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Member Since 01 Oct 2013
Offline Last Active Oct 31 2013 04:16 AM

Playing with strobe lighting

31 October 2013 - 04:20 AM

A couple weeks ago I had some fun with a friend. We were at a home football game and were behind the end zone with the band (I shoot a lot of band photos for them). He has one of the top end Canon point and shoot cameras that has a hot shoe on it. I got out my Yongnuo YN-560 II and a pair of radio triggers. We placed a trigger on the strobe and the other on his camera. After a few test shots we got the exposure dialed in on the manual setting (hint... it will usually be at around f/8 with the shutter near flash sync speed - I always do 1/160th of a second). He had the camera and I was holding the strobe. As he shot images I would move the strobe to different angles for the photo. We took multiple shots of each scene of band members. At one point I tossed a grid on the speedlight too. We probably took around 50 shots. It was awesome to play around with the lighting. He learned a little about shooting speedlights, and I got a chance to really play with light angles and effects.


So take a photography friend out with a camera, a pair of wireless triggers, and a speedlight. Have some fun just playing and experimenting. This is the best way to start to learn about the effects of lights on a shot!

Improving auto focus in low light situations

16 October 2013 - 07:24 AM

Sometimes we get into situations where there is so little light that the auto focus system struggles to find the focus. The details in the subject are so dark and so muted that the camera has no way to discern lines that it needs to bring things into focus. Obviously one way to fix this is the auto focus assist light on the camera. But this has some challenges. First, the light is fairly bright and obnoxious. People will tend to look away when the light goes on. Second, the light is fairly dim too. Yeah I know I just said it is bright. But as far as being bright enough to really light up the subject to get a good auto focus the light is quite dim. This is especially true if the subject is any distance away at all. Third, when the light comes on it gets more difficult to get those more candid style shots because people know you are getting ready to snap a picture. This is not so bad for posed shots, but if you are doing some sort of event shoot then it can be a killer.


There is a good solution for this though. A number of strobes have an autofocus assist light setup on the strobe that works much better. The Yongnuo TTL strobes all have this. The Nikon speedlights have this too. The nice thing about this solution is that they shoot out a red laser pattern. First, the light is less obtrusive. Second, the light has a pattern to it that makes for very easy focusing. Third, you can get those candids because people will most likely not even be aware of it. Fourth, the light travels a longer distance than the annoying light on the camera body.


The only challenge here is that the strobe will fire when you take the photograph. If you don't want the light to affect the photo, like maybe getting a sillouette or something, then you can simply put the speedlight on the lowest power and point it straight up or behind you. You could even mask the strobe with some gaffer tape.


Take note that on the Yongnuo strobes it is only the TTL strobes that have the auto focus assist light. For other brands make sure you do your research before purchasing. One final note.... this is nice too because you can now leave that annoying autofocus assist light on the camera body turned off and next time you are at your kids school play or dance recital you won't be annoying the people in front of you when it goes off and is doing nothing because you are like 50 feet away from the stage. :-)

One with the camera... tips and blog

01 October 2013 - 09:26 PM

I have a site for teaching photography as well as blogging about photography. I am also starting to do reviews and post polls too. It is at onewiththecamera.com

1940's style retro look

01 October 2013 - 09:24 PM

This photo is titled "Missed the train". It is part of a series I did recently of retro images circa 1940s. It was definitely a lot of fun.

Learn to love auto ISO

01 October 2013 - 09:14 PM

Until really recently I thought one of the stupidest features on a camera was auto ISO. Well after getting the Nikon D5100 and getting used to it a bit I have become a convert. I love the auto ISO feature. Basically you set what the maximum ISO is that you can live with (I go with 6400), set what shutter speed you don't want the camera to go below, set your base ISO (I always set 100) and then let the camera at it in aperture priority mode. As you shoot then if the light is so low that you cannot do your minimum shutter speed at the current low ISO the camera will start to ramp up the ISO to get the proper exposure. So if you set say 1/250th of a second and you need another stop of light the camera will bump up ISO to 200. So it is giving you the lowest ISO possible for the aperture and shutter speed.


This is awesome for a number of shooting environments, but probably rocks the most on simple day trips. I was on a vacation this summer and did not have to fuss with the camera settings while out and about sightseeing. I knew that the camera would handle all of that and I would get all my shots. Give it a try and see if you don't agree that it is really awesome.