Friday, January 24, 2014

Creating Beautiful Shots using only natural lighting-No Flash (Great Tips)

For me, using flash can be the most efficient way to create a high-quality portrait. There’s nothing like it for an editorial shoot when you need that combination of full lighting control, minimal shooting time, and predictable results. Sure, you have to know what you’re doing to make it come together like that. But that ability comes with knowledge and experience. Mastering flash, means mastering your light in any situation. Sometimes, however, there is beautiful light to be found, just waiting there for you to use it. Natural and constant ambient light can be your best friends if you have a little time and flexibility with the environment and your subject.
Constant light, as opposed to flash/strobe lighting, will allow you to see and adjust its effect on your subject and the environment in real-time. This is a great way to learn about lighting placement and this knowledge and experience will certainly carry over into your flash portraiture. As I like to say, "light is light," meaning the principles of lighting a subject and their environment are essentially the same whether the light source is a quick "flash" or a constant illumination. The main difference is that the flash is capable of producing a more intense light but with too short of a duration for the photographer to see the effects of its position on the subject in real-time. With constant lighting, you can casually move the lights and your subject around and know instantly how the changes will affect the portrait you’re making. With a few test shots to check exposure, you’re good to go.

Lighting Setups

Natural Light. Window light as just about the most beautiful light you can find when the conditions are right. It can serve as a huge softbox and be manipulated with any combination of window dressings such as blinds and curtains. Simply place your subject nearby the window and let the light create much of the portrait’s drama. I like to position the subject so that there is plenty of shadow to one side, providing many options for classic portraiture looks.
Window light narrowed with curtains. ISO 800, 50mm, f/2.8, 1/80 sec.
Household Lights. You can also make great use of simple household lamps. I like to remove the shades off the room lights and utilize them as bare bulb light sources. To start off, just position the main light in front and to one side of your subject, preferably several inches higher than her head. This will give you a classic lighting pattern to work with. A second light may be placed farther back from the subject and serve as a back light or kicker which will add dimension.
Setup consisting of two household lamps, minus the lamp shades. Kicker is behind Kelly and main lamp is almost directly in front of her, just to camera right. ISO 800, 50mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec.

Camera Settings

My general advice for any indoor shooting is to think "fast and wide." Your initial camera settings should be a balance of the highest ISO possible that will still provide acceptable noise levels for your purposes, the widest aperture your lens will allow, and the fastest workable shutter speed. Of course, each of these controls are interrelated and integral to overall exposure, so you’ll have to make some adjustments, and concessions, for the environment you’re working in and the effect you’re trying to achieve in your shots.
Fortunately, most DSLRs are now capable of low noise even when using high ISO speeds, so most room lighting and even low natural light won’t be a problem for you. But even if your camera happens to produce lots of noise at higher ISOs, that isn’t necessarily a big concern. Either leave the noise as is, or bring some of it down in post-processing using your choice of available noise reduction techniques. Many photographers are actually artificially adding noise BACK into their images in order to reproduce the look of film, or otherwise reduce the super-clean, slick, digital look coming out of the camera. Simple advice: Don’t worry about the noise unless it gets in the way of the image you’re trying to create.
Another thing that will really help with achieving beautiful portraits in lower lighting situations is a fast lens. By "fast" we’re referring to a lens with a wide aperture of at least f/2.8. The wider the aperture, the more light the lens allows to pass through in a given unit of time. This will give you more freedom with your ISO settings (as they won’t have to be so high to compensate for less light coming in through the lens), and faster shutter speeds (as they won’t have to be so low to compensate for less light coming in through the lens). Lenses with wider apertures also have the capability of shallow depth-of-field, which can greatly add to the interest and mystique of your portraiture.
Shutter speed is an important consideration not just because of its effect on overall exposure, but also because of potential blur with lower speeds. As with ISO however, the effect of supposedly less-than-optimal shutter speeds is what you make it. You might find an occasional blurry image makes a rather artistic statement. Every portrait doesn’t have to be sharp as a tack.
Another household light bulb setup, featuring Chris. Bare household light bulb off to camera left illuminating her on one side and the background at the same time. Main light is coming in from camera right. ISO 800, 85mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec.
So, with those factors in mind, you might want to try the following exposure combination as a starting point and adjust according to your needs:
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f/2.8 (or the widest possible for your lens)
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter Speed (target): 1/100 sec. or higher.
In Aperture Priority mode, your camera will automatically set the shutter speed for you while you control everything else. You’ll have to pay attention to your shutter speed to make sure it isn’t falling so low as to create unwanted blurring. Again, these are just starting points. With a stationary pose and a steady hand, I’ve managed hand-held shutter speeds as low as 1/15 sec. to produce good results. You might also want to try your camera’s Manual mode to maintain full control of your settings. If your lighting conditions are going to be fairly static, I’d recommend it.
Also, you will most likely benefit from shooting in your camera’s RAW (NEF) format so critical adjustments, like white balance, exposure, and contrast can be made easily and with minimal loss of information in post-processing. Although white balance settings aren’t actually imposed on the RAW file, you can set WB as you wish during shooting in order to get an idea of what the final image might look like. Plus, a chosen WB setting will tell your RAW conversion/processing software what color temperature and tint settings to best start off with for each image.
Window light illuminates Satu. ISO 800, 50mm, f/4, 1/200 sec.


Aside from the creative post-processing possible with your ambient light images, there are some things you might want to address in initial post:
White Balance: Not all light sources produce the same color temperatures. Despite what they look like to our eyes, the camera will record various types of household lighting (florescent, tungsten, daylight balanced) and natural light (sunset, cloudy, shade) as producing different color casts. So, if you are shooting a portrait using a bright tungsten light as your subject’s main light, but you have a strong window light coming through in the background, you might have an undesirable color mix to deal with.
Fortunately, you can correct these types of color mismatches in post-processing by making a general white balance setting choice in your software, and selectively altering the offending colors in specific parts of the image. If this isn’t something you’d like to worry about, then don’t. The colors might be acceptable just the way they are. If not, you always have artistic color altering effects and even black and white conversion options. So, it’s all good.
Noise Issues: I personally like a little noise in my images most of the time. But if you had to use very high ISO settings to get your shots, and have the need to bring some of the noise down, there are a number of good built-in, stand-alone, and plug-in software options to handle this. I will occasionally use the noise reduction tools in Lightroom or my Noise Ninja plug-in in Photoshop, for example.
Natural and ambient light photography indoors can be a great way to learn the finer points of lighting your portraits. The actual experience for you and your subject is also worlds apart from the strobe and studio effect of working with flash. Unlike outdoor shooting, indoor work without flash can introduce problems having to do with lower lighting situations. Using some to of the advice above, you should be able to handle the challenges of low-light portraiture and come away with great-looking images.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Need a new High Res Head Shot....

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Number one question I get and sometimes a challenge to achieve is the "Pose"

 Feeling like you look good in photos and finding your go-to "pose," is mostly a personal thing. Some poses may work for some people and others, not so much. The trick is to figure out your favorite moves that work for you! I used to be an actress and I learned the hard way that knowing your best angles and positions is essential because, ugh, there are some not-so-great photos out there of me posing on red carpets (please don't search engine me).
So, to answer all those posers out there, here are some of my favorite poses that will hopefully help you find a new angle on life and feel great about yourself in all those tagged Facebook photos!
Or we could also call this "The armpit sniff" - When posing solo, I often employ The Look Down pose which makes you seem effortless for a more candid result.
I like The Arm Tuck pose when posing in the center of a group of people. If you tuck your elbows in at your sides and angle your palms forward or hold the person's back next to you, it is always slenderizing. I also always cock my head slightly to one side. I prefer the right side of my face, do you have a favorite side? I think a slight off angle gives you more dimension and personality rather than staring straight at the camera.
The Pop Your Collar is a great pose to look candid. Give yourself some "business" to do in the photo like adjusting your collar or pushing back a lock of hair and you'll always look effortless. Also, notice my crossed legs in the above pic, I think it is a slimming pose if you can make it look natural.
The Sideways Snuggle is a go-to pose for me when posing with a friend or my boyfriend. Angling your body completely towards the person you are standing next to will make you look slimmer, it also allows you that side-face angle that I mentioned in The Arm Tuck. Make contact with the person's face or chest and the resulting photo will be intimate and flattering.
Ya know, The Jackie Chan leg kick or fighting pose when you want to look playful and silly and totally badass.
photos via
These are some of the only photos I'm okay with from the red carpet. The Lolly-Pop Head is easy to achieve when you are a petite person because almost always, the person taking the photo is taller than you! Lolly-Pop Head basically means a slightly overhead angle that makes your head look big and thus, your body look smaller. I also employed The Hand On Hip (see below) in these photos. If someone is taking a photo of you, ask them to stand on a step or angle the camera down at you and see if you like the result!
A super easy pose, the Thumb In Pocket, makes you look like you're chillin' like a villain. This is an easy pose to do solo or in a group photo.
A classic group photo pose is The Hand on Hip. This is an essential pose if you are at the end of a group photo line-up. If you don't put your hand on your hip, you risk your arm looking wider than it actually is because of the angle of the lens. Putting your hand on your hip accentuates the nip of your waist and slims your arm. I also try to angle my chin down in group photos unless I'm being a ham. Bending one knee is also a good reflex so you don't look stiff.
Okay, maybe not so practical but The Bunny pose is funny and gives you something to do with your hands if you're feeling awkward.
If you have no make-up on or are just having a 'I don't want to show my face' kind of day, try The No-Makeup Kiss pose. In this picture above, I saw a photo was about to be snapped so I hid my face in a kiss! This pose will allow you to still participate in a photo-op enthusiastically but not have to feel self-concious.
Kind of like The Look Down (above), this could also be called The Look Away. The Birdwatcher is a good way to look candid and also elongate your body by bringing your hands up to your face. I was acting like I was pushing my hair back (or watching birds), but bringing your arms up makes your torso stretch and if you pose to the side and cross your legs, it is instantly slimming!
Pose at your own risk when using The Flasher. This is a silly pose that will give the photo action and humor... it's up to you if you want to be wearing a slip (or underwear) when you do Dance Mediait!
I hope these gave you some ideas for your own picture poses. Let me know what are your favorite poses or if I missed any good ones! 

Gabrielle Daleman from Newmarket was a shoe-in for the team canada

Skate Canada today nominated their 17 athletes to the Sochi Olympics, and three athletes from this are made the list.
After a solid second place in solo free skating yesterday, Gabrielle Daleman from Newmarket was a shoe-in for the team. She’s joined by ice dancing pair Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam from Barrie, who finished 3rd at the Canadian Championships in Ottawa.
The Canadian Team for Sochi 2014 was finalized following the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Ottawa. With 17 skaters, Canada has qualified the largest figure skating team of any country for Sochi 2014.
Skate Canada says the country was also the top qualifying country for the team event, which makes its Olympic debut in Sochi.
Men’s singles:
  • Patrick Chan
  • Kevin Reynolds
  • Liam Firus
Women’s singles:
  • Kaetlyn Osmond
  • Gabrielle Daleman
  • Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford
  • Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch
  • Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers
Ice dance teams
  • Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
  • Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje
  •  Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam
According to Skate Canada, these figure skaters now join 10 speed skating athletes, 10 curling athletes, 16 bobsledders, seven lugers, four skeleton athletes, 21 women's hockey players, eight biathletes, five snowboarders, 25 men's hockey players and three skiers as the next members of the Canadian Olympic Team.
Up to eight more teams will be announced between now and February. The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games take place from Feb. 7 to Feb. 23.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Before, During and After the Shoot-What to Expect !

Before the photo shoot
First we need to decide where the shoot will take place. I work occasionally out of my home studio,  we can shoot on location, so the shoot could be at your home, at your favorite location, or we can discuss locations.
If you have a specific vision of what you would like your photos to look like, this is the time to let me know. If you are not sure, you can ask yourself: Who are the photos for?  Do you have a theme in mind? Do you want to evoke a certain emotion with your pictures (funny, serious, athletic, etc.)
You will also need to decide what to wear. Generally speaking, solid colors work best in portrait photography. Bold stripes and logos tend to distract from the most important subject – you! However, if you feel that polka dotted summer dress reflects your personality perfectly, by all means wear it. You may also consider changing into multiple outfits during the shoot. If there are several of you in the shoot, consider wearing something of similar color to each other. This will bring some unity to the group, perfect for family portraits.
The photo session
A typical photo shoot lasts about an hour. This amount of time is usually plenty to get a good variety of shots.
I will provide some direction during the shoot, but you are the best judge of what makes you comfortable. Feel free to bring your ideas to the session. Some of the best pictures come out of collaboration.
After the photo shoot
Within a few days (usually 3-5) after the photo shoot I will have a cd-rom for you with the best pictures from the shoot or a electronic transfer by wetransfer or dropbox. It will have five edited photos and a selection of other photos from the session.
As always, it's best to have an open conversation in all the above steps.
Dance Media Aurora Newmarket