Thursday, 5 December 2013

Candle-Lit Portrait: Photography Activity

Candle-Lit Portrait: Photography Activity

Link to PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Candle-Lit Portrait: Photography Activity

Posted: 04 Dec 2013 06:23 PM PST

This is an indoor portrait taken in near darkness, resembling a birthday cake shot. You’ll need:

  1. A darkish room that doesn’t have a lot of stray light coming in
  2. One or more candles
  3. A willing model

Camera Setup:

  • Mode: Aperture Priority (Often shown as Av on the mode wheel)
  • ISO: 800 or so (there will be very little light)
  • White Balance: Custom
  • Aperture: As low as your lens will go. Lower f-numbers captures the most light, and softens backgrounds.
candlelight portrait

“Candle Light Vigil” captured by paul wooten (Click Image to See More From paul wooten)

Watch out for: The shutter speed. In a dark setting in Aperture Priority mode, your camera will choose the best shutter speed for the aperture value you selected. Don’t be surprised if it chooses a very slow speed, like ¼ to 1/15 second. You’ll have to stabilize both your image and your subject. You can increase the ISO, but at some point you’ll either hit the top ISO of your camera, or the noise of the camera’s sensor will make the image quality poor. This is the key tradeoff of images taken in low light – shutter speed vs ISO/noise!

White Balance Setup: With the candles lit, Put the white paper in front of the subject’s face. Take one image of the paper, set the custom white balance using your camera’s custom WB feature.

The Pose: This is your choice, but I recommend a shot almost even with the candles, with the subject’s face above. You will want to make sure they can stay very still if the camera’s shutter speed is below 1/60.

Framing the Image: Your choice here. If you are practicing for a birthday celebration, I recommend a landscape orientation with the cake at the bottom and the subject above. Since the wide aperture creates a narrow zone of focus, you can choose to either focus on the candle flame (which will render the subject out of focus), or the subject (fuzzing the candle). Both are good images.

Take the Image: Play back and look for motion blur. If the whole thing is blurry (candle base for example), then your movement of the camera is to blame. If the subject or part of the image is blurry, then you have motion blur. Either increase the ISO to increase shutter speed, or stabilize your camera (monopod or tripod or rest it on something), or find ways to get the subject to be more still.

portrait taken in candle light

“Desolation” captured by John P. Shappell (Click Image to See More From John P. Shappell)

Analyzing and Improving: You should have interesting shadows on the face of the subject from the candle light. Depending on how dark the room is, you may also have stray light (of a different temperature) that may be impacting the exposure.

Advanced Tricks: You can take full-body shots with multiple candles (think of a reclining model or foamy bathtub shot!). A birthday cake with many candles creates some really interesting (and bright) light!

About the Author
John Huegel is a photographer in the Erie, Pennsylvania area who specializes in Seniors, Dance Studio, Families, Weddings and Events. His work can be seen at He operates a blog for professional photographers at He is active in many charitable and volunteer activities in the Erie area.

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Photographer Drops $2,300 Lens in Demonstration of How to Change Lenses Quickly (Video)

Posted: 04 Dec 2013 02:14 PM PST

Many professional photographers pride themselves on their speed and efficiency on the job. They can set up lighting equipment in a flash. They can pose a group of four toddlers before any of them has time to run out of the frame. They can change lenses in seconds. But is doing everything quickly always the best idea when you’re working with expensive equipment? Try not to cringe–or laugh–as you follow along with this photographer’s demonstration of his speedy, one-handed lens changing technique:

Will you be trying this “professional” method with your L Series lens any time soon?

Before you get too flustered, take note that the video is actually faked. In a follow-up video, Dennis Lee claims that he intentionally dropped a broken Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8 L lens in the video as a social experiment. He wanted to see how many views and comments the YouTube video would produce and how long it would take for it to get back to him via his friends and family. At present, the video has been viewed over 200,000 times and has received over 100 comments.

All of his kidding aside, Lee still stands by his quick lens changing technique, which he picked up from The Strobist. He says it works with all lens sizes and is completely safe when done properly. In fact, he suggests that his method is safer than using one hand to depress the lens release button and one to unscrew the lens; using just one hand frees your other hand to catch the lens if it does slip from your hand. And the advantage of moving quickly is that you’re less likely to miss important shots when you only have one camera body with you.

Proper lens changing technique is debatable. Photographers love to argue about which approach to using and changing equipment is best. In reality, everyone comes up with their own methods that work well for them and their gear. And if they’re lucky, they never make any costly mistakes that prove their theories wrong.


“Just like a pro.”

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Ambitious Project with Stop-Motion Photography and Oragami (Video)

Posted: 04 Dec 2013 11:02 AM PST

Japan is ahead of the curve in many ways, and advertising is no exception. Apparently the Japanese facial tissue market has been tough recently (who knew?), so paper goods manufacturer Nepia, along with Japan’s largest advertising agency, Dentsu, created a stop-motion homage to the versatility of tissue paper:

The ad, directed by Fuyu Arai and Hitoshi Sato, has been a huge success, attracting international attention not only in the business world, but in artistic publications as well. Luckily for us photographers, Dentsu also released this little making-of short that offers a little peek into the process behind this whimsical work of photographic animation.

Although it doesn’t lay out the specifics of how the piece was created, it tells a visual story of the general idea behind stop-motion movie making. It is done more like cartoon cell type animation than traditional videography – in fact, a video camera isn’t used at all. Every frame of the film is a still photo, and each must be crafted by hand the same way a traditional animator would draw out a scene on paper; for this relatively short work, that still adds up to 2000-3000 individual shots (depending on the frame rate they used). Each one is designed, drafted, assembled, lit, photographed, edited, and linked up to the rest in order to tell a cohesive story.

stop motion photography

Such a huge undertaking requires a team of designers, crafters, photographers, editors, and other specialists to form the tissue paper animals, design their movement, and capture it in just the right way. A project like this would happen in several stages, with the idea being formed and put into storyboard format first, before being further tested, refined, and perfected. Only then would the shooting be arranged.

stop motion photography

The light used is very simple and versatile – a single directional light from above, creating deep shadows which bring out the tissue’s texture and shape. It also ensures that the puppeteer’s (can I call him that?) hand won’t easily get in the way of the light, and it can remain consistent throughout the shoot.

stop motion photography

Small wires are placed inside the animals during construction to allow them to be positioned as needed. Wires are also used to hold the animals in place while in visual motion; these are edited out later, in post-production. The shot is framed on a tripod, and the team simply moves the figure as needed for each frame and shoots it, repositioning it again for the next frame and shooting, and so on.

stop motion photography

When all the photos are made, the thousands of images are then edited together into the final cut – one which has now redefined the way I, for one, think of tissue paper.

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

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