Tip of the Week – Our favorite lighting videos

Tip of the Week – Our favorite lighting videos

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com.

This week, we bring out our favorite lighting videos. Whether it’s about small flashes or studio strobes, lighting is something we get an awful lot of questions about. So, we decided to put together a short list of our favorite lighting-related video tutorials to help you get going. These are paid videos, but are worth every penny, since the instructors are some of the best in the business.

  1. Joe McNally’s “Language of Light”: Joe is easily one of the best lighting instructors in the world, and his “Language of Light” DVD set is pure genius. Whether it’s shooting a family portrait, or hanging off the back of a truck to capture speeding downhill skaters, Joe does it all and does it incredibly well. He’s funny, engaging and eloquent, and while he doesn’t make it look easy, he does help you understand his methods and techniques, letting you learn a lot in the process.
  2. David Hobby’s “Lighting in Layers”: David Hobby became famous for starting what is now considered to be the bible of small flash photography websites. Strobist.com has become the go-to site for folks looking to learn about lighting with small flash, and to his credit, David pretty-much gives away a ton of information for free there. His “Lighting in Layers” DVD, however, ratchets things up to a whole new level. Six full shoots span nine hours of video, replete with lighting diagrams, commentary and on-the-job demos. For lighting enthusiasts and aficionados, this is definitely worth checking out.
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  3. Scott Kelby’s “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it!”: This one requires a subscription to KelbyTraining.com, but is totally worth it. Scott takes you through a complete shoot, from lighting setup, to shooting, to the retouching process. Throughout the entire tutorial – which is actually broken into three parts – he describes all the gear, software and techniques he uses in great detail, leaving few, if any, questions in the minds of the audience. Scott’s class got so popular, it spawned a book and a nationwide teaching tour of the same name.  If you don’t have a subscription to KelbyTraining, they do have a free trial so you can check out the class during that. Get the subscription, however, because it also gets you access to another video on this list.
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  4. Zack Arias teaching studio lighting at creativeLIVE.com

    Zack Arias teaching studio lighting at creativeLIVE.com

    Zack Arias’ “Studio Lighting.”: This is easily THE go-to course if you’re just starting out and want an immersive, extensive course. Shot over three days, this workshop form creativeLIVE is absolutely stunning in the amount of instruction it provides. From learning how to setup a shoot to why you start with, say, a soft box to what that does versus an umbrella or a beauty dish, to measuring exposure, this workshop has it all.

    Zack is a fantastic instructor; he’s humble, self-deprecating and brutally honest. This is a guy who’s not afraid to let his mistakes be a teaching tool, and you’ll see that in this video workshop. Moreover, he doesn’t assume you know something about lighting already, so he explains things very thoroughly. Even experienced folks will get something out of this workshop, so don’t pass it up.
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  5. Syl Arena’s “Working with Speedlites”: This two-part course, also available from KelbyTraining.com (the same place you can find Scott Kelby’s class, mentioned above) is a nod to the Canonistas out there. Since David Hobby and Joe McNally are Nikon users, their classes invariably involve heavy use of Nikon cameras and flashes. Syl’s class, on the other hand, is all about Canon flash photography.What’s really cool about this class is that it does what your Canon flash’s manual should have done, but didn’t. Syl breaks down Speedlites and explains everything in detail – but he doesn’t stop there. There’s plenty of technical information to give you lots of “Aha!” moments, but then he shows you just how to use those flashes in actual shooting situations. The class is broken into two parts, one for working with single Speedlites, and the other for working with multiple Speedlites. If you’re a Canon shooter and want to get into the world of small flash photography, this is your go-to class.

So that’s the list of our favorite lighting videos. Got a recommendation of your own? Leave us a comment, and let us know!

Tip of the Week: Our Top 5 Sites for Photographic Inspiration

Tip of the Week: Our Top 5 Sites for Photographic Inspiration

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com.

This week’s tip is about inspiration. One of the keys to becoming a better photographer is to look at the work of other photographers. Before the internet (and there are some of us who remember those dark and ancient times), this meant buying or borrowing heavy and expensive printed books. read more…

Opinion: iBooks Author – why photographers should care

Opinion: iBooks Author – why photographers should care

iBooks Author, the new ebook authoring app from Apple.

iBooks Author, the new ebook authoring app from Apple.

Yesterday, at an event in New York, Apple released an update to its iBooks app, along with an all-new authoring application that makes it very easy to create stunning interactive books for the iPad. On the surface of things, this seemed to be an education-related event, with a focus on using the authoring tool, iBooks Author, to create textbooks for sale through the iBookstore.

But if you watch the video of the special event, you’ll see that Phil Schiller, Apple’s VP of worldwide marketing, makes a point of mentioning that iBooks Author can be used to create much more than textbooks. This is where things start to get interesting. read more…

Tip of the Week – Real-World Cold Weather Shooting Tips

Tip of the Week – Real-World Cold Weather Shooting Tips

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com.

Dove in Winter. Image Courtesy ImperfectPhotographer.com.

Dove in Winter. Image Courtesy ImperfectPhotographer.com.

Winter seems to be one of those months where the desire to stay indoors and do nothing overtakes many photographers. For those who live in areas where the landscape gets coated with ice and snow in the winter months, this temptation might be even stronger.

Thing is, winter shooting can be incredibly rewarding. Landscapes take on a surreal quality and, though fewer than in summer, there is still plenty of wildlife around. Snow and ice tend to eliminate distracting backgrounds, making your subject stand out. “Winter,” as one photographer told us, “is nature’s very own white seamless background.”

Shooting in cold weather, however, isn’t without challenges. From keeping your gear safe, to keeping yourself safe, there are a fair number of obstacles that can not only keep you from getting the shots you want, but cause injuries to you and damage to your equipment. With that in mind, for this week’s Tip, we bring you an excellent article from Mark over at ImperfectPhotographer.com. With over three years of shooting in cold weather down to -23 degrees, Mark has some incredibly useful insights for you if you’re venturing out in winter.

The Real World – Cold Weather Shooting Tips at ImperfectPhotographer.com

 

Finally! A new full-frame camera from Nikon

Finally! A new full-frame camera from Nikon

The new Nikon D4

The new Nikon D4

Nikon just announced the D4, and it looks like a doozy, not just an updated version of the D3s. Loads of new features – expanded ISO, clean HDMI out, MUCH better HD video options (1080p at 30, 24 and 25fps). Most importantly, it’ll be the first full-frame sensor camera with full HD capability since the Canon 5D MarkII (the 1Dx isn’t due out till March 2012).

A couple of other points of interest.

  • The D4 has an RGB metering sensor, first introduced with the Nikon D7000. The difference here is that besides being an updated version of the D7000’s sensor, the D4’s metering sensor has 91,000 pixels to the D7000’s 2016.
  • Framerate has be upped to 11fps in Continuous High, from 9fps in the D3s.
  • ISO is expandable to 204800.
  • The 91k pixel RGB sensor also features face recognition.
  • You can now record 1080p video in three formats: Full-frame, DX crop and an even smaller crop that uses just 1920×1080 pixels on the sensor.

Lots more stuff too, including a headphone jack for monitoring audio, a levels indicator and more. That 1Dx needs to hit the market sooner rather than later, because Nikon has upped the ante with this extremely capable HDDSLR, finally challenging Canon in the video realm.

Check out the press release for more details. Here are the specs.

UPDATES: Here’s a roundup of D4-related pieces from around the web.

 

Editor’s note: Post updated to clarify sentence about the D4 being the first full-frame camera capable of full HD video since 5D Mark II. The 1Dx was announced, but won’t be released until after the D4.

How to Visualize and Shoot in B&W

How to Visualize and Shoot in B&W

Nik Silver Efex Pro / Alien Skin Exposure

Nik Silver Efex Pro / Alien Skin Exposure

Black and white photography is one of the oldest forms of photography; yet its popularity seems to have been on the uptick of late. With plugins like Alien Skin’s Exposure and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2, digital photographers now have some amazing tools at their disposal to create black and white images of varying types.

But the problem with shooting for black and white is knowing what will look good as a monochrome image. It can take photographers years to look at a scene and know what it will look like when rendered in monochrome. The old adage of “If it doesn’t look good, just convert it to B&W and call it art,” doesn’t hold very true. Rather, the axiom “GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out)” is much more accurate. You have to know what will stand out as a black and white image, and that’s what this week’s tip is about.

Most – if not all – digital cameras out there have a black-and-white or monochrome setting. For example, my 5D Mark II has a Monochrome setting under the Picture Styles menu, as does my Olympus Micro-Four-Thirds camera. Simply select this setting and shoot. Your subject – whether it’s a portrait or a landscape or a street scene – will be recorded as a black-and-white image.

Shooting in RAW+JPEG mode creates two files

Shooting in RAW+JPEG mode creates two files

Furthermore, if you want to see what an image will look like in B&W when you adjust your exposure, switch to Live-View on your camera. If you have a smaller, Micro-Four-Thirds or Sony NEX camera, this is what you use anyway to take your shots. You’ll get a live preview of what a B&W image will look like. Adjust exposure, frame your shot, then hit the shutter.

Pretty simple, right? Well, yeah, if you just want a black and white JPEG image, that’ll work great. But if you want a color image of the scene as well that you can craft a custom B&W image from using a plugin or Photoshop or something else, then you’d be out of luck. The monochrome JPEG is all you’ll have.

Here’s how to get the best of all worlds.

  1. How to tell Aperture to treat RAW+JPEG files as two separate masters

    How to tell Aperture to treat RAW+JPEG files as two separate masters

    Shoot in RAW mode. Hopefully, you already do this, so there’s good news here. Your camera is doing two things when you shoot in RAW mode. The image you see on your camera’s LCD is going to be a B&W image, but because you’re shooting in RAW mode, it’s also recording the image in full color. When you pull it into the image editing software of your choice – be it Aperture or Lightroom – you’ll see that it actually has all the color info you don’t see on the back of your LCD. What you’re seeing on the back of your screen is the embedded JPEG preview that has all the camera’s settings, corrections and filters applied to it, including the Monochrome setting you selected earlier.

  2. How to tell Lightroom to treat RAW+JPEG files as two separate masters

    How to tell Lightroom to treat RAW+JPEG files as two separate masters

    Shoot in RAW+JPEG. In this mode, you camera actually creates two files, one in RAW format, the other in JPEG. You can tell Lightroom or Aperture to treat the two as separate files, or treat them as a single file. Of course, this adds to the the amount of files you have to manage and takes up more disk space, but the advantage is that you have both, the color RAW file and the B&W JPEG file.When you do this, to make things easier, you would tell your image management software to treat the RAW and JPEG files as separate “master” files. In Lightroom, this is set by going into Lightroom preferences and selecting the “Treat JPEG files next to RAW files as separate masters” option, as shown. In Aperture, once you hit the “Import” button in the toolbar, you chose the “Both (Separate Masters)” option from the Import settings pane that appears, as shown in the image above.

  3. Using IJFR to extract JPEGs from RAW files

    Using IJFR to extract JPEGs from RAW files

    Extract the B&W JPEG from RAW. If the idea of shooting in RAW+JPEG doesn’t appeal to you and you still want the B&W JPEG, but also don’t want to shoot in JPEG mode because you want the full RAW file, you’re in luck. The folks at RAWWorkflow.com have a great little utility called Instant JPEG from RAW (IJFR) that will let you extract the B&W JPEG, which is embedded in the RAW file. Once you install IJFR, you can use it as shown in the image here.

Either way, each of these methods gives you two crucial tools to shoot better B&W images: They let you visualize your image in B&W and get a good idea of what that B&W shot will look like, and they still capture the full color spectrum your camera’s sensor sees so you have lots of data to manipulate in Photoshop later.

5 Photographers’ Blogs You Should Read

5 Photographers’ Blogs You Should Read

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you already have bookmarks or RSS feeds for some of the leading photographer blogs out there like Joe McNally, Scott Kelby and Chase Jarvis.

But as engaging as they are (and as much as we tend to read them every day), there are other, less-famous photographers who are nonetheless doing a stellar job in their fields and whose blogs are incredibly stimulating and interesting. In this piece, we introduce you to five of them. read more…

Travel Photography Tips from John Batdorff

John Batdorff

John Batdorff

This is a guest-post from John Batdorff II, a renowned travel photographer and friend of BorrowLenses.com. John is known for his landscape and travel photography, workshops, books and popular photography blog. He has traveled all around the world and, as part of our Tip of the Week series, shares his top tips on what to do if you’re planning a photo trip abroad. Take it away John! 

Over the years I’ve learned a few things about travel photography. First and foremost, preparation is critical, and second, nothing ever goes as planned. Managing expectations, mitigating potential problems, and being flexible are key ingredients to ensuring a great experience. Here are few of my tips for planning a successful photo trip: read more…

From the “You don’t need a $10,000 camera” department…

Here’s something to remind you that you don’t need thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment to do something truly captivating. David HJ. Lindberg’s video of running through mud puddles (below) was shot with a Canon T21 and a 50mm f/1.8 lens.

The Beauty of Mud (4000 fps) from David HJ. Lindberg on Vimeo.

We really have gotten to the point where ingenuity, perseverance and creativity don’t need to be accompanied by tons of money. The photo gear that David used (T2i and 50mm f/1.8) can be rented for about $60 for three days from BorrowLenses. We also have the T2i for sale for just $450, if you want to buy it. Bottom-line: You’re not really limited by gear anymore – just grab your camera and lens and get out there!

Tip of The Week: Using ND filters for video

Tip of The Week: Using ND filters for video

Singh-Ray Variable ND filters

Singh-Ray Variable ND filters

Every Thursday, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com.

This week’s tip is directed at those of you using HDDSLRs to shoot video. As many of you know, cameras like the Canon 5D Mark II and the Nikon D7000 can shoot up to 1080p video at 30 (or the more ‘cinematic’ 24) frames per second. With the introduction of these cameras into the video world, a number of photographers are starting to expand beyond stills, which means they have a whole new set of factors to consider. read more…

Tip of The Week: Our favorite iPad photography applications

Tip of The Week: Our favorite iPad photography applications

Every Thursday, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com.

Visuals, by Vincent Laforet

Visuals, by Vincent Laforet

This week’s tip is a list of recommendations for iPad owners. Since it was released, the iPad has been used by many photographers as a mobile portfolio, a reference tool, and even as – yes, we’re serious – a light source for photography. Some enterprising photographers have released their own apps for instructional purposes and one National Geographic photographer even gave up his website in favor of an iPad app.

Clearly, the iPad has a lot to offer to photographers. read more…

One Fisheye to Rule Them All!

One Fisheye to Rule Them All!

After spending some quality time with Canon’s newest L-series lens, the EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM, we can safely say it is the undisputed king of the fishes. It’s so versatile that it replaces at least five other lenses: the Sigma 8mm, Peleng’s 8mm, Tokina’s 10-17mm, Canon’s own 15mm and the Zenitar 16mm. It covers the same focal length as all five of these lenses (for the most part) while being sharper across the zoom range, delivering crisp, contrasty images that are to be expected from a lens bearing Canon’s lofty “L” designation. With this lens in your bag, there’s little reason to consider another fisheye lens, regardless of what camera body you are using. read more…

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