Posts Tagged ‘lighting’

Looking for a new way to see things? Try shooting from a low angle. I found this patch of gigantic mushrooms perfectly lit by a shaft of late afternoon sunlight. From my normal, standing perspective, the photo wasn’t much to look at. Bending my knees and shooting up from ground level, however, made a big difference.

Keep in the back of your mind “would my shot be improved by going lower?” the next time you’re out with your camera. It can transform the ordinary photo to something extraordinary.

Oh, and purchase a gardener’s knee pad, they make getting low more comfortable and less messy on the knees!


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There are very few books about the craft of photography on my bookshelves. This is because I’ve found that most books about photo technique are boring, repetitive and poorly written. Basically, they’re not worth much more than a quick skim-through and definitely not worth taking up valuable shelf space.  That said, Kirk Tuck’s book, Minimalist Lighting is a welcome exception.

Minimalist Lighting coverI picked up this book on the recommendation of David Hobby’s Strobist.com web site and found it to be both worth the money and inspiring. Tuck makes a living shooting executive portraits and this book shows how he goes about producing high quality portraits with a minimum of equipment. At first glance, the book seems to be awfuly Nikon-centric but upon further reading the information given works with any flash system, not just the big N. The book is a great starting point for advanced amateurs wanting to improve their multi-flash technique and take their photography to the next level. As a pro with over 25 years of experience, it served as a great refresher course in using the new generation of small handheld strobes to do the same work I used to do with larger, high powered studio strobes. It was also motivation for me to take my strobes out of their cases and apply his lessons to my shooting style. Tuck provides shopping lists of recommended gear as well as plenty of examples of the portraits he made using his techniques. Of course, he includes lighting diagrams for every shoot to explain how he lit his subjects. It’s not a thick book (128 pages) but it’s written in a conversational style that’s easy to read and digest. If you’ve always wanted to become more comfortable using multiple flashes, this book is a perfect first step

Here’s an example of the lighting you can do with three Canon strobes and a patient spouse: 

Diane portrait

Is it any wonder my copy’s dog-eared already?

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The ability to use light and shadow effectively separates the pro from the amateur photographer. While some say this is something you’re born with, I disagree. The skilled use of lighting is something that can be learned.

In the decades since I first picked up a camera, I’m constantly picking up new ideas for making my photos better. One place I find myself going to for a visual kickstart is strobist.com. This is a website devoted almost exclusively to the creative use of small, hand-held electronic flashes. Compiled by David Hobby, it’s a great place for ideas and inspiration. If you’re new to photography or are a pro in need of some new lighting techniques, you can’t go wrong by stopping at David’s site. His Lighting 101 tutorials are fantastic!

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