DSLR Video

Vimeo has put together a video series that is aimed at the beginner DSLR video maker titled Do More With Your DSLR. Here are their first two episodes that look at exposure, white balance, ISO and picking a rig for your DSLR.

Via PetaPixel

If you liked those videos make sure you check out Film Riot, another great video series for beginner videographers.

Photo Challenge: Darkness

This weeks challenge was Darkness, and it looks like the Snapsort community spent a lot of time playing in low light situations. Each week we are going to run a  photo challenge, we hope that you will be encouraged to go out and takes some photos, as well as get your creative juices flowing.

Scroll down to find out what next week’s theme is.

Wherever you are, Shine! Photo by Ghulam Jeelani Shah
"Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light" - Albus Dumbledore. Photo by Joemi Mousseigt
This photo was taken with my Canon D60 with Sigma 8mm Fisheye at 11pm at a ranch in deep south Texas two days ago. The moon was exceptionally bright...the exposure was approximately 15 seconds. I think this photo is pretty cool because you can see how incredibly windy it was in the blurry leaves while everything else around appears to be still. This tree is nearly 150 years old and has survived countless heat waves and droughts to become magnificently large. The stars are also nice and bright in the upper corners of the picture. Enjoy! Photo by Austin Ivey
Photo by S Rahul Bose
“There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.” - Bram Stoker, Dracula. Photo by, Gremin Manadan
Photo by María Lecanda
"Darkness Welcoming Light" Photo by Arun
Old pop bottels on my windowsill after dark. Photo by Dallas Lammiman
It is in the appearance of light, that we are reminded how much we live in darkness. Photo by Ja Calvert-Lane
STOP KONY 2012, photo by Jorge Rodriguez
This is what a "dark" snowy night in Alberta looks like Photo by Dallas
Photo by Sarah Delgado
“Darkness does not leave us easily as we would hope.”-- Margaret Stohl. Photo by Trilok C. Prasain
Photo by Neha Rathi
Photo by Wayne Kirk
Photo by Grant Grindle
Photo by Keerthan Setty
Photo by Rachel Goldstein
Serial Shooter, part I: Gone Dark, Photo by Mhamad Chaddad
Photo by M Sane Akhtar
Photo by Abhijit Nayak

Today is International Women’s Day so next week’s theme is: Feminine

Grab your camera and take a NEW photo this week, and send them to Photo@snapsort.com, along with your name, and a short description of the photo. Please submit your photos by next Wednesday.


  • The photo should be taken by you
  • Photo must be taken after the challenge theme is posted
  • You may interpret the theme in any way you would like
  • You agree to allow us to share your image on our Blog and Facebook wall
  • You retrain all rights to the photo
  • Submit your photos by next Wednesday
  • Please only submit one photo per week
  • Please include a short description of your photo, along with your name
  • Email your photo to Photo@Snapsort.com
  • Be creative and have fun

Do I Need a Light Meter?

digital light meter
A light meter like this Shepherd/Polaris SPD100 are incredibly useful and relatively inexpensive

A fair question these days is whether or not you still need a hand-held light meter? In the old days light meters in the camera were pretty simple. There was a needle over on the side and a center mark on the scale. The closer the needle was to the center mark, the better off you were. Cameras were “center weighted” which meant whatever you had in the center of the field of view was what the needle was registering.

That arrangement seems hopelessly primitive compared to today’s cameras that use sophisticated multi-point metering systems that sample many points inside a photograph and use that sample set to compute the optimum average exposure value.

Despite the difference in applied technology, the meters are still doing basically the same thing: Reading the light reflected off a subject and calculating an exposure value based on 18 percent gray. Why 18 percent gray? Because it turns out if you average all the values across a scene it all boils down to that figure.

When considering the decision of whether to get a light meter, it also helps to understand the difference between reflected light and incident light. Reflected light is what allows you to see anything. When you look at an object, your eyes are seeing the light reflected off the object to your eye. Incident light is measuring the light falling on the object, irrespective of what’s being reflected.

Light meters work by filtering the light through a dome that approximates an 18 percent gray card.

When incident light meters are most useful is when you’re working with strobes. You can remotely pop your flash setup and get an exact light reading at your subject. You can also take readings from multiple sides if you’re trying to set up a particular light ratio.

Having a decent light meter can be a great way to add consistency to your photography, by helping you dial in your starting settings. That saves a lot of time when working with expensive models. As often as you’re changing the light setup and moving around, a good light meter will be invaluable for working fast and changing setups.

A good light meter does not have to cost a lot of money. Here are a few good models for under $300.

Sekonic L-308S

Gossen DigiPro F

Shepherd/Polaris SPD100

How The Pros Do It – Portable Lighting For Wedding Photography

Ac 3
The PocketWizard AC3 paired with the MiniTTL for Canon

My nephew got married recently, an event I was unfortunately not able to attend, although my high tech family managed to send me pictures of the event. One picture that made my teeth grind was one with the wedding photographer in the background, trying to light a dress shot with a dinky external flash.

This was the photographer with a killer web site that my future niece felt she was lucky to get, but there was no way the results displayed on the web site were captured with the camera and flash combination in that photo. Judging by the pictures I’ve seen so far, she was duped by a slick web site with, at best, a tenuous connection to whoever took the promo pictures displayed there.

To contrast the difference between that lighting setup and the real pros, I went to see Karl Leopold at Images4Ever near Melbourne Beach, Florida. Karl has been shooting weddings longer than most photographers working today have been alive, has won more awards than I can list here, and is the president of the Atlantic Professional Photographers Association. I wanted to see a real pro lighting setup and wasn’t disappointed.

Karl builds his portable lighting kit around a pair of Canon 580 EX ii Speedlites, pairing those with a PocketWizard FlexTT5  for Canon. The trigger on the camera is a combination of the MiniTT1 matched up with an AC3 Zone Controller for changing the power settings on any of the flash units on the fly wirelessly.

“I can change the power by 3 stops on any of the flash units right from here,” Karl explains, dialing back the power with the AC3. I watched him flip through the power settings while shooting nearly continuously, much faster than making the change through the camera menu.

The arrangement provides the flexibility to mount the fill flash on a monopod and let an assistant adjust the location and height to fit the situation. If he’s working alone he can mount the remote on a light stand and adjust it himself. Instead of being tethered to the camera, he can also move the key off the bracket handle if the situation calls for it.

Lighting set up
How it all comes together - One Speedlite on a standard bracket, the other a remote that can be mounted on anything

It’s all about speed, reliability and flexibility, with added bonus of being able to light the world.

“The big advantage is you can put a light behind the subject for those nice, bright highlights,” Karl explained. The radio triggers work around corners and even when concealed behind foreground objects.

Equipment isn’t the only factor separating the pros from the posers, but having the right gear is definitely a bonus.

In the days to come I’m planning to work with Karl and Images4Ever on more articles on studio lighting, exposure, and working with models on commercial shoots. Stay tuned.

Boo! Tips For Frighteningly Good Halloween Photos

halloween photo
Get in the mood for great Halloween photos

Halloween is a great time for capturing family and friends at their frightening best. Many people put a lot of time and work into their costumes, so it’s a photography field day.

Get In The Mood

Dress up yourself. Then you’re not so much an observer as a participant and you’ll notice it will change the way people interact with you. People will be more likely to open up and give you a more natural look to you if you’re part of the party.

Besides, it’s fun. You can buy enough novelty makeup for $20 to become the zombie photographer, just walk with a shuffle and you’re there. Just so it looks like you made an effort.

Light From Below

If you can get a sync cord or wireless trigger for your external flash and try lighting from extreme angles above and below the subject. The shadows will add to the drama.

You can also invest in an inexpensive set of stick on filters for your external flash to add a splash of color.

Or Skip The Flash All Together

Whenever possible, ditch the flash and go with natural lighting. That can be a little harder with point-and-shoot cameras than those with better manual controls. It also helps to have a fast lens.

Good glass that can get down to f/1.8 or f/1.4 will let you skip the harsh flash and preserve the darkened moment. The good news is those lenses don’t have to break the bank, with a few available for right around $100 USD.

You don’t have to have a Canon 5D MKII, either, any camera with a decent chip size should produce adequate performance in low light.

Watch The ISO

Some cameras are better than others in low light, almost any will start to introduce noise into photos at extremely high ISOs.

Personally, I think it’s better to bring more natural light or stop your flash power down than to deal with excessive noise.

The only way you know whether your camera is one that starts introducing noticeable artifacts at high ISOs is to experiment. Turn the flash off and shoot a series of pictures at high ISO values and take a look at the pictures.