20 Tips for Home Studio Portraits

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Post by Ann Marie DiLorenzo

 At the Canon booth at the 2018 Photo Plus show in NYC, Rick Sammon promised the audience that he’d give at least 10 tips during his presentation. Well, Rick actually gave 20 tips. Here they are!

1) When you think you need 2 lights, use 1 light. When you think you need 3, use 2. (A Frank Doorhof quote)

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2) Be aware of other lighting in the room; you want your speedites lights to be the main source of light.


3) Umbrella spreads light evenly; soft box allows you to control and shape the light. 

4) If you want an interesting portrait, don’t light the subject’s entire face. 

5) For a portrait with few shadows on your subject’s face, you want the subject’s nose to follow the light; have their nose face the lighting source.  

6) The size of a subject’s pupils affects our impression of the subject. The advantage of using a speed light is that the pupil doesn’t have time to close down, making the photo more inviting. 

7) Never touch the model. 

8) The larger the light source, the softer the light. The closer the light source is to the subject, the softer the light. 

9) In lighting, inches matter. 

10) Shadows are the souls of the picture. 

11) Never underestimate the value of a good model.  

12) Use your camera like a drone - move the camera up and down to effect the viewer’s perception of the subject. If you move the camera down lower, the model has you get a greater sense of power. 

13) When looking through the viewfinder or at your LCD monitor, use border patrol - look at the boundaries of the photo and make sure what you want is in, or not in, the 
frame. 

14) Don’t amputate the subjects at the joints.  

15) Name of the game is to fill the frame. Fill the frame with the subject.

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16) The background can make or break the shot. 

17) Most important thing in a photo is the mood/feeling. Backgrounds create moods. 

18) Dead center is deadly. If you place the subject in the center of the frame, the viewer’s eye gets stuck on the subject and doesn’t look at other things in the photo. 

19) Use gels over the light source (speed light)  - red or blue to create an effect. 

20) Focus on the subject’s eyes in a portrait.

• • • • •

Want more tips on home studio portraits? Check out Rick’s KelbyOne on-line classes.

Gearin' Up for My Utah National & State Parks Road Trip

 Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.

Susan and I are heading out next week for another awesome road trip, where we’ll be exploring Utah’s State and National Parks. Photos to come.

For now, I thought I’d share with you “what’s in my carry-on bag” to give you an idea of the gear I use for landscape photography - and why. Here goes.

Canon R (mirrorless) with new 24-105mm IS lens - my new “go to” camera/lens for travel photography.

Canon R lens adapter ring - so I can use all my Canon lenses on the R.

Canon 5D Mark IV - for shooting videos and stills.

Canon 16-35mm lens - my main landscape lens.

Canon 24-105mm IS lens - for tighter landscape shots.

Two Canon battery chargers and a total of four batteries, so I always have power.

Really Right Stuff ball head - in case my luggage is delayed, I can buy a tripod on site and still use my RRS ball head. I never lose site of my ball head. I do pack my tripod in my checked luggage.

Delkin Devices SD and Compact Flash cards/card reader - to safeguard my photographs.

 Goblin Valley State Park, UT.

Goblin Valley State Park, UT.

Black Rapid strap - for easy camera handling when I am not using my tripod.

Breakthough Photography magnetic ND and polarizing filters - for long exposures and to reduce glare/darken a blue sky.

Two head-mounted flashlights - one for me, one for Susan.

Canon G7 X - for fun shots along the road.

Allen wrenches - for tightening my tripod legs and camera plates.

Platypod - for low-level, creative shooting.

Blower to keep my sensors clean - and lens cleaning cloths to keep my lenses clean.

I have another bag for my computer stuff. So I have a total of two carry-on bags.

All this gear fits in my Backlight 26L MindShift camera bag, shown above.

For great deals on gear, check out Adorama - more than a camera store.

All my gear is listed here.

Needs some tips on travel photography? Check out my KelbyOne classes.

Explore the light,
Rick

2019 Costa Rica Photo Workshop with Rick

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If you love wildlife and nature photography, the rain forest and sea - and processing your images – my December 2019 Costa Rica photo workshop is for you. Here's the info.

Location: Crocodile Bay – Five full days of photography!

Dates:

December 2 - Arrive in San Jose for Welcome Dinner (not included in price).

Dec 3 - Morning flight o Crocodile Bay - workshop begins in the afternoon.

Dec 4 to 7 - Full Day Workshop. Small group (10).

December 8 - Optional sunrise shoot and then depart to San Jose. You may be able to make a connection back to your home city the same day. If not, you can stay overnight at the group hotel.

Our travel agent - reservations@crocodilebay.com - will help you with your local air/hotel/airport transfers, etc.

www.crocodilebay.com

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Limit: 10 participants for personal instructions by Rick.

Photo Ops: Click here to see the kind of pictures you will make.

• Close up day and night shoots of rain forest animals: poison dart frogs, red-eye tree frogs and butterflies. Local experts will find these animals in

• Telephoto shots of birds, monkeys, sloths, vipers, reptiles, flowers, plants and amphibians.

Photo Processing 

• Daily processing sessions, group slide show.

Optional Activities

Fishing, boating, swimming and relaxing.

Each photographer receives in their goodie bag:

Black Rapid Strap ($75 value).
Adorama Gift Certificate ($50 value). For US residence only.
• Delkin Devices SD Advantage 32GB Memory Card ($18 value).
• Adorama Pix Gift Certificate ($25 value). For US residence only.
• Rick’s 1-hour on-line class, Master Landscape & Seascape Photography ($20 value).

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Workshop/Lodging Cost:

 • Double Occupancy- $4,152 (Includes; All food and non-alcoholic drinks, San Jose Travel Pack* and below tour list)

 • Single Occupancy- $4,717 (Includes; All food and non-alcoholic drinks, San Jose Travel Pack* and below tour list)

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 • Tag Along- $2,200  (Includes; All food and non-alcoholic drinks, San Jose Travel Pack, and client must stay in room of guest paying single Occupancy Rate. No tours included, so family member not participating in photo workshop may “tag along” and participate in separate tour choices once on site)

*San Jose travel pack includes pick up from SJO airport, shuttle to Cariari Double-Tree hotel, overnight stay, pick up back to airport in morning, flight down to Puerto Jimenez, flight back from Purerto Jimenez to SJO.

Book directly with Crocodile Bay: reservations@crocodilebay.com. Ask for Kerem and say that you are on the Rick Sammon December 2 – 8, 2019 Photo Workshop. Let me know – via email – when you register.

If you have questions for me, shoot me an email.

I hope to see you in beautiful Costa Rica.

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Why Breakthrough Photography Magnetic Filters Rock

Check out the filter I am holding in the above picture. That's right. There are no filter threads - because it's magnetic. Kinda cool!

So you may be asking, "What's so cool about about a magnetic filter and a magnetic filter holder?" Well my friends, here's the answers:

1) Screw-in filters can get "frozen" in place and can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove – except by a pro service center or with a filter wrench.

2) Screw-in filters can get cross-threaded. 

3) Screw-in filters that are tricky to thread can slip out of your hand and smash on the ground. Seen that!

4) When photographing at night in cold conditions and while wearing gloves, it can be difficult to screw in a filter.

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For these reasons, and after testing the Breakthrough Photography Magnetic Filters, Magnetic Ring Prototype, Magnetic Wheel Prototype, and because Breakthrough Photography makes the best color-accurate ND filters, awesome polarizing filters, and a cool Night Sky filter, I've totally switched to their magnetic filter system. Here's a very quick look at the system.

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After you screw the Magnetic Adapter Ring (again I'm using a prototype) onto your lens, all the magnetic filters snap into place - and can be easily removed. Can you still "dial in" the amount of polarization once a polarizing filter is in place? Sure. Simply use the inner ring to choose the amount of polarization.

Here's a quick tip: When you travel, keep the filters in their original cases, and mark each case so you can easily choose the filter you need for a certain situation.

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Speaking of ND filters, if you want to get the blurred water effect when photographing in bright light, a ND filter is a must. Read more in my book, Evolution of an Image.

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Because I have Canon lenses with 82mm and 77mm filter diameters, I travel with two Magnetic Adapter Rings – each marked in bag so I can grab on the go and shoot fast.

Hey! If you like long exposures, Breakthrough Photography offers a e-free book on Long Exposure photography. Click the image above to order.

If you'd like to learn more about creative photography, check out my KelbyOne on-line classes.

Explore the light,
Rick