I have a tiny suspicion that the lens I used, the Nikon 24-85mm f3.5 to 4.5, has just a pinch of vignetting when it's used near its widest aperture..... Just a suspicion.
Image from Leaf A7i file. Many of the more recent arrivals here at the Visual Science Lab like to give me advice like: Try a full frame camera! Or, You should learn how to shoot with a view camera! Or, The pros all use three fast, f2.8 zoom lenses for all their work! You might want to try out the 70-200mm!!! Or, You should get your hands on a medium format digital camera and try it out!!!
http://kirktucksportraits.blogspot.com http://kirktucksportraits.blogspot.com I always feel like my portfolios are jumbled and mixed. I wanted to create a site full of portraits that showed some of my range but more importantly some sort of cohesiveness. To that end I started sifting through hundreds and hundreds of portraits I've shot to find the ones that I liked to look at. It's a good

photography tip: available light portraits – finding that sweet spot of light

A regular theme on Tangents, is using interesting found light sources while shooting portraits on location. For example: using sunlight reflected off a traffic sign.

With this straight-forward portrait of Irene, a photographer friend in New York, I want to show a neat little trick here – helping your subject understand exactly where you want them to stand.

Here we had random reflections of glass structures in Manhattan, giving random spots of lights.  I wanted to use one of these spots of lights here as naturally found light for Irene, and another splash of light to give a high-light behind her, as I framed her against it.

Instead of giving your subject incremental instructions – “a little to the left, a little to the left, no, come back” – the simple trick to have your subject turn around so they can see this highlight, and have them move a little until they can see their own shadow in the splash of light …

Then they just turn around, and they are perfectly placed!

At the same time, take care in carefully looking at how the light falls on your subject’s face.  Aim to have clean open light with no shadows under the eyes.

This exact same idea can be used in another way. Here we had a similar kind of spot of light reflected, giving us a bit of natural rim-light. Irene, facing the camera, now just had to keep an eye on where the shadow of her head fell. The top of her head should be within the spot of reflected light – and hence she should be able to see her head in the shadow on the ground. Watching this as she steps to the side or forward and back, she can immediately place herself, without me giving continual (and possibly confusing) instructiosn as to exactly how she should position herself.

You can do the same with someone just stepping out from under a canopy or verandah, with the sun from behind – and then they can position themselves so that the sun from behind just gives a lick of color to their hair. Again, it is so simple a technique that makes an on-location photo session easier.


camera settings & photo gear (or equivalents) used in this photo session

  • 1/250 @ f/3.5 @ 200 ISO

My Go-To lens for portraits with minimal depth-of-field, as always, is the 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. To get the most separation between my subject and the background, I zoomed to the longest focal length, and stepped back until I got the composition I wanted. It is an important change in behavior – not just zooming to get your composition, but purposely using as long a focal length as you can … and moving back until the composition works. And only then zooming wider if need be.


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Renae and I set out to make this photograph because we were experimenting with a bunch of different black and white looks for an upcoming annual report for which we were preparing. We would be photographing different business people in different locations and the two constants would be the lighting design and the chair. When we are gearing up for a large project I tend to test out a number

photography workshops for 2015

The group photography workshops are full-day events – and are a mixture of seminar presentation and practical shooting. The workshops will be held at my studio space in NJ. There is free parking, and it is easily reached from the main highways in the area. There is also regular bus transport from NYC. (We can fetch you from the bus terminal.)

The fee for the full-day workshop is $600 and the workshop is from 9am to 8pm. Lunch and refreshments are included!

The workshops are now limited to 6 people – and working within my own studio with more equipment readily at hand, gave the workshop a relaxed tempo. The material is always streamlined a little bit more, from workshop to workshop.

More info about the photography workshops.

The three workshops for 2015 will take place on:

  • May 17, 2015  (Sunday)
  • July 19, 2015  (Sunday)
  • Sept 20, 2015  (Sunday)

Book a spot at one of the workshops.  Each class will be limited to 6 people.

If you would like an individual workshop, or a personal tutoring session, those are available as well throughout the year, depending on both of our schedules. The studio is only 17 miles from Manhattan. Just a short hop from New York and quite accessible by bus. Oh, and there’s parking at the studio. Free parking.

If you are limited in how far you can travel, there are Skype sessions and also video tutorials to help you get a much better understanding of photography and lighting techniques.

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Advertising agencies are going through an interesting little adjustment right now. At least the bigger ones with national clients who are flocking back to trade shows. They're are moving from aiming all their stuff at the web to the opposite extreme: Posts and huge trade show graphics. The two common denominators are a need for lots and lots of resolution and also the need for
The Nikon 105mm f2.5 I had a blast yesterday. I went to a big hotel in Austin, set up cool lights in a large room and made a big window with lots of greenery outside my background. Over the course of the day I made portraits of 16 people that will be used in the marketing of a legal services client. We've just now uploaded a web gallery to the client for their selection so I won't be posting
Eve's Organic Bed and Breakfast in Marathon, Texas. 

in-camera special effects with gobo projection

I still have this old-school preference for effects done in-camera and effects achieved with interesting lighting, over effects achieved nearly entirely through digital manipulation. Absolutely no disrespect to digital artists who create astonishing work. However, my jaw drops when I look at the sheer scale of the work of a photographer like Gregory Crewdson. Naturally then, my hero is Gregory Heisler, who has a true genius for creating diverse work through amazing lighting. So that would be my inclination – how much can I achieve in-camera to create an image that grabs attention. Of course, having a striking looking model helps a lot.

Still exploring the possibilities of projection effects with the Light Blaster (vendor), a speedlight based projector, I met up with Viktoria in my studio. The Light Blaster has several effects kits, but I still prefer the stronger and starker outlines of the gobo kit over the various gel kits. With previous experiments in the studio, I used the Light Blaster to project patterns on the background, or into smoke. Working with an idea I saw from my friend Josh Lynn, I projected the pattern onto the wall in the studio, and had Viktoria in the mix there somewhere.

Of course, it took quite a few experiments in positioning both the gobo pattern and Viktoria before we had a few sequences that worked really well.

She’s an exceptional dancer and fluidly changed into unusual poses. This image below is my favorite, for the energy and visual momentum.


photo gear used for this photo session

As described above, the light on the background – the forest scene, was done with the Light-Blaster (vendor), and one of the gobos that comes as a kit (vendor). I defocused the lens a bit to have a less clearly defined edge to the silhouettes of the trees.

The camera settings were determined by testing, with the flash set to 1/2 manual output.

1/200 @ f/5.6 @ 400 ISO

To give the final image a touch of warmth to the B&W, I used a own recipe that I created in Radlab.


order the Light Blaster kit from Amazon


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Belinda from some decade past.  I am photographing 16 people tomorrow afternoon. We're scheduled to do one portrait session every fifteen minutes, starting at one p.m.  I'll spend most of the morning in a windowless hotel conference room setting up bright colors and shapes against the back wall to mimic an outdoor urban space which I will attempt to put completely out of focus, or as
You can see it in the lower right hand corner of the image above. The new hotel was a good excuse to grab a camera and a lens and head downtown to take some walking around shots. I used the Nikon D610 with that old 25-50mm f4 ais lens I've been telling you about. Sometimes the images I get from the lens are crappy and sometimes I think they are sublime (I suspect it depends on my mood). Today
We did an advertising shoot for a sandwich company a while back and the company provided us with an employee to use in the ad to represent an artisanal baker. The company presumed that this made sense because, well, the person they recruited was one of their bakers. But he was way too young and too cool to really pull of the idea the advertising agency had in mind = serious, experienced baker
It's right here: http://kirktucksportraits.blogspot.com Be sure to drop by from time to time and check it out.....
©2015 Kirk Tuck. There's a pervasive mythology that's often fueled by social network savvy shooters in our industry which says that all shoots for major magazines (like Private Clubs Magazine) which involve high profile CEO's (The Westin) in swanky locations (The Hyatt Hill Country Resort) require a legion of assistants and assorted functionaries in order to achieve any sort of success. I
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