Do You Need a Tripod for Macro Photography?

Joe Farace Photography

Guest Post by Joe Farace

Yes but you need it for everything else too!

Joe Farace Photography

In this time of high-tech image stabilized and vibration reduction lenses as well as anti-shake capabilities built into cameras from Sony, Olympus, and Pentax, you might wonder if you even need a tripod? I think so and let me tell you why:

When you want to work at the smallest possible aperture to increase depth-of-field, especially for those macro shots, you’ll need a tripod to hold the camera stead for those resulting long shutter speeds.

For portraits a tripod can be a three-legged assistant that holds your camera while you walk up to talk with a portrait subject and touch up their pose. While making portraits, some photographers prefer to have the camera on a tripod so the subject can look at them instead of seeing a face that’s blocked by a camera.

A tripod is important for maintaining precise registration for “before and after shots,” construction progress photographs, and panoramic images, no matter if they’re virtual reality or conventional. Infrared photography, whether film or digital, often requires filters that are seemingly opaque and have filter factors approaching infinity and produce long shutter speeds that even the best anti-shake or image stabilization technologies can’t handle.

But most importantly, a tripod slows you down and forces you to concentrate on the photograph’s composition, making sure you take the time to look in the image in the viewfinder’s four corners to see any unwanted surprises lurk there.  A tripod enforces a deliberate approach to making photographs rather than spraying images rapid fire, it makes you take the time to think and that is the most important aspect of making any photograph.

Tripods come in many sizes from tiny tabletop models to heavy-duty camera stands for studio use. Because of the availability of so many types, sizes, construction materials, styles, and even colors, there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution and, like eating potato chips, you can’t have just one. That’s why most of us end up with a collection of camera supports with different tripods used for different kind of tasks.

Visit Joe’s Blog “Saving the world, One Pixel at a Time” ( for daily tips on digital photography.

Five Tips for Better Available Light Portraiture

Joe Farace Photography

Joe Farace Photography

Guest Post by Joe Farace

The best way to improve your photography is practice. Shoot each week so you get to the point where you don’t have to think about how to operate your camera: You just use it to create images. Don’t worry about producing masterpieces each time you got out; use your camera as a sketchpad to explore possibilities and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Sometimes these sketches will be successful, sometimes not, but learn from your analysis of the images.

1. Look for indoor locations where the best light is found.

Many portraits are made in locations where the photographer or their subject decide to make it. This works great for a outdoor locations but for indoor portraits place your subject where the light is best. Use with wide-open apertures to soften and blur the background and focus attention on your subject. In my home, my favorite place to shoot portraits is the kitchen where the walls are painted a soft white and a bay widow provides North light that can be modulated by opening and closing mini-blinds in each window section. You may have a similar location in your home.

2. Search for interesting locations.

While traveling I make notes about locations that look like they would be a fun place for a portrait session. Recently I went to a state park that has a large lake looking for a beach-like location for swimsuit photographs and while walking around the lakes’ edge saw some spots that would produce interesting portraits.

3. Keep your lighting tools simple.

I prefer to work with as few light control devices as possible because the less time you spend fiddling with equipment, the more time you can spend putting your subject at ease. These days much of  my people photography is done with natural light using only a single reflector.

4. Watch the background.

It’s so easy to become so enthralled by the person that you’re photographing that you forget about the background where you’ve placed them. I believe that if you watch the background, the foreground will take care of itself. Busy backgrounds can be thrown out of focus by using longer lenses and wide apertures but it’s not uncommon to have to physically clean up an outdoor site before you can make a portrait. While you can always digitally remove beer cans and fast food wrappers, taking the time to clean up the trash before you make an outdoor portrait leaves it clean for everybody else too.

5. Talk to your subject

I’ll never forget the advice one of my mentors gave me many years ago. When I asked him what was the worst thing I could do when photographing people, I expected him to give me some tip on avoiding technical problems but his answer surprised me. If you don’t talk to the people you’re never going make a good picture. More than 30 years later, I’ve never forgotten that advice and would like to pass it on to you. Photographing people combines elements of psychology as much camera technology and how you personally interact with your subject will have more to do with the success of your session than the camera or lens that you use.

Visit Joe’s Blog Saving the world, One Pixel at a Time ( for daily tips on digital photography.

Essential Elements of Boudoir Photography

Joe Farace Photography

Guest Post By Joe Farace

Joe Farace Photography

Boudoir or glamour photography is a genre that has its roots in the pin-up or “cheesecake” images of the 1940’s but over time has evolved into its current form where these kinds of images are created by portrait photographers for clients as gifts for their husbands or significant other. On the other hand, there is nude photography that includes fine art nudes. In between there are photographs of subjects posing in lingerie or the so-called “implied” nude image where the model is naked but not nude. Deciphering the nuances sometimes means that you’re dancing on the razor edge between the portrait or figure photography genres but as Jerry Seinfeld once said, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” A successful boudoir photograph can include most of the following elements.

Sexiness. Today’s boudoir photography focuses on the depiction of a subject with a strong emphasis on sensuality and trends today lean toward a more natural look at the same time.

Nudity: Not always. There are many ways to portray sensuality, sometime with nudity, partial nudity, or no nudity at all. Much depends on the subject and pose, including the use of “implied nudity.”

Technique: In pursuit of the ultimate boudoir image photographers use make-up along with camera and lighting techniques to produce an appealing and sometimes romanticized vision of the subject. While some photographers prefer gritty realism, put me in the idealized camp.

Sharp focus or not? Some boudoir photographers prefer crisply rendered images. While others, like me, like to add touch of softness with retouching added in the image in the digital darkroom. It’s up to you because ultimately it all comes down to the:

Subject: Having rapport with your subject helps create the uniquely collaborative effort involved in boudoir photography. She must be comfortable being photographed naked or nearly so and it’s the photographer’s job to make sure the subject is relaxed because it will make the session go smoothly and let both of you create the best possible boudoir images.

Joe Farace Photography

Joe is author of “Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography”.  You can read more from Joe by following him on his blog at Changing the World, One Pixel at a Time.