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:


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:


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:


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!

5 Tips for Shooting Off-Camera Flash

How to Position Your Umbrella Correctly

Occasionally I like to delve a little beyond the basics for some of the more advanced and forward-thinking folks in the photography audience, and this week, I’d like to do just that.  We’re going to talk in detail about off-camera flash!  Before you go running and screaming into the night, rest assured, I am not going off the deep end here.  Rather, I’d like to just delve a teensy bit into the gear.  For those of you that use your flash off-camera, congratulations!  If you’ve also got an umbrella, kudos – you’ve taken things even a step further.  Today, I am going to share with you the first tip to make sure you are using your light stand and umbrella correctly…

Tip #1.  Positioning the Umbrella

You’ll notice on a standard light stand that the umbrella will have to be inserted at an angle…you can either angle it upward or downward.  I see so many folks that are totally confused by this and I’ve got a great mnemonic to help you remember the right way:  I call it “Up For Luck!”  Take a look at the following side-by-side shots:

How to Position Your Umbrella Correctly

See how there is so much more light missing the umbrella from my strobe in the first shot? It’s falling out of the top and not really being controlled all that much.   Compare that to the second shot, where the umbrella is nicely filled out with light…a great softening effect for sure!  This is just one of five tips I am going to share with you this week on lighting your shoots from an off-camera flash with nothing more than a single light stand and shoot through umbrella!  Ready for more?  Got your own ideas and tips/tricks to share?  Sound off in the comments, or tune back in tomorrow for another tip to help soften and diffuse things even more!

Borders and Logos, it’s Photoshop, Oh My!

That’s right, we’re back to a photoshop tip again on the blog, and this one comes courtesy of question I read in the NAPP community forums.  The person there had asked about pricing on some photography for a large company’s set of employee photos and his concern was about the post production time in creating the border and logo that the company wanted on each.

The community quickly sprung to action, pointing him in several directions, and it occurred to me that I had never done this sort of tutorial before!  It’s not too difficult but there are some pitfalls to be aware of when dealing with borders and logos in photos, especially if you are trying to program these steps into an action or script.  Suffice to say, I figured this was as good a time as any to jump back into Photoshop and keep the digits (and brain) fresh!  So, here’s a new video tutorial on creating borders and logos!  Enjoy!

Your thoughts and feedback are welcome and encouraged as always!  Thanks for stopping in, have a great week, and be sure to stop back in tomorrow for more photo goodness!  Oh yeah, and don’t forget the March contest is in full swing where the winner will go home with one of these super cool Cheetah Quickstands – the theme is wild and the link for submissions is here!  Happy shooting and we’ll see you tomorrow!