Digital Photo Academy

Learn How To Use Your Digital Camera

Camera Flash Tips

Capturing Fireworks

From Josh Anon/ DPA instructor in San Francisco To view more of his images please visit  http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/josh-anon/ I am a big believer in pre-visualizing photos and then executing them.  Even if your pre-visualization isn’t perfect, it gives you purpose and lets you actively plan for a shot instead of reacting to what’s around you.  In this case, I knew that for the fourth of July, San Francisco would have a big fireworks show downtown, and the forecast was (unusually) fog-free.  That meant I had a chance to create a unique image of San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge (the most distinctive icon that immediately screams “San Francisco” to a viewer) and fireworks.  I knew of a good spot in the Marin headlands and arrived hours in advance, expecting a crowd and wanting a parking spot.  A lot of photography involves patience!  I framed this shot up before the fireworks started balancing where the bridge is and where I roughly estimated the fireworks would be, based on what I saw in the paper.  To shoot, I put my camera in bulb mode, held a piece of cardboard in front of the lens between fireworks bursts, and exposed each image for 2-3 firework bursts.  While the fireworks are a tad over-exposed, I still like the shot because of how the intense brightness and shapes from the falling embers contrasts with the darkness in the rest of the frame, just like when you see fireworks with your naked eye. Canon EOS 1Ds with Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L at 35mm on a tripod.  f/5.6, 8 sec, ISO 200.  


Forced Flash On

Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on LivinginHD.com. Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions, answers and tips are posted here on digitalphotoacademy.com where you can also view the archived webinars. Photos by Russ Burden, DPA Instructor Denver The parrot photos above illustrate a Flash Off version (Left), and a Forced Flash On version (Right). The daylight balanced flash source cleans up the too warm/green color balance on the plumage caused by sun filtering through the foliage. This results in a more correct color balance with neutral gray and white tones. The following question regarding shooting in bright sunny light with dark shadows (difficult, tricky lighting in high contrast situations), was submitted by The Wirgau Family from the LiHD website. Wirgau Family Q: In taking pictures of my son for his Senior year, I did get some nice shots. I′m kinda a ′lucky′ photographer.  I get good shots but don′t really know how I do it.  Unfortunately, I did get a lot of shadowy shots or sunny, squinty shots.  I just don′t know how to deal with the sun/shadows. Any advice? John Bentham replied: Sunny, shadow photos, difficult or tricky lighting in contrast situations. If you are experiencing difficulty exposing photos in high contrast lighting conditions you might do well to watch the archived Tricky Lighting Webinar for tips on camera exposure: http://www.livinginhd.com/go/promo/opc_archive There are a number of situations where sunny high contrast situations can trick a camera and render an incorrect exposure. I have linked a number of DPA Tips below that the LiHD family should refer to, alternatively a DPA class might be beneficial. It may help a lot if you set your camera to Forced Flash On. When shooting in any of the Auto Modes and outdoors in bright sunlight a camera meter determines there is more than enough light to shoot without Flash. The camera typically shuts down the flash and exposes the photo with ambient light only. By setting the flash to Forced Flash On you over ride this reading and add a boost of flash to dark areas, thus filling in the shadowy parts (under baseball caps or backlit subjects. This is an easy method of controlling differences in contrast between very dark and very bright areas within the same photo. Photos by DPA student Julia Spring, student of Russ Burden, DPA Instructor Denver The “squinty” shots can be addressed in a similar way. Turn your subject(s) around, with their backs to the sun and turn the feature Forced Flash On in your camera menu. The sun will illuminate the background of the shot and give you a nice separation (hair light) between the subjects and the background. The flash will illuminate the faces rendering a well exposed photo in both foreground and background without the squinting. The addition of a burst of Fill Flash (Forced Flash On) in the beach wedding shot would have added more light on the front of the subjects in relation to the bright backlit sunlight. The photographer, Julia was able to clean up the photo and brighten the bride and groom against the background with NIK software. I always say, get it right in the camera whenever possible then use software to fix the little things. Julia used Viveza 2 and Color Efex Pro to brighten the image, bringing the contrast and color more in line between background and foreground, a nice solution and a fun photo. The photo below from one of John Bentham’s NY fashion lighting workshops shows the students on location with cameras, on-camera flash units and a large Octobank Strobe powered by a Lumedyne battery location system. The model has her back towards the sun but the addition of flash from the Octobank brightens the exposure on the model in relation to the bright sun. Photo by Marianne Ryan Swanson, DPA student of John Bentham, New York The resulting photo below shows a good balanced exposure between the ambient light (available sunlight) and flash from the Octobank. The lens flare visible in the photo is a result of including the sun in the frame, resulting in lens refraction and glare. This is often a desirable effect, a sexy look for fashion or beauty photography. If you prefer to avoid this you need to reposition the camera slightly. Just make sure the light source (the sun) is out of frame and utilize a lens hood on your lens. The hood will cast a shadow on the front of the lens and eliminate the refraction and lens flare caused by direct sun hitting the front of the lens. Photo by Karen Wu, DPA student of John Bentham, New York Additional DPA Lighting and Flash Tips: Fill flash, Outdoor lighting: http://www.digitalphotoacademy.com/Home/UserArticleCategories/UserArticles/d etails/params/object/8234/default.aspx Daylight Fill Flash: http://www.digitalphotoacademy.com/Home/UserArticleCategories/UserArticles/d etails/params/object/13823/default.aspx Bright Sun Fill Flash: http://www.digitalphotoacademy.com/Home/UserArticleCategories/UserArticles/d etails/params/object/1576/default.aspx Lighting, Existing Light, Flash: http://www.digitalphotoacademy.com/Home/UserArticleCategories/UserArticles/d etails/params/object/13833/default.aspx High Contrast and Saturation: http://www.digitalphotoacademy.com/Home/UserArticleCategories/UserArticles/d etails/params/object/13712/default.aspx Lighting: http://www.digitalphotoacademy.com/Home/UserArticleCategories/UserArticles/d etails/params/object/9586/default.aspx Webinar Submission Specs: All DPA students can submit photographs for inclusion in the Digital Photo Academy, LiHD Webinar, Online Photo Class Series. If you would like to submit your photographs for an upcoming webinar, read the following. Each webinar has a specific theme or topic. You can see the date and topic of the next webinar at LivinginHD.com, Tip of the Day, Online Photo Class. Note that webinars are edited and formatted days in advance, thus please submit your photos at least a week in advance of the webinar, late submissions can not be added. Photographs are chosen, and edited, for their applicability to the webinar theme, artistic and technical merit, and content length. If your photograph is NOT chosen, it will be archived and may appear in a more appropriate future webinar. Submit your photographs to info@digitalphotoacademy.com By submitting your photographs for consideration, you grant and authorize, The Digital Photo Academy, LivinginHD.com and Panasonic, the following rights: The right to use your photographs in the content and promotion of the webinar series, and for use on each company’s respective website. You further authorize your photographs may be archived online and/or in a database, and allow unrestricted internet availability of any webinars containing your photographs. You further authorize the use of your photographs in any future webinars. By voluntarily submitting your photographs for consideration you agree to the aforementioned without any legal claims, or claims for remuneration, whatsoever. You, as the photographer, retain the copyright © of any submitted photographs. The aforementioned companies will make best possible efforts to apply proper photo credit and acknowledgement with your photograph whenever possible and practical.


Flowers Webinar – Flash for Flower and Macro Photography

Flash, Sharpness and Detail In Flowers and Macro Photography Flower and Flora Photography and NIK Image Enhancement Webinar John Bentham Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on LivinginHD.com. Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions, answers and tips are posted here on digitalphotoacademy.com where you can also view the archived webinars. To capture detail and sharpness in close-up macro flower photography there are a number of techniques available to a photographer. When shooting Flowers, especially in macro photography it is often useful when striving for sharpness, contrast and saturation to add a little flash. Very often the camera and or the photographer are so close to the flower a shadow is cast on the subject itself. By adding a little lighting boost with some supplemental flash you bring that extra sparkle back into the photo. This also works well in overcast conditions, rainy days or when the subject is situated in shadow such as shooting wild orchids in deep forest. Photo by Frank Siteman, DPA Instructor Boston Another technique, applied in post production and evident in the photo above, shot by Boston DPA instructor Frank Siteman is the use of NIK Software Viveza 2. Specifically Frank has utilized added structure accessed via a slider control in Viveza 2, adding structure is a great way to bring out hidden details and clarity, either globally in a photograph or selectively to areas of a photo. With the Control Point system in NIK you are afforded great fine control over very specific parts of the image as evidenced in Franks photo, where the anther and stamen of the flower appear very sharp and precise. If you are incorporating flash into your photo system there are a number of different options but for the most part you must move beyond the little Pop Up flash built into your DSLR. This pop up flash often casts a shadow on the scene. Depending on the length of the lens mounted on the camera the lens itself will block the light from the flash. This shadow which appears as a semi-circle in the bottom part of the frame. Dedicated Macro flash units are sold for many camera systems in addition to Ring Flash units which can be very useful useful. Alternatively you can use an auxiliary external flash unit Off-Camera with an adapter cord. The cord will allow you to position the light off camera for a more natural or pleasing light yet still retain the TTL features of your camera for better exposure (TTL=Through The Lens exposure). Photo by David Sanders, DPA Instructor Tucson The haunting, eerily beautiful image above photographed by Tucson photographer and DPA instructor, David Sanders includes the fortuitous flash of one of Davids students in the photo. David has utilized a slow shutter speed to sync his exposure with the flash from another camera thus providing a backlit light source for the desert blossoms. The slow shutter speed also bleeds in the blue sky of the background accentuating the silhouetted figures adding depth and complexity to the image. There are a number of situations when using a flash outdoors in daylight is helpful. If you are photographing a flower positioned in shade, but the background is brightly lit, you may have an exposure difference of 3-4 stops between the two. You can use flash to narrow the gap and correct the contrast. Flash power, no matter how much you dial it up will usually NOT overpower the sun (unless youre using a very large powerful, studio type unit). That means you should be using the flash to supplement the ambient light, usually the sun, not provide the main light. To control the output of your flash use the Plus / Minus flash power adjustment and a little trial and error. This is available on in the camera menu or on the back of an external flash unit. Determine your ambient exposure first (the regular exposure without using flash). Get a good exposure without flash and then add a low power flash to see the result. You then dial in the flash incrementally to achieve the effect you want. Photo by John Bentham, DPA Instructor New York Another example of utilizing software to enhance the detail of a floral image appears above in an image shot by John Bentham, DPA instructor in New York. John shot this image at Wave Hill a park loacted in The Bronx outside one of their greenhouses. The image on the left is the original jpeg, the final image on the right having been enhanced with Photoshop and NIK Software. The right image shows a little clean-up of imperfections using Photoshop to remove blemishes and a few marks caused by dust on the digital sensor (what photographers refer to as housekeeping when retouching). Then John has applied structure to selective areas of the image to bring out the detail in the sky and the leaves, then boosted the contrast and saturation to make the image pop.  A simple, quick and easy fix to add impact to an image giving it a more vivid colorful look.


Wedding Webinar Tip – Fast Lenses, Wide Aperture

Wedding and Event Photography and NIK Image Enhancement Webinar John Bentham Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on LivinginHD.com. Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions, answers and tips are posted here on digitalphotoacademy.com where you can also view the archived webinars. When shooting in low light the faster your lens (the wider the aperture), the higher your shutter speed can be, which reduces the chance of camera shake and minimizes subject movement. With a faster lens you also don’t need to raise the ISO as high, thus minimizing digital noise issues you get at very high ISO’s such as 3200. You pretty much need a full time f2.8 lens or faster, to shoot this type of work. The kit lenses supplied with most DSLR’s have limited capabilities. A kit lens will allow you to shoot at f3.5 if your zoom is set to 18mm, only 1/2 stop slower than 2.8. But when you zoom out to 200mm the mechanical limitations of the lens restrict you to shooting at f5.6 or even f6.3 depending on the lens, which is usually too slow to shoot wedding ceremony photos without using flash. Many churches and temples place restrictions on photographers, including the use of flash during the actual ceremony in addition to certain areas where photographers are not allowed to stand. Photo by Russ Burden, DPA Instructor Denver The photo above shot by Russ Burden, one of the DPA Instructors in Denver is a classic group wedding formal shot. Regardless of your personal taste in photographs or how fun and funky you want to shoot a wedding be prepared to shoot some formal shots. Russ has kept the composition clean with a layered but not distracting background, has left some space around the group so the photo can breath, and has used a normal lens (52mm in 35mm equivalent), thus keeping the perspective normal and not allowing any distortion at the edges. You can tell Russ has added a little supplemental flash to brighten up the faces and the clean white of the brides dress, sometimes you just need a little kick light to bring it all together. For the few select wedding I shoot each year I usually shoot my standard documentary set-up, the current prevailing style of wedding photography has a documentary slant so the system fits perfectly. Two cameras, the first being a full frame sensor body with no X-Factor, with a wide zoom and the 2nd small digital sensor body with a longer zoom. The purpose for this is two fold. If anything goes wrong with a camera you just swap it out, you don’t want to have 200 people staring at you while you try to figure out what’s wrong with your camera, figure it out later. The 2nd reason being by carrying the two bodies with two different zoom lenses I am always carry a very wide range of focal length without ever having to change lenses. Most group shots will be taken at approx 35–50mm on the zoom range. Ideally you don’t want to shoot groups of people with focal length wider than 35mm but its nice to be able to zoom out a bit wider if you have to suddenly go from shooting a group of three to a group of ten people. With a sometimes boisterous crowd there is often no room to physical move back and use a longer lens, especially if every time you back up a guest jumps into your frame with a cell phone camera. A wide zoom handles this very nicely and without too much distortion as long as you remember not to put larger people on the edge of frame where they blow up. Photo by John Bentham, DPA Instructor New York The photo above of the wedding tent, is a good example of shooting hand held using a fast lens. This image photographed by John Bentham in Pensacola, Florida was shot at f2.8 at .6 seconds at 800 ISO, about the limit you can shoot hand held, and at about the limit for ISO before you start getting digital noise. The f2.8 lens used enabled the photographer to shoot without a tripod. At slow speeds like this you still need to be mindful of camera shake but with a little practice you’d be surprised how steady you can hold a camera. For longer shots I use a 70-200mm Zoom specifically mounted on a smaller digital sensor. This extends the zoom range of the lens once you apply the X-Factor. To work out the X-Factor you simply multiply the focal length of your lens by the X-Factor for your camera. Panasonic Cameras have an X-Factor of two. Canon cameras an X-Factor of 1.6 and Nikon cameras have an X-Factor of 1.5. When using a 70-200mm lens, this equates to a working zoom range of 112–320mm. From the back of the church this focal length was long enough for me to get relatively close up shots without having to lug a 300 or 400mm lens around all night. Whenever possible use an OIS, IS or VR Lens (Optical Image Stabilization, Image Stabilization, Vibration Reduction). Photo by John Bentham, DPA Instructor New York For long lenses it’s best to shoot at a shutter speed of at least 1/60th, higher is even better but certainly no slower than a 30th of second. At a 1/30th there is little risk of camera shake if the camera is supported but the subject movement can still be quite blurry, even if the subject is seated. You are better shooting at 1/60th second and bumping up the ISO a stop. The photo above shot by John Bentham captures the little flower girl through the arms of her dancing parents, a fun loose whimsical shot. Again shot at f2.8 at 1/6th of a second but with added flash to brighten the image and stop the action. By slowing down the shutter speed this has bled in the ambient background light and prevented the background from appearing pitch black as is often the case with interior party photos. John has used a little NIK Viveza 2 Software to bring out some detail on the girl (added structure and contrast), and toned down the exposure on the dancers, a result of them being much closer to the flash.


On Camera Flash Modifiers

Using Flash in the field and On Camera Flash Modifiers text by John Bentham When shooting animals or other subjects outdoors in bright sun your initial assessment would be -  It’s bright outside, I don’t need a flash? However shooting outside with flash is helpful for certain subjects and necessary more often than you think. There are times when areas of the scene are just too bright in comparison to others. A flash can help to bridge narrow the gap between the two exposures giving you a better more even exposure. At other times you need the flash to lighten up an area in shadow. Or to freeze the action a little and draw attention to parts of the scene. Image © Denver DPA Instructor Russ Burden This stunning photo of a mother bird feeding her young, shot by Denver DPA instructor Russ Burden is a perfect example of a situation where flash serves to bring out the details in a photo, freezing the action, effectively stopping the motion of the chicks in time. A touching scene, a snapshot of nature hard one by Russ with some preparation, the right equipment for the situation and a little luck. If you are considering an external On-Camera flash you should buy a unit specifically dedicated to your camera. The advantage here is the camera, lens and flash will all communicate to each other and provide feedback to produce a better exposure. If you are then considering expanding your kit with a Flash Modifier basically there are a few elements to consider, size, cost and durability. In any situation the larger the light source the softer and more pleasing the light, thus a small 6x10 inch soft box mounted on your flash will give you a softer look than a bare head which measures 2x3 inches. However a small box is still pretty large when you’re working in a very crowded setting or if your trying to traverse though some bush to get to that eagles nest. If you’ve got people behind you also trying to see or photograph the eagle they will be annoyed its in their way, or in their shot etc. Image © NY DPA Instructor Tiago Nunes The Micro Apollo looks fine and is not too expensive, but it could get crushed in some situations. I use the small slip on plastic Stofen diffusers because they are small, durable and cheap ($20). The softness comes from how you use them, how you position them. By swiveling the light and pointing it into a 10x10 foot wall, the wall becomes your light source not the small flash. Obviously if you’re shooting wildlife there are no walls to take advantage of, however you can sometimes take advantage of walls at zoos. In situations where the animals are at any distance, further than 25 feet, you probably should remove the modifier and just shoot bare head. You generally need the power and throw of the flash zoom head system (the flash tube inside the flash unit will actually zoom back and forth when you zoom the focal length on the lens. With the modifier off the flash will narrow it’s beam at long focal lengths to produce a longer throw. I have also heard good things about heard Gary Fong modifiers, although they are kind of expensive for just a piece of plastic.


Donít Use Flash!

Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on LivinginHD.com. Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions and answers are posted here on digitalphotoacademy.com. You can also view the archived webinars for reference.   Photo by David Sanders, DPA Instructor in Phoenix, AZ Don’t Use Flash! Sometimes, even though technically and intuitively the scene calls for it, you are better off not using flash at all. There are instances where a scene is very dark, under lit, with black holes, areas without any detail at all. Your first inclination is to turn on the flash and add light to the scene. Sometimes you’ll get a better photo if you learn to fight that urge. The photo above shot by David Sanders, DPA Instructor in Phoenix, AZ is a perfect example of one of those moments. By dialing in a correct exposure for the end of day setting sun and fading sky, and keeping his flash turned off, David has reduced the other elements in the frame, notably the cowboy, pick up truck and lariat to a silhouette. David could easily have added a little on-camera flash to lighten them up, balancing the flash output with the sky, but by choosing what some would consider an incorrect exposure he has created a timeless photograph of an American Icon, resulting in a more unique image, with more power and impact than the expected and typical well illuminated photograph. This photo makes me want to be there, and that’s the best you could hope from your photos. Submitting your photographs for webinar consideration: Specifications and requirements. Anyone can submit photographs for inclusion in the DPA, LiHD Webinar, Online Photo Class Series. If you would like to submit your photographs for an upcoming webinar, please read the following. Each webinar has a specific theme or topic. First go to LivinginHD.com, Tip of the Day, to determine the theme for the next webinar. Then review the submission requirements below and submit your photographs to info@digitalphotoacademy.com. Note that webinars are edited and formatted days in advance, thus please submit your photos at least a week in advance of the webinar, late submissions can not be added. Photographs are chosen, and edited, for their applicability to the webinar theme, artistic and technical merit, and content length. If your photograph is NOT chosen, it will be archived and may appear in a more appropriate future webinar. Please submit your images in the following specs: Compressed JPEG Approx size 1MB per image 200 dpi 10 inch size longest edge Please include your name and city in the image file name as below: First_Last_City_01.jpeg Please also include brief captions including subject, location and any pertinent tech info. If it is not immediately clear from your image, for which webinar you are submitting photos, please indicate this as well. By submitting your photographs for consideration, you grant and authorize, The Digital Photo Academy, LivinginHD.com and Panasonic, the following: The right to use your photograph(s) in the content and promotion of the webinar series, and for use on each company’s respective website. You further authorize your photograph(s) may be archived online and/or in a database, and allow unrestricted internet availability of the webinar(s) containing your photograph(s). You further authorize the use of your photograph(s) in any future webinars. By voluntarily submitting your photographs for consideration you agree to the aforementioned without any legal claims, or claims for remuneration, whatsoever. You, as the photographer, retain the copyright © of any submitted photograph(s) and proper photo credit and acknowledgement will appear with your photograph whenever possible and practical.


Dragging The Shutter

  Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on LivinginHD.com. Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions and answers are posted here on digitalphotoacademy.com. You can also view the archived webinars for reference.     Steve, of Wilmette, IL  asked: The most interesting thing to me was how to capture that well-lit close-up image while still allowing the background to remain visible and not totally blacked out. I′ve accomplished this in the past by "accident" not understanding what I was doing! Steve’ question is about a technique called Dragging the Shutter.   Photo by Douglas Carver, DPA Instructor New York This photo by Douglas Carver has a real sense of whimsy and fun, which plays into the father and son image. The effect is from combining flash with a slow shutter speed in just the right balance. To accomplish this you need to be out of sync with the correct camera sync speed. And its much easier to achieve the result you desire using a fast lens. A full time f2.8 (or faster), not a Floating Aperture Kit lens that comes with most cameras. It’s also easier to use an external On-camera flash as opposed to a Pop Up internal flash. The first thing to do is determine a correct ambient exposure for the scene (NO FLASH, turn the flash unit off). This applies when shooting indoor, outdoor, low light or bright light. This will give you the correct exposure for the existing light before introducing flash. Once you determine the ambient exposure you dial that into the camera. I find the best way is to switch to Manual mode. This way you know the exposure wont change. Especially since many cameras default to a Flash Sync Shutter Speed (1/60 or 1/250) when you power up a Flash in an auto camera mode (A, S, TV, P etc) thus overriding your settings. Then you turn on your Dedicated Flash and set it to AUTO TTL. (Must be a Dedicated Flash unit). Typically On-Camera external flash units are too efficient (overpowered) and must be dialed down. Power down the output but still keep the flash on Auto. Depending on the flash (manufacturer) this is done differently. Most have a power setting on the back panel where you dial power up or down by 1/3 stops. I find -2/3 power is a good starting point. Because the Flash, Camera and lens are all electronically linked the flash will output the correct amount of light to shoot at your camera settings, in this case f2.8, 1/20 sec, 800 ISO. Sensors in the flash determine the person in the foreground is getting the correct amount of light without being overexposed. If you are using a Pop-Up internal flash you may still be able to adjust the flash output, usually through the camera menu.   Photo by Hinda Schuman, DPA Instructor Philadelphia This photo is similar in technique but shot in a brighter setting, with more ambient light, which gives it a more overall brightness and less stark look, full of beautiful rich colors and tones. The flash is not lighting the background, the ambient light is exposing the BG via the slow shutter speed combined with wide aperture. Take an initial test exposure with the flash on. If the flash is too hot on your foreground subject you dial it down another third stop. Keep taking test frames, and adjusting your flash output until the flash exposure on the foreground is even with the ambient exposure in the background. As you can see from the samples attached here you can play with motion and shutter speed to give yourself more or less blur. The longer the shutter speed the more blur and ghosting at the edges. Less movement of the camera and of the subject will give you less blur.   Photo by Jon Canfield, DPA Instructor Seattle   Jon’s photo of the boy jumping is indicative of what we imagine childhood should be, just packed full of fun, and never slowing down for anything. The slow shutter technique used here accentuates the fast movement of the kid. In the two Bentham samples below of the biker in a bar, the shutter speed is relatively slow but there is no blur because neither the camera or the subject moved very much during the exposure. Both photos were shot at f2.8, 1/20 Sec, 800 ISO, with no exposure change between the two. Photo on left is without Flash, Photo on right is shot with flash. The only difference is the added flash on the right.   Photo by John Bentham, DPA Instructor New York   In the following photo of the Drag Queen, shot at f2.8, 1/8 sec at 400 ISO there is significantly more blur because of subject and camera motion during the exposure. Photo by John Bentham, DPA Instructor New York   Submitting your photographs for webinar consideration: Specifications and requirements. Anyone can submit photographs for inclusion in the DPA, LiHD Webinar, Online Photo Class Series. If you would like to submit your photographs for an upcoming webinar, please read the following. Each webinar has a specific theme or topic. First go to LivinginHD.com, Tip of the Day, to determine the theme for the next webinar. Then review the submission requirements below and submit your photographs to info@digitalphotoacademy.com. Note that webinars are edited and formatted days in advance, thus please submit your photos at least a week in advance of the webinar, late submissions can not be added. Photographs are chosen, and edited, for their applicability to the webinar theme, artistic and technical merit, and content length. If your photograph is NOT chosen, it will be archived and may appear in a more appropriate future webinar. Please submit your images in the following specs: Compressed JPEG Approx size 1MB per image 200 dpi 10 inch size longest edge Please include your name and city in the image file name as below: First_Last_City_01.jpeg Please also include brief captions including subject, location and any pertinent tech info. If it is not immediately clear from your image, for which webinar you are submitting photos, please indicate this as well. By submitting your photographs for consideration, you grant and authorize, The Digital Photo Academy, LivinginHD.com and Panasonic, the following: The right to use your photograph(s) in the content and promotion of the webinar series, and for use on each company’s respective website. You further authorize your photograph(s) may be archived online and/or in a database, and allow unrestricted internet availability of the webinar(s) containing your photograph(s). You further authorize the use of your photograph(s) in any future webinars. By voluntarily submitting your photographs for consideration you agree to the aforementioned without any legal claims, or claims for remuneration, whatsoever. You, as the photographer, retain the copyright © of any submitted photograph(s) and proper photo credit and acknowledgement will appear with your photograph whenever possible and practical.


Stop Action Flash, Flash Duration and Trip Shutters

Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on LivinginHD.com. Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions and answers are posted here on digitalphotoacademy.com. You can also view the archived webinars for reference.   Photograph by Josh Anon, DPA Instructor, San Francisco   Stop Action Flash, Flash Duration and Trip Shutters, Stop Action Photography, High Speed Photography To stop action in a bright room, or when shooting outside in daylight you need a fast shutter speed, 1/1000 of a second or higher depending on the subject. But to stop action in High Speed photography you need a Fast Flash Duration. Shutter Speed is the actual speed, the duration of time the camera shutter is open letting light hit the sensor. Flash Duration is the actual duration of time that the flash is lit. These are two very different things. Camera shutter speeds can be as high as 1/4000, or 1/8000 of a second, but flash duration speeds can be much faster, upwards of 1/10,000 of a second. These very fast flash duration speeds are what photographers use to freeze water droplets, or freeze the wings of a Hummingbird in flight. There are a number of factors that determine flash duration. 1. The equipment produced by the manufacturer: There are a few units available specifically designed for fast action photography to achieve a short (fast) flash duration. 2. The lower the power output of the flash unit the faster the flash duration will be. Capacitors store the energy in the flash and release it when the flash is triggered. It takes a certain amount of time for the energy to release, thus less energy stored means less time to expend, resulting in a shorter flash duration. The shorter the flash duration means the more stopping power a flash will have. 3. When using on-camera dedicated Speedlights, which have flash sensors built into the unit, the flash duration is shorter the closer the subject (object being photographed) is to the camera. The Flash unit measures the light bouncing back off the subject and cuts off the flash output when it measures a correct exposure. Obviously a closer object requires less light that one further away, thus a closer object will result in a faster flash duration. To stop action you use the lowest power setting you can to still achieve a correct exposure. Very often these exposures are made in a blacked-out room to avoid any ambient light from influencing the exposure, also allowing for a slow shutter speed which means the camera shutter can remain open indefinitely without exposing the sensor until the flash fires.   Photograph by Allen Birnbach, Denver, DPA Instructor Trip Shutters When doing high speed photography very often the action you are trying to record happens faster than the human eye or your brain can see, or comprehend. Hence the need for an activated shutter, one that is triggered by an event rather than the human hand. Photographers utilize a number of different devices for this purpose, commonly sound, vibration, contact or beam interruption (motion) activated shutters. As each name suggests these devices are triggered by an action (eg: sound) causing a reaction (flash and camera operation) resulting in an exposure.   Photograph by Milton Heiberg, Orlando, DPA Instructor Submitting your photographs for webinar consideration: Specifications and requirements. Anyone can submit photographs for inclusion in the DPA, LiHD Webinar, Online Photo Class Series. If you would like to submit your photographs for an upcoming webinar, please read the following. Each webinar has a specific theme or topic. First go to LivinginHD.com, Tip of the Day, to determine the theme for the next webinar. Then review the submission requirements below and submit your photographs to info@digitalphotoacademy.com. Note that webinars are edited and formatted days in advance, thus please submit your photos at least a week in advance of the webinar, late submissions can not be added. Photographs are chosen, and edited, for their applicability to the webinar theme, artistic and technical merit, and content length. If your photograph is NOT chosen, it will be archived and may appear in a more appropriate future webinar. Please submit your images in the following specs: Compressed JPEG Approx size 1MB per image 200 dpi 10 inch size longest edge Please include your name and city in the image file name as below: First_Last_City_01.jpeg Please also include brief captions including subject, location and any pertinent tech info. If it is not immediately clear from your image, for which webinar you are submitting photos, please indicate this as well. By submitting your photographs for consideration, you grant and authorize, The Digital Photo Academy, LivinginHD.com and Panasonic, the following: The right to use your photograph(s) in the content and promotion of the webinar series, and for use on each company’s respective website. You further authorize your photograph(s) may be archived online and/or in a database, and allow unrestricted internet availability of the webinar(s) containing your photograph(s). You further authorize the use of your photograph(s) in any future webinars. By voluntarily submitting your photographs for consideration you agree to the aforementioned without any legal claims, or claims for remuneration, whatsoever. You, as the photographer, retain the copyright © of any submitted photograph(s) and proper photo credit and acknowledgement will appear with your photograph whenever possible and practical.


Check out the Catch-light

Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on LivinginHD.com. Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions and answers are posted here on digitalphotoacademy.com. You can also view the archived webinars for reference. Check out the Catch-light You’ve seen them, but do you know what they are, ... or what they’re called? That white sparkle in the eye of a photo subject, it’s called a catch-light. The catch-light is the reflection of a light source in the subjects eye. These can be caused by a window, an on-camera flash, a studio flash, the sun or a bare light bulb or any other light source. Its a nice pleasing effect and gives the viewer a precise point to focus on when looking at a portrait, both literally and figuratively. The position of the light source, in relation to the subject and the camera, will determine if there is a catch-light, and also determine where the catch-light will appear in the eye. The specific type and shape of a catch-light is determined by the type, size and shape of the light source. A small light, such as an on-camera flash, results in a small catch-light, a large light source like a six foot Octobank, will make a larger catch-light. There are many different types and styles of lighting gear, umbrellas, round lights, rectangular and square softboxes, ring-lights, strip lights, large silks, in addition to an infinite array of windows and other sources of light. When you are first learning photography watching the catch-light is a useful learning tool when looking at photographs. If you like the lighting in a particular photograph you can often determine what type of light the photographer used to make that photograph. The photo grid shown here includes catch-lights made by some of the more common light sources. Use it to learn and recognize the different styles and you’ll be closer to learning what type of lighting you want to achieve yourself. Adding a Catch-light: An good trick, when shooting outside in daylight is to add a catch light. Most often, when shooting in bright daylight there is enough light to allow you to shoot without flash. But if you turn your flash on during the day (Set Forced Flash On), in addition to adding a little Fill Flash (see DPA tips on Daylight Fill Flash) this will also result in a catch-light in the eyes of your subjects and give your photos that extra sparkle.   Guide to Catch Lights: Reading from left Top Row Two Ribbed Umbrellas : Two 36 inch Umbrellas, equidistant and approx 6 feet from subject. One Smooth Umbrella : One 30 inch Umbrella, approx 4 feet from subject. One Large Octobank: 60 inch Octobank, approx 10 feet from subject. Middle Row One Small Square Softbox: One 24 inch softbox, approx 5 feet from subject. One Large Octobank: 60 inch Octobank, approx 10 feet from subject. Bank of Windows: Four 3x8 foot windows, approx 20 feet from subject. Bottom Row No Flash: Lit by indirect daylight, Subject is standing under an awning, Notice the photographers reflection in the eye. Ringlight: Produces a distinctive Ring catch-light and a very distinctive hard light. On-Camera Flash: Speedlight, a very small light source of 1.5x3 inches thus producing a small catch-light. Submitting your photographs for webinar consideration: Specifications and requirements. Anyone can submit photographs for inclusion in the DPA, LiHD Webinar, Online Photo Class Series. If you would like to submit your photographs for an upcoming webinar, please read the following. Each webinar has a specific theme or topic. First go to LivinginHD.com, Tip of the Day, to determine the theme for the next webinar. Then review the submission requirements below and submit your photographs to info@digitalphotoacademy.com. Note that webinars are edited and formatted days in advance, thus please submit your photos at least a week in advance of the webinar, late submissions can not be added. Photographs are chosen, and edited, for their applicability to the webinar theme, artistic and technical merit, and content length. If your photograph is NOT chosen, it will be archived and may appear in a more appropriate future webinar. Please submit your images in the following specs: Compressed JPEG Approx size 1MB per image 200 dpi 10 inch size longest edge Please include your name and city in the image file name as below: First_Last_City_01.jpeg Please also include brief captions including subject, location and any pertinent tech info. If it is not immediately clear from your image, for which webinar you are submitting photos, please indicate this as well. By submitting your photographs for consideration, you grant and authorize, The Digital Photo Academy, LivinginHD.com and Panasonic, the following: The right to use your photograph(s) in the content and promotion of the webinar series, and for use on each company’s respective website. You further authorize your photograph(s) may be archived online and/or in a database, and allow unrestricted internet availability of the webinar(s) containing your photograph(s). You further authorize the use of your photograph(s) in any future webinars. By voluntarily submitting your photographs for consideration you agree to the aforementioned without any legal claims, or claims for remuneration, whatsoever. You, as the photographer, retain the copyright © of any submitted photograph(s) and proper photo credit and acknowledgement will appear with your photograph whenever possible and practical.


Daylight Fill Flash

Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on LivinginHD.com. Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions and answers are posted here on digitalphotoacademy.com. You can also view the archived webinars for reference. Daylight Fill Flash Photos by Allen Birnbach, DPA Instructor Denver, CO A very useful, and greatly utilized technique for professional location photographers is Daylight Fill Flash. This technique supposes there is ample light to photograph a scene, as one would expect when shooting in bright sunlight, but goes one step further by adding just the right amount of Fill Flash where it’s needed, primarily to brighten up the shadows. Looking at the photos above, shot by Denver DPA Instructor, Allen Birnbach, you can see before and after image samples of this technique. The left photo is shot using ambient light only. The right photo is the same exposure (same camera settings, shutter speed, aperture and ISO) but with the addition of flash into the photo. Using a large light source, a softbox with a powerful off-camera flash unit, Allen has added enough light to brighten up the dark shadowy areas and make the photo more legible, in addition to altering the mood of the photograph. Notice how the light on the jogger is much brighter, more even and the very dark, contrasty shadows on her face, arms and legs have been eliminated. Look also at the large rocks behind her, they too are brighter and look less ominous and weighty. Overall a brighter, softer, more pleasing image, just by popping in a bit of supplemental flash. You don’t always need a large flash unit to take advantage of this technique, you can get a similar result using an external on-camera flash mounted on your camera hotshoe. The trick to achieving success is to get the balance right between the ambient light and the flash. Too much flash and the shot looks contrived, too little and you don’t achieve the soft shadows you desire. It sometimes takes a little trial and error but you just walk in the exposure using  the screen on the back of your camera, adjusting the flash output to the desired level.   Photo by Frank Siteman, DPA Instructor, Boston, MA The same technique is incorporated here by Frank Siteman, a DPA Instructor in Boston. Frank has positioned his subject with his back to the sun. You can just see the sun sneaking into frame in the upper right corner of the shot. In most circumstances this would result in a blacked out subject, with the young mans face in deep shadow, if not totally in silhouette. Frank has added Daylight Fill Flash coming in from the camera position to brighten up the subject rendering the dark areas legible. By very accurately balancing the light output of his flash with the surrounding daylight. and most importantly with the light hitting the background of the scene, Frank has achieved very natural looking lighting in an impossible situation. This technique allows the photographer to control the relative darkness or brightness of the background, which enables you to achieve a shot with darker richer colors in the background, especially in the sky resulting in a more interesting and dramatic photograph. Submitting your photographs for webinar consideration: Specifications and requirements. Anyone can submit photographs for inclusion in the DPA, LiHD Webinar, Online Photo Class Series. If you would like to submit your photographs for an upcoming webinar, please read the following. Each webinar has a specific theme or topic. First go to LivinginHD.com, Tip of the Day, to determine the theme for the next webinar. Then review the submission requirements below and submit your photographs to info@digitalphotoacademy.com. Note that webinars are edited and formatted days in advance, thus please submit your photos at least a week in advance of the webinar, late submissions can not be added. Photographs are chosen, and edited, for their applicability to the webinar theme, artistic and technical merit, and content length. If your photograph is NOT chosen, it will be archived and may appear in a more appropriate future webinar. Please submit your images in the following specs: Compressed JPEG Approx size 1MB per image 200 dpi 10 inch size longest edge Please include your name and city in the image file name as below: First_Last_City_01.jpeg Please also include brief captions including subject, location and any pertinent tech info. If it is not immediately clear from your image, for which webinar you are submitting photos, please indicate this as well. By submitting your photographs for consideration, you grant and authorize, The Digital Photo Academy, LivinginHD.com and Panasonic, the following: The right to use your photograph(s) in the content and promotion of the webinar series, and for use on each company’s respective website. You further authorize your photograph(s) may be archived online and/or in a database, and allow unrestricted internet availability of the webinar(s) containing your photograph(s). You further authorize the use of your photograph(s) in any future webinars. By voluntarily submitting your photographs for consideration you agree to the aforementioned without any legal claims, or claims for remuneration, whatsoever. You, as the photographer, retain the copyright © of any submitted photograph(s) and proper photo credit and acknowledgement will appear with your photograph whenever possible and practical.


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