Mixed Light Selfie On The Beach

Mixed light photography

My wife Diane and I love the beach at Siesta Key, Florida. Anyone who has been to this beach raves about the white powder sand. As a photographer, I’m often left out of pictures. Which is OK. However, this particular trip caused me to think about a photo of my wife and I. Especially since we enjoy Siesta Key beach as we do. I’m always telling Diane, I want to create our portrait on the beach.

So one evening after we’d gotten cleaned up and had dinner, I told Diane; OK, let’s do the portrait on the beach thing tonight. The first words from Diane were; OK, let me fix my hair!  Imagine that. I told Diane, I want to get my camera set up, so I’ll head out and you can catch up.

The problem with this type of photography at this time of day is the low light levels and mix of light sources. With the sun setting or after sunset, you need a long exposure in order to capture the ambient light. To insure the light on the faces is correct, means you need to add some flash. Now you have a mixed light source. So how does this work?

First you need to make the giant leap of faith and shoot in manual! I  can hear you out there now: OMG – shoot in manual, what’s an f-stop? Yep, you will need to know your f-stop from shutter speed. The quick answer is to use the lens aperture to control the flash exposure. Then find a shutter speed to control the ambient exposure. After that, it’s just an issue to get the pose right. In this set up, I didn’t want to drag extra strobes, light stands, camera and tripod onto the beach. Although for you I’d make sure the extra lights are used. One other handy item was the hand held remote for the camera.

So after was all said and done, Diane and I chose the image below to have printed. OK, I’ll admit I did enhance the night sky a little. Let me know your thoughts!

We have this wonderful body of water here called Lake Erie. So if you’d like to have your family photographed in a setting like the one shown, contact me.

Mixed Light - night portrait on the beach

Diane and Tom on the Siesta Key Beach at dusk.

Professional HeadShot

In Lake County, Ohio we have a lot of marketing/communications professionals. Many of them belong to a local organization know as Lake Communicators. Every year, the organization publishes a directory of members (yes, some folks still like hardcopy) and list them on the web site. To make it easy for members to have a professional headshot, one of the photography members will agree to create member headshots. As Tom Szabo is one of the few remaining photographers in the group, he returned this year to conduct the photo shoot.

Prior to the luncheon meeting, Tom comes in early to set up a portable studio. The studio consists of camera, tripod, main light with a 7 foot diameter umbrella, back light, back drop, stool and light stands. Each member needing a  new/updated head shot steps in front of the camera working with Tom to create a suitable image. Subjects do have the opportunity for a quick review of the image(s) and where requested, re-takes are provided.

Portraits can sometime make people a bit nervous. However, most members know Tom and He works with them to relax. The result is a headshot that appears confident and reflective of the persons personality.

Since the photography service is available before and after the luncheon meeting, there’s not a lot of time for casual conversation. However Tom finds a way to break the ice and ease members in front of the camera. These are professionals with busy schedules and not a lot of time. So most are sit down, a couple of quick words, pose direction, shoot and go on to the next person. That means all set up and lighting checks must be completed and finalized before members arrive.

Below is a gallery of this years work. For those of you photographed this year tom-szabo.com wishes to thank you for your time and hope you are pleased with the results.

Infant First Portrait Session

Infant Portrait Session.

So there’s this girl, NO, NO, NO, not like that! Shannon belongs to the same networking group as I. Gosh we’ve known each other for years and years. I feel like her brother. I can’t say Father since I know him also and he’s a pretty cool guy.

Well Shannon and her husband Travis recently had their first child. Let’s call him say, Mike. I’ll use my brother’s name. Mike is now almost four weeks old. So Mom and Dad brought him into the studio for his first sitting. You’ve heard the description of newborns; eat, poop and sleep. That’s what makes them so cool to photograph. You can put them in almost any healthy non harming position, photograph them and they sleep through the entire session.

Well, not little Mikey! Midway through his session, he woke up. I think he just didn’t want to miss anything! In any event, Mikey was a trooper. We put him in all of his poses and he just stayed their for the most part.

Typically, in these sessions, infants are often photographed in the suit they were born in. Of course it was then that Mikey decided to leave his mark on the fleece posing cloth.  Good job, Mikey. But no problem that’s what washing machines and bleach are for!!

So here’s a few images of Mikey for you to enjoy. Oh by the way, can you tell Mikey’s dad is a deer hinter?? Mike was a pleasure to have in the studio. Love you Mom, Dad and Mikey!

Infant in camo.

Get ready all, I’m waking up!

Sleeping infant

Aren’t I just so cute while I’m sleeping?

Infant boy in black and white.

Our little guy in black and white.

 Mom and Dad with infant son.

Don’t Mom and Dad look so happy?

If you’d like more information about infant photography or any other services offered by tom-szabo.com, check the studio website for contact information.

Sun – For One Light Portraits

Sun: A very interesting portrait video came across my feed today. I wanted to share it with you.

First of all most Facebook photography I see has one thing in common – Bad Lighting! Please stop and think for a minute; where does your outdoor light come from? Of course the sun. So that means you have a single source for your photos. In this video photographer Aaron Anderson talks about shooting portraits using – guess what: 1 light. Think of his one light as the sun. I know, what a concept – LOL.

In the video you’re going to see a lot of studio equipment. Yes, but pay attention to the main tools he uses, a strobe, a camera and a reflector. That’s it. What Aaron does do however is CONTROL the illumination. Don’t have a big DSLR? no problem use your cell phone camera. Remember his main light placement and position your subject using the sun in the same relative position. Oh you don’t have a white reflector card? How about the side of a building, a newspaper, a blanket. Look at what’s at hand that you can use.

You may not have Photoshop to make the post process editing. Don’t worry, you’re not a pro trying to sell your work. Paying attention to your subject position will get you better results than what you have been doing.

Watch the video and pay attention to what Aaron is doing with his 1 light (like the sun). Enjoy and feel free to post your thoughts and/or results. I’d like to see your results.

 

Portrait photography tom-szabo.com

Relaxed portrait pose for a high school senior.

Light, It’s All About The Light!

Light, It’s all about the light.

Light! My wife Diane and I like to vacation at Siesta Key Florida. The beach has the softest and whitest sand you’ll see anywhere. During our walks on the soft powder white sand, Diane gets tired of my commentary on the people taking photos with their cell phone cameras. It generally goes something like this “there’s another photo that won’t turn out very well!”

Even though she gets tired of listening to me, I’m right. Two major problems I see: Stop putting the sun at your subjects back! Number two, move in closer. So let me spend some time again talking about lighting. Why my comment about sun placement? Camera sensors don’t have the capability that our brain does. Sensors can’t adjust the image we see through our eye and correct the exposure. Don’t believe me? Take the scenario I just described and experiment. Put the sun behind your subjects back. Look at their face. I’m sure you’ll see the detail in the face. That’s because our brain and eyes work together to adjust the lighting and see the detail. Now take the picture. How much detail do you see in the near black orb called the face. Almost none.

So how do you fix this problem. You have to train your eye to evaluate scenes for lighting. Look for the highlights and the shadows. Make slight adjustments in subject positioning to reduce the amount of shadow in the subject. Take a picture after your adjustment to see the results and continue to adjust your subject. Eventually you’ll begin to learn what works.

Another way to learn is to observe what other photographers do. I’m not saying to copy their technique as much as observe and adjust. Evaluate the lighting of the scene and subject to see how they work with light. Look at what award winning photographer Irene Chen has accomplished in her photography. Although she uses studio lighting for the award winning images, see how she uses control over lighting to work her magic. Read more about her work.

You’re welcomed to ask me questions. Or just give me your comments.

Film used in family portrait photography. Light.

Portrait photographers strive for detail in their final prints.

Film Photography – Dead?

Film Photography – Really?

Film, remember that stuff? With the explosion of digital cameras today, most of you would likely wonder why shoot on film? Let me back you up a bit. Before digital, you had to put more thought into your photography based on the type of shooting and light conditions. You selected film to support your planned shooting.

Cameras were available in varying sizes. The size concept was based on the physical size of the negative you were shooting. Real photographers would argue the benefits of shooting 35mm, 2-1/4, 4X5 and 8X10. Who cares, you say. Well it all boiled down to the larger the size of the negative, the sharper and more detailed the print. Speed was also an indication of the density of the film. The better the density of the negative, the better the image quality. So if you could record an image on a larger negative size, then you could get incredible detail in your print. That is what photographers would strive for.

So here comes this photographer, Pali Kalsi. He started photographing on the larger formats and got intrigued by the results. To the point where he decided to build an 11X14 camera. Those of you who still remember film cameras and negatives, think back to the negative size for a 35 mm camera. Now imagine a negative 11 inches by 14 inches. The detail in an 11X14 print would be simply amazing.

For more details and to see some of Pali Kalsi’s work, check out this article. As always, let me know your thoughts!

Film used in family portrait photography.

Portrait photographers strive for detail in their final prints.

School Pictures And Special Deals

School Picture Business

School pictures are a real tradition for families. People often ask if I provide that service. My answer: well I’d like to. I learned a long time ago this is a very difficult market to break into. Schools have told me they are under contract with large photography studios for the service and in addition, the school gets a cut of sales. One of the biggest contract term that’s a barrier for me is the no competitor clause. These contracts often prohibits another photographer from suppling promotions to students within the school.

In fact, the picture business made the news in Washington, D.C. on the local News Channel 4 report. Please don’t think I’m angry or upset about their practices. I just wish I could participate on some level.

tom szabo, jeweler, photographer, scuba instructor. tom-szabo.com

This high school senior portrait uses 3 colors, skin tone, white and red.

Baby Portrait

Baby Portrait

Baby portraits can be fun or a disaster – trust me! If you have a 6 month old child, wake them from their nap, bundle them up, put them in a strange location, in front of a stranger and tell me what you expect? Yep, one unhappy little child.

I’ve had plenty of little ones in the studio. Best description – a crap shoot! You just never know how things are going to go. Over energetic. Screaming. Crying. You name kids will do a lot to indicate their lack of interest in being photographed.

Recently Grandma and Grandpa brought their 6 month old into the studio for a portrait sitting. This little guy was one of my top subjects yet. He was so happy and had so much fun in front of the camera. I’ve never managed so many exposures in such a short period as this. Tell me what you think of these two pics!

Baby sitting on blocks.

I’m having so much fun at tom-szabo.com!

Portrait of baby

Don’t you think I’m cool?

Fashion Mags – Photo Lighting Tips

Fashion Magazines – Photography Tips

Fashion magazines – OK, I admit to looking at them. No, No, really, I’m not that way. The fashion industry spends A LOT of money on photographers to advertise their products. So it stands to reason that they would be hiring the best fashion photographers, they can get. So why not look at their work for hints, tips and how to’s?

Next your going to ask me what should you look for. I’ll offer two things to look at: Poses and Lighting. Poses should be pretty straight forward. No you don’t have to expect your subjects to be professional models. But when you tell your child to hold for a picture, suggest body positioning or hand placement that you’ve observed in a magazine.

As far as lighting goes, start with reading catch lights. These are the white dots that appear in the subject’s eyes. If you look close enough you may be able to count the number of dots in a single eye. This will tell you how many light sources the photographer used. Upon further review you might be able to tell if they are round or square, further suggesting square reflectors, rectangular or square soft boxes or round for umbrellas.

In addition to the catch lights, look for highlights positioned against shadows. This will help you identify the main light position relative to the subject.

To help you get started, look at the images used in the article at this link. Tell me what you think or feel free to ask me your questions.

Girl poses in doorway.

Can you determine the light source and direction for this portrait?

Light Planning

Light Equals Photography

Light plays a powerful role in photography. In addition, it is relative. A scene/subject will often have varying degrees of illumination. These are commonly know as highlights and shadows. Both highlights and shadows can be a creative tool.

Your job as a photographer is to understand the it, evaluate it creatively and control how the camera captures it. Wildlife photographer Taylor Glenn does a great job of controlling how his wildlife portraits are lit. He often photographs captive animals in studio where he can plan and control the scene. To learn more.

Photography, Portrait, Pet, Cleveland, Northeast Ohio

Not all wildlife need be wild!