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Lighting a Senior Portrait with the Sun and the Profoto B2

A quick lighting lesson for outdoor portrait sessions.

Devin is an amazing young woman and full of life. Her senior portrait session was a blast for us all. At one point, we were walking from one spot to another (shade to shade – we are in Arizona, after all) and I fell in love with the idea of Devin with her ukulele in this corn field. Cute right? Also very difficult to light naturally, because we are in direct sunlight.

So, I am going to give you the quick recipe for a bright sunlit scenario:

1. Turn your subject away from the sun. This give you a nice rim light to separate her from the background and it keeps her from squinting into the sun. And it keeps her face in her own shadow.

2. Light her with a powerful flash, but NOT from the camera. Our flash is coming from off the left side of the frame, as close to the frame as possible. Lighting her from the side keeps the subject full of volume, rather than flattening her out and looking like an obvious flash. On camera flash is the worst kind of flash.

3. To match the power of the sun, you will need a lot of light from your flash. Whatever flash you have (mine was a Profoto B2) you can increase its power and size by using a deep silver umbrella (on any flash) which will magnify the light by nearly double. So, even if you have a speedlight… you can double its power by using a Profoto Deep Silver Umbrella. Make sure to push the flash all the way into the umbrella.

4. Play with the power of your flash until you have the right mix of ambient light from the sun and flash light from the flash. Notice that we did not lover the ambient light so that everything was dark and rich blue, because it was a bright sunny day. We let it feel that way in the shot and then simply added light on her face to fill in the shadows under the hat and on the entire camera side of her body. But not so bright that we lost the feel of he being in her own shadow.

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Lighting with one light is simple, if you pay attention to and use the light you already have and just use your one additional light to augment the light that already exists.  Don’t fight the light, work with it.  Let God do 90% of the work and you just do the other 10%.

P.S.  Contrary to her look in the behind the scenes photo, Devin was having a good time.  But I think there may have been a bee flying around.

Album Design Software: Smart Albums vs Fundy

Album Design is Intense

Designing albums and books is a intense chore for photographers and requires time, love and skill… and great tools. Well, you can do it without great tools, but then it takes more time, tests your love and tries your skills. With that in mind, I thought I would share my thoughts with you on the latest releases of what I think are the two best album design programs out today.

Fundy v Smart Albums

 

Keep in mind, there are plenty of album companies (like KISS, Leather Craftsmen and Queensbury) who will design your albums for you, and a few independent designers (Align Album Design), who will take this task off your plate for you, if you are willing to let go of it. For those of you who are not, take a few minutes to watch the following set of videos to get my take on the chief differences between Fundy Designer and Smart Albums. Both album design programs are excellent programs, I have decided on a winner, and if you don’t already know which one I choose to use, you will at the end of this blog post.

FULL DISCLOSURE

I am not being paid or compensated by either of the companies for this review, but I have spoken at Smart Albums booth at trade shows. I am also using my own purchased copy of both programs… no freebies. I wanted to run them through their paces, so I bought both of them. I only plan on using one of them for my production. So this is just my honest and independent take on two impressive album design tools.

Starting with Lightroom

Building Album Spreads

Manipulating Album Spreads

Organizing Spreads

Adding Text

Image Editing

Exporting Spreads

Client Proofing

Ordering the Album

Conclusion

This blog post is meant to provide you with a few things to think about before you start comparing album software for yourself.  You may want to add other album production software in the mix, like several online designers that are available.  Hopefully, the items I have discussed here will get you thinking critically about the programs your are considering.  It really does matter what software you choose!  It needs to work with you and not against you.  Whether you enjoy the process will depend on your choice.  So choose well…

Find and Test the Software

Now here is your assignment: go make an album with both pieces of software, think about the items I have discussed and watch for even more differences. Prioritize the good and bad and decide which tool makes you faster, which gives you the most artistic freedom and which lets you enjoy the process. The one you choose should have a good score on all three of those requirements. Then buy the winner and start making albums and books!

Smart Albums

Fundy Designer

 

Madison’s Senior Portraits in Gilbert, Arizona

We spent the morning with Madison in Gilbert, Arizona, photographing her senior portraits. Here are my favorites from the shoot.
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A BIG DEAL! $4000 of Photo Stuff for $99

Information on the Big Deal for photographers

This is a BIG DEAL!

Over thirty photographers and photography companies have come together to give you the BIG DEAL! Look at this list of contributors and items and tell me that $99 isn’t a great price for this. My item alone is worth $110. You will be getting your $99 back over and over again… and you will be helping a good cause at the same time.

20% of your purchase will go to charities like Team Jessie.

Take a look at this list! It is unbelievable… and yet, it is true! Even if you already have my presets, its worth it for all the other goodies you will get.

Lindsay Adler – Designing an Image & Studio Lighting Guide, Subscription to NEW website
Jared Platt – Comprehensive Collection of 400 Lightroom Presets & Lightroom Webinar
Mylio – 1 Year Subscription
Dave Cross – 1 Year Subscription
Tony Sweet – 13 Videos Covering Macro Photography, Texturing, Infrared, Mirroring plus more
Rick Sammon – Master the Art and Craft of Bird Photography Video
Simply Color – Simply Cash
PhotoshopCafe – Photoshop Destination CC LIVE
Lee Varis – Online Course in Mastering Image Creation & Photo Illustration in Photoshop
Bobbi Lane – Posing & Directing Video
Craig Minielly – Retouch Toolkit & BeautyBar Pro set of Actions for Lightroom/Photoshop
Phlearn – PhlearnMethod Bundle, Photoshop 101 & 201, Beginners Guide to Levitation
SharkPixel – Landscape Photography Presets for Lightroom
Lesa Snider – The Skinny Ebooks Series
Scott Wyden Kivowitz – E-Book: Time Is On Your Side: Exploring Long Exposure Photography
Lance Sullivan – Architecture Power Pack of Presets
Tyler Meade – 73 Sports and Commercial Photography Lightroom Presets
Sean Duggan – Photoshop CC Essentials: Selections, Masking & Compositing Video
Nik Pekridis – Video Training Course: Wedding Photography in Action
Gavin Gough – Photographers Workflow: Ebook & Videos
Perfectly Clear – Photoshop and Lightroom Plugins
Cris Duncan – Photography Business Starter Set: Ebooks & Video
Dane Sanders – Fast Track Photographer Audiobook
Andrew S Gibson – Mastering Photography & Understanding EOS Ebooks
ViewBug – 1 Year Membership
Eyefi – 1 Year Cloud Subscription
Peter Eastway – Subscription to Better Digital Photography & Photoshop Layers Class
David Ziser – Ebooks and Training Videos
Stephanie Cotta – Mastering the Art of Newborn Photography
KelbyOne LLC. – KelbyOne Photoshop and Lightroom Creativity Bundle
Richard Sturdevant – SturDaVinci Art Tools Photoshop & Corel Painting Bundle
Photofocus – Develop Great Images in Lightroom & 72 Essays On Photography EbooksRead More

A Lovely Wedding in Ripe, England

It was sucha pleasure to photograph this wedding in Ripe, England. I loved the village, I loved the wedding and most importantly, I loved my clients and their family.
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Photography by Jared Platt
Wedding location: England
Music by Mindy Gledhill

Photography is Part of the Adventure

I teach destination workshop around the world each year with www.MZed.com that are the most incredible experiences. Photographers of all skill levels come together to learn and to enjoy the art of photography. Professionals and amatures alike, spend time together, learning, traveling, talking, eating and going on little adventures. It is the highlight of the year. This year we will be in Krakow Poland. To join us, sign up with MZed now!
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Lightroom CC: A Short List of Great Features

Adobe Lightroom CC

It’s official! Lightroom has joined Adobe Creative Cloud. To this point, Photoshop, Indesign, Premier, Illustrator, and others have been a part of the Creative Cloud and enjoyed the constant and simple updates and the inter app connectivity of the cloud. But Lightroom has always felt like the outcast from the group.

Today, though, it’s official; with Adobe’s release of Lightroom CC today, Lightroom is now a legitimate part of the family, and that means the future is very bright for Lightroom.

With the designation CC, comes more frequent and automated updates to the program, which will be a welcome change. It also means we can expect greater inter app connectivity in the future. Some apps are already taking advantage of the Lightroom Mobile sharing, like Adobe Slate, which can draw from any of Lightroom’s mobile shared images. I think the CC designation was long over due, so I am glad Lightroom has finally gained its spot on the Creative Cloud.

Of course there are a number of new features and capabilities in the new Lightroom CC, which Matt Kloskowski and I will be reviewing on CreativeLive.

Here is a list of the most notable new features and upgrades to Lightroom CC:

Speed

Import, export and general computing speed has been increased by allowing Lightroom access to the graphics processor with GPU Acceleration. This is not a toy kind of feature that people get to play with, so I suspect it won’t get the face time it deserves. It is no small feature and will improve the entire experience of using Lightroom.

Import Directly to a Collection

A simple little feature like this one, makes a lot of difference in simple speed of organization.

Auto Size Standard Previews

Previews based on the size and need of your monitor.

Small Adjustments in the Quick Develop Panel

The quick develop buttons have finally been given a dose of subtlety.

True RAW HDR and Panorama Editing

This one is revolutionary! No more going to Photoshop to merge TIF versions of your RAW images and round tripping back to Lightroom. Lightroom CC will now merge your RAW images into Panoramic and HDR images and maintain the images for true RAW manipulation. This will open up new worlds of possibility for photographers everywhere. It means I will actually start to use HDR and Panoramic techniques in my work.

Movable Brush Pins

I have been waiting for this one for a long time, and it is finally here. Brush pins can now be moved, which allows for far greater synchronization of the local adjustments between images.

Refinement of the Local Adjustment Tools

Now, with the introduction of a modification brush tool inside the radial and gradient filter tools, working on images feels a lot more masking in photoshop. Now I can make broad strokes with the gradient and radial filters and then erase back the areas that have over stepped their bounds.

lightroom cc announcement

The People View in the Library Module

This is one of my favorite features. Lightroom CC has facial recognition built in!  Imagine the ramifications of this for event photographers who need to identify the people in their images for more accurate and faster image tagging.  Suddenly massive amounts of key-wording is something that can be done literally in ones’ sleep.

lightroom cc announcement

Slideshow Enhancements

The slideshow module also gained a few new features, including the Ken Burns effect and synchronizing slides to the music.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Matt Kloskowski and I will be reviewing these and more features today on creativelive.com and I will be going into incredible depth on these tools and more during my new CreativeLive course, Lightroom Crash Course, featuring Lightroom CC.  During this course we will not only show you what is new in Lightroom CC and how to use it, but also how how it fits into the overall post-production workflow.

I am truly excited about the release of Lightroom CC with its list of new features and all that the CC designation offers now portends for the future of Lightroom.  Lightroom’s future looks bright.

Grand Canyon Wedding for Chrystal and Richard

Here are the images from Chrystal and Richard’s Grand Canyon Wedding.

The Bride and Groom came down from North Dakota where they serve in the military (I love you military folk, thank you). Now a wedding in the spring at the Grand Canyon can be warm, cold or perfect. Crystal and I talked a lot about this topic as she was planning the wedding. But no matter how cold it could have gotten, it still would have been warmed that Minot, ND. So we were prepared for anything. And as fate would have it, the weather was absolutely perfect, and so was the wedding.
My first interest at this wedding was the flowers and the dress. The dress, by Vera Wang, has beautiful beaded flowers all over it, and I found myself comparing the wedding flowers to the dress. So… I shot a lot of flowers that day.

Wedding flowers by Jared Platt

Wedding flowers by Jared Platt

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Wedding dress by Vera Wang

Grand Canyon Wedding.

I think Richard was trying to hide the tears from the crowd. He was pretty successful. But we all know he was crying…

Grand Canyon Wedding.

Crystal was more open with her tears. The contrast between the two images is perfect.

Grand Canyon Wedding.

Anymore, it seems that weddings are full of people taking photos. Probably half of the people attending this wedding, were taking photos or videos at one point or another. Perhaps it is the location, but I see it a lot. Everyone is recording life these days. The real trick is to live it! I sometimes wish I could set the camera down during a wedding and just experience the moments the wedding guest are having. But, alas, I must do my job. I think it is great that people are interested in creating things as they attend a wedding, or go to a kids soccer game, etc. But I will tell you this, when I go to my son’s baseball game, I wish I had a professional taking the photos, so I could experience the moment and since I don’t, I tend to put the camera away in favor of experiencing the moment. My favorite part of this image is the set of young men on the left hand side of the frame. They chose to stand in a position where they could take it all in, the whole scene.

Grand Canyon Wedding.

The Grand Canyon had a magnificent sunset that happens twice every day. The first sunset happens inside the canyon when the light hits the various ridges and plateaus inside the canyon and criss crosses the canyon with shadows and light. The second happens above the canyon when the sun sets on the rest of the world. Both sunsets are beautiful in their own way. This next show is the second sunset on the canyon. We took a series of photos very quickly as the sun set for the second time that evening. Moving fast is critical at this point in the evening. I have to give a lot of the credit for the speed at which we can get these shots done to the Profoto B2 Off Camera Flash System we use. It allows us to maneuver quickly and get accurate TTL flash exposures with absolutely no fuss. So we are able to think more about the photo and less about getting the flash to cooperate.

Grand Canyon Wedding.

Crystal is not a big fan of heights. In the photo above, she was a little shaky about being close to the edge, but at least there was a nice barrier of stones between here and the “cliff”. I had intended to keep her at that distance, but she worked up the curate and said, “I am going to do this! Put me on the edge with my feet hanging over the cliff.” OK! Let’s do it. We carefully put her on the edge and took this next shot, which I absolutely love and hope she does as well.

Grand Canyon Wedding.

Then she got even more brave and stood up (with our support) and we got the next shot, which I love as well. So, this set of shots just goes to show you that there is a prize for those who show courage.

Grand Canyon Wedding.

Like I said, I was extremely interested in the flowers at this wedding. Debra, the wedding planner (a fantastic resource for any unique Arizona wedding) always does such an amazing job with the flowers and the details of her weddings.

On our way back to the hotel for the reception, the moon caught my attention. I hadn’t seen a moon like this in a very long time. It was the perfect phase, the perfect cross between night and day. I must have shot 30 versions of this moon. So I am giving you two of them.

Grand Canyon Wedding.
Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Wedding Location: The Grand Canyon
Slideshow Music by Kevin Burdick, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music
Wedding Design by My Arizona Guide
Image Post Production by Shoot Dot Edit

Going Back in Time to Photoshop 1.0

 

Happy Birthday to Photoshop this month as it hits its 25th Birthday! While I was at creativeLIVE for Photoshop Week 2015, a number of instructors (including me) had the opportunity to travel back in time and use Photoshop 1.0.

This was something I used as a sophomore in college in the early 1990s. That’s right, LAST CENTURY!

When people talk about how things were built better back in the day, or that life was better way back when, they are obviously not considering the explosive chemistry in a 19th century darkroom, the weight and fragility of glass plate negatives, covered wagons or Photoshop 1.0. I for one, would like to say thank you to all those inventors and smart people who have improved our lives over the past 150 years. I don’t miss the darkroom, I don’t miss polyester pants and I don’t miss Photoshop 1.0.

Photographing with the Panasonic GH4

I had the opportunity to shoot a wedding in Ripe, England with the Panasonic GH4.  This camera is a compact, light-weight camera with lenses so small you can fit them in the pocket of your jacket.  I have always carried around a little Canon point and shoot that takes RAW images, but no point and shoot can match the experience of a SLR style, through the lens viewfinder experience.  So the GH4 made for the perfect traveling companion.   I kept it with me throughout the wedding, and as I traveled throughout the country before and after the job.  While I shot, I has little experiments in mind, like latitude experiments and macro experiments, low light and motion experiments.  I have posted the results here in the blog.  The incredible thing about this little camera is that it also captures 4k video as well, but we will stick with the still photos for this post.

In this image of the pipe organ in St. John the Baptist church, where the couple was married, I was able to truly test the Panasonic GH4's exposure latitude capabilities. The church was quite dark inside and yet, I was able to capture full detail inside and outside.

In this image of the pipe organ in St. John the Baptist church, where the couple was married, I was able to truly test the Panasonic GH4’s exposure latitude capabilities. The church was quite dark inside and yet, I was able to capture full detail inside and outside.  I fully expected that I would not be able to maintain any detail in the exterior exposure, but I was pleasantly surprised by the latitude on this little camera.

The wedding couple took a walk along the southern coast of England before the wedding.

The wedding couple took a walk along the southern coast of England before the wedding.  Carrying a heavy SLR and its heavier lenses on a long walk is not all that much fun.  In fact carting equipment around makes me wonder why I chose to be a photographer in the first place.  But with a camera as small and light as the GH4 and its sharp little lenses that weigh almost nothing and fit almost anywhere, I was carrying three lenses and camera and I hardly knew I had anything with me.  At times I had to double check to make sure I had a camera.  Typically a light, compact camera means poor photos, but the GH4 breaks that rule.

It was a leisurely stroll and yes, we stopped to admire the flowers.

It was a leisurely stroll and yes, we stopped to admire the flowers and I tested my need for macro!  The GH4 was perfect, in fact, the digital view finder allowed me to see exactly what my depth of field looked like while taking the shot.  That something that a traditional SLR won’t do for you.

The white cliffs made for a stunning coastline.

The white cliffs made for a stunning coastline.  Here again, I was battling a latitude challenge with the bright sun peeking through the clouds, but the GH4 held the detail in the brightest spots of the clouds and even in the shimmer on the water behind the couple walking near the cliff.

Silence at a wedding is golden, especially in an old stone church. The GH4 has a completely silent mode that makes me as a photographer invisible to everyone at the wedding.

Silence at a wedding is golden, especially in an old stone church. The GH4 has a completely silent mode that makes me as a photographer invisible to everyone at the wedding and since my greatest wish is to be invisible at a wedding, this was a perfect camera for the job.  While I was shooting the wedding with both my Canon and the GH4, I found myself choosing the GH4 for all of the close shots as I crept down the isle.  They may have seen me there, but I can guarantee you, no one heard me.

Wedding in Ripe England

Not only could the GH4 give me great back and white images from the church, but it provided excellent color in a dark church. Not only could the GH4 give me great back and white images from the church, but it provided excellent color in a dark church. Smaller chips often yield more noise, so I tested the GH4 for noise and found that the color noise was extremely low and the grain structure feels ver natural. I am a sucker for a beautiful grain structure. I know… its nerdy.

 

Wedding in Ripe England

Not only could the GH4 give me great back and white images from the church, but it provided excellent color in a dark church. Not only could the GH4 give me great back and white images from the church, but it provided excellent color in a dark church. Smaller chips often yield more noise, so I tested the GH4 for noise and found that the color noise was extremely low and the grain structure feels ver natural. I am a sucker for a beautiful grain structure. I know… its nerdy.

 

Wedding in Ripe England

This little angel was my subject for a few days. The grooms niece and I chased each other around the grounds of the church for a little while as the bride and groom chatted with heir guests. The articulating screen on the camera allowed me to follow her around at a long angle and grab shots of her as we ran. Ordinarily, I would be taking shots like this completely blind, wasting 20 shots to get one that was in focus and composed correctly. But because I could see her in the articulating screen at all times and the GH4’s auto focus was tracking her face, I never missed a shot. It’s always nice to have a lot of images to choose from.

Wedding in Ripe England

Like many churches in England, the cemetery surrounds the church, so when the little girls play on the church grounds, they play amid the tombstones of their ancestors. The groom’s Godfather rests in this cemetery. Was was fascinated by the casual and playful attitude of the children amongst the stones. They see them as just that, stones. I couldn’t present this image in color. It needed to be a black and white. It just deserved it. The GH4 makes exquisite black and white images from its RAW files.

After the wedding, I took a drive to Stratford Upon Avon to catch a little Shakespeare. Before the show, I took in the character of the old english buildings.

After the wedding, I took a drive to Stratford Upon Avon to catch a little Shakespeare. Before the show, I took in the character of the old english buildings.  It handled the latitude and the saturation issues on the chimneys very well.

After the show, I tested the higher ISO settings on the GH4 and at 3200 ISO, the camera produces a very nice grain structure with low color noise. I was completely happy with its extremely low light capabilities.

After the show, I tested the higher ISO settings on the GH4 and at 3200 ISO, the camera produces a very nice grain structure with low color noise. I was completely happy with its extremely low light capabilities.  I couldn’t have asked for a better image in that light.

My total experience with the Panasonic GH4 was wonderful. It’s small and lightweight body and lenses make it the perfect camera for hiking, and traveling. The quality is quite good and when compared to any small sensor camera, is absolutely fantastic. One could use the camera as their only camera and carry four times the lenses in half the space. Using it in conjunction with my smart phone was helpful as well. Rather than taking decent photos on my iPhone to post on social media, I was able to take superior images on the GH4 and send them to my phone for social media purposes.

The only draw back on the camera is the increase in depth of field due to the chip size and lens lengths. But that is a standard issue with micro four-thirds cameras. For those of us who like to live on the edge of focus, it feels like a limitation. But you get used to the feeling of having all your photos in focus and after a while, it stops feeling like a limitation and starts feeling like a blessing.

Panasonic is making exciting things for photo enthusiasts and pros alike. My good friend and photographer, Isaac Bailey, shoots with a Panasonic micro four-thirds camera and here’s what he has to say about it:

“I love my Panasonic mirrorless camera. It has opened a new realm of fun in personal photography for me. Using the control I get from my big DSLR with tiny size and weight, I can really go anywhere with this baby and make great shots” -Isaac Bailey Photographer Phoenix

Traveling with a camera is the only thing I know. I have never been able to go anywhere without needing a camera with me, but there is always a battle between high quality and compact size. The micro four-thirds market has opened up a new world of possibilities for compact PLUS quality and Panasonic is leading the charge. Heavy cameras may be a thing of the past in the not too distant future. Hurray for that!