I shot this at a county fair when I lived in Naples, Fl back in 2006. It’s of one of those spinning swing sets that gets disassembled and reassembled at every stop across the country by semi-disgruntled carnival folk.
Tech spec’s:Canon 1D Mark II. ISO: 50. Aperture: 22. Shutter: 5 seconds.
3. The pan shutter drag + flash
Level of difficulty 8 (on a scale of 1 – 10)
How: Set the shutter speed to around 1/4-1/20 of a second with your camera’s shutter priority mode. Next, make sure your exposure without the flash is more than 1 1/3 stops underexposed around your subjects (use your exposure compensation button). This way your flash freezes the action and keeps your subjects sharp while allowing the background to blur. Then set your flash on second-curtain and set its exposure compensation based on the brightness of the ambient light. I do all of this with my flash on TTL. In this photo my flash was on my camera and pointed at the ceiling with my fill card extended. For the above photo I knew the foreground/background was dark so I set my exposure compensation for -1 1/3 stops. Then I told my flash to expose for about -1/3 or -2/3 because a camera will try and light up the whole room thus overexposing the subjects in the foreground. Like I said, this one isn’t quite as easy and just takes some practice.
Canon 5D. ISO 1600. Aperture: 2.8. Shutter 1/10 of a second
This is what separates the women from the girls, the men from the boys, the roosters from the chicks (?) Seriously. It’s that important and I’m that passionate about it.
A cause you can care about (finally)
If I see someone with a nice camera and they are walking around with their lens cap on it’s safe to say that they have more money than experience. I found a perfect image to illustrate the point.
Yes yes yes, I know the lens cap is there to protect the front element of your lens but how many photos have you made with that lens cap on? More importantly, how many moments have you missed with it on? This is the heart of my argument. The power behind a photograph lies in a moment. One small point in time that embodies what it felt like for the people in that image. A small point in time so poignant that we feel something too when we look at it. But how long does it take to get a lens cap off? I know it doesn’t take much time, but I guarantee you it takes long enough to miss a moment. A moment that may last only 1/8000th of a second. Are you ready for that?
Livin’ on the edge
Just do it! Take that cap off. Yes, you may have paid 100 – 2200 dollars for that precious lens so just protect it already with a clear filter and keep the lens cap in your camera bag. Spend a little bit more money for some “insurance” in the form of a filter. UV is the standard out there. Get one as clear as you can. You can spend as little as $50 for a big 77mm filter or as much as $150 on a B+W (the Mercedes of filters) clear filter. I have a lot of the latter. I recently started buying Nikon’s Neutral Clear filter from Jeff Snyder at Adorama. Nikon’s filter is inexpensive, clear (adds no color cast), and yes I know it’s not UV, but your camera’s sensor likely has a UV filter on it. Some of you have lenses with hoods on them, so that will help protect your lens from impacts too. And if you do scratch your front element a little bit, no worries. It will likely hurt the resale value more than the image quality. It’s the rear element that you’ve really got to protect. FWIW I’ve broken 2 filters in the past nine-years. The only times I use my lens cap is when I’m transporting the lenses un-attached to the camera body or if I am storing the lens.
The bottom line
If you’ve skipped my diatribe above and gone straight to this practical nugget then I commend you for being efficient in one breath and with another I say go read so you understand why being prepared for a photograph is so important. It’s the “why” questions in life that are important. The “how” questions will only get you so far. So take that lens cap off and let your clear filter in front protect your lens and capture the beautiful moments in life.
Hello, my name is Garrett and I am a light snob.
(This is the part where everyone says “hello Garrett” in a monotone chorus)
I start with a confession because sometimes it seems like the light controls me. Have you ever heard a photographer say “that light was awesome” or “I’m waiting until the light is better” or possibly “let’s shoot it at golden hour”? Well, if you’ve ever hung out with me then the answer is a resounding YES! I am always thinking about light. Whether that be while I am telling a wedding story or if I’m out on a walk with my wife and want to grab a quick photo. Why are we as photographers so fixated on light? Well, because this art is ALL about it. The word “photography” in the Greek comes from photo which means light, and graphy which means draw. So when we take photos we are literally drawing with light. Or as I prefer to say, “writing with light.” If you’re at all like me, you want to tell stories with your photographs. Light is one of the most important tools to tell these stories.
Believe it or not there are six qualities of light that define the way light appears to your eye. I’m not going to bore you with all of them but I do want to focus in on one today and that is “direction.” The direction means exactly what you would expect it to mean. What is the angle of the light source as it hits the subject. The shadows can be the bread crumbs that lead you back toward the light source. Is the light coming from above? Think 2 p.m. on a sunny day. Is it coming from the side? Think sunrise or sunset. Is it coming from the camera? Think on-camera flash. Is the light coming from everywhere? Think overcast day. Is it coming from below? Think, well, I’m not sure about that one. But it could and has happened! In the studio at least.
One direction is not inherently better than the other because each one says something different. However, light coming from the side is generally much more pleasing, like during a sunset (there are a few other qualities of light in play here, but I’ll save that for another time). This is precisely why you will almost never see me photograph outside in the middle of the day. If it were up to me, I would do my sunny day outdoor shooting on the following schedule.
30 minutes before sunrise to 90-minutes afterward.
Look at my photos and see what else I want to capture
90-minutes before sunset to the 30-minutes afterward
When the sun is low on the horizon during sunrise and sunset you can choose to illuminate the whole face, part of a face (see Jeremy & Meghan’s photo above), or use shadows to create a silhouette. Here are a few examples of me taking advantage of the direction of the almost horizontal light while shooting during sunrise and sunset.
Start paying attention to the direction of your light and watch your photos improve. In the second installment of the “It’s ALL about the light DIRECTION” we’ll look at the potentially terrifying “back-lit” situation and how to avoid it and then overcome it.
Be careful though. If you stick with me on these lighting tips you could become like me and be a slave to the light! Case in point: I’ve become such a light snob that I don’t even like talking to someone when they is extremely back-lit or the incandescent canister lights above them are creating deep shadows over their eyes. I just can’t shut it off! Help!
Light bulletin/photo-nerd alert!!!!
Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. And for all of us in the northern hemisphere it will be the day with the best light morning through evening. (For those of you in the southern hemisphere don’t even think about taking a photo unless it’s within 60 minutes of sunrise or sunset.) So why is December 21 the best day for you to go out and take photographs during the day? Because the sun is the furthest south along the horizon as it will get all year. When the sun is close to the horizon it has a flattering “directional” quality (which is just one of six qualities of light.) Compare light low the horizon to light when the sun is directly overhead in the summer and photographs yield shadows over faces and others with “racoon eyes” because of the shadow over their eyes.
My head hurts! Enough science for one day! Another great thing about the Winter Solstice is that the sun will stay out a little bit longer each day! Expect the sun to set about 1-minute later each day from now until the Summer Solstace! Happy shooting!
P.S. This extends well beyond photography. It’s also fabulous day for a date with the love of your life. They will look especially fantastic all day long!
Garrett Hubbard is a visual storyteller. He utilizes both video & still photography to connect his clients with their audience. He has spent the past four years with USA TODAY—taking him to the White House, the Olympics, The Royal Wedding, and many other places around the world.
Garrett is thankful for the trust he receives from those who invite him to tell their stories and is grateful for mentors and friends who have invested in his life story.