If you're trying to get shots of Halloween lights, try the night-portrait mode to get a good mix of existing lights and flash. There's a free tutorial for the night portrait mode on my main site. And boy do I miss being a kid and coming home with a pillowcase full of candy!
One of the problems of using on-camera flash to photograph people indoors is that the light is very harsh and direct causing a ton of problems with glaring highlights and deep shadows. I shot this portrait, for example, of a woman at her desk for a local oil-delivery company. Because it's a busy office and the spaces are tight, there was no room (or time) to set up a big umbrellas or softbox. Instead, I used a Nikon SB800 on-camera flash (mounted on a Nikon D90 body) and used a Lumiquest Pocket Bouncer attached to the flash to soften the light. By bouncing the light into the plastic diffuser (the flash is aimed up into it rather that directly at the subject), it creates a much larger reflective surface for the flash to bounce off of and so softens the light--remember: the larger the diffuser, the softer the light. As you can see in this shot, there are no really dark shadows of the woman behind here as there would be with direct on-camera flash and the lighting on her face is soft and even.
The Pocket Bouncer is just a triangular white piece of plastic that attaches to your flash (by Velcro or a strap) that softens the light without diminishing the power noticeably. But why read about it, why not let the inventor, Quest Couch (how's that for a cool name?) demonstrate it in the video below:
The NEW Joy of Digital Photography is now available on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This is a complete revision of the book with hundreds of new photos and tons of new text--literally everything in the book has been updated. I think this is the best book I've ever written and it's a great introduction not just to all things digital, but to photography (design, composition, lighting, technique) in general. The book sold over 80,000 copies when it was first published in 2005 and this is the first major revision. A great holiday gift! I'll write more about the book in the days to come, but right now you can read several extensive excerpts (on "People" photography) on the Black Star Rising blog. And here's the direct link to it on Amazon The NEW Joy of Digital Photography (A Lark Photography Book).
I'm really happy to tell you two things about my newest book The NEW Joy of Digital Photography (A Lark Photography Book): First, it's being released in just a few days (in fact, Barnes & Noble may already have it in stock online) and I'm pretty psyched. I worked hard (along with the staff of Lark Books) completely revising and updating this bestselling book and I'm so happy to see it hitting the bookstores. The original sold more than 80,000 copies and reached an amazing #41 among all books on Amazon--it actually passed both Bob Dylan's and Bill Clinton's autobiographies on the bestseller lists (all three were released approximately the same time)!
But secondly, the book is being excerpted all this week on the great Blackstar Rising blog. Blackstar Rising is the blog of the legendary photojournalism agency Black Star and it's an honor and a lot of fun to have my book featured on their blog--so I hope you'll visit their blog and become a regular reader. Blackstar is excerpting the chapter on people photography, so it should appeal to a lot of readers.
The photo above was shot by my good friend Michelle Frick and it's one of my favorite photos in the book (the book, by the way, contains around 400-500 photos, I think, and while most of them are mine, there are a lot of terrific photos by talented photographers like Michelle). I really think that Michelle's photo transcends being just a great baby photo and enters the realm of fine art. I find it a very beautiful and comforting photo--and (hint, hint), I'm hoping to hang it on a wall in my home someday. Incidentally, Michelle is a former student of mine from BetterPhoto.com and in the few years I've known her she's grown from a really ambitious student into one of the best people/portrait photographers in the state of Texas.
I hope you enJOY the new book! (Can you tell I'm excited to see it released?)
I found the following story from the Los Angeles Times online today and thought it would be of interest--it's a new look at the very first photos ever made and some of the news may change the history of photography:
Getty Takes a Closer Look at the Origins of Photography
Historians seem to agree that the first photographic images were created around 1825 by Joseph Nicephore Niépce, a French scientist who experimented with various imagery techniques, including heliographs made on pewter plates.
This week, the Getty Conservation Institute is presenting research that reveals new details about how Niépce created those first photographic likenesses. Working with the National Media Museum in Bradford, England, the Getty said that one of Niépce's images, titled "Un Clair de Lune," that was thought to be a photograph enhanced with etching is actually a photograph without any hand tooling at all.
"That was something of a big surprise," said Dusan Stulik, a senior scientist at the Getty who has been involved in the project. "Our research has provided us with a deeper and broader understanding of his work than we had before."
To create his early photographs, Niépce used pewter plates and a resin-like material that helped the plate accept images, according to the Getty.
In 1827, Niépce brought some of these plates to England to demonstrate his techniques to The Royal Society, but he was unable to share his experiments due to problems at the institution at the time.
The Getty is presenting its historical findings at a conference this week in England at the National Media Museum. The museum houses three of the four known surviving plates taken to England by Niépce. The remaining plate is on display at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, where it is known as the "First Photograph."
During his career, Niépce worked on and off with Louis Daguerre, who is often credited with pioneering the art of photography with the daguerreotype.
-- David Ng Photo: "Un Clair de Lune" by Niépce. Credit: Getty Conservation Institute
Just having fun in Photoshop recently: took a shot of Monument Valley in Utah (on the Arizona border) and repeated it shrinking the size each time. The first thing I did was select an area of the scene, copy it, then I used the Edit>Tranform>Scale command to shrink it. After that I just used the Edit>Transform>Again command and shrank it a bit more. Very easy and fun to play with. But click the photo to see it full size and the effect is more fun. I'll explain the technique in more detail if anyone is interested.
You might have noticed that I'm running a lot of videos this week and there are two good reasons for that: One is that it's easy to post them and the other is that Youtube is full of great photo-related videos. Today's posting is about photographing wildlife and was shot on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. You hear so much horrible news coming out of Mexico, it's nice to see something positive filmed there. Enjoy! Visit Cristina's site for more of her beautiful photos.