Working with one light and fill

How many lights do you need, anyway? You might be surprised to learn that you can do an exemplary job with very few lights—often only one—provided you understand your equipment and why it works the way it does. Understand that I’m not talking about an oncamera flash; those small, specular sources that throw hard shadows and bright highlights. Ideally, you’ll need at least one studio strobe and at least one quality modifier like an umbrella or softbox, and the larger the better.

But first, a little background.

Beauty and glamour photography frequently relies on soft, open shadows to show the subject in a beautiful and youthful manner, and this is usually accomplished by using a large, diffused light source. It is important to note, though, that placing a large source far from the subject will make it small relative to the subject and will make it act like a small source. For a thorough and exhaustive investigation of this phenomenon, please see Christopher Grey’s Studio Lighting Techniques for Photography.

I’ve heard many so-called formulas for determining the optimum subject-to-light distance for softboxes, some of which might require a degree fromMIT to understand. In my opinion, the optimum distance equals the sum of the height and width of the box. Using my homespun formula, a 2×3-foot box would be placed 5 feet from the subject, while a 4×6-foot would require 10 feet to throw light without specular highlights but with perfectly defined yet open and soft shadows.

The effect of the light-to-subject distance can also be seen when using an umbrella, another modifier most photographers have. The most frequently purchased umbrella has a 36-inch diameter, but if you’re in the market for them or want to add to your existing stock, I’d recommend that you purchase the largest one you can find and afford. The additional size means you can move the umbrella farther away while maintaining a softer look. You can also buy what are known as “shootthrough” umbrellas, made with translucent material. Unlike traditional umbrellas, shoot-throughs are aimed at the subject, acting more like a softbox than an umbrella.

We’ve all heard of the Inverse Square Law (even if we’ve never understood it), which states that light that travels twice as far from point B to point C as it does from point A to point B will be only 1/4 its strength when it gets to point C than it is at Point B. In simple, practical terms, this means that a light that’s placed

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close to a subject will lose its strength rapidly, maintaining a constant f-stop value over a very short distance. Conversely, a light that’s placed farther away will maintain a constant f-stop value over a greater distance. This phenomenon is known as “depth of light,” and it is something to be exploited when envisioning an image.

The bottom line is that you can be extremely creative with minimal equipment when you know how you can change the characteristics of the light that’s produced.

Let’s take a look at some terrific ways to work with a single light.

Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned when working with a single light is that it can be made to look like more than one source. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, with one of the simplest being the use of various bookends and reflectors.

By itself, image 3.1, made against a white seamless background, is dramatic but lacks detail that would make it more interesting. As you can see in diagram 3A, my medium softbox was set to camera right, racked high enough to get a graceful nose shadow and placed at a distance of 7 feet from the model. My model was placed about 7 feet from the background, to be certain that enough light would fall upon it to keep it bright enough to show the shape of her shadow side but dark enough so the image would have a sense of depth.

Simply adding a white bookend to the shadow side softened and opened up the dark tones, giving the impression of a second light. I prefer reflectors over additional lights because extra sources tend to show secondary shadows on the opposite side of the nose and double catchlights in the eyes. The effect of reflectors is much softer. See image 3.2.

You can also change the shape of the light falling on the background by inserting a bookend between the main light and the background. For this image, I quickly cut a shape into a black piece of foamcore, attached it to an accessory arm on a light stand a few feet from the main light, just behind the model, then moved it into place to keep about half of the light off the background in those places where I wanted it reduced. It was close enough to the main light to guarantee the shadow on the background would be soft and undefined. Moving the form closer to the background would sharpen the shadow line. Note how the gobo shadow gives the impression of a second light on the background. See images 3.3 and 3.4.

Let’s change things a bit and move the light to 90 degrees to the camera, so it’s essentially behind the subject should she turn her head to profile. This is a variation on the broad light position, where the light comes from behind and across the side of the face that’s presented to camera. Notice how beautiful her profile looks when in shadow, as well as the sense of mystery achieved from lack of detail. See image 3.5.

This sense of mystery may be too much for many images, and you may wish to use fill to open up the deep shadows. A bookend, in this instance, may add too much light or not enough contrast (depending on what you’re trying to achieve), although it is soft and beautiful light. You will be able to vary the effect by moving the bookend closer to or farther from the model. Image 3.6 was made with a bookend far enough from the model to bounce back –1 stop of light.

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I use the next lighting scenario quite often, just because it’s so easy and versatile. By changing the three elements (the main light modifier, type of fill, or distance of the main light from the subject), I’m able to create a wide variety of looks. This image, made on a different shoot, utilized a painted canvas background, a smaller softbox (2×3 feet) set very close to the model (but not aimed directly at her face), and a white bookend set about 5 feet from her, far enough away to keep the shadow dark but close enough to reflect a little detail, –1 stop, into the model’s camera-left side. I also inserted a black bookend at camera right to break up the light falling on the background. See image 3.7 and diagram 3B.

Most images are made with the main light positioned above the model’s head, to produce a graceful nose shadow. As long as you’re mindful of where the shadows fall, you can place the main light at other elevations, too. For this example (image 3.8), I used a 3×4-foot softbox but set it low, with its lowest edge just a few inches from the floor and angled up toward the model. The light was placed far enough from the model so it would also light the background behind her, about 4 feet away. I also set my model closer to the background than usual, about 5 feet, to maintain a more even light. I did not use a bookend or other fill, preferring to let the shadows go dark.

Having such a low main light proved to be more versatile than one might think. By reversing the pose, asking my model to angle up and away from the light, the non-filled shadows created a very dramatic image (3.9).

As simple as these principles appear, they can be easily used to create outstanding drama.

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The bookend is a large, broad platform that will bounce soft light. For a tighter and more contrasty fill, try a small reflector—silver, white or otherwise—and aim the bounce at the model’s face. I use a number of Lastolite reflectors ( in my studio, but the brand is not as important as the size; the smaller the size, the less area will be accented, and this is another trait you can exploit to match your personal style. As I did with the bookend, you should make exposure strength tests with your gear so you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.


Butterfly light, the term given to light produced from a source placed high and directly over the lens axis, is beautiful for women. As a single-source light, it can produce wonderful images either when the model is placed close to the background, so as to include her shadow in the composition, or far enough away to isolate her from the background so her shadow has no effect. With the latter, I think you’ll want to keep the light on the background bright enough so the background looks deliberately lit. Also, when using this scenario on a dark background, be careful to keep enough light on it so as to show the model’s complete shape, even in the deepest shadows.

For this shoot, I placed my model into a corner of the studio that I’d painted semigloss gray. Even though semigloss paint may show some reflection from lights, especially with darker colors, the overall effect has more visual impact than flat latex wall paint, an important quality for much beauty and glamour work. Also, painted sheetrock has a flatter texture than seamless paper, which contributes to the look of the final image.

For this shot, the model was very close to the wall, as you can see from her shadow. The large softbox was my only light. It was positioned behind and above me but close enough to the model so it produced only broad, soft shadows. Because my softbox was set horizontally, and parallel to the wall, the exposure was consistent across the entire 5-foot painted expanse. My model was free to move about within that space as she wished, provided she stayed close to the wall. If she had moved more than a few inches toward me, there was a danger she would begin to overexpose. See image 3.10.

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With the light set behind me and the camera handheld, I was able to move around within the frame. This meant I was not tied down to the butterfly position and could vary the direction of the source by not having to move it. This degree of versatility and adaptability can be crucial to the success of fashion and beauty shots. In this case, I was able to use a number of shadow and wardrobe variations to produce a great series of images. See image 3.11.

Large or medium softboxes can readily be used anytime you wish to light a large portion of the model with minimal shadow contouring, regardless of the model’s position. Should you pose the model reclining on her back, you must correlate the position of the light to the model’s facial pose and her nose shadow. In many scenarios, photographers light the model from the side, with the light centered. This is a mistake. When the light is sourced from anywhere near the model’s face (as it would be if aimed at her side), the shadow cannot travel down the nose as it should. It can only travel sideways or, worse, if it’s placed below eye level, up toward the forehead.

You can get a much more even spread of light by “feathering” it over the model, which is to say that after you set it to get the right shadow, you’ll actually aim the strobe head toward her feet. Even though you’re working with a softbox, the light will not be even if it is not aimed properly. In fact, given the spread of light from a softbox, if you simply aim the head at your model’s face, you’re actually wasting half the output. Use your meter to gauge the spread of light.


Getting terrific results from a single source and umbrella is as easy as working with a softbox, although the results will look different. Umbrellas are designed to spray the light from a smaller source in all directions, expanding the illumination. This makes them difficult to deal with when the light must be controlled. In my opinion, therefore, umbrellas are not the best modifiers to use for background or hair lights.

The only controls we have when using a single umbrella are the angle of incidence to the model and the light-to-subject distance, which will determine the strength of the shadow and the consistency of exposure. For this image, I placed a basic, 36-inch umbrella on a boom and raised it to about 3 feet above and 3 feet in front of her. This woman is 6 feet tall, so I knew, with the Inverse Square Law on my side, that the light that made it to the floor would be 1/4 the strength of the light that lit her face, a 2-stop difference. Since my intention was to not show her feet, I was confident I would have quality light that would gently fall off as it traveled down her body, with the emphasis on her beautiful face.

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A word of caution here: keep an eye on the position of your model’s head. Should she tilt her head down too far, the shadows in her eye sockets may be too dark. In image 3.12, the model stopped just shy of that point, but she looks good.


Please note that while this is an effective way to create a large source from a small one, it will require an external flash meter, as using auto or TTL settings on the flash will not give you the correct flash output to get accurate exposure (the flash unit will actually read the bounce coming back from the diffusion panel). You will only be able to gauge exposure correctly using a combination of manual flash mode and a handheld flash meter. Though it can be done, it presents a number of problems, not the least of which is waiting for the strobes to recycle. See the accessory flash diffusion discussion for more information.


I’ve written of this before, but it’s worth repeating because it’s such a cool and inexpensive trick.

Deadlines can be wonderful things. Some time ago, I was faced with a monthly column deadline and was dealing with a mild case of writer’s block. As I paced the studio floor and glanced at my stack of bookends leaning against the wall, it occurred to me that I’d been curious to know if a bookend could be turned into a main light and how I might use that main light effectively. I had my column idea. I just had to figure out how to make it work.

I began by cutting a hole, about three times the diameter of my lens and at my comfortable shooting height, into the spine of the bookend. I knew that when a model was placed in front of it, the bookend’s white surface would reflect light evenly over her. By itself, this could be a good thing, but I also knew that the completely white reflection would carry across her eyes, glazing her pupils and giving her that “model of the living dead” look we should always try to avoid.

To break up the reflection, I sprayed a radiating pattern of flat black paint, varying the length of the strokes between 11/2 to 2 feet from the center of the hole. This would reflect black onto her irises, giving her eyes color and depth. See image 3.13.

Once the paint was dry, I set the bookend about 12 feet from the background, with the V opened toward the model. I put her in position, no more than 3 feet from the V and facing the cutout.

Next, I set up a strobe with a parabolic reflector on a boom arm and suspended it about 6 feet behind her, aimed at the back of her head but also toward the top of the bookend. If your model has deep-set eyes, the reflection can create a shadow above the lower orbit. It’s easy to fix in Photoshop, but the idea is to keep postproduction to a minimum. An angle such as this means the light will mostly bounce down to the subject.

The distance from the light to the model meant that she would be evenly lit across the rim of her hair, shoulders, and back, and also that the entire bookend would be awash with light, which would reflect back to her to light her softly.

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The single strobe was shining directly onto the camera lens, which would produce more than enough flare to ruin my shots, so I hung a piece of black card, about a foot square, directly over her head on another boom arm, to throw a gobo shadow that covered the shooting hole. Now I was free to place the camera anywhere I wished within the cutout area without worrying about lens flare.

With the model in position, I placed the light meter under her chin and aimed it at the hole where my camera would be. The light reflecting from the bookend then became the main light for my shot. I knew that the light on the back of her head would overexpose whatever it hit, but I saw that as a necessary element of the shot, something that would add visual interest.

When you try this, you’ll know from the first shot that you’re seeing something unique. The wraparound bounce from the bookend acts like a huge ring light, spreading illumination evenly over the subject and lighting the background as well (anything darker than a medium gray will photograph black or almost black at the distance I’ve suggested), while the hair light, with its extreme overexposure, adds drama and contrast. Additionally the eyes carry wonderful color and large, soft, catchlights. See image 3.14.

It’s not necessary for the model to always face the camera. She’ll be evenly lit no matter which direction she faces. With a scenario like this, a dramatic head tilt will equal a dramatic image. See image 3.15.

While I really liked the two-light look I’d achieved with only one light, I felt there was still room to improve the look, maybe to even give the impression of a third light.

You can stop in to just about any large hardware store and buy a box of lightweight, one-foot-square mirrored tiles that are meant to be glued to various surfaces. I taped a 4-inch nail plate to a single mirror panel and mounted it into a clamp on the second boom arm, in place of the black gobo. The mirror would serve as a gobo to keep light off the camera and would also reflect light behind the subject, acting as a third, background light. See diagram 3C.

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I’ve set this up many times since first figuring it out and the exposure results are quite consistent, given the distances I used. The light hitting the back of the head will be about 2 stops over the metered main light, and the light from the mirror will be about 1 stop over the main light. It doesn’t matter, though. Soft but dramatic light is the goal; the only important light is that reflected from the panels. See image 3.16.

Be sure to do a custom white balance off the bookend. Foamcore yellows with age, which will affect the subject’s overall color. Of course, if it gets too old and yellow, the other light in the image will look cooler, as blue is being added in the camera to compensate for the yellow the camera sees when white balancing.


You can easily change the look of this one-light scenario by removing the bookend bounce panel and using the mirror to shine light onto the subject. When the mirrored light becomes the main light, the subject will still pop out of the background, but any portion of the background not hit by the new main light will appear very dark, as minimal light will be falling upon it. You will have to play with the angles a bit to get an attractive shadow on the model’s face, and it might be a good idea to hang a larger gobo between the backlight and you, to give yourself a larger shadow to work under. See image 3.17.

Larger mirrors may also be used as fill or hair lights, although reflected light will have the same properties of the source. So, if the source is a hard light, the reflected light will be just as hard and shadowy, unless the mirror is somehow modified, perhaps with water-soluble dulling spray or diffusion material such as that made by Rosco.

Setting up a good lighting scenario takes time, thought, and pre-visualization. If I’ve been hired to produce just one look for a final image, perhaps a shot of a model in a specific composition (such as I might have to do for an advertising job), I’ll spend additional time during the shoot watching the model’s position and tweaking the lights and their ratios to the main light until the client and I are completely satisfied. However, if I’m shooting for stock, the model’s portfolio, or just to play, I’ll try to engineer potential variations into my scenario, to get as much variety out of it as possible. It’s much easier to make small changes to get a different look than it is to relight an entire set, even when using only one light.

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2013 Amazon After Thanksgiving Sales Offer Savings on a TV, Computer and Digital Camera

It is very hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a month away as millions of Americans will be traveling home for the holidays. When sitting around the table eating turkey and stuffing many thrifty shoppers will begin to discuss after Thanksgiving sales. Some of the more popular items that are on sale after Thanksgiving include computers, TVs and digital cameras. With the United States becoming more and more advanced with technology it comes as no surprise to see shoppers looking to Amazon and other electronic retailers to find low prices on these products.The Amazon black Friday sales ad will likely come out sometime in early November and this paper could help millions to save money this year. With the overall economy greatly struggling and many Americans looking to save as much as possible it will likely be true that customers will look for sales and deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It might be even bigger in 2010 than it has ever been due to the fact that the unemployment rate is still above 9% and millions of Americans have exhausted their unemployment benefits. Saving money on Christmas gift purchases is extremely important for those who are finding money hard to come by.With Amazon being one of the biggest electronics retailers in the world it will likely be the case that there are several deals and sales from the major companies that offer TVs, computers and digital cameras. Some of the most popular TV makers that often offer sales and deals going into the Christmas holiday include Sony, Samsung, Vizio, LG and Panasonic. This is just a small sample of the many companies that are creating great HDTVs in 2010. Make sure to do your research before deciding on any purchase as you will want to get a TV that holds up through time.When it comes to computers and digital cameras there are many options available. Do not be surprised to see many after Thanksgiving sales on items from Apple, Dell, HP, Canon and Kodak. Once again, it is always a very good idea to do research before purchasing any piece of technology. There are many free websites that can help you pick out the best Christmas gift for the loved ones in your life. Remember that it is not always the best decision to find the cheapest product available; sometimes you end up getting what you paid for.

True Meaning Of Christmas, Aside From Black Friday

I find it fascinating how adults have been able to find out these creative ways to touch the hearts of kids around America. All the Santa’s sitting in shopping malls for hours, just to put a smile on a young boy or girl’s face. Seems like a load off parents shoulders if you ask me. Snapping your son or daughter’s first photograph and memory with Mr. Clause. This is when Santa letters come in handy.The best part of Christmas time that I recall as a child, was the belief that Santa Clause existed. How there was absolutely no bullying around my elementary school, because the little one’s thought “he was watching.” How my sister and I would bake cookies and place them on the table next to the fire place, only to find that they have disappeared the next morning. Now of course I eventually grew up to find out my own parents have been munching on our homemade treats in the middle of the night. I then became one sad child. This is one of the many reasons I suggest you never tell your kids that the man in red is not realistic.Most parents love not having the responsibility of a disappointed kid lingering on their backs. The fact that they are receiving letters from Santa in elementary school is enough to know your toddlers have opened up their imaginations. Nowadays we hear of all sorts of wonderful reindeer games played by toddlers, the sparkle in their eyes, and glows on their faces patiently waiting to experience sitting on Santa’s lap, while parents are driving over to the nearest mall.With December just around the corner, I have made it a mission of mine to help out all you determined mothers and fathers around America in surviving the chaotic day we all know as “Black Friday.” Not every one has the time to camp out in front of their favorite Toys-R-Us store. Try purchasing your bargains online, for a change. No lines or crowds, and you do not have to bother getting ready. Another tip, is to write down exactly what it is you are looking to purchase, so that you are not rummaging around the store bumping carts with the woman next to you. You will be in and out of the store in no time. Try to avoid food courts, they are way too crowded with hungry shoppers and your car will be sitting in the parking lot longer than you hoped.So, what is the true meaning of December the twenty fifth? Put aside, for a moment, the bargains we get the month before. To many of us, it is family. Not about how many presents you can purchase under thirty seconds, or the amount of candy canes consumed by your babies, or even how many trips to the Bahamas you take with your little one’s to make them happy. It is all about family. Teaching our children to give to the homeless and the needy who do not have what most of us have during this time of year. In my opinion this is the best way to describe what this holiday is truly all about. To be thankful during this season, for others do not have this opportunity we may have. To steer clear and be safe with these tempting sales that come after Thanksgiving.

What You Need to Know Now for an Effective Spa Holiday Marketing Strategy

With the Holiday season sneaking upon us, I thought that it was important to offer some advice on crafting an effective holiday campaign. Of course every business is different but one thing is for certain. Effective marketing needs to have a strategy and a plan that is carried through. When I talk to spa owners, they all know it’s coming but few tell me that they have a plan.Time quickly gets away from us during this time. You go through a steady October and then before you know it, you are carving the turkey and fielding hundreds and thousands of gift certificate phone calls each week. The good news is that we already know its coming and there is still time plan how to maximize the potential of what is sure to come. Those of you who know me know that I encourage systematic processes, scripted conversations for sales strategies and that I teach you to design for automatic success. The only way to fail is to not design for success. This is the time to shine and improve holiday sales. In this article, I will share data from 2010 holiday consumer reports and how to use it to craft an effective marketing campaign this holiday season. Then I will provide quick tips on how to effectively integrate each marketing channel to have one solid campaign.Let us first outline what we know about the holiday season. In these next several paragraphs, we will take a look at pertinent information related to consumer spending trends during the most wonderful time of the year. It is marked as the top revenue opportunity of the year and is an optimal time to ramp up new business initiatives and engage with existing and previous clients. This is a time that consumers are willing to open their wallets to treat their loved ones. In this day and age, we have to make sure we employ a multi-channel media marketing strategy at the opportune time to ensure that we can reach all of our existing and potential clients.This season, we have a fantastic opportunity to run effective campaigns given that we have 5 full weeks between Thanksgiving week and Christmas Day. Plus, Christmas is on a Sunday this year. According to Epsilon’s 2011 Holiday Trend Report, fourth quarter revenues in 2010 remained at a flat 6% increase over previous year through October, peeked to 8% in the second and third weeks on November and of course spiked to 14% the week of Thanksgiving where it remained steady until it dramatically dropping two weeks before Christmas back down to 8% and 5% respectively. If all things remain the same for 2011, this means that you have got to start marketing NOW as you have between week 48 (Thanksgiving) and the two weeks following to make your biggest sales.As far as online marketing and sales is concerned, Cyber Monday (the Monday following Black Friday) of 2010 was the biggest online shopping day of the season and generated the highest revenues for retailers. So if you have not already, start selling your gift certificates online NOW! More than ever, consumers are buying whatever they can online and when they are looking to buy a spa gift certificate online and you do not or have not optimized your site for this, they WILL find a different spa who does, or worse, just buy a Spa Finder gift card. This is easy to do, call the folks at Spa Boom and they will set it up for you and if you are running Millennium, it makes it even easier!Because of the huge opportunity with online sales, you must run an effective online campaign. The role of social media will be huge and will play a major part of supporting your in-house promotions, print ads and email strategies. It will also be key in early marketing efforts to drive sales during those three peak weeks. It was a key driver of Thanksgiving Day sales and leading into Black Friday. It is hard to ignore the power of Social Media with the abundance of consumers with the latest iPhones, Droids and Blackberry devices, listening to their favorite retailers and spas. Many are also making purchases through their mobile device. (Do you see why you need to have online gift certificate sales)?Obviously email makes an equally huge impact, if not more for spas. You would think that the highest open rates would be during that holiday period but believe it or not, open rates are strongest (16.9%) the first week on October with a steady decline through the week of Christmas. Another interesting fact is that open rates begin to increase the week of Christmas and continue, reaching their highest open rate the last week of January (18.3%). These statistics mean that you MUST start marketing now and also run a post holiday campaign that carries you into Valentine’s Day.However, click rates have fallen due to consumers being trained to seek out massive discounts in 2009. This translates into being more effective in establishing goals and focusing your promotions and call to action to yield a higher conversion rate. Big retailers often run targeted promotions towards different segments rather than one broad and general campaign, increasing conversion. There is no reason you shouldn’t be doing the same thing. You know that the people who come in for that once per year express massage and facial are unlikely to purchase a $300 package so why are you inviting them to? Target your emails based on client’s purchasing habits and segment your database.It is also important to recognize the peak days for emails. The 2010 season showed the highest open rates on Monday (12.2%), Thursday (10.9%) and Friday (9.1%). The highest conversion days were Wednesday (6.7%), Friday (6.5%), and Tuesday (6.3%) with Saturday a close fourth at 6.1%. This means you should inform on the peak open days with your call to action emails being sent on the peak conversion days. At the same token, you also need to realize that you are competing with other retailers both in and outside your industry. So you want to make sure that you are not part of the flooding emails that come overtake inboxes this time of year. The peak days for promo emailing in terms of volume of emails are Fridays, Mondays and Tuesdays respectively. Now would be a good chance to go back and look at your stats if you can measure them. But what I conclude from this info is promote on Wednesday (lowest volume of mass emails, 9.6% open rate and 6.7% conversion rate) and sell on Wednesday or Tuesday (6.5% open rate and 6.3% conversion).Lastly with respect to emails, it is important to have a captivating headline. This improves search results on Twitter and Facebook as well. The headlines that had the highest open rates in 2010 included the following words: Black; Now; Sale; Save; New; Holiday; Free; Coupon; Exclusive; Gift; Only; Deal; Today; and Offer Respectively.We have talked mostly about timing, now let’s take a quick look at what you should know when deciding what and how to advertise. According to Nielsen’s, most are not planning on spending more this season with the exception of affluent households who reported plans for modest spending increases. One of the biggest growth in revenues this season however, are expected to be gift card retailers. Most consumers will still be focused on practicality and value and the affluent segment will also be looking towards entertainment and leisure.What you should take away from all of this is the early marketer catches the worm (20% started shopping in September), focused advertising will win, and revenues will likely remain flat or decline if you do not implement a smarter and more effective marketing strategy this year. These reports are generalized of retail forecasts so remember that the gift card game is different, it is a last minute purchase. Get your spa at the top of mind now so when shoppers are running around thinking about those last minute gifts for their loved ones and employees, you are top of mind and very accessible. Now that you have this information, you can craft a campaign around this. Here are a few ideas to drive revenues and put yourself in front of a larger captive audience.Capture a bigger audience – Increase that top of mind are to reach out to your local mall and ask of you can rent space in their common areas to sell gift certificates through the season starting on Black Friday and running through the day after Christmas. Some malls have satellite units for this very purpose (caution-try to avoid the kiosks that you traditionally see electronic cigarettes and inexpensive skin care products at. Shoppers are programmed to avoid these in most cases). If the mall does not have a satellite unit, do not stop there. Propose that you set up your own table that mall management can approve to make sure that it fits in with the mall and is not displayed like a temporary fixture. Try your hardest to make this happen. If you can pull it off, it is a great way to put yourself in front of shoppers, increase awareness, meet new clients who have not heard of you and get your name out there. Make sure that it is staffed with people who are attractive, approachable, knowledgeable and can sell. You will likely need to recruit additional staff to do this or ideally offer more hours to your current staff. Either way, train them extremely well so you do not need to micro-manage them. This will allow you to avoid relying on the traffic outside your store front and you can capitalize from the malls hefty marketing budget. You can also partner up with independent vendors within the mall to drive traffic to your booth. This is costly, expect the lease to cost around $2000 more or less plus staffing costs, but the return is there if you do it right. (I have done it for 6 years with no regrets).Social Media – To run effective email campaigns, support them through social media outlets. Build anticipation by offering tips, and advice on health and wellness during the holiday season but DO NOT SELL! The purpose of social media is to instill trust and build community. Share advice not promotions and spam. Give people a reason why they would want to follow you. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself before you share “would my life be better if I knew this information that I am about to share?”. If the answer is yes, click that button. If it’s no, try harder. Make sure you stay active with social media this holiday season to get people listening, this way when you do throw out the occasional promotion or sales pitch, your spa clients will be more open to learning about it. It sounds like a lot of work but you can set this up over the course of a couple days for the entire holiday season. Check out to schedule your entire holiday season campaign and you will not need to tweet or Facebook for the rest of the year! Also, do not forget to add promos on holidays too. Early bird savings on Thanksgiving and last minute savings on Christmas day. Of course this is only possible if you offer online certificate sales. Also remember to include links to your online gift certificate sales direct site. As I mentioned, people are buying right on their mobile devices, so make it easy! In fact, Google predicts that 44% of all last minute gift research this season will be done on mobile devices. That’s too huge to ignore.Email strategy – emails should be supported through social media to develop a buzz and anticipation. Let people in on little secrets throughout social media to let them know something is coming but don’t give it all away. You want people to talk about it and have a desire to be in the know. When you do finally send out the emails with the call to action, share the link several times through Facebook and Twitter by using a shortened URL address which you can get at With respect to emails,any campaign you run should be done in 3s. The first one to share info, provide advice, and establish a reason why your clients will want to take advantage of the offer. Do not put the offer in the first email but rather let them know that something is coming. The second email is reinforcement of the first and the call to action or sales pitch. The third is a follow up to the second as in a last chance offer, extended offer, or even better savings then the first time. You should run multiple campaigns throughout this season.Discounting – A lot of businesses make the mistake of discounting spa packages. Do not do it during this time. People are willing to spend and they are looking for a deal, but do not discount the services in your packages. Instead, think on ways to add value and really sell the service. Sell your spa first then the package, not the other way around. Cater to your guests needs and budget instead of simply giving them a list of packages to choose from. You certainly want to have pre-defined packages ready to go and to post online and offer as online gift certificate sales, but do not discount. If you are traditionally known for discounting your services, come up with an inexpensive grouping of services and use that cost to advertise. For instance “spa packages starting a just $45”. I try to avoid advertising prices at all costs, but each situation is different. The key is to get as many human interactions as possible and learn the clients spending limit and preferences and suggest packages and service offerings armed with that info.Print Ads and Other Traditional Media – If you have come this far, you simply need to support what you are saying with your print ads. Share your Facebook, Twitter and Email account info in the print ad and use consistent imaging the entire season. These images should be an extension of your brand and included in both print ads and email. Come up with one or two clever headlines and supporting images and use these throughout all marketing efforts as your holiday branding strategy.There is much that we have not covered, but I hope that this article has provided you with inspiration and direction. Remember to use the data provided in the first section when crafting your campaigns. This sounds like a lot but it is so important this year. I’ll bet you can knock out your entire Q4 marketing and advertising in a block of three days and never have to worry about it the rest of the season. That allows you to focus on selling and fulfilling rather than attracting and managing. The most important thing is to get your staff on the same page and train them on selling. I will be providing some strategies on this in next month’s issue. As for now, if you have any questions or need clarification or just want to comment, feel free to reach out to me. I love providing as much feedback as my time allows.

Proper Main Light Meter Placement

The correct position of the light meter determines the correctness of exposure. Indeed, there’s a reason why incident light meters utilize a plastic dome to see the light before it hits the meter’s sensor, and that reason is undeniably easy to understand; the shape of the dome mimics the shape of the face, and that shape reads the strength of light and shadow relative to a face and gives you a correct and proper f-stop for your camera. It makes no difference what color of skin you’re working with because a correctly metered light will be a perfectly exposed light, and any skin color will be properly represented.

So, what is the correct position of the meter’s dome? In the vast majority of circumstances, the place to hold the meter is directly under the subject’s chin and aimed at the camera. This guarantees the meter reads the three zones of light—the specular highlight, diffused highlight , and transition zone—with an equal balance. The result, if your meter is calibrated, is an exposure that’s so perfect you can go straight to proofs without tweaking Levels at all. When you’re using a calibrated light meter, the amount of time you’ll save is enormous. You will be confident enough with your metering techniques to avoid shooting RAWfiles entirely, if you wish.

Let’s back up for just a minute. RAW files are the digital equivalent of a film negative, allowing you up to 2 stops in exposure compensation. RAW files are a digital gift because in tough shooting situations they can really save your bacon. Each RAWfile is worthless by itself, however. It must be “processed” via digital software before it can be used as a JPEG, TIFF, or any other format.

As you know or can imagine, the amount of time required to process a large batch of RAW files can be enormous. Imagine a wedding photographer who shoots two or three thousand shots in RAWformat over the course of the big day. Each shot may take 3 to 4 minutes to tweak, plus the time necessary to process the files into a TIFF or JPEG format (depends on the speed of your computer). Think about the amount of time you might save if you nail the exposure, especially in JPEG format, straight out of the gate.

If you feel you must shoot RAW, set your camera to shoot large JPEG files and RAW files at the same time. When you download, separate the RAWs and JPEGs into separate folders. Look at the JPEGs first. If you find JPEGs that need to be tweaked, use the RAW files to do so. If the JPEGs are fine, trash the RAW files or just burn them to a disc. Your time savings will be huge.

Metering for correct exposure in the studio is quite easy. I’ve photographed a few test images just to show you how foolproof it can be.

Let’s begin with the light set at zero degrees to the lens axis (i.e., directly over the lens). I used a simple parabolic reflector as a modifier for this test. It’s rather contrasty, but it will demonstrate the principle nicely.

In image 2.1, you’ll see there is a full range of tones, from the bright whites of the subject’s teeth through the shadows of her hair.

The correct position of the light meter, in at least 90 percent of all situations, is directly under the chin and aimed directly at the lens. This will guarantee the meter will read all three zones and deliver an average reading that will give you a proper representation of those zones. See image 2.2.

At 22.5 degrees from center, the angle of incidence begins to change. You may have been taught in photo class that the “angle of incidence equals the angle of deflection,” and this is absolutely true. The meter angle stays the same, straight on to camera, but you begin to see some changes in the specularity of the light because it’s now aimed at different planes on the face and reflecting directly into the camera from some of them. See image 2.3.

At 45 degrees, the shadows deepen because there is no fill on the shadow side. The exposure, measured with the meter still aimed at the camera, still produced a perfect exposure when the strobe generator was adjusted to the target exposure, f/10 for this example. See image 2.4.

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At 60 degrees, which is more than most attractive portraits will tolerate, a meter reading aimed at the camera still yields a beautiful result. Shadows and highlights are properly represented, even though the image is very contrasty. See image 2.5.

So, what happens if we aim the meter at the light? At 60 degrees, what can the difference be, after all? Interestingly, the difference can be quite major.When you aim the meter at the light, you will only measure the brightest part of the light, not the average of highlights and shadows we’ve been measuring so far. With the meter aimed at the light, note the difference in shadow density and highlight brilliance between the previous examples. The inference is clear: most circumstances do not require the meter to be aimed at the light. Aiming it at the camera will produce more consistent results almost all of the time. The first image was made at the previous aperture, the second was made with the reading given by aiming the meter at the light, not at the camera, a 1/4-stop difference. See images 2.6 and 2.7.

The easiest way to add fill light to your image is to bring in a white bookend or any other kind of white fill to add light to the shadow side. I’ve never been a fan of adding another strobe as fill. I much prefer a fill card of some kind because it will not add any shadows of its own. Be advised that, even at 3 feet away from the subject, the extra light that bounces in will affect the overall exposure. In this case, introducing the bookend added 1/3 stop of light to the overall exposure, which meant I had to either take the exposure down at the source (as I would recommend) or move the main light straight back a few inches. Either approach will maintain the ratio of any other lights that may have been set. This image, metered with the dome aimed at the camera, is a perfect example of how bounce fill can open up the shadows without looking like a second source of light. See image 2.8.

Metering a profile is different in that it’s one of the few times you’ll need to aim the meter at the light rather than the camera. This assumes that the light is coming from in front of the profile (and from the side,

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relative to the camera). When the light is coming from any direction less than the 60 degrees we previously discussed you can meter, with confidence, with the dome facing the camera.

When the light is coming from 90 degrees to the side, if we were to meter with the dome aimed at the camera, the amount of shadow would throw off the accuracy of the reading, causing a poor exposure. See images 2.9 and 2.10.

Once you’re satisfied with the reading and f-stop, set and meter any other lights you wish to use. I reintroduced the white bookend and added a hair light, powered to the same f-stop as the main light. A small piece of black foamcore, mounted on an accessory arm, created a flag that blocked off part of the light striking the background. The result (image 2.11) is a visually interesting and lovely image. This is a perfect technique for many portrait applications, from beauty and glamour to graduation portraiture.

3 Suggestions To Tweak Your Ecommerce Software For The Holiday Sale Season

The holiday sale season is fast approaching. Have you made the necessary plans and changes to your online store to prepare for the sale season? If not, then here are a few suggestions that you might want to consider implementing with your ecommerce software.Start Offering SalesBelieve me, most online consumers are more willing to have a look at your online store if you are offering sales. Now don’t get me wrong, please make sure that your store looks presentable and your product images are displayed clearly with the pricing. If the store looks messy, customers may not feel inclined to look further. So if you haven’t started offering any sales on your store, you may want to do so. Customers like sales. Who wouldn’t? Just make sure that you have some buffer profit margin with the intention to offer better sales and discount right before the actual holiday date like Black Friday. It would be a great idea if you could collect customers’ email address or phone numbers using your shopping cart software to let them know of further discounts.Partner With Local BusinessesThese days, many online merchants realized that they can’t function by themselves unless they have a strong customer base. If you don’t have such a base, it would be wise to partner with other local businesses to help one another out in these economic times. For instance, your partnership is aimed to benefit the consumers hence you could offer complementary products or services at special discounted rates. That way, you and your partners benefit together. You will need to run this on an extended sale season to see the results.Offer Gift Cards Or CouponsFor the customers that have already bought something from your store or who basically signed up and left their contacts with you, go ahead and offer them gift cards or discount coupons. They could be digital and sent via emails or mobile phones. For instance, you could offer them discounts based on dollars or percentage. Best would be in dollars. That will encourage these customers to come back to you for repeat orders. And if they recommend their friends, they just need to point them to your site and register to qualify for the discount.SummaryThis is an exciting season as all retailers and merchants are gearing up for the Thanksgiving holiday sale season. Even at the moment, consumers could be hunting for Christmas gifts to take advantage of the discounted items that are being offered as more retailers compete for market share. All the best!

The Day Frequency Traders, Institutional Traders, Mayan Calendar, and Day Traders Were All in Sync

It was a Friday, December 21, 2012 and it was a day that changed the world, which happened to coincide with the last day of the Mayan Calendar, traditionally understood by the ancient Mayans as a transitional period, to what, no one in the present period really knew, just that it was to be profound. And, not to burst anyone’s bubble it certainly was all of that and more for the US Stock Market. Did that make it any easier for anyone who lost their life’s saving that day as nearly 8 trillion dollars evaporated from the market? Certainly not, agreed the guest commentary on CNBC at the Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo.Well, hindsight is 20/20 as they say, and this day was coming, and nearly 25% of Americans thought that it might be the end of days, apocalypse, or Armageddon. The number of short-sellers had the Dow opening down -303 points, which was bad enough, to make matters worse, most short-term traders were not leaving any money in the market over the Christmas Holidays, things were just too choppy, the volatility index was already at its highest point since the Debt Deal Impasse, S&P Downgrade, and the near collapse of the EU banking system in summer of 2011. With Quadruple-Witching, and end of year tax loss selling, the market was already getting hammered all week.On what many hoped would be a light trading day due to the holiday weekend, it was rather odd all the short-sellers coming out of the wood-work as they did. After all what’s that old Wall Street quote; “Never Short a Dull Market!” Well, it may have been assumed to be a dull-day, however it was anything but. After all, this was the end of the world, the Mayan Calendar had run out, and to make matters worse, there were four X-Flares of extremely high power the weeks prior; 2 of which hit Earth directly, one in November and one just the week before the catastrophic sell-off.The November solar flare took out the North Eastern US Power Grid, half of AT&Ts network, and many communication satellites used for credit card transactions at C-Store Gas Stations, Restaurants, and even Wal-Mart on Black Friday, which happened to be the biggest shopping day of the year. Online Retailers were zapped too, data centers, cloud computing, all challenged. About half of all the systems were up by the end of the day, but consumer sales for America’s largest corporations were now a day late and a dollar short.With these solar disruptions there was damage to the Space Telescope, ISS, and even military satellites, although the US Military, actually militaries from around the world denied anything had been taken down, pure posturing, but that’s to be expected. Folks were on edge, and many had wondered what the Mayans knew, and why now. For all these reasons everyone was shorting the market, and the institutional investors were betting down the market big time, and when the trading started so too did the high-frequency trading or algorithmic computational trading systems.Europe had banned short selling of their bond markets, currency markets, and just recently; “No High Frequency Computer Trading!” Europe and Asia got hit pretty hard and the US markets hadn’t opened yet, but when they did, holy hell, the volume of trading in the US hit a one-day record amount within the first hour, it was all over the place. The market hit the stops, one after another all day long. Wouldn’t you know it, Mexico City had a 7.5 Earthquake just 35-miles away at 10 AM their time the same day. Was this really the end? Or was it all an excuse for the computer trading systems to make trillions slamming the market into oblivion?There had been talk in the US about regulating or banning high-frequency trading all together in the US, and the Franks-Dodds Bill which had passed actually protected the “too big to fail banks,” all of which were making money on algorithmic trading, rather than loaning money to small businesses. The President got on TV to tell everyone that it was going to be okay, the world wasn’t coming to an end, and to hopefully calm markets, it didn’t work, in fact, it may have done just the opposite. Then the new Treasury Secretary got on CNBC, no changes either the market was falling like a rock still.The Federal Reserve Chairman was in-route back from G-8 Summit, unable to be interviewed, as soon as he landed he gave a question and answer meeting. All the financial media pundits said he was in full-combat crisis mode. That just made things worse, when regular investors heard that. Gold hit a new all-time high. Yes, it was the day from hell on Wall Street one which will go down in the record books, but the world didn’t end, and the market gained back a third of what it lost that day during the next two-trading days after the holidays. By the last day of the year, the market had recovered all but 800 points on the Dow, and then the January barometer recovered all that and more.The US Congress came back from holiday recess, vowing to fix this flash-crash, high-frequency challenge once and for all, but the banking lobby had made 100s of billions by then on both the downside and the upside of all that volatility. Was there a solution to prevent this from ever happening again? Apparently so, and there was a think tank which had a concept of viewing every single global transaction in real-time, using holographic imagery, supercomputers, and the new Intel chip running Oracle software, and IBM’s new spectral imaging.Basically how the system worked is that it was the size of a ping-pong table, and it showed the money flows in different colors transversing the map of the United States. The operator could click on different countries or all the countries at once, or isolate the system for currency trades in any of the major currency and view it in real time. Some of the same high-frequency trading software engineers would help build the system, and it could be controlled just as the Federal Aviation Administration could control the flow of airline traffic, viewing every single individual flight as it occurred.The system was brilliant, and it worked, not only could it be used for tracking money flows, but it could also be used for watching and predicting the weather, observing the spread of influenza during flu season, and even monitoring our power grid. It was a system to monitor all the flows of civilization using net-centric warfare computational theory X’s ten to the tenth power.Only one problem, the system, plus terminals was going to run in the neighborhood of $30 million. The terminals and systems would have redundancy, and when the markets were not running, the supercomputers would be used for something else, including controlling all the Internet traffic from the major data centers coming into the US to prevent cyber attacks from foreign rogue nations.The Senate passed the bill unanimously, and there was only one no-vote in the House of Representatives. The president signed the bill within 15 minutes of it reaching his desk, with the promise that Intel, IBM, Oracle, and several other vendors would have the system up and running in less than four months, and that they could only hire Americans to build the system. Apparently, this just proves there is opportunity in crisis, if only the Mayans would’ve known.

Golf Gifts and Decor Make Perfect Holiday Gifts

November 23, the day after Thanksgiving, also know as “black Friday”, starts the holiday shopping countdown for 2007. Only 32 shopping days left until Christmas. What is going to make the perfect gift this year?Golf becomes more popular every year, more and more people play all the time, watch it on television, and talk about it, making golf gifts and décor a great theme for holiday gift shopping. With a large selection of golf gifts available for the holidays it will be easy to find that perfect present. Here are some great gift giving ideas.Golf Pictures – Pictures of famous golf courses such as Pebble Beach, Augusta National, TPC Sawgrass, or St. Andrews will let you enjoy rich landscapes of the most gorgeous golf courses in the world from any room in your home or office. Anyone with an eye for art will enjoy such stunning pictures. For the collector of golf memorabilia choose authentic autographed PGA and LPGA Player pictures of some of the greatest players of golf such as Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Annika Sorenstam.Golf Décor – Know anyone who has made that infamous hole in one shot? If so, a personalized hole in one plaque is the perfect way to capture that special moment permanently. Top 100 Courses plaques is the ultimate golfer challenge. Set a goal to play at all 100 courses in the US or World. For the golf ball collector choose a beautiful wooden golf ball display case, add a special touch with a personalized name. Golf memorabilia buffs will love a set of Bobby Jones “Grand Slam” clubs or bronze sculpture.Golf Equipment and Accessories – Every golfer is always in need (want) of the latest and greatest out on the market. No golfer will turn down a set of new clubs! If your looking to get something a little less pricy, you can choose from golf headcovers, umbrellas, divot repair tools, golf bags, equipment organizers, coolers, push carts, or travel cases. Don’t forget every golfer at some point in time will need a golf ball retriever, even if they don’t want to admit it.Golf Training Aids – Training aids are great gifts for many reasons; they allow you to practice your game year round even if you can’t make it to the golf course. True golfers would play 24/7 if they could. Indoor/outdoor golf nets, mats, practice balls, and putting greens improve your game from the home, office, or backyard. Training books, videos, tapes, and CD’s are perfect aids for new or seasoned golfers.Golf Gifts – Everyone enjoys a good laugh, golfer or not. Funny gag and novelty golf gifts will bring a smile to anyone’s face at an affordable price and make great presents for the office gift exchange party. Golf games such as Monopoly, Dominoes, Par Darts, or Caddy Shack Trivia not only make a great holiday gift, but will also be a hit at your next party. Watches for him and her are perfect for the couple that plays golf.Now that you have all these great ideas what is the easiest, most affordable way get them? Specialty golf stores tend to offer a huge selection of golf equipment and accessories, but not as many gifts and decor. If you want to find the largest selection of golf gifts, décor, an equipment; shopping online will make it easy, cut down on time you have to spend driving around, and will deliver to your doorstep. The variety of golf gifts and products available online to a golfer far exceeds the specialty golf store. Try shopping at an online discount golf store for the best savings.

The Gear and The Look

Throughout this book, I’ll show you examples of many different types of light and light modifiers. Umbrellas, softboxes, reflectors, and even sheets of white board, any and all can be used to create stunning images of beautiful women. The key is how they are used, alone or together, with similar or dissimilar modifiers.

You may find a technique (I hope you find many) that you really like but are reluctant to try because you don’t have the same style or size modifier that I used. Don’t be. The principles are the same although the look may be slightly different. If you follow the diagrams I’ve included but modify them as necessary for your gear, you’ll still get stunning images.

When seeking to purchase any modifier, consider the size of the product versus the size of your studio. If you were to buy a 4×6-foot softbox, would you have room to use it to its full advantage or would it extend too far into your shooting space? Do you have the space and the height to accommodate 4×8-foot bookends, or would you be better off cutting them down a bit? Would collapsible reflectors be better?

You will be working with your gear for years. Think it through, and buy only what you need.


Softboxes IMAGE 1.1.

Softboxes (image 1.1) are the mainstay of my studio, and I use them more than any other modifier. Certain styles of softbox work better for some applications than others, but they can be considered, essentially, interchangeable, as long as you understand their properties and limitations.

Large. My large softboxes are 4×6 feet and take up quite a bit of real estate in the studio. Still, they produce great light.When placed close to the model, the light is soft with open shadows. Because it’s so large, you can move it quite far from the model before you see evidence of the contrast and specularity you’d see with a smaller source.

On average, the distance from the main light to the model is 6 feet for a head-and-shoulders portrait. For purposes of comparison, all the following samples will show the main light and modifier at that distance, and without any additional fill. You’ll be able to see the differences between the effects created by the various modifiers quite easily. Please bear in mind, though, that shadows and specularity will increase when the light is moved farther away and will decrease when the distance is diminished. Here, I’ve placed my model closer than usual to the background—about 3 feet away—so you can see what the shadow looks like. See image 1.2.

Medium.Medium softboxes (mine are 3×4 feet) are the most valuable modifiers in my arsenal. I use them for everything from portraits to product, and I rely upon them more often than any other modifier. They are extremely valuable for location portraiture as well, whether it’s a glamour shoot or business portrait, indoors or out. See image 1.3.

Small. Small softboxes are available in many sizes, from the extra-small 15×18-inch version to 2×3-foot unit. I think you’ll find these most useful for background or hair lights, or to add underfill highlights, but they do make effective main lights. You can see from my sample that, at 6 feet, contrast and specularity are more evident with the 2×3-foot unit than with the previously described sizes. However, should you move a box like this in quite a bit closer to the subject, you’ll find that the main light it throws is very dramatic: soft, with open shadows, but with rapid falloff. See image 1.4.

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Strip Lights. Strip lights (long, narrow softboxes engineered to produce an even output of light across their length) are a somewhat specialized accessory. I have several 1×6-foot strip lights that I use frequently as accents, sidelights, background lights, or hair lights. They are not cheap and require a special speed ring that not all strobe manufacturers make, but they produce a light that’s both beautiful and hard to define. Profoto (my brand of choice) is one of the few making a 1×6-foot box. Should you decide to purchase them, and you don’t use Profoto equipment, please make sure your strobe’s manufacturer makes a speed ring that will accommodate them.

They can be used as a main light, with a different look from any other softbox. See image 1.5.

Quality softboxes have an additional layer of diffusion— an internal layer of nylon called a “baffle” that diffuses the light even more before it reaches the front of the box and exits.When buying softboxes, be sure to check that the corners are heavily reinforced to withstand the constant pressure from the rods that connect the box to the speed ring.


Most umbrellas spread light by acting as a reflector. The light itself is aimed away from the model and beamed into a reflective fabric shell.

White is the most common umbrella fabric. Silver provides a slightly “snappier” look with a bit more brightness. A silver umbrella will, almost always, impart a slightly different color to the scene, necessitating a custom white balance but potentially skewing the color of all other lights. Gold reflective umbrellas are available, but they significantly warm the color of the light. Consequently, you may not want to use one for everyday images. This sample was shot with a white umbrella. See images 1.6 and 1.7.

The other common umbrella style is called “shootthrough.” When using this style of umbrella, the light is actually aimed at the subject, passing through the translucent fabric of the umbrella and onto the subject. While it functions much like a softbox, the light the shoot-through umbrella emits is not as soft as that from a softbox because there’s only one layer of diffusion. Most softboxes, at least the quality boxes, have a second, interior layer of diffusion. See images 1.8 and 1.9.



Working without a modifier on the strobe can produce terrific results, from simulated sunlight to simply saturated color with deep shadows. As you go through the book, you’ll see a number of ways to create great looks with bare-tubed strobe(s).

I’ve found the best position for the tube, with most gear, is in the 11 o’clock position. It avoids any reflection from the (usually) chrome casing at the base of the tube and produces a cleaner shadow. See images 1.10 and 1.11.


Basic Parabolics. Basic parabolic reflectors are usually included with the purchase of a strobe head. Most are 6 or 7 inches in diameter and designed to throw a hard light evenly over the subject. These are not generally recommended for portraiture (there are exceptions, of course) but are used along with umbrellas or as fill or bounce light. See images 1.12 and 1.13.

Grids. Very cool little toys, grids are honeycomblike devices, about 3/8 of an inch thick, that reforms light that passes through them to a straight line, expanding it in a specified amount from its center. Depending on the manufacturer, sets of grids for parabolic reflectors may be purchased individually or in sets, in a range from 5 to 40 degrees (grids for beauty bowls are not as numerous). The specified degree means that, when a parabolic is fitted with, say, a 20 degree grid, the light will expand from the center of the reflector at 20 degrees.

Grids can be used to create spotlight-like effects, as controlled hair or accent lights, or to skim across a surface. One of the great features of grids is that they can throw bright accents from behind a subject yet keep light from striking the lens, which could produce flare.


Many grids will fit into many manufacturer’s parabolics. They are sort of a one-size-fits-all modifier. Some manufacturers make a parabolic specifically to hold grids. See images 1.14 and 1.15.

Beauty Bowls. Beauty bowls (also called beauty dishes) are large reflectors that have a baffle in front of the strobe head that reflects direct light back to the sides of the dish. The result is a direct but softer light than one would get with a basic parabolic. Beauty bowls are usually at least 18 inches in diameter, though some can be purchased that are 24 inches or larger. They are pricey, as are their accessory grids, but they are more than worth it for the quality of light they produce. Some manufacturers’ beauty bowls allow the center diffuser to be removed for a more contrasty light source.

I use beauty bowls in a number of ways but find them especially valuable as hair lights when used with a grid. This image was made with the grid from the predetermined distance of 6 feet. See images 1.16 and 1.17.

Panels and Collapsible Reflectors. As you will see, I use a number of reflectors in my work. My favorites are bookends—two pieces of 4×8-foot foamcore taped together along a common spine. You’ll see many examples of how I work with these, especially my favorite and my own invention, the bookend bounce, in chapter 3. See image 1.18.

I also use a number of Lastolite’s collapsible reflectors. Usually meant for bouncing light when working outdoors, I’ve found these wonderful gadgets extremely useful for studio work. See image 1.19.

A word of caution: Always custom white balance whenever you change a modifier on the main light. Clients will put up with (probably not even notice) minor color variations on hair or background lights but will shy away from off-color main lights. They may not know why they don’t like the shots, but they will know there’s something wrong.

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IMAGE 1.20


I’ve found accessory arms, essentially short poles that clamp over light stands, to be invaluable tools in the studio. I have a number of these, under the Avenger label, that do a great job for me. Some are engineered with clamps for reflectors, some are just rods to which I can attach reflectors, flags, or whatever. Two of them together, raised to the same height and pointed to each other, can support a roll of background paper or a cloth background. Depending on the weight of what is being attached, a sandbag or counterweight may be necessary to keep the stand from falling over. See image 1.20.

Astute readers will realize that I’ve written about some of this equipment before. I apologize if I am repeating myself, but it’s necessary information for new readers. Believe me, this little chapter is only an informational introduction to a beautiful, compelling, and artistic lighting adventure.

Where to Find Barbie Toys

When it comes to finding Barbie toys, you may think you only have one or two options, but there are actually many different ways you can pick up all types of Barbie items. We have a list of some of the common and not so common ways to find the toys that girls have loved for generations.Places to Find Barbie ToysThis is a short list of some of the ways to get Barbie games and toys.
At Toy Stores – This is one of the more obvious places you can find the popular doll. If you are after the latest dolls or accessories, this is probably a good place to start.
Online Shopping – This is the most common way to find her online. Whether it is at a large department store’s website looking for new dolls or on eBay looking for classic Barbie dolls, there are many places to purchase Barbie dolls online.
Garage Sales – Yard sales, rummage sales, and garage sales are all great places to find good deals on slightly used Barbies. You may not find exactly what you are wanting, but you never know what you are going to find.
There are many slight variations to all these methods of finding Barbie toys, but these should get you headed in the right direction. Wherever you decide to shop, there are some things you should keep in mind so that you get the most value for your money.Tips for Buying Barbie ToysHere are some general tips to help you get the most bang for your buck.
Look for Sales – If you are not rushed to get a gift, you can wait for the inevitable sales that are going to arrive. This can add up to a lot of savings, allowing you to get more Barbies for your money!
Black Friday – While there may not be many sales on Black Friday directly related to Barbie, there are sure to be savings that can be applied to shopping for Barbie toys.
Shop Around – Even if you can’t find a sale, if you shop around online, you are going to find that there is usually at least one website selling the toy for quite a bit less. This is especially true for Barbie Power Wheels and other expensive toys.
Following our tips and advice, you should be able to find the perfect Barbie (no pun), no matter who is going to receive the gift.