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Archive for the Pictures from Category

Abstract: Think about the reasons behind the color of your lights, and your palette will often take care of itself.

When you are placing a light source, it's pretty normal to ask yourself, "What color should this light be?"

If you step back a moment and think, the answer will often present itself. A better question to ask is, "What color would this light be?" Read more »
UPDATE: The January 2017 Havana class has sold out. You can sign up to receive early notification of future workshops, here. -DH

This January I'm leading a small-group trip to Havana, Cuba. It will be the first in a series of X-Peditions for photographers.

The last time I was in Havana was 2013, teaching for Santa Fe Workshops. But that was someone else's curriculum. This time the program is ours to design, and we are planning a week of exploring, learning and lots of time behind the camera.

An Immersive Week

This is not the typical photo tour group, which invariably ends up as some version of a photo walk with everyone getting versions of the same pictures. I'm partnering with Focus On The Story, a D.C.-based organization for photographers. The trip leaders are myself and fellow journalist Joe Newman, whom I've known for over 30 years.

X-Peditions have a maximum of 12 participants, and are very photo-centric. They include daily instruction, location shoots, and plenty of time to explore on your own or with a teammate.

Our goal with X-Peditions is to help you learn to travel closer to ground level, to travel more lightly, and to learn to see more more efficiently (and effectively) as photographers. We also hope to help you build the knowledge and experience to confidently choose more interesting destinations for your future travels.

And while we believe this approach is a better way to travel, it also allows us to keep our X-Peditions prices more affordable.

Photography and Learning

Please note that this is not a lighting class. Cuba does not allow the import of radio transmitters. In fact, I'm not even bringing a flash. That said, light itself will be a large part of our daily discussions.

We'll be out shooting at the edges of the day when the light is good, and at other times as dictated by the locations we have lined up. But during the harsh light of midday, we'll typically be in instructional mode. There will be daily talks that not only help prepare you for the day's experiences, but build on your general knowledge around the intersection of photography and travel.

You'll learn how to prioritize your day to become more efficient at producing higher quality photos. This will help you reserve the time to just be a traveler; to absorb the city and watch the world go by. That downtime is important for you (and for your family, when you travel with them.) It also makes you more receptive to the insights that lead to better photos.

We are traveling to Havana under a people-to-people license, which means you'll get interaction with locals throughout the week. We'll work both individually and as a group. We'll be editing, comparing notes, evaluating what we can do better and preparing to go out and do it again.

In the evenings we'll continue the conversation and share our day's experiences, perhaps over a mojito or a glass of Cuba's famous dark rum. This sort of thing is typical when photojournalists are working together (or competing) in a foreign city.

The X-Factor

The "X" in X-Pedition is a nod to Fuji's X series cameras. Small, light, quiet and unobtrusive, Fuji X series bodies are near-perfect tools for photojournalists. And they are ideal travel cameras. I took a leap of faith on my first trip to Havana, bringing only a Fuji X100s with its fixed 35mm equivalent lens. In retrospect, it was a great decision. And it has changed the way I approach travel photography ever since.

So if you are also a Fuji shooter, you can expect specific tips and advice on how to get the most out of your cameras. Or to even borrow a lens if you like.

Non-Fuji shooters are of course still welcome. And don't worry, we promise not to try to convert you. But we do strongly suggest that you travel very light with respect to photo gear. It's good travel photo advice in general, but also culturally respectful in a place like Cuba where the economic disparity is a factor to consider.

The Bigger Picture

Havana is a unique opportunity for photographers. It goes without saying that it is not going to stay unique for very long. The island is experiencing rapid change.

Our goal with this trip, and with future X-Peditions, is to help you grow as both travelers and photographers; to gain the skills and confidence to choose future destinations that are off the beaten path.


The Havana trip for January 2017 has sold out. You can sign up to receive early notification of future X-Pedition or Travel/Light workshops on our workshops page. -DH
Abstract: Don't just look to still photos for inspiration. Great inspiration also awaits you on your TV.

We may think we are getting a good feel for color as photographers. But you know who kicks still photographers' butts every day? Cinematographers, that's who.

Today, a look at some examples from 2010-era Dr. Who, which we have talked about on this blog before. These guys are near and dear to my heart, because they are unabashedly fearless when it comes to using color to manipulate light—and their viewers. Read more »
It can be scary to add a lot of color to your light. But it's easy to underestimate how much color it takes to transform a scene and set a mood. Don't be shy. Those gels won't bite.

This nighttime portrait of soprano Alexandra Rodrick was a big step for me. It was made about five years ago, when I was just starting to realize how color-fluid real light could be. I kinda knew it, but I still didn't have the nerve to actually do it.

So I took a deep breath and threw way more blue into the environment than I normally would. And not only did I come out alive on the other side, but I ended up pretty happy. Read more »
Abstract: When complementary-gelled lights are falling on the same plane, they can easily rob each other of color. So it is important to make sure your lights are hitting different areas, with minimal overlap.

Above is a two-speedlight portrait against a white wall. White walls are the natural enemy of a gel, and practically live to wash out your color. Especially when using two flashes with dense, complementary gels. Knowing how to keep your multi-colored lights operating on different planes will help you retain more saturated color.

Let's walk through the portrait above to get a better look at how our two lights are working separately—and together—in a variety of ways.Read more »
Abstract: So, did you do Greg's gels assignment? I did. Twice. Below are my results, and what I learned.

Reporting in from our last assignment, in which you were asked to shoot a portrait in three different ways: clean white light, warm/cool light, and warm/cool light with the shadows muddied up with a little green. I did this one along with you—twice—and learned a lot in the process.

Which brings up a valuable point. You can read about this stuff all you want. But until you actually get off your ass and do it, you're not going to learn it.

In other words, learning to use color in your lighting is just like anything else. Read more »
Abstract: The best way to get a better understanding of light and color is to just do it.

In the last part of our conversation with Greg Heisler, he gave what I think is a very good piece of advice about light and color:

"I think what you have to do to be able to see it, is to shoot it. And then shoot it.

Like, shoot it the clean way, with white light. Then the next way is to shoot it with a warm and a cool. And so you see that. And then muddy up the light a little bit, and then see it that way."

So that's exactly what we're gonna do. Read more »
The Swiss government last month issued a recall for ten models of Jinbei studio flash units. While the recall notice has made the rounds on message boards, I am frankly surprised that photo media outlets have not picked this up. Read more »
Abstract: Chromatically complex light adds much more realism to your lit photos.

Today’s Lighting 103 post features excerpts from a bar conversation with Greg Heisler. It's just as if we cornered him at a conference (which I did) and he agreed to have a drink and talk color (which he did).

This is roadmap stuff. It's above and beyond the specific info he includes with each of the assignments in his book, 50 Portraits, the companion text to L103.Read more »
Abstract: You can use your knowledge of color temperature and gels to improve the quality of light in your home.

So far, everything we have done has centered on gelling a single light to create a single desired color shift. But before we make the jump into using multiple colors and light sources, one quick hack for your home's lighting that will help you to improve the quality of light in compact fluorescent and LED bulbs.

Like the gawdawful green-tinged lamp above, for example. Read more »
Abstract: By combining a white balance shift in your camera with a complementary gelling of your flash, you can easily and efficiently alter the ambient color temperature of an entire environment.

In addition to controlling the color of light from your flash, gels can also allow you to alter the color of the ambient areas of your frame. The portrait above, done for the Baltimore Sun, is a good example. I made it as a storm approached, and the light was gray and pretty neutral.

The light was okay, but not great. I really wanted was a stronger color environment for the photo. And I also wanted the subject to pop more. So instead of daylight white balance, I shot it on incandescent (tungsten) white balance. This shifted the expected light source from 5600k to 3200k. In essence, the camera was expecting to shoot under tungsten lights. Read more »
Abstract: You can alter your camera's white balance and gel your flash to "correct" nearly any ambient light color shift. But should you?

Read more »
Abstract: Don't bother gelling a scene that is completely lit by a single flash. But if a second light is involved—even ambient light—it's always better to control color at the source.

PIctured above is Midwest Camera President Moishe Appelbaum. He wandered into a lighting class I was teaching at Midwest last fall, so we pulled him aside and shot him. He's lit by a single LP180 speedlight, fired through a white bed sheet.

(Pro tip: A speedlight fired through a bed sheet will rival the light of the most expensive octabanks in the world—in quality if not in quantity. It all comes down to square inches in the light source. And a bed sheet has a crap ton of square inches.)

After our previous lesson, you might think that this photo is an ideal candidate for a warming gel: caucasian skin, warm background, warm-colored clothing. Why not unify this with a little added warmth?Read more »

In a world where technology is quickly advancing and products are constantly being upgraded, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which version of a device to get.

This applies to phones – for example, choosing the latest iPhone might be difficult. You might be unsure if you should wait for the next iPhone model to be released. But, what if the next model doesn’t have any additional features that make it better than the current iPhone, and you could have just upgraded to the current model without having to wait?

This situation plagues consumers. Just like in the smartphone industry, drone consumers deal with this struggle, too.

DJI, the leading drone manufacturer in the world, has revolutionized the drone market and introduced the latest drone technology year after year (and sometimes within the same year). DJI not only created the foundation for the drone industry, but the company is still dominating the market. With its success, DJI has seen competition emerge through the years – 3DR, Parrot, and Yuneec, to name a few.

As if the market wasn’t already cluttered with DJI’s lineup alone, adding in these brands have created even more of an overwhelming decision for consumers. Sure, with added brands and versions, professional drone pilots now have more options to choose from. But for the average person who simply wants a drone for recreational purposes, the surge in drones over the years has become daunting when it comes time to purchase a product.

DJI Phantom drones in detail

Like many consumers, I struggled with deciding which drone I should get. I had always practiced with a toy Hubsan X4 drone, but I wanted to enter the big leagues. (By the way, cheap toy drones like the Hubsan X4 are excellent beginner drones. Most drone enthusiasts will encourage beginners to start on a cheap toy drone first for many reasons. First, they’re cheap. If you crash, you won’t be out thousands of dollars. Second, they don’t have GPS, so you’ll learn to fly much better in windy conditions. Speaking of wind, the size of my Hubsan X4 is tiny, which wind is no friend of. I had to master the controls of a small aircraft so I could become skilled and prepared for an expensive piece of technology that has GPS to combat wind, a screen so I can see what my drone is recording, and naturally a larger device to fly in the air.)

At the time of purchasing my drone, the latest DJI model was the Phantom 4. As of now, DJI has released the Phantom 4 Pro Plus.

Below the Phantom 4 series is the Phantom 3 series. In the Phantom 3 series, DJI released the Phantom 3 Standard, Advanced, and Professional. After the release of these models, DJI decided to release the Phantom 3 4K, a crossbreed between the Standard and the Professional. After conducting hours of research, I decided to purchase the DJI Phantom 3 4K. Here’s why:

The Phantom 3 4K’s camera produces the same quality as the Professional. What does this mean for aerial photographers? Video quality up to 4K @ 30fps. 1080p @ 60fps. Single picture shooting, three, five, or seven burst shots, Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB), and a Time-lapse feature. Plus, photographers have the option to shoot in DNG, JPG, or both at the same time.

Personally, I am a videographer, so the video capabilities of a drone are what I care most about. For smooth and slow video, 1080p @ 60fps is the perfect video mode to be in. By recording at 60fps, pilots will be able to slow video down by 50%. I also like how the Phantom 3 4K can go beyond 1080p, and, as the name implies, reach 4K. I use my Phantom 3 at this setting when shooting subject I don’t necessarily care about slowing down when editing my footage.

The 4K has five Intelligent Flight Modes that make it your above average drone. Course lock, Home lock, point of interest, follow me, and waypoints all allow pilots’ the chance to do more than just fly a drone. Most notably, the waypoints feature allows users to set custom points while they control the camera. Pilots can save a set of points into their database and fly the same route over and over again.

4K vs. Standard

As all of the Phantom 3’s and 4’s can do, the 4K’s camera tilts -90 degrees and +30 degrees, giving users complete flexibility when framing and angling shots. Aside from the better camera quality, one of the main reasons I chose the 4K over the Standard was for the tilt feature on the remote controller. This feature enables pilots to control the camera’s position while simultaneously flying. Tilting the camera is easy, as the controller has a rotating dial on the upper left-hand side. This drastically improves visuals when recording, as shots with upward or downward camera movement give video a creative twist. Plus, the 4K’s controller, like the Advanced and Professional, has a record on/off button on the upper right side of the controller, meaning pilots don’t have to move their hands from default position in order to begin or end a video recording. Pilots can take pictures using a shutter button on the upper right side, too!

The Phantom 3 4K is most like the Standard in that they both have the same flying range – about ¾ mile. This is the downside of the 4K, as many pilots enjoy being able to fly farther than a “measly” .75 miles. For example, the Professional and Advanced can travel up to 3.1 miles. This is an extreme difference to .75 miles. For those who wish to travel over 1 mile with their drone, the Phantom 4K and Standard are not for you. For me, distance isn’t necessarily the primary reason I wanted a drone, so I sacrificed this feature and went with the 4K. I also chose the 4K over the Standard because it features a powerful Vision Positioning System (VPS), which allows users to fly indoors. The Standard does not have this feature.

Another downside to the 4K (which clearly didn’t dissuade me from purchasing it) is that the live video feed back to the DJI app broadcasts at 480p. Surprisingly, the Standard has a worse camera than the 4K, yet its live video feed comes through at 720p HD. Those who wish to have a better live video experience while flying, rather than higher-quality recorded video, the Standard is for you. 480p isn’t terrible, though. All images that are fed back through my app are crisp and clear. I’m sure most people care much more about the final video quality than the temporary live feed any day.

My review of the DJI Phantom 3 drone



Final thoughts and price

While DJI no longer sells the Phantom 3 4K, websites and retailers such as Best Buy and B&H Photo Video sell the drone new, used, and refurbished. The Phantom 3 4K drone has drastically dropped in price to $595. It used to cost $200 more, at $795. Plus, the Standard costs $499, so for less than $100 more, I “upgraded” for better camera quality and a better remote controller. Those interested in the Advanced and the Professional, those now cost $698 and $799, respectively. All in all, the Phantom 3 4K is a great drone that encompasses video quality a professional pilot desires, with total distance like that of a beginner’s drone.

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The post Why I Bought The DJI Phantom 3 4K appeared first on Camera Dojo.

Abstract: Warming your flash will greatly improve skin tones. Which warming gel you use depends on your subject, the lighting environment, your camera's color palette and personal preference.

I still remember the day I was introduced to warming gels. It was nearly 30 years ago. I was assisting photographer Chris Usher in 1988 on a shoot in Washington for Businessweek. As he was setting up his light he asked me to hand him his gels, absentmindedly muttering, "Always gotta warm the key light..."

And I'm thinking, "Wait, what?"Read more »