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18 /// HOW-TO ///

Edge 18 Competitive 10 tips to help you shoot sports like a pro By William Sawalich Photography By Mike Powell

Stunning Floral Images 23 Making An assortment of creative techniques to


turn average flower photos into pieces of floral fine art Text & Photography By Harold Davis

Fine Art Of Travel 28 The Photography Beautiful landscapes and cityscapes, as well as powerful environmental portraits and photo essays, can be created by anyone with a camera, a concept and the desire to do so Text & Photography By Mark Edward Harris


34 Ultralight Use multiple exposures and light-painting techniques to create powerfully luminous images Text & Photography By Eric Curry

Life In Black + White 38 Seeing Create striking images with these five essential qualities of monochrome Text & Photography By Meredith Winn




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VOL. 21 NO. 1

/// HOW-TO ///

Time Collapse 42 Using time-lapse techniques to create spectacular images of the outdoor world Text & Photography By Matt Molloy

FEBRUARY 2017 VOL. 21 NO. 1


EDITORIAL WES PITTS Editorial Director, Creative Division DAVID SCHLOSS Editor MAGGIE DEVCICH Managing Editor

Studio 48 Portable Instant feedback from


your camera’s LCD and lighting gear that’s lighter and more powerful can turn challenging lighting situations into stunning photos on the road Text & Photography By Tom Bol

52 With a few speedlights and The Garage Studio

SALES & MARKETING BOB DORTCH VP, Digital Sales SCOTT LUKSH Senior Sales Director BOB METH Media Solutions Director ALEXANDRA PICCIRILLI Media Solutions Director


JESSICA KROGMAN Client Services Associate, Print

light stands to start, anyone can turn a small room or garage into a portrait studio Text & Photography By Tom Bol

CASSANDRA PETTIT Client Services Associate, Digital J. ANA BECKETT Marketing Manager BRIANA BALBONI Marketing Associate


On With The 46 Hands Sony a6500 Sony updates their APS-C camera for the second time in a year, bringing new features and some buyer’s remorse By David Schloss Photography By DL Byron

ART & PRODUCTION CAROLYN V. MARSDEN Art Director SCOTT BRANDSGAARD Graphic Designer Printed in the U.S.A. Digital Photo (ISSN: 1948-5557)—Vol. 21 No. 1—is published five times a year in Jan/Feb, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter by Madavor Media, LLC. Executive, editorial and advertising offices: 25 Braintree Hill Office Park, Suite 404, Braintree, MA 02184, (617) 706-9110. Periodicals Postage Paid at Boston, MA, and at additional mailing offices. Single-copy price—$4.99. Annual subscription in U.S., Possessions, APO/ FPO—$19.97. Canada/foreign—$34.97, including postage and taxes. Payable in U.S. funds. For orders, address changes and all other customer service, phone toll-free (800) 537-4619. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Digital Photo, Box 37857, Boone, IA 50037-0857. Canada Post Publications mail class agreement No. 1559753. See magazine mast for specific information on solicited and unsolicited contributions and the purchase of back issues.



7 8 12 56

Editor's Note View New Products Exit


“The Dark Side” was shot with a Sigma 85mm lens, and the light source was just the incoming window light. We were in a castle for this shoot, and this was the last set, where the sun came down and we had a small window. The light was perfect, and we decided to shoot just with a blanket. I love the result the model gave me! This was shot at ISO 1600 with my Nikon D800E. 4


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E-mail us (editorial matters only) at and visit our website at Copyright © 2017 by Madavor Media, LLC. No material may be reproduced without written permission. This publication is purchased with the understanding that information presented is from many sources for which there can be no warranty or responsibility by the publisher as to accuracy, originality or completeness. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering product endorsements or providing instruction as a substitute for appropriate training by qualified sources. EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS: Digital Photo assumes no responsibility for solicited or unsolicited contributions and materials. Otherwise, insurance for such materials, in transit or in our possession, must be the responsibility of the writer or photographer. Digital Photo does not accept or agree to the conditions and stipulations printed on delivery memos, packing slips and related correspondence as they are presented without prior notice accompanying submission materials. Exceptions to this disclaimer of liability on the part of Digital Photo must be prearranged, executed in writing and signed by both parties prior to the shipment of materials in question. All submissions must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) with sufficient postage to cover the cost of return. The class of mail and insurance coverage for returns will be determined by the amount provided for on the SASE. SUBSCRIBERS: Any obligation we owe to you, including delivery of your magazine, is contingent upon you providing us with your correct mailing address. If the Post Office notifies us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation to you unless we receive a corrected address from you within two years of the Post Office notification. BACK ISSUES are available for one year prior to the current issue. To order within the U.S., send $7.00 plus $4.00 postage and handling (Canada: $7.00 plus $5.00; International: $7.00 plus $10.00) for each issue to Back Issue Dept., Digital Photo Magazine, 25 Braintree Hill Office Park, Suite 404, Braintree, MA 02184, or go online and visit the eStore. No orders processed without proper funds and specific issue information. Digital Photo, PCPhoto and Digital Camera & Photo are registered trademarks of Madavor Media, LLC. Copyright © 2017 Madavor Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. To Subscribe Or For Subscription Questions: or (800) 537-4619 (USA) or (515) 243-3273 (CAN/INT) or email


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SONY’S a6500



Two Decades of Revolutionary Change

marks the 20th anniversary of Digital Photo magazine. Born as PCPhoto, the publication was one of the first not only to recognize, but to embrace the sea change that digital photography would become. In its earliest days, the magazine dealt largely with images captured on film and then edited on a computer. As digital photography proper emerged, the magazine was perfectly positioned to lead photographers and other creatives into the digital revolution. Back then, the Sony Cyber-shot and the Nikon Coolpix 100 had just come to market. It would still be two years before the D1 would be released, ushering in the era of professional digital photography. At the end of the 1990s and the early 2000s it was an exciting time to be a

photographer. The entire photography market would be radically changed in less than a decade—stalwart companies like Kodak, Ilford and Agfa fading from view, brands like Nikon and Canon taking advantage of their new roles as both camera manufacturer and keeper of the sensor technology that would make film obsolete. In 2009, as photography became more about digital cameras and less about the computer, we changed our name to Digital Photo while continuing to provide the best tutorials, techniques and gear recommendations, enabling photographers to get the most from their cameras while fanning the flames of their photographic passion. In this anniversary issue, we bring you a collection of phenomenal tips

for launching or rebooting your photographic life. From locations to lighting to gear, this issue encapsulates what we love most about photography—the drive to be ever better. Two decades in and the changes to photography are no less exciting. Cameras are phenomenal, producing images that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago. We’re knee-deep in new technology—from 4K to drones to VR to 3D printing. I’m looking forward to the next few decades, to see where the technology goes and to see how new tools affect our photographic styles. And I’m looking forward to bringing the best of that to you for some time to come. —David Schloss, Editor @davidjschloss, | February 2017




"Fun Slide" by Peter Alessandria Summer in New Jersey, like many other places, means county fairs. This photo was taken last August at the Sussex County Fair in northern New Jersey. It was near dusk after a beautiful day when I arrived. I was going to the fair to shoot nighttime long exposures of the rides (you can see those photos at carnival2016), but I immediately noticed how gorgeous the setting sun was on the clouds high above the fairgrounds. I wanted to travel light, so I left my camera bag in the car and only took my camera and tripod. I made my way to the opposite end of the fair, where the most prominent rides were, found the perfect spot, set up my camera and turned it on—only to see this warning blinking away: “No Card in Camera”. I was shocked. I think I actually cried out loud, “No!” Luckily, I always have a spare card and battery in my camera bag. The bad news? It was almost a 20-minute round-trip walk to get to my car and the sun was fading fast. I did my best to hustle back to the car—past the gate attendant’s puzzled “You’re leaving already?” look—and retrieve a memory card. From there, I rushed to get back into the fair, past a now really confused gate attendant, to my chosen spot. Completely out of breath, I got off four shots (including this one) before the sun disappeared completely. Lesson learned: Never leave home without checking the camera.

Canon EOS 6D, 17-40mm ƒ/4L @ 40mm, ƒ/22, 2 sec., ISO 50; RAW file developed in Adobe Camera Raw 9.0; Color, contrast, and selective dodging and burning in Photoshop CS6



Digital Photo | | February 2017




"The Cow Race" by Sharkawi Che Din Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia. Pacu Jawi (Cow Race) is the festival held on the paddy fields in Tanah Datar, West Sumatra, to celebrate the end of the harvesting season. This is a traditional event among the Minangkabau, which has been held for hundreds of years, where farmers bring their cows for a race that takes place on the paddy fields with lots of mud and water. According to the local people, there’s no first, second or third place, but the winning cow could increase its potential sale price to between 25 and 30 million rupees.



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"Kisa" by Ruslan Isinev

Nikon D700, 85mm 1.4G lens, Æ’/16, 1/250 sec., ISO 200, Profoto Acute D4 ring flash | February 2017



NEW PRODUCTS MINDSHIFT GEAR SIDEPATH BACKPACKS The line of SidePath backpacks from MindShift Gear is geared toward outdoor photographers. They’re fairly lightweight at 1.5 pounds and feature a contoured back panel with lumbar support and an air channel. The bag is made from 420D and P600D nylon fabric. One of the big features is the rear access panel that keeps gear secured and organized. The bag can fit a DSLR, compact DSLR or mirrorless camera with a 10-inch tablet and enough supplies for a day trek. List Price: $99.99. Contact: MindShift Gear,

LACIE THUNDERBOLT 3 DESKTOP STORAGE DEVICES With the recent Thunderbolt overhaul, Thunderbolt 3 devices are now some of the fastest on the market. LaCie has three new ones in the Bolt3, 6big and 12big. They feature speeds of up to 2800 MB/s, 1400 MB/s and 2600 MB/s, respectively. The Bolt3 is the smallest of the group, with a storage capacity of 2 TB. The 6big offers 60 TB, and the 12big offers 120 TB. LaCie also teamed up with Pelican Cases to offer custom cases to transfer the 6big and 12big. LaCie says that the Bolt3 can transcode up to 6K video, and the 6big and 12big can process RAW images in Lightroom with no lag. List Price: $1,999 (Bolt3); $3,199 (6big); $6,399 (12big). Contact: LaCie,

OWC MINISTACKS OWC miniStack hard drive storage solutions can work with any Apple computer, but they were designed to work, and stack, specifically with Mac minis. The design allows users to add additional storage without taking up more desktop space. The drive comes in six storage sizes ranging from 1 TB up to 6 TB. All six sizes feature transfer speeds of up to 208 MB/s and 7200 RPMs. They come with USB 3.1 ports, an aluminum enclosure, a quiet MagLev cooling fan and a three-year warranty. List Price: $139.99 to $348.99. Contact: OWC,

For in-depth coverage of the latest product news and announcements, visit 12


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Capture your escape with

Outdoor Photographer Subscribe to Outdoor Photographer’s Newsletter and equip yourself with the tools and resources to make the most of your escapes… Sign up today for this FREE resource:


YI M1 The YI M1 is YI Technology’s first foray into the world of mirrorless interchangeable cameras. It features a 20-megapixel Sony sensor, similar to the one found in the Panasonic GX8. It has an ISO range of 25,600 and shoots 4K video at 30 fps. M1s come with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. The camera launched with two lenses, a 12-40mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 lens and a 42.5mm ƒ/1.8 prime. According to YI, the M1 features an MFT-mount system, making it compatible with at least 50 lenses on the market. List Price: $499. Contact: YI Technology,

CANON EOS M5 With the EOS M5, Canon is redesigning their mirrorless camera to make it look similar to an SLR. In addition to a 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, the body redesign will retain the size and lightweight features of previous M cameras. Canon has described the M5 as a little brother to the 80D, as it offers many of the same features and tech. This includes the DIGIC 7 processor, full HD at 60p recording, a built-in EVF and dual-pixel AF. On the back, the M5 features a 3-inch touch screen that allows for drag AF and is multi-angled. List Price: $1,099. Contact: Canon USA,

MINOX NISSIN i60A An ultracompact flash, the Minox Nissin i60A is designed specifically for Fujifilm and Micro Four Thirds camera systems. The high-powered 2.4 GHz wireless unit weighs about 10.8 ounces (300 grams), and it delivers a power output of 60GN at ISO 100. The zoom range can be adjusted from 24mm to 200mm. i60A flashes can be connected to an external power source to reduce the flash cycle. It features a color LCD display and switch dial design, with a video light function with nine steps of output level adjustment. List Price: $339.99. Contact: Minox USA,

For in-depth coverage of the latest product news and announcements, visit 14


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NIKON KEYMISSION ACTION CAMS Nikon finally jumped into the world of action cams with their new KeyMission line: the KeyMission 360, KeyMission 170 and KeyMission 80. The 360 shoots 360º video and 4K UHD, while the 170 shoots 4K video, and is built like a GoPro. The 80 captures 1080p video and is geared more toward life vlogging. All three cameras are waterproof and shockproof. The 170 and 80 feature screens to review video; the 360 doesn’t have a screen, but has two lenses and two 20-megapixel CMOS sensors. List Price: $500 (KeyMission 360); $400 (KeyMission 170); $280 (KeyMission 80). Contact: Nikon USA,


NIKON FX-FORMAT NIKKOR LENSES Nikon has added two FX-format NIKKOR lenses in the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm ƒ/2.8E FL ED VR sports lens and the PC NIKKOR 19mm ƒ/4E ED. The 70-200mm is a complete redesign of the previous AF-S NIKKOR lens. It features six ED elements, one Fluorite element, a high refractive element and a Nano Crystal Coat. It has four stops of vibration reduction, a Silent Wave Motor and quiet AF operation. The tilt-shift PC 19mm is a wide perspective-control lens that Nikon says is their widest, to date. It offers up to 97º of coverage, and features three ED and two aspherical elements. List Price: $2,799.95 (70-200mm); $3,399.95 (19mm). Contact: Nikon USA,

CANON EF 70-300MM UPGRADE The Canon EF 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 IS II USM is an upgrade of the long-in-the-tooth EF 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM. The new lens features Canon’s NANO USM technology, which is designed to produce high-speed and near-silent focusing. It also has a new LCD display and four-stop image stabilization. The display shows focusing distance, focal length and shake amount. The lens has a nine-blade circular aperture. List Price: $550. Contact: Canon USA,

ALL-WEATHER FUJINON OPTICS The FUJINON XF24mmF2 R WR is an all-weather lens from Fujifilm designed to fit the X-mount camera systems. It adds a 35mm equivalent prime to Fujifilm’s current weather-resistant X-mount lineup. The 23mm lens comes with an aperture control ring and a stepping motor that’s capable of speeds down to 0.05 seconds. It has 10 elements in six groups with two aspherical elements, and a minimum working distance of less than 9 inches. The lens is compatible with the vented metal hood LH-XF35-2 from Fujifilm. List Price: $450. Contact: Fujifilm USA,

For in-depth coverage of the latest product news and announcements, visit 16


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SIGMA LENSES Sigma has a trio of new lenses for Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts: the 85mm F1 4 DG HSM Art, Art 12 12-24mm F1.4 24mm F4 DG HSM Art and 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport. The 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art is designed for portraits and bokeh, while the 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art is an ultrawide-angle zoom. The 500mm F4 DG OS HSM Sport is a telephoto lens that features a carbon-fiber hood and a drop-in rear filter slot for polarizers. List Price: $1,200 (85mm); $1,600 (12-24mm); $6,000 (500mm). Contact: Sigma Corporation of America,




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ports photography is one of those disciplines that can be practiced almost anywhere at almost anytime. Whether you’re covering the Olympics across the globe or your daughter’s soccer game just across town, the principles— and challenges—have a lot in common. Photographer Mike Powell has 25 years of experience shooting sports for the likes of Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, ESPN The Magazine, Stern and L’Equipe. Here, Powell shares 10 tips for making amazing sports images wherever the action may find you.




You don’t always need ultra-telephoto lenses for successful sports photography. In fact, wide-angle lenses can be a great way to show context—and that helps to tell the story. “Of course, long lenses play an enormous role in a sports photographer’s life,� Powell says, “but once you put on a 300mm or longer lens, it becomes very easy to have your work start looking like every other photographer out there—so many are using the same lens. When an opportunity presents itself to get closer to the action and shoot a more threedimensional image, I’m happier. Shooting with wide and normal lenses increases the importance of all the elements within the frame. They all have a place, and getting them to all work together well is a great feeling.�



Panning the camera with a fast-moving subject is an ideal method for introducing a feeling of speed into a photograph. This requires a slow shutter speed—but the definition of “slow� is relative. The wider the lens, the slower the speed you’ll need. A shutter speed of 1/200 sec. is fast in most circumstances, but in Powell’s image of Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, it makes a nice background blur while A shutter speed of 1/200 sec. is fast in most circumstances, but in Powell’s image of Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, it makes a nice background blur while the subject stays sharp. Powell arrived early, planned his shot and tested exposures until he found the one that would work.

the subject stays sharp. He arrived earl planned his shot and tested exposure until he found the one that would work. “I had a chance to test shutter speeds o forerunners,� Powell explains, “the skier who test the course before the real racer come down. I started at 1/60th, but wasn’ getting an image that was sharp on the racer’s face. I moved up shutter speeds until got at least one or two sharp frames out o a sequence of eight or 10—still a high-ris shot when you must get the shot, but wort the risk to get the motion in the snow.� Adds Powell, “When trying to d very slow shutter speeds to show speed you have to look at what’s in your background. Lots of patches of color, contras and light sources work well. A focal poin is very important, too—with all the blu making a background, something need to hold your eye. It doesn’t have to b pin-sharp; her face is sharp enough to b read and draw your eye in.�



Peak action moments are always great, bu fully exploring a story requires looking fo tiny details, as well as grand scene-settin atmosphere. For an image of a triumphan Rafael Nadal holding the U.S. Open trophy, Powell got close to show details. “It’s the polar opposite of the Turi [Lindsey Vonn] picture,� he says. “I wa quite close to Rafa, but rather than shoo the classic picture of him smiling with th trophy, I wanted something else. I shot hi taped hands and the trophy with a 500m telephoto. Picking out details to tell a stor within the chaos of sporting events is a grea way to cut through the mess and clutter.�



The digital revolution has offered sport photographers many new tools to creat images that used to be all but impossible. Low noise at high ISOs, back-butto focusing, ultrafast shutter speeds an ultrasharp glass all help Powell creat action-stopping images, like a close-u of Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon. “The standard for digital is measure at 100%,� he says. “If you ever looke at a piece of 35mm slide film this close nothing would be sharp. The ISO can b


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pushed well beyond what was acceptable on film; this was shot on a bright overcast day at ISO 640 at ƒ/4.5 on a 500mm ƒ/4 lens. On film, I rarely shot beyond 1/1000th, while this was shot at 1/3200th. You need this kind of speed to stop this much motion. There’s lots of great stuff happening in a very small area.” Adds Powell, “It’s very important to take control of your camera. I always have my camera set up to focus on the back button with my thumb. This way, I can focus on a still point and recompose the image without the focus moving. Or during high action, I can switch between auto and manual focus when needed. If you have your focus set on the shutter button, you’ll only be as good as the camera will allow. Take control, and master your gear.”



Powell photographs a lot of tennis, as evidenced by his book A Game To Love: In Celebration of Tennis, and perhaps no sport is better suited to dynamic graphic compositions. The lines on a court combined with bold shadows from the sun can work wonders to create graphic arrangements within the frame. These options are also



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available in many other sports, and to find them Powell often seeks high ground. “The basic premise is to find the high angle that can give you great graphic lines,” he says. “I prefer the lines to slash at angles across the frame rather than at 90º. I’ve researched when shadows would be perfect for a particular court, and then had to wait for a sunny day and the right game to go work it. You can wait all game—or several games—for something really good to happen in the right spot. It’s the combination of contrasting colors and graceful athletic lines that makes this work, but I know before I show up what I’m looking for.”


moment, but had it happened at noon, the image would have lost its appeal. The light takes this from being a great moment to a beautiful image. The dark background, shaft of warm light, edge to his hair and arms outstretched give it an almost religious icon feel. This is very important at the pro level—you can’t just have nice light or a cool subject or an interesting composition. To shoot images that the eye can pause on and keep going back to, you have to have all these things working together in one image. It all goes back to having layers of interest to give the image legs.”




Graphic shapes, nice light and big moments—all of these elements contribute to good pictures. But the great images that rise above require not just one of them, but all of them simultaneously. For an image of Rafael Nadal winning a semifinal match, Powell was able to utilize beautiful light, leading lines and a special moment to create a dramatic image. “Rafa knew at this moment that he was in the final and feeling strong enough to win,” Powell says. “It’s a great

In photographing swimmer Michael Phelps’ historic run at the Olympics in Beijing, Powell worked overtime. Willingness to go the extra mile is essential for capturing special images whether at the Olympics or Little League. For a close-up of Phelps having just won his At the Tour de France, Powell climbed all over a hill looking for the perfect vantage. When he found it, he also found the perfect combination of elements to make a great image.

V Willingness to go the extra mile is essential for capturing special images whether at the Olympics or Little League. In photographing swimmer Michael Phelps

at the Beijing Olympics, Powell scouted ahead of time to find the best location, far from the official position allocated to photographers.


You don’t always need ultra-telephoto lenses for successful sports photography. In fact, wide-angle lenses can be a great way to show context of the scene and to help tell the story about an althete or an event. | February 2017



record-tying seventh gold medal, Powell scouted ahead of time to find a vantage point far from the official position allocated to photographers. “The reason I arrived so early was to get an angle that only a few would get,” he says. “Prior research told me that a few spots in between TV cameras would be available—if the TV crews were cool with it. This would give me the chance to shoot an angle that few other photographers would get, plus there was a scoreboard right underneath me. Experience told me that swimmers turn to the board to confirm their place before reacting. So I got there early in the morning with extra coffees in hand for all my new neighbors— place secured and a good time had by all.” Adds Powell, “I’ve seen pro photographers with great talent fail because of work ethic, and average photographers reach great heights by hard work.”



Powell says, sure, luck plays a part in great images, but luck comes to those who work hardest. “‘I’d rather be lucky than good,’” he says. “I heard that someplace. Me, I usually have to work longer and worry more to be lucky. An editor of mine often said you have to live by the 6 P’s: Proper Preparation 22


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Prevents Piss Poor Performance.” For an image of the Tour de France, Powell climbed all over a hill looking for the perfect vantage point. When he finally found it, he also found good fortune: the perfect combination of elements to make it great. “I’d walked all over,” he says, “looked at the inside of the turn, outside the turn, on the straight, looking down the valley, looking from distant hills a long way off. Finally, I made the call to shoot here. The clouds rolled in and the sun broke just on my turn. I’d like to think I was rewarded for all the sweat I first left on the side of the hill.”



Don’t simply photograph the action as it unfolds in front of you. Powell recommends grabbing hold of your perspective— not the physical viewpoint, but the personal perspective about the story you’re trying to tell. Let that influence your camera’s position to help present the athletes from the angle that serves you best—whether it’s up high for a graphic background or down low for monumental appeal. “Photography isn’t about showing people images of how they see the world,” he says. “It’s about showing people how you want to see it. I like my athletes heroic. I might be tall, but I spend a

While graphic shapes, nice light and big moments contribute to good pictures, great images that rise above require all of them simultaneously. For an image of Rafael Nadal winning a semifinal match, Powell was able to utilize beautiful light, leading lines and a special moment to create a dramatic image.

lot of time groveling around in ditches to make athletes look larger than life.”



Shooting sports can put you in dangerous positions, so watching your back is prudent advice. But what Powell really means is this: Just before you click the shutter, double-check outside the viewfinder to ensure you’ve actually found the best shot available. It might even be behind you. “When you think you know what to shoot, take a moment and look around,” says Powell. “You might be missing the best shot. You have to give yourself the chance to see things outside of your primary focus. I get hung up on the athletes and the sport, so I really like it when I free myself up and look around for pictures off the main focus. Shooting for books has really helped me do that.” DP To see more of MIKE POWELL’s work, including images from his book “A Game To Love: In Celebration of Tennis,” visit

ALSTROEMERIA MEDLEY: I photographed this arrangement of Alstroemerias (Peruvian lilies) straight down on a light box, then used a series of LAB color adjustments in Photoshop to create the painterly effect you see here. 85mm macro, seven exposures combined in Photoshop, exposures at shutter speeds ranging from 1/4 sec. to 5 sec., each exposure at Æ’/64 and ISO 200, tripod-mounted





like to photograph flowers. In fact, I love to photograph flowers! It turns out that I’m in good photographic company. Flowers are a subject that many people want to photograph. However, photographers often don’t know how to approach flowers and macros in a creative way that will show the true beauty of their floral models. Some folks are worried about photographing flowers because they’re concerned their images will be cliché. I’m here to tell you: It doesn’t have to be that way. Flowers are riotously beautiful. They’re also the epitome of variety in terms of colors, shapes and forms. You don’t need a model release to photograph a flower, and if you follow these tips, an entire arena of creative possibilities will open for you in the world of a single flower.


WIND: As I was driving to a workshop where I was going to teach, I saw an incredible hillside covered with spring wildflowers. Not one to miss an opportunity for a photo, I parked the car and grabbed my gear. Climbing up the hillside, I decided I wanted to get a bee’s-eye view of an orange California poppy. After getting down on my belly and setting up my camera on a special low tripod, I chose a fairly wide-open aperture (ƒ/5.6) and a reasonably fast shutter speed (1/125 sec.). These settings isolated the California poppy against the out-of-focus blue flowers in the foreground and background. 130mm, 1/125 sec. at ƒ/5.6 and ISO 200, tripod-mounted



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PHOTOGRAPH A FLOWER FROM AN UNUSUAL ANGLE We’re used to seeing flowers from the front, straight on. In fact, that’s the way the creatures most important to flowers, their pollinators, usually see them. But, often, the most interesting floral shapes occur when a flower is viewed in profile rather than head-on. Take the time to really study a flower before you start photographing it. You may be surprised at the many possibilities that aren’t initially apparent.

CONTROL THE AREAS OF FOCUS When looking at a photo, the viewer tends to first be attracted to the color and then to the areas in the photo that are in focus. So the parts of the flower that are in focus are very important to your overall composition. Keep this in mind as you control selective focus through your use of aperture and with camera positioning. The more parallel the camera is to the plane of focus, the less depth-of-field problems you’ll have.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE A MACRO LENS, IMPROVISE BY USING AN EXTENSION TUBE An extension tube is a relatively inexpensive tube that fits between your lens and the camera. Using an extension tube makes most lenses able to focus closer and produces images that

have a greater effective magnification. I’ve created very good professionalquality macro photos of flowers using extension tubes and a zoom lens instead of a macro lens.

KEEP YOUR PHOTOS SHARP BY USING A TRIPOD I use a tripod for most of my macro flower photography. You want a tripod model that lets you maneuver easily close to the flower and a ballhead for variable camera positioning. Be sure to use a remote release with the tripod (or use the selftimer) rather than pressing the shutter yourself to avoid causing camera movement. In most cases, image stabilization should be turned off when the camera is on a tripod. Locking up your mirror can add significant sharpness at shutter speeds between 1/60 sec. and 2 sec.

DELIBERATELY THROW YOUR LENS OUT OF FOCUS Experiment with throwing your lens way out of focus on purpose (you’ll need to take your lens off autofocus to do this). Out-of-focus flower images can be hugely colorful and wildly evocative. Generally, this works best with a telephoto lens and a wide-open aperture. If your photo is out of focus, you want people to know that you did it on purpose and not think that it might be simply a mistake.

SHOOT ON A MIRROR One of my most used props for flower photography is a mirror. This is inexpensive and easy to find. Go to any window-repair store and order a piece of mirror-backed plate glass. A small shooting surface (18x24 inches) should cost less than $20.

TRY BACKLIGHTING Many flowers and their petals are translucent. This means they’re excellent candidates for backlighting, where the primary light source comes from behind the flower rather than being reflected from the flower’s “face.” You can backlight a flower in the studio, and this also occurs naturally when you’re shooting through the flower toward the sun. Some of my best flower “portraits” are shot using backlight. Keep a piece of black velvet handy. My favorite way to isolate flowers is to drape a black cloth behind them. You can do this in the studio, in a garden or with wildflowers. Black velvet works best because it’s very light-absorbent and doesn’t have an obvious pattern or nap. You can buy black velvet inexpensively by the yard at any fabric store.

Japanese art, enjoyment of the beauty of something that’s past its prime is called wabi-sabi, and I always look for wabi-sabi possibilities in my flower photography.

PAINT SUNFLOWERS LIKE VINCENT VAN GOGH Take advantage of the free Pixel Bender filters from Adobe Labs, and use the Oil Paint filter to create flowers that look as if van Gogh had painted them. If you have Photoshop, the software is free, and you don’t even have to give up an ear! Go to pixelbenderplugin/.

SHOOT FLOWERS FOR BLACK-AND-WHITE Flowers are inherently colorful, but their shapes, lines and forms are graceful and interesting visually. Consider setting up flower compositions that emphasize the compositional aspects of your flower photograph and are presented in monochrome.

SHOOT FLOWERS ON A LIGHTBOX FOR TRANSPARENCY Lightboxes used for artist tracing or art presentation are available from many sources fairly inexpensively. These can be used as a backlight source for creating images of flowers where the flowers seem translucent. As I explain in my book Photographing Flowers, it works best if you shoot for a high-key result with the camera on a tripod and combine several exposures, starting with an overexposed, bright image for the background. I then “paint” the petals of the flower in using layers and layer masks in Photoshop. DP HAROLD DAVIS is an award-winning professional photographer and the author of many best-selling photography books, including “Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis” (Focal Press). Davis is also a Moab Paper Printmaking Master. His images are widely collected and commissioned, and his popular workshops are often sold out. He lives in Berkeley, Calif., with his wife, Phyllis Davis, and their four children. Learn more about Davis and his photography at

USE A LIGHT TENT A light tent is a standard and inexpensive way to provide overall diffuse lighting, most often used in product photography. It can be a great starting point for lighting flower photos.

TRY WABI-SABI Flowers are still beautiful after their first bloom. Don’t throw your flowers away just because they have started to fade. Sometimes flowers in decay are more beautiful than they were originally, and if you ignore flowers in decay, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity. In DAHLIA: I placed this dahlia from my garden on a black background and lit it from the front using a small LED flashlight. In Photoshop, I combined three exposures to make sure the background went entirely black—and to keep the detail in the flower at the same time. 50mm macro, three exposures combined using Photoshop layers at 1 sec., 2 sec., and 4 sec., each exposure at ƒ/32 and ISO 100, tripod-mounted | February 2017



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ow does a photographer transcend the “I was here” imagery that’s often associated with travel photography and create fine-art images of places near and far? From the dozens of workshops I’ve taught on the subject, as well as talking with—and carefully studying the work of—many of the great globetrotting lensmen and lenswomen in the field, I’ve developed a methodology that, when applied, should yield impressive and, at times, spectacular results.


BIG-PICTURE THINKING I see a common failing with many beginning travel photographers. They’re so focused on the fascinating subjects NIGHT EXPOSURES: The Matterhorn from Zermatt, Switzerland. Many cities thrive at night and bring a different dimension to the travel experience. For cityscapes and architecture, use a low ISO, lock down the camera on a sturdy tripod, lock up the mirror of an SLR and use a cable release.

before them that they forget about the basic rules of composition that make for a great photo. Look at the whole frame and use the space effectively. Ask yourself, “If I were painting this scene, what would I include? What would I exclude?” Treat the camera sensor you’re about to expose as your canvas. Thinking in these terms can take you to an elevated creative space. Also, don’t become too planted in the place you happen to be standing when you come across a photographic opportunity. I’m constantly astral-projecting—envisioning how a shot from an alternate angle will look—as I’m exploring a particular photographic scenario. If there’s potential from that location, that’s where I’ll walk, climb, and at times, crawl to.

DEPTH OF FIELD I often shoot in aperture-priority mode so I can be acutely aware of what I’ll have in focus, and just as importantly,

what will be out of focus. You can lead the viewer through your image by careful control of the ƒ-stop. Creating a “bokeh” by shooting with a minimal depth of field can be dramatic for closeup portraits, whereas a maximum depth of field can create its own unique perspectives, especially for dramatic architectural shots and landscapes. It’s important to remember that when you look through a DSLR, you’re seeing the lens at its widest aperture, which translates as its shallowest depth of field. This lets in the maximum amount of light to provide a bright viewfinder image and facilitates faster auto and manual focus. But when you depress the shutter, and the lens goes to a smaller selected ƒ-stop, those palm trees that were soft in the distance suddenly appear to be growing out of the heads of your subjects like antennas. Most cameras have depth-of-field preview buttons to see what your stopped-down lens will | February 2017



render in focus, but with enough practice and awareness, that knowledge will become second nature.

TIME OF DAY Early morning and late afternoon have always been the favorite times for professional photographers to shoot. It’s not just the warm Kelvin temperatures that create an inviting mood. It’s also the experience of documenting a town coming to life or transitioning to the night. Also, shadows created at those times of day are more pleasing on the eye than those created from the harsh overhead light of midday. That doesn’t mean that cameras should be put away in the vicinity of high noon. The middle hours of the day are a great time to photograph people in open shade or to explore museums and other interior locations.

FILL-FLASH When traveling, especially in group situations, it’s not always possible to be at the right place at the right time in terms of ideal ambient light. The use of a flash can reduce



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or eliminate harsh shadows under the eyes, often referred to as “raccoon eyes.” Because most flashes fire at a cooler, i.e., bluer, color temperature than the prevailing ambient light, I usually have a slight warming gel over my flash head in the morning or afternoon to create a correct color balance. Also, I often hold my flash at arm’s length and trigger it with a remote flash system. This further helps to create a more natural and realistic scene by making the shadows drop down behind the subject. In addition, I’ll often put a Gary Fong Lightsphere Diffusion Dome over the flash head to soften the light with a minimal loss of power. Additional flashes can be added and triggered remotely for all types of creative possibilities.

to utilize the camera’s exposure lock and exposure compensation controls. This technique requires a lens shade and at times a hand to help block the direct light hitting the lens. Without a shade, a lens flare can occur or, at the very least, a flattening or dulling of the colors in the scene will result. I’ve begged students for years in workshops to use this simple piece of plastic or rubber. Why take an expensive piece of glass and reduce it down to the quality of a throwaway camera?

NATURAL FRAMES Natural frames can create a 3-D feel in our 2-D medium. Architectural elements and flora, in particular, can be utilized in the foreground to lead the viewer into a given scene.

SHOOTING CONTRE-JOUR Rather than saying backlit, I like the French expression contre-jour, which translates as “against the day.” Shooting with the sun behind the subject eliminates harsh shadows and keeps people from squinting. In-camera meters can get thrown off by contre-jour situations and underexpose the scene, so it’s important to know how

SILHOUETTES Creative silhouettes can be produced at any time of day by finding a camera position that puts the subject against a SILHOUETTES: Mandalay, Myanmar. Dramatic silhouettes can be shot at any time of the day, but there must be a strong contrast between your background and your subject.

bright background and adjusting the exposure controls. It’s vital to have a strong contrast between the background and the object or subject you’re trying to silhouette. If I’m including people in the silhouette, I’ll wait until their back is to the camera or they’re in profile to avoid the ominous look of a shadowy character moving toward the camera.

ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAITS Portraits of people in their environment, whether it’s a sheepherder with his flock or an artist in her atelier, add an important human element to any travel story. Pros tend to use medium to wider lenses for environmental portraiture, with the goal of creating an image that transmits emotional content and engagement with their subject. When doing this type of photograph, I direct the person to achieve the best angle (for example, move left, right, back, forward, etc.) and to make DEPTH OF FIELD: Bonito, Brazil. Shooting at a maximum depth of field can create unique perspectives, especially for stunning architectural shots and landscapes.

sure the elements of his or her environment that I want to include aren’t being blocked or too out of focus to be recognizable. I talk to the person as a dentist talks to his or her patients, in other words, saying things that can be acknowledged without the need to verbally respond past a simple grunt. Engaging in an active conversation with your subject should be done before or after a photo shoot—not during—unless you want the person to be caught in all sorts of awkward mouth positions. It’s better to share a quiet human moment one on one and let the camera peer into the window of his or her soul.

NIGHT EXPOSURES The legendary LIFE magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was asked, after returning from an assignment in Paris, what he did in the City of Lights at night. Eisenstaedt response was “Expose longer.” Eisenstaedt misinterpreted the question, but was right on with the answer, photographically speaking.

Many cities thrive at night and bring a completely different dimension to the travel experience. For cityscapes and architecture, use a low ISO, lock down the camera on a sturdy tripod, lock up the mirror of an SLR and use a cable release. This is especially important on exposures between 1/15 of a second to one or two seconds when the mirror on an SLR hasn’t had the time to settle down and will cause camera shake. Mirrorless camera users can use a cable release or their timer.

LOW LIGHT When photographing people in lowlight or nighttime situations, I use either a flash or a higher ISO with “fast” lenses. All my lenses, including zooms, are able to open to at least an ƒ/2.8 aperture. This allows for shooting in low-light situations without the need to go to such a high ISO that the resulting image is full of noise. Before picking up your flash at night, see if you might be better served by capturing the scene in front of you with a high ISO and a fast lens such as | February 2017





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SHOOTING CONTRE-JOUR: Yazd, Iran. Shooting with the sun behind the subject eliminates harsh shadows. In-camera meters can get thrown off by contre-jour situations and underexpose the scene, so it’s important to know how to utilize the camera’s exposure lock and exposure compensation controls.

an ƒ/2.8 or wider. Many pros are carrying around their old 50mm ƒ/1.4 or ƒ/1.2 specifically for this purpose. Shooting without flash is often required when photographing live performances and in museums. A lot of work usually goes into the lighting of these venues, and the use of fast lenses can capture the feeling of what the person in charge of lighting was trying to create.

MACRO Detail shots using a macro lens or closeup filters can bring you up close and personal into a whole other world. For those who don’t want to invest in a macro or simply want to save space, a set of close-up, or diopter, filters can be added to your camera bag. If you go that route, V

LOW LIGHT: Agra, India. When shooting in low light or at night, use a flash or higher ISO with lenses that open to at least ƒ/2.8. In this way, you’ll avoid an image full of

carry a couple of step-up and step-down rings so you can use one set of diopters with any lens.

THE TRAVEL PHOTO ESSAY Creating pictures that tell a story has been the mainstay of travel magazines since their inception. Travel editors have a mantra that must be taken to heart before approaching a publication with an idea: “A location is not a story.” Look for stories that give the viewer an inside look into a culture by focusing on a person, a ritual, an aspect of history—the list is endless. The best photo essays often are those that come from a personal interest, so search “inside” before you go outside looking for ideas. Even if you’re not pitching an article, thinking in this way will make your personal PowerPoint or slideshow much more compelling for your viewers.

PRESENTATION Your work isn’t complete until the images from the trip are put in a form that you and others can appreciate. For me, the ultimate expression is a printed book. In recent years, a number of companies such as Blurb have made it both feasible and affordable to produce personal photography books of high quality in a short

amount of time. These books can act as a portfolio piece or just a great way to share your experiences with others. To make sure your once-in-a-lifetime travel shots are the best they can be, you’ll want to use a tripod when possible. It’s especially important for night and lowlight exposures. I work with Really Right Stuff carbon-fiber tripods and entrust a variety of Tamrac camera bags to safely transport my equipment. For easy underwater and POV action shots, I bring along a GoPro in addition to my Nikon cameras and lenses. I also carry a B+W polarizer and neutral-density filter. DP In addition to numerous editorial and commercial assignments, MARK EDWARD HARRIS’ books include “Faces of the Twentieth Century: Master Photographers and Their Work,” “The Way of the Japanese Bath,” “Wanderlust,” “Inside Iran,” “South Korea” and “North Korea” (winner of the IPA Book of the Year). His latest book, “The Travel Photo Essay: Describing a Journey Through Images” (Focal Press), will be released in the fall of 2017. The recipient of numerous awards, Harris teaches travel photography workshops at Samy’s Camera EDU, The Los Angeles Center of Photography, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and Uniworld’s Floating Photo Workshop with Mark Edward Harris. For more information, visit and follow Mark on Instagram @MarkEdwardHarrisPhoto.




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f you devour Flickr and YouTube videos on photography, you probably know about the “paint with light” photography technique—it’s really more of a lighting technique. For anybody who hasn’t stumbled upon this unusual and inspiring form of photography previously, you’re in for a wild ride of discovery. During my own journey and experiences of a self-imposed project that lasted five years, I tried to push the boundaries. To do this technique, you take a handheld flashlight and “paint” light onto your subject at night during a long six-second exposure. Using your light to illuminate the whole scene is doable, but inevitably you get fog and noise from overly long exposures—anything over 40 seconds or so. You also wind up splashing light onto areas of the scene that you didn’t intend to “paint.” So you’re rushing around trying to beat the clock and avoid fog and noise building up in the frame. It’s a losing battle. Since I’ve been doing this for a while, and the concepts of my photography grew to include ever more complex narratives, I discovered that it’s far easier to divide the scene into smaller portions that can be exposed with my flashlight


as I paint light onto individual portions and sections (for example, the right fender of an old pickup truck, the side of a building or the top of a car). Later on, after I’ve exposed a few, or even hundreds, of individual frames on location, it’s a straightforward process of stacking some of those exposures into a single image using Photoshop. To make the process fun and still result in a successful image, I’ve learned a few techniques that work well and are easy to follow.

TECHNIQUES 1. Try to set up a scene or pick a location to photograph before it gets dark. It’s far harder to set up and explore the environment at night because you can’t see well. Setting up your camera before nightfall also helps you to see through the viewfinder to compose your shot. It’s a good time to add or tweak props or whatever else you placed in the scene. 2. Use a sturdy tripod. This is critical. It’s also vitally important that you don’t kick or bump the camera and tripod. Every separate frame you expose needs to line up with all the other exposures shot of the same scene. If the camera gets bumped, any shot made after that won’t

stack up correctly with the shots made before. I learned this the hard way. 3. Keep individual exposures to about five or six seconds. Exposures shorter than that are hard to control. The light on a section of a fender for only a second will turn out spotty or uneven, as there isn’t enough time to smooth out the painting of light. 4. Think about what you’re trying to say in your photos. If you’re telling a story, the light could help you illustrate that narrative by becoming a part of the composition. 5. Use an assistant. During the exposing process, I find it easier to have a friend or an assistant open and close the camera shutter while I run around in a Zen state painting light onto objects in my composition. It’s a totally unusual process. (Having been a photographer for more than 35 years now, my use of this technique is the closest I’ve come to true creative fulfillment. It’s certainly a sort of magic to be exposing and painting with light.) You also can manually open the camera and lock the shutter open in the Bulb mode, closing it again after each exposure, but this can become very physical, running back and forth to the camera

if you’re shooting a larger scene. You can also use a PocketWizard or other remote triggers.

PAINT BY NUMBERS During the process of shooting and painting light onto the scene, I try to use the same procedure for each of my shots, as it seems to work well. I start by painting light from the top center of my main subject. I get several frames of the main subject lit from above, then move outward and down with my lighting. After the main subject is covered, it’s a matter of systematically exposing the ground, then walls and other structures to create a full palette of exposures to play with in Photoshop later. After you’ve exposed the entire scene—from the top and right and left sides, also skimming the ground at the front, back and sides, etc.—you’re done shooting. This may be only four shots total, if you’re shooting a small scene or choose to start small and simple.

EDITING Now that you have all your shots downloaded to your computer, start by opening one image, the one you like best of the main subject lit from above. Then open another image from the shoot and

import it into the first photograph file. If you use layers, you can simply stack the second image on top of the first. As you view both layers, all you see is the top layer, since the default blending mode is “normal” or fully opaque. Go to the Layers blending mode dropdown at the top-left corner of the Layer palette and change the setting of the current top photograph from normal to lighten. Now you can see through the top layer or exposure that’s sitting above the bottom layer. You can view both photos at the same time. If the image that’s above your base photo is too bright in some areas, or you accidentally exposed some of the light from the flashlight onto your shoes during an exposure, you can simply erase that part of the image you don’t like with a soft brush. The more you play with the top image to smooth it out, the more the two images combined will look like a single smooth and even exposure. That’s basically it. All you have to do is repeat the process of stacking images on top of each other and then erase (or use layer masks) to remove the parts of the top layers you don’t like. After you stack the next layer or image onto the top of the stack, all the layers underneath remain as you tweaked them. Eventually,

you build up to what is a strikingly powerful image that has a sort of glow because the lighting isn’t the traditional, simplistic light that comes from a single strobe or even multiple strobes. It looks as though it’s coming from dozens of sources to create a full and rich scene powered by light. I’ll share with you a thought I’ve heard expressed before about Hollywood. In Hollywood, they have all the lights and sound equipment they could use, no more cameras or props are required. What’s in short supply is a good idea! So go out and create something special that’s individual to you. All you need is a bit of patience, planning and some creativity. For those who would like more details about how to light, photograph and add the images together in Photoshop, I have a second-edition book (published by Amherst Media) available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s a comprehensive how-to book that not only describes the processes I’ve developed, but it also explains my philosophy of photography and conceptualization in order to create strikingly beautiful pictures: DP See more of ERIC CURRY’s photography, along with video tutorials, at






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PATTERNS. Patterns often go unnoticed when shooting in color. Removing colorful distractions helps patterns pop in black-and-white images. Veins of leaves on a houseplant, shadows created from Venetian blinds, birds lined up on a telephone wire or repetitive windows of a skyscraper are all strong patterns. Removing unnecessary clutter from your composition will simplify your frames and result in visually striking images.

LIGHTING. Lighting is crucial to black-and-white photography, as it affects all the other elements of your image. When thinking about lighting your subject, consider how it will influence texture, patterns, shape, form and contrast. Try side lighting for dramatic effects in black-and-white portraiture. Backlit subjects and silhouettes can also evoke emotion in black-and-white. Lighting will help accentuate all the compositional elements. CONTRAST. The human eye sees in color. When colors are converted to black-and-white, we see shades of gray. Light colors become highlights. Dark colors become heavy tones. The difference between these two ends of the spectrum is called tonal contrast. Contrast is an important consideration in any photograph, but even more so for monochrome images. This image benefits from broad tonal contrast, from deep shadows to bright highlights, and a wide range of gray tones in between.



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s black-and-white the purest form of photography? Some photographers believe so. The art of black-

and-white photography removes all distractions, so the strength of the composition shines through. “Shadow is a color as light is, but less brilliant; light and shadow are only the relation of two tones.” Paul Cézanne was a painter, but the artistic mediums of paint and photography are quite similar when compared. Both aesthetically rely on the symbiotic relationship of light and dark. Ordinary subjects can be made extraordinary when you learn to look for texture, contrast, shape, form, patterns and light. Break down your photograph into these basic compositional elements, and build an image from them to produce striking images. How and where you place lines and light across the image will direct the viewer’s eye. Black-and-white photography didn’t come naturally to me at first, but I trained my eye by continuing to shoot in black-and-white. The more I practiced, the easier it became. While working in black-and-white, I stepped away from the comfort zone that came with vibrant color. I now find black-andwhite photography to be more intense, keeping the viewer engaged. Landscapes reveal layers and stories in black-andwhite. Portraits reveal emotion and age. Yes, some of this is achieved through postprocessing. We might practice new techniques once we get our images out of our cameras and onto our desktops,

but much of our practice should fall on how we see and what we look for as we view life through the lens. Black-and-white imagery can be a sensory overload, a visual pleasure with a whole different approach than color photography. Is black-and-white photography an interpretation of reality? Do we have more freedom with it? Does it make us better photographers when we’re able to grasp more than just emotion, but also texture, contrast, shape, composition and light? That’s for you to decide. Everyday life can be accentuated in black-and-white. Try your hand at black-and-white photography and see how it changes your view as you walk through your day. Search out strong light, textures and negative space. These basic compositional elements will make your black-and-white images that much better. Take notice of patterns, shafts of light and playful shadows. This is the beauty of photography. This is the beauty of choosing what to see and seeing life in black-and-white. DP MEREDITH WINN is a writer, photographer and Associate Editor of Taproot Magazine. She’s a contributor to Shutter Sisters, featured in our Point of Focus column. Visit

TRAIN YOUR EYE VIEW YOUR SUBJECT as shape, shadow, lines and contrast. Are all subjects suitable for black-and-white photography? Train your eye to see in black-andwhite. Search out subjects that are best seen in monochrome. Portraits. The texture of wrinkled skin or aged hands. Contrasting light and dark shadows from a portrait lit from the side. Shape and form is revealed in profile or silhouette. Landscape. Patterns are everywhere in nature. Find the rhythm and repetition of trees in a grove or the veins of a leaf. Midday sun brings contrast to your image. Fog evokes mystery and the emotion of texture and tone. Architecture. Form and contrast are compatible with the lines of architecture. The repetition of structures, windows or floor tiles leads to mesmerizing images. Still Life. Lighting and texture can be manipulated to create negative space and mood on just about any subject. The combination of these elements will create artistic and painterly images. | February 2017





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SIX MOONS SETTING. For this one, I selected six photos out of the hundreds I had shot that night. I had first tried it with all the photos, and the moon looked like a curved line across the photo—a little too much—so I decided less is more this time.



uring my studies for my Graphic Design diploma, Photography 101 was a required course, and that was the start of my passion for photography. After years of experimenting and just plain having fun, I’ve found time-lapse to be my favorite form of photography. It wasn’t too long ago that I discovered “star trail” photos. They’re most commonly made from multiple photos of stars shot from a fixed position and later merged into one image. After trying this technique a few times, I wondered


what it would look like with time-lapse sequences I had shot during the day. My first few tries produced some interesting results, but looked a little too “busy” or “abstract.” A little experimenting with choosing the right sequences and number of shots resulted in exciting images. Living on the shore of Lake Ontario, just east of Toronto, facing the west, has resulted in quite a library of sunset timelapses. These were the first subjects of my experimentation with this technique. I call the images made with this

technique “timestacks.” To make them, I use a time-lapse sequence as my source. Timestacks are really a distillation of a video into a single picture. The movements of clouds often look like brushstrokes and give the image a painterly feel. It gives you a different perspective of time and a unique sense of motion. I usually set up time-lapse shoots with the intention of producing a video as the end result. Timestacks are a nice opportunity resulting from the timelapse sources with the right subject and settings. | February 2017



My time-lapse sequences are usually multiple photos taken from a fixed position. You can use an external intervalometer to control the camera, or your camera may have that capability built in. If you have a Canon EOS DSLR, you can load software to perform the function. More about that later. The interval between shots can change the look of the final image quite a bit. The shorter the interval between shots, the smoother the movements will look. I usually shoot in the range of 3 to 6 seconds during the day. I load my photos onto the computer and open the first one in Photoshop, making adjustments for color and contrast while recording my actions so I can apply them to all the photos. I highly recommend using an automated process for this, as it will save you time, but mainly a lot of tedious work. This is where the “star trail” technique comes in, another thing you really want to automate—the first few timestacks, I made one photo at a time and it took forever. I couldn’t figure out how to properly automate the stacking process in Photoshop, so I searched online and found a 44


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script from Star Circle Academy ( that worked great. Basically, it opens the first image, then pastes the second image on a new layer and changes the Layer Blending mode to Lighten. The script adds all the parts of the second photo that are lighter than the first photo. Repeat that as many times as you like with your succession of photos. Sometimes, I’ll use only 30 photos, and other times I’ll use hundreds; it’s all about the desired effect and what looks best to me, so I usually start out by stacking all the photos from the time-lapse and then try fewer photos if it’s too crazy. Once I’ve found the segment that looks good, I do a final adjustment of levels and contrast, mainly to bring the darks back, because it gets a little washed out from adding lighter parts together. The camera I’m currently using is a Canon EOS 60D (I’ve gone through more than a few). I use a battery grip that lets me use two batteries so I can shoot longer time-lapses. I most often use my wide-angle Tamron 10-24mm zoom, but I also have a telephoto and a 50mm prime lens. I have an assortment of filters; a circular polarizer and a dark

SMEARED SKY. Made from 500 photos, this is the first sunset time-lapse I tried the stacking method with. I was surprised with the outcome, but even more so with the feedback. It wasn’t long before it went viral. I was getting lots of emails, some asking questions about the technique and others hoping to share it on their website or blog. Milky Way scientists shared it on their Facebook page, and it got 12,000 likes and 4,000 shares on the first day it was up. I was blown away!

LAND OF THE GIANT LOLLIPOPS. I’m not sure how many photos are in this one, but it must be hundreds. It was my first time on Wolfe Island, and it’s not going to be my last. It’s an interesting place that recently has been “taken over” by giant windmills for generating electricity.

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HUMAN TORNADO. This “timestack” is made from 340 photos of myself drumming, merged into one image. The interval between shots was 1 second. It was a low-light situation, so I cranked up the ISO to get a quicker shutter speed (1/5 of a second). I had previously tried a longer shutter speed and the drumsticks almost disappeared, so I wanted to see how the faster speed would look. You can clearly see the drumsticks in this one, as I had hoped.

neutral-density are my favorites. Most Canon cameras can utilize opensource software that allows the camera to do things it can’t straight out of the box. I use a program called Magic Lantern that allows me to do all kinds of fun new things, but the main reason I got it is for its intervalometer, so I can easily shoot timelapses. You can get it at All you have to do is put a small file onto your memory card and it loads from there with new menus. Another bonus is that there’s no external hardware involved. Before that I was using a separate intervalometer and going through lots of batteries! A tripod is more or less essential for shooting time-lapses. I also recommend

anchoring the tripod; that will keep it stable and safer to use when you’re outdoors. My camera is in for repairs right now because I failed to do this on a windy day. I’ve found that a brick on a rope works well. Make sure to hang it close to the center, so it’s distributing the weight evenly between all three legs. If you like the results you see here, why not try a few yourself? If you need help, feel free to contact me—you’ll find contact links and also can see more of my work at molloy/sets/72157631635631443/. DP To see more of MATT MOLLOY’s photography, visit

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SONY a6500

SONY UPDATES THEIR APS-C CAMERA FOR THE SECOND TIME IN A YEAR, BRINGING FEATURES AND BUYER’S REMORSE FOR a6300 USERS BY DAVID SCHLOSS >> PHOTOGRAPHY BY DL BYRON he Sony a6500 APS-C camera is a direct descendent of the company’s consumer-oriented NEX line, sharing ergonomics and a design sensibility that were developed to serve the needs of the advanced amateur, despite recent models being jam-packed full of pro-level features. The company’s emphasis on making the a6000 series (which has included the a6000, a6100, a6300 and now the a6500 in two years) the most powerful APS-C-based camera system has given the consumer tremendous power at an affordable price. The trade-off in Sony’s quest to produce an APS-C camera with professional features is that while the lineup is continually improving internally, there has been no attention paid to the ergonomics or controls on the camera. From a design standpoint, very little has changed since the NEX-5T gave way to the nearly identical a5000 in 2013,




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nor has much changed in the models since that branding and focus transition. Many like the design of the a6500 and its predecessors, but there are equally many, myself included, who wish the company had as much focus on usability as it does on features and image quality. And while advances in technology are always welcome, with the a6300 turning just eight months old when the a6500 was announced, some users are left wondering if they jumped aboard the Sony train too soon.

THE HEART OF THE MATTER It’s not a stretch to say that the Sony a6500 packs more technology per square inch than any other camera that has ever been on the market. The a6500 has a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor with performance enhancements from Sony that allow it to capture 11 fps (or 8 fps with C-AF) for more than 300

shots. The claimed autofocus rate is 0.05 seconds, and the company has indicated that they feel it’s the most accurate tracking AF on the market. The internal 5-axis stabilization gives the camera the equivalent of five stops of boost, while the ISO ranging to 25,600 (expandable to 51,200) gives it a wide range of possible shots. The 425 AF points are now able to be controlled by a touch-sensitive LCD screen, even during shooting, with the camera using the screen like a virtual control pad. Slide your finger around the screen during shooting and the AF point follows. Like the a6300, the a6500 is particularly aimed at video shooters, capturing full 4K with no pixel binning and no line skipping, and the camera is capable of sending uncompressed 4K to an external recorder across the HDMI port—something even many pro-level SLRs can’t do.

The image quality on the Sony a6500 rivals that on full-frame professional cameras and reveals incredible detail and tonal range, as seen on these cargo containers on a ship in the Port of Seattle.

The camera can shoot video with up to 14 stops of dynamic range thanks to the S-Log2 and S-Log3 color spaces, and uses Sony’s XAVC-S codex to maintain parity with the company’s other video offerings. For internal 4K recording at 100 Mbs, a UHS-I SDHC/SDXC card must be used. If those terms don’t mean much to you, suffice it to say that the a6500 was designed to have the best video capabilities in the APS-C market. It captures video at 6K (more than twice the resolution needed for 4K) and resamples the image for incredibly high-res 4K. In an interesting twist, the a6500 can record from 1 fps to 120 fps in a mode Sony calls “Slow and Quick” for everything from 60x high-speed action to slow motion at 5x normal speed.

THE APPLE DOESN’T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE As with the rest of the a6000 series, the image quality from the a6500 is excellent, especially when the camera is coupled with high-quality lenses from the Sony/ Zeiss partnership or connected via adapter to high-end glass from Canon, Sigma, Leica, etc. Reviewing shots taken at a recent press event with the Sony a6500 and Sony a99 II, it’s impossible to tell which camera created an image at first glance. Resolution, color fidelity, saturation and noise are all excellent in the a6500. The AF system is the same as that in the a6300, but the processing and the buffer have increased, giving the camera much bigger burst capabilities, which is one of the main reasons to grab an a6500 instead of the a6300. The focusing speed and tracking on the a6500 remain excellent, though confusing. There are a number of different focus modes, from wide to Lock-on spot, and they all have shooting situations in which they excel and some in which they’re the wrong choice. It takes an experienced user to really figure out the perfect mode for a scene, but once you know what focus mode you want, the camera is incredibly accurate. The other major improvement is the five-axis stabilization. The fact that Sony

can fit image stabilization into this system just eight months after the a6300 was released shows exactly how quickly miniaturization can occur. There really isn’t a competitor that has image stabilization in an APS-C body, and while the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has stabilization that meets or exceeds that in the a6500, it does so with a smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor. On the video end, the 4K footage we’ve seen, both in our testing and in the samples posted online, shows that the camera rivals the output of cameras even at a pro level. By sampling 6K video down to 4K, the a6500 can create an incredibly sharp video file, and the S-Log2 and S-Log3 settings mean it’s possible to get great dynamic range out of the sensor when shooting video. The image stabilization is incredibly helpful when shooting video, and while it won’t completely eliminate camera operator motion, it does make for a much smoother final video.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON Like the previous APS-C cameras from Sony, the a6500 isn’t always easy to operate. While a few custom function buttons have been added to the body, and the grip is much more sculpted than the a6300 or the original a-series cameras, it’s still a very small body, especially for someone with large hands. The grip protrudes less from the front, which removed the space for the top custom function button, which has moved to the back. That said, the small size means that nearly every control can be executed one-handed while the free hand is used to stabilize the lens. The new touch-screen focus selector is nice—it’s something I wish more cameras utilized—but it’s a bit “laggy.” It felt like there was a delay between moving the finger across the screen and having the focus points move along with it. I’m hoping this is addressed in firmware, as it doesn’t seem like the a6500 is lacking the power to handle the task of tracking the touchpad. The camera, currently, won’t do Lock-on AF with touch-screen focus, which reduces some of the benefits of having the touch screen. For those who often bump into the trackpad with their nose, there’s a setting that shifts the control area to the right half or right quarter of the screen, though it’s still

pretty easy to move the AF selector nasally. For most users, especially video shooters, the touch screen will be most useful to select a tracking point and the excellent AF will do the rest, but it makes the value of the new touch-screen functionality questionable. I’m hoping it’s addressed in firmware soon. Another issue inherited from the a6300 is overheating when shooting long clips of video, although the a6500 handles it better. (While we haven’t tested this directly, our friends at the excellent The Camera Store TV did an independent test with several a6300 and a6500 bodies, and the a6500 could shoot several times longer than the a6300 before shutting off in the new hightemperature mode.) Finally, although video quality is spectacular on the a6500, there’s no headphone jack to monitor audio output, which means that video shooters will really need to use an external audio recorder. That relegates the a6500, in most cases, from a primary camera to a B-roll camera, as no video pro is going to risk getting the audio levels balanced incorrectly.

WHAT TO BUY The Sony a6300 remains in the company’s camera lineup at a price of around $1,000 while the a6500 carries a price closer to $1,400. Even if you’re a casual shooter, that $400 is money well spent for the stabilization and the larger buffer. That said, if you’re not looking to do 4K video or capture action sports, for that same $1,400 you could buy the Sony a7 II and get a fullframe sensor. The AF speed and capture rate on the a7 II don’t keep up with the a6500, but the full-frame sensor provides better image quality. If you bought an a6300, my advice is to hold onto it unless you need the five-axis stabilization. If you’re always shooting landscapes on a tripod, you don’t need that functionality. If, however, you’re capturing fast-moving subjects and need a burst rate that keeps up, or shooting handheld in low light, you’ll want to eBay that a6300 and upgrade. Or, you could wait a mere eight more months and see what Sony releases next. DP You can follow DAVID SCHLOSS on Twitter and Instagram @davidjschloss | February 2017





spend much of my year traveling the globe creating images, from shooting editorial assignments in remote Honduran jungles to teaching photo workshops in the shifting sands of the Gobi Desert. One of the joys of travel photography is creating portraits of people you meet, whether it’s in your hometown or on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Inevitably, I find myself photographing people in tough lighting conditions. The challenge of travel photography is that you don’t have a lot of time in any one location, so you have to shoot with the existing light. Harsh daylight, murky alleys, Martian green interiors, dreary overcast—these lighting nasties are




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Nikon D3, 14-24mm, shot at 1/250 at ƒ/14, Elinchrom Quadra with 39” Deep Octa Softbox

just waiting for you on your next trip! But now you have a tool to defeat these rough lighting situations—the portable studio. Lighting gear, from simple reflectors to studio packs, has dramatically improved in the last few years. Equipment is lighter, more powerful and easier to use. Combine this with instant feedback from your camera’s LCD, and anyone can create compelling portraits on the road. The trick is bringing just the right amount of gear to offer multiple lighting options, but with as little weight and size as possible. And this lighting kit needs to fit in an overhead compartment for air travel. During my travels, I’ve learned many lessons the hard way about traveling with lighting gear. These include watching my flash heads float down a river to pleading in Mongolian (think, sign language) for permission to carry my rechargeable batteries. I have two portable lighting kits I bring with me on trips. One kit is superlightweight and streamlined, what I call “The Bare-Bones Kit.” The other lighting kit is slightly larger, but offers more power and faster flash duration; I call it “The Equalizer” since it has all the tools I need to eliminate any nasty lighting I encounter. In creating your own portable studio, you might mix and match from these two lighting kits since your situation and needs will be different. THE BARE-BONES KIT 2 Nikon SB-5000 Speedlights 1 Nikon WR-R10 wireless transmitter 1 Lastolite small white/soft gold reflector 1 Rogue gel kit 1 Rogue Flashbender (large) 1 Rogue Diffusion Panel (large) 1 Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 1 Manfrotto Justin Clamp 1 Lastolite TriFlash bracket 1 5001B Manfrotto light stand 1 compact umbrella


This kit is very light and packs into a camera bag with your camera and lens. You have endless lighting combinations using snoots, gels and reflectors with this kit. I use Nikon equipment, and their Behind the scenes of the glacier portrait shoot.

flash system is fantastic. The SB-5000 speedlights are controlled wirelessly by the radio WR-R10 transmitter attached to the camera, so I can create interesting lighting setups with off-camera flash. Why only one light stand? I attach one flash to the light stand using the TriFlash bracket and attach the other flash to my tripod using the Justin Clamp. I always travel with a tripod, but rarely use it for my portraits. My tripod doubles as a light stand using the handy Justin Clamp to attach a flash to a tripod leg. With my flashes attached, I can add an umbrella to the TriFlash bracket and add a variety of light modifiers to the flash on the Justin Clamp. One other item I often carry with this kit is a Lastolite 24-inch Ezybox. This softbox adds more volume to the kit, but the soft quality of light is incredible for TTL flash.

V Nikon D500, 20mm ƒ/1.8, shot at 1/160 at

ƒ/6.3, SB-5000 triggered off-camera

THE EQUALIZER This lighting kit offers more power, faster recycling and the option to use larger softboxes for studio-quality lighting. The benefit of the Elinchrom ELB400 is its speed and power. I can overpower the midday sun (underexposing the ambient light) using flash with lightning-fast recycle times. Recently, I was in Bali, and this lighting system proved its worth. Many of our subjects were only comfortable with us photographing them for a short time. With the ELB400, we had almost instant flash recycling, so we could squeeze in the maximum number of frames in a short amount of time. We also used a 53” Octabank to create very soft light for our portraits. The | February 2017



Nikon D810, 85mm ƒ/1.4, shot at 1/800 at ƒ/1.6, Elinchrom Rotalux Softbox Octa 53" with ELB400

ELB400 packs have a built-in wireless receiver, so their output is controlled at the camera via the Skyport Plus HS transmitter. Each pack has two ports for flash heads. I use two heads on the light stands and sometimes add a third head on the ground to add fill light. When traveling with this kit, I put the light stands and Octabank in my suitcase until I reach my destination. THE EQUALIZER 2 Elinchrom ELB400s 3 Elinchrom ELB40 Pro heads 1 Elinchrom Skyport Plus HS 1 Elinchrom 53" Octabank 2 Manfrotto 5001B light stands 1 Lastolite small white/soft gold reflector Various Rosco gels A few other accessories are worth mentioning for both of these lighting kits. A huge advantage of digital photography is the ability to instantly review your images in the field. This means you’re either looking at your LCD or a computer monitor if you’re shooting tethered. Reviewing images in the field, especially on sunny days, can be difficult. Seeing the image on your screen requires hiding in some shade if you can find some. Instead of scurrying off to a dark cave, I use a Hoodman Loupe for my LCD and a Hoodman monitor screen for tethered shooting. These handy devices reduce stray light hitting your screen and make reviewing images in the field much easier. Which lighting kit is right for you? Both systems have their advantages. Cost, weight and shooting habits will determine which lighting kit best suits you. Whatever system you put together, practice with it a lot so you’re ready when you hit the road. Make sure to bring extra batteries and chargers with the appropriate adapters if you’re traveling abroad.

HOW TO CARRY IT ALL? My first choice for normal travel is the Lowepro Pro Roller x100. This rolling bag will hold my entire Bare-Bones Kit, as Behind the scenes of a cultural portrait shoot. 50


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Nikon D3, 24-70mm ƒ/2.8, shot at 1/160 at ƒ/14, Elinchrom Quadra and 39" Rotalux Mini Octa Softbox (Elinchrom)

well as my camera and a few lenses. The x100 can carry The Equalizer kit, but with less room for camera gear. I carry the light stand and umbrella in my suitcase until arriving at my destination; then I can strap these on the Pro Roller when I’m going to a shoot. The beauty of the Pro Roller is that if I’m going for a short hike or away from flat “roller” surfaces, the entire bag unzips from the hard-shell roller case and converts into a backpack. This is especially handy, and the roller case has an additional zipper flap so it can be used as a normal carry-on suitcase. If my trip involves lots of off-road travel and hiking, I carry my lighting kit in a Lowepro Vertex 300 AW (or the newer Pro Runner BP450), a large photo backpack that fits in overhead compartments on commercial jets. The Vertex 300 AW has a great suspension system, so I can carry either lighting kit comfortably on trails and rocky ground. I strap the stands on the outside of the pack and put the reflector in the laptop compartment of the pack. The Vertex 300 AW also has a waterproof cover to keep things dry if it’s rainy.

DEALING WITH SECURITY We live in a time when strict security is a fact of life. Every time I get frustrated at the airport, I just remember these regulations are in place to make things safe, not cause headaches. The biggest problem you’ll run into with your portable studio is lithium batteries. Since regulations change, I visit the TSA website ( to check before a trip. There’s usually no problem if your batteries are in your flashes or other devices. In other words, don’t have random lithium batteries floating around in your luggage. I’ve never had a problem carrying TTL flashes with lithium batteries installed or carrying extra batteries in their original package. The Elinchrom ELB400 uses a lithium-ion battery, which occasionally prompts questions from security. I always carry the Elinchrom manual that describes this type of battery, which satisfies security. Bringing manuals for

any large battery-powered devices while traveling is a good idea. And, remember, a smile and friendly attitude go a long way in working with security.

GET OUT AND SHOOT! A while back I was in New York teaching a flash workshop. After the workshop was over, I had an extra day to do some shooting. A friend and I decided to photograph a belly dancer along the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge. This location has a great backdrop of New York’s famous skyline. Since we had to walk a ways to get to the location, we just loaded up The Equalizer kit in the

Nikon D800, 24-70mm ƒ/2.8, shot at 1/25 at ƒ/5.6

Pro Roller and headed out. We had everything we needed for a great portrait in one compact bag. Aisha, our dancer, performed mesmerizing movements with her colored veils floating above her head against the New York skyline. The Elinchrom flash kept firing through the entire shoot, capturing all her moves. I couldn’t have been happier; the portable studio was providing all the tools needed to capture this magical moment! DP To see more of TOM BOL’s photography, visit his website at | February 2017






remember walking into Bathhouse Studios in New York for the first time. Stretching out before me was 4,000 square feet of shooting space, including a 30-foot white cyclorama cove you could drive a Ferrari onto. One of New York’s premiere rental facilities, this massive studio (originally a bathhouse) was what photographers fantasized about. Multiple backgrounds, an outside deck, full kitchen, shower, lounge, Bose sound system—this studio had it all. I shot some portraits against the white cove and it seemed like the models were floating on air against the background. But my reality is more like this: Wake




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up in a tent, scrape ice off the camera bag, warm up batteries so they work, and start the camp stove for coffee. Granted, I photograph a lot of adventure sports, and being on location in a remote area is something I enjoy, but occasionally, I’m asked to shoot studio portraits for a client, and the fact of the matter is, I don’t have a studio. What to do? My solution—and one anyone can use—is to set up my “garage studio.” I’m not talking about expensive studio lights, overhead rail systems and a vast array of softboxes. Instead, with a few speedlights and light stands, I can turn a small room or a garage into a

comfortable studio for shooting portraits. Here’s how I do it, and the handy accessories I use to make it happen.

THE GARAGE Almost any space can work as a small studio. I have a two-car garage with a ninefoot ceiling that provides more space than I need. I have plenty of room to set up a background, light stands and softboxes. If you don’t have a garage, consider using a small room in your house as a temporary studio. Almost any room will work; your model could be sitting down, so you don’t need much height or width. The depth of your space is more

Nikon D800, 24-70mm ƒ/2.8, shot at 1/200 at ƒ/11, one Elinchrom Quadra shot through a 39” Elinchrom Rotalux Mini Octa Softbox illuminates the model

important. If you plan on lighting your background separate from your subject, then it helps to have more depth so your lights won’t spill onto your subject. Also, I like using my 70-200mm for portraits, so I need some distance from my subject to get the right composition. An advantage of using a room inside your house is that it will be warm. I live in Colorado, so shooting in my garage in winter requires an external heater to keep the garage warm.

THE BACKGROUND This is where the fun begins. By using a little creativity, you can simulate a location in your garage that looks like a grungy alley in Detroit or a locker room at a gym. The simplest option is to put up seamless paper and shoot your subject against this. Seamless paper is inexpensive, and works well to create a clean background in a cluttered garage. Seamless paper is only the beginning. I like to explore my local thrift stores and see what materials I can find to use for my background. Old curtains, fabric, Venetian blinds and even building supplies like corrugated metal all make interesting backdrops for an image. Finding backdrops that have texture and dimension will allow you to create shadows with your lighting. Imagine shooting a hard light across corrugated metal—it will have strong shadows and highlights from the grooves. Lastolite makes the Urban Collapsible Background, a gritty background that sets up in seconds. These backgrounds pop open into a rigid sheet. All you have to do is lean them against a wall and you’re ready to go. Or, if you really want to change it up, try a printed background like those from Denny Manufacturing Company, Inc. Denny offers hundreds of muslins and printed backgrounds on a variety of materials. Their printed backdrops are amazing. Want to shoot in a prison cell or on a seaside pier? Denny has those backdrops. A Lastolite Urban background was used in this garage studio shoot. Denny Manufacturing Company, Inc., offers a huge variety of printed backgrounds, as well.

How about shooting in the woods? Check, they have that option, as well. These backdrops will convince the viewer the shot was taken at a real location, not in your garage.

THE LIGHTS You want to know one great advantage of shooting in your garage studio? You’re working in a small, controlled space, so you don’t need powerful lights for your portraits. All you need are a few simple lights and you’re ready to shoot. Most photographers already have one speedlight, and this is all you need for simple portraits (we’ll look at techniques shortly). Add a second speedlight, and you have plenty of power and options to

create stunning portraits. Speedlights offer a lot of advantages. Small, powerful and portable, these flashes can be used in TTL mode for proper exposure every time. You’ll want to trigger the flashes off-camera, which will require a wireless transmitter. Some cameras have a pop-up flash that can be set to “commander” mode, allowing you control of your speedlights right at the camera. I like to use a Nikon WR-R10 wireless remote controller with my SB-5000 speedlights. The radio signal from the WR-R10 doesn’t require line of sight to work, so no matter where I put my flashes relative to my camera, they always fire. And, I can still control output right at the camera

using the flash commander menu on the LCD screen. The other lighting option to consider is studio strobes. Since you’ll be near AC power, simple strobes should work well. I have a pair of Elinchrom ELC Pro HD 1000 strobes I use in my garage studio. Studio lights are generally more expensive than a couple of speedlights, but offer more power and faster recycling times. Studio lights are also easier to use with large softboxes. But, if you’re on Nikon D810, 24-70mm ƒ/2.8, shot at 1/250 at ƒ/8, SB-5000 shot through a 30” Ezybox from above, with a reflector providing fill from below

a budget, start with a couple of speedlights. Mastering speedlight technique in your studio also will be useful when you take them on the road.

THE STANDS Now that you have two or three speedlights, what else do you need? Light stands and clamps are next on your shopping list. I use inexpensive Manfrotto 366B light stands to hold my speedlights. I also use my tripod and a Manfrotto 175F Justin Clamp to hold a third speedlight. Using these stands and the clamp allows you to position three speedlights with the bare minimum of accessories. Use the Justin

Clamp to hold a flash on your tripod. I like to use an overhead light for many of my images, and this requires a few more stands. First, I need a stronger light stand to hold an overhead boom arm. I use the Manfrotto 368B 11-foot stand as the vertical stand and a 042B mini-boom to attach the light over my subject. Having an overhead light allows me to shoot from any angle in front of my subject without equipment in my way.

THE LIGHTING ACCESSORIES The next items you’ll want are some lighting accessories to alter the direction, quality and color of your lights. You can start by shooting with bare-bulb speedlights, but very quickly you’ll want to soften or reflect the flash to change the quality of light on your subject. Two items I can’t live without are the Lastolite Ezybox II Switch and the Rogue Honeycomb Grid. The Ezybox is a clever softbox for speedlights that creates soft, wraparound light. This box can be configured to be a strip box or traditional square softbox. One or two speedlights can be used with the box, giving you more power and faster recycle times. The Ezybox also has a grid panel that can help alter the spread of light. Rogue makes a variety of speedlight flash accessories, including snoots, grids, flags and gels. One thing I like about the Rogue accessories is their integral fastening strap—no more searching for Velcro® bands in my camera bag. The Rogue Honeycomb Grid focuses my speedlight where I need it, and their small reflectors do a great job of flagging (blocking light) to prevent lights spilling into the scene. Rogue also makes a speedlight gel set for changing the color of your flash. Another inexpensive, but handy garage studio item is a reflector. Numerous companies make great reflectors. A simple white reflector will fill in shadows and add catchlights in a portrait. I also like to use the soft gold color to add some warmth to my images. If you only have one speedlight and Behind the scenes in the garage studio. Using one SB-5000 in a 30” Lastolite Ezybox and a Lastolite TriLite reflector below the model to create clamshell lighting.

The garage before the studio is set up.

want to create stunning headshots, consider getting a Lastolite TriLite reflector. This reflector is actually a panel of three reflectors that’s positioned close to your model. The TriLite reflects overhead light back onto your subject’s face, creating a striking portrait with bright catchlights in the eyes.

THE TECHNIQUES Okay, your garage studio is complete. If you’re frugal, you can create your studio for minimal time and money. No studio rental fees, just a background, a few speedlights and some basic lighting accessories. Invest a little more, and you open up more creative possibilities with your garage studio. Now, it’s time to shoot! One Light. One simple speedlight can do a lot. At its simplest, put the flash slightly left or right of your subject, and shoot away. This will produce hard-edged light with strong shadows on your subject. Not the first choice for a beauty shot, but this light can work well for edgy subjects and gritty backgrounds. To control the brightness of your background, move your subject closer or farther away from it. If you’re using white seamless, then shooting with your subject a foot away should give you a white background. Move your subject six feet away from the background, and the flash illumination decreases, creating a gray background. Try shooting through a translucent reflector or an Ezybox to change the quality of the light. Now the light will be softer, filling in skin imperfections and creating a luminous glow to your subject. The softness of a light is directly proportional to how big it is to the subject and how close it is. Move your softbox as close as you can for the softest light. Try positioning your light at different angles. I like putting my light directly overhead and in front of my subject for beauty shots. With your light positioned overhead, add a silver or TriLite reflector directly under your model. This “clamshell” lighting will fill in shadows and add interesting catchlights in your subject’s eyes. For a completely different look, try putting your flash behind the model aimed at the camera. Place a white or silver reflector in front of the model to bounce flash back

onto the subject. The result is a portrait with flared light behind the subject and moody low light on his or her face. Two Lights. Adding a second speedlight to your setup creates many new possibilities. With a second light you can control the background light separately, create a bright accent light or add fill light. The key here is that you control this light independently; you can make it brighter or darker than the main light. I like to use cross-lighting when I have two flashes. I’ll shoot one speedlight through a softbox at a slight angle to the front of my subject and use a second speedlight on the opposite side aimed at my subject’s shoulder and hair. I put on a Rogue grid to keep the light focused where I want it. Controlling the flashes wirelessly using my WR-R10 wireless remote controller, I make the accent light one stop brighter than my main light. Another classic technique is to light your main subject with one light and your background with your second light. For a moody portrait, try positioning one speedlight in an Ezybox almost directly over your model. This will cast strong shadows downward on your subject’s face. Next, use a Rogue 25-degree grid on your second speedlight. Place this behind your subject, aimed at the background. This light will create separation from your subject. Try adding colored gels for different looks. Three Lights And Beyond. With three lights you have as much as you need for many portrait styles. One light can be a main light on your subject, a second light can be an accent light, and your third flash

can light your background. Add in a few reflectors, grids and gels, and you’re set. What if you have more lights? The only limit here is your creativity! One technique I use a lot for sports portraits looks like this. First, my main (or key) light is a Lastolite Ezybox positioned high and slightly in front of my subject using a boom arm. Next, I use two speedlights, one directly to the left and one directly to the right of my subject. These are shot through Lastolite 12×48-inch Hotrod strip banks. These narrow softboxes produce long accent lights on my subject’s sides. My fourth light is a speedlight shot through a Rogue 25-degree grid aimed at the background. To control the lights with my WR-R10, I set my main light to group A, strip banks to group B and background light to group C. By previewing the images in my LCD, I can adjust output of each to get the right look. The trick with this shot is having your main light add just a little fill to soften the shadows created by the strip banks. Experiment adjusting the main light and strip banks for different looks. The next time you’re pulling into your driveway, stop short of your garage. Do you really want to park your car inside? Instead, start sweeping out the garage and storing all those forgotten projects somewhere else. It’s time to open your own “garage studio.” Once your studio is set up, the only thing holding you back is you. Find a model and start shooting! DP To see more of TOM BOL’s photography, visit his website at | February 2017




Reflection Pockets BY THERESA ROSE DITSON I explored some trails in Sedona, Arizona, that I had never taken before, and went a little off-trail to incorporate puddles I saw that had collected after recent rains. I liked the way this series of puddles seemed to create a path that helps lead the eye to the more brightly lit red rocks in the distance.  Nikon D810, Nikkor 24-70mm at 28mm, ƒ/13, 1/125 sec., ISO 100, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead 56


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