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Best photo umbrella for a home-studio & indoor headshots

When I recently discovered (**) the rectangular photo umbrellas, my first reaction was, “so what’s the point”, but then someone explained to me that it allows you to get the center of axis closer to the ceiling (or a wall). Brilliant! It instantly made sense why a rectangular photo umbrella might be more useful indoors than the traditional, round umbrella. I would even go so far as to say that a rectangular photo umbrella is the best umbrella for a home-studio & indoor headshots.

I now bring along Angler Parsail 60″ Umbrellas (affiliate) to every photo shoot, along with my usual array of light modifiers, just in case I find myself in a bit of a squeeze for space. Their winged shape make them ideal for low-ceilinged rooms. This makes them equally useful for home studios. They can be used either horizontally, or vertically for when you find yourself squeezed up against a wall. The fiber-glass construction to the ribs and rods make them fairly durable too.

In the discussion on a home-studio setup with speedlites, this kind of umbrella would make a lot of sense. The photo below, similarly to the video, will show the difference in height that is achieved. While seemingly not that much of a difference, I’ve found that that 4 inches difference in height actually helps me getting the light to come in from a proper angle!

(**) About this being something that I recently discovered, I need to add that I am more often than not out of the loop when it comes to new gear and new technology, so this could very well be old news for everyone else.

 

You can purchase these umbrellas from B&H via these affiliate links

 

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Photographing semi-candid portraits out on the street

Not quite “street photography”, but rather a semi-candid portrait out on the streets, I love the resulting photograph. It encapsulates a few of the typical New York elements for me – colorful vibrancy and attitude.

Late this afternoon, as usual when I had finished with a corporate headshot photo session in the Wall St area of New York, I waited out the peak time traffic by roaming around the streets with my camera. This young woman graciously waited a few seconds for me while she took selfies with the Fearless Girl – there were other people walking past in the background, and I wanted a cleaner shot. I held up my hand to ask her non-verbally with this gesture (and a smile) to hold her natural pose for me. And she did – and with that, I have a photograph where everything gelled. It’s one of those rare moments that make the semi-aimless wandering around looking for photographs, worth it!

One of the toughest things I had to overcome when I first picked up a camera, was engaging people I didn’t know. Just like many other newer photographers starting out with their first camera, I felt too awkward about making any kind of contact- ending up  photographing people from the side or from behind. If the resulting photograph works, then that’s fine – but I would say that capturing expressions make for far more interesting photographs than the back of someone’s head.

And that’s it – you could engage in a quick conversation, or even with a nod or a smile or a hand-gesture, ask permission to take a photograph. I’m never pushy with it – if I sense someone would rather not, I just nod to show that I understand, and I move on. But people do often respond favorably, so it’s worth overcoming that fear!

Share with us how you go about approaching strangers when you want to take a photograph of them.

 

Techie details

 

Related articles

 

 

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recap: New York photo walks – Meatpacking District, NYC

Our model during today’s photo walk in NYC – the divine Diana Chesk. Typically for this kind of dramatic light, I under-exposed the available light somewhat, and let the Profoto B1 flash (affiliate) pick up the slack in the exposure. The softbox used here was the Profoto OCF (24″) Octa Softbox  (affiliate). It’s small enough to make it easy to handle when we have to negotiate our way around, yet large enough to give soft-edged light.

The rain was coming down as a continual drizzle today, so we moved the Photo walk in New York to the Meatpacking District, instead of Columbus Circle as originally planned. There are enough awnings and covered areas to still keep shooting and have fun.

That’s the entire motive behind the 2-hour photo walk – have fun, learn some, and come away with some great images.

For the Photo Walks, I bring a Profoto B1 flash, and enough triggers to cover any Nikon, Canon, or Sony shooters. Everyone gets to use their own transmitter – no sharing necessary. No tripods, and no light-stands – we have an assistant during the mini-workshop that will hold up the light and softbox. You just bring your camera and a lens or two – we travel light. And yes, I do bring along a spare Profoto B1 flash … just in case.

More details about these mini-workshops: Photo walks in NYC.

Camera and lens used for the two main images

 

The lighting gear used at the NYC Photo Walks

 

Related articles

 

Photography workshops

 

Video tutorials to help you with your flash photography

 

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Accidental Off-Camera Flash

This photograph of Anelisa, was taken during a Flash Photography workshop at my studio. Lighting is via accidental off-camera flash! I was shooting a few available-light behind-the-scenes photos with my Fuji X-T20 (affiliate), and caught someone’s flash. It was 2 stops over-exposed because of the additional light, but the RAW file from the Fuji had nearly enough detail to pull the image back to a usable point!

The HDR look to this photo is in part due to the massive correction to the Exposure and Contrast and Highlights, in adjusting the over-exposed RAW file. Somehow Anelisa’s gesture and expression matches the final look of the photo and to my eye it looks like it could be a still from a movie. It definitely has a cinematic look to it.

Camera settings: 1/480 @ f4 @ 800 ISO

Usually when I catch someone else’s flash, my own camera’s shutter causes part of the frame to be darker where it blocks the un-synchronised flash. Here I was shooting with the Fuji X-T20 in Electronic Shutter / Silent Shutter mode. As such, there was no moving shutter curtain to block the burst of flash.

Here is what the normal available-light exposure looked like, without the accidental flash:

 

Fuji X-T20

About my choice of the Fuji X-T20 as my walk-about / travel camera:

I was super-impressed with the Fuji X-T2, as noted in my review of the X-T2. However, I already have my main Nikon cameras for professional work, so a full-featured X-T2 seemed like over-kill when I really wanted a smaller camera for travel and personal photography. The X-T20 seemed perfect – a ‘lite’ version of the X-T2, which is smaller and less expensive than the X-T2. But it has the same sensor as the X-T2.

I wanted a general purpose zoom, and the  Fuji 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens (B&H / Amazon) impressed me with how sharp the lens is, even wide open. The lens is also stabilized, which makes it more versatile. When you buy the X-T20 and 18-55mm as a kit (B&H / Amazon), the price of the combination is very attractive.

So after a multiple camera detour which even included having the Sony RX-1 for a week, I’ve settled on the Fuji X-T20 as the camera to take with me everywhere.

 

 

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promotion: 5 Day Deal – Complete Video Creators Bundle

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Photography Workshops in NJ / NYC  (2017)

There are some interesting additions to the workshop dates for 2017:

I’ve added 2 dates for workshops on studio lighting.
There will also be 2 of the regular workshops on flash photography with speedlights.
Then there are the 3 dates where we will do the Photo Walks in New York again.

Here are recaps of previous photography workshops, with further feedback from attendees.

Also, here are the kind of results you can expect to achieve yourself! It’s well within your reach.


Flash Photography Workshop with Speedlites

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 limited to 6 people, so that I will be able to attend to everyone. There will be two models with us. The workshops will be held at my studio in Little Falls, NJ. The tempo is relaxed – I want to make sure everyone benefits, and will be a stronger photographer at the end of the day.

The flash photography workshops for 2017 will take place on:

  • May 28, 2017  (Sunday)  –  NJ  — sold out!
  • Sept 24, 2016  (Sunday)  –  NJ

For more details and to book a spot: Flash Photography Workshops.

 

 

Photo Walks in NYC

With the NYC Photo Walks, we will photograph a model around a colorful, interesting parts of New York City. The group will be limited to just 4 photographers, so it won’t be crowded. We will also work at a relaxed tempo, so that I can attend to everyone and help everyone get amazing images. There will be an assistant to carry and hold the light for us. We just get to shoot and have fun! Here is a recap of a previous photo walk which took place along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront.

I will provide the Profoto B1 flash, and will have enough Nikon and Canon wireless TTL triggers for the Profoto so that everyone can shoot individually.

 

The $200 fee for the 2-hour photo walk is due at the time of registration.

  • June 04, 2017  (Sunday)  (4-6pm)  –  Columbus Circle
  • July 16, 2017  (Sunday)  (4-6pm)  –  Meatpacking District
  • October 29, 2017  (Sunday)  (4-6pm)  –  Brooklyn Waterfront

For more details and to book a spot: Photo walks in NYC 

 

Studio Lighting Workshop

If you’ve been curious about getting to know more about studio lighting for portraits, but it all seems too daunting or technical, then this Studio Lighting Workshop is for you. The program is aimed at being is a learning experience where you get to use studio lights and light modifiers. After this workshop, I want you to feel comfortable next time you step into a studio, knowing you have a solid place to start from, and have the confidence to experiment further.

The workshops will be held at my studio space in NJ, and it has a wide range of studio lighting gear! It is easily accessible from New York as well, and we can fetch you from the local bus terminal. There is also free parking at the studio.

  • April 22, 2017  (Saturday)  — only one spot remaining!
  • Dec 03, 2017  (Sunday)

For more details and to book a spot: Studio Lighting Workshops.

 

Personal workshops & tutoring sessions

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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A home-studio setup with speedlites

With the article on lighting a white seamless studio backdrop in the studio, the question came up how you would do that in a home-based studio where there is less space. The answer? In pretty much the same way. This tutorial video on how to set up a small home studio using speedlites, will show you that the techniques remain the same, whether it is a speedlite, or a powerful studio light.

A few notes about this video:

  • For this video, I ended up going with B&W images only of our subject, Matt. I liked the result. It worked very well with the white backdrop. However, the skin tones and colors looked fantastic in the color images. You can see two examples further down in this article.
  • I used a white paper backdrop here to show how I would make sure it is white with no detail. You could as easily use a color backdrop, or a grey one.
  • As I explained in that previous tutorial, I like to start with the white background, getting my exposure for that, and building up from there. You could as easily (and sensibly) start by lighting your subject first. There is no specific single way of doing this. What matters are the results. So adapt from this what you need.

In the end, this video hopefully shows that getting nice, elegant results is easy, and well within anyone’s reach. It takes two speedlites and a few accessories. You can do this!

 

Photo gear mentioned in the tutorial video

 

For the background

 

The reflector

  • Here I used the Sunbounce mini bounce kit (white / gold)   (B&H / Amazon),
  • however, in the studio where I have space, I prefer the the Eye-lighter (B&H / Amazon).
  • Ultimately, any reflector or white board would work. It might not even be necessary in a smaller space where the walls are white.

 

The light modifiers

 

The lens

 

Color calibration tool / Color checker chart

 

  • Consistent Color Control for RAW Imaging
  • White, Gray, and Gray Ramp Patches
  • Color Target Includes Skintone Samples
  • Works with Adobe Camera RAW (ACR)
  • Includes Software for Mac and Windows

 


 

 


 

Credits

 

Related articles

 

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How to fix loose rubber on Nikon cameras

I make no secret of it that I’m not overly thrilled with Canon in general. I was stung badly over the years by their poor quality control. However, I will concede one point to Canon where they are immeasurably better than Nikon – Canon makes a glue that sticks! Not like Nikon where the rubber parts of the camera grip eventually will peel away. It’s a Nikon thing. The latest is this rubber peeling loose from the memory card door on my Nikon D810.

I love Nikon, but this is tedious. Catch up with Canon! Do some industrial espionage and figure out the Canon glue recipe!

And you may well ask why not send it away for repair? Because it will cost me more to ship it to Nikon USA and pay for the out-of-warranty repair. Also the spare part that you order from nikonusa is for the rubber … which doesn’t include glue or sticky something to hold it to the CF card door. I suppose you could order the entire door, but that’s even more spendy. You can buy them on eBay from a Chinese vendor. $38 but it is always a bit dicey buying off-brand stuff from eBay.

Someone gave me this hardy suggestion – to buy 3M double-sided adhesive tape (Amazon) – and stick the rubber down properly again. Better (and less messy) than glue. You cut the shape that you need, and this double-sided tape will hold the rubber securely … for at least a little while.

 

From 3M’s literature on this tape:

Double-sided adhesive tapes or sheets using 3M’s 300LSE adhesive are the strongest and most versatile ones commercially available.

The most important advantage of this triple-layer construction is that it allows the sheets to be cut by knife or scissors without the edges along the cut sticking together – a problem commonly found with tapes or sheets that employ only a single layer of 300LSE. The triple-layer construction of 9474LE sheets also increases stability when the two bonded objects are subjected to shear forces.

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Mirrorless cameras and B&W infrared photography

B&W infrared photographs have a distinct look – green foliage go white and blue skies go dark. Then there are the unusual tonality when some things are unexpectedly darker or brighter than you expect. This is all part of the adventure of shooting with B&W infrared. The most typical B&W infrared images that you tend to see, are the landscape images with the ghostly white foliage. My own preference is to explore New York with my B&W infrared camera. The imposing cityscapes of NYC, and the random opportunities make it even more of a visual adventure.

The surreal photograph shown above is a great example of that – two kids reaching up to touch the iconic Red Cube sculpture become a more haunting image. It’s now perhaps reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode, with the two children becoming ghostly pale. Unsettling.

Until last year, the camera that I had been using for B&W infrared photography, was a Canon 5D mark II body that had been converted. I loved the results, but using the Canon DSLR in Live-View mode to check the exposure, felt awkward. You have to rely on the Live-View to figure out the exposure, since the camera’s built-in exposure metering is only a rough guess when it comes to infrared.

That awkwardness of using a DSLR in Live-View mode is what made me consider other options – and I ended up having a Fuji X-E2 (affiliate) camera converted to infrared by LifePixel. Instead of having the IR filter replacing the visible spectrum filter that is usually over the sensor, I decided it might be a good idea to go full-spectrum, and then add an IR filter to the lens.

There are specific advantages to using a Mirrorless camera for shooting infrared compared to a DLSR – mostly, that the mirrorless cameras have an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) which shows you whether your exposure is good, or too bright or too dark. Superb for changing the settings quickly and  intuitively on the fly. Since exposure metering with infrared photography is less predictable than visible spectrum light, I shoot in Aperture Priority mode … and with my left thumb deftly nudge the Exposure Compensation button on the Fuji X-E2. I can now roll the EC dial for more or less light, as shown in the EVF. If you’re only used to shooting a DLSR, and not used to shooting with a mirrorless camera, this description might seem a little redundant, comparing the easy of use for something like this. But the mirrorless camera here made it easier and more intuitive to shoot.

 

Going with Fuji wasn’t without troubles – Fuji lenses tend to show infrared hot spots in the center of the frame, which get progressively worse as you stop down. Some lens designs are such that internal reflections become really bad in the infrared spectrum. The KolariVision website has a very useful list of lenses from all manufacturers which are prone or less prone to IR hotspots.

Unfortunately I didn’t know about that list, so the first lens that I bought for my infrared Fuji, was the Fuji 18mm f/2 lens (affiliate). It’s a superb little lens, compact and very sharp. However, it was a poor choice to shoot infrared with because of a strong hotspot that appeared in the middle. Some of the images below were taken with that lens, and I had to minimize the effect by shooting wider apertures, and even then using the Healing Brush. Not ideal.

A much more suited lens for this turned out to be the Fuji 14mm f/2.8 lens (B&H / Amazon). I haven’t detected any real tendency for that IR hotpost, and the focal length (equivalent to 21mm on FF), is more ideal for dramatic wide-angle scenes.

Here are more images, shot with either of those two Fuji lenses.

  • Fuji X-E2  (conversion by Life Pixel)
  • Fuji 18mm f/2 lens, with Deep infrared filter (from Life Pixel)
  • (hotspot reduced in post-production)

 

  • Fuji X-E2  (conversion by Life Pixel)
  • Fuji 18mm f/2 lens, with Deep infrared filter (from Life Pixel)
  • (hotspot reduced in post-production)

 

  • Fuji X-E2  (conversion by Life Pixel)
  • Fuji 18mm f/2 lens, with Deep infrared filter (from Life Pixel)
  • (hotspot reduced in post-production)

 

  • Fuji X-E2  (conversion by Life Pixel)
  • Fuji 18mm f/2 lens, with Deep infrared filter (from Life Pixel)
  • (hotspot reduced in post-production)

 

 

 

And finally, the most recent image, shot with the  Fuji 14mm f/2.8 lens, for a much wider view. Bryant Park in New York, looking like it was shot in the winter. What appears to be snow-covered ground and trees, are actually the infrared rendering of summer-time green grass and trees.

 

Related articles

 

Converting your camera for infrared capture

If the look of infrared photography appeals to you, then you can have your camera converted by Life Pixel. On their website they list all the options, as well as which cameras are suitable, and which lenses might be a problem. There’s a ton of useful information on infrared photography! Check them out.

 

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What should I meter off with the in-camera light meter?

What (or where) should I meter when using my camera’s built-in meter? It’s a question that mystifies many photographers when they start out, and first realize you can’t just point your camera at the scene and hope for correct exposure. The incredible metering systems in modern cameras notwithstanding, it is essential to our growth as photographers to have a working grasp on metering techniques. Of course, an incident light-meter is always a great idea, but has become less necessary with digital photography when shooting outdoors. We can interpret our camera’s meter reading, or use the histogram … or (an outrageous idea to some), just look at the camera’s preview.

With mirrorless cameras you can set the camera to show the actual exposure that you’d get for your chosen settings. That works too … but I still feel like this is a shortcut that we can’t summarily rely on forever if we want to develop a deeper understanding of how to use our cameras wisely.

This photograph of Anelisa is an anchor image in the explanation of metering techniques as explained in my book, Direction & Quality of Light (Amazon). I want to use this and embroider a bit more on it, and taking a different route in this discussion on using the camera’s built-in meter.

This article was motivated by a few questions that subscribers to the Craftsy video tutorials posted on the Craftsy platform, asking specifically about metering techniques. While I diligently reply to all the questions there, this topic is wider than I can cover in a paragraph or two. Hence, this article where we explore the topic further.

However, before we get there, also take time to familiarize yourself with the Exposure metering tutorials, where the same topic is also discussed.

 


 

Direction & Quality Of Light

Direction & Quality of Light

I tried to distill the essence of what we, as photographers, work with – light! Before we can truly grasp on-camera flash and off-camera flash, and really, any kind of photography, we have to be aware of the direction and quality of light. We need to observe the light that we have, and then decide how best to use it, or enhance it.

With this book, I try my best to share those “aha!” moments with you, and I do believe this book can make a difference to your photography.

You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA or Amazon UK. The book will also available on the Apple iBook Store. Also check for the Amazon Kindle version.


 

Tonal placement and Exposure metering

We have discussed in previous articles how we can use the Histogram as an accurate method to see if our exposure metering is correct,

and as explained there, we can use the brightest relevant part of our subject (i.e., white areas) to determine if our exposure is correct.

The inevitable question then comes up – what if there isn’t anything white to meter off, or use via our histogram?

A possible solution is then offered with the question, can we meter off someone’s face? The answer is … we can, but we have to take into account how light or dark the skin tone is.

So let’s walk this back a bit and consider tonal placement. Whatever area we meter off – whether skin tones or any other area of our subject or scene, we have to keep in mind what tone it is – is it a middle tone (i.e., kinda “average”) or is it darker or lighter. We have to be able to place that tone in relation to an average tone – the classic “middle grey”.

The classic explanation of the Zone System revolves around the “scale” of tones from black to white and assigned each one a number, with ‘0’ (or oftentimes ‘1’) being almost pure black and ‘9’ or ’10’ being nearly completely white. Zone 5 is the middle tone, also known as middle-gray. Caucasian skin is placed at Zone 6. All these tones are 1 stop apart in the traditional application of it in B&W photography. We can’t quite do that with digital. Two stops up from a middle tone is pure white, and most likely blown out. We don’t quite have that latitude from the middle tone to the brightest tone. However, an understanding of the Zone System is fundamental to understanding exposure metering.

So while that tonal scale can’t be applied to digital in the same way we might have if we processed our own B&W images (from developing the film to printing the images), it does help us understand one thing – we have to be aware that there is a range of tones, and we have to place them accordingly.

With that, we can meter off an equivalent tone which is “average”. Or, if we meter off skin tone, we have to adjust our interpretation of our meter reading accordingly. For example, caucasian skin tone which is seen as Zone 6 (and one stop up from average), will be too bright if we metered off lighter skin and opened up by a stop. We might open up by just 2/3rd of a stop. A slight difference perhaps, but this is how we need to interpret our meter readings and the tones we meter off. Similarly, if you want to meter off a skin tone, you have to figure out relatively how dark the skin tone is from “average”. Then you adjust your exposure accordingly.

This explanation is triggered by a question asked by one of the students on the Craftsy platform:

Spot metering on the face or the lightest part of the subject or the whole scene or do it with matrix metering ?
The same for outdoor. Fill flash with -3 FEC but where to measure (the face, the dress) ?

So back to using the white area of our subject (e.g., clothing) as the tonal value we can most accurately place on our histogram:

With my camera in manual metered mode, I can then either,
– zoom in tight (which is what I normally do), and exclude EVERYTHING that isn’t the white dress; or
– use the camera’s spot-meter.

Then I place that tone on the edge of my histogram.

Let’s go back to the image at the top again, and go over this step-by-step again:

 

Exposure metering and the histogram

This photograph was taken using available light only. The wider shot below will show the scene – there are sunlit areas which are completely blowing out.  We can not let this influence my meter reading. We have to meter only for our subject.

If were to use a hand-held incident light meter, it would be very straight-forward – we simply meter the light falling on our subject. This would entirely disregard the brighter background. We would be metering only for the light falling on our subject. Dead simple.

Using the camera’s built-in meter, we have a few possible options:

A: We can meter off a tone that is equivalent to the middle tone – but most relevant tones here are relatively bright – her dress and her skin tone. But we might get to an “average tone” if we metered with our lens seeing only part of her skin tone, and partly her hair – thereby averaging out two tones. The one tone (skin) would be lighter than average, and the other, darker than average. So if we selectively metered, with a bit of each tone adding to the final evaluation of our exposure, we might get there. This is slightly laborious – there should be an easier way.

B: We can meter off her skin tone, and guess that it is about 2/3rd of a stop above “average”, and in Manual Exposure mode, open up our exposure a bit accordingly. A test shot or two should confirm if we are on track. However, in that kind of bright back-lighting it might be difficult to judge our exposure from the camera’s preview screen.

C: We can use the histogram, going by her white dress! Zooming in so that we only see her dress in th viewfinder, we can take our exposure reading up by (about) 1.7 stops from average. Then with a test shot we can see if the histogram shows that the white tone is just short of the edge of the histogram.

Why +1.7 stops? This is what I’ve found to work for most Canon DSLRs. For Nikon it varies from 1.3 stops to 2 stops. This is something you have to find out for yourself – where your camera places a white tone on the histogram, if you take the exposure up from the meter reading being centered. i.e., we need to take the exposure up from where the metering reading being zero for white.

We can’t just zero our camera’s meter reading for white – that would turn the white into an “average” grey tone. We need to place that tonal value by adjusting our camera settings!

 

Summary

With this tutorial, I wanted to explain Tonal Placement, and how we converge some of the important concepts in Exposure Metering in a practical way. Easy to use on location!

If there is anything which isn’t clear, and needs clarity, please post your question.

 

Related articles

 

Recommended books

Exposure metering technique is a topic too complex to cover completely in a single blog post. Besides, the definitive introductory book on this is readily available: Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera. If you struggle with exposure metering, then I strongly suggest his book.

The post What should I meter off with the in-camera light meter? appeared first on Tangents.

 

Photo gear for sale

I have various pieces of photo gear (and other items) available that I am selling. Cameras, lenses, flashes and a bunch of random stuff that I need to clear out of the studio. Have a look around.

I’m only selling in the continental USA, and the shipping will be via UPS ground.

 


 

Sunbounce mini white / gold  3′ x 4′

Sunbounce mini bounce kit (white / gold) with shoulder bag  (B&H)

B&H price: $215
My price: $150  (shipping not included)

Re shipping: 
This item is long, so will cost a fair amount via UPS ground … so ideally, local pickup at my studio in northern NJ?

 


 

Profoto 36″ Octa softbox

 

 


 

Profoto RFi 2×3 softbox softgrid

Profoto 50 Degree Softgrid for 2.0 x 3.0′ RFi Softbox  (B&H)

B&H price: $129
My price: $85   (including shipping via USPS ground to CONUS.)

 


 

Profoto umbrellas

These umbrellas are like-new. Barely used.

Profoto Deep Silver L  +  Profoto Umbrella L Diffusor  (B&H)
B&H price: $266  + $92  =  $354
My price: $180 + $60  + $240   (shipping not included)

Profoto Deep Medium umbrella  (B&H)
B&H price: $213
My price: $165    (shipping not included)

Profoto Umbrella Shallow Translucent M  (B&H)
B&H price: $85
My price: $50    (shipping not included)

Re shipping: 
These items are long, so will cost a fair amount via UPS ground … so ideally, local pickup at my studio in northern NJ?

 


Sunbounce mini white / gold  3′ x 4′

Sunbounce mini bounce kit (white / gold) with shoulder bag  (B&H)

B&H price: $215
My price: $150  (shipping not included)

Re shipping: 
This item is long, so will cost a fair amount via UPS ground … so ideally, local pickup at my studio in northern NJ?

 

 


 

Lowel i-D light

You know how much I love using video lights, but now with me using the modeling light of the Profoto B1 as my video light, it is time to let this beastie go – the Lowel ID-light.

The light itself sells for $229 on B&H, and the accessories of course add to it – the big battery, the handle, and the barn doors set. You need all of that!

 

My price:  $230 (or best offer) for the set  + $25 to ship via UPS ground to CONUS.
If you want, then I can add this Lowepro bag with it for a total of $250.

But I am open to negotiation on this one.

 


 

Nikon D4 

 

I am selling one (perhaps both) of my workhorse Nikon D4 bodies.
This is for the D4 with serial number 2017505
It has 262,000 shots on the clock.
I just had this camera serviced and cleaned by NPS, so it is good to go.
You can see close-up shots of the camera at this link.
$1,950  (including shipping via UPS ground to CONUS)

If you want a second body, let me know … I am possibly selling my other D4 as well.

 


 

Yongnuo YN-622N-TX i-TTL Wireless Flash Controller for Nikon

I have two of these puppies for sale – both have seen use only once. So they are in really good condition. Hence, I didn’t even bother to take them out of the boxes for this. They look like new.

They sell for $45 each on B&H.  I would like $50 for the set, with an additional $10 for UPS ground. You really do want both because you have two cameras.

 


 

Pentax stereo adapter set (52mm)

 

A bit gimmicky, but I had fun with it when I still shot slide film. It lets you shoot stereo images on a 35mm area. It works best with slide film, but might be more of a collectible now. It is in superb condition.

$100 OBO  (incl shipping.)

 


 

 Canon EW-88 Lens Hood for 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM  (B&H)

B&H price is $60 …. I’d like $20

 


 

Novoflex adapter – Nikon to Canon EOS mount

Novoflex adapter – Nikon to Canon EOS mount  – $100
This adapts Nikon lens mount for Canon bodies.
It sells for $227 on Amazon.  I would like $80 for this.

 


 

Nikon 5th battery cover for SB-800

Nikon 5th battery cover for SB-800 – $10 for the envelope and shipping

 


 

Profoto charger 2-A

Profoto charger 2-A

I’d like $195 for this item, or best offer.

 


 

Pico table-top dolly kit

Pico table-top dolly kit

This sells for $99 on Amazon.  I would like $60 for it. It’s cute. It works.

 


 

 

Kirk BL-D3 Compact L-Bracket for Nikon D3 Series

Kirk BL-D3 Compact L-Bracket for Nikon D3 Series Camera Body  (B&H)
B&H price is $180 … I’d like $90

 


 

Elinchrom deflector set

Elinchrom deflector set  – it sells for $36 at B&H, and I would like $20 for it.
It is unused, except for the once I tried it out in the studio. Someone told me it would work well with the Profoto heads, and help with diffusion … but, yeah, not really.

(If you use Elinchrom, and live close to me in Wayne, NJ, then come pick it up for free. You can bring me a Starbucks coffee if you want.)

 


 

Quantum charger for 2×2 batteries – $50

 

 


 

Items that have been sold are listed here for reference:

Photo gear sold

password:  NvN

 

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Sony mirrorless cameras with vintage lenses

Yes, that’s a Sony mirrorless camera – the Sony a7ii (B&HAmazon). It’s mine. No, I didn’t switch to Sony. I still use Nikon DSLRs as my main camera system, and I can’t see that changing in the foreseeable future. But I did buy this Sony A7ii. (I also bought a Fuji X-T20 as my walk-about camera.) But this Sony will be my “project” camera. I have a specific intent with it – to use any of the huge array of interesting vintage lenses. Some of these older lenses distinctive optical qualities – most often in how they render the out-of-focus areas in the background – i.e. the bokeh of these lenses are often quite unique. With that in mind, the Sony a7ii will be my ‘project’ camera.

You may wonder why I chose the Sony a7ii over the a7Sii or the a7Rii. My singular intent with the Sony mirrorless camera at this point, is to use various vintage lenses that have caught my fancy. I don’t need the video capabilities of the Sony a7Sii (affiliate), or the 42 megapixels of the Sony a7Rii (affiliate). I also don’t need the abundant mouth-watering spec of the new Sony A9 (affiliate). But I do need the in-camera stabilization, and the Sony’s ability to be adapted to vintage lenses. And 24 megapixels are more than enough for the vast majority of anyone’s photography needs. So the Sony a7ii was my choice.

 

Why Sony mirrorless are the perfect choice when vintage lenses:

  • The Sony A7 series can take adapters to any lens mount. So you can use Minolta MD lenses. Canon FD lenses.  Any of the M42 lenses. Pentax. Nikon. You name it – they are all adaptable to the Sony Alpha lens mount. z

Since there is no mirror-box, you have that entire length that’s missing, that can be taken up by the adapter. Which means any lens can focus to infinity. Any lens can fit, regardless of the camera’s throat diameter.

You might think the Fuji would be perfect for this as well. However, since the Fuji cameras are crop-sensor cameras, you lose much of the goodness of the vintage lenses. That crazy bokeh swirl or any distinctive optical quality of a lens, is now likely diminished. You really want that full-frame goodness with these older lenses.

  • Focusing with the Sony A7+ series is perfectly suited for manual focus lenses. Much more so than Nikon or Canon DSLRs.

You can move the focusing sensor where you want to focus on, and then tap a button to zoom in immediately to fine-tune focus. Doing this via the Live-view on a DSLR is awkward and slow in comparison to how the Sony (and Fuji) cameras handle it. This is also explained in an earlier article here: Fuji x100s – manual focus mode.

  • Built-in stabilization from the A7ii / A7Sii / A7Rii series onwards. That means any lens will now benefit from stabilization.

 


 

Pentax-SMC 28mm f/2

I have the Pentax-SMC 28mm /f2 mounted to the Sony body in the photo at the top. It is quite a rare lens , and has an interesting back-story to its origins. In the early 70’s Zeiss reached out to the Japanese manufacturers to make use of the lower manufacturing costs. The Zeiss 28mm ‘Hollywood’ Distagon was designed by a Zeiss legend, Dr Erhard Glatzel. The design involved a floating element that allowed the lens to focus really close. Distortion was also kept to a minimum.During the year they collaborated with Pentax, the Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon also appeared as this Pentax lens!

The story is told in this article – $60 Pentax that’s actually a $800 Zeiss by designer of Stanley Kubrick’s NASA glass – except that this Pentax lens now fetches 10x more than just $60, more or less matching the price you’d pay for the actual Zeiss lens.

I had my eye on this lens for a long while, and finally managed to snag a mint copy on eBay. I was curious how this lens would perform, and then I also wanted the lens as a collectible.

 


 

This is the lens that I took with an a first outing with the Sony a7 II to New York. I wandered around, including a visit to the area around One World Trade Center. Most of the images were shot at f/2 and a few at f/2.8 … and then at f/8 for the last image shown here, for which I needed the added depth-of-field.

What intrigued me was that I could see a difference in how the background was rendered when I focused on something really close to me in the foreground at an f/2 aperture. There was a painterly quality to the photographs. This lens was also superbly sharp at the widest aperture! Kinda what you’d expect from a Zeiss design.

(Click on the images for a larger version.)

 

Summary

I love that this camera is allowing me a new adventure in photography that was previously difficult to access. I feel like playing with vintage lenses will help sustain the fun element of photography.

 

Related links

 

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Easy lighting setup for headshot photography

For headshot photography in the studio, I have a (flexible) default lighting setup – clam-shell lighting setup.  On location (but still working indoors), I have another setup –  studio  lighting setup for headshots. Nothing is really specific – as long as the final results look flattering and your client loves the images. Your lighting setup should match what your client expects. Then there is also the question of logistics. I’m often asked if all that equipment is a necessity. It’s not. Here is my favorite, most simple setup …. bounce light with an off-camera flash.

Even on-camera bounce flash can give you surprisingly good results that are indistinguishable from off-camera light or available light. This is explained in great detail in my On-Camera Flash Photography. It really is an easy lighting technique that is accessible to any photographer.

When my friend, Cate and I worked on the intimate male portraiture photo session, I started off the photo session with a series of headshots for Nick, as requested by his agency. Not boudoir at all, but this was an easy ice-breaker – straight-up headshots.

The lighting was superbly simple as well – one Profoto B1 flash (affiliate) bounced behind me against one of the studio walls. I controlled the light’s direction a little bit with the Profoto Magnum reflector (affiliate) that I added to the flash. Dead simple to do, and gives great results with nice flattering light. For some of this sequence, I had Nick lean against the wall, and for the rest of the sequence separated from the wall.

Camera settings & photo gear used during this part of the photo session

  • 1/200  @  f/4.5  @  400 ISO

Summary

This truly is the simplest lighting setup that could be used for portraits and headshots – one light bounced against a large white wall and ceiling area. If this isn’t feasible, then a large umbrella does the trick. One step up, but still superbly simple. You don’t need the Profoto B1 or a similarly powerful flash. You could do similar with a speedlight!

If you want an inexpensive big light modifier, the Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella (affiliate), is a good choice. Here’s the review: Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella.

That’s the motif with this article – the techniques are simple, and the great results are accessible to anyone.

PS: I know there are purists who insist headshots should be exactly that – just the person’s face. Perhaps, perhaps. And yes, I did shoot tighter for just the specific headshots, but I prefer the look of these.

 

Related articles

 

Video tutorials to help you with flash photography

If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.

 

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Shooting a boudoir photography promo video

The video above of Jewell, and the video of Bella – shown in the companion article, planning to shoot a promo video – were both shot within a week of one another. These promotional videos are for a friend, Cate Scaglione, a New Jersey based boudoir photographer. There are part of a theme that Cate wanted to develop in her marketing. The motif for this specific video was that of a working mom allowing herself to indulge in a bit of “me time”.

With this article I want to do a run-through of the gear we used.  More essential than the gear you bring to a video shoot, is the planning that goes into it. The companion article, planning to shoot a promo video (Bella), accentuated the importance of having a storyboard.

You have to have a clear idea of the path you’re going to follow, or if you will, the building blocks that you’re going to use to compile the final clip. Of course, plans are inevitably adjusted during the shoot, as the situation warrants. We have to be flexible. But there has to be a solid plan and even a storyboard if you’re going to work efficiently.

My friend Erik, and I worked with Cate’s broad plan to shoot segments and ideas that could be compiled into a final video that was coherent, and help bring Cate’s message to potential clients.

 


 

Techie details about the video gear and lighting

There are two parts to each of theses videos: First we photographed Cate during her photo session with Jewell, and then we shot the interview portions.

  • The photo session, with Cate photographing Bella – we wanted to depict her rhythm and style of shooting. For the video here, we relied on the available light only – the same as Cate was using.

We used two Nikon D4 bodies and a Nikon D810, and a bunch of zoom and prime lenses. One camera had the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens on the entire time. The zoom was helpful to get exact framing – which is the reason why we use zooms in the first place. One of the other D4 bodies had the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G on it for tighter framing, and a wider aperture. I also often used the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART lens (affiliate).

For the sequences with camera movement, I used a Defy G2X gimbal with a combination of the Nikon D750 and Nikon 20mm f/1.8G (affiliate links). The reason for this lens and the Nikon body, is that with the ability of the Nikon bodies to shoot video in FF or crop mode, you can effectively have a 20mm lens and 30mm lens on the camera, without changing the center of gravity on the balanced gimbal. That makes lift a lot easier than constantly re-calibrating a gimbal.

The interviews were static setups with specific continuous lighting that I used. We ended up using Cate’s interview as a voice-over. The interviews were shot on two cameras, with our subject looking into the one camera.

Audio was with a Rode shotgun microphone (B&H / Amazon) overhead on a boom arm, outside the camera frame. The sound was recorded to a Zoom H6 audio recorder (B&H / Amazon).

Lighting was done with two Litepanels Astra EP Bi-Color LED Panels  (B&H / Amazon). I’ve already mentioned them in a previous article – Lighting for a small commercial video shoot. I love these lights – relatively compact, yet powerful. And you can change the color balance at will to match your ambient light.

Here is the setup with Cate’s interview. We did end up only using her interview as a voice-over, so the killer lighting didn’t get a showing in the final clip.

 

Summary

As mentioned earlier, the gear is largely not of great relevance in the grand scheme of things – you could create something similar with any equivalent video and audio equipment. They key to the successful completion of the videos depended on the planning and the storyboard.

 

Credits

 

Related articles

 

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Headshot Photography – securing the tethering cable

When shooting in the studio or a fixed location, it makes a lot of sense to shoot tethered if you want your client to give input on the photos. With headshots in the studio, I run a tethering cable between the camera and the computer. This makes it easier for the client to see the photos, and adjust what they need to. Of course, it is slightly redundant if you use WiFi to transfer the images from your camera to the computer. But for faster transfer of RAW files, shooting with a tethered cable still makes sense.

Keeping the cable secure on the camera can be a problem. It is easy to jerk the cable, or step on it. Worse of all are the USB3 cables which easily wiggle loose. The solutions such as the JerkStopper (affiliate) only helps slightly – and it doesn’t help for a USB3 cable where the connector is relatively shallow, and the cable can swing around the jerk-stopper. I have to add a piece of gaffer tape to keep the cable seated. Not ideal, and definitely not elegant. It’s somewhat embarrassing to think that on a professional shoot with clients, I am using expensive gear held together with a piece of tape.

Then my friend Zach Sutton mentioned a device which instantly made sense to me – the TetherBlock (B&H / Amazon). It’s a plate that fits to the bottom of the camera, holding the cable secure. No risk of damage to the camera if you step on the cable!

Before we have a closer look at the Tetherblock, here is the pull-back shot of the photo above, to show the lighting setup.

Photo gear (or equivalents) used during this photo session

  • 1/160  @  f/11  @  100 ISO

This is one of my go-to setups in the studio, based on clam-shell lighting. There is the main light (a 2×3 softbox in front of our subject, and the Westcott Eyelighter (affiliate) below to give fill-light.

The background can be left dark, as in the main photo above – or I can lighten it with a flash pointed at the back wall. In these two examples, the light is from a gridded flash, which I can then add a gel to change the color if a client wants. If I want the entire area is awash with color – and not just a spot of color behind my subject – I remove the gridded reflector and just point the bare gelled flash at the wall.

The tethering software I use is Nikon Camera Control Pro 2. I have the images download to a folder on the desktop where we then view the photos.

 

Using the TetherBlock

Here is the big problem – it is easy to step on the cable or snag it in some way, and damage to cable … or worse, the camera.

This is the Mini-B USB connector for my Nikon D4. Fortunately, the camera wasn’t damaged! But the cable was useless after this. I had to resort to load the images every so often via a memory card reader, during the shoot.

Here the cable is now secured to the bottom of the camera with the TetherBlock (B&H / Amazon). No risk of the connector port on the camera being damaged by carelessness or an accident.

The bottom view of the TetherBlock (B&H / Amazon).

Clear indications of how to snake the cable in the grooves of the Tetherblock.

The cable, in position, before attaching it to the bottom of the camera.

The TetherBlock (affiliate) comes with different quick release options for those who prefer to shoot on a tripod.

This simple device made all the difference for me. While it might seem a little spendy, for me it was well worth it for making my life easier doing a shoot. And it looks so much better than gaffer tape!

 

Related articles

 

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