Archive for the 'how-to' Category

Video 3: Using a Light Meter

September 29, 2010

Mark Wallace is back with the third Adorama video of a four-part series on metering. This installment focuses on how to use a light meter. He breaks down the key elements of the “exposure triangle,” which are aperature value, shutter speed, and ISO. By entering any of two of the values into your light meter, the meter will produce the missing variable, enabling you to dial in the correct exposure on your camera.

Wallace demonstrates the Sekonic L-358 meter throughout, and explores the four different modes available on the meter: ambient mode, cordless flash mode, cord flash mode, and wireless flash radio triggering mode. He goes into detail on two modes, basic ambient metering and wireless triggering.

For ambient metering, he provides both outdoor location and indoor studio examples, along with many handy tips, such as a multitude of issues when positioning your meter in front of a model, and settings galore. Thanks for both the overview and the details, Mark!

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this four part series.

After you’re done learning from one of the masters of metering, check out all the Sekonic meters to step up your game and nail your exposures in-camera, saving you countless hours trying to tweak them in Photoshop or Lightroom.

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Video 2: Exposure Compensation

September 15, 2010

Mark Wallace returns in this second Adorama video of a four-part series on metering. This installment focuses on exposure compensation. Watch Wallace demonstrate how cameras expose for 18% gray, whether shooting a solid black or solid white wall. He teaches us how to set exposure compensation to underexpose by two stops, making a black wall black. Conversely, he moves in the opposite direction by two stops to have a white wall correctly register as white.

Moving to practical applications of exposure compensation, he photographs a model wearing black against a black background, and white top against a white background.

In a great practical demonstration, Wallace also shows what’s going on via the LCD panel on the back of your camera while employing exposure compensation. Thanks for the demystification, Mark!

As a precursor, don’t forget to check out Part 1 of this four part series.

After you’re done learning from one of the masters of metering, check out all the Sekonic meters to step up your game and nail your exposures in-camera, saving you countless hours trying to tweak them in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Video 1: Understanding TTL

September 8, 2010

The unstoppable Mark Wallace is at it again! You can now see him in a series of four videos on light metering. He starts off the series detailing how your camera meters light in an attempt to get the correct exposure. TTL (through the lens) reflective metering and specific metering modes such as spot metering, partial metering, average metering, center weighted average metering, and matrix metering are covered.

Watch this space for upcoming breakdowns of the other videos in this informative series. As the series progresses, Wallace demonstrates how to rock like a pro with a light meter.

After you’re done learning from one of the masters of metering, check out all the Sekonic meters to step up your game and nail your exposures in-camera, saving you countless hours trying to tweak them in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Free Friday Photo School Seminar 8/20/10

August 16, 2010

Sekonic and FridayPhotoSchool are proud to present this FREE learning opportunity for you THIS FRIDAY!

The first in a series of educational video seminar series!

Will Crockett from ShootSmarter.com has created some great content on how to dial in a correct exposure for one of the age-old problems photographers face. Too dark or too light? Crockett solves the problem, and has created some free online video seminars showing you the answers. Why not get it right in camera, instead of trying to doctor your photos on your computer for hours afterwards?

Crockett is hosting a free FridayPhotoSchool.com seminar. Focusing on turning off some of the automated systems in your camera, and exploring manual exposure controls, Crockett aims to empower shooters by mastering their cameras, instead of the other way around. Be sure to check out his 80-minute free seminar this Friday. Set a calendar reminder!

Too Dark? Too Light? Just Right!
CONTROLLING THE BRIGHTNESS OF YOUR PHOTOS
With Will Crockett
FRIDAY AUGUST 20 around lunchtime at 1pm ET. 12n CT. 11am MT. 10am PT on www.fridayphotoschool.com

See you there! Note: the presentation is free, but registration for FridayPhotoSchool.com is required to watch the seminar.

Mark Voce on Spot Metering

July 26, 2010

Mark Voce of West Yorkshire, England, has posted a great tutorial on spot metering. Found on his Landscape Photography Blog, Voce explains how to accurately establish what the correct exposure is on any given landscape situation which presents itself to shooters.

Screen shot of Mark Voce's blog, http://www.landscapephotographyblog.com.

With his five year-old Sekonic L-558 and Hasselblad lenses synched to half-stop increments, Voce runs through some very helpful basics on starting with the darkest and brightest parts of a scene, which enables him to get the proper exposure range. He then narrows down to the ideal exposure. This is a great place to understand the essentials of landscape metering. We look forward to hearing more from this talented shooter and discussing his fine landscape work. Don’t miss the beautiful and informative content he regularly posts to his blog.

Sekonic on flickr

July 23, 2010

If you’re interested in seeing what other shooters are doing with Sekonic meters, check out some of the results posted at the Sekonic Light Meter group on flickr. Comprised of a friendly group of photographers, their discussion page is full of posts where questions are answered, tips are shared, and all things Sekonic are explored.

A wide range of photography is represented by the members. With currently almost 1600 images posted, use this important resource for inspiration as to what you can accomplish with your Sekonic meter. You can browse the images without being a member, which is free and easy to do should you choose to. The individuals on the discussion page are friendly, helpful, and encouraging. Join the party and watch your photography and metering skills ramp up!

White Backgrounds For Commercial Photography

July 21, 2010

Of all places, we’ve found this brief yet interesting article on how to meter for seamless white backgrounds on the recycling blog Beautiful Rubbish. If any subjects are wearing or holding anything white, this is a great place to pick up a few tips on how to do it right, particularly before your wardrobe stylist winds up weeping.

In five simple-to-follow paragraphs, this article explains how to avoid panic when facing a big white cyc. Just a sample of this on-the-money article:

A good photographer should be able to picture any color of clothing with any background or light conditions. If you book a photo shoot and your photographer tells you not to wear white because it is hard to snap I recommend you look for a new cameraman. All that statement shows is a dearth of knowledge about photography lighting.

Bravo, Beautiful Rubbish!

John Hoeft, Shooter Turned Educator

April 15, 2010

For some people, photography is just part of their DNA. At the age of eleven in Washington State, John Hoeft was developing his own film and enlarging prints in his bedroom. A four year stint in the military gave him the need to document his far-ranging travels for his family back home. After fourteen post-military years in Virginia, Hoeft and his wife have been shooting and educating photographers in the Sacramento area for the past eleven years.

Crediting the digital photography revolution with recharging his photographic batteries, it was the acquisition of new digital gear that helped Hoeft make the transition from hobbyist to fee-charging photographer. Six years ago he began shooting youth sports photography. He quickly learned he was a natural instructor of sorts, and loved sharing technical information about photography with newcomers to the hobby. “I enjoy sharing the knowledge I’ve learned by putting it in a more approachable vernacular they can understand,” he says. “There was a gap in knowledge. There was enough that got you to the point you were dangerous with a camera, and then there was a big gap, and then there were experts.”

©John Hoeft

Hoeft found an opportunity to fill the photographic knowledge gap he identified. Soon he was conceiving and shooting Studio Lighting DVD: An Introduction to Studio Lighting Equipment and Lighting Setups. “It gets you far enough to the point where you can start experimenting. It will help you get the results you envision in your mind, versus what you were previously getting,” he says.

Lighting diagram cards enclosed with Hoeft's first DVD. ©John Hoeft

Involvement with his local community of photographers via Meetup.com was where Hoeft’s pedagogical nature took off. He began organizing meetings of entry-level photographers with the goal of raising the proficiency of anyone interested in attending. “At some of the meetings I found myself continually going over basics just to bring new attendants up to water level,” he explains. “I began to think that if I had something I could just hand to people with all this information on it, time wouldn’t be lost for the other photographers. The DVD is Studio Lighting 101. It’s foundational knowledge to get beginners up to speed.”

Now that Hoeft has Studio Lighting DVD available, he finds his meet-ups move into the actual shooting much more quickly, with a minimum of set-up discussion. “It really helps the folks who we have the meet-ups with, but I’ve been very surprised about the amount of interest in the DVD we’ve had from other areas, particularly outside the United States,” says Hoeft. Canada, Indonesia, Guam, Philippines, and Trinidad, among other countries, have shooters who’ve ordered the DVD. It’s been successful enough that Hoeft has other DVDs on the drawing boards, and other titles are forthcoming. Everything from entry level DSLR operation, posing models, family portraits and boudoir photography are being worked on.

©John Hoeft

Portraits of models and fashion photography is where Hoeft’s personal shooting interest primarily lies currently, although much of his work had previously been centered on landscape photography. Although he shoots for commission work, his yen for educating fellow photographers is winning out, and he has multiple workshops in the Sacramento area scheduled on a variety of subjects.

A Canon shooter for a long time, Hoeft’s main body is a 1D Mark III, a holdover from his sports photography days, with a Canon 20D as backup. Although a big tripod advocate, he shoots both on and off a tripod. When shooting wildlife, he typically uses a monopod.

When asked about metering, Hoeft is enthusiastic to point out what he likes about his Sekonic meter. “I really like my L-358. That dome is retractable, and I use it all the time. If I want to take a reading of an individual light, I don’t have to do anything hokey, like turn off all the other lights. I just retract the dome, point it toward the light, and I’m getting a good reading. I also love that it has the PocketWizard module built into it.”

©John Hoeft

Hoeft, a former IT professional, feels the ease of use is a major selling point to his meter. “I tend to be a little more of a technical shooter, but I’m not up for fiddling with lights, adjusting, looking at the histogram, taking test shots, checking the meter repeatedly, et cetera,” he says. “I can’t stand to waste that much time. Since the DVD has been released, I’ve seen so many people show up at workshops with their Sekonic meters. They’ve become converts. I walk up, fire off a few, and I’m ready to go with the right exposure right off the bat.”

Very interested in saving time, Hoeft has strong feelings about the use of a meter. “I’ve seen people shoot, look at the histogram, shoot, look at the histogram over and over until they get it right,” he says. “If you have a meter, there’s no need to put yourself through that. I wouldn’t want to shoot without it. I’m all about repeatable results, and there’s times when a histogram just will not help you evaluate an exposure at all.”

©John Hoeft

It was just over a year ago Hoeft became a convert to PocketWizard Plus II’s. “The first thing I think about with the PocketWizards is the reliability,” he says. “As long as you’ve got it turned on and on the right channel—which is pretty easy to do—they just flat-out work. If you’re shooting in a group situation, almost everyone else has PocketWizards. It’s also a great match with the Sekonic meter, so I don’t have to have some goofy thing with both a transmitter and a cord. The marriage between the PocketWizard and the Sekonic is like magic. I’ve only got so much time to shoot, and I want as much of that time to be as productive as possible. The last thing I want is my subject to wait for me while I dial my lights in.”

Hoeft feels the future is bright, if you’ll excuse the cliche, and no pun intended. Watch his site as he continues to update it when new DVD titles will be available. The photography community is fortunate to have someone breaking down essential aspects to getting better photos out of their gear.

John Hoeft Photography

Photography DVDs

Sacramento Photo Workshops

John Hoeft on Meetup

Written by Ron Egatz

Bobbi Lane: Thirty Years of Freelance Photography

December 10, 2009

Thirty years isn’t much in plate tectonics, evolution, or changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. In the world of freelance professional photography, thirty years is a significant achievement. Bobbi Lane has been involved with serious photographic pursuits since her undergraduate days at Emerson College and New England School of Photography. After graduation, she started an apprenticeship with Bill Sumner in Boston. In 1979 she became a freelance photographer and has been self-employed ever since.

©Bobbi Lane

Being an assignment photographer is not her only accomplishment for the past three decades. She is almost as equally well-known as a photographic educator, teaching seminars and workshops around the world in places such as Dubai and Costa Rica. In the United States, she’s often lecturing or teaching in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, New York City, Boston, Chicago and Rockport, Maine. Five books, two DVDs, over a dozen exhibits, and many industry awards are a testament to her talent as a photographer and her instructional abilities.

©Bobbi Lane

No stranger to preproduction, Bobbi often sketches her lighting design ideas before shoots. Arriving prepared is key to her methodology. This was employed in her most recent shoot: guitarist Will Hanza on a Manhattan rooftop. The objective in this shoot was to get that magic time of sunset when interior lights of buildings come on, but the sky still naturally lit. To help accomplish this, she used a Sekonic L-758DR meter. “There were several reasons why I needed to have a light meter during this shoot,” says Bobbi. “First, I was using two light sources—two strobes: a beauty dish and a strip light for the edge effect. I had to get the right balance between the two. I used the Incident mode to measure the main light. I placed the strip light in relation to the main light. In most circumstances I would put the background light about a full-stop less than the main light. In this case, I did it about one half-stop less. I wanted it to be a little stronger because I wanted more drama and edge-feel. We used the spot meter to read the sky in the background. You can’t take an incident reading of the sky because an incident meter measures the light falling on a subject. The sky is a light source. You have to have a reflective meter to take the reading off the sky. That worked perfectly.”

©Bobbi Lane

The L-758DR came through on all fronts for Bobbi. “The meter was so good. I always look at my histograms to double check everything and make sure I’m getting the amount of light I need—not losing shadow detail or not blowing out highlight detail. This meter was so absolutely right on. I didn’t have to adjust or compensate for anything.”

©Bobbi Lane

A contributor to stock photography agencies for twenty-five years, she recently left Getty Images for a small agency which was bought by Corbis. Although she describes the state of stock photography business “dismal,” There are still a few bright spots. “Most of what I sell from stock agencies is Travel, and most of that is American cities. No one is really interested in buying stock photos unless you have full model releases on all the people in the photo. Because of the royalty-free stock and these micro-stock sites, the value of rights-managed stock has really come down quite a bit.” The news is not all dismal, though. “I still think there’s room for photographers making high-quality images in rights-managed stock, but no one’s making the money they used to. I know several photographers who shot stock exclusively, and their income is half of what it was ten years ago. That said, I don’t think stock photography is going away. No matter how many people put their images on the Web for free, if someone needs a high-quality image, they’ll pay for it.”

©Bobbi Lane

Client-direct assignments for corporate photography, particularly on a local level, has become the majority of her jobs these days. Small advertising agencies and design firms fill out her work week, with environmental portraits, formal portraits, and related work for companies’ Web sites. “It’s very similar to corporate annual report photography,” Bobbi explains. “You’re doing people, facilities, and products. Every client is different, so I try to create a different look for each company I work for.”

©Bobbi Lane

Editorial work for local magazines like Ridgefield Magazine and Bedford Magazine keep her busy, as does national magazines. Trade publications like Brandweek Magazine call her for interpretive portrait work.

©Bobbi Lane

The clients have come and gone and come again. The face of the stock photography business has changed radically with the advent of the Internet. Digital technology steadily replaces film. Through it all, Bobbi Lane continues to earn a living on her own terms as a freelance photographer, an educator, and through stock photo sales. Photographers everywhere can learn much from this talented pro shooter.

©Bobbi Lane

Calumet Photographic at 22 West 22nd Street, New York City, hosted Bobbi Lane’s Metering Video Premiere Event on Wednesday, December 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. Educator and photographer Bobbi Lane premiered of her new video for Sekonic on metering techniques. The video features guitarist Will Pino on a rooftop in Manhattan during an incredible sunset. Lane will be in attendance to talk about her insights on the creation of these dynamic images using Sekonic meters and Calumet Travelites.

Bobbi Lane Photography

Bobbi Lane at Photofolio

Portrait Lighting Techniques and Portraits Unplugged, produced and sold by Calumet

“Portraits Unplugged,” an online class for the Perfect Picture School of Photography

Written by Ron Egatz

Nail It the First Time!

June 15, 2009
We came across this recent blog post by Richard Bui, of Richard Bui Photography. This extremely well-written post goes into detail on the importance of shooting with a light meter in hand. Richard explains why a light meter is important and how it will ultimately save photographers time and money by avoiding unnecessary and potentially dangerous work in Photoshop which could destroy images no properly photographed to begin with. He recommends the Sekonic L-358 and RT-32 remote trigger module, which syncs perfectly with his existing Pocket Wizard system.
We’re excited by our discovery of his blog, and look forward to more engaging and enlightened articles from Richard.

We came across this recent blog post by Richard Bui, of Richard Bui Photography. This extremely well-written post goes into detail on the importance of shooting with a light meter in hand. Richard explains why a light meter is important and how it will ultimately save photographers time and money by avoiding unnecessary and potentially dangerous work in Photoshop which could destroy images no properly photographed to begin with. He recommends the Sekonic L-358 and RT-32 remote trigger module, which syncs perfectly with his existing PocketWizard system.

We’re excited by our discovery of his blog, and look forward to more engaging and enlightened articles from Richard.

Learn more about the benefits of using a handheld light meter.