Get the Scoop on Fashion Photography

Get the Scoop on Fashion Photography

The world of fashion photography is an insular one, and newcomers to this field are often left floundering in more ways than one. From the basics of technique, to simple advice on how to break into the field, working with models, and managing and handling a business, aspiring fashion photographers often lack a decent starting point. The world of photographic instruction, on the other hand, is a pretty saturated one. There are so many instructors out there, yet every day, it seems like yet another photographer (or dozen) is jumping into the field of teaching photography to what seems like an ever-increasing number of prospective students. The cream, however, as they say, rises to the top. Every so often, we get a product that simply crashes through the noise and fills a particular niche. Back in 2009, Joe McNally did this with his book, Hot Shoe Diaries, bringing the mangled world of off-camera flash down to the masses. David Hobby of Strobist.com continued that trend, and since then, off-camera flash doesn’t seem as intimidating as it once did. Photographer Melissa Rodwell seems to have done something similar for the world of fashion photography. It started with her blog, FashionPhotographyBlog.com, which opened this sort of window into a field that had always been a bit hidden by opaque walls. That blog garnered a lot of attention, enough so that Scott Kelby of NAPP and Kelby Training fame named it one of his “Best of 2011” selections. While she’s been offering workshops for a little while now, Melissa Rodwell finally did what I’ve been hoping she’d do since I started following...
The Switch – Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part III

The Switch – Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part III

This is Part III of a series on moving from an all-Canon setup to an all-Nikon setup for four weeks. Will I go back to Canon at the end of four weeks? I have no idea… Previously, in the Switch series: Part 1: I talk our marketing VP into letting me go Nikon for a while. Part 1.5: which was mislabeled Part 0.5, in which I gawk at a violin. Part II: The Nikon gets abusive. In this part, I’m going to focus on just one thing: Nikon’s external flash system. CLS, you’re pretty cool Nikon’s CLS, or Creative Lighting System, is pretty well-known for its simplicity and reliability. On the Canon side, I’m used to working in ratios to set exposure between groups. This is a tad… unwieldy, to say the least. For example, if I want three groups for my external speedlites, I have to jump through some… convolutions. First, I have to have my friend Syl Arena’s book, The Speedliter’s Handbook handy, because Canon’s manual doesn’t really do even a halfway decent job of explaining this.  I have to set the ratio for my first two groups (A and B), then go into the master speedlite’s menu to set FEC (Flash Exposure Compensation) for my third light. Uh… wha? For a better explanation, go to page 144 of Syl’s Speedliter’s Handbook. With Nikon, on the other hand, you get this: This is if you’re using the on-board camera to control your remote speedlights (which are in two other groups, A and B). But you can, of course, control external speedlights with a master on-camera. Here’s what that...
The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part 0.5

The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part 0.5

This is a quick ‘n dirty post that’s part of my “Switch” series. Part 1 of the series can be found here. I was in the studio, working on a quick lighting test. The subject was a violin positioned on a tall chair, and I was moving in and out, shooting the whole thing, then switching to some detail work. I had two SB-910′s on stands, with gels and, occasionally, a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe on one of them. The shot you see below was taken with the D800 I currently have for testing, with a Nikon 105mm f/2.8G Micro lens. The SB-910 shining on it has the aforementioned Lastolite softbox on it, as well as a chocolate gel. There is absolutely no post-production on the shot. I am really, really liking the tones coming off that Nikon. They are, in a word, luscious. What blew me away was when I zoomed in at 100% to look at the object in focus, the second knob from the left. Click on the image below to embiggen; the smaller size won’t show you what I’m talking about. Wow. I mean, yeah, I’m going to have to repeat this experiment with a Canon 5D Mark III and the famed 100mm f/2.8L macro as well, but, well, wow. I’ve always known that this would a rough experiment. I knew I’d have my preconceptions challenged. I guess I was hoping it wouldn’t be this...
The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part I

The Switch: Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part I

This is Part I of a series on moving from an all-Canon setup to an all-Nikon setup for four weeks. Will I go back to Canon at the end of four weeks? I have no idea… “I’m going to check out a bunch of Nikon gear and go shoot with it for four weeks. Then I’ll write a series of articles about it.” I grinned at Jim Goldstein, BorrowLenses.com’s VP of marketing, and my nominal boss. He stared back at me, first with a blank expression, then with a knowing glint in his eye. “You’re looking to switch, aren’t you?” he asked. “And you want to use this idea for a series to test the waters on the other side, dontcha?” He kinda had me there. I’d been eyeing that D800 ever since it was announced, and was eager to give it a try. More importantly, I really was thinking of switching sides. Two of my idols, David Hobby and Joe McNally, both shoot Nikon. Nikon’s CLS (Creative Lighting System) for their external flashes is world-renowned, and is a traditional area of strength for that brand. As someone who uses lighting a lot these days, I had seen what all the fuss was about and wanted to put it through its paces for my own shoots. “Well, no, I’m not looking to switch,” I told Jim. “But if it happens as a result of my experiment, well…” Jim’s a good sport, and we both agreed that it would be worth it to see what a Canon shooter with an open mind would feel about moving wholesale to Nikon gear. So,...
Sharpness You Can See: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II

Sharpness You Can See: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II

The much anticipated release of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II has been the source of much discussion and debate. While the lens has some notable differences than the original Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM (we’ll cover those at the end) the #1 attribute of note is its sharpness. How much sharper could it be you ask? We ran tests to gauge image sharpness for each lens here at BorrowLenses.com headquarters and we were blown away by what we saw. The original Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM was considered to be a very sharp lens and what we found in our tests was that Canon made significant improvements in sharpness and chromatic aberation reduction in the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II. Seeing is believing, so check out the comparison images below to see for yourself how much sharper the lens is compared to the older model. Note: The images below are essentially thumbnails that will show differences in lens distortion, vignetting,  pincushioning, and in extreme cases sharpness. To properly see the differences in sharpness and chromatic aberration we recommend you click on the download link at the end of this post to view the full size images. Our Testing Methodology We placed the optical axis of the lens perpendicular to our Edmund Optics Resolving Power chart.  This alignment neutralizes any sign of tilt that would misalign the plane of focus and exaggerate any softness in focus in the outer corners.  Each lens was tested on a Canon 1D X with center point focus, mirror lockup and triggered after a 2 second delay to minimize any vibration that would add motion blur. Camera and lenses were...
The Leica Diary, Part V – Final Thoughts

The Leica Diary, Part V – Final Thoughts

This is Part V of a series. The previous four parts are listed below: The Leica Diary, Part 1: Introduction The Leica Diary, Part II – Coming To Grips The Leica Diary, Part III – Focus The Leica Diary, Part IV – An Unexpected Thing or Two After about four weeks of shooting with the Leica M9 and various lenses, I came to a dismaying conclusion. I am not a street photographer. I don’t like street photography. I get nervous, am unsure, and take terrible street photos. And, for most of the time that I had the M9, I was trying to be a street photographer.  What we have here, folks, is a classic case of a photographer trying to mold himself into the image of his camera gear. The Leica is the classic street photographer’s camera; therefore, my thinking went, in order to truly use it and get the hang of it, I MUST shoot on the street. Occasionally, that resulted in a decent image. The portrait below of my friend and colleague, Ben Salomon, was taken with the M9. Every so often, I’d come across an image I’d like. But more often than not, my efforts would be a wash. But this was a really amazing camera. Surely, the fault lay with me if I couldn’t get good images out of it. Well, yeah, kinda. The fault was with me – to a point. The trap that I fell into was allowing the Leica to dictate not just the my technique, but also my style and genre. Since it was supposed to be a great street camera, I...
Finding the Photo in the Cruft

Finding the Photo in the Cruft

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the power of software to bring out something interesting in images that might otherwise be a wash, but wouldn’t you know it, I’m still capable of being amazed. I’m currently shooting with the Nikon D800 of late as part of an assignment (more to come on that later), and I was up in the hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay Area at night, hoping to get some shots of the brilliantly-lit vista that encompassed San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and parts of the Peninsula area. Of course, I got up there, and everything was completely fogged in. I was miffed. Even the slight glimpse of the city in the background behind the Bay Bridge was mostly obscured by fog. I was ready to pass up on the image, finding not much of value, but then decided to play with it a bit. Since I had megapixels to spare (the D800 has a 36MP sensor), I decided to crop the heck out of it. Okay, That was kind of cool, and it was still a 22MP image. But it was still just a fog-blurred image. I decided to see what Lightroom 4 could do with it. Well, okay, that’s not half-bad. Exposure bump by +0.30, highlights lowered by -16, +48 on Clarity and +51 on Vibrance. Not half-bad at all. I didn’t want to stop there. If Lightroom could bring that much life back into this image, what could I do with one of my favorite software packages, Color Efex Pro 4 from Nik Software. I added a little bit of the Detail Extractor...
Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 1

Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 1

This is Part 1 of a series on using Tilt-Shift or Perspective-Control lenses. In this part, we look at the “Shift” functionality of these unique lenses. Part 2, which covers the “Tilt” functionality of these lenses, can be found here. Anyone who’s ever shot a building or any other structure from the bottom looking up knows that the bottom-up perspective makes it look like the vertical lines of the building are all converging towards the top. This problem is exaggerated with wider-angle lenses, making many of these lenses unsuitable for certain types of architectural photography, where not having those distortions is key. While the latest version of Photoshop does include an “Adaptive Wide Angle” filter to help correct these distortions, a lot of photographers prefer to get things right in-camera, leading to less image manipulation in post. For that reason, both Canon and Nikon, as well as third-party manufacturers like Schneider-Kreuznach, have come out with a range of lenses that address that specific problem. The box below outlines the list of tilt-shift lenses BorrowLenses.com has in our inventory. Canon  TS-E Lenses Nikon PC-E lenses Schneider-Kreuznach TS lenses Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-Shift Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Nikon 24mm f/3.5D ED PC-E Tilt-Shift Nikon 45mm f/2.8D ED PC-E Tilt-Shift Nikon 85mm f/2.8D PC-E Tilt-Shift Schneider PC Tilt-Shift Super-Angulon 50mm f/2.8 Lens For Canon Schneider 90mm f/4.5 Tilt-Shift Lens for Canon Schneider PC Tilt-Shift Super-Angulon 50mm f/2.8 Lens For Nikon Schneider 90mm f/4.5 Tilt-Shift Lens for Nikon Take a look at the image below. Here, I’m using a 17mm...