Mirror Photography

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Photography Reflectors – The Unsung Heroes!

We all know that photography is about capturing light. We all know that the basic setup for a portrait requires three lights…Now for the ugly part – buying good quality studio portrait lights is expensive! Enter photography reflectors…

If we can’t afford to get a top quality 3 light system, the best option is to buy just ONE good quality light (rather than 3 cheap – and mostly useless – ones). Then we replace the other lights with reflectors that cost next to nothing. We could even make them ourselves!

Here’s what you do…

First: Set up your one studio light at around 45 degrees between your subject and the camera. Make it about 45 degrees above them as well. That’s one light. (BTW – your one light could even be the sun if you are outside!)

Second: Set up a large white reflector near to the model on the opposite side of your light. This will bounce light back into the shadowed side of the face. That’s light number two.

Third: Position a mirror above and behind your model. Angle the reflective surface to be pointed at the top and back of the model’s head and reflect light into his or her hair. That’s the hair light…light number three.

To avoid accidents and breakage, you can use mirrored plastic. Safety comes first. Or, in a pinch, you could use aluminum foil taped to a piece of poster board.

Fourth: Using a larger mirrored surface (The mirrored plastic sheets come in sizes up to 4 feet!) angle it to push light onto the background. With the judicious use of gels and cookies, you could “project” colors and patterns on the backdrop too! This is your separation light. Light number four.

Fifth: Using a smaller piece of the mirrored material, have someone hold it (or mount it on a stand) to kick some additional light into the face. Now if you expose for the light hitting the face, it is more than the light hitting the rest of the scene. So the rest goes slightly darker and subtly forces attention to the face. This is a MAJOR pro tip! This one is called a kicker and is light number five…

Need I continue?

You could light an entire set – with as many light sources as you want – with only one actual light and homemade or inexpensive photography reflectors. Try it, it’s fun and you will learn a TON!

Photography Lenses – What You Need to Know

Photographic Lenses – A perspective from an avid shutterbug

Have you ever wondered why photographs turn out different than what you saw through the viewfinder? Why is my photography blurry or out of focus? How do I capture more of the subject area in the photo? How can I get closer to the subject? Why is the photograph darker than suspected? I have had these questions over the years and have studied photography lenses so that I can select the most appropriate camera and camera lens for my subjects.

Today, with the most wonderful world of photography , and the technology at hand, it is much easier to shoot those prize photos even for the weekend shutterbug. But, if you understand even a few basics your photographs can turn out much better than you anticipated. It has become really easy for anyone to pick up a point and shoot fixed lens digital camera and take a great photo. With the influx of many high end, high megapixel cameras available for under $200.00, anybody can put memories in their pocket.

I started out shooting photography and using several types of photography lenses in the early 1980’s. My uncle introduced me to Pentax SLR equipment as he had a wholesale representative contact in Denver. I was able to purchase thousands of dollars worth of equipment for pennies on the dollar. And, so began the journey with my Pentax LX professional line of equipment. My photography lens arsenal was made up of many types such as wide angle, zoom, telephoto, macro, and standard camera lenses . I had a motor drive, high end camera flash, tripods, camera lens filters, lens hoods and more to get me started. As an athlete my first love was shooting sports which involved fast film, fast lenses, and a zoom lens. I soon fell into shooting landscapes, wildlife, and weddings. And, let me say, all for free. I loved taking pictures and giving them away to people who did not understand how to capture those prize memorable moments behind the lens.

So, what makes up the chemistry of photography lenses? How do they work and when should I use one over the other? Today it is so easy to get that all automatic digital SLR camera and lens and hope that the subject turns out as you thought it should. I think these automatic cameras are great. However, if you understand how to utilize other photography lenses in a manual mode you can still produce beautiful photographs. I actually have a Nikon D70 digital SLR camera today in addition to my Pentax LX and Nikon Coolpix pocket digital.

Photography Lenses Explained

Camera Lens Types:

  1. Wide Angle The wide angle camera lens enables the photographer to shoot a photograph when you wish to encompass more of the subject scene than would be possible with a standard lens such as a 50mm focal length. Wide angle camera lenses are typically a shorter focal length under 50mm and allow the photographer to change the perspective of the scene. A moderate focal length is about 24mm to 35mm that have apertures of F/2 or F/2.8 which allows more light in. There are also extreme wide angle lenses , called fisheyes, that can produce almost a 180 degree photo. These photographic camera lenses can be fun however, make sure you understand that the lens may produce a rounded image and the depth of field can be limited in low lighting conditions.
  2. Standard Standard lenses are typically the 50mm lenses. These are a fixed focal length and are the lens of choice on most SLR cameras . Everyone should have this camera lens . It typically will be used the most for everyday common photography. The 50mm standard lens is about what the human eye can see in the field of vision. It also produces the most relative size of the subjects and objects in the photograph. This camera lens can be one of the fastest lenses in your camera bag. It can be purchased with a low aperture of F/1.4 which will allow for very low lighting photographic opportunities.
  3. Zoom The zoom lens is my favorite lens. This camera lens gives the photographer so many options especially if you are not carrying two camera bodies with you. The zoom camera lens is not limited to one focal length but has movable elements in the lens that allow for multiple ranges. Zoom photographic lenses are available in many sizes but the typical lengths give you anywhere from 35mm – 70mm and 80mm – 200mm. I recommend these two lengths for the weekend hobbyist so that a full range from 35mm – 200mm can be achieved. These lenses can be expensive especially if the aperture is under F/4.0. They are typically not used in low lighting conditions or with motion photography unless you are shooting in daylight with sunny conditions. For most photography hobbyists, the 80mm – 200mm works great for sideline photographs and has enough focal length to capture images such as wildlife from a distance.
  4. Telephoto Telephoto camera lenses have a focal length that is longer than a normal 50mm lens. The longer the length of the telephoto camera lens the more magnification you can get and the closer you can draw near to your subject. These camera lenses differ from the zoom in that they are fixed and cannot provide the photographer a range of lengths. Most telephotos are used where the subject is static and situations where you are restricted to keeping your distance. They usually come with a smaller aperture somewhere around F/4.0. Careful selection and use must be made when using these lenses as they can be heavier and blur photographs with the slightest movement. I would recommend a tripod or monopod for use with lenses longer than 200mm. They are absolutely great for sports and wildlife photography. I have used anywhere from 100mm to a 500mm mirror telephoto. The 500mm mirror lens was really nice when shooting at an air show.
  5. Specialty There a couple of specialty camera lenses that I’ll talk about. The first photographic lens that is a must for close- up photography is the macro lens. This lens can come in a few focal lengths that are typically less than 100mm. The macro camera lens enables the photographer the ability to shoot subjects extremely close-up such as flowers, insects, and commercial products. These camera lenses are really fun and can produce beautiful images that fill the frame with wonderful color and detail. I have done a lot of macro photography and recommend that a tripod be used when shooting these subjects so that blurring is limited. These lenses can also have lower apertures so that long exposure under low lighting can be accomplished. The other type of specialty lens is the perspective control lenses that will take close up photographs and keep the subject sharp in focus and prevent the depth of field from distorting the subject. I have not used these types of lenses so I cannot give you a real life example. However, for most non-professional photographers this lens may not be worth the investment. Finally, I will mention the 2x converter. This photography lens cannot stand alone but augment another lens by boosting the focal length by two times it’s standard length. You simply add it between the camera and your lens of choice and the optical mirrors magnify the image by two. I use this often outdoors shooting sports on sunny days where I have a bunch of light. This will boost my 300mm zoom to 600mm. And, I can get really close to my subjects from the sidelines.

Photography lenses today provides the shutterbug an array of opportunities for photographic design. Depending on the type of photographer you are, it will determine the types of camera lenses you put into your camera bag. I would suggest that everyone has at least a mid-range zoom. If it is the only lens in the your budget at time of purchase, you can add other camera lenses later. The 35mm – 70mm would be my recommendation. If you are going to shoot athletics you will most likely be on the sidelines or in the bleachers and will need up to a 300mm telephoto or zoom. Depending on your budget I would suggest a lower aperture but nothing more than F/4.0.Have fun and remember that you can take oodles of pictures today and test your photographs much easier with digital SLR photography . If you don’t like your results, delete them. Then, go out and take more pictures!

To your photographic success.

Online Photography Courses – Lens Types

The following lenses are the most common you will find on the market for amateur and professional use. You may want to add to your existing lens kit some time; following are lens definitions and major options to consider when researching.

Telephoto Lenses (200m, 500mm, 1000mm)

Telephoto lenses or long focus lenses produce larger images of distant subjects than shorter focal length lenses or normal lenses. They require extra extension to place them further from the film plane. The greater the extension or focal length of the lens the greater the magnification.

This extension presents no problem with a stand camera but does with portable or hand held cameras. The lenses are long and bulky, they are unbalanced and awkward to use in the hand and it is virtually impossible to eliminate hand shake and movement from shutter release.

The telephoto lens gives a very shallow depth-of-field and is often not corrected for subjects closer than 5 to 10 metres. It is therefore excellent for picking out distant, virtually perspective less detail, and de-emphasising surroundings. The telephoto has the ability to compress scenes.

Tele-converters, an extension tube containing optical components are made for use between lenses and body. They are cheaper than telephoto lenses but image quality is generally poor. The most common telephoto lens is around the 200mm size, and of course, the cheapest.

Wide Angle Lenses (18mm, 20mm, 28mm, 35mm)

A wide angle lens or short focal length lens produces smaller images and wider views than the longer focal length lenses or normal lenses.

Problems with wide angle lenses are perspective distortions and are gross at close lens to subject’s distances. Lines will converge and diverge and close subjects are size disproportionate.

In addition, because of the wide angle of view you are prone to aberrations in strong lighting conditions. Most wide angle lenses are supplied with lens hoods to help overcome acute light rays. Such aberrations include lens flare and corner fall off.

Wide angle lenses are useful when close camera to subject distance and maximum depth-of-field is required. The 28mm is generally what most people choose,and the wider you go the more expensive. The most expensive is the following lens, the fish eye.

Fish Eye Lenses (6mm 220o, 14mm 180o)

The fish eye lens sacrifices correction of linear distortion in favour of extreme angle of view. Depth-of-field is extensive and definition quite good. Some fish eyes have been produced for scientific purposes, such as total sky photography for meteorology. Mostly they are used to give spectacular distortions in commercial images.

High cost and limited applications mean that these lenses are usually hired and not purchased.

Macro Lenses

Macro is a general term applied to lenses for close-up photography – conditions where the image is larger than the subject. They are generally of short focus and corrected for close subject distance.

The use of macro lenses at their smallest aperture should be avoided. The very high effective f/ can lead to image deterioration due to refraction.

Bellows and extensions tubes are available to extend the range of the macro lens. Macro lenses are also an expensive lens, so chooses carefully.

Zoom Lenses (80-220mm, 35-120mm)

Zoom lenses combine the basic forms of several lenses in a single lens. For a lens to accomplish this calls for a complex optical system comprising many elements. Zoom lenses are generally acquired to replace a large range of lenses and are particularly useful for travel.

Zoom lenses are generally in the longer focal length which presents the problem associated with this focal range. Also because of the additional elements in the design of the lens, quality suffers.

This lens is the most popular these days and are usually offrered as part of the kit when you purchase a camera. As this is a common lens, it is quite cheap, however, like telephoto lenses, the longer the lens the more expensive.

Soft Focus Lenses (120mm portrait lens)

A soft focus lens represents a point of light as a circular patch of light with a core of greater intensity. It therefore differs from an out-of-focus image. The effect is a luminous halo or softness of outline.

Soft focus lenses are usually of high quality and have history of use in portraiture, fashion, glamour and more recently in boudoir photography.

Soft focus can also be achieved through soft focus filters. These lenses are very expensive and usually purchased by professional photographers who are doing a lot of glamour and fashion work with models.

Process Lenses

Process or copying lenses are specifically designed for copying work. It is essential for such lenses to have an undistorted field of view (flat), even illumination and a high degree of chromatic correction.

Process lenses are not required to cover a wide field and need not be of wide aperture. Maximum aperture is frequently f/8 and the field of view is normally a 1:1 ratio.

Mirror Lenses (500mm, 1000mm)

The mirror differs from all the above as it is a reflecting system and not optical. Mirror lenses are recognised by their characteristic drum shape and the opaque central area of the front element.

Mirror lenses are popular for long focal lengths for small cameras as they are considerably shorter than their optical counterparts. Mirror lenses are also cheaper than long optical lenses.

Problems are that these lenses suffer from aberrations and cannot focus to close subjects (1000mm min 30m) and lens speed is slow (f/10.5)

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