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Photo Tutorials

Wireless Flash Triggers Compared

Here’s my breathless 10-minute rundown of all the current contenders for radio-triggering your off-camera flashes.

This is an update of the information contained in my course, “How to Shoot Professional-Looking Headshots and Portraits on a Budget with Small Flashes.”

This technology is changing fast, practically daily, so I’ll make periodic updates available as things evolve.

I hope you find it helpful, and I welcome your feedback or stories of your own experience with any of this gear.

Off-Camera Flash Photography – How and Why

If you own a detachable Speedlite-style flash, and you are shooting with it on your camera, you are wasting your investment in that expensive flash.

Face it, on-camera flash sucks. It drains the life out of your subject and makes everyone look like they are posing for a police line-up or a driver’s license photo.

You gotta get that flash off your camera!

The video above is my YouTube “commercial” for my off-camera flash course. Frankly I don’t know if it’s cheesy or if it’s cool, but I had fun making it, and people seem to love it on YouTube, so I thought I’d share it with you here.

Hard Rock Model Shoot (Video)

It’s not every day you get to have this much fun.  Photographer Brad Mahler booked a suite at the Hard Rock Hotel, lined up some great models, and invited me to join him for a day of shooting.  How could I say no?  Check out this video for a behind-the-scenes look at the whole process.

By the way, if you’re a gear geek you’ll notice the difference between our lighting setups.  Brad is using his big Alien Bees studio lights, while I’m using my favorite small-flash setup, shooting Canon Speedlites through umbrellas. You’ll see me using both the Canon wireless (master/slave) system, when I need one light, and radio triggers when I need two lights.

If you’d like to know exactly how all this works, you can get the full story in my new 9-video course called “How to Shoot Professional-Looking Headshots and Portraits on a Budget Using Small Flashes.”

That’s my first video product, and I’m pretty damn excited about it, so if you think it sounds interesting, check it out, or at least hit one of the social media links below and share this video with your friends!

Speedlite Headshots: Stephany

Speelite headshot 1

Click to enlarge

I just shot a headshot session with a lovely San Diego jewelry designer named Stephany.  These were done in my own living room with a combination of window light and Canon speedlite flash (off-camera, of course).

If you’d like to see larger versions, plus some additional shots from this session, click any photo.

These were shot as part of the practice sessions for my online video course “How to Shoot Headshots and Portraits on a Budget Using Small Flashes” in which I explain exactly how I do these shots with minimal equipment.

Speedlite headshot 2

Click to enlarge

Speedlite headshot 3

Click to enlarge

Be Your Own Flash Test Dummy

Self Portrait

Self portrait in my living room

It’s about freakin’ time.  For years I’ve pestered family members, friends, and occasionally even strangers to stand in while I’m testing a lighting setup or indluging some photographic whim that requires a human subject in front of the lens.

Thus I’ve gradually trained all the people nearest me to duck out the back door if they see me coming with a camera in hand.  “Sorry, dude, gotta run.  I think my parking meter is about to expire.”

So what’s a photographer to do? I have a constant need to test lighting setups, particularly those involving multiple radio-triggered flashes, which require delicate adjustment to get the right balance.  I like to know how these things are going to look before I try it out in the field. When it comes time for the actual shoot, I don’t want to force the talent, or the client, to sit through this agonizing process of tweaking. (more…)

Video: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom Workflow

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Box

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is the premiere photo managment software for digital photographers.  It can handle your entire photo workflow from importing images, to organizing, editing, printing, and exporting to websites like Picasa, Flickr, or your own custom-made web galleries.

I just created a free 23-minute video tutorial illustrating the process of working in Lightroom. If you’re considering buying Lightroom, or if you’re a new Lightroom owner looking to get more out of the software, this video is for you.

In this tutorial, I walk you step-by-step through my own Lightroom workflow, narrating as I process a set of photos from camera import through organizing, renaming, editing, and exporting as a fully-functional flash web gallery.

If you’re curious about Lightroom, I invite you to check it out on my photo tutorials page.

See Lightroom at

How to Take Better Photos at Burning Man (and Beyond!)

Burning Man Art ProjectThe annual Burning Man festival held in the Nevada desert is a photographer’s dream:  A surreal landscape populated by bizarre machines, monstrous, mind-boggling art projects, and the world’s most outrageously costumed characters all trying to outdo each other with sheer creativity.  Each year approximately 50,000 people attend this weeklong event, and for many photographers it is the annual pilgrimage not to be missed. (more…)

New Year’s Eve Party Challenge: How to Shoot an Event in a Dark Warehouse

New Years Eve Party - Painted GirlIf you’d like to view the photos before reading about it, see New Year’s Eve Party. (Warning: Some are slightly NSFW, no nudity, but there are some, um, colorful people here).

It’s the worst possible conditions for photography: a vast, crowded warehouse, minimal light, and no ceiling to bounce a flash from.  But somehow we’ve gotta light this scene!  We know that on-camera flash sucks and will make everything look flat and washed out like a DMV driver’s license photo. So my first inclination is to carry a wireless-triggered speedlite in my outstretched left hand while shooting with the camera in my right.  That would get a nice angle on the light and make everyone pretty.

But this is New Year’s Eve.  I’m wearing a tux, and a speedlite won’t fit in my pocket, and besides, I want to keep one hand free to embrace friends or carry a cocktail.

The solution? (more…)

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