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    @Intuition, it depends on how spotty and harsh.   I shoot to raw files.  Sometimes I convert to a brighter exposure and a darker exposure, then merge them to get even lighting.  Sometimes I use flash to fill the dark spots, either enough that the first method is not needed or enough that the first method works, depending.  Sometimes we move to a different location, though sometimes that is not an option.


    @alarnold, I don’t know if this would work for you or not.  It requires a tripod and some hardware.  If the goal is to shoot a building, inside a train station for instance, eliminating people can be done with a couple of dark ND filters.   An exposure taken over a few minutes will result in almost everyone disappearing because they move enough that they don’t register on the long exposure.  Since the building doesn’t move, it is sharp, and empty.  If the goal is shooting water drops, or some other object that is moving quickly, you can use a fairly slow shutter speed and freeze motion with flash.  Small flash works better than studio strobes because the duration is shorter.  They make flash brackets that hold three or four small flash, the shoes are all fairly close and the units radiate out, this makes several little lights into a much larger light, and potentially a much brighter light.  The built-in diffusers cause the flash to zoom to minimum focal length, but you could use plastic diffusion domes to minimize shadows from the individual flashes.  My Nikon umbrella stands are pretty spindly but the stands for my studio strobes are heavier tubing and have a larger footprint.  With heavier stands and no sails to catch wind, you could probably forego sandbags.  If you just want to light from one side, you could forego the stands entirely, some time during a long exposure have your subjects walk into the photo and pose, then hold up the flashes and fire them.  After the flash, your subjects can leave the scene.   You want to aim the flash fairly tightly, so the spill goes out of the picture.  Being outside, reflection should be minimal.

    If you think this could work, instead of just being the ravings of a mad man, you might want to rent the gear for a day or two, to experiment, instead of purchasing it all.  A set of 4 flashes, the brackets and a stand will probably cost around $2500!  There are some inexpensive Chinese flashes that might work well for this and would reduce the cost a lot.  They have a slave mode, so they fire when they see another flash, which could be good or bad in an area with a lot of tourists taking flash photos with their P&S cameras.


    I think the biggest thing that’s helped me is just practicing. When my daughter was born (2 1/2 years ago) I thought I took good pictures, but then I started practicing and my pictures are probably 100 times better than they were then (now I look at those pictures and cringe, lol). And I try to look at tutorials on lighting, or composition, etc- not even photo editing tutorials- and practice the techniques in them as much as possible so I’m always trying to learn something new. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to do that but I’m hoping to start again soon now that I’m not dealing with a baby that doesn’t sleep at night and throwing up from morning sickness 🙂

    I have a family friend that has become a hugely popular wedding photographer over the last couple years, and I’ll never forget when she said it doesn’t matter what you have, you can still learn how to shoot manual, compose, and what makes a good picture before you drop lots of money into it. You can have a $3000 camera and lens and still take crap pictures if you don’t know composition and you just shoot auto all the time.


    @ Cassie – right advice, keep on shooting. Look at your photos and see how to improve them, even down to the most minute detail. Sometimes gear can be a game changer but usually only if it frees up any restrictions that you may have had before, but the camera and lens don’t take pictures by themselves. Trust me, my one camera body was over $7K and it will still take crap photos if you let it.


    I saw this video of a critique by Jared Polin, but some may know hime as Fro Knows Photo. You don’t have to like his work but what I really like about him is his true and honest critiques for other photographers.

    This, to me, is how a lot of critiques should be, an honest assessment of the work with constructive criticism and advice for the photographer to use and learn from. Family and friends are probably the worst for useable criticism of your work, especially if you are starting out and trying to progress.
    We all like to hear when people like or love our work, but also being able to hear why people don’t like our work can be just as good, if not humbling.

    If your interested in seeing this one on one interview critique, click on the link below to go to Jared’s web site.

    Rapid fire Critique


    After explaining the exposure triangle one of the first things I teach new photographers is the importance of depth of field. I have them download a depth of field app on their phone to help them. Why?  Because new photographers almost always buy the 50mm 1.8 because they want pictures with a blurry and dreamy background (their words, not mine). Too many new photographers do not realize you just can’t set your f-stop to 1.8 and expect magic.

    In short- learn depth of field. Put distance between your subject and the background, don’t be afraid to stop down and most importantly, look what’s behind your subject before taking the picture.


    Okay, the Holidays are over and it’s time to get back to business!

    Just got back from Philadelphia and had time to think while on the plane about getting some of my projects off the ground and getting my ass more motivated. With that said, I wanted to share some good tidbits of information I found that may help you.
    I don’t take credit for these, since I did not write them, if you want to see the originals, you can Here.

    10 reasons Your Photos Suck!

    Bad Lighting
    You’re Making Excuses
    Wrong White Balance
    Motion Blur
    Poor Depth of Field
    Shooting at the Wrong Time
    You’re Trying to Impress Others
    Poor Composition
    Too Much Photoshop

    10 Reasons To Critique A Photo

    Where is the visual weight?
    Are there any distracting elements?
    Is the exposure/metering correct?
    Would it look better through a different focal length?
    What is the background doing?
    How is the composition and balance?
    Does the photo require post production?
    Is the color accurate?
    Does the depth of field suit the photo?
    Is the photo cliche?

    10 Photography Clichés You Should Avoid To Improve Your Photography

    Fowers, Pets and Sunsets
    Fake Lens flare
    Vintage iPhone Apps
    Unnecessary black and white
    Selective Color
    Dodgy borders and garnish
    Over-saturated HDR
    The “Dutch Tilt”
    Heavy Vignetting

    Again, I did not write these, but I agree with a lot of them, while others have there place. Feel free to add to them or add your comment.


    I agree with all of those except that flowers/pets/sunsets are a cliche to avoid – they’re just subjects, maybe popular ones, but still any subject can be cliched – it just depends on how original your approach is surely?

    But other than that, thanks Bill, that is a great checklist to have!


    relax and be cool.

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