Episode 2: Compositing, Marketing Your Business, and the TriPAD [FREE AUDIO DOWNLOAD]

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In Episode 2 of the Improve Photography Podcast, Jim answers photography questions from people around the world, teaches about compositing, and reviews the Tripad.

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Guide to Episode 2

[0:55] Photo Gossip (Photography News)

PhotographyBay reports that Nikon is set to release the Nikon D5200 on Tuesday, November 6.  The D5200 is expected to include a 24.3 megapixel sensor and include a vari-angle LCD screen.

In the Canon world, Canon has begun to enforce its minimum advertised prices on all Canon products.  That means that many products such as the drool-worthy 5D Mark III will see a big price jump this week.  If that price hike bothers you, just remember that you’re sending some Japanese Camera Engineer’s son to college.

[3:44]  Practical Photography Tips – Compositing

Compositing, in photography, simply means taking at least two pictures in different places and combining them into a single photo.  Many photographers wonder why they should do compositing instead of actually taking the model to the location and shooting it in one shot.  The reason Jim cites is control over lighting, it works for the talent, and it allows the photographer to insert multiple backgrounds in post-processing.

When compositing, it is important to remember not to shoot on a green screen, as is common with videographers.  Most photographers will find that a gray background works better.

When taking the photo of your background so that it matches the talent in the foreground, make sure the background photo is shot as the same angle and height, and that your noise and other camera settings are about the same.

Jim’s two biggest tips for compositing are: #1 remember to add a global effect to the photo to help the illusion of the foreground and background being shot in one frame.  Also, if you find that the foreground person looks pasted onto the photo, then Jim sometimes blurs the very tips of the edges of the foreground person.

[12:45] Listener Questions

You can submit your questions to be on the show by going to http://improvephotography.com/podcastquestion

[13:40]  A listener in Minnesota asks Jim how to work with depth-of-field in group photos

Jim suggests that you always focus on the closest person to the camera.  This will help the viewer to have more of a sense of sharpness in the photo.  Also, remember to keep the people on the same plane so that the background people aren’t blurry.

[18:00] A listener in California asks Jim if it is important to calibrate your monitor for photo editing

Jim answers that screen calibration is very important for preparing photos to be printed; however, photographers should be careful when posting photos to the web from a color calibrated device.  Jim wrote a separate guide to color calibration with more info.

 [21:00] A listener asks Jim asks how to get more clients as a new professional photographer

Jim suggests that new photographers avoid thinking too “big” in their advertising.  By that, he doesn’t mean not to have big dreams for your business, but to remember that small business advertising works best by working for each and every one.  Jim suggests that you focus your attention on how can I get ONE client this week instead of how you can get a large group of clients at once.

One important tip for building your business is to offer RELEVANT content to fans of your Facebook page and readers of your blog.  Your potential clients don’t care to see 40 pictures of people they don’t know from your last shoot.  They would rather see posts about how to get better pictures, how to choose a photographer, how to look great in their family photos, etc.

[26:40] A listener from Utah asks Jim if he has any ideas on how to create a photography website

Jim is frustrated that none of the photography website companies have yet produced a product that he can recommend.  He has tried ALLLLLL of them without success.

However, Jim recommends Smugmug as a simple to use website with tons of storage, and he recommends BIGFolio as an awesome solution for those who have the money to pay for it.  If you’re web savvy and don’t mind doing some tweaking, Jim created a step-by-step tutorial on creating a photography website here.

[30:33] A listener wants to switch from constant lights to flash photography and asks for Jim’s recommendations on getting started

Jim has a page with specific links to all of the lighting gear kits that he recommends here.

[33:48] A listener asks Jim if he can take pictures of someone with a model release and then sell that photo as fine art

First, Jim makes clear that he will not offer legal advice.  To get legal advice, you need to talk with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.  Jim offers only legal INFORMATION about how he runs his business and his understanding of U.S. law, but will not offer legal advice, which is applying the law to your situation.

Jim sites the court case of a photographer unknowingly taking photos of a man in New York and then selling the photo as fine art without a model release.  The photographer’s rights in this case were upheld by the court, but remember that this varies state-by-state and that you need to be careful not to extrapolate this decision to apply to all fine art photos.

[39:00] A listener from Missouri asks Jim how to take sunset portraits at the beach or on a ship

Jim outlines a simple step-by-step process for taking sunset portraits.  First, take a picture of the sunset with no one in the picture.  Make sure the exposure is dark enough that the sunset colors are rich.  Shoot in manual mode.  Then, have the subject of the photo step into the scene.  Use the SAME CAMERA SETTINGS and take a picture.  This will make the person look dark, but the sunset will still look perfect.  Now, adjust the flash power up until the exposure on the person looks right.

[40:02] How to shoot sports without your camera locking up

Jim mentions that two of his most popular online photography classes start next week.  You can find out more about Jim’s online photography classes here.

To get your camera not to lock up while shooting, Jim recommends shooting in bursts of three photos so you always have space in your buffer to capture more photos.  He also recommends shooting with fast memory cards.

[43:45] Doodad of the week

Jim recommends the Tripad as his plug of the week.  He bought it for tethering his camera to a laptop while shooting in the studio.  The tripad is easy to use and less expensive than many other similar products.  You can buy the Tripad here.

[46:00]  How to win a free online photography class from Jim

The winner from this last week was Danielle from Redondo Beach, California.

If you’d like a chance to win an online photography class (a $98 value), simply go to iTunes and search “Improve Photography Podcast” and write a review of the show.  While he hopes you’ll love the show enough to give it a 5-star review, ANY review will get you entered into the contest.  Remember to not just click a star rating, but to actually write a one or two sentence review.

Transcript of Episode 2

Music

From the Improve Photography Studio in Caldwell, Idaho. This is the Improve Photography Podcast. It’s your weekly dose of photography knowledge delivered straight in your earbuds. And now your host, Jim Harmer.

 Hey everybody. Welcome to the Improve Photography podcast. I’m glad to have you listening. We are in the iTunes store now, which I’m really glad to hear so if any of you are hearing this on the ImprovePhotography.Com website, I would encourage you to go over there to subscribe. We’ll have more details on that towards the end of the show, how to subscribe if you’re new to podcasting. But first let’s go to Photo Gossip.

Photo Gossip. Photo news and other shiny things that won’t improve your photography.

 Alright, let’s admit it sometimes getting new gear is not what’s going to help us take better pictures, and while understanding your gear, and the technology is an important part of the photography, let’s just be honest, it’s fun to talk about all the new shiny things coming out. And in the news this week is the Nikon D5200, the current model is the D5100, that’s been a really popular camera in the entry level space, in the entry level DSLR space for quite a while.  It’s similar to a Canon Rebel, if you’re on a Canon Rebel system.   It’s been a really popular camera, and it is said to be replaced with the D5200, as reported by photographyBay.com. The new camera is said to have a 24-megapixel sensor, which makes me think that it’s going to use the same sensor as the current Nikon D3200, which was released a few months ago – which we have one in the office for doing video and it’s really nice. So, I’m thinking it might be that same sensor. It also would have a vari-angle LCD, which I think is really really nice. The camera manufacturers have been very hesitant to put those tiltable LCD screens, or the swivel ones in professional DSLRs, and I don’t know why. There, sometimes when I am down on the ground to get a landscape photo, or I want to get way up high and I reach my camera over a crowd to get a photo, and that swivel LCD would be a really really nice feature to have. I just can understand why the camera manufacturers haven’t put that in my $3000 camera when they put it in $600 camera. It just doesn’t make sense to me.  But I guess they just don’t see it as a pro feature.  Whatever, I think it would be really nice to have. And in the Canon space this week, the big news is that Canon has started to enforce their minimum advertised price policies, and what that means is you’re going to be paying more. Basically, the camera manufacturers as with many product retailers would put out a product then they say, you can’t advertise a price lower than XY or Z. So we’re going to see a price jump in fact if you’ve been interested in or eyeing that 5D Mark III.  It was $3500, and before the minimum advertised price thing came in this week, we were seeing prices around 3100.  So the prices have jumped up a little bit on some of the Canon products, expect to see then more bundled products to go with it to kind of sweeten the pot so that you’ll buy from a particular retailer.

Practical Photography Tips: Jim’s ideas on how to improve your photography.

One thing I’ve been working on quite a bit is compositing. And, compositing simply means that you get one photo from one location and another photo, and then you combine the 2 photos in Photoshop.  And, I started working on compositing most recently – I’ve done most of it in the past, but most recently I’ve been doing it because I wanted to get a really cool portrait of my son, who’s a soccer player.  He’s just a little 3-year old. I wanted to get him all dressed up in a soccer gear and then take a cool HTR background of a soccer field, or a stadium, and put him looking tough in his soccer gear into that picture.  And so, we brought Ruger, my son, into the studio and we took the picture of him.  Dustin helped me get everything all set, and we took the photos. They look great. Now, all I have to do is to put that picture on to a nice background.  So, whenever I teach compositing to people who haven’t worked with it too much before, the question always is, why didn’t you just take your son to a soccer field and actually take the picture there?  Why go through all the work of compositing the photo, and doing the Photoshop work, and everything else?  Why not just shoot it in one shot?  A lot of times, of course, that’s a good alternative, you just actually take the picture.  But for this particular photo, and for many others, there are good reasons why you’d want to take the background and foreground pictures separately, and then combine them.  First is, I have absolute control of the lighting if I shoot them here in the studio.  I can make the room black and then only have my studio lights affecting the subject – in this case, my son. And so, that is one of nicest things, I have total control over the lighting.  I won’t have stadium lights messing with the lighting, or reflections, or just bad lighting in the middle of the day when maybe I wanted to shoot the background.  So, one is control of lighting.  The second is, it works great for your talent.  It’s cold here in Idaho, and the soccer season is over.  I know my son will go out there, and just be frozen back in the car as soon as we got there.  So, it works for the talent to the able to shoot them separately. The other thing is, it allows multiple backdrafts for one shoot.  This came up a little while ago. When Dustin and I had hired a model, an athletic model, the guy was huge, muscly guy that we want to take tough pictures of.  We took the photos of him, and then all we have to do is go shoot the background.  We went all around the city the next day, finding underpasses, and basketball courts, and boxing rings, and all different places to shoot cool backgrounds, then that one model shoot can be placed on a variety of different backgrounds.  So, you can manipulate the photo a lot more without that trouble. Now, compositing is definitely an advanced technique in photography.  If you are just getting started out, I’d hold off on this kind of project.  If you’re just getting started in Photoshop, this is going to be tough one to do.  It may not be the best to get to cut your teeth on.  So when you get started in compositing if you’re ready to get going, the first thing that is a trap that many photographers ran into is, you’ve seen on TV that they use green screens.  The weatherman stands in front of a green screen, and then they put the map behind them.  Now that works excellent for video, it works terribly for photos.  The reason that it works so good on video is they have to make a very quick easy selection of one color, they just find that one color and then they key it out so that it doesn’t show that color at all.  In fact, if you’ve ever seen the weatherman that accidentally wore a green or a blue tie that day, the tie disappears.  So, the green screen myth in photography is, you don’t need a green screen.  In fact, you don’t want a green screen to do your compositing.  The reason of this is that green screen will throw some color on to the model, for example, if you’re shooting a full length shot, their feet, the green screen will reflect up a little light on to the feet and they’ll have green feet or green shoes.  If they are standing too close to the background, they are going to have green little wispy hairs, the little tiny strands of hair that stick out.  Well, if you aren’t very very careful… it’s going to happen period.  If you shoot on a green screen, those wispy hairs are going to look green.  So, shooting on a green screen is really tough to work with.  I would very strongly discourage out if you are shooting still photos.  For still photos, I find in most cases the background that you really want is a gray background.  Black inset is a little bit too dark, depending on what kind of background you put it on. White is too white, then if you miss one little  pixel it’s like this bright white thing that sticks its way out and destroys the illusion of the model actually being in the scene.  So I like to shoot on a great backdraft, and most often photographers that I’ve worked with also kind of stick with the gray background when they’re doing compositing.  And then, also you shoot the photo with a gray background.  To get a gray background, I find the easiest thing for me is just find a white wall or if you have a white backdraft for your photography – lf you have a little home studio or a physical studio, then you just don’t light the white background. Do make sure none of the flashes point to the background, and then it will just turn gray.  As long as there’s a little space between the subject and the background.  So, get them on a gray background to take that photo, and then you go shoot your backdraft.  Now, one issue that is going to cause a real problem if you have not done compositing before is when you shoot that background, let’s say I took a picture of this tough muscly guy, then I go out to shoot a basketball court, and I want to put him in this cool basketball court, we need to make sure that the angle of the photo is the exact same.  Because if you take the photo of the court and you are looking up, and then you take the picture of the talent and you are looking more down, it’s going to look weird.  Same thing with height, I wouldn’t go so far as to measure the height that you are from the ground but it’s very important that you do consider the height.  If one you took from very low to the ground, and the other, you took from standing height, the illusion is going to be gone. Also, you need to make sure that the camera settings are somewhat similar, at least in regard to the noise.  That’s when I have seen a lot of mistakes on, is if one of the photos is at high ISO, ISO 800 or whatever, then you shoot the talent at ISO 100.  Eventhough that grain between 100 or 800 isn’t too apparent, it’s enough to destroy the illusion.  And also, you want to make sure that your focus is similar, and your focal length, meaning that you don’t have short depth-of-field, and one depth-of-field on the other, etc. Just make sure work kind of close with that.  My biggest two tips for shooting composites though, specially if you have been doing the illusion isn’t just quite perfect, the person still looks kind of pasted on to the scene. The two things that really work for me are: 1.) Apply some type of a global effect such as, it can even be noise.  Add some noise into the photo and add it on the composited figured as well as the background. Will do a coloration effect in Photoshop, you know make it black and white or change the white bounce to make it really warm. Do some kind of effect that applies to both the composited and the background photo.  That really helps the effect to make it seem more realistic. And then, the second is a lot of times that is you make a good selection in Photoshop, which is definitely tough to do, but if you’ve made a good selection in Photoshop then sometimes there would still be parts just little portions of the edge of the composited person that would still look cut out. It don’t quite look real, what I do for that is I take my blur tool in Photoshop and I’ll just slightly blurred just the very edge of the person on to the background.  That can make a huge difference in, kind of, giving it some depth, making sure one doesn’t look pasted on to the other – We’ve all seen the bad Photoshop paste, and that will really help your affect.

 Listener questions. Submit your questions at improvephotography.com/podcast question.

All right.  We received a lot of questions this last week and you can submit yours by just going to the website.  On the website I have links at improvephotography.com/podcast questions, and you can call in, you can record it right from your computer, on your computer microphone, or you can record your own mp3 and email it to me. But go ahead and send your list of questions.  It’s really fun to listen to all the questions from people around the world and to be able to answer them on the show. I think it is a lot of variety to the show.

Hi.  This is Tracy from Minneapolis, Minnesota. My question is about getting a good focus on everyone in a group picture. I know they say to keep everyone on the same plane but that kinda kills exposure options, so, how do you keep everyone in focus? Not use your?13:42?? And how to create a posing? Do you focus on one person and  recompose?  How do you focus point to the  person the closest, the farthest away? I don’t know. I’d love your advice. Thank you so much.

All right.  Shooting group is one that I get a lot of questions on. So let’s say you got your pose about right. You have your group photo, well, the tough thing is to get everybody in focus.  You have to remember this one tip, focus on the person closest to the camera. People are going to fight with me about that, I know they do. Because technically, if you look scientifically at the way depth-of-field works, it usually wants to focus about 1/3 into the group but, if you have 5 rows of people in a large group you want to focus maybe on the second row. Now sometimes that works fine, but most of the time what I see is your eye as the viewer for the photo post immediately to the closest person in the frame if you are not in the picture.  And I mean, it just will.  We always look at the closest person to the to the camera and that person has to just be attack sharp. We are going to use just a tiny sliver depth-of-field when we get to the people on the back row, but it’s less agreed.  If you just don’t notice it nearly as much as if that front person is out of focus. So, always always always just – trust me on this one – you really do want to focus on the closest person to the camera when you’re shooting a group photo, that’s the first thing.  Now, you said another which is you want to maintain your both 15:16 of which means that she wants to get shallow depth-of-field in the photo of a group photo. That is really tricky to do unless they’re all on the same plane.  And by the same plane, I mean, I’m equidistant  the camera that they’re all – one isn’t further back than the other.  We don’t have multiple rows of people in this kind of photo.  So, we want to make sure everybody is the same distance from the camera if we are going to use any kind of depth-of-field.  This is specially, remember, when shooting really small groups like an engagement photo. You have two people,  and if one is even slightly further back, we’ll do that common shot where either the man or the woman is behind, the other kind of looking over the shoulder. But if that person behind is just 5 inches back and we’re shooting at F2.8 with a  longer focal length, that back person will look blurry.  So, we always need to make sure when you’re shooting engagements, those small groups, to be asking people, put your heads close together, let’s get up on the same plane if you want to use that shallow depth-of-field. With a larger group, to get shallow depth-of-field is going to be really tough, almost impossible. Your best bet if you want to do it is either take two pictures, one of the group and then one with a blurry background.  Or, 2.) You could just make sure there’s a huge space between the people and whatever trees or anything else that you see in the background. And that’ll make it seem more blurry in the background.  So that’s what I’d recommend there with shooting your group photos.  Toggle that focus point, moving on to the closest person to the camera, and you really are going to be doing better. If you are shooting more than a couple rows, you are going to have to increase your F-stop as well.  If I’m shooting a row of 3 people I’m always going to go to  F11-F16, that kind of area to make sure I have that depth-of-field.  A quick tip to make sure your shot right in the camera, because I think everybody when you start getting paid for your shoots and you shoot your first couple groups, every time you’re just going to make mistakes and you won’t get quite the depth-of-field that you want for the whole group.  One way to avoid that is to take a picture and then press the plus button on your camera to zoom in on the LCD and zoom way in as far as you can go on to the first person in the group, the closest to the camera and then farthest person away and then you can kind of get an idea of what depth-of-field is doing and if you need to increase your F-stop to get more depth-of-field.

Hi.  My name is Vicky and I’m from —?17:54??-Longcoke–California. And my question is, exactly how important is it to have your monitor calibrated? Thank you for your time, and I’m looking forward to your answer.

All right, Vicky.  I have a love-hate relationship with calibrated monitors.  The love, obviously is when you’re printing photos, you want your monitor to look exactly like they’re going to print out. So if you calibrate your monitor you’re going to get close and then you can use the ICC profile from whoever the printer is, and you’ll get a really good idea of what that photo is going to look like when it’s printed right on the computer.  I’ve made so many times ,in fact, it happened not too long ago, I just decided oh, i’m not at my calibrated monitor at the studio, I just want to print this quick photo, and I just kind of guessed how it’s going to be never quite right.  So is calibrating your monitor is important if you’re printing.  And if you want to do that go to improvephotography.com/colorcalibration, and we have a tutorial there for how to color calibrate your monitor and what I recommend for a color calibration tool.  So how important is it for printing? Very important. but if you don’t really print, or very rarely do you print, and you mostly share your photos on the web, I might even discourage you from color calibrating your monitor.  And I know a lot of people just gasped and said, what did he say?  But you know it’s true, color calibrate monitor is going to be quite dim and it’s going to look kind of magenta to the eye.  It doesn’t look great and so if you prepare all your photos on a color calibrated device, and you are not printing, you’re going to send them out on the web,  the exposures probably going to look a little bit off because it was perfect on your monitor which is quite a bit dimmer than the typical monitor. Now it’s correct, scientifically it’s correct, that’s what it’s supposed to be but most people are going to have their monitor brightness turn up more.  Most people are going to have their colors appearing differently, and so you do need to be prepared that your photos could look just a little strange on other devices. To get around this, you can easily just turn off the calibration when you are preparing a photo for the web, or sometimes what I’lI do is I’ll just remember – Okay.  This is a little bit dark, and a little bit purple, and so I’ll make a slightly different version to put up on Facebook or on my website, et cetera.  So, that’s color calibration in a nutshell.  Don’t get too wild over it.  Must you printing, if you print a lot it really is essential tool to use.

 Hey Jim I found you on your Pinterest page and I Had a question. if you’re starting a little photography business because I had a few people asking me to take photos of them, it was fun to earn a little extra money so I ended up investing in some more equipment and got serious about my business but now it turns out I’m having a hard time getting clients so how can I advertise better?

That is a very common question that we get, and for this reason we this reason we created our Improve Photography online business,  photography class where we teach how to get your business rolling, kind of from the ground up, all the legal and financial matters you need to do, how to get client, et cetera. And one thing that I teach in there is whenever I talk with other photographers who started their business, who wants to know what was most helpful for you?  What worked for me when I was getting started, is don’t think too big.  And by that, I don’t mean don’t think I might by that I don’t mean to think small in terms of your business. You want to think big and want to think crazy, awesome things you can accomplish with your new business but I mean in terms of your advertising, don’t think too big.  All often see photographer who pay to put an advertisement on the newspaper, or on TV, and I think okay here come the clients and nothing happens. When you’re a small business you need to earn your customers one by one by one.  It’s a painful, slow process but once you earn – think about it, if you have only 50 – a 100 clients for your photography business.  So you have 100 photography clients, but if you’re good enough to them that you shoot their baby pictures when they are little, you shoot their senior portrait, then you shoot their family reunions in between, their Little League soccer games, you shoot their wedding, you shoot when they have their first baby, you shoot their more Christmas cards for them, and then you shoot the baby photos, and move all the way up.  If you really keep a customer, you could do very well with the low number of clients.  So don’t worry too much about how do I get a thousand clients, as much as you think about how could I earn one client this week. and I think the methods that are going to be most helpful for you is, first start with the audience you already have.  Often now people send me all the time their Facebook page to their photography, or send me a blog and say, “Hey, check out my photos”.  And every time when I look at those links , which, honestly I can’t all the time because I get so many, but when I look at those, every time I see maybe 20 likes on their Facebook page, and I think did you even invite all your friends on your personal Facebook profile? Most people have 200 or more people on their personal Facebook page, well, invite them multiple times.  Tell them what you’re doing. Ask for their help to share with their friends.

Share great photos on that page and give them things that people want to hear, and then it’ll start to build build build. Social media is a great way to early client one at time. And, when I say give them the information they want when I look at those photography blog or when I look at those Facebook pages every time the only content on that site is, I just shot Jan and Susan this week.  They have the cutest family.  I just really enjoyed shooting them.  Here are 40 pictures that I took during that shoot.  Well guess what, I just came to your Facebook page, I’m a potential customer, I don’t know Jan, and I don’t know Mark, and I don’t know their family, and I don’t want to see 40 pictures of them.  It’s not interesting to me.  What would I like to see?  I’d like to see, here are the best 5 places in Boise to take your Christmas card photo, whether you choose me or you take it yourself. I’d like to see, if I am a bride or groom looking for wedding photography.  I’d like to see, a post called how to look amazing in your wedding photos. Or, 5 top mistakes of modeling in your senior portrait, what not to wear for your family photos. I’d like to see, information that’s important to me.  I don’t know Mark and Susan, or Jan, or whatever names I pick.  So share useful information for people.  If you also do landscape photography, go to get killer landscape of your local area, post it on your Facebook page, and say, here is a free download you can put it on your desktop if you want something beautiful to look at while you’re staring at work.  Just give it out for free.  It’s not going to do any good collecting dust on your hard drive.  Just get in front of people’s faces by giving him what they want, not what you want. They don’t care about Mark and Jan.  They don’t want to see hundreds of your photos.  Give them things that they want to see, and if you do that, you work one by one, and earn each shoot. You’re going to eventually have a client base that is strong enough that you can then work off referrals, and word of mouth, and the things that we would all love to have from the beginning. But, don’t expect it to happen all by itself.  You got to beat the pavement, do the work, and you will get those clients. And make sure you have a killer website.  Do all the things that you know about, but that’s the way that you do it.  That’s how I got started.  That’s how everybody get started, that has a successful business, is one by one.

 Hi. My name is  Carrie Clar??? from Leighton, Utah.  I have a question about a photography website. I have a lot about photography, and feeling good behind  the camera.  I can blog, that’s pretty easy.  Facebook is pretty easy, but when it comes to creating a website for my photography, I am completely lost. I don’t know where to begin. Do you have any tips on how to get started? Go get a website, whether it’s a hiring somebody, do you have any recommendations or I can do it myself.  How I was going to get started. Thank you.

Carrie, I am with you.  I understand your frustration in starting a photography website. I have a couple of different recommendations for you, I have probably spent at least 7 full days of work this year looking through all of the photography portfolio site companies that are out there. SmugMug and BIGFolio, all of them. I mean there are hundreds that I have looked through, and I email and say I’m a blogger, and I’d like to I get a review of your website and take a look at them.  And I’ve just been desperately searching one that’s reasonably priced html5, no flash, big photos that fill the screen, and that is simple to use, and reasonably priced. That’s what I want. I have looked everywhere, and it just doesn’t exist right now. I have not found one that suits my needs. A lot of people are happy with one service or the other but I used to be a web designer, I worked online, I’m very picky about websites, and I haven’t found one that meets all my criteria. But there are a few things that you can look at, one is, you could build your own WordPress website.  If you go to improvephotography.com/ portfoliosite you can find our recommendation of how to start a WordPress site.  Download the theme that we find that works but it is finicky, and there are some limitations to it.  And then, you can own your own theme after the initial cost about $150 to get set up.  I will only cost you 4 bucks a month to get your web hosting to put it live on the Internet.  So, that’s one recommendation.  If that looks sticky to you, like you might not be able to follow that tutorial, or you not real web savvy, or you want something that’s a little bit simpler to use your going to have to go to more of a hosted solution. SmugMug is very popular, but I don’t like their templates. The pictures are small, they are just not attractive to me at all.  I don’t like the look of SmugMug website. They allow customization but you’re going to have to hire that out or know how to do it.  Even as a web programmer, before in a former life, I didn’t find it to be too easy, so I don’t recommend SmugMug even though they do have a really nice features.  Also the price at SmugMug just went up pretty dramatically.  And then, there is one website that I’ve been totally happy with. I did to review there’s, I love it.  Big pictures, is it easy to use, everything is great except it is really expensive. 400 bucks to get started, and then you have a per month, I think, $20.  Very expensive, but that website is BIGFolio I’m not exactly sure of those prices but I think that’s at least in the ballpark.  So it’s too expensive for me to recommend but their websites really are the best when I looked around. They are really nice.  I asked them if we can work down to a monthly plan or something else so that I can recommend it to my readers but their business, three0:14they got around as well.

I just started doing portrait professionally last year and I I’ve been using continuous studio lights, what they get the job done it gets very hot. That’s okay if I’m photographing a naked baby but not so much for all the clothed people, how do we get started learning about strobe lighting?

All right.  We’ll, all my model are clothed people. Funny thing. I understand what your question is, when you’re shooting with constant light, you know that’s like a lamp that you turn it on and the light that  stays on the whole time, that’s the type of light you’d use for shooting video for obvious reasons.   A flashing light would not be of any help for videography. When you’re shooting with constant lights, many types of them will get really hot during a shoot. I mean really hot, and it can really, I mean, just steam up a little studio if you’re in your house or smaller room.  So those constant lights can get very hot.  Now, you can go to the LED’s or the CFL bulbs at that burn really cool, and those are nice but they’re expensive and don’t put out quite as much light yet.  They’re getting better and better.  So if you want to move from those constant lights, a lot of people recommend when you’re starting out in lighting, that you start with constant lights.  And the reason why they recommend that is you can see in real time if I move this light an inch to the right, it does this. If I move it to the left, it does this.  So makes it easier to get started, however, they are so limiting and frustrating that I wouldn’t recommend Compton lights for most people. And that is, because they’re very dim so you need to be indoors.  They won’t do a thing outdoors unless you get some really powerful ones that are going to be very expensive.  They are dim, they make your talent squint because the lights are very bright, there are a lot of limitations to them.  And, the color temperature changes the heat up and cool down.  A flash then will just be a pop of light, you can either use speedlight, like the type that mount on the top of your camera.  You can get the accessories to make them shoot off camera, or you can get a studio strobe, and that’s what you’re asking about the studio strobe.  This is the kind that you need to plug into the wall to be able to shoot. They are little bit more expensive than speedlights.  Generally, I like the Einsteins from Paul C. Buff, but if you want to get started the knows what I’d recommend is to start off with some simple lights.  If you want to use studio strobes, I like those Einteins from Paul C. Buff.  They are about $500 per flash head.  And to get started, I just buy one light and get working.  It’ll keep your studio cooler and the recycle time is very very fast.  You can go, papapapapap as you are taking pictures, if there’s some movement in the studio.  So that would be my recommendation for your first studio flash.  If you are interested in speedlighting instead, you can check out the Youngnuo YN560, and we have links to this if you go to improve photography.com, and then go to our a lighting gear recommendations page.  That’s photography.com/lightinggear.  You will see exactly the products that we recommend, and we have tried all of them.  And those are the best we have found to get started in flash photography.

My question is, is it legal for me to take pictures of someone and sell the photos as fine art?  See, I don’t have a model release because it was a street photography.  So I look forward to hearing your answer on the show.  Thanks.

All right, Mark.  First, we have to cover the fine print definitely. I did go to law school but I’m not your attorney.  What I can provide you is legal information which is different from legal advice.  I can tell you how I work my business, and my process, and my understanding of the law.  If you need an attorney, licensed in your jurisdiction to apply the law to your specific situation, and to give you solid legal advice.  Also, I can only offer information about the United States law.  I don’t know what the law is in all, whatever, 220 countries.  So with that information understood, this is a really sticky question, it is not clear, and it definitely depends on your facts.  So, in the United States at least, you can take a photo of anyone in a public place.  In general, there are some limitations. For example, if you’re taking pictures of police officers and you get in their way, well that’s not okay you can’ t take pictures, because you’re getting in the way the of the police officers.  If you go to a -what’s that called in Las Vegas,  Cirque du Soleil concert/performance, well no you can’t take pictures of them because that’s a private performance and since we paid to get into that place they have the right to publicize that event.  So they will prohibit pictures from being at that event.  But generally, you can take a picture of a person in a public place.  So, let’s say – and I’m not just making up the fact, this is from my court case, I believe in New York, around 2006-2007 if I remember right, what happened is, a photographer’s name was diCorcia, took photos of people just walking around the city, and I think with several cities: New York, New Jersey, Brooklyn, something like that, there are a few different places that the photographer took pictures of people unknowingly.  The people had no idea what was going on. So, he takes the pictures of them and then he put some in a private gallery, showing in his studio, and sells them for tens of thousands of dollars. I think it goes 20 – $three0,000 these photos were sold for.  One of the people, a year later, finds out that his photo was taken and sold by this photographer.  So the man who is a jew, sues the photographer diCorcia.  And he says first, it’s against my religion to have photos like these taken of me; and two, I don’t what you profiting off my face.  And so he sues the photographer, and the court basically in essence rule that the photographer was okay in that situation.  But remember, decisions like this are always specific to their facts, and that you have to be very careful with how you control your facts. One fact that was kind of up in the air in that case is the fact that those photos were sold – there was a restricted number of how many of those photos could be sold. That was a limited edition, so only 10 – 20 were sold.  That if you’re not selling a limited edition that may change the fact.  If you take that photo and then you put it on a banner outside your gallery to advertise it, that changes the fact.  So you definitely need to consult with an attorney to know if this is going to work in your specific situation.  But there is definitely some support for the fact that you could take a picture of someone and sell it as fine art.  This is different from advertising.  This is different from any other commercial purpose. This is different from shooting a photo and putting it in the newspaper, that you could take a picture of anyone. These are specific to their facts but your question is, can I take a picture of someone in street photography and sell it as fine art?  My answer is maybe, but if you do it right then yes we could find a way, and that’s without a model release.

Hi.  This is Tom from Wildwood, Missouri.  My question is what’s the best way to approach a shot taking somebody at sunset?  Having a  beach or ocean in the back with the setting sun and somebody on the patio, or maybe at the balcony of a ship or something like that in the foreground. My tend to either over compensate with flash or don’t use flash at all. It doesn’t work out very well at all so any help there would be appreciated. Thanks.

All right. I lived in Florida on the beach, and everyone wanted to know how to take sunset portraits. It’s really simple as long as you follow just a short process.  The first thing that you need to do is don’t even have anyone in the picture, just point your camera to the sunset, and take a photo as if it’s only a landscape.  Don’t even pretend that there’s nobody even going to be in the picture.  Take that photo in manual mode, I usually find to be easiest, specially because we’re going to be using flash here, and once you have your camera settings correct your want a bit darker exposure for sunset, so the colors look really rich.  If you over exposed the sunset, the colors really die out.  And then, we have someone walk in we want to take a picture of, and then, we use the exact same camera settings.  Don’t change anything when you take the picture. And now you’ll see the sunset looks great but the person looks dark.  Now, you put on your flash and you will keep the flash at low power.  Take a picture, if the person is still dark, increase in a little bit little bit little bit until the photo looks perfect.  That’s a step by step process for a sunset photo.  Because what we’re going to do is we use the camera to get the exposure for the background, and we use the flash to expose the person properly.  If you follow those steps you can have a great looking color and great looking people.

Hi. My name is Coney and I come from Green Valley, Arizona. And I sure have a pretty rich question. I was trying to shoot pictures of my son’s baseball and my camera freezes up, keeps saying it’s busy, I have a Canon 60D, maybe too much camera for me right now but I’m just wondering, any tips on how to ?????? first threed of but sometimes I would be more than that, maybe that’s my problem. helping me with fast shooting in any sports. crazy and I appreciate it thank you.

All right.  This question, I believe, come in from one of the students in my intermediate photography class that I have online.  You can find all my photography classes at improvephotography.com/courses.  The courses cost $98 for a full month per lesson.  You get a video lesson each day to explain a new concept of the topic.  We have 4 courses available right now, and then we talk with the students constantly during the class.  If the students want to Skype us, we Skype with them.  If they want to call in a question, they call in a question, we’ll talk to them on the phone.  We are constantly emailing with our students, we’ll do a portfolio review, and really help you through the topic, that by the end of the month you really can kind of master the different topics that we have for those online courses.  I will know that if you are interested in that I have quite a few courses starting this next week.  There are two courses starting this next week that you may be interested in.  They only start once a month so I always try to remind people before the courses start so you don’t miss out.  So if you want to get started in sports photography, you’re going to have the frame rate issues. Each camera can take a certain number of frames per second, and then it will tap out because it cannot capture that much data.  So you said with your 60d that what you’re trying to do is shoot in burst of three which is what I recommend in intermediate class.  And, if you shoot in burst of three always leave a little space in your buffer but if something really crazy happens you’ll still have photos left to go.  So let’s say the quarterback drops the back to pass, papapam we take three pictures. And then, he’s about to throw out, papapam, we take another.  And then good thing we shot in burst of three cause right he is about to throw the ball, he just gets smeared and the ball goes flying in a fumble.  So if you shot in burst of three, you still have photos left in your buffer to take that decisive moment.  If you had just as soon as the quarterback drops back to pass just prrrrrrrrr, then right as the awesome moment happens you’re gonna pop pop pop, your camera has to wait because it’s buffer is full.  Now, if your camera is filling up and you are shooting in burst of three, and being reasonable with the limitations of your camera, that you learn as you get to work with a specific camera then, what we need to look at is your memory card.  If your memory card isn’t fast enough then the camera might be ready to take another picture but it can’t unload the data to the card fast enough to free up space in the camera to take another picture.  And if that’s the case we’re just going to have to upgrade our memory card.  There’s a lot to upgrade on your memory card, you can write that as a question on our Facebook page or send that in as a podcast question if you’d like to learn a little bit more about that.  Buy a high quality memory card that is fast and works good with your camera, you’re going to have as many frames per second as possible.

Plug of the week: Recommended website, products and other clever doodad

 All right. This week’s doodad is the Tripad.  That’s T-R-I-P-A-D, and it’s a really cool device. We like to shoot tethered in the studio so that we can take a picture on the camera and see it on the laptop or on the iPad while we’re taking the pictures. It really really helps as you’re moving along. but the trouble is that there’s nowhere for your laptop to go see how to get a really long tether cord or hold your laptop.  So, what you want is a laptop cart to work with your Tripad.  Most of them are really cumbersome, it’ll screw, it’s a big bar that will go parallel to the ground.  It will go horizontal, that screws on to the top of your tripod and then it has on the left side of it was a place to put your laptop, and then on the right side you attach your ball head to shoot the camera with.  That works okay but you have to have a tripod dedicated to that unless you want to take off the bar everytime you go on to studio and take it off when you go to shoot landscapes.  So it’s really cumbersome to do that, it is bigger.  So we were looking for a better solution.  Well, we found the Tripad, it cost about 85 – $90. It’s so cool. It’s just a cart for your laptop.  You just put the laptop or your iPad on the tray and then it has a triangular piece of pretty soft plastic, just slips on top of your tripod with your camera ball head right on it. Just slips right over the top, and then boom, you’re all set up to go.  You got to see it to really appreciate it.  Go to Amazon.com and check out the Tripad. Or, go to improve photography.com/tripad and I’ll send you right to that page. It’s pretty cool but you know they are not advertising, the are not sponsoring  anything, it is just a cool product that we found and I’d recommend it to you if you are interested in studio photography or having a shooting tethered with a computer.  It’s a really really nice product.

Prizes for reviews:

Prizes for those who write a review of the podcast, because we appreciate you.

We do appreciate you.  This week the winner of our contest was Danielle from Redondo Beach, California.  So Daniel you can shoot as an email at prizes@improvephotography.com. We will get you set up with your free online photography class with this.  The way that we choose the winner for this week is people who write a review of the podcast on iTunes.  We’ll pick a random person, it doesn’t matter what star review you gave us.  We hope it’s a five but even if it’s a one, everybody gets entered randomly who submitted a review that week and then we will give you a free online class to one of those people.  This week it is not in iTunes ye, so Danielle has submitted a question to the podcast and she’s our winner.  So send us an email if you’d like to be entered into the contest for a free online photography class. Next week just go to improvephotography.com/iTunes and there you will see a link, and then you’ll go to the page and then click view on iTunes.  And that will take you to the page for this podcast, the Improve Photography Podcast and then you can create a review, write one sentence, Jim’s a total nerd, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, one star, write whatever you think.  And then you have your review in there, and then we will pick one of those people to be that week’s winner.  So every week somebody’s winning a class.So, I encourage you go to improve photography.com/ iTunes.  You can be entered in just a couple seconds. We really do appreciate people who write a review of the podcast, it means a lot to me because I put a lot of work into creating this and it will help us get the show up with other people.  And other thing I want to talk about is how to subscribe to the show.  If you’re listening to this on the website, you can subscribe to the show if you use iPod, iPhone, or anything like that.  Go to that improvephotography.com/iTunes, and that will  have a link to open this in the iTunes client and then you can subscribe to the show right there. I mean every time I publish a new show, it will automatically be downloaded on your phone and you can listen to this while you’re working, cleaning the house, commuting, doing whatever else you do.  Exercising, I think, is a great time to listen to podcast and really make use of your time, learn a little photography.  If you’re on the Android system, it’s a little bit tougher working on getting an apps submitted so you can do it directly. But what I’ve recommend for now is that you go to the Google Play store and just download an app an app called Stitcher Radio and then search Improve Photography Podcast within the Stitcher app, and you’ll see right where we are.  All our new shows will go right there.  You can press play or you can go into the Google Play store, and search for Podcatcher and choose any one of those and then you’ll need to add this feed to that Podcatcher which is improvephotography.com/feed/ podcast. Either way you want to do it for those who were kind of serious podcast listeners, you probably want to do that in your Podcatcher. If you are just new to this and not sure how to get started just download the Stitcher app and then search for our channel. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s show. I’ll leave you with a little bit of music and we’ll see you next week.

Music

 

Play

Comments from the I.P. Community

  1. Debbie says

    I’m loving this Podcast, every subject has been very useful. I can hardly wait for the next one. On the first Podcast however, you said that you’d be covering what the best lab for prints would be, it didn’t come up. I was eagerly waiting for the answer. Do you have the answer somewhere else on the site so that I can get some prints done asap?
    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge its very appreciated it’s the best site I’ve come across for learning on a budget.

  2. Debbie says

    Two more comment/questions, I’m not seeing the itunes link on the site, where would I find this,
    and can I email in a question for the podcast or does it have to be recorded?

  3. says

    Just wanted to say that this podcast is Awesome. Being able to go to the gym or just sit at home and listen to ‘photography talk’ is just the coolest thing ever! I have to completely agree with Debbie, every subject has been extremely helpful thus far.Cant wait to hear episode 3. Thanks

  4. says

    I am not positive where you’re getting your information, however good topic. I needs to spend some time finding out more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful information I was searching for this information for my mission.

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