In Episode 28 of the Improve Photography Podcast, Jim and Dustin answer listener questions about lighting for interior photography, shooting an outdoor wedding at high noon, upsampling, travel tripods, and more.
Guide to Episode 28
[1:00] I’m doing interior photography, and I’m using a flash on top of my camera and bouncing the light off the ceiling. This works well with tall or vaulted ceilings, but low ceilings don’t seem to produce good results when I bounce my flash off them. What should I be doing to properly light the room (without bouncing my flash off the side wall)?
Usually the solution in this situation is to bounce the flash off the side wall. But since this photographer has specifically asked not to do that (he’s concerned about the quality of light when bouncing it off a colored wall), the next best option is to use a reflector that you bounce the light against. However, this could present the problem of having the reflector show up in your shot.
Something important to consider, however, is are you using the flash to change the lighting in the room or to simply add light to the room? If you’re only adding a flash to increase the amount of light, remember that there are other ways to do this. A better/easier way to fix this if all you want is to add light, would be to close all the blinds (black out all the windows) so that the light from the windows isn’t interfering with your shot. Then increase the ISO and take the shot. If you don’t want a picture with the blinds all closed, then take another shot when they are open, and use Photoshop to mask the two together. It’s a little bit of work in post-processing, but if this is for real estate photography or something else that makes it worth your while, this is one way to produce an excellent looking photograph.
[4:25] Do you have any tips for shooting formal shots (like wedding photos) of groups of up to 10 people outdoors, in bright sunlight?
This is simply a recipe for a poor photo and absolutely not a recipe for success. Taking large group shots in the middle of the day in spotty shade presents so many problems that you really can’t expect to get better than snapshot-looking photos. When you are photographing one or two people in bright sunlight, you can simply hold a reflector over their heads and you have instant shade. But with a large group, that’s just not feasible. Additionally, the group members will be casting shadows on each other which will also cause poor results.
The best option you can do here is to take some time to educate the person (in this case, the bride) who has requested these particular shots at this particular time of day in this particular location with spotty shade. Show them some pictures of group shots in the middle of the day and help them understand that, while you’ll do your best, there really isn’t any way to get good quality photographs. Everything you take will look like a snapshot. Maybe that will be ok with the client – maybe all they really want is a quick snapshot anyway. But take some time to show them what you can do when you have control over some aspect of the situation that will allow you to take good photographs – time of day, location, etc. There’s a good chance that once you help them understand how you can get good photos, they will be willing to work with you.
However, if your client is dead set on the time, location, and setting, there are some things you can do to minimize the negative effects on your photo. A large Lastolite bounce wall can help. The way that you pose the people is also important: make sure the spacing is correct so that one person’s head isn’t shading the person next to them. You will also want to be sure the sun is at their backs so they aren’t casting funny side shadows on each other.
[8:55] Do you use software (like onOne) for upsampling your images when you want to make larger prints?
Upsampling is basically stretching your file to a larger size so it will print larger. Because your image only has so many pixels, if you need to print it larger then you will have to let the software do the best it can to fill in the space where there is no data.
Here at Improve Photography, we don’t use onOne. Instead, we use Photoshop CS6. Dustin suggests following this process in Photoshop to enlarge your images for printing: In the image size dialog window at the top it shows the number of pixels for height and width – change that to percentage, and then change it to 110%. Then at the bottom, choose “Best for Enlargements” from the drop-down menu, and hit “Ok”. Do this repeatedly until you have increased the photo to the size you need. Jim has tried Genuine Fractals (by onOne) and he couldn’t tell the difference between that and upsampling in Photoshop.
[12:42] How can I sharpen my photos for luster-type paper?
When you print on different types of paper, you want to sharpen different amounts. Some types of paper (like luster) will bleed more than others (like glossy) so you will need to adjust the amount of sharpening accordingly. If you’re going to print to a luster-type paper, sharpen just a bit more than you would for normal prints. Also, run some test shots through your preferred printer to be sure they will be satisfactory. Check out our printer recommendations here.
[16:13] Sharpness issues: I’m using a good camera and following all your advice for taking sharp photos, but I’m still just not getting good sharp photos.
Most of the time, the issue is in technique – check out this article if you think you may need some help with your technique. But in some cases (and this one specifically), the issue really is the lens you are using. The solution? Buy a good quality lens. (Check out our gear page for lens recommendations.)
[20:30] What is the deal with Adobe RGB vs sRGB?
Adobe RGB and sRGB are two different algorithms used for recording colors. Adobe RGB is bigger and can store more detail than sRGB. However, when you print your photos that use Adobe RGB, you will find that the colors just look dull. You want to always use sRGB unless you do ALL your own printing and you know enough to understand WHY you would choose Adobe RGB over sRGB (Adobe RGB is going to do a better job in the greens, orange highlights, etc). But most of the time, and for most of our listeners, sRGB is going to be great for your needs.
[23:47] Tripod for travelling – what do you recommend? I need something lightweight and compact, but that can hold at least 6 pounds.
Our recommendation for a travel tripod is the Induro CT-014 8X Carbon Tripod. You can usually find this on Amazon for around $250-$300. It has a max load of about 11 pounds. Go to improvephotography.com/tripods to see our recommendations for both travel and full-size tripods.
[28:33] We’ve got a new series on our YouTube channel!!
We’re doing product reviews and if we don’t like the product, we’re destroying it!!! Check out our YouTube channel to see our review this week of the Canon Rebel T5i and the Nikon D5200. One of them doesn’t survive the video.
[29:38] Doodads of the Week
Jim’s doodad of the week is the Glidecam HD-1000 Hand-Held Stabilizer. This is for people who want to do DSLR video. It’s awesome - makes the videos look silky smooth.
[32:08] Prizes for reviews!
The winner is kbrown53.
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