Samsung NX2000 camera, 20.3MP, NFC, WiFi and touchscreen

Samsung NX2000 camera

If you’ve been broken amid Samsung’s NX300 and NX1000 mirrorless cameras, you should apperceive the aggregation has clearly breach the aberration with its new NX2000. While it acceptable will not amplitude NEX-3N lovers abroad from Sony, the $650 NX2000 is alone a Benjamin added than Sammy’s lower-end NX1000 and packs the aforementioned 3D-capable DRIMe IV processor and NFC functionality as the pricier NX300. Of course, you still get the 20.3-megapixel APS-C sensor apparent beyond the line. The appropriate agency from its ancestors is the Galaxy Camera-like 3.7-inch, 1,152k-dot touchscreen (fixed) on the back, rather than the accepted array of rear buttons. The 100 to 25,600 ISO ambit and best JPG access amount of 8 fps is just like the 300’s, admitting this is alone able of recording 1080p video at 60 fps. Unfortunately, the autofocus is alone contrast-detection, but Samsung claims that it’s one of the fastest to the draw.

As you’d expect, this ballista appearance WiFi (single band) for abutting through AllShare or the Smart Camera app, additional there’s a microSD aperture for appointment files physically. Sure, it’s not the a lot of agitative amend to Samsung’s camera line, but it’s acutely a big bound up from the NX1000 — on paper, anyway. The NX2000 will be accessible anon in your best of white, atramentous or pink, and it comes arranged with Adobe Lightroom 4, a 20-50mm lens and a hotshoe-powered flash. Grab added looks in the arcade beneath and hit the columnist absolution afterwards the breach for all the abstruse details.

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Camera inspired 180 degrees, infinite depth of field

Camera inspired 180 degrees

Technologists accept been cartoon afflatus from the insect apple for a continued time. And association alive on robotics absolutely assume to adulation their creepy-crawlies and active arthropods. Advisers at the University of Illinois are searching to our eight-legged planet mates, not for advancement lessons, but as a advertence for a new camera design. The arrangement mimics the eyes of bees and mantises by accumulation assorted lenses on a bisected hemisphere to accommodate a 180-degree appearance with a about absolute abyss of field. The eyes themselves are declared as “soft, rubbery” and anniversary alone microlens is commutual with its own photodiode. The plan gets us a heck of a lot afterpiece to the dream of a agenda fly eye than antecedent efforts, admitting we’re acceptable still absolutely a while from seeing applications alfresco of the lab. DARPA allotment suggests the bogus admixture eyes may accept a approaching in surveillance, admitting the advisers aswell see uses for it in medicine.

 

 

V System cameras, Hasselblad stops production

V System cameras

Update: Just to clear the air, the 503CW has been in production for 17 years — the V System in any form has been active since 1957, since before digital was even a twinkle in Hasselblad’s eye.

Almost by definition, Hasselblad is a company steeped in tradition — it’s hard to be ultra-trendy when your camera systems cost as much as a new car. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that the company is only just getting around to halting production on its last V System camera, the 503CW, 17 years after the first models rolled off the assembly line. Interest has simply dropped off quickly in the past five years, the company says. Support will continue, and accessories will sell while they last, but the emphasis from now on will be squarely on digital-first H System cameras like the H5D. Whether or not you’re mourning the loss, there’s no question that the V System has survived a lot during its lifetime, including the transition to digital shooting and new management. We’d say it’s worth pouring one out for a true veteran of medium format photography.

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Source :  engadget

Canon 5D Mark III firmware update, Fix improved AF, HDMI output

Canon 5D Mark III firmware update

If your camera arsenal includes a 5D Mark III, prepare to get your download on. Earlier today, Canon released a major firmware update for the hit DSLR — version 1.2.1 enables clean, uncompressed HDMI output with simultaneous LCD display and recording to CF or SD cards, along with cross-type autofocus for apertures as small as f/8, bringing that aspect of AF capability in line with the EOS-1D X. You’ll be able to take advantage of improved autofocus performance even when using an f/5.6 lens with a 1.4x extender, or an f/4 lens with a 2x extender. On the video front, version 1.2.1 will let you boot an uncompressed YCbCr 4:2:2 feed to an external recorder, enabling your pick of codecs and frame rates, while also eliminating arbitrary limits on record time. The free download, available for recent versions of Mac OS and Windows, Canon 5D Mark III firmware

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Source : engadget

The Double Main Light

It’s both possible and practical to use more than one light and modifier, together, to create a main light that will give your images a look that’s beautiful and unusual. Yes, it does take a little more time because you’ll need to correctly meter the situation, but it’s worth it. You’re reading this because you want to learn some tricks that will outsmart your competition. If an extra few minutes does that, it’s time well spent. If your competition never buys this book, well, that’s even better (for you, not for me).

I’ve created my test setup with one light fitted with a medium softbox and a second with a basic parabolic reflector and 10 degree gridspot. I first set the light with the softbox in place, using the modeling lamp to get the correct angle for a good shadow. When I was satisfied my model’s face would be nicely rendered, I placed the second light at exactly the same angle, directly in front of the softbox and butted up straight ahead of the first light. See image 7.1.

With only the softbox light turned on, I metered her face and made note of the exposure strength. This is important only because, even though the next light will determine the actual value of the light, I always try to power this first light to a perfect whole stop or perfect third. Adjustments will be more readily accomplished if I don’t have to make more than minor (e.g., 1/10- or 2/10-stop) changes. This first image was made at what would be –2 stops from my final target aperture. Note that it doesn’t matter what your target exposure is— f/5.6, f/8, or whatever—that’s up to you and depends on the limitations of your system or what you want to portray.

Next, I turned the softbox off and powered up the parabolic to 2 stops brighter than the reading from the softbox. A parabolic reflector is a strong source, throwing relatively hard shadows that really need to be softened for most images. When a softbox is used as an additional modifier, it will negate some of the hard look associated with a basic reflector while adding light to the periphery generated by that first light. See image 7.2.

Finally, I turned the softbox back on and metered the two lights together. Because the effects of light are cumulative, the resulting light meter reading was brighter than either light alone. I adjusted the softbox down, until I got to a perfect reading on the model’s face. The light from the softbox is not as important as the light from the parabolic, but the final, working f-stop must be perfect to guarantee a correct exposure. See image 7.3.

So little light falls on the background that “tonal merger” is evident almost everywhere. Tonal merger occurs when the exposure value on the subject is the same as the value seen in the background. It primarily occurs when shadows merge with unlit backgrounds but can also be seen in high key photos, when light on the edges of the subject blows out to pure white and blends with a white background. Unless tonal merger is a planned part of the composition, it should be avoided.

I set a strip light off to camera left, behind the subject and aimed at the background, feathering the light across the surface rather than aiming it directly at the wall. When feathered, a light will evenly light a larger portion of the background. In order to keep the background light subtle, it was powered 1/3 stop less than the combined exposure of the two main lights. See image 7.4.

My model’s hair is quite dark and still shows areas that could be considered too dark, even though the shape of her head and body are visibly separated from the background. The lighting scenario was completed by the addition of a hair light, in this case a beauty bowl with a 25 degree grid, powered 1/3 stop over the double main light. The final sample (image 7.5) is a very interesting mix of highlights, subdued highlights, and shadow.

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The use of the hair light presents additional options. Because of its angle and because it was positioned almost directly over the model, the light spread. Turning the model into the light spilling over her shoulder creates even more highlights and definition, without diminishing the overall effect of the double main light. See image 7.6 and diagram 7A.

You’re not limited to standard parabolic reflectors when creating this scenario, nor are you bound to place the light close to the softbox.

My second scenario used a beauty bowl as the brighter of the two lights. It throws light in a broader arc than a standard reflector, so it was moved into the model’s space until I saw an effect I liked, about 3 feet away. The model was standing only 5 feet from the background, a position I chose because I wanted enough light to hit the background to illuminate it enough so as to not need a hair light. See image 7.7.

I used a large softbox, set 3 feet farther back, or about 6 feet from the subject. As you know, a large softbox placed so close to the model will produce very soft light. Image 7.8, lit by the softbox alone, is quite lovely.

I followed the same lighting and metering regimen as in the previous example and, as before, the difference between the two lights was 2 stops. Even though the final light, at first blush, looks much like the first example with the beauty bowl, closer examination reveals softer shadows and less harsh highlights on the model’s hair along with a snappier light on her face that’s softer than that of the beauty bowl by itself. See image 7.9 and diagram 7B.

Of course, you’re not tied down to a 2-stop difference between the lights. Depending on how bright your subject’s clothing is, and the ultimate effect you want to see, you could power the softbox as high as a 1-stop difference or as low as 4 stops, if you want the least detail possible while still being able to see “something” in the shadow areas that face into the light.

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I set two strip lights in front of the camera, one on each side, separated by about 6 inches.My model stood about 5 feet in front of the two lights while I shot from between them. Both lights were powered equally and set vertically. I also set the height of the lights lower than usual because I wanted to see multiple catchlights that ran fully over the curve of her eyes. Shooting from between the two lights guaranteed a catchlight on each side of her pupils. See image 7.10.

When setting lights like this, the only problem that I can see is the creation of a double nose shadow if the subject is looking straight into the camera. As soon as she turns her head in either direction the problem is solved, and a single shadow is created from the two lights. See image 7.11.

Angling the two lights into an inverted V creates the same look but produces a different, angled catchlight pattern. See image 7.12.

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Accessory Flash Diffusion

Even if you have only one flash unit at your disposal, you can create stunning imagery if you plan your attack in a logical fashion.

We know, of course, that large, broad light sources will deliver an even spread of soft light. These sources are almost always large softboxes or umbrellas and, while there is definite value in having studio equipment available, here are a couple of ways to approach beauty and glamour photography with minimal equipment.

You will need to have an accessory flash with some power behind it. To be as accurate as possible, you’ll also need a flash meter. The flash will need to be set to manual mode; when it’s in auto or TTL mode and is aimed at something other than your model, it will limit the strength of the flash for either what bounces back from the subject to the camera or the amount of light that falls upon the subject. If you introduce diffusion or reflective material and aim the strobe at it, the strobe will read the light as it affects the material, not your model. The inevitable result is underexposure. Using the flash at full power in manual mode ensures consistent and measurable power output.

I keep an older, column-style Metz flash around for those moments when I need a small but powerful source. My model is the CT-2, expensive when it was purchased (and a real workhorse) but quite inexpensive now on eBay or through dealers that specialize in used

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equipment. If you decide to buy one of these units, inspect it first. You’ll want as clear (nonyellowed) a flashtube as possible. These units can be refurbished by the manufacturer, but it will add expense—and you’ll almost certainly have to buy a new battery too.

Of course, you can use a single studio strobe, even your camera manufacturer’s accessory flash unit (if it has enough power), in exactly the same fashion, as I’ll demonstrate with my old Metz unit.

First, and to demonstrate the difference between modified and unmodified light, I’ve set the Metz on a stand and aimed it at the model. I’d painted the wall behind her with a semigloss latex enamel to get a bounce-back reflection from the light. In manual mode, I metered the flash output, measured at her chin with the meter’s dome aimed at the camera, and set the aperture accordingly.

It’s not bad light. The only potential problem is the contrast of the flash, especially the nose shadow. I’d engaged a professional makeup artist for my model, so the amount of specularity on her skin from the flash is minimal. You may not be so lucky when your subjects do their own makeup, so you’ll have to take a close look at an enlarged LCD image (knowing that the LCD is not the final arbiter of exposure and contrast) and make a decision whether or not to send the client back to the dressing room for more powder. See image 6.1.

For my second setup, the flash was placed on a stand and positioned behind the camera, about 3 feet behind and aimed at the center of a 52-inch white Photoflex diffusion disc (see diagram 6A). Depending on the flash you use, you’ll have to do a little testing to find the optimum flash-to-diffuser distance. You’ll need to have the flash far enough from the diffuser to cover the material but not so far as to spill light on the subject or the background, at least within the image frame.

There’s a tremendous difference in “feel” between the two images I created. The first shot (image 6.1), nice as it is, is not nearly as soft as the second (image 6.2). The second still shows the bounce-back reflection, but the overall look of the light is more glamorous.

I wrote about accessory flash diffusion techniques more extensively in Christopher Grey’s Advanced Lighting Techniques, and I’d encourage you to check them out. If you typically work with a minimal gear set, you’ll want to try some of them. The results are terrific. Though accessory flash is inexpensive, working with it presents a unique set of problems. If you’re serious about shooting, you and your clients will be well served by your purchase of better gear.

Over the past few years, many manufacturers have made significant progress in creating modifiers for accessory flash units.While I still believe that no accessory flash (or any series of flash units slaved together) can take the place of studio strobes, I will admit that, when properly planned and understood, small units can do a good job within their limits. If you can live with long recycle times, lower power, and the difficulties and expense of trying to make them perform like something they’re not, well, bang away. Personally, I think your best bet is to buy a set of studio strobes, even of entrylevel quality. I think you’ll be much happier in the long run, even if your entry-level strobes are slightly inconsistent from flash to flash (which they almost certainly will be).

They say it’s a poor carpenter who blames the tools. I say a good carpenter avoids poor tools.

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Silhouettes and Backlight

There are few lighting effects more evocative than the silhouette. While showing line and form to great advantage, and without the visual detraction of many body “flaws,” it’s the very fact that so much of the image is left to the viewer’s imagination that makes the silhouette so successful.

Just as there are many ways to approach a silhouette, there are many ways to light it. Let’s begin with the simplest approach: lighting a white wall or background sweep. In my opinion, it’s best to do this with softboxes because parabolic reflectors throw uneven light, usually with a slight hotspot, and we want to light the background as evenly as possible. Umbrellas can be used, but they tend to spray the light more than softboxes. If you use umbrellas, be sure to place gobos between the lights and the model.

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In most lighting scenarios, it’s difficult if not impossible to light the foreground as brightly as the background if you’re using a simple paper sweep. Once you add light to the foreground, some will spill onto the model, ruining the silhouette effect. With a flat foreground/ background, you’ll have to do some Photoshop work to get an even white. (Don’t worry. It’s not difficult, even if your model is wearing white clothing.)

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For a perfect silhouette, you’ll also need to keep spill from the background off the model by placing her as far from the background as possible. It’s also a good idea to use gobos between the lights and the model, and my preference is black bookends. While it’s almost impossible to avoid all spill, more control will allow for the darkest silhouette. Personally, I think a little wraparound spill light makes a more believable silhouette, as it lends some dimension to an otherwise visually flat surface. If you prefer a darker silhouette, the easiest way to accomplish it is to move the model farther from the background, so any spill will fall off before it reaches the model.

Begin by placing two lights with identical softboxes about 18 inches to 2 feet from the background, with the height of the strobe heads equal to 3/4 the height of the model, and at equal distances from the edges. As a starting point, aim the two lights at each other, rather than at the background. The idea here is to feather the light across the sweep, to get as even an exposure as possible. This will be easier if you can figure out how much of the background width will actually be represented in the image, which will depend on the focal length of your lens, how far the subject is from the background, and how far the camera is from the subject.

Begin metering at one end or the other, moving the meter in 1-foot increments and making a mental note of how the light falls. You may see distinct differences in the exposure readings of the light as you move from one side to the other, which indicates that one light or the other will need to be angled differently. Feathering a light takes practice and is usually best accomplished in small movements, but the result will be an evenly lit background. If you’re feathering lights for the first time, you’ll be amazed when you see the final angles of the light; it appears their placement defies logic, as you can see in diagram 5A.

Once you have the lights balanced and blocked off, set your camera 2/3 to 1 stop brighter than the meter reading. If your meter reads f/11, for example, an extra 2/3 stop means f/9, which will ensure that most of your evenly lit background will be too bright to register as a flat surface or to show any texture.

An easy way to get a more perfectly white foreground is to buy at least two sheets of shiny white tile board, a Masonite-based, 4×8-foot panel typically used as a bathroom wall covering. It’s a tough and inexpensive material found at major hardware or remodeling stores. Lay the sheets on the floor so they overlap toward the background, to maintain a visually unbroken white surface. The tile board will reflect white light from the background better than any paper surface. You may also use sheets of white Plexiglas, but you should lay white paper underneath them as they are somewhat translucent. They will give you a cleaner, whiter reflection than tile board but cost about three times as much. Neither will present a “perfect” solution, however.

If there’s any downside to using tile board or white Plexiglas, it’s that you may pick up a reflection of your subject in the surface. Usually this extra reflection is desirable because it’s somewhat unusual and something many photographers don’t know how to achieve. You’ll get the deepest silhouette with both gobos in place, but the foreground will show a shadow. You can easily fix this in Photoshop. See image 5.1.

If you remove the gobos or reposition them to allow more light on the foreground, you’ll add detail to the image as light wraps around the subject. Again, there will be some darkness in the foreground. I removed the camera-left gobo, adding detail to that side of the model and brightening the foreground. See image 5.2.

When both gobos were repositioned, the foreground was brightest, but the silhouette effect was diminished. Light spilled over and lit some of the model’s face. The effect is not necessarily unwelcome, but it does change the look. See image 5.3.

A BASIC PHOTOSHOP TRICK

You can make slightly gray background areas in your images white by taking the time to make some quick adjustments in Photoshop. Here’s how it’s done:

First, select the light-gray areas using the Magic Wand tool. See image 5.4.

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Once the area is selected, go to Select>Modify> Feather, and set the Feather radius from 1 to 3 pixels (the latter will provide a softer transition against clothing and may even help hold an edge). See image 5.5.

Use Levels to increase the brightness of the whites. If your subject is centered against the light, the brightest area of the image will be directly behind her and already be perfectly white. Feathering the selection will help retain detail in many of the delicate areas, like stray strands of hair. See image 5.6.

This trick will work with any silhouette technique, provided the spill light and exposure are controlled. See image 5.7.

SOFTBOX AS SOURCE

A large softbox (a medium softbox will work for tighter compositions) or a modifier such as a Halo may be easier to deal with than trying to evenly light a large expanse of background, although they present their own problems. If your softbox can be equipped with an interior diffuser, please attach it if it’s not already in place. You’ll want the extra diffusion to even out the light as much as possible.

Begin by metering the flash output directly from the softbox fabric. If your flash meter allows it, retract the dome so you can lay the meter flat against the fabric. This will give you the most accurate reading of the light’s strength since there are no opportunities for even the mildest shadow along the contour of the dome.

For accuracy and control, power your strobe to read to a whole stop or a perfect third, as doing so will make any testing easier to document and understand.

I’d recommend you set up a test, beginning with the metered aperture value and shooting one image per 1/3- or 1/2-stop aperture increase. Examination after downloading will give you an excellent idea of how your subject will be affected by various exposures. This image was made with an exposure 1 stop greater than the metered value of the softbox. Notice there is a slight vignette at the corners, where the spread of light out of the box is weakest, but that’s a minor problem that can be easily fixed. See image 5.8.

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PLEXIGLAS AS SOURCE

One of my favorite lighting tricks for partial silhouettes is to hang a 4×8-foot sheet of 1/8-inch thick milk-white translucent Plexiglas about 4 feet in front of a large softbox (a medium softbox will work but may confine your composition slightly), then place my model directly in front of it. The Plexi acts more like a large fiber optic, spreading the light more evenly and consistently than a fabric diffuser itself. It will flare, but not as much as a standalone softbox, and will produce nice edges with wraparound light. See image 5.9.

You don’t need to buy an expensive background hanger mechanism to hang the Plexiglas or seamless paper. You need two light stands (extendable to at least 8 feet), four squeeze clamps, and a 10-foot length of aluminum fence tubing (available at any major hardware store). Place the clamps over the tops of two light stands and place the aluminum tube across the handles. With the stands set just below 8 feet, simply hold the Plexi against the tube and use the other two clamps to anchor it to the tube, and you’ll be in business.

My preferred exposure for almost everything I shoot this way is 2/3 to 1 stop over the meter reading, which is made as it was for the softbox, with the dome retracted and flat against the plastic, aimed at the light, and metering the light that comes through the diffusion panel. At +2/3 stop, the background is perfectly lit, almost totally white, and with enough wraparound to illuminate the inside edges enough to see skin tone and add dimensionality. The Plexiglas is difficult to hang (it’s easier with a second pair of hands), but it’s worth it for the quality of the light you’ll get from this setup. At the time of this writing, a 4×8-foot sheet of 1/8-inch Plexiglas cost about $75.00. Look under “Plastics” or “Plastics Supply” in the Yellow Pages for the nearest vendor or check the Internet for availability in your area.

You may, of course, make silhouettes against any other color background, including colored Plexiglas, or cover the source with a colored gel. You may also place white tileboard on the floor to reflect whatever color comes through.

ADDING DETAIL

Regardless of the method used to create a silhouette, detail can be easily increased by moving in a white bookend or other reflector to catch some of the light coming through the background and send it back to the model. The amount of light will vary depending on the type of reflector used, its distance from the subject, and how much of the form you wish to reveal. See image 5.10.

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LASTOLITE’S HILITE

Another of my favorite methods for producing beautiful silhouettes, as well as perfect high key backgrounds, is a super-large softbox made by Lastolite, the HiLite. Available in a number of sizes (mine is 6×7 feet), it’s a softbox that works like none other. For example, lights are loaded into the side of the 18-inch deep unit, so the footprint on your studio floor is smaller than what you’d expect for such a large piece of gear. Also, the fabric is different from that of a typical softbox and will disperse the light more evenly. The best part? It collapses into a shape that’s 1/4 its setup size and comes with a carry case for location shooting. See image 5.11.

When it’s used without any reflectors or bookends, the silhouette effect is fantastic. Image 5.12 is from a series of shots for which the aperture was set 1 stop brighter than what was read off the background. The special fabric of this box spreads light so evenly that it produces a perfect, clean white, from corner to corner when used in this manner.

You can re-create, to some degree, the look of a supersoft softbox by hanging a large sheet of cotton cloth, as tightly as possible to avoid wrinkles, from light stands and/or supports. You will almost certainly have to do some Photoshop work when dealing with fabric in this manner, but it’s simple. The only problems you’ll see are minor wrinkles in the fabric at the edges and, perhaps, a slight shoot-through view of the light behind the fabric.

I once bought a huge bolt of fabric, about 8×40 feet, which I used to ring 75 percent of a large machine. I lit the machine through the cloth, using the next technique in reverse, creating soft highlights and even light over its entire surface. I’ve used this piece of cloth many times as a makeshift background. While I can’t use its full length in my studio, I have used it to create backlit backgrounds larger than the HiLite. I’ve also found that, if I double it up, I won’t have the same problems with shoot-through light, though the amount of light coming through the cloth will be significantly reduced.

I used my largest traditional softbox (4×6 feet) and set it about 8 feet behind the sheet of fabric so the light would spread evenly over the back of the cloth. The model and the foreground were set immediately in front of it to appear as if a stained and finished piece of plywood, the “stage,” was butted up against a pure white background.

The exposure was measured, into the cloth, at the center of the set. I opened up my camera’s aperture 1 stop over that reading. Even so, One other note: because the background was so much larger than the HiLite, there is more wraparound light in play. The result (image 5.13) is a somewhat diluted silhouette, but it’s still gorgeous.

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We choose our models for a number of reasons, both physical and social, and we’ll often structure the shoot to highlight their physical attributes. Depending, of course, on what it is we wish to accent, a strong backlight can become a remarkable background, especially when paired with an additional accent light that will create a partial silhouette.

The base exposure for image 5.14 was 1 stop over the measured meter reading at the fabric of the HiLite. An additional light, a beauty bowl (without a grid), was attached to a boom and positioned at a slight angle over the model’s head to light her beautiful red hair. It was powered to the working f-stop of the camera, 1 stop over the power of the HiLite.

TRANSLUCENT DIFFUSER

You could certainly use a translucent diffuser as a light source. Smaller sources, such as some made by Photoflex, will work well because of their size. Smaller sources mean less wraparound light, so the silhouette will be more intense and show less detail.

Begin by hanging a translucent diffuser from a frame or from a boom arm. The diffuser may be circular or rectangular, that’s up to you, and you may need to retouch some edges if you want the diffuser to appear as if it’s not supported. I used a large, circular diffuser for image 5.15, hanging it off a boom arm and digitally removing the strap and support in my final image. I set a strobe with a 40 degree grid on a stand about 4 feet behind the diffuser, aiming the light dead-center to the white field, illuminating the diffuser completely, but without spill. It was a smooth and easy solution to create a silhouette with minimal wraparound light, mostly because the source, the diffuser, was relatively small compared to others that you’ve seen, but also because the fabric of the diffuser is different from that of regular softboxes or the HiLite. As you’ve seen from these samples, every fabric, like every modifier, has its own personality.

The diffuser was clamped to a boom arm by its strap and lit with a 40 degree grid, aimed at the middle of the diffuser from about 5 feet behind. All traces of the strap and light stand have been retouched out. The camera’s aperture was set to 1 stop over the actual value of the light coming through the material.

Bare-Tubed Strobe

A bare-tubed strobe is about the closest one can get to a true “point” light source. Without any modifiers, not even a basic parabolic reflector, the light will emulate sunlight, and its specularity, sharpness, and deep shadows will increase as the light is moved farther from the subject. While this light may not be especially attractive for, say, a family portrait, it can be perfect for many other subjects. Those of you engaged in advertising photography should play with this lighting style, as it has recently become pretty popular.

The subject-to-background distance will determine the strength of the light on the background. The Inverse Square Law tells us that light traveling from point A to point B will be only 1/4 as strong from point B to point C when point C is twice as far from the source as point B. This means that if we want the light to be evenly exposed over a wider distance, we must move the light farther from the subject.

To create our first image (4.1), the bare-tubed main light was set about 8 feet from the model, who stood about 8 feet from the white background. Notice how evenly the model is exposed from the top of her head and down her black outfit all the way to the bottom of the frame. Since the main light was placed almost directly over the lens axis, the white background is also evenly exposed but becomes gray because the strength of the light has been lessened by distance. If the main light metered f/11 at the subject, it would meter f/5.6 (1/4 the strength of f/11) at the background.

We can use this principle creatively. To create image 4.2, the same snappy light was used, but this time it was placed about 4 feet from the model, who maintained her distance of 8 feet from the background. Two things happened because the light was placed closer: it lost strength more rapidly (look how it falls off about halfway down her figure), rendering the background darker, and the model’s shadow began to creep up the background because the strobe itself had to be lowered to maintain the same shadow angle.

Bare-tubed strobes can throw quite sharp shadows, especially when the subject is close to the background, and you can control the sharpness of those shadows by changing the distance of the main light to the subject. The farther the main light is from the subject, the sharper the shadow will be.

When we go back to the original light-to-subject distance of 8 feet but snug the model up to the background, we can get an almost perfect white background and a terrific dark shadow. Bear in mind that you can never get a perfectly clean white background because the paper (or any other material) is not a perfectly clean white and will not photograph at a value of 255 unless it’s been lit separately and slightly overexposed. Even though this exposure is darn near perfect, the value is about 250 at its brightest, with still enough detail to register on a print (although a little more work in Photoshop would help). Where the light falls off, near her camera-left thigh, the value is about 220. Doubling the main light-to-subject distance to 16 feet would increase the evenness of the exposure by 50 percent and increase the apparent sharpness of the shadows. See image 4.3.

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1

I prefer to set my main light with the strobe tube angled sideways to the model, not head-on. I don’t want any of the light to kick off the front of the unit and soften the shadows. Although the manufacturers don’t recommend that you do this, you may find you’ll get an even sharper shadow if you remove the dome that covers the flashtube and modeling lamp. The dome is there to protect you and your subjects should the tube or lamp explode when triggered. That’s never happened to me, but take note that I’m not recommending it, either. It’s your call.

Place your subject in front of a softbox that is at least large enough to cover the subject so you can extend the white (if needed) without having to do any major retouching on whatever parts of the model extend out of frame, and you can use the bare-tube technique to produce very interesting images with sharp, sunlight-like shadows against a pure white background. This is a lighting scenario that you don’t see often, because it’s generally not on anyone’s recommended shot list. The bottom line is that it’s pretty darn cool and should be tried whenever you think you have a subject that deserves it. Of course, there are many derivatives of this technique, many of which you can discover for yourself, just by playing with your toys.

For the first image (4.4), I placed the bare-tubed strobe about 6 feet from the subject and about 4 feet over her head. You may think that this is an unusually high angle for a main light, and you’d be correct. For most applications, it is. However, you must balance the height of the light, knowing that most sunlit images are made with a higher source, against that of perfect portrait lighting. Of course, the shape of your subject’s head and face, the angle at which the face is presented to the camera, and the effect you wish to achieve will help dictate the right spot for the light. Also, when you move a bare-tubed strobe farther back (to get depth of light, an even spread of light over a given distance), you’ll have to raise it higher to get an appropriate and attractive nose shadow.

I’d placed my model about a foot in front of a very large softbox, a Lastolite HiLite. At 6×7 feet, it’s a source large enough to wrap around the subject while providing plenty of white space on each side. I measured the output from the box and powered the main light to be 1 full stop less. This was my working aperture and guaranteed the background would be completely white without flaring into the lens and softening contrast.

Next, I added a beauty bowl to the bare-tubed strobe. The look of the light is similar, although the spread is more concentrated in an arc that extends from the reflector. Note that the falloff of the light looks substantially different than that from the bare tube. Also, as you can see, the shadows are a bit softer. It’s just another option, but one with its own personality. See image 4.5.

Bare-tubed light looks great on black, too. My model was about 8 feet in front of a black paper sweep, and the strobe was about 6 feet to camera left. I’d flagged the light with a piece of black Roscoe Cinefoil to keep all light off the background. I’d also moved a black bookend in behind the model to absorb any light that might bounce back from a wall.

Because the light is strong and omni-directional, I clamped another piece of Cinefoil to a stand and created a shadowed area that I could move around in without fear of lens flare. See images 4.6 and diagram 4A.

Like everything I write about, I encourage you to try the bare-tube look for yourself. It’s one more bullet in your creative arsenal, and you’ll find it’s a very large caliber, too. Just spend some time playing with it to understand it.

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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 (www.lastolite.com) 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 LIGHTWITH THE SUBJECT CLOSE TO THE BACKGROUND

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.

SINGLE UMBRELLA

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.

BROAD SOURCE FROM ACCESSORY FLASH

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.

THE BOOKEND BOUNCE

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.

MIRRORS AS MAIN LIGHTS

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.