Workshop Digital Diaries: San Miguel de Allende - Day 1

It's the end of day #1 of my workshop here in San Miguel de Allende for Foto Workshops Mexico.

I was originally going to title this post, "So Few, So Many in San Miguel de Allende," because I have been to so few places where there are so many photo opportunities. This place is a photographer's paradise.

We spent most of the day making pictures, rather than simply taking pictures. Here are a few of my favorite shots - along with some tips.

Above: shoot at an angle to create a sense of depth in an image. Also, photograph subjects in the shade for soft, flattering and even lighting.

Are you loving the colors in this picturesque colonial city? To enhance the colors and details in a scene, check out the effects in Topaz Adjust. For info on Topaz Adjust, click here.

Above: our translator, Adriana Toledo, doubled as our model. When photographing a person, try to isolate the head so it does not get lost in the background.

Above: I used the Crisp effect in Topaz Adjust to add some detail and color to this beautiful street scene.To get max depth of field, use a wide-angle lens, select a small aperture, and focus 1/3 into the scene.

Above: Shoot an action shot as well as a portrait. Thanks Oscar for working with my workshop students. (Yes! Oscar, a local artist, knows about ZZ Top - and he also plays guitar.)

Above: Come on one of a workshop. Great fun making pictures! Lots of learning and sharing, of course.

Above, work with reflections, especially after it rains.

I hope to see you in San Miguel in 2012. Shoot me an email to get on my workshop list.

Explore the light,
P.S. What makes this San Miguel workshop special - and different - is that is run by folks who live in Mexico.

A "Baker's Dozen" of Studio Lighting Tips Added to My Flagship iPad App: 24/7 Photo Buffet

I took this photo in my pal's Frank Doorhof's studio. Thank's Frank for the setup!
Dr. Dave Wilson and I have just added a "baker's dozen" of lighting tips to the iPad version my flagship app, Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet.
Photographers who already purchased the app for the iPad can get the new lighting lessons at no cost simply by updating the app. We are working on the update for the iPhone version of 24/7 Photo Buffet. Hang in.

The new "baker's dozen" of lighting tips brings the total number of tips, tricks and techniques to more than 100.

Many of the new lighting lessons include behind-the-scenes shots. If I don't have a behind-the-scenes shot, I created a lighting diagram to help you see the light.

Here is one of the tips from the new "baker's dozen."

Go Grid

Want to create some totally cool lighting effects? Are you on a budget? Go with a speedlite (or two) and a grid (or two).

A grid is a relatively inexpensive accessory that’s placed over a light source to narrow and direct the beam of the light.

Grids feature a honeycomb or egg-crate pattern that create either a circle or square pattern of light, much like a spotlight illuminates a performer on a stage.

If the grid is positioned extremely close to the light source, the pattern will not show up in the photograph, as illustrated by the light from the main flash that is falling on the model.

If the grid is positioned several inches from the light source, as illustrated by the background flash, the pattern will show up - which is kinda cool!

I used two Canon 580EX II Speedlites for this photograph. Both flash units were fired by my Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter, which was placed in the hot-shoe of my Canon 5D Mark II.

Flash A, set at full power, was positioned to my right and above the model’s head. The idea was to illuminate the model and to create a circle of light on the wall behind the model. My goal was to have the strong shadow of the model fall within the circle of light.

Flash B, set at one-half power and covered with a blue gel, was positioned behind a fan that was placed to my left. Protective plastic grids on the fan acted as grids.

This behind-the-scenes shot illustrates how easy it is to turn a room with a white wall into a photo studio.That is my friend Rob Knight in the shorts. Thank you Rob for letting us use your studio for the shoot.

The Rogue 3-in-1 Honeycomb grid is a versatile accessory for creative flash photography. 

The other new lighting lessons:

Changing your shooting position
Go Hollywood
Add drama
Try top light
Rockin' rim light
Create a mood
Outdoor studio lighting
Learn from the masters
Background shadows
Halo effect
Face the light
Mix light 

Other lighting lessons in the app (from the first release) include:

Fill Flash
Avoiding Hard Shadows
Flash for Action
Backlight Compensation
Exposure Compensation
Soft Portrait Lighting
Bracket Exposures

With all these lighting lessons, it's like getting an app on lighting within a general how-to photography app.

To see all my apps, click here.

Explore the light,

P.S. For more lighting tips on your iPad, see my Light It! app.

Exploring the Light in Mexico!


I just arrived in Mexico City for my workshop and seminar for Foto Workshops Mexico.
What a warm welcome at the airport! Juan Jose Marquez, the director of the workshops, greeted me with a big hug and custom made shirt. More fun to come, I am sure!
The seminar will be held here tomorrow at the World Trade Center.
The workshop will be held Sunday to Tuesday in San Miguel de Allende.
Below are a few shots from my previous trip to San Miguel. I just love the colors of the cool colonial city.

Juan and I are planning an international photo festival for 2012. If you want to get on the list shoot, Juan Jose an email.

More photos to come.

Explore the light,

300+ Teriffic Images From Times Square Shoot Made Choosing Top Shot A Challenge

Top shot from Times Square Shoot. Photograph by Margie Strange.
Last Saturday, 60+ talented photographers met in Times Square for a fun-filled photo shoot. The event was sponsored by our friends at SmugMug, who designed a custom web site and gallery for uploading and viewing the participants' images. If you want to see some awesome shots, and if you need some city-shooting inspiration, go through the gallery - slowly.

Photo pros photo by David Ortiz.
Part of the project was to selected a favorite image. That daunting task was assigned to the pros who lead the group (left to right): me, Juan Pons and Jeremy Pollack.

After reviewing all the images, we selected the opening shot for this blog post as our group favorite – a cool shot by Margie Strange of a low rider.

Left: Monte Rudze. Right: Tony Marchesano.
Above: These two shots also caught our eye. One for creative lighting, one for creative composition and humor.

A big "thank you" goes to all our Times Square photographers. You did an amazing job of following the assignment: Tell the Whole Story.

Group photo by Jeremy Pollack
Margie: shoot me an email so we can work out the prize: A Free Year of SmugMug Pro and a Metal Print of your image. 

Photograph by Andy Williams.
Our next SmugMug/Sammon shoot will be at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco on October 17th at 5 PM. Juan Pons, Derrick Story and I will be there to help photographers turn snapshots into great shots. Stay tuned.

Hey, if you need some detailed how-to info on how to shoot in NYC, check out Jeremy's book (co-authored with Andy Williams):
Photographing New York City Digital Field Guide

Explore the light,

P.S. Get 20% off your first year of SmugMug Pro with code RICKSMUG20. Just click here to start a free trial and then click "I'm Sold" to sign up for the Pro account. Enter your coupon code at checkout.

Why use SmugMug? So you can shoot as much as much as you want and upload every photo into your galleries. SmugMug gives you unlimited uploading, a fully customizable website and tons of easy commerce options that help you market your brand and make more money. Shoot, proof and sell for just $20/month.

Guest Blogger: Glenn Taylor

Today's guest blogger is Glenn Taylor. Glenn has been on a few of my workshops and is one talented dude. 

Take it away Glenn.

On a recent trip, traveling through Northern Arizona, my wife and I spent a day visiting some old mining towns along the way to Hoover Dam and Las Vegas. One of the towns we found was Chloride, 20 miles northwest of Kingman. It was named for the chloride silver ore that was discovered nearby in 1863. The mining ended in the 1950s and the town dwindled. Now it’s a cool little place off the highway that’s home to artists and folks that enjoy the wide open spaces.

In the center of town there is a colorful former filling station, with old gas pumps out front, it’s covered with old junk and signs, and mining tracks circling the building. On the front door is a sign, “This is a private home. You may take photos, but please respect my home.” That sign was all the invitation I needed. The structure had character, the sun was bright in the mid-afternoon desert and it was the perfect opportunity for an HDR image.

I shot it a from a few different angles, but when I got back, I liked the wide view from the right side the best. The tip here is to shoot a subject at different angles - so you have a choice when you get back home as to the best view.

I captured the three exposures on my Canon 5D MkII using my 24-70mm L lens at 42mm, ISO 100 at f/9 for 1/400, 1/100 and 1/25 of a second. I normally use either Photomatix or NIK HDR EFEX PRO depending on what feels right for the image and the look I want to achieve.

On this image I liked the look that Photomatix gave the sky and the building textures. I finished the image in Adobe Lightroom by adjusting the tone balance, some color tweaks, a little dodging and burning and some selective sharpening on the building details.

I love the way this image turned out and was thrilled that Rick noticed it. I learned a lot of tips on HDR from his workshop in Florida earlier this year and got to put them to use on this trip.

Here is a link to Rick's 2012 Florida Photo Caravan.

You can see additional images from this trip and other subjects on my Flickr page at:   

• • • 

If you are new to HDR, you can get discounts on HDR Efex Pro and Photomatix here.

Explore the light,

P.S. If you need some HDR tips, check out my iPad app, Rick Sammon's iHDR.