Tag: photography

Lighting for Portraits

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When lighting a portrait remember to keep it simple. Consider the use of one light and modifier at first. This is considered your main light and set the power according to your preference and vision. Take a few test shots to determine if the light matches your vision and adjust accordingly. The use of the histogram on camera may be of use to determine proper exposure. Since this image was shot outdoors, Instead of adjusting the power of the flash I simply moved it away from the subject. A second light can then be added to “fill” the shadows. This light is usually set to lower power than your main light. More lights can be added but I rarely find it necessary to use more than two or three lights and a reflector at most for portraits.

In the example below the image was shot outdoors with camera and flash’s in manual mode for total control over the lighting.The main light set to 100% power. The second light used as a fill only set to 20% and distance of flash to subject both adjusted. Both lights were used with white umbrella modifiers for a softer light. Although umbrellas tend to “spill” light and not my first choice for indoor or studio lighting they tend to work fine for outdoor use since “spilling” of light isn’t as much of a concern outdoors. For indoor use I do prefer using light boxes with grids for more control of the direction of the lights and therefor less spilling.

In Post production the image was converted to black and white to place more emphasis on the subject and avoid distraction of the background.










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Linux for Photographers?

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Over this past winter, I have been exploring an alternatives to the Windows operating system (OS) . I have become quite accustomed over the years to using applications such as Lightroom, Photoshop and Premiere Pro as part of my photography and video editing work flow.

After “upgrading” to Windows 10 from Windows 7 I was somewhat disappointed with the look and feel of Microsoft’s new operating system and decided to explore other alternatives. Apple was one, and although in my opinion make a solid product, I don’t like the proprietary nature of their software and hardwares symbiotic relationship. I like the flexibility of adding, upgrading or removing hardware components. I also find their products to be somewhat overpriced for a technology that has become a commodity. So, the other option was Linux.

Although Linux comes in over three hundred distributions or versions (sometimes referred to “flavors”) to meet specific demands of any user, I opted for the Ubuntu distribution of Linux. Many years ago somewhere around version 5 or so I gave it a try and was disappointed with having to “configure” every piece of hardware on my machine to work with the operating system. Although I did get it to work It was a time consuming process that became more of an experiment than a useful tool. But I decided to give it another try with the installation of 14.04 on a duel core laptop. Ubuntu has a very large, friendly community with an abundance of on line support via forums and documentation that can be rather helpful if you get stuck or just have a question.

Once the OS installed, everything worked out of the box! It played very well with my video, sound, wireless and all peripherals with zero configuration need after installation. It’s base installation even includes a full office suite called LibreOffice. LibreOffice comes equipped with a word processor, slide show and spreadsheet programs. All applications are packed with every feature your average user will ever need and then some. (By the way, his article was written using LibreOffice! )

Installation of Linux took about 15-20 minutes from start to finish. You can even give it a fully functional trial run without installing it on your computer by burning a copy of the OS to a CD or USB key and boot your computer to it to give it a test drive. No installation required ! Simple instructions for this can be found on their website here. By the way, I almost forgot to mention it’s 100 percent FREE! Complete with support for updates for three years before the next long term support version is released.

After installation, Ubuntu has a built in application called Ubuntu Software Center that offers thousands of software titles for download to meet the computing demands for just about every user. For me, I needed image and video editing software. So I went to that category and downloaded and installed GIMP, the Linux version of Photoshop. Darktable and RawTherappe, the Linux versions of Lightroom and UFRaw, the Linux version of Adobe Camera Raw and Openshot video editor All titles installed without a hitch. All the software comes very thorough documentation for its use. There is other software that perform similar functions but these were the ones I decided to use. I can always experiment with other titles if I choose.

Once I had everything installed and played with it for a few days, it was time to see what it could do with some real world testing so I fired up my Nikon D300 and shot a few images. I try to get my images correct in camera as much as possible, but often use small adjustments with software to make them pop. I shoot in RAW for better editing flexibility if needed.

This is the original raw image from the camera. No adjustments were made. I did however convert it to .jpg for web use.



The image was imported into my computer using the included software in Ubuntu Shotwell photo manager. Similar to Lightroom’s library module. This is where I tag them, give the star ratings, add comments and make very basic adjustments if needed.

After my raw image is tagged and categorized I then import it into RawTherappe. RawTherappe is like Lightroom’s develop module. Just about every developing tweak found in Lightroom can be found in RawTherappe. However,RawTherappe does not have a function to print the final image. You have to export it into another application for that. There are two images below that are post edits of the above raw image. One was edited using Lightroom and one using RawTherappe.


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The image on the left was processed in RawTherappe and the one on the right using Lightroom. No other software was used. Two different computers were used one running Windows and one running Linux and both monitors are calibrated using ColorVision’s Spyder 2 express colorimeter. As you can see in the above example the post processing for each of the above images are very similar. I did not import either image into GIMP or Photoshop for this example, but the option if needed is there.


In conclusion after having experimented with Linux and its plethora of available imaging applications, I believe it is a solid third contender in the PC OS market and has a promising future.Hopefully more software and hardware vendors will be supportive of Linux in the near future.

Does this mean I gave up Windows and my Adobe software I have used for many years? Not quite. Because of my years of experience using Adobe products I’m not planning on ditching it just yet. On occasion, when dealing with hundreds of images at a time I need to be able to perform edits quickly and efficiently and Lightroom and Photoshop perform very well. I did ask Adobe if they had any intentions of supporting Linux via Twitter but their response was “not at this time”. However, with time and practice moving over to Linux as my primary editing workflow may very well become an option. For now I use a Windows 10 machine for my serious photo and video editing but use my Linux machine for my every day computing tasks and occasional multimedia needs.

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The Use of Geometric shapes in Photography


DSC_8951 - Copy (Small) DSC_8951 (Small)

When composing an image, the addition of geometric patterns or basic shapes such as lines, circles, squares and triangles can add structure and organization within that photograph. It can help the photographer convey an idea or feeling to the viewer. The overall purpose of this is simple, to keep the viewers eye within the frame of the image. The viewer may perceive only a “pleasing image” without ever knowing or asking why.

There is a psychology behind the use of geometric patters in art and how the human mind perceives each of these shapes.  Geometric shapes have been used in all types of art throughout the centuries and photography is no exception. The human mind perceives squares and rectangles to suggest conformity. Circles  suggest  completeness, triangles represent tension and lines represent movement.  Be aware there are variations of these shapes such as vertical versus horizontal lines versus diagonal with each representing something different but the basic idea is the same.  The goal being to engage the viewer.

There are two basic forms of geometry in photography, true and perceived.  A true form would be the rectangular window or doorway on a house. A perceived triangle could be three people in an image that when connected by an imaginary line form a triangle. Which form is used weather perceived or true depends on the opportunity presented to the photographer at the time.

This is one of the techniques used in composition. Examples of other techniques used include the use of opposing colors and  perspective  Again, depending on the subject, intent and overall goal of the message to be conveyed by the photographer will determine the technique used.

The above image shows an example of use of a few geometric shapes within an image. Also note the the image is in black and white to place emphasis on the shapes rather then the color version which may distract the viewers attention from the basic geometric shapes.



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Adding color to your images with flash gels.

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Adding color to your images using flash  gels can give an ordinary image a little “pop”. Gels are generally plastic colored filters that are placed over a light source, in this case a flash, that  add or correct color in a photograph. In this image, 2 flashes were used. One on the model that was filtered with a warming colored gel and one hidden behind the pillow on the scanner  table with a blue gel to give the scanner a high tech bluish “glow”. Color used was a personal preference and could have been any number of colors that gels come in.

Sometimes gels are used to correct color in a scene. If shooting a scene that has ambient florescent lighting with a flash the lighting color in the resulting photo can be an undesired orange. To correct this, a gel can be placed over the flash to compensate.

Gels are fairly inexpensive and a great way to add a splash interest in a photo or correct unwanted color.

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Capturing a good image in bad weather…

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Into the Fog

Often times we are compelled to capture photographs of beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Blue skies scattered with white puffy clouds always looking for the “perfect” light early in the morning or late afternoon. But what about the dreary mid afternoon weather or impending storm front.  This can be a perfect opportunity to capture images that can evoke another mood or feeling to the viewer. I try to take every opportunity to find something to shoot when I know a bad weather is heading my way. I’ll often keep locations of interesting subjects in the back of my mind for such a day knowing that a fowl weather sky would enhance contrast within the photograph. I have shot many examples of this where the subject in an image would not have been as interesting if the sky wasn’t so gloomy.  Rainy days provides us with puddles,water droplets or may add a reflective surface to blacktop which can make for an interesting composition.An example is the image on the left that was shot on a miserable foggy morning along the shore. This was the kind of morning you want to take advantage of and sleep in but I knew however, that this thick fog could present a good opportunity for a photograph.

When the weather is bad and the skies are stormy consider grabbing your camera and tripod and getting out there and shooting. You’ll be surprised at how many photographic opportunities are out there for you to take advantage of.

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