Quantity of Light is not the same as Quality of Light: Part 2

quantity-of-light-is-not-the-same-as-quality-of-light-part-2

I’m here to dispel a myth. Quantity of light isn’t the same as quality of light.

There’s a common misconception that the more light you have, the better your photo will be. But an accomplished photographer knows the difference between ‘quantity of light’ and ‘quality of light’.

In my first post in this series, I shared some tips on using reflectors on your shoots. In this post, we’re going to talk about when to use flash. Get ready to break out your strobes. Here we go…

I once worked with a photographer who told me, “I never use flash!” His way of dealing with low light situations was to crank up his ISO and open his aperture as wide as he could – usually f/1.2 or f/1.4 in rooms with very little ambient light. Why is this a bad idea? Well, it depends on what type of result you want to get.

If you want …

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Quantity of Light is not the same as Quality of Light: Part 1

casey-fatchett-photography062

I’m here to dispel a myth. Quantity of light isn’t the same as quality of light.

There’s a common misconception that the more light you have, the better your photo will be. But an accomplished photographer knows the difference between ‘quantity of light’ and ‘quality of light’.

Here’s a great example of this myth in action: a client calls you to schedule a portrait session. Immediately, they think (out loud), “Let’s do our portrait session at NOON because that’s when there’s a lot of light!”

Of course, this is actually one of the worst times of day for portraits, because the direct overhead light is very harsh. Early morning and late afternoon (the ‘golden hours’) are much better, because the light is more complimentary and doesn’t cast harsh shadows on the subject’s face.

But how can you overcome harsh light in the middle of the day? Well, the easiest and cheapest way to handle …

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The Sandwich Method

the-sandwich-method

Want to hear about one of my favorite recipes of light? It looks like a million bucks, yet doesn’t cost much. And it’s yummy.

It’s called “The Sandwich Method.”

When I stumble on this kind of glamour lighting setup, especially in an abandoned railroad car, you might hear white- fronted capuchin monkey sounds like, “Ooo ooo ooo!” I admit, my clients don’t quite understand my ecstatic enthusiasm…until I show them their photograph in said lighting conditions! See? A picture really is worth a thousand words!

I discovered this natural-lighting scenario when shooting my clients’ (Scott & Alyssa) portrait session. What an awesome discovery! I couldn’t have set my Alien Bees up to make this look any better; that’s the beauty of natural light.

What amazed me most was the sheer quality of light, which was on par with a studio lighting setup, in an unsuspecting location. This is a great reminder to keep your …

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On Location Lighting with Speedlites, Part 2 – Weddings

© Casey Fatchett - www.fatchett.com

Some photographers have an aversion to using a flash. A photographer who once assisted me on weddings told me that he “never needed to use a flash.” Instead, he preferred to open the aperture as wide as it would go, and crank up the ISO! The problem is that you’ll end up with lots of noise in your photos and your depth of field is so small that if your subject moves slightly, you risk them being out of focus. Your flash is a tool – whether you use it all the time or sparingly, you should know when and how to use it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll shoot with available light as long as it’s ACTUALLY available and produces a great image. Unfortunately, though, that’s not always the case. The simple solution is to bounce the flash off the ceiling or a wall to soften and diffuse it. I …

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On Location Lighting With Speedlites Part 1 – Portraits

© Casey Fatchett Photography - www.fatchett.com

I like to travel light. Maybe it’s because I spent many years working without an assistant. Also, as I grow older, I don’t really like carrying a lot of equipment. You know what I mean, right? Aches and pains aren’t fun. So, instead of hauling hundreds of pounds of studio lighting equipment I decided that I would create a system for using my speedlites whenever I had to go on location – whether it’s for weddings, portraits, headshots, or fashion shoots.

Here’s what I use on my shoots:

• Speedlite (or two, depending on the size of the group or if you want a rim light) • Wireless Trigger (I use a Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5) • Light Modifier (beauty dish, softbox, umbrella, etc.) • Light Stand (or even just a monopod). I have even held the flash away from the camera with one hand in a pinch. The most important thing …

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Big Lights: One Solution to a Midday Wedding

It’s the middle of the summer, you get your questionnaire back from your couple and it reads, “Ceremony 11:30-12, cocktail hour and group photos of our 16-person bridal party from 12-1.” Panic. Or at least that’s how I felt when I first saw this message a few years ago. Then, I started praying for clouds and shade.

Obviously, clouds and shade would make this an easier task, opening up infinite possibilities. Obviously the weather gods don’t always cooperate though, and as professionals we must be prepared to deal with the light we’re given. The excuse, “It was too sunny, that’s why your photos are ugly,” doesn’t make sense to non-photographer clients. And it’s just unacceptable.

This summer, though, when confronted with this exact situation, I had a solution. Big lights. Lots of power.

Let me preface this next paragraph with the following – this is what works for me, and it’s a look my clients …

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Inspired by an Old Master: The Importance of Lighting

Sometimes you should stop looking at photographs. Look to other artists for inspiration, especially the old masters. Touring the Rembrandt exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art recently reminded me of the importance of three things:

His lighting style stands the test of time. No fad, here. Most people have heard of it. There’s something to be said about a technique that has stood the test of time by a few hundreds years. It’s good to know that wedding photography today won’t be shunned in 50 years. He shared as much as he created in painting schools. Like, he had ‘followers.’ His creative school shaped his vision. This blog shapes mine. I’m a proponent of the philosophy “Create. Share. Sustain.” He created portraits of people flattered in their best light. This benefits both painters and photographers. The human face responds best to specific types of light. Rembrandt’s trademark triangle of light on the cheek …

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Dramatic Dusk Shots: How To Create Them

Shooting photos at dusk can be tricky, but understanding a few things about lighting will give your images depth and a 3-dimensional quality.

The main goal is to bring the brightness of your subjects in the foreground close to the brightness of the background. This is best accomplished by using a dedicated strobe, since they are able to output high-level light from a small, portable package.

Step 1: Set Your Background Exposure.

It’s best to use the manual exposure settings on your camera because any auto modes will attempt to balance the lightest and darkest areas of the image. Meter off the brighter part of the scene and leave the shutter set. Start with an ISO of 400.

Step 2: Add light to your subjects.

Today’s dedicated strobes deliver accurate exposures when using their E-TTL (through the lens) auto-metering mode. In this mode, dedicated strobes are designed to flash enough light for your given aperture …

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A Real Life Review of Pocketwizards

This started as a real life review of Pocketwizards.

Basically it said, “Pocketwizards are bulletproof and if you know the tricks, they work over 95% of the time.” And then last weekend happened. Over the course of two weddings, three of my eight wizards broke.

One of them – a Mini TT1 model – broke during the rainiest and most humid wedding of the year. I accidentally overtightened the plastic shoe and by the time I realized it, the humidity and overcranking combined to cause the Pocketwizard‘s plastic shoe to jump off its track. Over the next day and a half, I managed to drop a Flex TT5 model, snapping the plastic off of its shoe, and then the battery door on another Flex TT5 snapped off completely. I’m still not sure how that happened.

Thankfully, I had backup gear, and aside from some minor frustrations, the shoots continued without a hitch. I shipped the …

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Wedding Day Portraits, Part 2: Quick & Dirty Solutions to a Common Challenge

Rarely are we handed THE perfect wedding day (at least not in New England!). We’re always going to face challenges. Try as you may to help clients and advise them as they plan their wedding timeline, more often than not, wedding photography is as much about problem solving as it is about capturing moments. As in, how can I make this situation as beautiful as possible, given the conditions I’m facing?

Rather than try to think of every possible variable that could go wrong, I’ve picked a common situation that often challenges me and described ways I’ve dealt with it in the past. As with all my articles, it’s not rocket science, but hopefully you can take away one or two tidbits that will help you problem solve in a pinch!

Harsh Light & Midday Sun

No matter how hard you try to advise a client that mid-day might not necessarily be the …

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