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  • Portable Portrait Studio in a Bag: Now You Can Take Portraits While on the Road

    The post Portable Portrait Studio in a Bag: Now You Can Take Portraits While on the Road appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.


    It is wonderful having a permanent studio to work in. But imagine being able to pack that studio into your camera bag and take it with you anywhere you want. You can do this by creating a portable portrait studio.

    The problem is, portable studios tend to take up a lot of space.

    I traveled from school to school with a portable studio. But it would take up my entire car, leaving no room for a passenger!

    Half the fun of being a photographer is embracing constraints. So I decided to see how minimal I could get with a portable studio. Could I create a studio that fits into one small camera bag?

    This is an important project because when you are confident that you can make nice portraits with minimal gear, you can take your studio down any road and into any situation. Your limits fade away, and the whole world becomes your studio.

    portable portrait studio

    This is my portable portrait studio. One camera, one lens, two speedlights, a rainbow of colored gels, one light stand, one umbrella, one reflector, and one piece of white fabric.

    A studio is a place to study. By making your studio small and portable, you can study anywhere you desire.

    Three things to consider as you travel with your portable studio

    1. The person

    The person you’re photographing is more important than your gear, your schedule, or anything else. Put all your focus on the person you’re photographing in order to achieve a good portrait. I tested out my new studio with a person, but if you don’t have a model you can practice with toy figures.

    2. The light

    When you need to make a portrait, look for a good light source.

    A larger light source creates softer shadows and a smaller light source creates crisp shadows. Often, softer shadows are pleasing for a portrait.

    The first thing I look for is a large window for my light source. If I can find a large window, then I don’t even need to use the lights in my bag. In that case, my portable portrait studio whittles down to a camera and a reflector.

    But if I need to create my own light source, then I use a speed light and umbrella or softbox. By itself, the speedlight is a small light source. But the umbrella converts it into a larger light source and softens the shadows.

    3. A clean background

    You don’t want distractions in the background of your photo. Either keep the background clean and simple or make it part of the story. There isn’t much in your portable portrait studio, so you’ll have to work with the backgrounds you find on location.

    The goal for all of these photos is a simple portrait with nice light and a clean background.

    Portraits with a large window

    Let’s begin with a simple scenario using a large window as the light source.

    When you place your subject near the window, and you expose properly for their skin tone, much of the background will fall into darkness.

    portable portrait studio

    This is not a pleasing environment for a portrait. However, don’t be concerned with what the whole room looks like, only how your final portrait will look. Notice where the girl is positioned in relation to the window.


    portable portrait studio

    The large window has created soft shadows on her face. The catchlights bring her eyes to life. There are some distractions in the background that could have been taken care of with a slightly different composition. 50mm, ISO 1600, f/4.0, 1/400 sec.

    Portraits with a small window

    Smaller windows can produce harsh shadows. The secret is to keep your subject as close to the window as possible. The closer they are to the window, the larger the light source becomes in relation to your subject.

    Image: She is placed extremely close to the window.

    She is placed extremely close to the window.


    portable portrait studio

    The light on her face is quite nice but the background is distracting. 50mm, ISO 1600, f/4.0, 1/400 sec.


    Image: I moved her to the other side of the window.

    I moved her to the other side of the window.

    portable portrait studio

    I used the wall as the background for the portrait. 50mm, ISO 1600, f/4.0, 1/320 sec.

    A portrait using a neutral-colored wall

    I found a really good bit of neutral-colored wall but it was not near a window. This is when you need to set up your speedlight and umbrella.

    Neutral color background

    This patch of grey wall will be perfect as a background.


    portable portrait studio

    The umbrella illuminated both her face and the wall but didn’t cast any harsh shadows. 50mm, ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/200 sec.


    Creating a white background

    You can create a white background by using a white wall or a white piece of fabric in your portable portrait studio. Make sure to illuminate the white background with the second speedlight in your bag.

    how to make a white background for portraits

    The white piece of fabric will be taped to the wall to use as a background. The second speedlight will light up the fabric so that it turns pure white instead of grey.

    Creating a white background


    portable portrait studio
    Portable Portrait Studio in a Bag: Now You Can Take Portraits While on the Road

    Turn any background into black

    You can turn any background black with two simple steps.

    1. Move your subject as far away from the background as you can
    2. Light your subject with your speedlight but don’t let the light fall onto the background (this is why we’re keeping the background so far away).
    how to make your background black

    The background is about 20 feet away


    portable portrait studio

    You may need to darken the background a tiny bit more in post-processing. 50mm, ISO 100, f/9.0, 1/200 sec.


    Make a colored background with gels

    You can turn that neutral wall a different color using gels on your speedlight.

    how to use gels with your speedlight

    Place the colored gel over the speedlight to transform the color of the wall.


    portable portrait studio
    Portable Portrait Studio in a Bag: Now You Can Take Portraits While on the Road

    Go crazy with the light!

    There comes a moment in every session when you just have to try something completely different.

    Being a fan of backlight, I put both speedlights with colored gels in the background and pointed them right toward the camera.

    portable portrait studio

    Don’t settle for the same old photos every session. Always try at least one new thing. This was her favorite photo.


    How to make your studio infinitely larger

    It’s good to have a permanent studio as a home base, but even a full-scale studio can become a limiting place. Figure out the minimal amount of gear that you need to make a portrait, pack it into one bag and then go and explore your world with your portable portrait studio.

    Here are more tips for portrait lighting as you travel:

    The post Portable Portrait Studio in a Bag: Now You Can Take Portraits While on the Road appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

    Source: DP School

  • Irfanview – The Free Program You Need in Your Photo Editing Toolbox

    The post Irfanview – The Free Program You Need in Your Photo Editing Toolbox appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.


    You would typically expect an article on a photo editing/utility program to be about the new latest-greatest thing to come out.  Instead, this article will tell you why Irfanview, a program that has been around since almost the dawn of digital photography, is still as useful as ever and, as a photographer, it’s something you’ll want in your toolbox.

    This is the main screen that will greet you on the site.

    This is the main screen that will greet you on the site.

    The “Swiss Army Knife” of digital photography

    You no doubt have heard of Swiss Army knives, those pocket multi-tools that have all manner of flip-out gadgets to perform whatever task you might require. Need a knife, a corkscrew, scissors, screwdriver, bottle opener, saw, tweezers, you-name-it? You can get all those things in one pocketable tool.

    The largest such knife made by the company Wegner is the model 16999, and it has 87 tools that can perform over 141 functions. It’s hardly pocketable, but probably more of a demo of what is achievable. More typical Swiss Army knives have about 15-30 functions and are very pocketable.

    Sure, a dedicated screwdriver or saw might do a better job, but the idea of having an entire toolkit in your pocket is the attraction.

    The Victorinox SwissChamp knife

    Irfanview is like a Swiss Army Knife – Lots of tools in one compact package.

    Such is the case with the utility program Irfanview.

    This little do-all program is the brainchild of student Irfan Škiljan, from Jajce, Bosnia/Herzegovina, who first introduced the program in 1996. To put that into perspective, the first commercially successful consumer digital camera, the Apple Quicktake 100, was introduced in 1994. I would venture that some of the readers of this article weren’t yet born.

    Not only has Irfanview been around for 23 years, like the Swiss Army knife, but it also is small, compact, can fit on, and even be run from a thumb drive and performs more functions than I’ll even be able to cover here.

    If you could only have one digital photography tool to work with, I daresay this might be the one you’d want. (Providing you work on a PC, sorry Mac users, this one’s not available for you unless perhaps you use a Windows emulator).

    If you have been involved in digital photography for a long time, you may already be familiar with Irfanview. (Especially considering that since 2003 it’s been downloaded over a million times each month.)

    It could be that you’ve used it in the past, but have forgotten about it. If so, you might learn some new tricks it can do now that you didn’t know about.

    If you’ve never heard of it, it’s time you did. Either way, the list of Irfanview tools, features, functions, and tricks is impressive.

    And did I mention it’s all free?

    Yes, Irfanview has always been free, though Irfan Škiljan does accept donations and sells the product when used for commercial use. He has pretty much been able to live off the program.

    The Apple Quicktake, released in 1995 was the first consumer digital camera.

    The Kodak-made Apple Quicktake, released in 1995 was the first consumer digital camera.

    What can’t it do?

    I bought my first personal digital camera in 1999, a Nikon Coolpix 950. One of the first tools I used to work with my photos was, yup, Irfanview.

    Over the years, new features and functions have been added, many of those created by other contributors who’ve created “plugins.” Adding to the already impressive list of functions the native program can perform, there are now over 70 plugins for Irfanview, expanding its capabilities even further.

    It might be easier to list what the program can’t do rather than what it can do, but I will attempt to give you an overview of its basic functions. This will not be a “how-to-use” Irfanview article. One of the great things is the program is very easy to learn, and there’s no end of support available.

    Pick the 32 or 64-bit version of Irfanview for your particular computer.

    32 or 64-bit versions of Irfanview are available. Pick the version (and the plug-ins) for your particular computer.

    Acquiring, downloading and installing

    The official site for Irfanview is what you’d expect, Once there, you will see there are now two main versions, one for 64-bit and the other for 32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows. It will run on Windows XP, 7,8, and 10. If for some reason, you need older versions, those are available too.

    Pick the version suitable for your computer. I suggest downloading the versions with the installers build in (these will be .EXE files).

    Once downloaded, just double-click the file, tell it where you want it installed, and let it do its thing. (I also mentioned if you want a “portable” program, you can download and install it to a flash drive. It can be handy to have the program with you when you may want to use it on someone else’s computer and not have to install it to their machine.)

    The Installation menu for Irfanview

    The installation menu for Irfanview.

    The Plug-ins

    You don’t have to install the plug-ins, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t, as they greatly expand the list of what Irfanview can do. 

    The easiest way to do this is to download and install the All Plug-Ins Installer. Be sure to pick the one that matches the version of the main program you downloaded and installed, 32 or 64-bit

    Run the .EXE file just as you did the main program. It will find Irfanview on your machine (install that first) and then put the plugin-ins where they need to go. The whole process is very easy and straightforward.

    You can configure Irfanview as the default view for whatever filetypes you choose.

    You can configure Irfanview as the default view for whatever filetypes you choose.

    Exploring the functions

    With so much capability, I think the easiest way to give you an overview of the features is to look at the kinds of tasks you might want to accomplish and how Irfanview can handle those. I’ll briefly describe common tasks, though this will not be an in-depth instruction on how to perform the functions.

    You might find this website a good resource for that purpose. The beauty of Irfanview is it’s very easy to learn and quite intuitive.

    Open, view, save and convert files

    As a photographer, you will likely be working with image file types like JPG, TIF, PNG, GIF, or possibly raw files like Canon CR2 or Nikon NEF.  What’s great is Irfanview opens dozens of different file types, even things you probably haven’t even heard of.  Here’s a link to a full list.

    Open a file and view information in Irfanview.

    You can learn lots about your image when you open it and use the Information option in Irfanview.

    Open and View

    To open a file/image, go to the File dropdown, pick Open and use the next menu to browse to where your file is located.

    Click it once and, with the Preview Active box checked, you will see a thumbnail below.  There will also be information on the width and height of the image in pixels, the color depth, the size in RAM, and the file size.

    Click Open or double-click the image and it will open in Irfanview.  If you want to go to the next image in the same folder, just click the spacebar on the keyboard or use the arrows on the top menu bar.

    File conversion is a real strength of Irfanview.

    Open one image type and convert it to something else. Irfanview excels at this. Here a .tif is converted to a ,jpg.


    A powerful feature of Irfanview is the ability to convert one file type to another. For example, open a TIF file and save it as a PDF file or maybe a JPG. It’s as easy as opening the file and then saving it as whatever else you like.

    If you like keyboard shortcuts, Irfanview has many. For example, an open image, click the “S” key to Save and then use the menu to tell Irfanview the file name, type, and location you wish to save it.

    Irfanview can run video files too, like this mp4 video file.

    Irfanview can run video files too, like this MP4 video file.

    Not just for image files, Irfanview can play mp3 and other audio files.

    Not just for image files, Irfanview can play MP3 and other audio files.

    Not just photos

    Irfanview goes beyond just opening photos.  It can also load and play audio and video files.  Want to play an MP3 music file or maybe an AVI video file?   Irfanview can do!

    Send Irfanview images to an external editor of your choice.

    Setting up external editors allows you to send an image from Irfanview to another editor, Photoshop in this example.

    Open with an external editor

    If Irfanview can’t do what you need, you can have it send the image to an external editor of your choosing.  You can specify up to three different editors in the Properties/Setting Menu.

    The Thumbnails menu is Irfanview gives you many ways to look at your image files in a folder.

    The Thumbnails menu is Irfanview gives you many ways to look at your image files in a folder.

    View Thumbnails

    This is a useful option.  (The “T” key is the shortcut).  Pick this, a submenu will open, and you can then browse all the folders on your drives.  Find the image you want, double-click it, and it will open in Irfanview.  The Thumbnails feature is very robust, offering many ways to view your files and see information about them.

    Irfanview is a great program for making slideshows.

    Irfanview is a great program for making slideshows.

    Make a slideshow

    This is one of my favorite features of Irfanview.

    You can create an impromptu slideshow from images on any drive – even a plugged-in flashdrive. You can have the images automatically or manually advance, set timings, add music, show text such as file name, or even complete EXIF data.

    If you want to save and take your finished slideshow elsewhere, you can save it to a self-contained EXE file, burn it to a CD or DVD, or even create a Screensaver file (SCR). With your computer connected to a projector, Irfanview makes a great presentation program, even allowing you to do things on the fly.

    The batch conversion-rename tool in Irfanview is very powerful.

    A top feature of Irfanview is its powerful batch conversion-rename utility. I’ve found none better.

    Batch conversion/rename

    I have not found a better program for this kind of work than Irfanview. Say I need to convert 200 TIF images to JPG, resize them to 1200 on the long side, sharpen them slightly, and rename them all to the same name but with sequential numbering. Irfanview has many of these options. You can tell it exactly what to do, how to do it, and where to save the results.

    Once set up, it can work with as many files as necessary and, when set in motion (Start Batch), will quite quickly perform the assigned task.

    Yes, the menus are quite extensive in this portion of the program, and taking the time to prepare your batch command carefully is important. What’s great, however, is the extensive options giving you very precise control of what you want.

    There’s only one caution I’d give (and the default settings will usually protect you from doing this); if you convert or rename your files, be sure to set Irfanview to make a copy of those instead of overwriting the originals. You don’t want an “oh no!” moment if you discover you made a mistake and overwritten your originals.

    Irfanview is a reasonablly capable image editor.

    It’s not Photoshop, but Irfanview is a reasonably capable image editor.

    Editing images

    I won’t suggest that Irfanview will replace your dedicated photo editors like LightroomPhotoshop, or whatever editing tool you use. That would be like saying the saw on a Swiss Army knife is a fine substitute for a chainsaw when felling trees.

    However, in a variation of the saying about the “best camera,” let me say that the best editor is… the one you have with you.

    Since Irfanview can work from a thumb drive, if necessary, without even installing it to the host computer, it’s easy to have it with you.

    It’s installed on my desktop and notebook computers, and I carry a copy on a thumb drive on my keychain. Don’t leave home without it!

    So what can you do with Irfanview as an editor?  Here’s a quick list:

    • Adjust color, brightness, contrast, saturation, gamma,
    • Resize image, canvas size
    • Crop
    • Add text
    • Paint – adjust brush size, color, shape, type
    • Fill
    • Sample color
    • Replace colors
    • Flip, rotate, mirror vertically or horizontally, straighten
    • Draw lines, arrows, shapes
    • Add borders, frames
    • Convert to grayscale, adjust color depth, invert to negative
    • Show histogram
    • Fix Red-Eye
    • Sharpen
    • Clone Stamp
    • Plus more!
    Create multi-image montages with Irfanview.

    Use Irfanview to create multi-image montages.

    Other editing/compositing functions

    Irfan has other great tricks it can perform. Need to create a contact sheet? Make a montage image? Yes, Irfanview can do these things.

    While it also has a “Panorama” creation function, this is not a stitching program that can detect and seamlessly merge multiple images. It works better for making horizontal montages with multiple images where the edges need not match.

    For stitching panoramas, I would instead suggest another free program, Microsoft ICE, on which I wrote this previous article.

    Irfanview can control your scanner, bringing the scanned image into the program for further work.

    Irfanview can control your scanner, bringing the scanned image into the program for further work.

    Scanning, copying, and printing

    Irfanview can connect to scanners and other TWAIN devices to bring images directly into the program. Point Irfanview to the device, and it will allow you to scan single or multiple images.

    If you need to make a quick copy of something and have both a scanner and printer connected to your computer, Irfanview has a Copy Shop feature that scans the image and immediately sends it to the printer.

    Still more tricks

    You will want to explore Irfanview on your own as there are more possibilities than I can possibly write about here. As with many things, the best way to learn is to experiment and get some hands-on experience.

    Here a few other things you may wish to try:

    Screen captures

    Need a screenshot to save or send someone?  Use the Print Screen function on your keyboard to capture the screen.  Then open Irfanview and Edit->Paste the captured image.  Crop it as desired and save the image for attachment to your email, further editing, or printing.

    Add your exposure data to your photo with Irfanview.

    Want to have your exposure data show on your photo? Irfanview can do! Display any Exif or IPTC data you like.

    Put exposure data (or other text) on photo

    There could be times you might want to display Exposure data or other text on your photo.  Here’s a simple way to do it in Irfanview:

    • Open the photo of interest
    • Drag a box on the portion of the image where you want to display the text
    • Click Edit->Insert Text
    • Use the menu that appears to fill in the information you want to be displayed.
    • You can use the Exif data codes to pull data from the file (if you haven’t overwritten it with a previous edit to the file).  A list of all codes is available in the Irfanview Help menu. Click the Help button in the menu to see them.  See an example in the image above.
    • If you want to be able to save the “recipe” you created, you can save it as a Profile which you can then use later.  This same technique can be used within the Batch conversion tool to do multiple images.
    Plug-ins offer many more options in Irfanview like this Effects option.

    Plug-ins offer many more options in Irfanview like this Effects option.

    Plug-ins and filters

    When you really want to dig deep into what Irfanview can do, you can explore the plug-ins and filters option. Here you can do such things as OCR (Optical Character Recognition), which will allow you to scan in a page of text and then convert it to editable text.

    There is Facial Recognition (which I’m still deciphering), and there are the Image Effects (with an image open in Irfanview, click Image->Effects->Effects Browser, to get an overview of the various looks you can achieve.

    Want even more? There are plug-ins under the Effects Menu like Filter Sandbox or Filter Factory. Irfanview can also use any Adobe-compatible 8BF filters.


    The Swiss Army Knife analogy is a perfect description of the way I use Irfanview. It may not be the tool I use routinely, and certainly isn’t my primary photo editor, but, like carrying a utility tool in my pocket, it is oh, so handy when I need it. It’s also easy to always have around.

    For a few tasks, it even does things commercial programs can’t or does them in a simpler, better way.

    I have used the program for over 20 years, and I can say even as I prepared this article, I learned some new things I’d not yet discovered. If you try it, you, too, will find a place in your photo-editing-toolkit for Irfanview.

    Let me know in the comments how you found it useful in your work.

    The post Irfanview – The Free Program You Need in Your Photo Editing Toolbox appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

    Source: DP School

  • The best wireless mics for $200 – DIYP reviews RODE Wireless GO

    I remember the first time I bought a wireless lav system. It was a lot of money, but I finally bit the bullet and bought my first wireless Sennheiser G2 system. There I was, $600 down, but as happy as a clam. At the time, you couldn’t get a (decent) wireless body-packs for less than […]

    The post The best wireless mics for $200 – DIYP reviews RODE Wireless GO appeared first on DIY Photography.

    Source: Diyphotographynet

  • How to quickly clean up and retouch a messy studio floor in Photoshop

    In an ideal world, studio floors and walls would all be pristine and perfect. But in the real world, even freshly painted and cleaned ones don’t stay that way for very long. They pick up dust and dirt, get smudges, scuffs and scratches, and we end up having to either clean and repaint them more […]

    The post How to quickly clean up and retouch a messy studio floor in Photoshop appeared first on DIY Photography.

    Source: Diyphotographynet

  • Canon wins lawsuit against counterfeit battery sellers on eBay

    I don’t know why, but I always get a shock when I see how many fake products there are out there. Not clearly marked 3rd party alternatives, but products actually designed and branded to look like the originals. We see it with memory cards regularly and even camera strap accessories, but fake batteries are also […]

    The post Canon wins lawsuit against counterfeit battery sellers on eBay appeared first on DIY Photography.

    Source: Diyphotographynet

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