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  • Sony’s new firmware v5.0 for the A9 is out now, adding AI-enhanced real-time Eye AF tracking

    Announced in January, the first of two new firmware updates for the Sony A9 is now available. Sony A9 firmware v5.0 adds real-time Eye AF as well as specific eye preference detection, better low light autofocus performance, increased AF accuracy, and a whole host of other new and updated features. One word of warning – Installing […]

    The post Sony’s new firmware v5.0 for the A9 is out now, adding AI-enhanced real-time Eye AF tracking appeared first on DIY Photography.

    Source: Diyphotographynet

  • The Importance of Shadows in Portrait Photography

    The post The Importance of Shadows in Portrait Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

    When you’re starting out with learning how to light your photography, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of blasting your subjects with light from all angles. The results are often bright images without a hint of a shadow anywhere. Sometimes that’s exactly what the job calls for: bright, cleanly lit images with very little contrast. However, obliterating the shadows in your images can have a negative impact.

    The difference between heavily lit images and those with the shadows maintained can be astounding.

    Deliberate and effective use of shadows in your images can help to create a natural contrast and depth, convey drama and emotion, and provide you with powerful compositional elements in your photography.

    This article will discuss these reasons why it’s not only important to retain the shadows in your imagery, but to keep them in primary consideration while you are still planning your images. There is also an outline of a simple exercise you can do to help you to start better seeing shadows, and how they affect your images, that you can use to improve your understanding of light.

    Not just low-key

    Obviously, low-key images rely heavily on shadows, but shadows are important in all styles of photography.

    It is important to clarify one thing here. This concept doesn’t just apply to low-key images where the vast majority of the space in the frame is dominated by shadow tones. In fact, shadows are just as important to brightly lit images as they help to define the shape and features of your subject.

    Why shadows are important

    Retaining the shadows in your images can do a lot of things for you, especially in terms of image design. Listed below are a few of these for you to consider.

    Depth and contrast

    Retaining shadows in your images can help give you a natural contrast and add depth to your images.

    Contrast, in terms of this article, is the tonal difference between dark and light. This contrast is how we see things in three dimensions and it’s exactly how you can create the appearance of three dimensions in your two-dimensional imagery. The thing is, it’s hard to do this without shadows. (It’s also difficult to do it without specular highlights, but that’s a different discussion for a different day.)

    For example, to illustrate the three-dimensional nature of a nose, you need a highlight that graduates into mid-tones. The highlight indicates the closest point of the nose to the light. Assuming the light is above your subject, shadows will fall underneath the nose. This provides a visual indicator that the nose is protruding from the face. Without the shadows, there will be little, if any, differentiation between the nose and the rest of the subject’s face. This results in a flat, unsettling image. Even if your viewers cannot figure out what they’re looking at, they will still be aware that something seems wrong.

    Ensuring that you have shadows in your images will help to have pleasing, natural-looking images in any type of lighting.

    Add drama and evoke mood

    Shadows are a fantastic tool when you are trying to create images that evoke mood and emotion.

    Generous use of shadow tones in your images is one of the quickest and most effective ways to evoke a sense of mood and helps you to create images with bags of drama.

    You can do this in a number of ways including:

    Backlighting and short lighting

    Short lighting is a great tool to help you place shadows where they have the most impact.

    Lighting your subject from behind will render most of the foreground of your frame as shadow tones, with only certain aspects of your subjects rendered with highlights.

    To control the strength of your shadows, you can change the size and shape of your light source, change the distance between the light source and your subject, or fill the shadows with a secondary light source.

    Lighting choice

    Making a deliberate lighting choice (like the 2’x2′ softbox used here) to emphasize your shadows is one of the easiest ways to take control of the shadows in your imagery.

    If you use a small(ish) light source in close to your subject, you can make use of the faster rate of light fall off to help introduce shadows into your images.

    For an even better grasp of this, pick a few movies or television shows (especially dramas) and study the lighting choices during dramatic scenes with a lot of dialogue. In a lot of cases, you will find that there was a conscious choice to light the actors in a way that highlights specific features while throwing most of the rest of the actor in shadow.

    Compositional elements

    Shadows are a great way to help compose your images and can help you to draw attention to your focal point.

    Shadows can be used to wonderful effect in crafting compositional devices within your images. Using darker tones to frame your subject, or to lead your viewer’s eye to what you want them to see can help to make more dynamic and interesting images.


    Shadows don’t have to be dark. Even filled in with additional lights, you can still use shadows for contrast and depth.

    When you’re talking about shadows, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to ultra dark tones with little or no visible detail. By using fill lights, you can still light every single part of your image while retaining shadow tone. If you expose your fill light two or three stops below your key light, you will still have the appearance of contrast in your images, but you will retain all the finer details that would be missing if you hadn’t used fill.

    An exercise in shadows

    To get the grips with this concept, try this simple exercise with a lot of different subjects.

    First, choose a subject. Any subject will do, but you might want to start with something static.

    Take a good, critical look at what you’ve picked to photograph and start thinking about the lighting. However, instead of thinking about the highlights, try to focus only on where you want to place your shadows.

    With that decided, pick a light source (a desk lamp will do) and light your subject so that you have the desired effect.

    If you want to take this further, once you have your shadows in place, you can further modify and manipulate your light so that the highlights behave in a way that compliments the shadows.

    That’s it

    While this is a simple concept, it can seem counterintuitive. When you’re approaching lighting, of course it makes sense to think about the highlights first; however, incorporating some extra thought about your shadows can help take your lighting skills to a new level. Try the exercise above with a few different subjects, and evaluate if and how you can make shadows work for you in your photography.

    The post The Importance of Shadows in Portrait Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

    Source: DP School

  • The Insta360 ONE X is a 5.7K 360° “action camera” which completely eliminates the need for a gimbal

    The pace at which some technologies are developing today is just amazing. One area that’s seen particularly rapid progress over the last few years is 360° cameras. But I’ve often felt that the technology still wasn’t quite there – at least when it came to the 360° cameras that fit in our pockets. The YI […]

    The post The Insta360 ONE X is a 5.7K 360° “action camera” which completely eliminates the need for a gimbal appeared first on DIY Photography.

    Source: Diyphotographynet

  • Portrait Photographers: Do You Really Need a 70-200mm Lens?

    The post Portrait Photographers: Do You Really Need a 70-200mm Lens? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

    For many portrait photographers, the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is considered the key to great results. This lens seems like it covers all the bases that any portrait photographer would want: wide aperture, a range of good focal lengths, and excellent build quality. It’s the cornerstone of many portrait photography workflows – and with good reason too – but it also comes with a hefty price tag (nikon, canon, sony). The question, then, for many amateur and semi-professional portrait photographers becomes: do you really need a lens like this to get good portraits? The answer might surprise you.

    Nikon D7100, 50mm f/1.8 lens. Shot at f/2.4, 1/3000th second.

    Whenever you are thinking about buying new gear, it’s wise to perform a needs assessment. This can help you figure out exactly what you can do with your current camera equipment, what you want to do, and whether a new purchase is required to bridge that gap. You can do this using a variety of methods, but a good way to start is to ask yourself some simple questions such as:

    • What camera lenses do I currently have?
    • What kind of portraits do I want to take?
    • Do I know how to use my lenses to get those portraits?
    • If not, can I learn to use my lenses differently instead of buying new gear?
    • In what ways are my current lenses limiting my portraits?
    • What lens would be best for the portraits I would like to be able to take?

    Nikon D7100, 35mm f/1.8 lens. Shot at f/3.3, 1/90th second.

    Perhaps your current lenses are lacking in specific areas such as the ability to shoot in lower light, overall sharpness, or autofocus speed. In that case, it might be a good idea to look at upgrading your gear. However, it is also entirely possible that the lenses you have are just fine for portraits and you don’t need new lenses at all.

    If you do decide to drop some cash on a new lens, you might think that a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is the be-all, end-all, ultimate goal to start saving for. Also, in many respects, you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. However, you can get outstanding results with other lenses too and save a massive amount of money in the process. Here are some other lenses worth considering that produce excellent portraits for a lot less money.

    Note: While I mostly mention Nikon and Canon lenses throughout this article, you can also get the same types of lenses for other systems like Sony, Olympus, Fuji, Panasonic, Pentax, and more.

    The Power of the 50mm Prime

    One of the most amazing lenses you can get for portraits is a humble 50mm f/1.8. The Nikon version is around $200 and the Canon retails for about $125, and there are plenty of third-party options available as well.

    These little workhorses, sometimes called the Nifty Fifty or Fantastic Plastic due to the nature of their construction, can produce absolutely breathtaking results. In some ways, they are actually better than a two-thousand-dollar 70-200mm f/2.8 pro-grade lens. A 50mm f/1.8 lens has more light-gathering ability which means lower ISO values or faster shutter speeds in low light, as well as shallow depth of field.

    Autofocus speed on these lenses isn’t going to win any awards, nor are they designed to take a beating or function in the rain and snow. However, they shoot great images in low light, and their wide apertures let you get the type of creamy bokeh you might have always wondered about but never been able to achieve with your kit lens.

    Nikon D200, 50mm f/1.8 lens. Shot at f/1.8, 1/250th second.

    If you’re the type of person who delights in pixel-peeping or poring over MTF charts, you might turn up your nose at an inexpensive 50mm f/1.8 lens. That’s not the point of a lens like this though, and what they lack in technical specs they more than make up for with sheer results. Also, at less than one-tenth the cost of a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, their price-to-performance ratio is almost impossible to beat.

    Nikon D7100, 50mm f/1.8 lens. Shot at f/4, 1/350 second.

    The Mighty 85

    One downside to shooting with a 50mm lens is that you won’t get much background compression. Your subjects won’t appear any closer to the background elements in the shot. While you can use an f/1.8 aperture to make the background blurry, it won’t zoom in much which is one advantage of a lens with a longer focal length. If that’s what you’re looking for, then an 85mm lens might fit the bill quite nicely.

    Nikon D7100, 85mm f/1.8 lens. Shot at f/2.8, 1/350th second.

    An 85mm f/1.8 lens is going to cost about two to three times what you would pay for a 50mm f/1.8 – around the $400 mark for both the Nikon and Canon.

    In exchange, you’re going to get a hefty piece of equipment that is a little sharper, a little faster to focus, and will give you a bit more flexibility in terms of your portraiture. Its longer focal length will make it seem like backgrounds are just a bit closer to your subject.

    In addition to their ability to get super blurry backgrounds when shooting at wide apertures, this could be the answer you are seeking.

    Nikon D7100, 85mm f/1.8 lens. Shot at f/2.8, 1/750th second.

    The 85mm focal length is ideal for many portraiture situations. I know professional photographers who choose to shoot with an 85mm lens instead of a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. 85mm lenses are smaller, lighter, and often just as capable as their big brothers.

    Moreover, when you shoot at f/1.8, you can blur the background even more than a more expensive f/2.8 lens when shooting at similar focal lengths. While it’s true that the f/1.8 versions aren’t going to be as tack-sharp as their f/1.4 or f/1.2 counterparts, it’s hard to beat the value you get for your money.

    Go wide with a 35

    While many people tend to think of longer focal lengths as being best suited for portraits, you can get good results with a wider lens too. The 35mm focal length is close to what our human eyes see and can help you capture in-the-moment shots that are highly sought after by many people who want portraits. You can get up close and personal with a 35mm lens, shoot in low light conditions, and even achieve the buttery-smooth bokeh that you have always been craving.

    Nikon D7100, 35mm f/1.8 lens. Shot at f/1.8, 1/1000th second.

    Best of all, 35mm lenses are so cheap that you’re never going to break the bank with the Nikon coming in at around $200. Canon doesn’t offer a first-party 35mm lens but the excellent 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens is almost the same and even less expensive at about $175. My favorite part about a 35mm lens is that you can use it to get intimate images the likes of what a 70-200 f/2.8 could only dream of.

    Nikon D750, 35mm f/1.8 lens. Shot at f/4, 1/90th second.

    For years I shot almost exclusively with a 35mm lens on my full-frame camera. It was a constant companion of mine on everything from formal portraits to casual everyday shots. In fact, one of the biggest reasons I now use a Fuji X100F for almost all of my photos is because it’s basically the same as using a 35mm lens on a full-frame camera but in a much smaller package.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to do entire portrait sessions with only a 35mm lens, but if you’re considering a way to upgrade your kit you might be surprised at how much mileage you can get out of this lens. I would even go so far as to say that you’d be wise to have it even if you do opt for a 70-200mm f/2.8, simply because it’s nice to have the flexibility of shooting at a wider angle when you really need it.

    Nikon D7100, 35mm f/1.8 lens. Shot at f/4, 1/45th second with an external flash.

    The main takeaway here, before I get to an examination of the 70-200mm f/2.8, is that you can do a lot with other lenses. Whether it’s one of these less-expensive primes or a more professional-grade lens like the Canon 85mm f/1.2 or the Nikon 105mm f/1.4 or any number of other lenses especially from third parties like Sigma and Tamron, the point is you don’t always need the heft and focal range of a 70-200mm f/2.8.

    But sometimes you do.

    70-200mm f/2.8: The Jack-of-all-trades

    It’s impossible for me to say whether any individual photographer needs one of these lenses, but I can say that they are extremely useful in a variety of situations. They are professional-grade lenses designed to meet the demands of a variety of situations, especially for portrait photographers. If you really can’t get your work done with the gear you have, and if one of the other lenses I’ve already discussed isn’t going to meet your needs, then a 70-200mm f/2.8 might fit the bill quite nicely.

    Nikon D750, 70-200 f/2.8 lens. Shot at 200mm, f/3.3, 1/250th second.

    There are many times in which these lenses can outperform a lot of other options.

    If you find yourself in situations like this, then a 70-200mm f/2.8 could be just what you’re after.

    They are great for things like:

    • Fast-moving subjects who just won’t sit still. In other words…when you are photographing portraits of kids outdoors.
    • Full-body portraits where you want a nice blurry background
    • Subjects that are far away and you need to zoom in to see them
    • Group photos where you want to see the whole family but still have a nice blurry background
    • People moving towards the camera, either by themselves or as a group. You can stay in one place and adjust your focal length to zoom out while they get closer.
    • Action-style portraits of adults or kids while they are playing sports
    • Photographers who need a lot of versatility in their lenses, without wanting to change lenses or carry multiple camera bodies.

    Nikon D750, 70-200 f/2.8 lens. Shot at 140mm, f/4, 1/250th second.

    A 70-200mm f/2.8 lens isn’t always a necessity, but it can make a big difference if your needs aren’t met by other gear. They’re heavy and expensive, but the results can be worth it as long as you know why you want one and what you plan on using it for. You should also note that you might not need the sheer light-gathering capability of an f/2.8 aperture. In many cases, you would be well-served with a 70-200 f/4 lens which is going to cost significantly less and still produce good results.

    Nikon D750, 70-200 f/2.8 lens. Shot at 200mm, f/4, 1/180th second.

    Third-party options are a good choice too. You will often find 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses from Sigma, Tamron, and others available for about 50-75% of what you would pay for a first-party lens. These might not have the snappiest autofocus or same level of build quality, but for most portrait photographers they would work just fine.


    Hopefully, this information, along with some of these pictures, helps you get a better sense of what different lenses can do. Of course, a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is great, but if you examine your situation and think about your needs and goals, you might find that a different lens would suffice quite nicely. The point is to find something that works for you, no matter what it is and no matter what other people might use. As long as your gear helps you get the photos you want to take, then that’s all that matters.

    The post Portrait Photographers: Do You Really Need a 70-200mm Lens? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

    Source: DP School

  • The easy way to create colour grade LUTs in Photoshop for your videos

    Lookup Tables (LUTs) are a wonderful feature of most video editing software. They’re sort of like presets that allow you to get a consistent look across multiple clips that when edited together form a sequence. They allow you to remap one set of colours and brightnesses to another. Generally, there are two different types of […]

    The post The easy way to create colour grade LUTs in Photoshop for your videos appeared first on DIY Photography.

    Source: Diyphotographynet

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