Friday, October 30, 2020

Engagement portraits: Chasing the light in Lake Tahoe

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to join my brother and his family in Lake Tahoe, CA for a couple days of relaxation. Since I am not very good at the whole relaxation thing, and since my nephew and his finance were due for some engagement photos, we decided to make use of the beautiful location to capture their photos. 

Capturing portraits in a new environment is always a challenge, even in a pretty place like this. I had to figure out where we would take the photos and determine the best times for optimum lighting. As always I try to keep my setup very simple with a Canon R6, two lenses (Canon 70-200mm and Canon 24-105mm), and a couple of Canon 600EX-RT flashes. I thought that this would make an interesting blog post for all of you, with me explaining how I determined the shooting locations, compositions, posing and lighting.  

Let's start with the scouting on the day before we took the portraits...


I arrived at the cabin around 3pm, just in time for Stephanie (the bride to be) and I to drive out to a location that she and my nephew (Dean) really liked. I brought my camera with me to do some test shots. Since these were just test shots for composition, I did not bring any flashes and only shot using available light. But I knew that we could do more with the right lighting equipment during the real shoot.


We walked around this rocky area and I looked for good foreground and backgrounds. 

I looked for interesting patterns and leading lines. Looking at the location of the setting sun, I determined that this would be a good spot for late day portraits.

The next morning we decided to drive into Tahoe City to see if there were any good locations there. I didn't see anything special, but decided that we might find some nice spots along the Truckee River. After driving for no more than 10 minutes, I saw this location from the road and pulled over to test it out.

(Canon R6, Canon 70-200mm lens, ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1)

The morning sun was facing towards me, so I had Stephanie and Dean turn their backs to the sun. This kept the sunlight off of their faces, but still backlit their hair. I liked what I was seeing in the Canon R6 viewfinder, and so they changed into their nicer clothes for our first real portraits of the day.

(Canon R6Canon 70-200mm lens, ISO 160, f/7.1, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1)

For these photos, I decided to keep it very simple, with an on-camera Canon 600EX-RT flash which was powered down to -1. This added just the right amount of fill flash to light the couple and keep them from being silhouetted. 

(Canon R6Canon 70-200mm lens, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1)

We moved to a couple of different spots and I shot both tight and wide. In this photo, I chose to shoot using the rule of thirds, keeping them off center. Once again, I made sure that they had their backs to the sun and added light from the on-camera flash.

(Canon R6Canon 70-200mm lens, ISO 320, f/3.2, 1/160 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1)

We drove around looking for other locations, but since the sun was getting high in the sky, the choices were limited. I did find this one tree by the edge of the lake and had some fun photographing them in between the branches.

(Canon R6Canon 70-200mm lens, ISO 320, f/3.2, 1/160 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1)

Whenever I take portraits, I try come up with a lot of different "looks" for my clients (or in this case, my relatives). 

Since the mid-day light was not optimum for portraits, we took a long lunch break before heading back to the Sand Harbor Beach (the rocky area we visited the day before) around 5pm.

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 200, f/9, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash)

On this visit, I came with my sister-in-law (Kath) who was nice enough to hold a couple of Canon 600EX-RT off-camera flashes and be my voice activated light stand. 

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/800 sec)

I told Dean and Stephanie that we would be chasing the light for the next 90 minutes.  We were walking all over the place and climbed some of the rocks. I saw them at the top of a rock and saw the golden sunlight on their faces. I knew that I could not get a nice shot of them looking at me, since they would be squinting, looking directly into the sun. To solve this,  I had them look out to the side. 

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 640, f/14, 1/200 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash)

We were walking down this pathway when I saw the sun setting behind the trees. I knew that this would be a great time to change my camera to a narrow aperture (f/14) and create the starburst effect for the sun in the background. 

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 640, f/11, 1/160 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash)

Once we got around the bend, I used the golden sunlight to backlight my subjects. Kath was standing behind me with one of the flashes to light them.

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 640, f/16, 1/125 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash)

Once again I changed the camera settings to a narrow aperture (this time f/16) for the starburst effect for the setting sun.

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 640, f/16, 1/125 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash)

I moved behind Dean and Stephanie to position the sun to either side of them and in between them. And then...seconds later the sun was gone.

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 1000, f/9, 1/125 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1)

The lack of direct sunlight gave us a chance to shoot portraits in flat light. We went to a nearby rock formation and took some photos there.

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 1000, f/7.1, 1/125 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -1)

I photographed them in many different poses, with the wedding save-the-date sign and without. 

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 1000, f/11, 1/125 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash)

We were just about to leave the rocks when I looked up them and saw these clouds in the sky. The clouds were being lit in this pink color by the sun below the horizon. I got down low to the ground (so that the clouds would be directly behind them), put the camera in manual mode, and changed the settings to under expose the background. I had Kath point both of the Canon 600EX-RT flashes at them, to light them and keep them from being silhouetted.

At that point, I thought we were done. I packed up my gear and we headed back towards the parking lot. 

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 1000, f/9, 1/125 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash)

The pathway to the parking lot went parallel to the beach, and seeing the sunset, they asked if I could take a couple more photos of them there. It was getting really dark, but I knew that this could yield some nice shots as long as I could achieve focus on them. I asked Kath to get close to them and light them with her cell phone light, so that I could lock focus on their faces. Then I had her stand behind me and slightly to my right to light them with the Canon flashes.

(Canon R6Canon RF24-105mm lens, ISO 1000, f/9, 1/125 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash)

A couple more poses and we were done! 

It was a long day of smiling for Dean and Stephanie, a fun and challenging day for me, and educational for my sister-in-law (who got a quick education on lighting). The end result were a bunch of nice photos for them to have for their save-the-date card and so much more. And now they are prepared for the photography marathon that will happen on their wedding day!

I hope that this gives you an idea of how I took the portraits and inspires you to do the same (or better). 


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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

__________________________________________________________________________ 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

NEW VIDEO: Simple retouching of a photo to take it from good to great (or at least - much better)!

There are people out there who believe that a good photo taken right out of the camera is good enough. In my 15 years of being a photographer, I have found that almost every photo I have taken needs at least a little tweaking to make it stand out. In this new video I want to show you how just making simple adjustments can take a good photo and make it much better.

You can click this image to open the video in YouTube

In this video, I start with Photo Mechanic and then use Adobe Camera Raw to make adjustments to the exposure, shadows, highlights and color balance. After I finish with ACR, I go into Adobe Photoshop to show you how I remove distractions and generally improve a photo. All these tips are really simple, and easy for anyone to master.

As always, my goal in producing this and my other videos is to help you improve your photos and help you learn. I hope this video meets that goal.


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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

__________________________________________________________________________ 

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Costa Rica rain forest photo tour is ON for next month!

Are you tired of being stuck at home and not being creative? We are heading to the rain forest of Costa Rica in 3 weeks! It will be safe, fun, and full of great photo opportunities. 


You can find more information on the trip HERE

We have room for four more people on this photo tour if you are interested. Contact me immediately at jeff@jeffcable.com

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Recommended camera settings for your Canon R5 and R6

There is a ton of excitement as so many people are finally receiving their new Canon R5 and Canon R6 cameras. I was one of the lucky ones to have these cameras before they were released to the public, and have a lot of time to play with them. During this time I was able to put the cameras to test in my day-to-day photography jobs and determine the optimum settings. As it turns out, the combination of changes made to the menus, button and dials made a huge impact on the overall usability of the cameras.

Even though not all settings work for all people in all conditions, I wanted to share all of these with you, so that you too can have the camera set up for the best possible image capturing. I will go through these recommendations in the order of the camera menus.

Here are my recommended settings:

Image quality: I recommend shooting in RAW or CRAW format. RAW is always the best quality, but if you are shooting a ton of images in burst mode, you might like to shoot in CRAW since the image quality is comparable to RAW and the file sizes are much smaller. You can read about this in this blog post. The biggest difference between RAW and CRAW is the ability to manipulate the image in post production. If you are planning on making major adjustments to the shadows and highlights of your images, you will probably want to shot in RAW to get the most detail possible.

ISO speed settings: Change your Minimum speed to L(50) so that if you are ever in a situation where you are wanting to slow your shutter speed (water, motion panning), you can go slower than ISO 100. ISO 100 is still cleaner than ISO 50 but there are times when you want to kill more of the ambient light in the scene. I do not ever default to this ISO, but I like the ability to roll down to this setting when the need arrises.

Release shutter without card: Turn this OFF. Why would you want to shoot images without a memory card? (Note: I wish that Canon would default this off.)

AF method: I change this depending on what I am photographing, but mostly use the face detection since it is so good. It is either face detection or Spot AF with little in between.

Subject to detect: I leave this on "People" since I mostly photograph people. When I am photographing animals, I will change this setting.

AF Case: I have defaulted the camera to "Auto" as per a recommendation from my technical contact at Canon. So far this has proven to be excellent, with no need to change the setting to anything else. 


AF method selection control - Change this to the 2nd option which is just the dial. This will allow you to easily swap back and forth between face detection and spot AF with the top dial. (Thanks to Bob Davis for this tip!)


Orientation linked AF point - Change this to the second option so that the camera will automatically move the default focus point depending on how you are holding the camera (portrait or landscape).


Highlight alert - I recommend changing this to "Enable" so that when you are reviewing images on the LCD, you can see if portions of your image are blown out.

Record func+card/folder sel  - I always shoot CRAW images to both card slots. For this reason, I change the second Record options (Stills images) to "Rec. to multiple". 

File name - This is not a requirement, by I do prefer to change my file names to identify the camera I am shooting with. You can change your User setting1 to something that makes sense to you. I will put my initials and what camera I am using. So for the Canon R6, it might be "JCR6".


Auto rotate - I always change my Canon cameras to the middle option in this menu. This shows the images shot in portrait mode full screen as opposed to a small portion of the screen in landscape mode. Note: it still rotates the images correctly on my computer.

Date/Time/Zone - I know that this may seem obvious, but make sure to set your camera to the correct date, time and time zone. It is also a good idea to periodically check all your cameras to keep this clock in sync with your other cameras if you are using more than one. 

Custom buttons - I have been using Back Button Focusing (BBF) for so many years that I am just used to shooting this way. With the new face and eye detection of the R5 and R6, this is not as critical. But when I switch to Spot AF, I still prefer BBF. For this reason I change this setting to the top option which is "Shutter button half-press Metering start".

Customize dials - One of the great things about the Canon R5 and Canon R6 cameras is that you can change the functions of almost all the buttons and dials. I have found that the best way (and most similar to previous cameras) is to set up my dials in this order:

* AV (top front)

* ISO (top back)

* TV (back dial)

* Metering (Control ring)


My Menu: This is one of the most unused menus of the Canon cameras and also one of the best. Honestly, it is the most used menu by me. This can be found under the green star and allows you to customize this menu for your most used options. 

I have added the following to my Canon R6 camera:

* Image quality

* Subject to detect

* Highlight alert (in case I want to turn off the blinkies when showing images to a client)

* Record func+folder sel.

* Format card

* Beep (for those times when I want to turn off the beep if I am shooting in a quiet room)


As I mentioned earlier, I have found that the combination of all these modifications has been ideal for me, and that, with these settings the camera performs beautifully in almost all conditions. I hope that these settings help you to get better photos as well. 


__________________________________________________________________________
Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

__________________________________________________________________________ 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Two new videos: Interview with Steve Wozniak and a tutorial video on fill flash

I have added two new videos to my YouTube channel this week. 

The first video is the interview with Steve Wozniak (the inventor and founder of Apple) which was recorded last Thursday afternoon. We had so many people that some were not able to connect up with us live. Luckily the entire segment was recorded. 

It was a rare chance for people to see Woz in an informal setting, sharing his stories about the early days of digital imaging and more. 


You can click on the image above to watch the video. I know you will enjoy it. 

WHEN YOU ARE ON THE YOUTUBE CHANNEL, DON'T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE!

The second video is much shorter but briefly explains how and why I use my flash when shooting portraits outside in daylight. 

You can click on the image above to watch this video.  

I hope you find both the videos entertaining and informative.

__________________________________________________________________________
Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

__________________________________________________________________________ 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

It is that time of year again - time for senior portraits!

This is a crazy time for all of us, but for all the kids who are currently seniors in high school, this is an even crazier time. They are starting their final year of high school studying remotely and wondering if, like the previous graduating class, they will have a graduation and prom. There is so much uncertainty that it is hard for them and their parents. 

The good news is that we can still give them that sense of accomplishment and a little bit of normalcy by capturing their senior portraits for them and their families. Last Saturday I met up with one of my previous clients to photograph their son, Sam, to celebrate his senior year. 

The week prior to portrait session, we decided on a date, time and location. We decided that the Stanford campus would be a great place to take his portraits since it offers a great variety of settings and lighting. We also talked about Sam and what he wanted in the photos. He is really into skateboarding and wanted a really informal photo shoot, including some photos of him and his board.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 100mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/125th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

We met at Stanford in the late afternoon, and since the sun was still bright outside, we started by taking some "warm up shots" under the arched walkways.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 160mm, ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/200th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

The great thing about this location is that by moving 10 feet in either direction, there is a completely different look to the portraits. I saw this railing and asked Sam to lean on it and relax. He took care of the rest with that killer smile. I was shooting these photos with the new Canon R6 (mounted with the Canon 70-200mm lens) and letting the camera handle the focusing on the eyes, which was spot-on every time!

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 120mm, ISO 160, f/2.8, 1/125th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

Once Sam got used to being in front of the camera (and seeing what I was capturing of him), I asked him to grab his skateboard but some poses. Having the skateboard in the shot really helped with the posing. It gives him a great object to lean on and also gives him a place for his hands.  

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/250th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

We walked around the campus looking for good locations and lighting. I saw this bench in a shaded area and asked him to go "hang out" there for a couple of photos.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 100, f/5, 1/250th sec, Flash at +1 ETTL)

I saw these columns with their shadows being cast on the ground and I thought it would be a fun place for a portrait. Sam sat down with his skateboard, so I sat down as well (to be at the same eye level as him). I had to use my Canon 600EX-RT flash to add light to Sam, since without it, he would have been silhouetted by the bright light behind him. 

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 16-35mm lens at 28mm, ISO 160, f/13, 1/200th sec, Flash at +1 ETTL)

I saw this archway of greenery and thought that it would make a nice natural frame with Sam and the Hoover Tower in the background. This time I used the Canon 5D Mark IV, since I already had a wide angle lens mounted on that camera. For this photo, I was in manual mode and metered the Canon 5D Mark IV for the background. Then once I had the proper exposure for the background I used the Canon 600EX-RT flash to light Sam. 

(Canon R6 70-200mm lens at 145mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/200th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

Sam's mom was nice enough to bring different outfits for Sam so that we would have a variety of looks for him. I went back to the Canon R6 and Canon 70-200mm lens for these portraits.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 145mm, ISO 320, f/2.8, 1/160th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

When I am taking senior portraits like this, I am constantly looking for different "looks" so that the family has a lot of variety to choose from. I saw this brownstone wall and liked the fact that it was a solid and muted background. Sam changed into his blue sweatshirt which really popped against the muted walls.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 90mm, ISO 320, f/2.8, 1/350th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

He also changed into a green sweatshirt, so we did some more portraits of him wearing this outfit by the columns. 

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 150mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/160th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)


I love the repeating lines of these columns, with Sam slightly off center. The repeating lines of the columns helps to draw your eye right to Sam.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 16-35mm lens at 16mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/100th sec, Flash at +1 ETTL)


As we were finishing up, I saw that the light was perfect on the face of the church in the main quad of the campus. I thought that this would make for a really cool wide shot of Sam. I switched back to the Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 16-35mm wide angle lens, got down low to the ground and asked Sam to come and stand right in front of me. I used the wide angle distortion to make Sam look bigger and more prominent in the frame.

Thinking that this was our final shot, I packed up my gear and we starting walking back to our cars...

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 16-35mm lens at 16mm, ISO 1000, f/7.1, 1/1600th sec, Flash ETTL w/High Speed Sync)



...but then I saw Sam get on his skateboard and jump over these stairs. I realized that we HAD to have that shot. I used the same wide angle setup (with flash) and prefocused about 6 feet out from where I was sitting. I showed Sam where I wanted him to jump and BAM, we got this final shot.

We had a ton of fun and they have a whole bunch of photos for Sam's yearbook, framed photos at the house and maybe even a photo book.  



__________________________________________________________________________
Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

__________________________________________________________________________ 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Two BIG announcements for next week!

Next week I have two really BIG events to share with you all. 


On Tuesday, the 22nd at 5pm (Pacific time) I will be presenting a class on wildlife photography for Creative Photo Academy (virtually of course). I will be speaking about camera settings, composition and other tricks to help you capture incredible images for yourself. I will be sharing images from Africa, Costa Rica, India and here at home, to help you learn how I captured them.

You can sign up for the class here: https://creativephotoacademy.com/events/jeff-cable-wildlife/

And then on Thursday, the 24th at 1pm...

...I will be hosting another Zoom Get Together. This one has a VERY special guest, none other than STEVE WOZNIAK! It's true, The Woz is going to be on live with us. Not only did he create Apple Computer, he is also a good friend and had a huge influence on my photography career. Yes, it was Woz who gave me my first digital cameras and inspired me to capture images in my life. We will share that story and talk about technology, digital cameras and answer your questions.

If you have not signed up to be on the Zoom calls, you can do so here: https://bit.ly/3c86Jmc

Once you have signed up, I will add you to the list and email you the Zoom invitation.


__________________________________________________________________________
Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

__________________________________________________________________________