Pain Relief courtesy of PocketWizard

Now before every shoot I’m quite meticulous about meeting up with the client a few times to discuss exactly what they’re looking for and will scout out suitable locations however, that wasn’t to be the case for a recent Family Photo Shoot…

You see this particular shoot came in as a matter of urgency with a tight deadline, and not only that there was a time limit on the shoot itself i.e. 1 hour which included meeting the guys for the first time and location scouting! So the pressure was on but to add to this, out of the 4 guys I was shooting, one was in a serious amount of discomfort with his Wisdom Teeth and another had developed a stiff neck.

So…what to do???

Regular readers of this blog will know that when it comes to using ‘off camera’ flash I’m a Manual Shooter all the way…period! It’s how I prefer to shoot because of the consistency in exposure it gives me from shot to shot which in turn means working faster, so you would expect that seeing as I was on a tight time schedule and 2 of the 4 guys I was shooting were in a considerable amount of pain, that I’d stick to what I know, right?

Well I kind of did by using a single Nikon SB800 and 60″ Shoot-Thru Umbrella but for some strange reason decided to give the PocketWizard Flex and Mini’s [Link] a run in TTL…what could possibly go wrong???

Well nothing it would seem! You see the PocketWizards worked flawlessly with no misfires and despite a few variances in exposure which were very quickly corrected using the AC3 Zone Controller, the guys’ pain and suffering was kept to a minimum…in more ways than one:)

Talking of the AC3 Zone Controller [Link] I’d be really interested to hear from any of you folks that have one with regards to how you are mainly using it…TTL or Manual? Before I got hold of a unit I was using the new PocketWizard Mini and Flex units in combination with the Nikon SU800 [Link] which worked really well but I know from previous comments here on the blog and through forums, that some people have experienced strange behaviours with it…how about you?

Nothing ground breaking here when it comes to lighting…just keeping it really simply with a single Nikon SB800 and 60″ Shoot-Thru Umbrella…

With regards to the future I’m definitely going to be making more use of the PocketWizard AC3 Zone Controller simply because of the speed the whole set up allows me to work at but one thing that won’t change is working in Manual Mode. You see despite the advances in technology with TTL etc, I still prefer working in Manual because I know that 100% of the time I’m going to be getting consistent exposures from shot to shot.


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  • June 30, 2011 - 5:27 am

    Jim - Isn’t the AC3 just the bee’s knees?

    I tend to stick to manual as well, just for the level of control. But honestly the ‘A’ mode is just as controllable; one little turn of the dial and you over-ride the TTL settings up or down. What you do have to think of is that this is going to make another light (or group of lights) fire differently as well.

    In your example above, of course, this makes absolutely no difference.

    Good Light,


  • June 30, 2011 - 7:20 am

    DaveT - Nice set of images Glyn.

    The manual flash settings make sense – I’ll have to try that and get out of my comfort zone of purely using TTL. I’m curious to know, do you also use a flash meter to assess the amount of flash to use?

  • June 30, 2011 - 1:04 pm

    Tim Skipper - I wish you could say the same thing about those Pocket Wizards on Canon.

  • June 30, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    Scot Baston - Hi Glyn,

    Yet another great post! I have to say thank you for putting on to the AC3, it is an absolute godsend!

    You ask whether we use in TTL or in manual mode and I can honestly say I use both… Not just TTL OR Manual but both at the same time. For example if I want to blow out the background I’d have group C on Manual and then use group(s) A(+B) in TTL. This allows me to think about lighting the subject and not worrying that the TTL is affecting my background light.

    The great thing about the AC3 is that if you change your mind mid way through a shoot you can change between TTL or Manual on the fly, without ever leaving your camera.

    Thanks Glyn and catch up with you soon!


  • June 30, 2011 - 5:16 pm

    Melissia Griffith - Again, Thanks so much! Love it! Id like a lesson on the meter readings. ;)

  • June 30, 2011 - 5:31 pm

    Dave - Ever since I watched Damien Lovegroves Speedlight Mastery DVD (which I thoroughly recommend) I couldn’t wait for the PW Flex to come to Nikon. I use 2 SB900s on a Lovegrove Gemini double flash bracket which gives a little extra power and reduces recycling time. I shoot manual on camera and TTL on the flash. It gets great exposure 90% of the time and a quick spin of a wheel on the AC3 corrects any difference in opinion between the TTL and me.

  • June 30, 2011 - 7:48 pm

    Keith Hammond - nice set of pictures mate, just shows you what can be done in a short time with minimal equipment.
    Perhapse you “putting people at ease” karma has spread to healing powers now ;-)
    Can’t comment on AC3 as still using those old fashioned Plus 11″s, but i can sense a self treat coming on soon.

  • July 1, 2011 - 10:21 am

    Paul Hodgson - Hi Glyn

    The PW’s are indeed excellent though I can’t seem to get the consistency right so still prefer manual.

    Anyway, curious where you got your 60″ brolly from as I’m having a devil of a time finding a stockist.

    Have a great day.


  • July 2, 2011 - 12:44 pm

    Glyn - Thanks for the comments folks. The PW’s are real good to use..small, light and darned reliable but that aside, I do still prefer to use them in Manual…old habits I guess but it’s the consistency from shot to shot that really appeals :)

    Thanks again, Glyn :)

  • July 2, 2011 - 12:45 pm

    Glyn - @Paul…I get my 60″ brollies from Calumet UK but ‘in store’ .. can’t find them on the website.

    Hope that helps ;)

  • July 6, 2011 - 5:15 pm

    Simon Jacobs - My PW’s are far more consistent after the recent firmware update, they tend to work first time a lot better now. The AC3 is great although the build is not great. I find it quite funny that it has taken PW to give Canon users the functionality the Nikon folks have had for ages!
    I use Manual and TTL about 70/30 sometimes both within the same set up. Depends on the situation really, both work very well sometimes the TTL will astound and at other times it will dumbfound. As long as you can roll with it!
    I have a few issues. The hotshoe connection is not the godsend we all thought it would be. I always bemoaned the cord connection of the Plus ll’s (I had locking cords in the end) but the hotshoe connection is VERY weak one. When on a tilted angle I have found that the strobe can ‘slip’ forward out of the shoe connection, even tho’ there is a lock. I have found myself having to keep checking that this has not happened when I get a non-firing gun. Much like the old cords!
    The other is that the size of the Flex TT5 pushed the gun well up into an umbrella. OK when you’re using a 60″ but if it’s smaller you end up shooting through the top of the brolly. I have taken to Justin Clamping guns to a stand to get them a little more central. I am looking for a kind of ‘side bracket’ umbrella shoe if anyones seen one… Same thing with some dedicated small flash softboxes, gun and Flex just about fit. Oh, and I hate that battery in the Mini TT1!! :)
    Having said all that, the set up with the AC3 is still pretty cool.

My Business Card Woes!!!

I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with business cards. Now I know they’re an essential part of being in business and making contacts and networking but when it comes to carrying them I always find that the ones I keep in my wallet invariably get miss-shapen and very quickly start looking dishevelled and I’m certainly not into carrying a purpose made holder/wallet in my pocket.

Plus when it comes to cards I very quickly get bored of the design, get picky about which ones to hand out and so quite a few get thrown away. So, this is why I was particularly interested in what world famous Wedding Photographer David Ziser [Link] does with his iPad.

You see what David will do is backup photos during the day to his ipad that he shoots at a wedding, and then during a break (rare as a wedding photog’ I understand) he will then show a couple of images to, for example, the bride and groom. Naturally they get a fantastic reaction followed by a “Wow my friend X would love to speak to you about….’ so rather than give a business card David will get their email address and send one of the pictures to them along with his contact details; instant impact…Genius!!!

So the ole grey matter got to work and came up with an idea that could possibly cure my Business Card Woes and this is what I’m going to be trying and testing over the next few weeks…

One thing I always have with me is my iPhone…infact some would say it’s my extra limb, so why not create a business card that I can email or MMS directly to someone I would have normally handed a card to? This way I’m not carrying anything extra, I never run out of cards, they always look their best and they’re not only getting my details and a sample photo, but I have their details too so I can make a follow up call/email about a week later.

Obviously this isnt going to 100% replace the ‘hard copies’ that I would have normally used because there’ll always be times when one of those is more appropriate but for general day to day use this definitely appeals to me…plus it plays to my geek side:)

Like I said, I get bored very quickly and consequently I’ve lost count how many times I’ve had cards designed or have designed myself only to find that a few short weeks later I’ve gone off them and am reluctant to hand them out. Sure this is probably a complete waste of time and energy but hey that’s just me, however this new eBusiness Card approach, for want of a better phrase, changes things completely as I can alter the design with a few clicks and send cards containing a relevant photo to the appropriate prospective client and at no extra cost for re prints etc…

Smart Objects:
Making up unlimited designs and being able to swap out images is extremely quick and easy when using ‘Smart Objects’ in Photoshop….

The eBusiness Cards themselves measure 960px x 640px which is the exact dimensions of the iPhone screen but as a bonus these dimensions will show up nice and big when viewed on a computer screen.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new approach so feel free to make use of the comments section below. Indeed you may already be doing something similar; if so how are you finding it…could this be the way to do things in the future or do you not think this is a good idea? … feel free to comment anyway.

In the meantime,

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  • June 28, 2011 - 2:01 pm

    Corin Bishop - Love the idea of the iphone business card. More importantly I like the idea of turning the contact into a more definate ‘lead’.

    So many times people will take business cards and do nothing with them. However if you’re able to take their details then you have a new potential customer that you can follow up (in a nice way of course!).


  • June 28, 2011 - 2:10 pm

    Glyn - @Corin…Yeah it’s the follow up part that will be particularly useful for me mate. All too often I lose business cards or simply forget who it was that gave it to me so hopefully this will sort that out.


  • June 28, 2011 - 2:13 pm

    Nat - I think there’s a need for both Glyn, but wouldn’t it be cool if there was an “App for that” and you could collect all your business cards in one place on the Iphone and then wait it could link into your contacts for a one stop calling experience?!!! Think you’re on to something here :)
    Have a great day!

  • June 28, 2011 - 2:15 pm

    Paul Pride - Glyn you’ve done it again! So simple yet so very cool! I have struggled to come up with a business card design that applies to different styles of my photography as very rarely does one image suit everything. This way it can be chopped and changed at the drop of a hat to suit the potential clients needs.
    Also I know that I lose business cards all the time yet I never delete an email.
    So I know what I’m doing this evening!

  • June 28, 2011 - 2:20 pm

    Michelle Lovegrove - Hi Glyn,
    I am obviously biased being a print designer but whilst I think this is a good idea for an addition to your branding, it adds an extra dimension to both your professionalism and the ability of contacts to get connected, I do think that an “extra” is exactly how this technology should be regarded.

    The traditional business card is still an essential part of getting you name out there. Also whilst a techy business card may be ultra modern and swish…the message you are sending out is that you are technologically aware and current. All very well for some clients and indeed impressive….one has to remember however that not all our potential clients are as technologically proficient. A too hi-tech approach can be intimidating to the less computer literate and potentially alienating.
    Of course this depends on your business…IT Support Contractor…then great…the more hi-tech the better!

    The other downside IMO of a electronic business card is that it is only two dimensional and lacking it the tactile aspect of printed alternative. The materials chosen for your branded stationery also convey something about you in a way that is often overlooked. Choose the right material and you will be sending a clear message about your tastes and ethos…what’s more the potential client won’t even be aware they are making a judgement on this basis. It’s subliminal, but still effective.

    My advice with regards to finding a business card design that you don’t tire of is maybe to think outside the box from the traditional designs and open your mind to something more adventurous, unique and ultimately wonderfully tactile and striking. Maybe then you won’t get bored and more importantly your contacts will be reluctant to file the card in the waste bin.

  • June 28, 2011 - 2:26 pm

    Dave Clayton - Great idea Glyn, I must admit I love a bit of MOO and I am always tinkering with designs but that’s just the designer in me.
    This way of yours means there is a more definite interaction and also you are getting their mobile number and name in the moment. You can also take their photo when adding their details to contacts.
    I think I need to go and play with your idea now ;)

  • June 28, 2011 - 2:55 pm

    SC - Glyn – thanks for sharing, I like the idea of having different versions to show of pictures to suit audience and potential customers. Something I’ll put into practice for definite.

  • June 28, 2011 - 3:36 pm

    Jonathan Thompson - Well, that’s just bloomin brilliant mate. I know when I heard David Ziser talking about what he does with his iPad at weddings I thought it was inspired, so this is incredibly useful (Once I have an iPhone it will be) I too get bored with card designs and struggle to design anything that doesn’t look old 30 seconds after I’ve sent the print job online. Michelle Lovegrove has a good point regarding the tactile, actual card so I’m of the thought that this is an amazingly useful tool to use as well as a cool card design.
    Thanks for sharing.


  • June 28, 2011 - 6:26 pm

    Melissia Griffith - I’ve never used Smart Object before. I’ll have to try it out. Thanks again for all your information! How’s the online class coming along? ;)

  • June 28, 2011 - 6:42 pm

    Noel Hannan - Fantastic idea Glyn, looking forward to seeing them mate!
    All the best,

  • June 28, 2011 - 6:54 pm

    A.J. Wood - Brilliant as always. I’ve been thinkin’ about business cards lately myself as I’ll be on the road here next month.

    I like grabbin’ the other person’s card when possible because as you mentioned follow up is easier. I make it a point even when I use iPhone apps like Bump, to jot down something in the contact card notes so I know how I connected with that person.

    Have you considered using QR codes on your promo materials? This is something I’m thinkin’ about for my next round of cards.

  • June 28, 2011 - 11:38 pm

    Gareth Davies - Definitely a geeky coolness to them without doubt :)

    Like the idea and will appeal to lots but its still in addition to the “norm” cards for me. I have a lot of non-techy clients who without a physical card would find it difficult

    One of the talking points of business cards and what people do with them is down to the quality of them, both in terms of layout / style and the physical presence.
    After ordering cards from Michelle, I have to say the huge difference in the feel between the 400gsm Silk and my old Moo cards is vast. People actually talk about the cards as much as the contact details.

    I love the techy stuff and will give this a go – in addition mind :)

  • June 29, 2011 - 9:08 am

    DaveT - Hi Glyn – Michelle raises a good point when she refers to the physical qualities of the printed card – quality over quantity can be extremely important to some potential customers.

    We are also very much in an age where social media is the vehicle for communication and marketing. In this context electronic business cards probably have more utility as this would likely be the medium that most appeals, to those using twitter etc.

    It’s also easy for them to pass on to others, and therefore widens the possibility of client referrals. All this with minimum outlay for yourself.

    I think it’s a good strategy to have options for your business card. Knowing your target audience, or the specific client core values, will help you decided which medium to use. You now have the flexibility to use a hard copy, electronic copy, or perhaps a combination.

    Glyn -as an aside I like the diversity of content on your blog, it keeps it fresh and interesting.


  • June 29, 2011 - 10:39 pm

    Neil Glover - Hey Glyn,

    Great idea and I love the look too .

    I might even use this myself…obviously I’d change the picture ;-)

  • June 30, 2011 - 5:32 am

    Marco Ruschkowski - sounds good… just one question do the ikons (facebook tweeter) und such work and if so how did you get them to work?

    take care


  • July 2, 2011 - 12:39 pm

    Glyn - Thanks for all the comments folks.
    Just to clarify a few points, these won’t be replacing my current hard copy business card…they’re just there to use in addition cos there are always those times (for me anyway) when I run out, the ones I have aren’t suitable etc… The Social Media icons aren’t active but hey how cool would that be; I’ll sort that asap.

    Thanks again,

  • July 10, 2011 - 2:51 am

    heather - Glyn, seriously this is genius! I absolutely love this idea! Another rad way to use our amazing iphones. Just started using square with my iphone also. It is a great way to accept credit cards. Thanks for sharing.

  • July 13, 2011 - 11:46 am

    Glyn - Hi Heather.
    Square you say? Gonna have to got check that one out now. Glad you like the Business Card idea ;)

  • February 7, 2012 - 12:16 pm

    gary patterson - don’t you think it would be great to create an app where you could instantly exchange business cards. I guess it would use similar technology as the bump app. If only I knew how to make apps!!!!

5 Tips for Relaxing and Posing Your Subjects

As a photographer who specialises in photographing people, it stands to reason that ‘people skills’ are vital because we’ve all seen those photographs where the subject looks uncomfortable and the smile looks forced. Being able to adapt to those we’re working with, be likeable and someone they feel they can trust plays a huge part in how the final images will turn out.

Take Joe McNally for example…a truly gifted photographer for sure but not just in the technical side of things, but in his ability to relate to those he’s photographing and bring out the very best in them; that skill alone is inspiring to watch.

So, on that note I thought I’d share with you 5, techniques I guess you could call them, that I use when photographing people and that seem to go a long way in helping them to relax and then naturally pose…

Quite often the shots I take that end up being ‘keepers’ are the ones that the subject/client didn’t consciously pose for; let me explain…

Even when I have all the camera and lighting set and ready to go I’ll say that I’m just taking some shots to test everything is set correctly so “Just ignore me for a moment and chat amongst yourselves…we won’t be using these ones“. The minute I say this I can see them visibly relax so I shoot away making the most of it. Obviously I can only get away with this for so long with the client, so the minute I have a ‘winning shot’ I’ll show them, they’ll begin to feel good about themselves and then we’re game on and I can start being honest with them:)

So how many times have you been asked by the person you’re photographing…”What should I do with my hands?

Just giving them something to hold, lean against or even just saying for them to put their hands in their pockets can make a whole world of difference and help them to relax that much quicker. I may even ask the client/subject to actually do something such as rub their hands as if they’re washing them as in a couple of the shots above…

Ever notice how the person you’re photographing seems quite relaxed before you start taking photographs but then the minute you bring the camera up to your eye the mood changes and they freeze?

This used to happen to me all the time until one day the penny dropped and I realised the problem was me! I would talk and talk before taking the shot but then the minute I started using the camera I’d go quiet which would then have a negative effect on the client. Solution? I now just keep on talking total gibberish if I’m shooting or not which seems to do the trick:)

Now, I’ll do this once we’ve taken quite a few shots and I’m looking for a completely different expression. I may for example ask the client/subject to think about something positive or negative that has happened to them during their life.

Now here’s the thing…it doesn’t matter if they manage to think of something or not because most of the time it’s when they’re actually trying to think of it that I get the shot.

Meeting up at least once before the shoot is something I’ve always done, in fact it’s not unheard of for me to meet up with a client 3 times before we actually work together. Now don’t get me wrong, these aren’t ‘heavy’ meetings where we’re labouring over what is to be done, it’s a chat over coffee getting to know each other more and yeah talking through ideas. In between each meeting I’ll suggest to them that if they see pictures they really like the feel of in magazines, newspapers or on the net, to collect them or if possible email them over; that way when we meet up each time we have something more to talk about and have a more thorough understanding of what we want to achieve. Most importantly though we are beginning to build a relationship which goes a long way to helping them relax when they’re eventually in front of the camera.

•     •     •

So there you have it, 5 tips/techniques that I regularly use to help relax a subject and that help to ‘get the shot’. Sure it’s not an exhaustive list and we all have our own methods that work well for us and these are just some that I employ…but what can kind of things do you do? I’d love to hear what tips & techniques you have that help so please as always feel free to make use of the comments section below and share them.

So, to kick things off I’ll add just one more that I’ve thought of for now…

Our clients are paying good money for us to work with them so knowing our craft should go without saying, but not only that, if you’re stood there scratching your head not knowing what to do when an ‘issue’ comes up, your client is going to see that and very quickly move from being relaxed to being concerned; voilà all your hard work has been undone!

So feel free to share your thoughts, tips and techniques in the comments section below, I’d love to ‘hear’ what tips/techniques you use.

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  • June 24, 2011 - 8:26 pm

    Kristin Lanier - Periodically showing a person a great shot I just took manages to get them to relax. The excitement really shows through in the eyes when they know the shoot is going so well!

  • June 24, 2011 - 8:33 pm

    Francis Peacocke - Glyn,
    Good words and great thinking here. Thank you. One of your points I do very well – the talking gibberish bit!
    Again ta for your generosity in sharing working methods, thoughts and good advice.

  • June 24, 2011 - 8:47 pm

    Barbara Thorbjörnsson - First: My forte is NOT portrait photography but I have done some and some of my favorites was when I photographed them doing what they loved to do. Musicians play instruments, dancers dance, etc., etc. and I invite them to show me what they do so I can do what I do. I hope that made sense.

  • June 24, 2011 - 10:03 pm

    Terry - Awesome, besides the tips which are brilliant, seeing your images together like this really shows what a talent you are.

  • June 24, 2011 - 10:20 pm

    Jonathan Thompson - Great post again Glyn. This is a very important subject.I still find I stop talking bolleriks when I put the camera in front of me. I’m sure there are people who wish they had a camera to hand when I get started but hey, not even I’m perfect ;) Music on a studio shoot is good, ask the subject to bring their iPod with their favourite music or ask what they like and download it yourself and build a music library. If you go to the subjects home its good to find out where their favourite spot is, a chair, a room, maybe on your initial meeting find if there is a location near that has great memories for them, a local beach or park perhaps. Often you’ll find a CEO of a big, drab corporation could love motorcycling or sailing. Do some research on them, learn a bit about what they like, right there the drab corporation is gone and they want to talk passion and hobbies, you may find, in the corporate world, that you get more than your allocated 5mins with the director and it’s one more reason why they’ll remember you. Who knows what that could lead to, the very least it’ll be the best shot anyone has taken of them.
    I’d better put my camera back to my face, I warned you at the start.

    Great blog Glyn. We all really appreciate your time and sharing your knowledge.

    Speak soon


  • June 24, 2011 - 10:32 pm

    Melissia Griffith - As usual, great information. Thank you!

  • June 24, 2011 - 11:45 pm

    Nat - Hi Glyn
    Food for thought as always. Thanks so much. I also have done music and sweeties- well chocolate, but then I love chocolate so that was always going to be a given. ;)! Always enjoy looking at your work.

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:18 am

    Glyn - @Kristin…Yeah totally with you there :)

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:20 am

    Glyn - @Francis…Ah yes talking gibberish…I’m fluent you know :)
    Oh and you’re welcome mate…thanks for stopping by.


  • June 25, 2011 - 9:20 am

    Glyn - @Barbara…Yeah totally with you there; great way for them to get relaxed and be themselves.
    Thanks for stopping by,

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:21 am

    Glyn - @Terry…Very kind of you to say so Terry, cheers

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:21 am

    Glyn - @Melissia…You’re welcome, thanks :)

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:22 am

    Glyn - @Nat…Chocolate..hmmm like your thinking :)

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting Nat…I really appreciate it.

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:25 am

    Glyn - @Jonathan…Talking ‘bolleriks’ … love it :) lol
    Yeah definitely agree with you regarding the music…I usually have it blasting out and lifting the roof in the studio but at times it can be a little embarrassing when I put the iPhone on Shuffle…lol

    Research is a must too so yeah thanks fort posting that one up too. Great comment mate, thanks for taking the time to post it.

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:29 am

    Shivakumar - Lovely post Glyn. Just the right one i wanted cos its this inability of mine which is causing some problems during my people shoot during travel. Esp the “talk talk talk” part – wonder why i become dead silent when i start taking images ( probably i try to use the same approach when am shooting wildlife/nature :) ). I have been trying to improve on it but sure this will be a bookmarked reminder tips for me before any shoot.

    Thanks a ton mate – have a great weekend.


  • June 28, 2011 - 2:08 pm

    Glyn - Hi Shiv…Thanks for comment and it’s great to hear it’s useful. Yeah the talking one definitely makes a huge difference I’ve found, even when talking gibberish as I tend to do alot :)

  • November 29, 2011 - 11:17 am

    steve bryson - Not entirely sure how I’ve missed this article. Cheers for pointing it out on Facebook. I’m still struggling with inanimate objects but this is good insight.

Review: “The HDR Book” by Rafael ‘RC’ Concepcion (@aboutrc)

I guess it’s fair to say that there are few topics in Photography that cause as much of a reaction, be it good or bad, than HDR…people either love it or loathe it!

I guess it’s also fair to say that most people’s exposure (excuse the pun) to HDR would have been the highly overprocessed, surrealistic, fantasy look with masses of detail, dark clouds and saturated colours. However, there’s so much more on offer than that, as this new book by Photographer, Photoshop Guru and all round ‘Go To Guy’ RC Concepcion shows…

As you would expect the book starts off by covering the photography side of things with regards to what it takes to capture images for making a HDR image; camera settings, number of exposures, equipment and so on and then moves on to discuss what kind of images should be considered for HDR.

Like most things, when we discover and start dabbling in a new technique there can be a tendency to use it on everything and HDR especially is one of those techniques that needs to be handled with ‘kid gloves’ and used wisely as it definitely won’t suit everything. RC does a great job of discussing where it can be appropriately used; sure it’s not a definitive list but through his obvious experience of HDR he clearly has a pretty good idea where and where not to use it.

Where I think this book is set to be a winner though is not how it covers the ‘capture’ side of the HDR but in covering the post-processing side of things; let me explain…

There’s no question that HDR is an extremely useful technique to have in your  photography ‘tool bag’ allowing full detail in the shadow and highlight areas across an entire image but if that’s the case why has it attracted such vocal reactions against it in the past? … well, the answer lies in the post processing, and this is exactly where RC nails it!

Capturing the necessary images to make up a HDR isn’t rocket science. Once you’ve chosen your subject and you understand how to capture the necessary shots all at varying exposures, you’re up and running in no time but it’s how you ‘complete’ the image when sat at the computer that it all comes together.

Having explained the capture process, the rest of the book is made up of projects showing how to post-process a whole range of images such as dimly lit interiors, landscape, real estate, black and white images and portraits…yes HDR can be used extremely well for portrait shots but again it’s knowing the how, when and what that is so important and this RC covers in great detail.

What I particularly like about RC’s approach throughout the book is that he doesn’t push any one particular processing software and rather deals with the 3 main players (Photomatix, Nik HDR Efex Pro and Photoshop) and covers the pros and cons of each, so that you can make your choice of what to use as opposed to feeling compelled to make yet another purchase.

Through an understanding of the editing process RC shows how to edit your images to be ‘photorealistic’ through to the ‘surrealistic’ depending on what you prefer and as you’d expect, the pages are packed full of some wonderful examples.

In the past I’ve ‘dabbled’ in HDR but it’s something that I tended to steer away from because I, like most, had a preconceived idea of what it was having seen the ‘fantasy’ type images in the past. However, when you look at the work of folks like Joel Grimes who makes use of HDR in his images I’m now of the opinion that I need to look at it a lot closer and that I’m going to look at putting together some HDR backgrounds for use in my workshop [Link].

So, to summarise…RC’s done it again by producing another ‘killer’ book and a book that people have been wanting for quite some time…

Finally HDR isn’t a dirty word!

Highly Recommended

The HDR Book: Unlocking the Pro’s Hottest Post-Processing Techniques by Rafael ‘RC’ Concepcion
Paperback: 288 Pages
ISBN-10: 0321776895
ISBN-13: 978-0321776891
Currently priced at £17.15 from Amazon UK

RC Concepcion on Twitter [Link]

  • June 22, 2011 - 6:48 am

    Allen Ross Thomas - RC’s got the sexy radio voice ;-). Not generally a fan of HDR (far overdone) but this clearly shows how its subtle use can enhance a photo vs obfuscate it.


  • June 22, 2011 - 9:00 am

    DaveT - I have to say that the overdone HDR , which has been quite prolific on the net, doesn’t really do it for me, but following your review Glyn I may need to take a second look at what is possible. It certainly has potential for those contrasty interior shots that are outside the dynamic range of most DSLRs.

    Looks like my photo book library is going to have a new addition.

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:16 am

    Glyn - @Allen…Agree entirely but not so sure about the sexy radio voice…lol :)

    Hope all is well with you Buddy,
    Catch you soon,

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:17 am

    Glyn - @DaveT…Like you mate I kept thinking of the overdone ‘surrealistic’ images but RC has done a great job at showing it doesn’t have to be so. Well worth getting a copy :)

Photo Shoot & Technique: Muscular Male

Hi All.
To kick the week off I thought I’d share some Male Physique shots with you and also cover a little ‘Behind the Scenes’ (B.T.S.) information with regards to the lighting that was used and also run through of a couple of tips/techniques…

This particular series of shots are of model Steve Lewington who if you’re a regular reader of the blog will recognise from my ‘Concept to Print’ Workshop [Link].

Working with someone like Steve has it’s obvious advantages in that he not only has an incredible physique to photograph, but in addition to that Steve is very aware of his strong and weak points. The big advantage of this is that Steve has a very good idea of how he photographs best…what angles to shoot and what body parts to concentrate on.

This makes for a very interactive photo shoot, and also makes it a heck of alot more enjoyable, with both photographer and model coming up with ideas/suggestions as opposed to having to really ‘work‘ the model to get them to not only pose, but also (and most importantly) to look comfortable…

You’ll notice that in all except for the last image in this series, Steve’s hips are angled away from the camera. This goes back to a tip from my own Bodybuilding days [Link] when on stage you would give the illusion of having wider shoulders by having your hips angled away from the camera and then twisting your upper body ‘square on’.

Now obviously Steve doesn’t need any help in the shoulders but this is just a handy little ‘trick’ I always use when photographing physiques as shooting with hips directly toward the camera can give a ‘chunky’ feel to the abdominal area even when it clearly isn’t …

In this final image Steve is facing ‘square on’ to the camera which could potentially make his abdominal area appear ‘chunky’ but this can also be reduced by using shadows to your advantage by naturally hiding parts of the physique…

Ok so moving on let’s take a quick look at some of the lighting set ups used during this photo shoot…

Another little tip/technique to think about using when photographing muscular physiques is to make good use of shadows i.e. don’t flood the physique with light. By positioning the light so that we create more shadows we will further enhance the definition and size of our model by darkening the areas inbetween the muscle groups.

Lighting Set Up 1:
Really simple set up here using just one light and a large reflective umbrella.

Ordinarily this would give us a very soft light, but in this case the light was positioned some 10ft away from Steve so that we got coverage from head to toe. This also made the light much harder which created more defined shadow areas; again helping to enhance the definition of Steve’s physique…

Lighting Set Up 2:
With this particular shot, care was taken with the strip box/light positioned behind Steve to not flood his back with too much light.

To show off the definition of his back muscles the light was positioned so that it was virtually going straight past him, skimming across his back so as to create shadows and added depth and dimension…

Lighting Set Up 3:
For this final set up I again used the strip lights/boxes but this time they were facing each other so that Steve was ‘sandwiched’ between them to give even rim light on each side of him.

A beauty dish fitted with a honeycomb grid was also used and positioned directly infront and above of Steve and angled down slightly. This helped to add a little bit of much needed ‘fill light’ to the front and again because of it’s position helped to create shadows and add extra depth and dimension to Steve’s chest and abdominal area…

• • •

So there you have it … 3 lighting set ups and some tips/techniques for photographing a muscular male physique. Of course there’s loads more tips to get the most out of such a physique when photographing it, such as applying a deodorant stick in between the muscle groups; then as your model begins to sweat, those areas remain ‘dry’ and appear deeper and more defined than they actually are.

So, as always if you have any questions or comments or maybe even tips of your own, please feel free to make use of the comments section below, but in the meantime,


Keep up with Glyn ‘Day to Day’ on Twitter
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  • June 20, 2011 - 7:53 am

    Sebastian - Well done Glyn, good posts!

  • June 20, 2011 - 8:05 am

    Jonathan Thompson - Another great post Glyn. Interesting techniques most specific to athletic subjects, especially the deodorant stick, I would never have thought of it. Great use of your body building experience.
    On the last shot, were the strip lights vertical or angled as it was in another post? They look vertical giving a bit more light to subjects arms but creating more shadow on the shoulder and a little more power camera right than left.



  • June 25, 2011 - 9:13 am

    Glyn - @Sebastian…Cheers Buddy

  • June 25, 2011 - 9:14 am

    Glyn - @Jonathan…In the last shot the strip lights/boxes were vertical and to be honest I thought the power was the same but hey I could be wrong…lol :)

  • July 25, 2011 - 8:50 am

    sanjay shrestha - Plez send me pic of how to pose in front of camera

  • March 9, 2012 - 2:57 pm

    Rob Grist - Great info and pics. I have a shoot coming up with a couple from my gym and this has really helped me prepare. Thanks for sharing.