When cameras go rogue – check the clock battery

Hey everyone,

Just figured I’d share a little tip that had me just about ready to throw my 7D across the set a few months ago. I’m sure many of you already know about this hidden dark side of DSLR’s…they get kind of crazy sometimes, for no apparent reason. In my case – I can think of no better way to describe this than to say that my 7D was going rogue. The jog dial on the back of the camera would randomly not work, sometimes I would be inexplicably unable to change the ISO or shutter speeds, and then suddenly I started getting a crazy error message after about 20 minutes of shooting:

7D - Going Rogue

Needless to say after about the 20th time I opened up the main battery compartment and re-installed the battery as directed only to get the exact same error on the next shot, I was a bit peeved. I was about ready to drop the camera off at the shop when I decided to do a little research…and I found out about the “clock battery”.

It turns out that In addition to the main rechargeable battery that provides most of the power for your Camera, a second battery is hidden in the same compartment to provide enough power to retain your current settings and preferences, as well as the local date and time. It’s a coin-sized button type battery, in the case of a 7D a c1616 sized lithium 3 volt cell, that is nestled in a little slide-out carrier just inside the main battery door.  You most likely would never notice this little thing…I sure didn’t!!! It may very well last several years without needing replacement but if you start getting random battery error messages or have to reset the camera date frequently, you might look up where your camera’s clock battery resides and swap it out for a fresh cell. After changing this battery I’ve used the camera for a number of shoots with no more issues.

 Clock Battery

In this post I’ve been describing the Canon 7D, but it applies to most, if not all DSLR cameras – you’ll just have to do a bit of examining to find it.

Happy Shooting!

Super-cheap lighting for off-camera practice

Hey everyone!

I’ve been asked a lot about cheap lighting for practicing off camera lighting set-ups (studio strobes, speedlights, etc..). Well this is a little trick I learned back in college, when uber-cheapness was the only concern. $125 for a flash??? No. Way. Ever. 

If you’re just starting out trying to understand the effects and positioning of off-camera lighting it really is helpful to be able to see what you’re doing to the light as you move things around. A constant light source is actually a much more effective training tool than a flash just because of the fact that you can actually see the results you’re getting before you even take the picture. Now – I must insert a disclaimer here – if you ever actually use this kind of set for a paid photo shoot be prepared to be fired, or at the least seriously laughed at. This does not portray confidence or professionalism in any way. But it does get you comfortable setting up lights without a huge investment.

You might wonder, if you’ve never used a softbox, what the point of this funky contraption really is? Simply put, its primary purpose is to “soften the light”, hence the name. It also provides some directional control of the light as well, but in order to make lighting softer, with smooth blended shadows, you need a large light source in close proximity to your subject. This is why the sun, even though it is enormous, creates harsh sharp-edged shadows – it’s so far away that it acts relatively like a small point light source. When it goes behind a cloud, the cloud is diffusing the light, scattering it and softening out those shadows. A softbox does the same thing to a flash. So if you’ve been thinking about trying out setting up a light but don’t want to spend the money on commercial gear just yet, this will get you going.

Here’s what you will need:

1. Get an old cheap styrofoam cooler – the plain white kind that always seems to break and spill all your drinks at your feet while you’re walking to the car. I’ve found these for less than a buck at garage sales.

2. Most home centers or big-box stores carry simple clamp-on light fixtures that have a 7 or 10-inch reflector and usually are around $7-12. Pick up at least one, or more if you want to play with multiple light sets.

3. Get a few of the highest wattage flourescent lights you can find. Stick with the spiral fluorescents to avoid the heat generated by standard incandescent. Take note – most come in a wide array of white balance hues (Usually called soft white, cool white, daylight, etc.) Just be aware of this and know that you will have to adjust your white balance accordingly. I’ll tell you a simple trick for that later…

4. Finally you will need a funky old white t-shirt or other piece of cloth to use as a diffuser. Make sure you can see light through it fairly well if you hold it up to a light. You’ll also need some duct tape or gaffer’s tape.

Ok, now to build a light! It’s really pretty simple. Just take the reflector off the lighting fixture (they usually unscrew) and cut a hole in the center of the back-side of the cooler that is a snug fit for the base of the light fixture. Then all you do is put the fixture into the cooler, screw in a lightbulb and tape your funky t-shirt over the open face of the cooler. Presto – instant cheap softbox light!!

Light fixture mounted into the cooler base    

Light arrangement is a subject that you can spend your whole life time developing and understanding but there are a few basic things that will get you great results. Since you’re reading this you probably already know that on-camera flash washes people out and just looks like every point-and-shoot facebook photo out there. Getting a nice dimensional look to the lighting means you have to get the light coming in from one side or the other from the camera. Here’s one really basic 2-light set-up that produces some pretty decent results.

 Key light is angled 45-60 degrees to left of the camera. Back light is out of the frame above and behind the subject.

The image of my cat below used that exact set up – the key light had the cooler box softbox and the other back light just kept the as-purchased reflector dish. Notice the wash of light on his back that separates him out from the black backdrop.

I mentioned a trick for setting your white balance – simply point the camera at the light (you’ve got a white shirt on there, right?) take a frame and use that to set the camera’s custom white balance and you’re all set.

You may be surprised just how good the lighting quality out of something this simple can be. I will be putting together more examples of lighting set-ups using more advanced beauty dishes and comparing them to this cheap-o light in the near future. In the meantime, coerce a family member into posing for you, get creative and have fun!

Speed Lighting

2008 Yamaha Warrior. ISO 400, f13, 1/2500 sec.

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve had a new post here, but life has been keeping me moving! It’s all very good things though.

When I came home from work this afternoon, my roommate was working on his car in the garage and had moved our motorcycles out into the driveway. I really like my bike, and It was just too tempting a subject to not do a little shooting!!! So after I had managed to settle in, eat dinner and get through a few hundred emails, the sun was setting and leaving me with boring light. I decided to kill it – the ambient light that is. Using Pocket Wizards High-speed synch capabilities to trigger my 430EXII flashes, I was able to shoot with a high enough shutter speed to nearly remove the ambient light. Just kind of awesome really. (Just a note – the main overhead light was actually clipped onto the raised trunk lid of my roommate’s car. Motto –  use what you can for a light stand!)

I really love shooting with the Wizards. They really do allow a ton of flexibility in off-camera flash. But they are pricey!!!  There are a number of cheaper alternatives that will let you get started in off-camera flash without destrying your budget. I’ve used models from Cactus as well as these fantastic triggers from Cowboy Studios with great results. Now…these are cheap triggers, but they’re fairly well made. I haven’t had any trouble with them at all. The only drawback is that they are just rock simple. There’s no TTL computing going on or anything like that. It just triggers your speedlight. Bam! That’s it. You have to set your flash settings manually.

I really think that’s the best way to learn off-camera flash anyway. I know some people refuse to buy anything but the name brand stuff and consider everything else junk – I do see some validity to that because the quality control of cheap-o stuff can be a little lacking. But to learn the techniques and start understanding how off-camera flash works, you can’t really beat a two light set-up for about $100. I got two of these Neewer flashes from Amazon along with the Cowboy Studio triggers and have been completely thrilled with their performance! I even used them to get this action shot at a recent Indianapolis Junior Roller Derby event – which won a First Place vote in a Roller Derby Photo Contest for April.

Indianapolis Junior Roller Derby All Star ‘Punky Bruiser’ in lead jammer position

Happy Shooting!!!-Indyshooter

Indy Afternoon – HDR

Downtown Indy from White River Park Walkway

Saturday was a bit cold and blustery in Indy…so I figured I might as well go shoot a little. The nice big puffy clouds were just too tempting for me to resist doing a little HDR (High Dynamic Range) image work, and besides…I’m in the middle of trying to wrap up some nifty photo compositing projects that I figure will make some good material for Indyshooter. If you aren’t familiar with HDR, just do a quick search for the term and you’ll come up with all kinds of sites. Trey Ratcliff is one of the more well-know HDR gurus….check him out at Stuck in Customs.

So, for the background (in more ways than one…) I’m working on team photos for the Indianapolis Junior Roller Girls. In mid-January I scheduled a team photo session where I took a number of individual and team photos. I’ve been working my way through making fun Indianapolis-themed backgrounds for the team shots. Once this is complete I’ll be posting a fun little tutorial describing the whole process, but for now this is a little sneak peek at one of the background shots and how I set up the camera to take the images used to create the final HDR image.

One of the challenges in shooting HDR is setting up to take multiple exposures of the same scene. You really need to use a tripod and make sure that nothing moves…you can notice the flags on top of the distant building to the left have some ghosting – this is one effect of the HDR process. anything that moves from one frame to the next shows up like a ghost image. For my purposes I wasn’t terribly concerned with the movement of these flags – it really isn’t going to be a big factor. I set my Camera to manual and took seven frames each a full stop apart…so if you consider the normal exposure as “0”, this gave me the following exposure sequence (in stops away from 0):  -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3. The other main consideration here is to make sure the exposure changes are made by adjusting shutter speed and not the aperture.  Changing the aperture will create inconsistent depth-of-field between the different exposures which then leads to a strange fuzzy-focus issue in the final HDR image. Not cool. So when shooting for HDR I always either set my camera on manual and take multiple frames by adjusting the shutter speed, or set the camera to auto-bracket in aperture priority mode. The difference here is that I prefer to get at least seven bracketed frames for each image. It creates a smoother effect after processing. The auto-bracket function on my Canon 7D only takes three frames: the baseline exposure and then one over and one under-exposed frame. I tend to only use that option if I’m stuck shooting hand-held for some reason. I’ll switch into burst-mode and just hold as still as possible while letting the camera make the adjustments in exposure.

Photomatix by HDRsoft does a splendid job of combining your series of photos into a HDR image. You can load the images directly into the program or run them through a plug-in from Adobe Lightroom. This is how I tend to work because I like to catalogue everything in Lightroom. You select the photos you want to use and export them into Photomatix for processing and then the final image is pulled right back into Lightroom for a little final tweaking. I’ll be posting a more in-depth tutorial on that whole process in a few days.

Happy Shooting!

-David

Canon “pro-sumer” camera reviews

Shot with Canon 5D mkII and 100mm f2.8 Macro lens at ISO 12800

I’ve been approached by a few different photographers asking about recommendations for upgrading their cameras. Most of these inquiries have been from talented amateur photographers looking to “go pro” and get better shots. Usually, my first reaction is that it isn’t the gear that gets you the great shots…although it does help. Your skill in understanding how to use what you have is most important. That said, there are many reasons why upgrading from an entry-level DSLR camera makes sense.

More often than not photographers at this level have done some research and know about the technical details of the cameras, but are looking for a bit of first-hand user feedback. With that in mind I’m going to take a look at two of Canon’s “pro-sumer” cameras that have been on the market now for a couple of years, the 5D mkII and the 7D. In a follow-up article I will have a photographer friend of mine relate his experiences in shooting with various Nikon brand cameras in this same level.

Living with the 7D

I’ve owned my 7D now for about 2 years. This camera has been my sidekick on numerous fashion shoots, a good number of roller derby sports events, weddings, family gatherings, pestering my cat and countless random forays into other photographic realms. I can honestly say that I have never ceased to be impressed with how well this camera functions. I can get good sharp images while tracking a fast moving skater in fairly low light. The crop-sensor format gives you a nice close-up range when shooting with a 70-200mm lens. The 7D is also quite at home in a studio cranking out fantastically detailed portraits or macro work. Once you’re familiar with the control layout the camera is a breeze to set up for any shooting scenario you get involved with.

The image below shows a relative comparison of the zoom factor with the 7D’s crop sensor vs. the 5D mkII’s full frame. I shot the opposing camera body from the same location with the same lens at 6400 ISO.

Shot with 24-105 f4L at 105mm

Experiences with the 5D mkII

For the purposes of comparison, I borrowed a 5d mkII from a photographer buddy of mine, Marc Lebryk. He gave me a quick synopsis of his likes and dislikes of the camera and after spending a few weeks putting the camera through its paces I’m pretty much in agreement with him. It’s a great camera…but. Some things about it weren’t really updated when it came out. The auto focus system is an older design, unchanged from the original 5D. It just feels a little sluggish in comparison to the 7D. It doesn’t track moving subjects as well and shoots fewer frames per second…although still more than a Rebel. On the plus side, it’s a full frame camera that delivers absolutely stunning 21 megapixel images vs. the 7D’s 18. When I loaded the first few test frames onto my computer I just kept repeating…”Wow.”

High-ISO shooting

When the 5D mkII came out its high-ISO capabilities were big news. Now that the buzz has died down a little bit and even better high-ISO cameras have been developed, I think it’s worth mentioning that you might not be completely thrilled with the pictures you get in low-light conditions. They are certainly much improved over earlier camera models like a 40D (which is my back-up body). But if you’re expecting to get a studio quality shots at high ISO settings, you’ll be disappointed. For reference – the cat’s eye image at the beginning of this post was shot with ISO set to 12800. It’s certainly a nice image, but still too grainy to maintain fine detail when printing large format prints. (Still, I think it’s fantastic that I’m reflected in Shaggy’s eye…Meow?)

7D @ 6400 ISO

The 5D mkII’s low-light capabilities are marginally better than the 7D, but the exposures are more consistent with the 7D. What do I mean by that? Well, I set each camera at ISO setting of 6400 in manual mode using my 24-105 f4L lens with an aperture of f4.0 and 1/400th shutter speed. I set the cameras to burst and fired off as many consecutive images as each would handle in a RAW file format. The 7D stopped shooting at 18. The 5D mkII  stopped at 14. Comparing each exposure, there was slight variation in the images from the 5D mkII, but virtually none from the 7D. The noise level was fairly equal, but the 7D had a higher occurrence of hot pixels. Not much, but a noticeable difference. Does that exposure variation with the 5D mkII matter? Probably not for 99.9% of photographers. It was not much variation at all and was only noticeable doing a test like this. If you were to shoot a series of high-speed images to combine into a single stop-motion style composite image, you might notice a difference, but it would be a very simple fix to adjust that back in to match.

5D mkII @ 6400 ISO

Shooting video

I’ll be honest – I’m not the best person to ask about shooting video with these cameras. I’ve done it, and they both do capture full High-definition video quite well, but I use a dedicated video camera for my video work. Why?? Because these DSLR’s weren’t designed to shoot for an hour continuously. The sensors start to overheat after about 7-8 minutes and the camera stops recording until it cools off. Additionally, the audio capabilities are lacking in comparison to a full-fledged video camera. That said, they can produce some phenomenal video (The season Finale of House was shot using only 5D mkII’s). So if it’s something you’re going to consider, either one of these cameras can get good results.

Conclusion

So, between the two, as a generally great all-around entry into the big-leagues camera body the 7D is a very solid performer. It produces great images with excellent saturation and contrast, sufficient resolution for all but the most insane enlargements and has a great autofocus system. If you are going to be primarily concerned with the best image quality you can get for the money, the 5D mkII will serve you well. Its bigger sensor with more pixels gives you photos that are just breathtaking…when they’re in focus. Which, they will be if you primarily do one-shot focusing and aren’t trying to chase around a gaggle of children at a wedding reception. For a studio or landscape photographer who wants the bigger images and isn’t interested in rapid fire shooting, the 5D is a winner. If you like to shoot sports, the 7D’s crop-sensor (which effectively gives you a longer telephoto), high-speed shooting and autofocus systems will delight you. When I first unleashed the burst mode on mine in a sports-photography class the look on everyone’s face was priceless. You’d think I had just opened up on the scene with a machine gun! Certainly, there are faster cameras out there. The newly announced 1DX can belt out about 14 frames a second…and you could get four 7D’s for the same price.

Indianapolis – Center Stage

View from the White River Park walkway
View from the White River Park walkway

Indianapolis.

This city has been my home for all but a few years of my life. It is a fantastic city – peaceful yet bustling with activity. We have a world ranked women’s roller derby team – the Naptown Roller Girls. There is Massachusetts Avenue (Mass Ave.) – a delightfully intriguing mixture of arts and entertainment with such places as the Rathskeller and the Theater on the Square.

And then…there is the Super Bowl.

This year is really starting off with a bang. I’m not generally a huge football fan but I do enjoy watching the games. Ask me who won last year’s big game and you’ll just get a shrug of the shoulders and impish smile. I dunno…It’s just not something I follow that closely. Last night’s trivia night halftime question was to name the four NFL coaches who have had four Suber Bowl losses. Well, I can name a total of two coaches and they both no longer work for the Colts!

Anyway, with all the hoopla over the Big Game it’s brought me to the understanding that this is something I should experience – just to say that I did. I mean…there’s a zip-line strung up between buildings in the middle of the city! That just doesn’t happen every day around here. My friends and I are going to be wading into the crowds this afternoon, so I decided to do a brief drive-through just to get my bearings…and of course take a couple photos to share. I decided to get a view that most likely isn’t going to be played on all the network stations – they are all focused on the crowds and the stadium and the big trophy slapped on the side of the JW Marriott building. Well, I’ve included some of that…but from a distance, with a more serene and reflective view of the city…a view that even some locals aren’t familiar with.

This is an HDR exposure of the downtown skyline taken from the West side of the city along the White River Park walkway. The big square building in the center is the JW Marriott – the side opposite from the Super Bowl Village and the Vince Lombardi Trophy mural. The Lucas Oil Stadium is to the far right. This is one of my favorite views of Indianapolis. It’s close enough to feel like you are in the city, yet removed enough to still feel like you have your own space. You can sit quietly and contemplate while joggers huff by and gasp out a friendly hello. There is a little bit of traffic, but not so much that it becomes obnoxious.

So if you come to visit this crossroad city…by all means indulge in the hustle of the downtown activities. But if you want to get away for a breather…and some good photo ops…be assured that there are opportunities to do so readily available

~DVD

Indyshoooter’s Photo of the Year

This year has been an exciting year for me. I’ve had enough photography and video projects to keep my creativity revved up and with a good helping of encouragement and advice from some new online friends like Light Stalking and Prairie Light Images, I launched Indy Shooter with the theme of making Photoshop more approachable for photographers. There is certainly still work to be done, but I’m very grateful and beyond excited to see what the New Year brings!!

My personal photographic addiction is in the realm of fashion and portraiture. That doesn’t stop from shooting anything interesting I come across, but I’ve had the great honor of working with a wonderful Indianapolis-based Fashion magazine, Fashion Wrap Up. Their editorials are gorgeous themed spreads covering some great trends and they offer lots of entertainment and fashion news as well. I’ve had a number of fantastic photoshoots with FWU but took a break for most of this year to attend some classes and work on some other projects (video work for the fantastic Naptown Roller Girls among them!!). Then earlier this month FWU and I  got back together to do a Holiday themed shoot and the results of that effort are some of my favorite images to date.

That said, I am both proud and humbled to announce my personal Photo of the Year:

IndyShooter Photo of the Year (© Fashion Wrap Up)

Many thanks to everyone involved, but especially Christy Pastore – editor of Fashion Wrap Up, Melissa Ingersoll – Allure Salon, our model – Amanda Katherine and our location for the shoot – Cambria Suites in Noblesville, IN.

Putting together each of the looks was a huge undertaking by Melissa and her team from Allure and I would be remiss if I did not say that they did an absolutely amazing and professional job. As a photographer I cannot overstate how valuable good stylists and make-up artists are. Without their hard work none of these shots would be possible. Amanda and all out models for the day were total troopers putting up with all the fussing and posing and running from dressing room to set.

Details of this photo:

I’m fairly certain it was Christy who first had the thought to shoot this pose – looking out of the elevator as though she is searching for her significant other, but once that idea was struck it was a definite “Yes!!” moment. While Amanda was finishing with make-up I set up my lighting in the small hallway that served as the elevator landing. My main light is a 21-inch beauty dish/strobe combination set up just a few feet to camera left. There were two small speedlight flashes gelled to match the color temp of the main strobe. One of these was further down the hall to the left and another was inside the elevator with a small 4-inch dish reflector and grid to give Amanda’s hair and dress a nice back rim-light. These were all triggered with a Pocket Wizard Flex-TT5 system for Canon. I shoot primarily with a Canon 7D and 24-105 F4L lens.

Just rattling it off like that sounds so easy, but this location was quite a struggle for me to figure out how to light it. That’s one thing I love so much about portrait shooting on location – there’s always a new challenge!!  It took me a good half hour of jockeying lights and angles to decide what worked.

One entertaining tidbit…once we had everything set and were shooting, the elevator alarm started going off because of Amanda holding the doors open (she got a good workout from that too, by the way!). So there was extra pressure to work quickly since we didn’t want the hotel management to kick us out after our first set!

Post processing:

This image was a joy to work on because it just kept getting better and better. I tried a couple different approaches to editing the whole series, but here are the steps I went through to finish out this image:

  1. I used Lightroom to do initial exposure adjustments, boosting contrast and noise reduction, cropping and rotation and spot fixing a few spots and fingerprints on the metal surrounding the elevator.
  2. Once the image was imported to Photoshop, I ran a high-pass filter to smooth out the skin tones (see my post for a description of this technique).
  3. After that I used Topaz Adjust on the Strong Details setting to really make the dress and textures pop. Topaz is one of the few external plug-ins that I use.
  4. The result of that process was faded a bit to blend back into the original image
  5. A very slight darkening vignette was aplied around the edges of the image
  6. Finally I used the dodge and burn tools to selectively enhance shadows and highlights such as folds in the dress and details in her hair. A very small brush was used to burn the details around her eyes. 

Look for a future post describing more of these techniques in greater detail. 

See the entire editorial at Fashion Wrap Up. (All images are Copyright Vivid Oranje Consulting, LLC and Fashion Wrap Up magazine). For a behind the scene’s look at this shoot visit AK’s World, a blog written by another of our fantastic models, Adrian Kendrick. 

Hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Holiday Season and I’m looking forward to an exciting New Year!!!

Peace and Joy,

-David Van Deman

I Need More Sunbeam!!!

Final Image

Here’s a quickie but goodie – how to make realistic streaking sunbeams that “filter through” trees, clouds or other background scenery. This is a surprisingly simple technique with one little not-so-obvious selection technique. Load up the original image and let’s have at it!!!

Original Image
  1. To create this effect you want to pick the brightest part of your image – where the light is showing through your background. The quickest and easiest way to do this is by using the channels tab in your layers window to make a Luminosity selection.
    Select the Upper RGB Channel

    Seriously? Yep, if you select the upper RGB Composite channel while holding down Ctrl/Cmd, Photoshop automatically picks the brightest parts of your image. Pretty cool stuff!

  2. Now, this may work fine, but to really make the effect crisp you want to redo the same selection – basically refining the edges to limit the colors blending into the light rays and make them more “streaky”. Hold down Ctrl/Cmd + Alt/Opt + Shift and click the RGB Composite channel again. If you watch closely you will notice that this has tightened up the selection. Do that same step one more time to cut the selection even closer (experiment with how many times you do this – more or less may look better depending on your image). If you have any bright foreground objects that are selected and shouldn’t be quickly deselect those with the lasso while holding down Alt/Opt (I didn’t bother with it in this image, but if you have someone with bright highlights on their face in the image it might look a little strange to have rays streaking off their face!). Once your selection is done select the layers tab again

    Selection
  3. Now for the magic…hit Ctrl/Cmd + J to jump the selection onto another layer and then head up to Filters > Blur > Radial Blur. In this dialog select the Zoomoption and set it to 100%. In the target area move the center to approximately the location of where the sun should be in your image. Click OK to create your basic streaks. Once the filter runs check to see that your streaks are centered on your sun…you can either re-run the filter and move the center target or just select the move tool and shift your layer around until it’s centered.
    First run of Blur filter - notice the sunbeams look "short"

     

  4. Now that’s pretty cool…but look closely. Depending on the image you might want to run that same filter again. On the first run, the streaks were chopped short and didn’t quite look natural. You might also want to increase the intensity a bit by duplicating the layer a couple times (Ctrl/Cmd +J). Merge the light ray layers and then set your blending mode option to Screen.
  5. Create a layer mask (Here’s a tutorial on layer masks) on your finished light layer and using a large soft brush clean up any edges of the rays that look strange. I also reduced the opacity of the brush to around 60% and used that to reduce the strength of the rays below the horizon line.
  6. Once you’re happy with how that looks create the reflection in the pond by duplicating the layer (Ctrl/Cmd + J) and then flipping it vertically (Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical). Pick the move tool and center this on the reflected sun and then select the layer mask and brush around the pond with a large soft brush to keep the rays from going past the shoreline.
  7. Finally, reduce the opacity of your light layers until you like the way they look. I chose 75% for the main set of sunbeams and 50% for the reflected layer.
  8. Another consideration you might try in different images may include experimenting with the transform command (Edit > Transform) to scale the rays up so that they cover more of the image and seem to shine through on everything in the foreground, or if your image has the sun out of frame use scale and rotate until the streaks are coming across the image from the direction of the sun (like the before / after image of the trees below). Don’t forget to use layer masks to control any streaks that look out of place.

That’s all there is to it – lots of fantastic heavenly sunbeams. Now if only I were a cat…Meow?

Before and After sun beams from the side of image

Rabari – A New Photography Guide

Hey everyone!

I wanted to let you all know about Rabari – Encounters with the Nomadic Tribe, a fascinating new photography guide written by renowned travel photographer Mitchell Kanashkevich and recently published by our friends at Light Stalking.

I have to say that my first impression on a quick scan-through of this eBook was simply, “Wow!!” Not only has Mitchell given us a wonderful documentary of his project photographing a rural nomadic tribe in India, he has shared the experience in an instructional format providing a wealth of background information on his approach to “getting the shot”. For each of the ten excellent images in the book the reader is given insight into dealing with shooting in a foreign country and working with an interpreter,  reasoning and vision for the image, lighting diagrams and posing considerations, challenges in getting the shot and details on workflow and post-processing  in Lightroom and Photoshop.

When I finally got the chance to sit down and fully digest everything in the book I found it inspiring and easy to read. You really get a feel for what it was like to be on this project and how the author learned and interacted within the lives of these tribal people. Mitchell Describes everything in an easy, conversational text that feels like he’s teaching you one-on-one, detailing each shot and what the situation and his thoughts were before and after clicking the shutter. He gives you a breakdown of the gear he took (which was very minimal), how he dealt with transportation and finding a local guide and then goes through each image providing wonderful detail for photographers hungry to learn.

In short Rabari is a resource unlike any I’ve come across before and it should happily find a home in any photographer’s reference list. This is much more than just a “do this and do that” manual…it’s nearly 60 pages of Awesome. It gives you sense of what it is like to be a photographer on location in a desert shooting portraits of a people that don’t understand most of what you say. Add to that all the how-to details and you have a uniquely rich and satisfying edition. I have to give a heartfelt Thank You to Mitchell and Light Stalking for putting this together and I am certainly looking forward to more!

Click Here

…to head over to Light Stalking and get your own copy of Rabari. You’ll get a $5 discount through Christmas day!

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