studio lighting

Good Light + Good Composition + Good Subject = A Nice Photograph

Here's my favorite image (so far) from the California Photo Festival.

Tonight I took a group of dedicated photographers on a street walk. The focus of the walk was composition and lighting. We found both, plus a great subject – my good friend and wonderful photographer Lee Varis.

I took this shot with my Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105mm lens (my favorite street lens) and my brand new Really Right Stuff tripod and ball head. ISO was 6400, which say a lot about the image sensor in the camera.

To learn about lighting, see my lighting class on Kelby Training.

To learn about composition, see my composition class on Kelby Training.

Explore the light,

Speedlite Session at N4C Convention in Des Moines

Emily Weber was our talented model for the session.
A big thank you to the folks at the N4C convention and Des Moines Camera Club for inviting me to present two sessions at their annual event yesterday. Great folks, great fun.

After my presentation, Exploring the Light, I gave a speedlite session, using two Canon 600EX-RT speedlites and my Canon ST-E3 RT radio transmitter.

Photograph by Shane Abbitt
My goal was to demonstrate that even in a hotel meeting room, creative speedlite photographs are possible . . . if you "take the darn flash off the camera," which is my #1 flash photography tip.

I also demonstrated how easy it is to control the flash output of the new Canon speedlites with the new ST-E3 RT wireless transmitter.

I took the opening image for this post while my new friend and assistant (and scientist in real life) Jerry Ranch held a Westcott 28-inch Apollo softbox above the model, who was positioned against a black background. I added the Diffuse Glow filter in Photoshop CS4 to add an additional glow to the glow of our model, Emily Weber.

During my demos, I like to get the attendees involved. Left: voice-activated light stand Shane Abbitt, another new friend, helps out. Right: Jerry Ranch adds some fun and light to the session.

Here are a few quick lighting tips: light illuminates, shadows define; the larger the light the softer the light; the closer the light the softer the light. Want a dramatic portrait? Don't light the entire subject.

Above: Another hotel meeting room shot. I used one speedlite (grid added to focus the light) positioned to camera right to illuminate the model, and another speedite (blue gel added) fired through a cardboard cutout to illuminate the white background.

Jerry "Huevos" Ranch and Rick "The Godfather" jam after the session. Shane Abbitt photo.
One of the many reasons I enjoy traveling and giving seminars is that I get to meet interesting people, many of whom become my friends. Des Moines was no exception. I hope to be back soon for another photo session – and another jam session with photographer/scientist/musician Jerry Ranch.  

My next speedlite session and seminar is in Canada later this month.

Click here for all my events.

You'll find more lighting tips in my apps, Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet and Light It! See my apps page.

Explore the light,

Here's another post I did on the new Canon speedlite system.

Six Days of Speedlite Tips: Day 5

It's Day 5 of my Six Days of Speedlite Shooting tips.

Today's tip: Study the Works of the Master Painters.

Concept: Study the works of master painters. See how they used shadows and highlights to create their masterpieces. That's what I did for my photograph, "The Girl with a Pearl Earring."

To light my subject, I used one light: Canon 580EX II in the Westcott Apollo soft box.

Once again, you don't need a fancy studio to make nice portraits. I took the photograph in my office.

Special savings: Adorama is offering super pricing these creative lighting reflectors. Offer expires 1.31.12.


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.

"Tough Love" is Now "Photo Makeover"

On-line, I've been helping photographers make better images for about two years with my Tough Love Portfolio Review sessions. 

On my live workshops and seminars, I've been offering photo advice to photographers for more than 20 years.

I'm still giving tough love during my on-line sessions, but after follow ups with the photographers, I see that the end result is often a photo makeover and a business makeover. So, Photo Makeover is the new name for my on-line sessions.

I offer these one-on-one photo sessions in your home via Skype. I can help you with your photography and Photoshop/Lightroom techniques – and of course the business side of photography.

I am very honest in these sessions. See the comments below to see just how honest I am with photographers.

Here's how it works: 
1) You shoot me an email and we set a time. I am on NY time. 
2) You prepay with PayPal. $95 for the one-hour, private session.
2a) PayPal account:
3) You send me a link to your work.
4) You tell me your time zone.
5) You tell me your goals.
6) Half-hour follow up sessions are $40 . . . if you want one.

If you live in the U.S., I'll include an autographed copy of my book, Exploring the Light as part of the session. Shipping and custom forms makes international shipping difficult.

Why choose me to review your work? Well, I have been involved with photography since 1978, when I began interviewing some of the photography greats. I have also written 36 books and have 9 apps. Plus, I do lots of on-line training, lead workshops and give seminars. And, before turing pro, I worked in the an advertising/PR agency for 10 years, so I have some experience with marketing your work. I also teach social media marketing.

Explore the light,

6.19.12: Free Webinar Presented by Pocket Wizard

I had a blast today shooting the videos for my free webinar next week with Joe Brady from the MAC Group.

Tuesday, June 19.
1 PM Easter Time for about one hour.
Topic: Using one speedlite (in a soft box) triggered by a Pocket Wizard for creative portraits - indoors and out.

Here's the link to the webinar.

If you miss the webinar, it will be archived here.

If you want to get on the mailing list for future workshops, webinars and seminars, shoot me an email.

I created the opening image for this post using one of the shots I took during the session. I added the light burst in Photoshop using the Lens Flare filter.

We shot the indoor segments in my office. I don't have a studio, but we made it work – just as you can with a little photo know-how.

Our crew, from right to left: MAC Group's Rick Calvelli, camera and sound; MAC Group's Joe Brady; Donna Bradley, our model; and yours truly.

If my basic speedlite setup looks familiar, it's because it's the same one I used for my portrait, The Photograph of The Girl with a Pearl Earring.

I also teach this setup on some of my group and private lighting workshops.

After shooting indoors, we went outside and demonstrated daylight fill-in flash - and more.

We hope to see you on the webinar. Good learning. Good people. Good fun.

For more lighting tips, check out my apps: Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet and Light It!

Explore the light,

Gear I used for the shoot:
Canon 7D
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens
Canon 24-105mm IS lens
Pocket Wizard AC3 Zone Controller
Pocket Wizard Flex Transceiver
Pocket Wizard Mini
Canon 580EX II Speedlite
Lexar 16GB Professional 400X Compact Flash Cards
Westcott Apollo Soft Box
Westcott 6-in-1 Delux Illuminate Kit
Tether Tools Essentials Pack