Photographing families and large groups can strike fear into the hearts of many photographers. As for me, there’s nothing I’d rather do. I not only get to meet a lot of great people, but family groups are the most profitable portraits that I take. Everyone wants a copy of a good shot, and many of my family group photos result in the sale of a wall portrait or grouping with frames, plus several smaller prints.
Portrait photographers are constantly looking for new lighting gear that will make their lives easier and produce great results. And while flash photography has been the studio standard for many years, it’s always been more difficult to previsualize the final effect since the image you see using the modeling lights is not always the same you see once the flash fires. The instant feedback of digital cameras has lessened that worry some, but you can still be in for some surprises. The new breed of LED lights eliminates most of these concerns with true WYSIWYG lighting, and with that in mind I was eager to check out F&V’s new K4000 LED Studio Panel to see how it could be used in my work.
“Look Ma, no cords!” That’s right; the Priolite does not have a power cord. It is run strictly off battery power. Each unit has its own interchangeable and removable battery, plus a built-in receiver to work with a Priolite transmitter. And, unlike most monolights, it has a usable modeling light even on battery power.
As more photos are made on more types of devices, there’s a need for resultant images that aren’t just “OK” but as good as they can be. And part of the need, it would seem, is that some folks don’t want to spend a lot of time learning complex programs to get the image results they want. Companies like Athentech Imaging aim to make it a one-click affair.
The job of auto-retouching software is to retouch faces quickly, easily, and with as little human intervention as possible. Most require you to either set or confirm where the major points of the face are, like the eyes, ears, and lips. After you’ve identified those areas, the software then goes about its business of transforming little Pamela into little Princess.
I am a dyed-in-the-wool natural light shooter. Outdoor portraits are my specialty and 95 percent of my outdoor portraits are taken with nothing but daylight. Yet, unlike other photographers I know, I actually prefer shooting on sunny days, and my studio schedules all day, so there is no waiting for the “golden hour” to get soft, directional light.
Like most photographers, I’m always trying to see just how versatile I can make my dedicated speedlights. In my case that would be Nikon SB-800 Speedlights. And when I really want to create a unique look I’ll sometimes use off-camera flash so I can vary the exposure on my subject in relation to the overall scene. That usually involves me adding light to my subject to either match or overpower the ambient light. When I do that I like to have a little more control over the quantity and quality of the light than what I’d have if I just aimed my flash at my subject with no modification.
We all know what softboxes look like. They’re big, small, square, rectangular, sometimes round or shaped like octagons—we’ve seen them all. But there is nothing quite like the 16x60 Light Bender from Larson. It is long (48”), narrow (12”), and looks like a strip light that someone grabbed by the ends and yanked toward the middle. In this test I’ll take a look at just what this oddly-shaped light can do and why a photographer may consider adding it to his or her arsenal of light modifiers.
The Light Bender was designed by well-known photographer Larry Peters from Ohio and is produced and sold by Larson Enterprises.
After unpacking, I mounted the box to the backplate, a really snug fit, and then added the speed ring that allows me to mount and swivel the box on my light. After assembly, I mounted it on my Paul C. Buff Einstein unit. The light mounts dead center and the “wings” fly out to the side. There is no interior baffle in the design so the light is much stronger in the center and drops off rather dramatically as you move toward the edges.
Fresnel lenses are used to focus light. Many of the Hollywood glamour photographers of the 1930s and ’40s used them, most notably George Hurrell for his portraits of many of the screen legends of that era. Hurrell used 8x10 cameras, uncoated lenses, and bulky Mole-Richardson hot lights. You don’t have to go that route, but you can now replicate some of the lighting effects with this new offering from Photogenic.
One of the first workshops I ever attended when I began my career over 30 years ago was with the legendary Don “Big Daddy’” Blair. One of the things Don was known for was his almost fanatical obsession with posing, especially hands. Things have changed a great deal since then and posing as a rule has become much more relaxed, but there are still some basic “rules” that can serve as guidelines that can be incorporated into your own style.