This is a review of the Impact 5-in-1 Collapsible Oval Reflector, commonly used for bouncing natural light or flash onto subjects when taking their portraits. When working outdoors or in a studio environment, a reflector can be a very effective tool for adding more light to your subject. Often used as a secondary “fill light” to compliment the primary light, reflectors come in different sizes, shapes and surfaces. While the shape of the reflector does not matter as much, the size and the type of surface of the reflector can have a significant impact on the image. In photography, the bigger the light source is, the softer the light it will produce. Hence, bigger reflectors will generally yield softer light than their smaller counterparts.
This is a review of the Impact Master Century C Stand Kit, used for holding studio lights, softboxes, flags, bounce cards and other accessories. Unlike the multiboom light stand that can only hold light reflectors and cardboard flags, C-stands are almost entirely made of metal and are designed to be very tough and sturdy, capable of holding fairly heavy equipment. The shortened term “C-Stand”, which means “Century Stand”, comes from the early days of motion picture production. Back then, filmmakers heavily relied on reflectors to light actors. The most popular one was the 100 inch or “century” sized reflector, so the stand that held this reflector was often referred to as “century stand”.
One big news that nobody seems to be paying attention to at the moment due to the much-anticipated Canon 5D Mark III release, is the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite announcement. Why big news? Because it is the first flash unit (speedlite in Canon language, speedlight in Nikon language) that actually has a built-in wireless radio capability. Historically, both Canon and Nikon used flash units that would communicate wirelessly only via infrared signal. While infrared works fine in some environments, it has problems with daylight (sun rays), range and it often requires direct visibility. Because of this problems, many photographers, including myself, have been relying on external radio transmitters and receivers such as PocketWizard for a more enhanced and reliable communication between flash units.
With the introduction of the Canon 600EX-RT flash unit and the Canon ST-E3-RT transmitter, Canonites no longer have to rely on third party radio triggers for reliable communication between flashes. Now you can use all flash features, including TTL flash and trigger up to 15 wireless flash units at a range of 30 meters, without worrying about potential communication issues. Considering that Nikon has had a lead on the flash technology for many years, it is surprising to see Canon release a radio flash first. The bad news for Nikonians is that Nikon has recently updated its high-end flash line with the Nikon SB-910, so we might not see a Nikon flash with radio capability any time soon…
PocketWizard has just announced an update to their PocketWizard Plus line of radio transceivers. The new PocketWizard Plus III is the latest generation radio transmitter/receiver that adds a boatload of new features, but best of all, comes at a much more affordable price of $139 (the old PocketWizard Plus II units are priced at $159).
This is a quick review of the Impact Posing Stool, used in studio environments for seating clients and models to photograph headshots or half-body portraits. When photographing subjects in a studio, especially when doing corporate photography, a simple posing stool is often required. Regular chairs have backs and arms that are problematic for half-body shots, while bar stools can be too high and inconvenient to use, so an adjustable posing stool is ideal in such situations. While there are plenty of adjustable stools available from various manufacturers, most of them are quite expensive. The Impact Posing Stool accomplishes the same task, but at a much more affordable price.
This is a review of the Impact Multiboom Light Stand and Reflector Holder, used in studio environments for holding lights, reflectors, flags and other light accessories. If you do any studio work, whether it is for photographing models or your clients, it is often necessary to use light reflectors to bounce the main light for softer shadows. Other times you might find yourself in a situation when you have too much light spill and you need to block some of that light with a black card, also known as a “flag”. It is great if you have one or more assistants for these kinds of situations, because they can assist in holding reflectors and flags. But what if you work alone or need to hold multiple reflectors and flags? That’s when a boom comes in handy. I have been shopping around for a good, lightweight, portable and inexpensive boom arm + stand combo, and I think I found a perfect one for my needs.
While Nasim is working on another big article about DSLR autofocus systems (shhh, I didn’t tell you that), I decided to write another quick post on a recent photo shoot. I had an opportunity to photograph this beautiful lady, Mari Carlin Dart and her skin care line, Suuthe recently. The session was supposed to last no more than 45 minutes and I only needed a couple of good images for an upcoming advertisement book called “CRAVE“.
First of all, let me introduce Suuthe. It is an all organic skin repair cream company which started with Mari searching for ideas to cure her son’s eczema problem. Without being able to find a solution from doctors for her son Peter’s aching problem, she decided to look further and work on something natural and effective. That’s how Suuthe came to live. As a mother of two children who suffered from eczema for a while, I wish I have met Mari earlier! If you know anyone like that, tell them to check out this wonderful product.
Here is how the photo session unfolded. All of the images were taken with the Nikon D700 body and a single Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens (my favorite as always).
If you have been in a situation where you had a Christmas tree behind your subject and you could not take a good portrait, correctly exposing both the subject and the Christmas tree, then don’t be surprised – you are not the only person having such challenges. Many photographers have a tough time with correctly exposing images indoors, especially when dealing with a very dim room with bright objects in the background. That’s the biggest problem with photographing the Christmas tree – most people like to turn off or dim their main lights and only keep the Christmas tree lights on. With such a low amount of light in the room, all kinds of problems arise for photographers: images come out blurry, portraits are too dark or images have a flat, point and shoot look to them when photographed with a flash. The biggest annoyance and frustration, is when flash lights up the room and makes the Christmas tree lights disappear, as if they are not even on! What is the best way to deal with these problems? How should you take pictures with the Christmas tree? In this article, I will do my best to explain what you need to do to take great family photos during holidays.
1) Challenges with bright backgrounds indoors
When a room is dim, the only thing you can do without using flash is heavily increase your camera’s sensitivity (ISO). Increasing camera ISO, however, results in lots of noise in images and does not help with the problem of having a dark subject with a brightly-lit Christmas tree in the background. If you expose for the subject by setting your camera’s metering mode to “Spot/Partial Metering” and pointing the focus point at your subject, the Christmas tree will be overexposed. If you meter for the Chritmas tree, your subject will be too dark. Just like in these pictures:
I have already shown you how to take pictures with your pop-up flash and use it as a commander to trigger other remote units. A detailed Nikon Speedlight Comparison has also been posted for those who are looking into buying a flash. This time, I want to show you how you can create some amazing portraits indoors, using a Nikon Speedlight in an off-camera configuration with an umbrella.
1) Getting Started
No matter what flash system you are using, if you want to be able to take great portraits, you want to soften the light that comes out of your flash. Direct light creates harsh shadows, similar to how the sun does when you take a picture at noon. While I have already shown you how to soften the light by bouncing it off ceilings and walls, the light does not always look very natural due to its angle. In addition, bouncing the light off very large surfaces typically does not yield nice-looking catch lights in your subjects’ eyes. There are a couple of solutions to this problem, which require some investment and a little bit of extra effort.
One method I would like to talk about, is to use an umbrella on a dedicated stand to soften the light from your flash – a very inexpensive way to soften the light and instantly improve your images. Lola and I use this method a lot for some of our commercial photography and the results do not disappoint. Let’s talk about the gear you will need to accomplish this:
If you have a DSLR, you have three ways to trigger flash units wirelessly: via infrared, radio or a hybrid method that involves both infrared and radio signals. While all three options can be used for triggering off-camera flashes, they all have advantages and disadvantages for indoors and outdoors use. The infrared system works very similarly to your TV remote at home – if you are not in direct line of sight or there is an object in between, the signal will not reach the destination. On the other hand, manufacturers are able to use infrared to its limits, pushing the most amount of features through it and supporting a variety of shooting applications. Unlike infrared, the radio signal has no line of sight limitations, but comes at a rather high cost, with its own set of problems. The hybrid system simply takes the infrared signal from the commander, converts it over to radio and then converts it back to infrared on slave units. Let’s analyze these advantages and disadvantages in more detail.