SmugMug has some exciting news regarding the expansion of SMUGs! We are overjoyed to announce that Sandy Puc, an amazingly talented photographer, will be offering unbeatable advice about photography. She is revealing the inner workings of becoming a fantastic photographer through three 1-hour webinars.
The best news of all, however, is that Sandy will be visiting the SMUG with the most growth in the coming 3 months. Also, you could win the chance to be flown to Denver, CO to meet Sandy to discuss your own business and receive tips on how to improve it! This opportunity of a lifetime, with all expenses paid, can be yours if you bring the most guests to your SMUG meetings.
Make sure to check your email for a message from SmugMug with further details!
Over the holidays, the Nashville SMUG held a photographer holiday party. Members of three area photography groups (SMUG, PUG, and Fast Track) combined for a blow out party, where over 100 photographers attended. It was a fantastic time for us all to catch up, hang out, and enjoy a party just for photographers.
We all had a great time getting together, sharing a meal, and busting a move on the dance floor! Everyone had a blast, because we got to relax and catch up with each other once the holiday rush was slowing a little, and to party like all the receptions so many of us photograph through the year.
Area vendors donated their services to make this amazing event happen. We couldn’t be more thankful for the support of such a wonderful community here in Nashville!
Additional support was provided by Kudize (operated by Sean & Mel McLellan of McLellan Style), Shoot To Kill podcast (presented by Phil & Mindy Thornton of Phindy Studios with photographer Jamie Clayton), the Nashville Photography Class (lead by Whitney Carlson of Dove Wedding Photography), and Gregory Byerline to raise the bar on what was once a quaint little gathering of 10–12 people a few years ago.
Photo Credit: Gregory Byerline Photography (www.gregorybyerline.com)
The Austin SMUG group has been on hiatus for a few months while a change in leadership was made. Many thanks goes to Jason St. Peter for doing a great job leading the group since its start! Alex Suarez has recently taken over the reins, and we just had our first meeting with a new leader at a new location- the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Austin.
We had a little over 40 photographers in attendance, and Eric Doggett kicked things off as our first speaker. Eric got into photography back in 2005 and gravitated toward portraits. He does a lot of editorial work, but his passion is creating images of people to tell a story with a humorous twist using composite editing for most of his images. In his presentation, Eric talked about the “why and how” of compositing. He also shared how he has found a profitable niche here in Austin by creating fun and creative Christmas cards for his clients using composite techniques.
Eric discussed some of the key reasons for creating an image with the composite technique:
1. Budget: It could end up being cost prohibitive to get subject(s), props, and equipment to a location.
2. Location: It may not be possible to get your subjects to the location. Perhaps, it is too remote or the nature of the location prohibits doing a staged portrait shoot with lighting equipment.
3. Reality: Is it even possible to shoot subjects in the environment that you have envisioned? Maybe your idea calls for your subject to be flying over a city? However, unless your subject has super powers, that shot calls for a composite.
Before beginning a composite shoot, Eric recommended sketching it out. What would it look like in reality? It is important to consider all the details carefully. When it comes time to shoot, there are technical details that you need to keep in mind.
The most important details are:
1. To keep the perspective of subject and background consistent. The same lens focal length should be used for the subject and the background.
2. Eric recommended using a tape measure to record the height of the camera when you shoot the background and use the same height to shoot the subject(s). A tripod is critical here.
3. Record the distance to the main foreground element in your background or where the subject(s) would be placed naturally. You’ll need to shoot your subject(s) at that distance to keep the perspective right.
4. You need to know the angle of the camera and replicate that when shooting your subject. A level is a useful tool here. The position of the subject(s) in relation to the background elements and lighting needs to be taken account. The subject’s feet are especially critical to get them placed correctly in the composite. If you are off, you may end up having to crop out feet to make the composite look right. Where the subject’s feet touch the ground is critical when compositing multiple people.
A key part of Eric’s commercial photography with composites is creating Christmas cards for families. This is a fun and creative way to build a profitable business with composite photography. While the task of creating composite images can look daunting, Eric did say that you don’t have to be extremely precise, because the cards are printed at such a small size. Even so, masking is not a favorite task of Eric’s. He even exclaimed: “I hate masking!” It was a rather odd thing for a photographer who does so much compositing to say! Eric admitted that he often outsources the masking work to Color Experts, a company that performs this task for a very reasonable price.
Eric’s presentation was a big hit and many of those in attendance expressed interest in trying their hand at composite photography. Eric was kind enough to stick around after the meeting and answer specific questions. I learned quite a bit and look forward to experimenting with Eric’s techniques myself.
Michael got into photography in late 2009, and he enjoys creating images in his spare time. Urban landscapes, night photography, and environmental portraits are his favorite photographic pursuits. He shoots with a Canon 5D and a Fujifilm X100.
One Strobe Pony Lighting Workshop
Our meeting centered around off camera lighting and light modifiers. We started the workshop with on-camera pop-up flashes and ended with a flurry of light modifiers including shoot-through umbrellas, soft-boxes, and bounce panels. As we moved through each lighting setup, we described how each modifier affected the picture.
Among the products discussed were:
We spoke about the types of shadows each light modifiers cast, and about how the transition from light to shadow describes the softness of a light source. We also touched on the concept of “apparent light size” and how it applies to different lighting scenarios.
Apparent Light Size
A ceiling bounce flash makes a circle of light on the ceiling which is hundreds of times larger than the 1” x 3” rectangle that sits 3 inches above our lens. With correctly balanced exposure settings, the ceiling bounced light source creates a soft, top-down light that gradually falls off towards the floor. Conversely, a huge umbrella sat too far away will eventually be the same apparent size as a 1”x3” flash head and be of no use to the photographer (except fill their desire to buy lots of batteries). So, basically, the farther away a light is, the sharper the shadow it will create. On the other hand, the closer it is, the softer the light.
After our lighting workshop, we voted in our photograph contest. This month’s topic was “Street Photography.” Stephanie Bodie http://www.facebook.com/stephbodie edged out a win in this competition with the following image.
Congrats to Stephanie, who won a $25 B&H Gift card for this image.
Next month’s contest is “One Light Photograph”, where our members get to explore the techniques discussed in the workshop. We’re looking forward to another set of great images.
Submitted by the Fort Wayne Scribe: Brandon Wittwer