Dragging the Shutter : Step-by-Step Guide to Balancing Flash and Ambient Light

Dragging the shutter is a technique that balances the exposure of strobe and ambient light sources in one photo. For example: taking a photo of someone outside at night by using a portable flash and also capturing the city lights in the background. Balancing Strobes and Ambient Light Strobes put out a powerful amount of light so, in order to balance with the ambient light, we need to use a long shutter speed, hence “dragging the shutter.” There is quite a lot to know about this technique because it involves color balance as well as exposure balance. Some cameras have a function called “slow-sync” that works with a dedicated flash on TTL and automatically reads and figures the proper shutter speed. But with a little bit of understanding, you can effectively use this technique with any camera and flash in manual, not just the dedicated flashes on TTL. The photo that is used for this article is of my husband, Lee Varis, in a gallery. The ambient on him was terrible, but the spot lights on the photos were interesting and dramatic. It was necessary to light him both for balancing exposure and also for flattering light. The first part […]

Lightroom FAQ: What are Smart Collections?

Smart collections allow you to harness the power of the database inside of Lightroom by leveraging the information contained in your photo’s metadata.  Plus, any additional data you may have added (like keywords, titles, captions, etc.), to automate the process of finding, grouping, and organizing your photos in meaningful ways. You can think of smart collections simply as saved searches that run automatically. Smart collections are just one of three types of collections you can find in the Collections panel. If you click the plus arrow sign in the header of the Collections panel, you can access the menu command for creating each type of collection. In addition to the Smart Collection, there is the regular Collection type, which is useful for manually grouping photos together based on a common theme or purpose, and the Collection Set, which are essentially containers for other collections and enable the creation of an organizing structure for your various collections. So for example, you might have a Collection Set named for a trip or event, and then within that set, you could have a combination of regular collections and smart collections that contain relevant photos.  These can be grouped together based on any criteria […]

Portrait Tips: Great Expressions With Kids (And Dads)

There’s nothing sillier than expecting people to give you a great expression because you say, “Smile!” Especially children. If you want people to smile in your photograph then you need to do something worth smiling about. Here’s a technique I learned it my own style. You can use this verbatim and adapt it to fit your personality, too. Discipline An Object Kids also get a thrill from seeing something ridiculous get into trouble. This one is also gold for getting dads and moms to smile. Parents are usually stressed when they come for pictures. There’s not a lot I can do about that, but I coach them every time saying, “I’ll take care of the kids’ expressions, but I need you two to keep looking at the camera no matter what I’m saying to the kids. The best picture of the kids is always the one where dad is looking down at the kids, so please keep looking at me.” One more thing before the technique: as you do these things, you’ll find kids putting their hands in their mouths. I don’t know why, but they do. You’ll want to say, “Don’t put your fingers in your mouth,” but all they […]