Six Days of Speedlite Tips: Day 3

© Rick Sammon
It's Day 3 of my Six Days of Speedlite Shooting tips.

Today's tip: Light Up the Background.

Concept: Use a second speedlite to add some light to the background. This background light is also called a separation light because it separates the subject from the background. Above: Susan Sammon is holding a flash that is fired through some artificial palm leaves. For the opening shot for this post, the flash was fired through the cardboard cutout on the floor behind Susan.

My cardboard cut-out was also used on the two  images below. Honl gels were used to add the color.

© Rick Sammon
© Rick Sammon

For more detailed lighting tips, see my apps.

For hand-on learning, check out my workshops.

Explore the light,

Six Days of Speedlite Tips: Day 2

© Rick Sammon
It's Day 2 of my Six Days of Speedlite Shooting tips.

Today's tip: Create Terrific Top Light.

Concept: Position the light directly above the subject. Use "voice activated" light stands to save on real light stands. Use a softbox to soften and direct the light.

© Rick Sammon
I used this technique when I photographed photographer Catherine Hall at Google.


For more detailed lighting tips, see my apps.

For hand-on learning, check out my workshops.

Explore the light,

Six Days of Speedlite Tips: Day 1

© Rick Sammon

It's Day 1 of my Six Days of Speedlite Shooting tips.

Today's tip: Create Cool Rim Light.

Concept: Position the subject slightly in front of a softbox, as illustrated above. Photograph the subject looking straight ahead (in the opposite direction in which the softbox is facing) so you get a profile. Basically, you want the light coming from slightly in front of and behind the subject.

In the shot above, I am positioning the model. For the end-result shot, I was positioned to the model's left side.

You need to experiment with subject position and flash output to get the shot you want.

BTW: A softbox is a very important accessory. It allows you to control the light to a greater degree than an umbrella or an octodome. More on that in future posts.


Canon 5D Mark II

Canon 24-105mm IS Lens

Westcott Apollo Softbox

Canon STE-2

Tether Tools Table

Tether Tools Cable

Note: The Canon ST-E2 is designed for indoor, line of sight use - although it's worked for me even when speedlites are "hidden" in a soft box. Another option for wireless flash photography are 

Pocket Wizards

. You need both a transmitter and receiver.

For more detailed lighting tips,

see my apps


For hand-on learning, check out

my workshops


Explore the light,


P.S. Here is a link to a post on 

Plug-ins for Portraits.

 Check it out.

Have Some Plug-in Fun This Weekend

Want to have some photo fun this weekend? Play with plug-ins. They help you awaken the artist within.

Check out all the plug-ins I use on my Save on Creative Plug-ins Page.

Spend some time checking out the links below. Good info and good plug-in fun.

Here's a link to my post: HDR Must Know Info.

Learn about Photomatix Pro.

Learn about Nik HDR Efex Pro.

You'll find more plug-in examples in this post from last year.

Explore the light,

Today's Guest Blogger: Marc Muench

Today's guest blogger is Marc Muench. Take it away Mark!

I’ve spent most of my life as a landscape photographer, not pursuing wildlife unless it has been a very specific shoot. Things are changing!

I know the landscape well, in fact I have experienced many moments while in the wilderness that are difficult or impossible to capture in writing or photos. These moments, as illusive as they drive me to not only experience them again but to find that special place where I can compose what I feel into a image that shares the experience. 

Having said this there is a missing element in landscape photography, attitude! I know occasionally a particular post processing style will convey an attitude, but mostly that is of the photographer not the subject matter or location. Missing “attitude” in landscape photography is not necessarily  bad, as it is merely not applicable. Once you include a human element or wildlife, all changes. 

The very simple expression, either with a face, entire body position or even location within the landscape can alter the viewers experience greatly. I have found if exciting to attempt to capture some attitude in the animals I am observing. I will be teaching this during my next safari/workshop in Kenya, Feb 2013.

Sparring Wildebeests: The Masai Mara is full of Wildebeest and most are considered fairly boring animals to photograph. In fact there are so many of them that they end up getting in the way often. Most images you might see of them are taken during the great migration where they cross the Mara River and get eaten or drowned. What I came to realize while on safari over the course of many game drives is just how unique these “beasties” really are. Set in motion to convey the perpetual motion they live in, these two fight for dominance. 

Hunting Hyena: The Hyena is not an easy animal to photograph. Most  people cringe when they view images of these predators. I believe this low dramatic dusk light portrayed their reputation well. Most seemed to cruz through the bush at a constant pace, always on the prowl with their head down. 

Mother Lion (opening shot for this post): There is not much more cute than lion cubs. What they do is equally compelling to observe. But, the understanding mother is equally interesting. This mother lion had been cleaning this cub as well as two others for about a half hour before they began rolling away while caught up in playing. Then, this one looked up and realized the distance had grown to far from mom. He suddenly ran back behind her and with a playful bite gave mom the comfort of knowing he was still there. 

Family of Giraffes: I’m not certain this is a real family but it sure could be. The amazing story of the little one trying to stay caught up with everyone else was too hard not to notice. I can just hear the older sibling cursing the little one for not keeping up, and the little one calling to everyone else to wait. 

The dive: Eagles hunt with such concentration that this photo proved to me they have a hard time keeping their bodies up with their sight. I knew eagles were spectacular flyers, but…….. After watching them dive for Herring fish while in Alaska, I thought I noticed a moment when the begin the dive and twist their bodies, but was unable to tell for sure as they move so quick. After attempting to capture this potential scene over and over and over again I finally got lucky and could see just how maneuverable they really could be.   

©Marc Muench
July, 2012