I have long been intrigued with kaleidoscopic images, but it’s virtually impossible to photograph into a traditional kaleidoscope because the hole through which you look to see the beautiful designs is too small. Several years ago I figured out how to construct a kaleidoscope that would permit photography, and I’ve always had a lot of fun with it. The cost is around $5-$10, and it can be put together in just a few minutes.
There are two ways to travel. You can go with a group or you can travel independently where you plan the itinerary and make the arrangements. One isn’t necessarily less expensive than the other because it depends on so many factors, but the main issue to consider is this: what will you gain by being part of a group versus traveling alone or with a friend or spouse?
I have spent a great deal of time and money trying to find the perfect way to travel with my gear. As I buy more lenses, and as computer technology changes, I must re-examine how I carry everything because the volume and shape of my equipment changes.
One of the most wonderful aspects of travel photography is shooting festivals. The color is outrageous, the costuming is visually exciting, and there are a million things to shoot all at the same time. It’s frustrating that we can’t be in more than one place at a time (those darn laws of the Universe get in the way all the time!). If you can plan your trip to include some kind of festival or celebration, it will be a highlight of the trip. Virtually everywhere you travel where there are people, you’ll find some kind of festival. It’s just a matter of doing some research on-line to find out when they occur.
A failed flash photograph has an exposure in which the subject is too light or too dark. In addition, the foreground is too light—in fact, it’s lighter than the subject—and therefore distracting. In some circumstances, very dark or black backgrounds behind a subject are not desirable, and this can be considered a failure as well.
On-camera flash is convenient and very fast to use, but it’s not a flattering type of light. It’s a flat type of lighting with seemingly no depth, it creates unattractive shadows, and any surface that has sheen to it will reflect the light back into the lens.
To fully understand your flash, there are some basic principles and definitions I need to explain. When I start discussing how to be creative with your flash, you will know what I’m talking about with this information under your belt. Flash is not difficult once you understand some fundamental principles. I will start from the beginning and take you step by step to the point where it will seem like no big deal to get excellent flash pictures.
I have made the point that on-camera flash is not the most attractive artificial light for photography. In fact, I’d say it’s at or near the bottom of my list for choosing artificial light sources to illuminate the subjects I photograph. If I can’t take the flash off the camera and I’m forced to use on-camera flash, then the best approach is to diffuse the light. There are various ways to do this. Some diffusion techniques require a modest expenditure while others don’t cost anything.
Many people think that professional looking portraits of either people or animals require a multiple light setup in a studio. The traditional configuration consists of a main light, a fill light, sometimes a hair light depending on the hair—or lack of hair—of the subject, and two lights on the background. You can see what this type of lighting looks like in where I used a 4-light setup. The background was black paper and the two subtle background lights made it look gray. I set the studio strobes to provide a 3:1 lighting ratio on the model’s face.
This story is oriented to photographers who are serious about their photography, and who want to learn to use flash creatively. However, I know there are a lot of people who are very happy with their camera and who aren’t interested in buying sophisticated flash units. Admittedly, there is a lot to be said for being able to use one unit for both exposure and illumination. In this section I will address the issue of pop-up flash units and tell you how to get the most out of these small and convenient types of flash.