10 Rules for Photographing on Location

The Wedding Couple and the Location

Valentina and Rpin were married at the Grand Canyon with just a few very close friends and family members late this spring. I have noticed something about most (if not all) couples who get married at the Grand Canyon, and that is that they are all very fun, casual and full of adventure. I get along with them all very well. But Rpin and Valentina took fun to a new level. I had not met them before the wedding day, but we spoke on the phone and exchanged emails, and I got the sense that they would be enjoyable people to work with. What’s more, they both work in Hollywood, so they understand the value of the photograph.

Early on in our discussions, Rpin explained how important the photos were to he and Valentina.  He basically told me that they wanted a photoshoot with a wedding on the side. That is a loose paraphrase, but close enough to the intent of his statement.  Knowing where he stood on the importance of the photograph, I knew that we had to get the portrait sessions absolutely perfect. For most photographers and couples, that means timing their wedding so that they get done with plenty of time to catch the perfect light at sunset. They push quickly through family photos and scramble to get into position for the sunset and grab a few shots before, during and just after the sun drops on the horizon, until the light is gone.  Then it is on to the dinner and dancing. But we all went above and beyond, and planned both a sunrise and a sunset portrait session.

Valentina would wake up by 3:30 am to be ready for a 5:15 am call time to be in position for a sunrise shot. In the darkness of the morning, with the bride wrapped in a warm coat, we would find our way off the beaten path, to the canyon’s edge, set up our lights and compose the image and be ready to nail the shot at precisely 6:30 am.  If that sounds like a lot of work for a few photographs, “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

Here are a few tips that will significantly increase the chances of nailing any photo session you may be planning.  These tips were critical to getting the perfect shots on both our sunrise and sunset sessions on Rpin and Valentina’s wedding day.

10 Rules for Photographing on Location

You have to know where you are shooting and what it will be like the date and the hour of the shoot.  One week prior to the wedding, I headed up to the Grand Canyon to do a little location scouting. I hit the canyon exactly one week before the wedding, before sunrise so I could see where the sun would rise and how it would effect the canyon in the early morning hours. Both fortunately and unfortunately, the canyon was covered in fog. Which was great for personal landscape photography, but not great for judging the canyon at sunrise on a typical sunny day. 

The grand canyon under fog.

But with the help of my favorite location scouting tool on my iPhone, Sun Seeker, I was able to see exactly where and when the sun would rise and set.

iPhone Sun Seeker application screen shot

With a good understanding of light, I was able to extrapolate its effect on the canyon, and I even got a few glimmers of sun peaking through the fog on occasion. But I was not just looking for light… finding the right location, on the edge of a mile deep hole is pretty important. I can’t just ask the groom to step over to the side, or move the light or the camera to the other side of the couple if there’s a branch in my way, or if the sun is in their eyes. By scouting the location ahead of time, I can pre-judge the composition, the lighting and the logistics, so my clients aren’t waiting for me to get my act together.  So we will start our list of location photography rules with the following:

  • Rule 1: Always scout your location before you shoot, even if it is a few hours before on the day of the shoot.
  • Rule 2: Always know where your sun will be at the time you will be shooting.
  • Rule 3: Don’t fall off cliffs while you are photographing, it can be very bad for business.

Remember the Timing is Everything

Knowing where and when the sun will rise in the frame was absolutely critical. I didn’t want to compose a shot and find the sun rising behind their backs, nor did I want to have the sun rising off camera left. Location scouting gave us the exact time and location of the sunrise, however, knowing all that does no good without efficient management of the crew and the talent (in this case, myself, my assistant and the couple). Judging hair and makeup time for the subject, travel time, set up time, and leaving a bit of fudge room for delays is critical to being on time. Sunrise lasts for mere minutes. In our case, we planned a 5:15 am departure from the hotel, knowing that we would never get out by 5:15. With an extra 20 minutes built into the schedule, when we got away from the hotel at 5:30, we were 5 minutes ahead of schedule.

  • Rule 4: Always build in extra time to hedge against unforeseen delays.

Reliable equipment and confidence in technique is also key to your success.  There is nothing worse than loosing a time sensitive photo because you ran out of card space, or a battery died.  You can’t simply blame the flash radio trigger for not working “this one time” and expect your client to understand… Fumbling with your equipment at the moment the sun rose was not an option, but by following some basic rules, we avoided the embarrassment and travesty of missing the shot.

  • Rule 5: Exchange all batteries in the cameras, flashes and triggers for brand new, fully charged batteries, no matter how full they already are.
  • Rule 6: Insert and format blank cards into the camera(s) before any critical, time sensitive shoot.
  • Rule 7: Only use reliable gear that is tired and tested and works 100% of the time.  (no hit and miss equipment)
  • Rule 8: Know your equipment inside and out and use a practiced technique on this critical, time sensitive shot (never try a “new” technique when shooting the shot that only happens once, you will fail in a big way).

With a few test exposures out of the way, my watch set, my camera locked down on a tripod and my flashes ready to add the fill light on the couple, we waited and watched for the sun to rise. We began shooting with seconds to spare knowing we would ease the couple into their role as the sun rose above the horizon. As the sun rose, we photographed like our lives depended on it, and kept shooting until the sun had lifted well beyond the horizon.  Not only is timing the right moment critical, but so is continuing to shoot through and beyond the entire extended moment.  Stopping to look at your handiwork is absolutely foolish. In our case, the sunset happened for a few short minutes,  and then the effect was gone. Too many people are not comfortable enough with their equipment and exposures and spend time double checking or sometimes admiring their images or worse, fussing with their equipment, which gets in the way of actually capturing the perfect moment.  So I will add one more rule to the list.

  • Rule 9: Test your exposures and technique before the shot, so you can shoot through the critical moments and never spend your time looking at your camera.

Bride and groom on the edge of the grand canyon at sunrise.

Location scouting is one of the most important things I do in my job as a photographer. I never fumble around with my clients preset. I already know where I will be shooting, where the sun will be and what to expect out of the light before I even get to the job.  Knowing your location, your equipment and your technique all have one net effect, which is to give your clients confidence in you as a photographer.  When they have confidence in you, they will have more fun and get more excited about what you are creating together as a team.  That alone will elevate the images you are making.

  • Rule 10: Following rules 1-9 will free you from the distractions of the photo shoot itself, freeing your attention to lavish it on your clients for an experience they will never forget.  (i.e.. have a lot of fun!)

At the end of the day, luck favors the prepared.  This is my way of being prepared when I go on location for commercial, lifestyle, portrait and wedding photography shoots. You may already have some of these rules in practice, and others may just seem like common sense, and you may have more to add to the list.  Take my list and add it to yours.  Tell us about your favorite tools or methods for location scouting.  You can reach me at jaredplatt.com.

Wedding Photography by Jared Platt

Wedding location: The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Slideshow Music by Hive Riot, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Bringing Joy to Kids with Serious Illness at Phoenix Children’s Hospital

He’s kind of a big deal!

High School Senior Portrait for Boy Scout Eagle Project

Teddy Scott is one person you will never forget. I have known him for the majority of his life, and lately, he has been assisting me on photography jobs, so I have gotten to know him even better, because you really learn a lot about someone when you see them on the job. However, there is something that will tell you much more about a person than how they treat their mother… that’s how they serve others without thought of reward. Teddy was the first to volunteer to shave his head when my little friend Trajen contracted cancer and was undergoing chemo therapy. I already had a bald head, so I don’t count, but many people shaved their heads to give Trajen the courage to shave his. Teddy lead the charge!
Young man Shaving his head in support for young boy with cancer
group of men with shaved heads supporting a young child in his battle against cancer
Leading another charge, this month Teddy finished his Eagle Project, which was to organize people throughout his church and community to make boxes and boxes full of Teddy Bears to deliver to Phoenix Children’s Hospital to be given to the children there who are fighting cancer and dealing with other serious illnesses. Trajen was one of those little kids. He touched us all (still does, thankfully – his was a successful battle) and he obviously had a lasting effect on Teddy. Now Teddy is working to bring a little joy to others just like Trajen, who have tough days ahead.

Young boy at Phoenix Children's Hospital fighting cancer.

When you have run out of things to pray about, or places to serve… say a prayer for the families who are fighting against the effects of cancer and other illnesses and look for some way in your community to bring a smile to their faces. Teddy’s Bears will go a long way to that end. So, yea… he’s kind of a big deal!

The Tone Curve Panel Controls Contrast Best

Contrast & Curves

It’s time to get your contrast under control with tone curves.

A large part of photography is judging the various tones that make up an image and deciding where they should be placed in the final presentation of the print. Both in the image display of our cameras and in Adobe Lightroom, we see this tonal distribution visually represented in the histogram.  The simple name for this tonal distribution is “contrast” and as photographers, we are constantly trying to control it.  Reading the histogram and controlling the placement of tones within the image is one of the most important skills a photographer can master.

aspen trees as a contrast example for lightroom curves

We  actively adjust image contrast both when we shoot and in post processing. When we shoot, we do this by judging and manipulating the quantity, quality and direction of light. A softer, more diffuse, less directional light creates less contrast.  Conversely, harder, more directional light creates brighter highlights and leaves darker shadows which equals more contrast.  This is then shown to use on the camera and in Lightroom by way of the histogram.  I constantly hear people say that a good exposure is described on the histogram when there is an even distribution of tones all the way across the graph (like in the image  below), and while this statement is true for the image above and the histogram below, the advice is actually very poor advice.  In reality, a good exposure on the histogram looks like the image it is describing.

well exposed histogram

On a grand scale, fog is the prefect light modifier for reducing contrast.  If only we could command the elements and bring it in whenever we needed it.  Fog has the effect of bouncing light everywhere and filling in all the shadows, thus everything becomes almost equal in value.  No real shadows and no real highlights.  We very rarely need this intense effect, but we do use soft boxes and fill reflectors all the time to help fill in the shadows and even out the difference between the shadows and the highlights.  Pay attention to the histogram describing this image.  When your photograph has no shadows, the histogram should display nothing on the left side of the graph.  A proper exposure will avoid allowing the data to clip on the left (shadows) or the right (highlights) of the histogram, but the graph in between the either edge should be an accurate description of the tones you are seeing in the scene.

swedish soldiers in fog

In photography, the further apart the shadows and the highlights are on the histogram, the higher the contrast will be in the image.  In life, we create contrast by making friends with strange people, or having peculiar pets.  The more peculiar and different the greater the contrast.  I had two dogs growing up, one was a tiny little Cockapoo, the other was a big Golden Lab, who was also the fattest dog in Norther Arizona (he has an award to prove it)!  Just watching them run down the road together was entertaining.  As with Shroder and Uggums (my dogs), the further apart we are in looks or temperament from our companions, the more drastic the contrast will be in our lives, which results in more drama.  This is not to say contrast and drama make the best images.  Low contrast images, like the image above, create a sense of quiet which has equal value.

In the end, our choices in image contrast change the feeling our images produce.  Because of this, post-production really matters and contrast is a critical portion of that.  We use the contrast slider and the tone curve to make these final contrast adjustments. The contrast slider is the simple way to change the contrast in an image, but it is also the least subtle.  It is like using an axe to cut your sandwich.  You will definitely cut the sandwich in two, but you will also cut the plate and most likely the table as well.  If you want to maximize your control over the contrast in your image you need to master the use of the Tone Curve panel.  Take a look at the image below and notice that the contrast slider is left at zero.  The major contrast work is achieved in the tone curves area of Lightroom, both in the Parametric and the Point Curve areas of the Tone Curves Panel.  You can see that there are five different curves at work in this one image.  The lower contrast in the image helps to soften the model’s already soft look.  When you are creating a tone curve for the first time, keep in mind that you should only really need to do this once.  If you like the effect you have created, make a preset for that tone curve to make it simple and efficient to apply your complicated curve in the future.

lightroom curve panels

I have created a short video on Using the Tone Curve Panel in Lightroom to get you started into exploring this powerful tool in Lightroom.  After watching the video, I encourage you to spend some time playing with your images in Lightroom using the Tone Curve pane in the Develop Module, and to get you started, make sure you download the free Tone Curve based presets I have created for you.

Using Tone Curves in Adobe Lightroom

Which tones you emphasize or de-emphasize can vary widely depending on the mood you want to create and where we want the viewer to focus.  I may use dramatic lighting or soft lighting depending on the story I am telling — bright and happy, or dark and moody. However I light my subject, or set my exposure at the camera, I have only told half the story. The other half of the story is told when I open the image in Adobe Lightroom and make adjustments to the image.  That is, as Ansel Adams said, the performance of the score (the capture being the musical score).  We captured the sequence of the notes in our camera, but the way we play them out in post-processing provides infinite possibilities for performance.  Mastering all of your tools (or instruments) is the first step to gaining complete control over your photographic voice.

Post Script:  The contrast control in the tone curves panel is not only the superior place to tweak your contrast, but it is also a better place to create split tones and even cross processing effects.  The power in the tone curve is quite intense.  For this reason I use the tone curve in a lot of my Lightroom Presets.  Let me get you started by giving you a small set of three great Classic Black and White Lightroom Presets that use the tone curve as the basis for their effect.

Cover image for free classic black and white lightroom presets

Are you a high contrast or low contrast shooter? Do you like big drama, or subtle dreamy tones? How do you achieve your signature look with contrast? I’d love to hear from you.

Classic Black and White Presets

Classic Black and White Preset:

My first experience in photography, probably the moment I fell in love with it, was when my sister taught me how to develop a black and white print in the glow of the red lamps.  I watched a blank piece of paper slowly drop below the developer and waited, not knowing what to expect.  Suddenly, splotches of black began to grow across the face of the paper, like someone had spilled ink and it was running slowly across the face of the print.  But the inky spill gave way in areas to a relief of white where the lamp of the enlarger had not exposed the paper and I began to see an image appear.  Honestly, I don’t recall what the first image was that I saw printed.  I am sure it was a meaningless high-school yearbook photo, but the experience is forever burned (exposed and fixed) in my memory.  In honor of those experiences in the black and white darkroom, I have created three Adobe Lightroom classic black and white presets for you to enjoy.  They won’t give you the magical experience I had in the darkroom, but they will give you the beautiful tones I was able to create after years of study and practice.

Of course, unlike in the darkroom, with digital images, we start with a color image.  The images I am using here is the original color RAW image directly from Lightroom.  What you will see in each subsequent image is a one click application of one of the three black and white lightroom.

Black and White Curves Lightroom presets example image - original color version

 

Classic Black and White Preset:

One thing that was lost in the digital world of high contrast, smooth, textureless images and poppy colors and has only been brought back by digital nostalgia, was the beauty of seeing all the zones in a black and white print on fiber paper.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, Ansel Adams (I sure hope the name rings a bell) developed a method for seeing and printing identifiable zones from pure black to pure white (Zones 0-10).  High contrast prints on glossy or pearl paper could never really exhibit all of those zones because they would invariably skip a zone here or there and head directly from black to light grey or white.  This was something my film students would get a bad grade for doing, and now almost every photographer on the planet does daily because they are in love with the contrast knob in Lightroom and they print only to glossy or pearl papers.  Well, I have created a Black and White Lightroom Preset for you that will take you back to the Classic Black and White era, and if you have a proper exposure, you will feel the the beauty of a full tonal range black and white print on beautiful fiber paper, even if you are using a pearl surface paper.

Black and White Curves Lightroom presets example image - classic black and white

 

 

Ultra Contrast Black and White Preset:

And for those of you who still want your contrast, you can get your fix with a truly high contrast black and white preset that comes from a place of subtlety and beauty rather than the brutish, blunt force of the contrast slider.  That’s right, there are other places that provide much better contrast than the slider that bares the name!  The tone curve is where contrast was born, the contrast knob is just a cheap imitation!  Well, give it a whirl and see what you think.  I’ve also added some rich and toothy grain to complete the look that you might get when you push your B&W film (which is where you would see such contrast emerging).  I like to think of it as a bit of a TMAX grain.  It always felt a bit like sandpaper.  Very beautiful sandpaper.

Black and White Curves Lightroom presets example image - ultra contrast black and white

Toned Black and White Preset:

Finally a bit of warm toned black and white for those who can’t stay away from color.  Now in the olden days of film, we bought warm tone paper, or cool tone paper.  Or we dropped our silver prints in a bath of sepia, or selenium toner.  This was very different then adding a wash of color over the top of our prints.  True print toning doesn’t stain the paper, it stains the silver (the dark parts of the print), which means that the paper stays white while the shadows change colors and do so a rate somewhat proportional to the amount of silver that is congregating together to make a deeper shadow.  The easiest way to accomplish a toned print in Lightroom is to add color to the shadows in the Tone Panel.  But I have taken you into a deeper, more robust realm… the tone curve.  Oh, yes, it seems I am in there a lot.  It is a very powerful tool.  Here I can change the response of each color channel to respond to the tone curve independently.  This give me complete control over the colors and allows me to create subtle toners that create depth and contrast in my toned black and white prints.  And I give you a taste of a warm toned preset from my upcoming collection of toned black and whites.  Don’t just use it.  Study it and play with it.  Get to know the Tone Curve panel in Lightroom.

Black and White Curves Lightroom presets example image - classic sepia toned black and white

Learn More About Lightroom Tone Curves:

Each of these presets are heavily based in the Tone Curve pane in the Lightroom Develop module.  To learn more about using the Tone Curve, make sure to watch this free video about using Lightroom’s Tone Curve pane.

Cover image for free classic black and white lightroom presets

Sign up now for three free Classic Black and White Presets

Linking Speed-lights for Dramatic Photography

Linking Speed-lights together is a fantastic way to increase the volume of your shot, dramatically emphasise your subject and tell a better story. When shooting events, frequently you are in a place with poor lighting. It’s your job as a photographer to make your subject look amazing no matter what the available light is like. This video will show you the basics of linking your speedlights to all fire in sync with your camera and how they can be controlled from your master speedlight.

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Shooting receptions and parties can be a lot of fun. There is usually a ton of action not to mention poignant emotions like love, and humor. Lot’s of shots from these events look like snapshots – overly contrasty and lit from a single source. Bouncing light off a wall or ceiling helps, but can only take you so far toward your ultimate goal of rich vibrant images. By placing speedlights at various points around the room you can greatly enhance the drama  of your shots.

Try linking speedlights to create different effects.

Hair-lights separate the subject from the background, cross-lights bring out detail by building contrast; background-lights fill in the background adding it to the story — especially in large open environments; and fill-lights soften the light on subjects, adding to their beauty. You can use a number of tools to place the lights where you want them, including a variety of stands and wall mounts. A photograph taken while linking speedlights properly will emphasize the natural drama of, say, a bride and groom’s first dance.

Link Speedlights for great reception lighting

Start with a master speedlight on your camera rather than a transmitter only. This will provide syncing capability, a backup light in case you have to grab a quick shot away from your setup and equally important the focus assist beam on your speedlight makes it possible for you to focus in very dark environments.

Using the link button, you can slave your disconnected speedlights to your master flash and once you have them linked, from your master flash you can set up your groups, change their mode, or turn them on and off. When shooting an actual event like a wedding reception, plan ahead for your most important moments such as cutting the cake or tossing the  bouquet. Discuss with the bride or DJ where these events will happen and plan your vantage and lighting accordingly.

Link Speedlights for amazing drama in dark locations

The best way to become skilled at linking speedlights is to get ahold of a few speedlights and go out and practice with them. This video shows you how to set up your speedlights to be in sync with each other, but being ready to shoot requires rapid deployment and changes to the settings. So, once your lights are set up, familiarize yourself with rapidly changing the settings on multiple lights. Learn to turn them up or down and on or off light – that way you can adjust or disable any lights that are causing you problems, or turn up lights that are making an effect you want to emphasise. Practice, practice, practice is the key to success with this technique. Pretty soon, making adjustments becomes natural, and you will see a significant increase in the drama and beauty of your photographs. Your audience will ask you again and again “how did you do that?” and “how come my shots don’t look like that?” and that, my friend is what makes you a pro.

Equipment List:

      1. Canon 600RT Speedlite
      2. Yongnuo Wireless Radio Trigger for Speedlights
      3. Tether Tools Rapid Mount SLX Speedlight Wall Mount System
      4. Tether Tools RapidMount Cold Shoe Elbow Mount
      5. Think Tank Urban Disguise 10 Bag

If you would like to be among the first to be notified of new videos and free downloads as they are released, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

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.

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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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.

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!

Little Angels: a A Child Life Portrait

I photographed two absolute angels this month.  It was a perfect Saturday morning in the most beautiful little grove of trees in Gilbert, Arizona.  The trees had lost a few leaves which had turned a wonderful orange-yellow.  The weather was perfect and the girls were as cute as they could be.  The slide show presents the photos in full color, but I thought I would show my favorite images from this portrait shoot in a muted film style.  I was inspired to present them in this style by the first image in the series.  It just begged to be shown this way, so who am I to argue with an image’s wishes.

Princess dresses, magic wands and pink cowboy boots.  You can’t ask for a better morning than this…

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (1)

The girls had a lot of fun playing in the leaves and running back and forth in their little princess dresses.  There is a lot of joy in those little girls.

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (2)

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (3)

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (4)

This is the moment we live for.

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (5)

One of my absolute favorites in the entire set.  I think it is absolutely beautiful and so peaceful.

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (6)

 But while her sister was falling to sleep, big sister was full of life and energy.  I think princess outfits are like sugar to a little girl.  Put them on and they become full of life and energy.

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (7)

Family Portrait Location: Gilbert Arizona

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

The Miller Family Portrait

 

We shot the Miller’s family portraits in and around my new studio space in Chandler, Arizona.  The downtown area is full of great locations for photos and my studio is a great space for both working, meeting clients and shooting.  Come check it out sometime.  I’ll post a blog about it soon.

There is not a lot that needs to be said about these photos.  They are just super cute and were a lot of fun to take.  One thing that I was talking about with my client was the tendency for parents to think that “we got nothing” from that shoot because the kids are being too fidgety or too rambunctious.  But in the end, parents are always surprised by how many great images we got out of the shoot…  Here are just a few of my favorites.  There are a ton of them.

The slide show above is an uncommon one for me, because I typically don’t show a lot of multiple images from the same vantage point and situation back to back.  But this shoot was full of hilarious iterations on a theme.  So I went with it.

This first one starts the ball rolling right.

 

 

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography.

Slideshow music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.

Family portrait location: Chandler, Arizona

Mindy Gledhill is in Town – Sat Nov 15

Mindy Gledhill is in town this weekend.  She is playing at the Mountain View High School Theater.  I will be there…

Saturday, November 15, 2014 (7:00 – 9:00)  Mountain View High School 2700 East Brown Road, Mesa, AZ 85213

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!!!

If you have not heard the music from her new album, you absolutely must hear it!  I spent a weekend in the studio with her as she was finishing up the vocals, here are a few of my favorite images from the studio.

Importing iPhoto and Aperture Libraries into Lightroom

Office Hours LR Aperture Import from Jared Platt on Vimeo. Finally, there is a way to take your entire iPhoto or Aperture library and import it into Lightroom.  This video will show you how to accomplish this task.  Now you can take all those photos that have been held hostage by Apple’s ridiculously bad photo software and get them into a system that makes sense.  You will need to download the latest version of Lightroom 5 and Adobe’s Aperture Importer plugin for Lightroom, which I show you how to do on this video.

Story Telling: an Interview with Jared by Blurb Books

This interview with me from Blurb Books just ran via PDN. I thought you might be interested in the content of the interview as well as the great discount for blurb books. Enjoy the interview…

Jared PlattBlurb
Photographer
Spotlight:

Jared Platt

Jared Platt is a commercial photographer, portraitist, and educator based in Arizona who regularly runs workshops and webinars for Profoto and CreativeLive. He’s also an Adobe® Lightroom® devotee and a strong believer in the power of photography to tell stories. When he recently appeared on a CreativeLive segment, he impressed us with his thoughts on music, rhythm, and the photographic story arc.

Why is storytelling so important to you as a photographer?
Photography is storytelling. Some people tell a story in one image, which is always awe-inspiring, and some people tell stories over a series of photographs. But, all photographs have the aim of telling a story. Whenever I am taking a photograph, whether it is at a wedding, on the street, on a commercial shoot, or of a child, I am always looking for the story I want to tell in that one image—or series of images. I have an intense need to tell these stories that I see to everyone who will see my images, because I believe those stories will touch them, matter to them, and make some kind of an impression on them.

How does Lightroom help you with that aspect of your work?
Lightroom is essential to the process of selecting and editing the extreme volume of work I have in front of me constantly. A photo historian, the late Bill Jay, used to remind me that a project (no matter how perfect it was) was of no value until it was completed and available for people to experience. Lightroom helps me get superior work completed efficiently, so I can share it with the world and get busy telling the next story. Companies like Blurb, who connect with Lightroom, have made the process of sharing stories with the world even easier. Producing a masterful photo book is within any photographer’s reach.

How do you use books in your professional life?
As a photographer in the digital age, I transmit images via Facebook, blogs, websites, iPads, and FTP servers. But there is something extremely special about quality paper, printing, and binding. My clients receive physical proof books made by Blurb, which I create directly in Lightroom. I never tire of hearing the exclamations from my clients about how beautiful their books are and how much they love them. Books are also essential in selling my services to future clients. Photo books and magazines are so comfortable and accessible to the client who is relaxing in the studio showroom, and as the client is looking through the book, the book is selling them on my vision and educating them on my style.


Learn More
Whatever your passion—whether you chose it, or it chose you—turn it into a book with Blurb.

Take 20% off any print book order. Use the code PDN11 at checkout.*


And naturally this is related to storytelling…
Making a book takes the opportunity for storytelling to a whole new level. With multiple images spread over days, months, or years, it can come together to make extremely poignant statements. Add titles and graphics and text to the mix and you have limitless opportunities to connect with people and help them see what you see. I think when people say, “This is beautiful,” they are really saying, “I see what you see, and what you see is beautiful.”

How does your personal work differ from your client work?
There is no difference between my personal work and the work I do for my clients. I let one inform and alter the other, so, as my personal work shifts and expands, so does my commercial work. I am simply a visual storyteller. I tell stories about my clients’ lives, products, and events, and I tell stories about my life. I hope they are all interesting to the viewer. If they aren’t, I need to improve.

If money and time were no object, what project would you most want to take on?
I find creative people fascinating. Money and time are always an object and yet I am still on a quest to photograph and interview creative people of all types, from all genres of creativity, to experience their energy, understand their methods, and tell their story. So if money were no object, I would continue full steam ahead telling the story of the creative mind. In a creative way, of course…

At Blurb, we celebrate creativity in all of its myriad expressions. Photographers like Jared embody the creative freedom that our self-publishing platform enables.


Child Life | Jared Platt

Learn more about Jared Platt

> Jared’s website
> Jared’s Child Life book

Photography by Jared Platt


Tell your story with photography in a beautiful book and save

Take 20% off any print book order. Use the promo code PDN11 at checkout.*

Learn More

*Offer valid through December 31, 2014 (11:59 p.m. local time). Valid for printed books only. A 20% discount is applied to your print book product total with no minimum purchase required. Maximum discount is USD $100, AUD $100, CAD $100, EUR €100, or GBP £100 off product total. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

 

On Location with Profoto and Nikon in TTL

We went out along the Salt River in Arizona for our webinar on TTL lighting control with Profoto equipment. In our first shots, we had our model wear a fantastically non-traditional wedding dress by Simply Bridal. Samantha, our model, was a an absolute champ. Balancing in that form fitting dress was quite a challenge in our out of the water. We had a great time and got some fantastic images. Here are the images we used in the webinar, and you can see the full webinar online, just follow this link to Profoto’s webinar page.

bride in wedding dress on a lake in arizona

bride in wedding dress in a lake in arizona

model at a river crossed road in Tortilla Flat, Arizona.

model at a river crossed road in Tortilla Flat, Arizona.

 

 

For this month’s webinar for Profoto, we took our crew and a kit of Profoto B1 off camera flashes  out to the lakes in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona.  This time, instead of shooting Canon, we were shooting with a Nikon D800 on the Profoto Air Remote TTL for Nikon.  Now Nikon users can also take advantage of the TTL abilities of the Profoto B1 lights.  Join me on our Profoto webinars on September 17, 2014 for a free webinar on shooting in TTL and Auto Camera Modes.

Register now:  www.profoto.com/int/webinar

Boxing at the Duce with Profoto

We spent the morning in a boxing club and event venue in downtown Phoenix, Arizona called The Duce for a complex lighting webinar for Profoto (the light shaping company). In this webinar we wanted to create a difficult lighting scenario where we had to build the lighting completely from scratch. Our boxing motif was a perfect opportunity to add a little incongruous wardrobe change, and that was a fantastically non-traditional wedding dress (provided by Simply Bridal. Although this was a stylized photoshoot, I think it proves an interesting point… that couples could do a better job at thinking outside the box when it comes to their wedding and engagement portraits. If you are a couple that is hiring a photographer or a photographer who has been hired by a couple to shoot an engagement session or a wedding portrait session, work together and encourage each other to get a little more inventive on the photo session.

Here are the favorites final images from our stylized portrait session.

This wedding dress was provided by <a href=

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You can see the entire photoshoot and a discussion about it in an hour long webinar here. Watch he brief trailer for the webinar below.

 

 

Coming up on Wednesday, August 27 at 10 am Pacific time is the latest Profoto lighting webinar with myself and the Profoto B1 off camera lights.  Register online at www.profoto.com/live and tune in as we build a complex lighting scenario from scratch.

Music on this teaser is courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.

FREE Webinar for Non-Professional Photo Enthusiasts

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I teach professional photographers around the world the best post-production methods to help them get their job done.  But there are so many more photo enthusiasts in the world, who need help organizing, editing and sharing their images and these courses are sometimes a little too pro-centered.  So I have developed an online workshop for you all!  Here it is…

Starting Wednesday, June 25 through Friday, June 27, I will be teaching a webinar on photo organization, editing and sharing for non-professional photo enthusiasts.  If you are a mom, dad, photo student, nature lover, or anyone who has a camera and needs help navigating the organizational nightmare of saving photos on the computer, this is a great opportunity for you.  The webinar is FREE.  Just go to www.creativelive.com (look on the CRAFT channel) and sign up for LIGHTROOM FOR SCRAPBOOKERS.  You can watch for free starting on Wednesday at 9AM Pacific Time.  You can watch this on your computer, your iPad or even your phone.  The course is FREE when you watch it LIVE.  You can purchase anytime access to the course for only $59.

Don’t worry, if you are not a scrapbooker, that’s OK because we are talking about photo organization, editing photos and sharing them.  It’s not all about scrapbooking.  It is all about photos and just happens to be the right fit for people like scrapbookers who want help wight heir photos.  So join me on creativeLIVE, no matter who you are and get a super easy, basic, nuts and bolts look at a workflow for personal photography in Lightroom.

 

Ellie’s Senior Portraits

We photographed Ellie for her senior portraits a while ago, but I thought I would share this behind the scenes slideshow.  Making senior portraits is one of the most enjoyable things I do as a photographer because it is a collaboration between me and an incredible and unique individual who is just bursting out into the world ready to conquer!  I love it!

Enjoy the slideshow and watch for more slideshows and photo posts throughout the summer months.

Location: Chandler, Arizona

Slideshow music by It Takes Two to Tango, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Senior Portrait Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography