Beginner’s Guide to Achieving Better Flash Photos

Beginner’s Guide to Achieving Better Flash Photos

Using a flash gun, such as a Nikon Speedlight or Canon Speedlite, is designed mainly to be used off-camera and fired optically or via a radio. However, there are situations when time or gear restraints force you to keep your flash on the hotshoe to be used as an overly powerful pop-up flash. Here is the quickest way to take advantage of your external flash when its stuck on your camera. Bouncing Flash off Ceilings Most flashes will have rotating heads. It’s instinct to just point the face of the flash right at the face of your subject but resist! Instead, point your flash straight up at the ceiling. This is particularly effective if you have white ceilings. Straight flash is good at one thing: illuminating your scene. It can illuminate to a fault, though, leaving washed-out faces and unwanted specular highlights. It’s also a fairly small source of light so the falloff is really quick – look at how dark the background is. When I bounce my flash off of the ceiling, the light spreads farther and is softer. It is also less strong so you might need to either strengthen the power on your flash or strengthen the light sensitivity settings on your camera. I didn’t need to for this scene because my ceiling was low enough for my light to not have to travel too far before bouncing back. Notice that the background is better illuminated in this scene thanks to the light spread the ceiling provides when hit with flash. Also notice how much more pleasing the catchlights are in the baby’s eyes versus before....
The Insider’s Guide to Choosing a Wedding Photographer

The Insider’s Guide to Choosing a Wedding Photographer

As we approach wedding season, brides, grooms, and photographers alike work to assemble seamless itineraries leading up to the big day. I have firsthand experience speaking with a wide variety of wedding photographers regarding their client relationships and have embarked on my own year-long wedding planning experience. Here are a few tips I have learned by being both the client and the photographer. Choose a Style There are a lot of talented photographers out there, each with a particular style. Look at the work of the photographers in your area and gauge what you are most immediately and instinctively drawn to. This will greatly help narrow down your choices. Here are some examples: Traditional Photographers: Heavier on posed photos with a pre-planned shot list. Good for couples who don’t want too many surprises or who need the logistical organization of a shot list (good for large parties). Usually everyone at the wedding is well captured with a traditional photographer. Photojournalistic Photographers: A record of the day with little to no pre-planning. Emphasizes fleeting moments, energy, and emotion. Rituals, like cake-cutting, sometimes get skipped in favor of capturing a candid smile. Focus is on the couple at the sacrifice, sometimes, of the wedding party as a whole. Artistic/Illustrative Photographers: Similar to traditional photographers as far as coverage goes but with updated shooting styles. Results will be more stylized and can include dramatic lighting, unorthodox posing, unusual backgrounds, and extreme angles. Film Photographers: A growing trend among wedding photographers is to harken back to pre-DSLR days and shoot film. Borrowlenses’ own Sohail Mamdani’s wedding was shot entirely on film. There are...
BorrowLenses’ Guide to Lighting Sync Cables

BorrowLenses’ Guide to Lighting Sync Cables

Strobes are triggered from your camera to fire every time you hit the shutter button in the following ways: Transmitters designed specifically for that strobe that you connect to the camera, usually via your camera’s hot shoe. Radio transmitters that you connect, usually with small sync cables, to the strobe and to the camera. Long sync cables that physically connect your strobe to your camera. Your camera must have a sync-in port, located usually near the mount or on the side of the body. The following kits come with their own transmitters: Elinchrom BX-Ri 2 500Ws Monolight Kit with Skyport EL Transceiver Profoto D1 Air 500Ws 2 Monolight Studio Kit with Air Remote Bowens Gemini 500R 2 Light Umbrella Kit with Pulsar TX Radio Remote Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Head A Pro Set with Skyport EL Transceiver Broncolor 1200Ws Two Litos Monolight 22 Kit and Senso Power Pack with RFS 2 Transmitter Broncolor 2400Ws Two Litos Monolight 42 Kit and Senso Power Pack RFS 2 Transmitter Otherwise, your strobe or monolight will come with its own 1/8 (or 1/4)-PC sync cable to use with your camera. Small flashes do not come with sync cables. The following kits/strobes do not come with their own transmitters nor do they come with their own sync cables: Profoto B1 500W/s AirTTL Battery Powered Flash Profoto B1 500W/s AirTTL Location Kit Profoto B2 250W/s AirTTL Location Kit They accept 1/8 sync cables but operate best with their own transmitter, which much be rented separately: Profoto Air Remote TTL-C Transmitter for Canon Profoto Air Remote TTL-N Transmitter for Nikon Connecting Strobe and Camera All kits and strobes will come with...
Visual Vitamin D: Inspiration for Spring Shooting

Visual Vitamin D: Inspiration for Spring Shooting

Longer days, weddings, and vacations – there is a lot to look forward to in spring (unless you’re a night-photographing curmudgeon workaholic – you know who you are). Here are some inspirational images from our friends that exude “spring” to them in their own way. Hopefully they will inspire you to stay out late (or stay inside the studio – the sun is overrated anyway) and shoot, shoot, shoot! “For me, spring means I’m one step closer to being able to shoot outdoors underwater again. Cast off the shackles of winter and stuff them away with your winter coat and boots! Rejoice that you no longer have to stress about your car not being plugged in overnight and you can use those precious neurotransmitters dreaming up new ways to break your creative mold. Spring is for new growth, so try new things and push your limits!” – Renee Robyn “Spring is a time of rebirth and regrowth. The weather, so often inclement, forces many to stay inside. Explore during those brief moments when the weather pauses. Discover unique and interesting ways to compose something that you know has been photographed before. Use the built up energy of waiting for winter to end to explore with new eyes and new creativity. And don’t forget to look somewhere on the ground near you for all of that water that has been falling from the sky to reflect that momentary break.” – Jay Goodrich “Once during a cold winter I decided I wanted to photograph some beauty shots by a blooming tree. Then spring came. I watched trees getting dressed in gorgeous colorful...
Capturing the Surf: an Interview with Photographer Seth Migdail

Capturing the Surf: an Interview with Photographer Seth Migdail

Seth Migdail is a surf photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. A regular at Mavericks, his work has been featured in a number of outlets, including Surfline.com and theinertia.com. I sat down with Seth to talk about his work, his process, and what it takes to break into the insular surfing community. How did you get started in photography? I grew up as an artist, doing drawing and painting. I found photography in college, and ended up dumping two years worth of art school and pursued that. I have a fine art background, a BFA in photography, so I came up in the analog world. I shot a lot of large format, medium format – that’s how I got started. Back then, in fine-art school, you take a lot of time to try and find your identity. It took me a while, but I eventually did. I did a lot of documentary photography, what I’d call “social landscapes.” I got a solid foundation in the craft that way. I also did a lot of work in the studio. What is your favorite subject, and why? Definitely surfing. I found surfing when I moved out to California. Growing up in New York, I hadn’t surfed at all, and I only discovered it when I moved up to San Luis Obispo. I’d actually put photography aside for a few years and kinda became a surf bum down there. When I moved up to the Bay Area, I suffered an injury that kept me out of the water, and I started shooting again. At the time, Mavericks was just re-forming...
What It’s Like to Win a Canon 5D Mark III

What It’s Like to Win a Canon 5D Mark III

On the eve of our big camera giveaway winner announcement (update: giveaway is over, see latest promotions on our Facebook page) we reached out to a prior year’s winner to see how she has faired since winning a brand new Canon 5D Mark III from BorrowLenses.com. Rachel Coward is a photographer and editor at TulsaKids Magazine, an award-winning parenting publication in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Previously she was a staff photographer and editor at the Columbia Missourian and a photographer for the University of Missouri’s alumni magazine. BL: You had your choice of a Nikon D800 or the Canon 5D Mark III. The prior year’s winner chose the Nikon. What made you choose the Canon? Rachel: Tomayto, tomahto. My very first camera was my parent’s Canon AE-1 film camera, so Canon is what I learned on from the beginning. It really just comes down to personal preference. If I didn’t have brand loyalty, I’d still probably choose the Mark III because of the video capabilities. BL: Where was your photography business at this time last year versus where it is now? Rachel: A year ago I had just graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where I studied photojournalism and loved every minute of it. Go Tigers! This time last year, I had just begun working as a full-time freelance photographer and my main gig was making pictures for Mizzou Magazine, the alumni magazine for the University of Missouri. I’m continuing to work as a freelancer now and my business has certainly grown. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make it as a professional photographer in a very competitive market. There’s a lot...
Photographing Your Dinner: Restaurant Dos and Don’ts

Photographing Your Dinner: Restaurant Dos and Don’ts

Are you a food-for-pleasure type of person?  If the answer is yes, then I can say with confidence that we may all be guilty of snapping a few pics of our meals from time to time. Some of us seek out new and exciting restaurants that offer avant-garde food and interior design.  Others rejoice in old school pleasures of down home diners and off-the-beaten-path food attractions. Whatever your guilty pleasure is, here are a few tips and tricks to heighten your “foodie” photography. 1) Ask Your Server if Photography is OK Chefs tend to be fun and playful characters with creativity in the kitchen that at times can inspire more than just an appetite. Food has long been photographed but taking pictures when your food arrives to the table is a newer fad. According to the New York Times, there has been a growing backlash of taking pictures of your meals while dining out. Restaurants and Chefs have been “burned” by disruptive behavior that interrupts the dining experience and have discovered less-than-appetizing images of their dishes online. This has become a big enough problem that there is an upswing in restaurants who have put restrictions on the photography allowed to be taken – even stealthily on your phone. This movement has gone as far as banning people from taking pictures inside the restaurant all together! The best way to avoid any embarrassment, as well as increase your level of comfort if you are moved to photograph your meal, would be to ask your server first.  The establishment will appreciate your consideration and will most often give you the thumbs up....
Fuji X-T1: First Impressions

Fuji X-T1: First Impressions

One of the most eagerly awaited cameras of the year arrived earlier this month, and I took some time to put it through its paces. A more detailed review will follow, but I’ve worked with it long enough to put forth a few first impressions. The tl;dr version of it is this: the Fuji X-T1 is the best camera Fuji has ever made, and is the best mirrorless camera on the market. In my personal opinion, anyway. I’ve been a Fuji fan since the X100s came out, and eventually started using the X-E1 and X-E2 as my primary stills cameras (with a D800E for specific projects requiring high megapixel images and the Canon 5D MKIII for video). When the X-T1 was first announced, I looked at the images leaking onto the web and my first impression was, “WTF??” Looking at it, you can see that it kind of harkens back to retro SLR cameras. To me, it looks a bit like a blunt-top version of the Fuji STX series of film SLRs, and at least at first, it wasn’t something that caught my attention the way the rangefinder aesthetic of the previous X cameras did. Then I got one in my hands and my first thought was, “uhhh… what…?” On the one hand, this is most definitely a Fuji camera. It has loads of dials means you rarely have to drop into a menu once you set it up right. There’s a nice, firm heft to it that we’re used to with the X-E and X-Pro series. It’s small and light despite feeling dense. It is, in other words,...
Get a Gear Education from Pro Photographers at SmugMug Academy

Get a Gear Education from Pro Photographers at SmugMug Academy

Knowing what to expect from a camera or lens is tricky, which is why renting is so invaluable to photographers big and small. However, it’s still hard to know what you’re getting even when renting, which is why we’re stoked about SmugMug Academy – a simple and personal review site put together by people who are passionate about photography. It maintains the core values of SmugMug by providing a resource maintained by folks who actually shoot from subjects ranging from landscapes to kids sports. You do not have to have a SmugMug account to take advantage of the reviews. The page is designed to inform and is open to everyone. Each review is equipped with a bio about the reviewer so that you can get a sense for who they are and what they like to shoot. This can help you divine if a piece of gear is right for your style of shooting. SmugMug Academy is more than just reviews. You can get business tips, shooting guidelines, and video tutorials there, too. Think of SmugMug Academy as the site equivalent of just being able to ask your photography friend, “Should I rent this lens?” BorrowLenses.com has not asked these photographers to write in any particular way, rent certain items over others, or to boast certain gear as being favorable. They are photographers writing about our gear as they see it from their own shooting experiences in a simple and honest way and they review items as they use them for real events like vacations, hockey games, or candids. Keep this page handy for future reference. It is being...