benjamin

Winter Landscapes

Winter Landscape Photography

As of writing this we are still 11 days away from the official start to the winter season. But let’s be honest, once the snow starts to gather on the ground we can call it winter for all express purposes. For me, this is a great thing – I love winter landscapes. I love those big billowy, soft, snow draped trees; those massive, pristine snow drifts – ah, so gorgeous. I also like, by contrast, the more dirty, gritty urban snow-scapes. The muddy, frozen over puddles. The old barns, draped with half melted snow, abandoned for warmer locations. After-all, one of winter’s most evocative moods, for me, is that sense of the forgotten, and left-behind. It’s that amazing feeling of loneliness that captivates me. 

Finding locations for these lonesome photos is the easy part. If you live in urban and city areas, just go seek out the quiet alley-ways and evening streets. If you live in a more rural area, find an old farm and barn that’s isolated. Sunset/Sunrise and the blue hours are your best bets. Morning or night just depends on your preference. If it has snowed over the evening, then your morning shots will have a more untouched look to them. In those cases it may be better to wait till evening to get that more worn-in look as the day takes it’s toll. Of course, if it’s going to warm up too much over the day then the morning might offer the best opportunities before the snow melts too much.

What to look for

Like I said, finding the landscape is the easy part. The harder part if finding the mood. Much of that is crafted by the light – that is why I suggest golden and blue hours. Composition is important too. Because of my decades as creative director I can’t help but think and visualize in metaphors and feelings. I don’t look for compositions that read like, “Red-barn on a white field”, or “rule-of-thirds”, or whatever else you normally read about concerning what makes a good photograph. Instead, I look for compositions that speak to me in terms like, isolation, alone, opportunity, hope, strength, leadership, melancholy, etc. I do this because if I can craft a photo that captures the feeling and metaphor in my mind, I know my picture will do a better job conveying that emotion to the viewer.

So, in practice, if you’re out in the field and you see two possible photos: Maybe one is a more classical rule-of-thirds arrangement of your subject against the background. and your second presents a different composition but also conjures memories of a time where you felt cold, and alone, or whatever, then I would strongly suggest exploring that second option first. You can always take the tried and true compositionally correct photo once you’re done, but that second photo which elicits emotion will probably be the photo that resonates with your audience. 

I’ll be honest, photos like these have a lot more to do with how you think creatively, and much less to do with all of the “rules” you’ve ever learned about photography. To bring emotion into your photos means you have to learn to recognize your own feelings in that moment and know how to capture them for other’s to see. My best advice is just to be open to what you are feeling when you are on location. If you’re feeling uninspired or nothing at all it just means you need to move around a bit and reorient yourself until you begin to feel that flicker run through your chest and down your arms, spine and legs. 

Now, put on some warm clothes, grab your camera and prepare to to brave the cold this winter and express yourself through photography!

Benjamin Lehman is an award winning commercial photographer in the Canton, Akron, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio area. 

Christmas Pet Portrait Photography How-to in Real-Time!

Setting up, how to deal with technical issues, comparing ttl and manual, and most importantly, photographing cute dogs!

I thought it might be fun to live stream an attempt at Christmas styled pet portraits. I say, “attempt”, because I didn’t really have a plan going into this. I bought a light curtain and that’s about it. In this video you’ll watch, in real-time, as I place lights, discuss the differences between ttl and manual, problem solve, and of course, take photos of doggies with a Christmas flair! The video runs about 1 hour and 50 minutes, so that should give you an idea of how quickly you can get this up and running in your own home studio! (Hint: the studio doesn’t have to be big!)

It’s Been a Minute

It's been a minute, fam

Just wanted to take a quick moment and say, it’s good to be back! For those who don’t know, I am the owner and creative director of a graphic design agency, Emotiv. And, well, it’s been busy over in Design-land for the past eight or so months. Things haven’t really slowed down any, but I am managing my time a little better and finding more opportunities to take pictures. 

In short, we’re back and we’re loving it! Let’s start off with some Senior Portraits:

Allow me to introduce Alex – an absolutely amazing and classy guy. This was a fun shoot (as you can see from the photos!). When you are a photographer, you live for gigs like this one. Alex is heavily tied in with his school’s marching band, so it was imperative to integrate that into this photo series. Luckily, we had some connections on the inside which allowed us to, ahem, borrow, the band’s bus for an hour. Next, I whisked him off to a quiet patch of parkland here known as the children’s garden, in Canton Ohio’s McKinley Monument park. There’s this little grove of ever greens that I knew would look awesome in the overcast, late Autumn light. I simply placed him in the trees and, wow, the picture sort of just took itself. That’s the best part about amazing locations, they take a lot of the effort off your shoulders as a photographer. 

I shot most of these photos with just one strobe. For the football field and the bus, I used an Paul C. Buff Einstein flash unit as my main light. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but it was 1pm on a very clear and sunny day. I needed the Einstein’s power to allow me to correctly expose Alex against the insanely bright environment. I used a second flash to light the side of the bus. For the portraits at the park I, again, defaulted to use of use one flash; this time opting for a speedlight as my light source.

Quite honestly, this turned out to be one of the most enjoyable shoots I’ve done in a long while – it just makes me that much more excited to be behind the camera again!

 

Benjamin Lehman is a commercial photographer in the Massillon, Canton, Akron, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio area. 

Canon explains why EOS R doesn’t have IBIS | Digital Camera World

 
 

When the Canon EOS R was revealed, the first thing many people noticed was its lack of in-body image stabilisation (IBIS). 

The missing feature became even more pronounced at Photokina 2018 with all the new cameras boasting IBIS – including Fuji’s new GFX 100S with its monster medium format sensor.

So, with the internet rife with cynicism and speculation, we went straight to the horse’s mouth and asked Canon why it opted not to include in-body stabilisation on the EOS R.

“We feel that in-lens IS is the optimum system for image stabilisation,” explained Canon UK’s product intelligence consultant, David Parry.

 

The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is one of the EOS R lenses that boasts stabilisation

The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is one of the EOS R lenses that boasts stabilisation

“With an in-body IS system you are creating something that needs to work over lots of different types of lenses and different lens groups, so you don’t get a dedicated system for that particular lens.

“All lenses move in different ways, and you get different types of shake depending on what kind of lens you’re using, so dedicating the IS system to the particular lens is, for us, the optimum way of doing it – but that’s not to say that we aren’t looking at in-body IS.”

It’s fair to say that Canon traditionally takes its time and is rarely the first to bring a feature to market, from touchscreens to shooting video on DSLRs. When it eventually does bring something to market, though, it tends to be among the best in class.

In other words, then, Canon will introduce in-body stabilisation when it’s good and ready. And when it does, it’s likely to be incredibly good.7

Source: Canon explains why EOS R doesn’t have IBIS | Digital Camera World

Shooting OnStage in London | Joe McNally Photo

I shoot a lot in front of live audiences, sometimes sizable ones. The places where I do this, let’s face it, are hardly inspirational. They tend to be gray, or beige, or black. The walls are blank. They recede by design. Hence, onstage, when I look out at this bland space, I will, at least occasionally, think of taking a ride into the valley of the gels, as friend and peerless shooter Greg Heisler used to describe it. In these blank rooms, color is often the first refuge I seek.

It was such a day last week in London, at a lighting seminar created and staged by Nikon School UK and Neil Freeman, a talented shooter who runs the wonderful educational programs with a great team in the UK for Nikon. We had help from the stalwart crew at Lastolite by Manfrotto who stepped up and brought tons of kit to play with.

I had MMA fighter Alfie Davis, who’s on a winning streak, and competing next in Dubai. He’s a great physical presence, so a rim-light type of an approach worked. Put red gels on two SB-5000 units in the back of the room, controlling them with radio and winging them right at Alfie. The overhead light is the Speedlight 2 softbox, with a grid, but it really just lights him a little and gives that highlight in his hair. The main deal is a blue gelled flash I have banging into a silver tri-grip reflector that he is actually standing on. The whole thing was an impromptu wing and a prayer in terms of a lighting solution, and our enthusiastic crowd helped out by standing and cheering Alfie in the background. Nothing like a little audience participation!

It was a very different approach for Alfie out on the street. One Speedlight through an Ezybox hotshoe soft box, and done. Less glitz, more character.

More tk….

Source: Shooting OnStage in London | Joe McNally Photo

Here’s a Reason Not to Upgrade to That New Mirrorless Camera | Fstoppers

One of the most common questions photographers have is “should I upgrade my camera?” It’s right up there with “what lens I should buy” and “can I take selfies with this?” (That last one isn’t actually a common question.)

You may really want that Nikon Z7 or that Canon EOS R, but do you really need it? Whenever I ask myself the same question, I remind myself of a simple phrase that I tell my students thinking about a new camera: Your camera never takes pictures any worse than the day you brought it.

I own a few older cameras. Some I bought for nostalgic value and other were my daily drivers for a time. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of G.A.S., but after having kids, that sort of thing grinds to a halt (diapers are expensive). Now, I’ve learned to really appreciate and use the cameras I’ve got, and in addition, it makes me really think about making every camera purchase count.

I recently got the pang again when I saw the new mirrorless offerings from Nikon and Canon. On paper, they’re specced really well, and one of the new RF mirrorless system lenses from Canon would scratch an itch I’ve been commenting about for a long time: a standard zoom that’s faster than f/2.8, my white whale, the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM. Such a lens coupled with a new, slick-looking EOS R bodyseems like an amazing combo.

Read More: Here’s a Reason Not to Upgrade to That New Mirrorless Camera | Fstoppers

How to Create Flower Fireworks on the 4th of July

How do you create those really soft, flowery fireworks photos?

I am gonna keep this short and sweet! The trick to create these flower-esque firework photos is really simple

  1. Frame your shot
  2. A good starting point for camera settings are 100 iso, 5.6/f, 1 second shutter
  3. Turn your focus ring until completely out of focus. 
  4. Press the shutter button once a firework goes off in your view finder
  5. Turn the focus ring from out-of-focus to in-focus over the course of the 1 second shutter. 
  6. The End! 

I’ve even created this little animated gif to illustrate the process

Benjamin Lehman is a commercial photographer in the Canton, Akron, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio area. 

Barn Storming

Use stormy days to your advantage – get out there and take photos!

Products Photography in a Home Photography Studio

You don't need a massive studio and an army of gear to shoot great product photos.

I’ve moved 3 times in the past 8 years and have created 5 in-home studios in that same amount of time.  Every time I change up my studio I seem to find myself creating smaller, more compact and optimized spaces. The reason is simple – you don’t need a warehouse to take great product photos. 

The first step to creating your space is taking inventory of your most used gear – this single step will let you know exactly what sort of space you need. For instance if you rely heavily on natural light then you’ll need windows and perhaps less space for things like studio flashes and light stands. The type of photographs you take will also help inform you decisions on what type of space you need. In my case, I do a lot of portraits and commercial work. I also use studio flash which are often mounted on large C-Stands so that definitely increases both my vertical and horizontal space requirements.

In the end, I utilized a room attached to my house that is 24 feet by 10 feet. This room also has high ceilings, which means I can position my lights above my subjects. After doing some searching online, it turns out that even a compact space like this is pretty large compared to some metropolitan studios out there. I found some studios that are only 8×8, which is impressive!

While my studio is still very much a work in progress (we’re still finishing the walls and ceiling) it was in good enough shape to get things started. When I was contracted to do some product photos we got some things set up in quick order and started taking pictures. Over here to the right you can see what the set up is for this shot. We’re using a basic, plastic, folding card table. These products are shot on white, but we also wanted a reflection, so I used a clean white card with sheet of glass on top of that to help catch reflections. We’re using a two light set up. The first light is above the product and pointed backwards towards the rear of the table. The reason for that is you can highlight the curves and contours of the product without producing the hot, specular highlights you would get if you had the light directly in front of the product.  The second light is behind a collapsible diffuser. This adds a little highlight to the edge of the product, but mostly it’s just there to make sure the environment around the product is totally white.  I am also using a black flag (the reverse side is shiny metallic in this photo) at the very front of the product to subject extra light from the front of the product to help make the reflections pop out a little more. 

After tweaking the lighting and positioning a bit, we were very pleased with the resulting photos. It was nice to see that a little bit of planning could result in a studio space that was refined and streamlined and still produced the quality that we were looking for. You can see the results of our product photo shoot below. 

How to Save Disk Space in Lightroom and Save Money!

Managing disk space when you are a photographer is a major headache - but here's an amazing way that doesn't cost anything but a little time.

Tony Northurp (video link above, please give him a subscribe on youtube!) shows us a pretty easy way to save yourself a ton of hard drive space. I personally deal with this problem about once a year. I have nearly 20TB of drive space attached to my main computer alone. Managing that much disk space (especially when I am running low) is a major pain. Buying new hard drives or, gulp, expensive raid arrays, will always be a temporary solution – drive space is finite and you’re taking pictures all of the time. 

So when I ran across this video where Tony shows us the magic of Adobe’s lossy DNG format, I was intrigued. I tested it out myself and I can honestly tell you that I am now, at this very moment, in the process of converting all of my old photos into Lossy DNG (with the exception of some very important ‘hero’ shots taken for clients). Hundreds of thousands of photos are making the pilgrimage to Lossytown over here, and so far I’ve gotten back several terabytes of space. Let’s hope the trend continues!

Benjamin Lehman is a commercial photographer in the Canton, Massillon, Cleveland, Akron and northeast Ohio area.