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Fuji Instax SP-3 printer

I’m still loving my Fuji X-H1 that I bought recently. A sweet extra that I added was the Fuji Instax SP-3 printer  (B&H / Amazon). This printer allows you to print directly from the camera itself, giving a 2.4” x 2.4” polaroid. But you don’t need a Fuji camera to use it. You can print from your phone as well, to create 2.4  x 2.4″ polaroid type prints.

This photo above is my first test print – the make-up artist for the photo shoot in the studio today. I know it’s old news for Fuji shooters, but it’s new for me, and I’m kinda excited about it. I can see how it would be very useful as an ice-breaker, especially if you do street photography or photograph strangers. Better watch out, Louis Mendes, I now have the technology too!

Another huge benefit of this instant printer – because you do it from the camera (or phone), you still have the proper RAW or JPG  file. The instant print is now not just a one-of-a-kind photo – you can print the image repeatedly from the printer by hitting the ‘Reprint’ button. And of course, since you have the image in the camera, you can print it any time later on too.

The downside of this Instax printer is that the rechargeable battery runs down fairly quickly. If you’re going to use it extensively, you’re going to have to carry a battery pack with you like an Anker or Mophie to keep it charged.


Affiliate links to purchase the photo gear shown here:


How to set up the Fuji Instax SP-3 Printer

Page 174 in the X-H1 manual explains it:

Go to ‘Connection Setting’,  and enter the printer’s SSID and password.
The SSID is embossed in tiny letters on the edge of the printer, and the default password is 1111
Then, when you display the photo on the camera, hit the ‘Menu’ button,
and go to the 3rd page of the menu – the Instax printer should be an option you can select.
Hit ‘OK’ and from there the menu will guide you.


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Call me crazy, but I love the idea of finding a great piece of photo gear by going off-label. In this case, a lighting bag that is not technically a lighting bag.

It's perfectly sized, comes in a ridiculous array of colors and is $22.99 shipped. Read more »

Available light: Boudoir photography & Feminine portraiture

The direction of light is an elemental part of portrait photography. We can control how we pose and position our subject in relation to the light – and we might be able even control the direction of light, as we did with this sequence of photos of our model,  Adrienne.  To start off this personal workshop on Lighting for Feminine Portraiture and Boudoir Photography, we used only the available light that was streaming through the large windows in my studio.

This painted canvas backdrop is on a roller stand. (There’s a photo of the canvas backdrop further down in this article.) This meant we could change the position and angle of the backdrop, and we could also  change Adrienne’s position in terms of the direction of light. A perfect introduction to visualizing how the direction of light (and her posing) affects the contrast and the shadows.


Camera settings & Photo gear used in this photo session

This pull-back shot will show the light source – large studio window. It is slightly frosted, so the light is diffused. You will notice the white balance changes between some of the images – that’s because there were clouds moving in and out, changing the   color balance a bit.


About the backdrops – with space ever more at a premium in my studio, I’ve had to improvise something to keep two of my favorite backdrops handy.

Mounted on this stand, I can still easily roll them out of the way. I can also rotate them around as I did with this photo session, and still keep the lighting the same.

  • The smaller backdrop is by Oliphant Studios
  • The larger backdrop is by Kate Woodsman, which is the one we used on this day because we needed the width for the changes in Adrienne’s posing.

As an aside, I want to mention that my studio is available as a Rental Studio in NJ.

I also present Studio Photography Workshops where we explore studio lighting.

Or, if you just want to learn more about studio photography, here is a good introductory article: Tips for your first time in the studio.



At the very start, we used flat lighting. The backdrop was parallel to the windows, with the windows behind us when we photographed Adrienne. Soft flattering light, but there is little interplay between light and shadows. For something more moody, we would have to change the direction of light.



With the backdrop at about a 30 degree angle to the window, we are getting more shadow. Because the light source is so large, the way the light falls off into shadow is gradual. This gentle gradient in the light makes the change in contrast still easily flattering for feminine portraits. But we still have to be deliberate in how we pose and position our model.



With the backdrop at about a 45 degree angle to the window, we had to be even more specific in how we posed Adrienne. Keeping the principle of Short Lighting in mind, I had Adrienne pose with her shoulder towards the light, and her face angled that way too. The light now has a very different mood than in the first photo in the sequence where we had flat lighting. The choice is ours.



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The post Available light: Boudoir photography & Feminine portraiture appeared first on Tangents.

Ben and the Leaf A7i Digital Camera. Thursday, last week, was a lot of fun for me. I had nothing pressing to do. The hoopla of Independence Day was past. I had signed up to photograph the kid's programs at long time client, Zach Theatre, and I was ready for a day spent playing with two cameras, three lenses and no shot list, no minute by minute schedules. I clipped my official, silver
Image taken with a traditional Nikon DSLR; the D700. Lens: Nikon 85mm f1.8 D.  I think the Nikon D5 symbolizes why it's so hard for Nikon to truly make a transition into offering a line of professional mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. On one hand their real history, as a camera maker, is tightly wrapped around a stream of heavy duty professional cameras ranging from their first The two images in the article are the ones done in the photoshoot on stage at the Topfer that I recently wrote about. It was the assignment that finally pushed me to buy a monolight with a real modeling light in it. Shot with a D800 and the 24-120mm f4.0 AFS VR lens. I love it when editors
I was at loose ends this week. My regular corporate clients all seemed to take advantage of a mid-week 4th of July; they all took the whole week off! American productivity took a five day nose dive... I knew this was coming and you know how much I hate to have idle photo hands, so I sent an e-mail over to my friends at Zach Theatre and offered them my photographic services on any project
I knew we were in for an uncomfortable day when I was driving to the swimming pool at 6:45 this morning and the announcer on the radio told us that the current temperature was 79 degrees with 96% humidity. The high today should top out at 102, which would be pleasant if we had the desert dryness of someplace like Tucson, AZ., but heat index indicates that it's going to feel more like 108.
There were a lot of different uses for the image above. A full page newspaper ad. Website illustration. Marketing materials to partners and affiliates. Large post card mailers. Full size lobby posters. Who knows what else? We shot the image on the main stage at Zach Theatre using a Nikon D800e, a Nikon 24-120mm f4.0 lens, and we lit the shot with three Neewer Vision 4 monolights. Design of the
Wiring Harnesses.  I was reading an article over at Andrew Reid's website, and it seemed both obvious (in retrospect) but also very prescient. Here's the original source for today's thoughts If you read all the technical papers about the chip technologies used in the late,
Yeah. It's July in Texas. You feel it especially well on the humid days when the heat index rises up into the triple digits and you sweat walking from the house to the car. For the last week we've also had a weird atmospheric haze caused (absolutely true) by an enormous dust cloud that arrived from the Sahara Desert. Air quality dipped to "moderate" which is never a welcome sign.  I'd

Studio photo session with a dancer – gelled flash

Following on the article showing the Outdoor photo session with a dancer, Ella – here is a studio photo session with another dancer – Grace. For this particular sequence, I decided on using gels to add a splash of color to the images. Grace is impressively elegant, with powerful movements when she jumped.

As far as the poses and movements were concerned, I again let myself be guided by the expert here – the dancer herself. Similar to how I described the collaborations with Ella (previous linked article), and with Anna Russel, and the tips on photographing dancers and ballerinas that she gave us.

The pullback shot below will reveal the lighting, and also the strip of carpet we had for Grace to land on when she jumped, to help cushion her feet against the hard concrete floor.

Let’s have a look at how the studio lights and gels were used.

The colored light are via the two Profoto 2×3 RFi softboxes (affiliate), to either side of her – each with a different gel. I wanted the gelled light to be more diffused than you’d get from a hard light source – hence the softboxes. The gels are from the Profoto gel kit that I normally use with the Profoto B1 flash. The studio lights used here are the Profoto D1 lights though, so I keep the modeling lights off, to not hurt the gel.

The splash of light on the background is from the Profoto beauty dish  (affiliate) that was on a boom arm. The reason why I chose the beauty dish for this, is due to the way the light from the beauty dish is contained … and also that this light was already mounted on a boom arm.

The main light on her is a Profoto RFi 3×4 softbox (affiliate) on a boom-arm, that you can see to camera-right in the photo. I changed the intensity of this flash, depending on how much fill-light I wanted from this. In the images shown here, you will notice some are more dramatically lit than the others. This mainly has to do with the brightness of this light.

In these two comparison photos you can see the effect with this main light switched off and on:

Photo gear and lighting used during this photo session

  • 1/125  @  f/8  @  100 ISO




Moving the gelled lights more towards the back to be more of a back-lighting on Grace. The main light is switched off.



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Neewer Vision VC-400 HS. Last year I got rid of a lot of old, battered and obsolete monolights. It was a clean sweep. I got rid of ancient Profoto units as well as orphaned Elinchroms and a pair of Photogenic monolights. It felt good to push out stuff from the "early" days of studio flash lighting, to streamline my studio space and to rationalize the inventory. I don't regret the "massive

Outdoor photo session with a dancer – Ella

An additional challenge when photographing dancers in movement, is the exact timing. That fleeting pose in mid-air needs to be captured at the exact moment when their feet, hands and the entire body is positioned in ideal way. Some advice about this was given in a previous article on photographing dancers – tips on photographing dancers and ballerinas – but much of it relies on constantly conferring with the dancer, who will know exactly what they want.

Ella is a dancer, with a delightfully confident personality – especially so for someone who is only 12 years old. Ella and her mom were visiting New York for a dance contest, and at the same time, wanted photos of Ella with New York as the setting. The Brooklyn Waterfront immediately came to mind – lots of space to shoot in (which is rare in Manhattan), and there is the magnificent view of the Manhattan Skyline.

To make the most of the photo session, we steadily worked according to a plan I had as we roamed around the Waterfront area. I didn’t want the photo session to feel rushed, but there also had to be a certain efficiency.

In terms of the photography, there were certain techniques that just made sense:



I had to work with Ella’s schedule, so we had a time slot of 9am – 12pm on this semi-cloudy day. With that, the light changed as the clouds slowly moved in and out. To punch up the overcast light, or to help balance the harder sunlight, I relied on my workhorse lighting setup:  Profoto B1 TTL flash  (B&H / Amazon), with a 36″ octabox – the the Westcott Rapid Box 36 XL (B&H / Amazon). I like how the octabox collapses and sets up quickly. And of course, the Profoto B1 flash has enough juice to give me high-speed flash sync in bright light, while using a softbox. A speedlight just can’t match that.

Of course, I positioned the light in the direction that Ella wanted to do her movement. But I also had to be cognizant of the light when the sun broke through. Lighting is seldom a static decision when working on location.

The camera settings for the photos on the boardwalk ranged around:  1/1250 @ f/3.5 @ 100 ISO, depending on the cloud cover or the sun.



For the photos on the dock here, I mostly worked with the 70-200mm lens, at 200mm (or thereabouts), to really compress the perspective. For these long shots, I also lay down on the boardwalk so that I reduced the amount of “floor” in the photo, accentuating more of the background. It is important to note that I mostly shot these by zooming to 200mm, and then step back to find my composition.
–  Nikon D810 with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II

For the other images shown here, where we used more of the scene to show context, I used a 24-70mm lens.
–  Nikon D5  with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR



As mentioned at the start of the article, the decision on the movement and posing was up to Ella and her mom. Then I had to concentrate on the timing – not to trip the shot too late or too early. I would pre-focus on a spot, and then lock the focus. The timing is too crucial to wait for the camera to first respond by focusing.

In a sense the posing was a collaboration between Ella and myself, depending on the location and the lighting … and what she needed photographs of, with the actual pose depending on her.






Camera settings and photo gear used

  • 1/1250 @ f/3.5 @ 100 ISO, depending on the cloud cover or the sun.


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Jill Blackwood in Xanadu. Zach Theatre. Austin, Texas I write a lot about photographing for theaters here in the blog. Probably so much so that some of you think I must have an office at Zach Theatre, or that I do nothing but shoot for them. The reality is that most work done for private corporations is more tightly controlled and I sometimes have to jump through hoops to display it. But
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