About technique and more.

Why you should use a meter

I won’t call any names
But again a totally useless and ridiculous video online on why you should not use a lightmeter.

Guys listen
Learn how to use it (it’s incredibly simple, just hold it in front of the area you want correctly lit and take the reading).

No need to take test shots and when you change locations or setups the exposure is always equal so you deliver something that is of constant quality. Which not only doesn’t make you look like an amateur but also shaves off a load of work.

In essence when I take a shot I never have to touch anything in the raw convertor unless I want to for creative purposes or to counteract filters I am using.

A few things that always comes back

1. I don’t know any model that’s 18% gray
No dummy me neither and that’s why you SHOULD use a meter because the camera meters reflective and the meter incident. So first learn how a meter works before telling people this kind of nonsense

2. It kills creativity
Oh please. Just look at my portfolio (not creative?)
It actually helps creativity because you don’t have to mess around with getting your lighting in order. And because with a meter (and colorchecker) you always have the same “perfect” base you can very quickly use the same presets and get consistent results very fast. Meaning more time for creative work.

3. It slows me down
Learn how to use the fricking thing.

4. I always over expose half a stop
Huh….. How do you know how to overexpose half a stop if you don’t meter….. That’s just the dumbest thing ever.

With a meter you get the base reading. If you want to under or overexpose you can still do that. But it’s much faster and consistant.

5. You don’t need it for digital
Lol. Ok so digital changes the whole science of light. You probably also believe that a crop sensor needs a stop extra of light because it’s smaller……

6. I use the histogram
The histogram us useless for proper exposure. It just shows you the values in your shot. If you shoot a snowman in a snowstorm everything is mostly right. When you shoot a black cat in a mine everything is mostly left. That’s about the usability of the histogram. It’s nice to see if you blew out highlights (although that’s also not true because you are judging a jpg thumbnail. Unless you shoot tethered). A histogram never gives you the correct exposure.

7. I am so experienced I can read the light
Yeah sure. And I can see the future.
Look when you use the same strobes in the same setup you can get away with it. But when I look at my work (and most) we always change setups, outputs etc. So good luck “reading” your lights. Trust me that’s just BS. I can get close due to years of experience but close is not good enough and still takes me time to correct. And I don’t want to spend time on correcting. Just get it right in a few seconds

I can go on and on
Listen
A lightmeter is a TOOL nothing more or less.
It doesn’t kill creativity. That is your own choice/problem
It’s just there to get a proper base reading so you know how to get the proper exposure thanks to the diffused value.

It’s nothing more and certainly nothing less
In my opinion every photographer that uses strobes inside or out should use a meter. If they value speed and accuracy.

If you want to look like an amateur messing around with your light and delivering images that vary in exposure and color (colorchecker) be my guest. But don’t make videos with wrong information that thousands of people watch.

Every single reason to NOT use a meter is a lack of knowledge about the meter. And that’s it.

When not to use a meter?
When you can get away with the onboard metering. So events, street and travel etc. Thanks the the evf and display we can get judge our images pretty fast. And if you don’t need the model/subject to look the same in each shot/scene using a meter can slow you down. But when you shoot one model/subject under different conditions the meter will speed up your workflow so much it leaves you plenty of time to be more creative with your final result.

Sorry for the rant but I hate it when people spread false information especially when it’s education. We can disagree on many parts but literally telling people a meter is useless is the biggest BS out there.

Any questions feel free to ask

#alphapro #sekonic #xrite #benq #photography

Guest post : Simon Choi on landscape photography

Seeing most of us that are active with modelphotography are stuck with something else to photography I think a guestblog post (or more, feel free to contact me) about other subjects can be interesting, today Simon Choi…. so take it away.

The Best Aperture For Landscape Photographs
When you are trying to take the best landscape photographs, you are trying to balance sharpness with the scope and breadth of the image. There are a few rules of thumb listed below that you can use, and you can use these tips as you adapt to your style of photography. You can read how other photographers do their work, but you need to find the “sweet spot” that works best for you.

What Is The Basic Rule Of Thumb?
The best aperture for landscape photographs is often f/8 or f/11. This is because photographers have found that these apertures blend a good mix of breadth and focus. You could move to these apertures right away to see if they work, and you can adjust from there. You may want to try a few shots from the f/8 or f/11 aperture. You can look over the shots you have, and you can decide if you like them. You might feel comfortable with one aperture or both. If you do not like the way they look, you can use another rule of thumb that helps photographers everywhere.

Come Back Two Or Three Stops
When you are clicking through the f/stops on your lens, the sharpest picture often comes from the stop two or three from the end. Therefore, if your lens ends at f/11, you should come back to f/8 or f/9 to get the sharpest image. If your lens goes all the way to something like f/14, you can come back to f/11 or f/12.

You can test these stops much like the optometrist does when you get a new prescription. Toggle between the two until you decide which one you like most. This is a better way to get good images because you are not trying to force an image that appears to have been shot by a panoramic camera.

What Happens If You Go Too Wide?
If you go too wide, you will find that the background is too blurry. This is why this article is not using f/4 or even f/2.8 to describe landscape apertures. You will get quite a lot of material in the shot, but only the foreground of the image will be sharp. The background will look like it came from an impressionist painting. However, for certain types of photography where you want some bokeh it can be great. For example, I recommend starting with an f/4 for lensball photography so the image in the lensball is very clear and to have some blur in the background. Lensball photography involves using a crystal ball for creative photography, it is used most commonly for landscape photography.

We are talking about the overall sharpness of the image. You need to move back to something a little bit smaller to get the results you want. You will be able to see all the items in the shot, and the clarity in the images will make it much easier for people to enjoy them.

What If You Use Something That Is Too Narrow?
When you use anything that is too narrow, you might blur anything that is in the foreground. This is might be a good way to make the whole image look nicer, but you could lose some sharpness around the subject itself. You need to balance your focus on all the things in the background of the image with the subject.

It makes much more sense to consider the whole picture before you get started. When you are fixated on just one object, you will lose some of the items that are just as interesting. These photos can be so wide that you will not even notice some of the most interesting parts. Review the area before choosing your lens.

What If You Are Not Getting The Results You Want?
When you are not getting the results you want, you might want to use a technique called focus stacking. You can take different pictures of the same area as you change your lens. You will get different levels of sharpness in different parts of the image, and you can mix them in the editing process. This might be the only way for you to get the results that you want, and you can create images that are nearly impossible to shoot with a standard camera.

Photographers often get frustrated when they are trying to choose the appropriate lens or find the “sweet spot” on the lens. You can use editing to help make your images look better. However, you will get better at finding the “sweet spot” over time.

Conclusion
You should invest some time in finding the sharpest image possible when you want to cover a wide area. Do not go too wide because you will lose any items in the foreground. If you are using something too narrow, you will lose items in the foreground. You do not want to compromise the quality of the images you are shooting, and that is why you need to go through some trial and error until you find the ultimate “sweet spot” on the lens.

Simon Choi is an avid landscape photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. After departing a corporate career in Financial Services and Consulting, Simon pursued his passion for landscape photography, nature and creativity. He started Refractique, an online niche photography retailer which distributes the lensball. 

Hope you guys enjoyed the guestblog, if you have ideas again feel free to contact me and who knows… maybe you’re next.

The Photoshop and Lightroom tutorial

For years I’ve been wanting to record this tutorial but never found the time. I could have done a shorter version but when I do release something I always want it to be as complete as possible.

So during the “lockdown” I decided it was time to create the tutorial you guys have been asking me for for years 🙂

After hours of recording and editing I’m proud to present my brand new tutorial about Photoshop and Lightroom.

In 7 hours and 30 minutes I take you through almost every trick and technique I know in Photoshop and Lightroom.

The tutorial is aimed at both the beginners and medium to advanced photographer/retoucher with information on the tools within Photoshop but also with tips for vintage looks, skin retouching, bringing pores back into overretouched skin, smoothing backgrounds, my favorite gear and plugins, quick tips and longer tips. It’s all there.

You can get it now at www.frankdoorhof.com/videos
For the low price of EU99 !!!!

A distant modelshoot in a time of social/physical distancing

One might say we woke up in a “bad” sci-fi or horror movie.
No more going outside for a lot of people, no more photoshoots, no more….. well in the Netherlands we are “happy” that at least we are not in a full 100% lockdown but still have some things we are allowed to do. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those protesters that believe the government is keeping us inside for other reasons. Trust me if they want the damage to the economy to be limited they will open up as soon as possible, if your country does not yet open up, don’t do it yourself, this is a virus we are fighting with each other not an enemy you can see.

So of course one of the things I miss most is doing photoshoots. I know some people still do it, but I think that’s irresponsible, you have to move to the location, there is a huge chance of infection during that travel or on location, if you do it in your studio you have to clean literally everything and they still don’t know for sure how long the virus will be active in a room where there is little to no ventilation, in fact they already know it can be spread via the HVAC system, so you might not infect yourself but maybe someone in that building. So just don’t take the risk.

To show you guys that you can do photoshoots even without leaving your home my friend Andy set up this special photoshoot (and all credits go to him for this).

Andy is a dear friend of us, but he lives app. 6000 miles away. So talk about keeping your distance.
Andy is also a photographer, but also a good looking dude, so he came up with the idea to do a long distance photoshoot. And with todays technology this is of course very possible.

 

Our setup.
During the lightsetup I switched between the small camera and the desktop. So for the shoot the desktop was large and for setting up the lights I switched the two cameras so I could clearly see what was going on.

So what did we do?
Andy put his camera on a tripod and connected it to his laptop via a Tethertools cable of course.
Thanks to Capture One I was able to switch between shooting modes, settings and very importantly live view (without live view forget about this).

One camera (from his laptop) we set up so I could see most of the room, this made it easy to see where the lights were placed and give directions to how to angle the lights. Of course Andy was able to do the metering and place the lights.

As soon as everything was setup I switched over to the live view mode inside of Capture One and posed Andy. Now to be honest when we started this shoot I didn’t expect it to go as smooth as it actually did. For the “meeting” software we used ZOOM, but you can also use Skype or any other software that supports both taking over someones desktop and using a camera at the same time. Zoom actually worked like a charm (this was my first time using Zoom).

When everything was set up correctly I could see Andy posing via the live view and getting the shadows right was easy. When I started this my initial idea was to just use flat lighting, this is easier to get a good shot, but when we saw how smooth the connection was we just immediately went for the more contrasty lighting. Now I have to add Andy was a real champ and stayed exactly the way that I told him, there is always a slight delay between shots and directions but in all honesty it felt almost instant, so this is without a doubt usable.

Now in real life I can make better shots, will experiment a bit more with different positions, fine tune the light, freak a bit more with flares etc. but I have to be honest for a remote shoot this was not only a boat load of fun (thanks buddy) but the results aren’t that bad either, in fact if you take more time for it (we did a session of 30 minutes) I think you could do some really cool stuff.

So what do you need?
Make sure you connect your camera via USB to your laptop/tablet.
Make sure you use software that can show you the live view of your camera, for example Capture One.
Place one camera that can see the whole room and use this as the standard “webcam”
Use software that is pretty solid in the connection and has the option to take over someone’s desktop, you have to have mouse control.
The software you use to make the connection has to support also the option that both the desktop AND camera stay active
Make sure the software makes it possible to see both the desktop and the extra camera

Now if you want to go fancy (and who doesn’t)
You can use a dedicated videocamera and connect that to your desktop. We use a blackmagic HDMI to USB device for this and in our home studio a Magewell HDMI to USB device. Both do the same thing, they get a HDMI signal from your camera and convert it to something your desktop sees as an extra camera in “all” software. It replaces the often bad webcams and gives you more room to move it around and show the room.

And… well that’s about it.
After the shoot Andy send the files to me and I retouched them to show you guys the results today.

There is one thing that was a bit more difficult than expected. In real life you see everything in 3D, in other words you see depth. On a screen this is highly reduced, this made setting up the accent light for example much more tricky than normal, but in the end we got one shot out of it, I wanted to play more with that but Andy’s room was pretty bright and small so the light scatter was very hard to control, so we opted for the more darker looks 🙂