip just the way it is so there is a reference point for you to gauge the effects. Using the Rectangular Marquee tool, I selected the area covered by the first strip. I wanted the next strip to be different from the first and decided that a strip with a lot of colors should be followed by one that has no color. I started by using the Rectangular Marquee tool to select the second strip and applied

the Exposure: Black & White Film (www.alien skin.com) plug-in from the Filter menu. The third effect was easy. Since I wanted to follow black & white with color, I left this strip as it was. For the final strip, I wanted something with grain and desaturated colors. I chose Nik Color Efex Pro’s Monday Morning filter. It’s a good idea to play with the plug-ins’ various sliders and presets to see what kinds of effects are possible. With the settings in place, I pressed OK. Now we’re almost done.

Step 4. (left) I wanted this first strip to be dramatic and chose the Pop Art filter from the Nik Color Efex Pro (www.nikmultimedia.com) package of plug-ins. It is found in the plug-in called Detail Stylizer. Its interface lets you preview the final effects, so before clicking OK to apply it, feel free to indulge in some creative play. (right) Alien Skin’s Exposure not only converts an image to black & white. It also lets you emulate specific kinds of black & white film. This isn’t the only way to accomplish a monochrome effect. In Photoshop, you can simply go to Image>Mode>Grayscale.


available light glamour photography

Step 4, continued. (top left) To add to the effect, I placed the black & white image on a separate layer using the Option-J keystroke (Layer via Copy) and erased Andria’s left eye for that layer only, allowing her normal color to show through to the viewer. (bottom left) Monday Morning adds a diffused, cool mood to an image. You can use this filter to control contrast and saturation, add grain, and apply a soft focus effect. (right) At this point, the image is not quite done yet. There’s just one more step until it is finished.

Step 5: Draw Some Visible Lines. Rather than having all these disparate elements bumping up against one another, I used the paint brush tool with a fine (4-pixel) thickness to draw a white line on top of the guides created in step 3. You won’t need a steady hand if you hold the

Shift key down after you place the brush at the top of the photographs and drag down. This technique guarantees a perfectly a straight line. Just remember, when creating digital portraits, there are no rules, so have fun!

Step 5. (facing page) At this point, you’re finished, but keep in mind that the strips could have been horizontal instead of vertical, and I could have made more than four strips. You don’t need to use Adobe Photoshop to create these effects. These same techniques work with any image manipulation program that uses layers and accepts Photoshop-compatible plug-ins.


available light glamour photography

Conclusion “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”—Annie Leibovitz


here you have it, everything I know about making portraits under available light—the original title of this book. It’s a simple alchemical mixture of human interaction, which is still the most important aspect, and knowing how to use

Facing page—This image was shot on the edge of a porch in Arizona using only natural light. The porch roof blocked the overhead light but the light came in from the open side of the porch, on the model’s left. The camera was a Canon EOS D60 with an EF 135mm lens. The exposure was /400 second at f/5 and ISO 400.


Right—If the subject is willing, don’t be afraid of shooting outdoors when it’s cold. This portrait was made in a local park and, as you can see from the snow on the ground in the background, it was a chilly January day in Colorado. I used a Canon EOS 1D Mark II camera with an EF 28–105mm lens and an exposure of 1/160 second at f/6.3 at ISO 100. An EX550 speedlight provided fill.

the tools of your craft to create technically acceptable but just as important aesthetically interesting portraits. These portraits can idealize the subject or show them as they would like to be, which is often, but not always, the same thing.

That’s why the most important things that you can bring to a portrait session are an open mind and a willingness to listen to your subject to find out what their “hot buttons” are. If a subject is sensitive about her hands, using a pose that places them next to the subject’s face is a really bad idea, no matter what you saw on the cover of Cosmopolitan this month. The real secret of successful available light portraiture is to listen, empathize, and be in control of your craft to deliver what that subject expects and wants. Along the way if you notice that there are newer lighting products and newer, more capable cameras and accessories that appear on the

market, keep in mind that the journey from idea to finished book can take two years and during that time, camera and photo equipment manufacturers are busy coming up with new and better ideas. That’s why I suggest you keep in touch via my blog (www.joefaraceblogs.com), “Saving the World One Pixel at a Time,” for daily tips and tricks along with practical applications of new products. There’s a new tip, trick, or photo every day of the week—Monday through Friday—so stop by and say hi! Thanks for purchasing this book.

Right—I made this available light shot of Misa Lynn in my daylight studio using a Canon EOS 60D with a 85mm lens. The available light-only exposure was /60 second at f/3.2 and ISO 100. Facing page—Still


keeping the D60 in program mode, I simply turned on the built-in flash with the Graslon Spark (www .graslon.com) pop-up flash diffuser mounted on the camera’s hot shoe, producing an exposure of /60 second at f/4 and ISO 100. I deliberately placed


the subject near the wall so that any shadows that are typically produced by a pop-up flash would be visible, but the Spark softened the light enough to eliminate them.


available light glamour photography


available light glamour photography




Adams, Ansel, 22, 77 Adobe, 22, 42, 60–62, 65, 81, 85, 89, 131, 136, 145–48 Camera Raw, 131 Lightroom, 65, 131 Photoshop, 22, 42, 60–62, 81, 85, 89, 131, 136, 145–48 Photoshop Elements, 65, 131 Aluminum foil, 103 Aperture, 39, 43, 45, 46, 52, 55, 71 Apple Aperture, 65 Arbus, Diane, 77 Avedon, Richard, 19

Camera shake, 56 Catchlights, 23, 111 Color depth, 129–34 Color of light, 20, 24, 59, 84, 145; see also White balance Color space, 131, 135, 137–38 Composition, 81 Contrast, 20, 23, 55, 67–69, 77–78 Cropping, 87, 111, 117


Bachrach, Louis Fabien, 111 Backgrounds, 22, 77, 105, 127 Backlighting, 41, 47, 49, 55, 77, 114, 116 Bit depth, 129–34 Bokeh, 14 Bracketing, 57, 91, 131 Burning, 23, 28


Dean, Jack, 121 DeCroce, Edward, 98 Depth of field, 52, 53, 77, 83, 127 Detail, capturing, 22, 45, 103 Diffusers, 59, 98, 111, 119, 120 Direction of light, 20 Dodging, 23, 28 Dynamic range, 20–22 E

EXIF data, 67, 87 ExpoImaging ExpoDisc, 34–35

Exposure, 11, 20–22, 23, 28, 32, 35–35, 39–58, 59, 60, 62–63, 71–75, 78, 79, 81, 86, 91, 93, 96, 97, 103, 112, 114, 116, 119, 121, 127, 131, 139, 144 aperture, 39, 43, 45, 46, 52, 55, 71 auto exposure lock, 46–47 bracketing, 57, 91, 131 burning, 23, 28 compensation, 28, 58, 81, 112, 116 dodging, 23, 28 dynamic range, 20–22 guide numbers, 112 highlights, 20, 22, 39, 78, 114, 121 histograms, 41, 60, 131 hot spots, 121 ISO, 11, 56–57, 59, 79, 97, 127 latitude, 39 modes, 54–55 overexposure, 45, 57, 81 scene modes, 71–75 shadows, 20, 22, 39, 103, 127 shutter speed, 39, 42, 52–55, 71, 93, 96, 97 index


(Exposure, cont’d) Sunny 16 rule, 78–79 TTL mode, 112, 116 underexposure, 39, 57, 60, 62–63, 81, 86, 144 value, 43 Expressions, 78 Eyes, 23, 83, 103, 111, 112, 113, 127 F

Farace, Mary, 8, 16, 82, 91, 92, 104, 111, 119, 122, 123 Fashion, 23 File format, 35, 67, 129–37 JPEG, 129–31, 134–35 RAW, 35, 129–34, 134–36 RAW+JPEG, 129, 135–37 TIFF, 67, 129 Fill light, 23, 49, 59, 91, 100, 111–19 Film, 14, 19, 20, 32, 33, 77, 82 Films, see Movies Filters, 25, 33, 96 Flash, 23, 73, 81, 87, 91, 97, 111–19, 122–27 accessories, 118–19 bare tube, 111 built-in, 122–27 compensation settings, 116 guide numbers, 112 pop-up, 23, 97, 113, 127 speedlights, 23, 31, 81, 111–12 sync speed, 73, 117 TTL mode, 112, 116 Flat lighting, 23 156

Fluorescent lights, 29 Foam core, 13, 103 Frontlighting, 49

Infrared images, 53, 96 ISO settings, 11, 56–57, 59, 67, 79, 97, 127



Gels, 31 Gloves, 92 Gobos, 16 Gomez, Tony, 73 Gossen Color Pro 3F, 34 Gowland, Peter, 20 Grant, Ted, 129 Gray cards, see Kodak Gray Card Guide numbers, 112

Jewelry, 78


Hairstyles, 23, 78 High dynamic range (HDR) imaging, 20, 96 High-key images, 58, 78 Highlights, 20, 22, 39, 78, 114, 121 highlight-alert feature, 48 Histograms, 41, 42, 131 Hollywood-style portraits, 24 Hot spots, 121 I

Image sensors, 62–65 Indoors, shooting, 13, 23, 29–32, 59–75, 90, 99, 100, 107–8, 109, 111, 139 tungsten light, 29–32 window light,13, 23, 59–61, 90, 99, 100, 109, 111, 139

available light glamour photography


Kelvin temperature, 24 Kodak Gray Card, 34, 46, 121 L

Latitude, 39 LCD screens, 47–49, 57, 81, 83, 112, 119 LED flashlights, 92 Lenses, 11, 55, 77, 83, 89, 90, 93, 96, 97 fast, 89, 97 focal length, 55, 90, 93 image stabilization, 96 vibration-reduction, 96 zoom, 90–92 Leibovitz, Annie, 151 Lightbanks, 111, 121, 122 Lighting ratios, 41 Light meters, 41-46, 51 incident, 41 reflected, 41, 43, 45 spot, 43, 46, 51 Light modifiers, 13, 16, 23, 97–109, 111, 119, 120, 121, 122 aluminum foil, 103 bounce cards, 121 curtains, 23 diffusers, 59, 98, 111, 119, 120 foam core, 13, 103

(Light modifiers, cont’d) gobos, 16, 23 lightbanks, 111, 121, 122 mini-blinds, 23 scrims, 23, 97–109 reflectors, 13, 23, 97–109, 111, 119 ringlights, 23 umbrellas, 111 Light, properties of, 20, 23, 100, 103 Light stands, 107 Location photography, 13, 19, 22, 27–29, 75–96, 105, 107–8, 114, 125–27, 128 Low light, 11, 89–93 Low-key images, 58 M

Makeup, 78 Metering, 45–58, 75 brightest object, 45–46 center-weighted, 49–51 darkest object, 45 incident, 41 multi-segment, 49 reflected, 41, 43, 45 spot metering, 51 substitution, 46 Mixed lighting, 11 Monochrome images, 86, 89, 127, 139–43 Mood, 60 Motion, subject, 43, 135 Movies, 14, 45 N

Newman, Arnold, 139

Noise, 39, 60, 62–67, 89 reducing, 63–67, 89 O

Outdoors, shooting, 13, 19, 27–29, 75–96, 107–8, 114, 123, 125–27, 128 cloudy conditions, 27–29, 81–83 night photography, 89–93, 127, 128 shade, 83–84, 114 sunny conditions, 78–81 P

Panoramic images, 96 Phases, photographic, 14–15 Photoshop, see Adobe Photoshop Plug-ins, 21, 65–67, 85, 124, 134, 145, 146 Posing, 81

Shadows, 20, 39, 103, 125 Shutter speeds, 42, 49, 52–55, 71, 93, 96, 97, 123 Sidelighting, 24 Speedlights, 23, 31, 81, 111–12 Spotlights, 24, 31 Staver, Barry, 8, 99, 106 Staver, Matthew, 8, 106 Sunny 16 rule, 78–79 Sync speed, 73, 117 T

Test images, 32 Topaz Adjust, 21, 22 Trent, Vernon, 39 Tripods, 92, 93–96, 124 TTL mode, 112, 116 Truffaut, François, 14 Tungsten light, 29–32 U

Umbrellas, 111 Q

Quality of light, 20, 23, 100 Quantity of light, 20




Rapport, 78 Red eye, 127 Reflectors, 13, 23, 97–109, 111, 119 Resolution, 133 Ringlights, 23

Wardrobe, 78 White balance, 24–37, 84, 85 Window light, 13, 23, 59–61, 90, 99, 100, 109, 111, 139 Wraparound light, 81–82 Workflow, 129–48

Videographers, 2425


Scene modes, 69–75, 127 Scrims, 23, 97–109 Shade, 28, 83–85


Zone System, 22



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Amherst Media


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Glamour Photography

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500 Poses for Photographing Men Michelle Perkins showcases an array of head-and-shoulders, three-quarter, fulllength, and seated and standing poses. $34.95 list, 8.5x11, 128p, 500 color images, order no. 1934.

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Small Flash Photography Learn to select and place small flash units, choose proper flash settings and communication, and more. $34.95 list, 8.5x11, 128p, 180 color photos and diagrams, index, order no. 1936.

Family Photography Christie Mumm shows you how to build a business based on client relationships and capture life-cycle milestones, from births, to senior portraits, to weddings. $34.95 list, 8.5x11, 128p, 220 color images, index, order no. 1941.

Flash and Ambient Lighting for Digital Wedding Photography

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Vintage Lighting Re-create portrait styles popular from 1910 to 1970 or tweak the setups to create modern images with an edge. $34.95 list, 8.5x11, 128p, 185 color images, 15 diagrams, index, order no. 1945.

Salvatore Cincotta shares the business and marketing information you need to build a thriving wedding photography business. $34.95 list, 7.5x10, 160p, 230 color images, index, order no. 1953.

Engagement Portraiture

Studio Lighting Unplugged

Tracy Dorr demonstrates how to create masterful engagement portraits and build a marketing and sales approach that maximizes profits. $34.95 list, 8.5x11, 128p, 200 color images, index, order no. 1946.

Rod and Robin Deutschmann show you how to use versatile, portable small flash to set up a studio and create highquality studio lighting effects in any location. $34.95 list, 7.5x10, 160p, 300 color images, index, order no. 1954.

Lighting Essentials

Master’s Guide to Off-Camera Flash

Don Giannatti’s subject-centric approach to lighting will teach you how to make confident lighting choices and flawlessly execute images that match your creative vision. $34.95 list, 8.5x11, 128p, 240 color images, index, order no. 1947.

Painting with a Lens Rod and Robin Deutschmann show you how to set your camera in manual mode and use techniques like “ripping,” “punching,” and the “flutter” to create painterly images. $34.95 list, 8.5x11, 128p, 170 color images, order no. 1948.

The Art of Off-Camera Flash Photography

Barry Staver presents basic principals of good lighting and shows you how to apply them with flash, both on and off the camera. $34.95 list, 7.5x10, 160p, 190 color images, index, order no. 1950.

Lighting for Architectural Photography John Siskin teaches you how to work with strobe and ambient light to capture rich, textural images your clients will love. $34.95 list, 7.5x10, 160p, 180 color images, index, order no. 1955.

Hollywood Lighting

Lou Jacobs Jr. provides a look at the lighting strategies of ten portrait and commercial lighting pros. $34.95 list, 8.5x11, 128p, 180 color images, 30 diagrams, index, order no. 2008.

Lou Szoke teaches you how to use hot lights to create timeless Hollywood-style portraits that rival the masterworks of the 1930s and ’40s. $34.95 list, 7.5x10, 160p, 148 color images, 130 diagrams, index, order no. 1956.

Advanced Underwater Photography

500 Poses for Photographing High School Seniors

Larry Gates shows you how to take your underwater photography to the next level and care for your equipment. $34.95 list, 8.5x11, 128p, 225 color images, index, order no. 1951.

Michelle Perkins presents head-andshoulders, three-quarter, and full-length poses tailored to seniors’ eclectic tastes. $34.95 list, 8.5x11, 128p, 500 color images, order no. 1957.

Master the skills you need to create beautiful glamour portraits with available light


ypassing complex lighting gear is easy on your wallet, puts subjects at ease, and leads to images that

look natural. Joe Farace shows you the ins and outs of shooting glamour portraits with available light—and how those approaches translate into other portrait genres.

Amherst Media


publisher of books, eBooks & videos

PO Box 586, Buffalo, NY 14226 www.AmherstMedia.com

learn how to:

Work outdoors on sunny days, cloudy days, in the shade, or at night Design beautiful indoor images with window light Master white balance to ensure correct image color under any lighting conditions Choose the right metering and exposure modes Add reflectors and scrims to your setup to refine the look of the available light Control the light ratios in your available light images Add flash to available light when needed Design effective black & white images with available light

$39.95 USA $43.95 Canada


Choose the right depth of field for your scene or subject Refine your glamour portraits in postproduction