Simple Tricks for a Treat of a Halloween Photobooth

Simple Tricks for a Treat of a Halloween Photobooth

Every year, SmugMug cofounder Chris MacAskill hosts a Halloween photobooth in his garage. Read on to find out how he does it and gain tips on building your own bewitching booth! MacAskill put together his first Halloween photobooth in 2007 using a single light and a 40″x 60″ softbox placed directly above the camera. Over time, the booth has expanded to include side lighting slightly behind and above the subjects to provide edge definition for hair and dark costumes. MacAskill always uses a black backdrop and has everyone stand about 10′ away from it to ensure enough light falloff for a pitch black background. His cameras have changed over time as well, starting with a Canon 1D Mark III, then a 1D Mark IV, and, finally, the superb 1D X. All focus very well in low light. To get everyone excited about the shoot, MacAskill shoots tethered to a Mac so that folks can immediately see their picture on a big screen. “I wear knee pads and shoot from my knees because they are mostly children and I like to get to their level, ” MacAskill said. “Many parents drive their kids for miles to get these shots every year and they pass the word around at their schools. I wear out those knee pads.” Some parents were wary at first of the photo booth. MacAskill’s wife volunteers for sidewalk duty to explain to passersby what they are doing. Last year, they upped the ante by adding an industrial smoke machine to the booth. It created more drama and everyone went crazy for it! MacAskill uses a Canon 24-105mm lens because...
Filter Size Guide

Filter Size Guide

Filters are optional accessories that can either be screwed onto, dropped in front of, or dropped into lenses. They are usually made of glass with a metal or plastic frame. We put UV filters on almost all of our lenses going out on rental because even cheap filters help protect the front element during transport. Not keeping them on, or at least putting them back on when shipping back, can cost you! However, most people use filters for artistic reasons. They either want to restrict the amount of light coming into the lens, as in the case of neutral density filters, or they are trying to cut out glare with polarizing filters. There are strong UV filters that cut out visible light in the violet end of the spectrum (reducing haze) and there are graduated filters used to cut down exposure on only part of the frame – and many more! You can even stack them, though we kind of overdo it. Most of the time you’ll be encountering screw-on filters. Make sure you are renting the right size with the right-sized lens. Usually the front element of any lens will tell you its filter size (the lens cap is also telling) but here are some handy guides to help you find the correct pairing: Lens to Filter Chart – Canon with even more information here. Lens to Filter Chart – Nikon with even more information here. Lens to Filter Chart – Sony Lens to Filter Chat – Tamron Lens Chart (see Filter Size column) –...
Lightroom Keywording Tips

Lightroom Keywording Tips

Seán Duggan is a fine art photographer, author, educator, and an Adobe Certified Photoshop Expert with extensive experience in both the traditional and digital darkroom. His Lightroom Viewfinder series provides photographers with the tools they need to effectively use Lightroom for organization, editing, and printing. Lightroom Keywording Tips by Seán Duggan Keywords are an important part of the organizational workflow for maintaining an image archive that is easy to work with, and one where photos can be found quickly. In an earlier article, I covered some basic keyword strategy and concepts for how you might use keywords to add more meaning to your images. In this article, we’ll concentrate on the procedural side of applying keywords with a look at some essential techniques for adding keywords in Lightroom. Apply Keywords on Import The first step in taking full advantage of keywords in Lightroom is to apply them as early in the workflow as possible In the Import dialog there is a place to add keywords in the Apply During Import section in the right panel. Location, event, or client names are all things that can be applied to all of the images on the card (assuming it contains a single shoot). Even if the card contains a mixture of images, you might be able to apply a couple of very general keywords (i.e. Europe, France, travel) that work for all the images on the card. Start Broad, then Narrow the Focus Once the images have been imported you can then apply more specific keywords. Let’s say you have a card full of images taken at several locations in California. The basic location...
Senior Portrait Rules and Resources New Photographers Must Know

Senior Portrait Rules and Resources New Photographers Must Know

Senior portraits have been an American tradition for over a hundred years and were traditionally shot by a school-invited studio where everyone was posed the same way. Today almost anything goes for a senior portrait and that can be lucrative for freelance photographers. If you’re new to senior portrait photography, here are some things to know: 1) Not All Schools Accept Freelance Portraits Before you market too heavily to certain districts, find out which schools contract strictly with certain studios and which ones are more lax. While any student can commission their own senior portraits for ceremony invitations and keepsakes, some schools will only allow the robe-and-cap standard portrait into the actual yearbook. 2) Specs Matter Find out the school’s requirements. Many schools want their yearbook shots to be vertical with no props or hands in-frame. If you’re just taking shots for a senior’s invitations then there are fewer rules to worry about. 3) Consider the Professional School Photographers Association International Particularly suited for those working directly with and for schools, the PSPA provides licensing, insurance options, and handy format guidelines. 4) Prepare to Print Seniors need prints for their ceremony invitations so print sales are a bigger guarantee from this client type. Don’t be caught unprepared! Get print samples and template tests ahead of time and find out how to prepare your files for print. 5) Railroad Shots Are Vetoed Just in case anyone missed the memo, posing your seniors on railroad tracks has been publicly condemned. Even if you’re not easily swayed by public sentiment, know that U.S. railroad tracks are private property. We hope these tips help get...
7 Vacation Shooting Tips for Better Photo Books

7 Vacation Shooting Tips for Better Photo Books

How many times have you been overwhelmed by the number of pictures you took while traveling? Most of the time we take pictures without planning ahead for how we’re going to use them. Countless memorable vacations are taken and photography keepsake books are never made. Here are some things to keep in mind while shooting on the road. These tricks will help you narrow down your best images so that you can create a compelling and cherished photo book. 1) Think in Scene Pairs There are only a few eye-catching ways to display photos in albums and related pairs is among one of the strongest tactics. Shoot the same action, person, landmark, or event in a series of pairs – near/far, back/front, detail/scene. 2) Go Wide Angle Usually we think of books as having 1 photo on each page. Go for a spread across 2 pages. It is impactful and breaks up monotony. 3) No Captions Needed – Explain Your Experience Visually Show a process with a sequence of images that better define what is happening rather than relying on written explanations. Just 1 picture of an event might not be enough to explain what is happening – show detail in addition to context. 4) Create Your Own Traditions A series of images framed the same way in different environments look great in print. Take them all on one trip or make it a tradition that lasts through years of traveling. 5) Orient Yourself and Your Viewer You won’t remember as much as you think you will. Take pictures of maps, billboards, and other important information and include them...
Why the Sony RX100 III Point & Shoot is a Vacation Must-Have

Why the Sony RX100 III Point & Shoot is a Vacation Must-Have

Do you agonize over sacrificing quality in favor of comfort when packing camera gear for vacation? I tossed my hefty Nikon D800 aside and rented the Sony RX100 III from BorrowLenses.com for vacation. I wasn’t going to shoot much so if the camera sucked then no harm, no foul. The camera definitely didn’t suck. Sony’s third iteration of an already well-regarded model opened my eyes to just how far point and shoots have come. I didn’t expect to write this blog post so I don’t have very many traditional “camera review” photos. What I have, however, will demonstrate how one can get big results from a camera the size of a deck of cards. Part I: Sample Shots Night Photography They’re no National Geographic contenders but considering that I wasn’t expecting anything from laying my camera on the ground with a 15 second exposure, I am impressed. Being somewhere with very little light pollution (Rarotonga in this case) helps. The noise is bad in the clouds but I am really cranking it at ISO 5000. I didn’t spend time perfecting exposure times but I urge you to take this camera out and test its limits on night sky photography. Capturing average night scenes was fruitful as well. This is where we ate dinner every night. Taken handheld at 1/30th of a second, f/1.8 at ISO 800.The Macro Mode on the RX100 III is pretty good, too – even in low light! Macro Photography I didn’t play with this feature a whole lot but what I saw was promising. It’s no Olympus but that’s hardly a fair comparison. This is a point and...
The Importance of Being Archived

The Importance of Being Archived

Our friends at SmugMug really care about photography and the importance of taking pictures in everyday life. This is part 2 of a 3 part series on improving your online life as a photographer, whether that is by improving your website or backing up your files. Here are some tips on how to avoid a personal, digital meltdown and keep your memories safe against fire, flood, hard drive crashes, and other unexpected blips in the matrix. SmugMug’s 9 Must-Haves for a Successful Photography Website reprinted with permission  We see so many websites each and every day and love hearing about how people are using their online websites and how having an online presence affects so much of what they do. Not long ago we shared 6 top mistakes people make when they put together a website but this time we’re addressing a topic that most people probably don’t want to even consider: backing up your photo and video files. A hard demon to face but we’ll show you why it pays to prepare for a potential doomsday disaster. The Worst-Case Scenario Imagine this: you’re booting up your laptop, ready to email your recent trip photos to your friends, and all of a sudden you get the BSOD. In one split second, poof! Your hard drive is gone. As you wipe the sweat from your face, you realize – oh no! All the photos and videos I shot, all the things that I lived and saw in those two weeks abroad, those were the only copies I had. And they’re gone. Forever. Why Back Up? The subject of backing up your files...
Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Court Leve is a sports, wedding, portrait, and pet photographer. His work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Powder, Ski, Skiing, Freeskier, Parade Magazine, ForbesLife Mountain Time, Spirit Magazine, Southwest Art, and more. He is a regular contributor to the BL Blog. Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review by Court Leve Like most new iterations of Nikon’s pro bodies, the D4s is yet another leap forward in imaging. In my case, coming from a D3s to a D4s ,the improvements are quite noticeable. If you are a current D4 user, the differences will be more subtle but still noteworthy especially for those shooting video. It’s hard to believe a camera can make the D3s feel somewhat antiquated but the D4s does just that. While the D3s is more than capable for just about any situation, the D4s ups the ante yet again. The main areas of improvement are autofocus, low light capabilities, faster frames per second, and better handling. First is the handling of the camera. The added sub buttons are a welcome addition. The reach is shortened and response time quicker when selecting autofocus points.  The body has a few different tweaks and has a great solid feel. The new autofocus is simply amazing, extremely fast and accurate. While shooting a free skiing event I was capturing athletes coming towards me blind over a jump. I was able to instantly capture the skier in mid air while traveling towards me using my 80-400mm at 400mm and achieve nearly a 100% focus accuracy rate. Also helpful was the improved frame rate of 11fps and a nearly non-existent blackout time while...
Two Lighting Styles in 1 Shot with the Pocket Wizard MultiMax

Two Lighting Styles in 1 Shot with the Pocket Wizard MultiMax

Alexis Cuarezma is a San Francisco-based photographer who specializes in both on-location and in-studio portraiture. An alumnus of the Eddie Adams Workshop, Cuarezma has done assignments for the LA Times, the New York Times, HBO, and a number of international publications. He recently did a shoot with Shayne Skov for Sports Illustrated at Stanford University, where he had precious little time to essentially do two shoots at once. Cuarezma has a passion for bold visuals, bright colors, and high contrasts. However, his assignment called for “gray seamless”. To accommodate both Sports Illustrated and his personal style, Cuarezma harnessed the light grouping abilities of the Pocket Wizard MultiMax. He assigned all of the lights Sports Illustrated wanted for a uniform, seamless look to one channel and the punchier lighting setup to another channel and used the MultiMax’s Speed Cycler feature to fire off the two setups in succession. “As soon as I saw this, in my mind I knew I could use this. I didn’t care to fire off strobes at 10 FPS, however, I did care about being able to fire off 2 different sets of lights back-to-back because they don’t have to be the same setup/look. I have a Canon 1D Mark IV that can fire off 10 FPS. So that’s taking a frame every 100 milliseconds. In theory that’s 2 separate images in 200 milliseconds and with the Speed Cycler feature that could be 2 completely different looks shot nearly simultaneously.” Cuarezma set off to draw a lighting diagram for his assistants and to make this concept a reality. So long as the transmitting MultiMax is set...
Stock Photography that Gives Back: Winners of the Call to Action Contest

Stock Photography that Gives Back: Winners of the Call to Action Contest

StudentStock isn’t your average stock photography site. It’s populated by imagery created by students of all ages and a certain percentage of the proceeds goes towards scholarships. Started by a couple of photography teachers, StudentStock is a launchpad for students who are creating great work but need a platform for selling. It helps beginning photographers grow their skills, develop a sense of what sells, and, ultimately, be a part of the stock photography marketplace that is often so hard to find success in. The following photographers are on that path to success. They recently won the Call to Action photo contest, put on by StudentStock with support from BorrowLenses. See their winning entries below! 1st Place: Kirk Yarnell – California State University, East Bay Taken in Bend, Oregon during a roundup, Yarnell captured this back in 1994 so, yes kids, this was taken on film! Yarnell has been shooting since 1980 and currently lives in Mt. Shasta, California. 2nd Place: Shannon Fuller – Butte College Fuller tried to get this shot with 4 different dogs before getting the exact one she was looking for. She used a Nikon 70-200mm to capture this moment from a distance to avoid getting soaked herself! She froze the action at 1/1600th of a second. 3rd Place: Ben Meester – Butte College After a storm, Meester set out to one of his favorite back-country spots in Tahoe to get this shot. He used a Canon 14mm for an effective vista of the first run of the day. Runner Up: Aaron Alvarez – Santa Ann College Taken at Newport Beach, CA with a Canon 5D...