5 Tips to Shoot Lightning

lightning_blog

Today, I’d like to share with you the back story and a brief set of details on how to shoot lighting! While en route back to the house the other day, I noticed that the clouds were passing over the mountains and the sun was starting to set.  It had the makings for a really nice sunset.  Never one to turn away the opportunity to capture a sunset, I hurried home and gathered my gear, and took off to my favorite spot near the house for landscape work. Read more

Go soak your gear!

It pays to review your web traffic periodically because I just learned a way that your bathtub can be used for photography!  Not only is it a good place to mellow out after a stressful shoot, but it also makes a heckuva softbox!  I was on a forum that had referenced the blog and a guy had some product that he placed in his tub.  I thought it was an interesting idea, and decided to give it a try.  As it turns out, the tub is a great place to put your gear!  Granted, not to soak it (sorry, but I had to tease the title that way), but to act as a great background and softbox combined in one.

Here’s a few sample shots.  For all the tech-types, these are pretty much straight out of camera (or sooc) – all I did was adjust the WB for Flash and adjust the ACR sharpening from 25 to 75.  All are resized to 650px wide for the blog.  Here’s the setup:  I took the Canon kit lens (18-55) on my 40D, threw on the 550EX, and set everything to default values.  Shutter at standard sync speed of 250, aperture at f8 and ISO at 100.  I powered the 550EX at it’s standard setting, on camera (relax strobists – I can hear you shuddering from here),  and started firing a few shots.  I pointed the flash to camera right and got this:

ruler1

Yup, that’s a God-awful shot, with a nasty shadow.  Perhaps I could ditch the shadow.  Since we’re not exactly using conventional wisdom here, let’s try it with the flash pointed straight at the subject:

ruler2

Hey!  That’s actually not too bad.  It’s not that great, and still definitely a “Meh” kind of shot as it’s still got something of a shadow.  So, I spun the flash to fire above me and bounce off the ceiling:

ruler3

Voila!  You know what?  For being a spur of the moment thing, and without a lot of pre-planning or preparation, that’s not bad at all.  And, it was shot in a bathtub!  Anyone else out there have a bathtub?  Try some shots in it for different items.  I used a tape measure, but what about a pen, or a microphone, or a printer, or even a lens?  I bet you could get some pretty cool results with very little setup!  Anyone else have some odd or unusual ways to get clean backgrounds and even lighting on the cheap?  Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and feedback in the comments.  Feel free to link your own efforts there too!  Happy shooting all and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow!

Photography Apps for the Smartphone, Part 2

Earlier this week, I started diving back into active blogging with a review/write-up of a smartphone app called SetMyCamPro.  You can read more about it here, but I’d like to continue the theme of some photo app reviews, because the best camera truly is the one you have with you, and for most of us, that happens to be the camera built into our phones.  With practice and a photographic eye, you can get some pretty excellent images from these cameras.  Case in point, here’s one I got of an Ohio sunset just a few nights ago:

Ohio Sunset
Ohio Sunset

Granted, not going to win any contests, but something worth remembering for me.  Anyway, enough of the shot that I took, instead it’s time to dive into the second App I am reviewing here on the blog.

I actually reviewed this app before but it was part of a promotional giveaway article for the vendor – and it’s called Easy Release!  The concept is pretty simply – use your phone, ipod or iPad screen to generate a model or property release, have the individual sign from your touch-sensitive device (which most phones are these days anyway), and you’re done.  It’s a handy app to have for those “on the go” kinds of shoots where it’s not in a studio, or something last minute.  For those, you’d probably want to have a more professional setup in place with actual pens and papers to have clients sign off on.  (In addition to an event contract, licensing and usage, and much more.  In fact, I have a two-Ebook combo that gives you all the paperwork you need to get started in photography, including model releases (adult and minor), event contracts, and a how-to guide…you can get it here for only $30:

Add to Cart

Now, for those that prefer the digital mobile on-the-go style of releases for your business, then let’s dig into Easy Release!

On downloading it, the first thing you’ll want to do is configure add an image or logo of your business to your device – this is to add it to your logo/branding to the header that will be used when emailing a copy of the signed release to your clients! (Yes, that’s right, you can email them a copy right from your phone!)  If you want to set up multiple brands, the option is there from their Pro Pack (only $3.99), but if one is enough, then you are set with just the base one in the app.  Enter your logo, the company name, and your contact info, and that’s all you need:

Photo Jul 31, 8 11 23 AM

 

 

 

 

The rest is pretty straightforward – you’re simply selecting the release type (model or property), taking the image, and then the most tedious part – where you enter all their contact information, including phone, address, email, and other pertinent data.  For my own two cents, I wish they would add the option of making an audio recording of this data for later transcription so you can get to the signing quicker.  I’ve gotten fairly proficient at creating these, and actually used it on more occasions than I can count off the top of my head – probably in the scores by now (that’s 20’s for those speaking in layman terms!  LOL).

You can check out the app on the iTunes or Android Google Play stores here and here.  No commissions to be had by me here, so feel free to either buy or go another route, but I think this is the benchmark that any digital model release has to stand up to, because these guys are top notch!  This is, of course only my opinion, so I’d like to open the floor to others.  What are your experiences with Easy Relase?  What about alternatives?  Are they cross-platform supported like this is (Android and iPhone)?  I know it’s a bit pricier than the average app, but for a working professional, the cost does seem justified to get something this robust and portable.

To that end, I am also open to suggestions for additional apps to review.  I’ve got 3 more in the bank, but that doesn’t mean we can’t re-visit later if needed.  Throw your suggestions for other apps in the comments section too, and I’ll add to the list!  Have a great weekend everyone and keep on shooting!