Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Choosing the Right Light For Photography - Warm Light Vs Cool Light & What You Need To Know

Light is one of the most essential element you need in order to produce good photography. It can come from a few different sources and in different brightness and colors. But for the purpose of this post, I'm just going over the basics of warm light and cool light.

So not long ago, I did a post on my beauty blog about the type of lighting I use. Way before I started blogging, I had a daylight fluorescent light bulb that emit cool-toned light, similar to natural light. And it was probably my luck that I picked it out, lol, because it greatly helped when I was talking pictures for my blog. Well I had thrown away the packaging and the writings on the bulb didn't really do much to help me identify what is it that I have so I went to the store trying to see if I could get the same light bulb because a few people commented that they use similar light bulbs but theirs emit warm light.
Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I literally stood there a good 15 minute trying to figure what I needed to buy. Finally, I picked up a six pack from GE energy smart. It said on the packaging "fresh energizing light" so I thought this is it.

I came home install it on one of my lamp and it wasn't what I expected. The light was yellow....Damn!
So after doing some research, I am proud to report that I have found the answer to what I've been trying to figure out.

So here are some important key word, or should I say unit of measurements, you need to know about light bulbs

  • Definition: the derived SI unit of power, equal to 1 joule per second; the power dissipated by a current of 1 ampere flowing across a potential difference of 1 volt. 1 watt is equivalent to 1.341 × 10 --3 horsepower. Abbreviation: w.
  • Power consumed to emit the light
  • Definition: the unit of luminous flux, equal to the luminous flux emitted in a unit solid angle by a point source of one candle intensity. Abbreviation: lm.
  • The brightness of the light

  • Definition: the basic SI unit of thermodynamic temperature; the fraction 1/273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water. Abbreviation: k.
  • measures the hue of the light

Every light bulb packaging will tell you the unit of watt, lumens, and kelvin.

The light bulbs on the left (GE) uses 20 watts and have 1250 lumens and 2700k.
The light bulb on the right (Full Spectrum) uses 14 watts and have 800 lumens and 5000k. If you look at the picture of the scale below that falls within the cool tone light appearance.

Translation: the GE bulbs uses a higher energy output, generate a brighter light, but with a warm-toned hue. The Full Spectrum uses slightly less energy output, generates a lesser brightness but with a cooler tone hue.

So the million dollar answer is if you want to purchase a cool-toned light you will need to pick out a light bulb with a unit of at least 5000 k. If you want really bright lights, you will have to check the unit of lumen of that light bulb and go with a higher unit. If you want to save on your energy bill, you need to pick a light bulb that consumes less watt.

In most cases, for photography purpose, you'd want to use cool toned light such as the Full Spectrum bulb because it will keep the colors more true to life as compared to the warm light. Warm light just makes everything look yellow and definitely not something you want to use if your objective is to capture colors that are true to life.

I purchased the GE light bulbs at Wal-Mart. The six pack runs between $15-$20. I can't recall exactly how much. Full Spectrum light bulb was purchased at Menards for less than $5.00.

And below are pictures of the results that supports my findings. Subject on the left was taken with the GE light bulb and subject on the right was taken with the Full Spectrum light bulb. 

Hope you found this post informative :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Product Photography - The Set Up, The Cheap & Easy Way, No LightBox

I feel like it's been quite a while since I posted anything here. Quite frankly, I've either been working my butt off, shop like no tomorrow, or been busy with my beauty blog.

Speaking of beauty blog, I figure I might as well share with you my cheap set up for product photography. Any of you bloggers out there might find this post useful, unless you already have a set up that works for you. As you can probably tell already, I'm very limited on space and I have stuff piled on top of each other but I just have to work with what I have. If you have a better and tidier workspace, more power to you.

Initially, I only had one lamp and the thing I didn't like was that if I point it on one side, it creates shadow on the other side. I've found a way to remedy that by using my mirror as reflector so I would bounce the light with it on the other side. However, it's not always practical to do it this way since I only have two hands, lol, and holding the mirror on one hand and taking the picture on the other hand was somewhat doable if I use my third hand, aka my tripod.

Basically, you will need at least two light source and what worked for me is using lamps that have a flexible head and stem so you can manipulate the light at any angle and direction. The black one is from Wal-Mart. I can't remember how much I paid for it but I think it was less than $20.00.

I just bought my second lamp from Target the other day. What's great about it is that it doesn't take a lot of desk space and I can clip it at any corner. It also has a flexible head and stem. This one was $5.00, I think.

Many people use a lightbox to take their product photography. You can either purchase it or DIY. If you have no idea what a lightbox is, I suggest google it or click HERE, and you'll know what I mean. There's a lot of fancy looking lightbox out there but do you really need all that gizmo? I guess it will depend on your preference and your budget.

Anyhow...If you want to go the easy route, like I did, all you need is half a sheet of tracing paper for each lamp and tape it to the head of the lamps as pictured, making sure the tracing paper doesn't touch the light bulb. The tracing paper will diffuse the light so you get a soft and pleasant light source. I've use it plenty of times and trust me, it will not go on fire. I started using the tracing paper about a month ago, I can't believe I didn't do it sooner. I had a piece of left over tracing paper that I found around my desk. I've used the other half for my DIY flash diffuser. So when I found it, I just had this genius idea to cover it on my lamp, lol. Tada! This solves the idea I had about making a DIY lightbox. Who knew it could be this simple?

As far as background, you can just use plain white cardboard paper or whatever you like. Here I have a bamboo mat. It's flexible yet it can stand on its own. 

First picture is how it turned out straight out of my camera.  As you can see, it's a bit cool-toned, dull, and overexposed. Honestly, it is rare that I take a perfect shot. We all know, or should know, that a picture is never perfect until it goes under edit.

Second picture was retouched slightly but it makes a big difference. If you're not completely satisfied with your picture. I highly recommend that do some simple edits. You do not need expensive software. As a matter of fact, I edited this picture in less than 5 minutes on Picmonkey.com. You don't even need to sign up. Just upload and start editing. It's pretty user friendly too. All I did was crop, resize, fix the exposure, give a bit of vibrancy to the color, watermark, and that's it.

So to sum it, all you need is two flexible and cheap lamps, one sheet of tracing paper cut in half, masking tape, and a background of your choice. This cheap set up works great for me.

Do you use a light box? If yes, did you buy it or DYI. If no, do you think you would prefer a set up similar to mine?

Thanks for reading. :)

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Monday, January 7, 2013

How To Camera Shooting Mode for Canon Rebel T3i

Aside from learning what buttons to push, another important thing you need to know is how to select the shooting mode.
Settings from A-DEP to P are your creative modes, which means they allow you to do some custom settings based on your surrounding and the type of shoot you're going for.
Settings from A+ to Night Portraits are the basic shooting modes. They don't give you the flexibility that the creative modes do. These are fully automatic and preset on your camera so you will give your camera the power to make those judgment calls. Honestly, from my experience, you shouldn't always trust or rely on the camera to make these adjustments for you. Yes, sometimes it gets it right but you will always get the best result when you do your own custom settings.

Even if you don't own a DSLR camera, most digital camera nowadays do offer a variety of shooting mode and that will vary from one camera to another. It's essential to understand what each mode allows you to do so that you can make an informed decision on which ones to select for your image in order to get optimal result.

A-DEP (Auto Depth of Field) - This mode will allow you chose what you want in focus. The camera will choose the shutter speed and aperture to keep your point of focus sharp and your background blurred. You can choose your ISO and exposure compensation.

M (Manual) - This allows you to have full control over the camera. This mode works best for people are comfortable adjusting their own settings and ideal for advance users.

AV (Aperture Value) - Allows you select the aperture but the camera will adjust the shutter speed for you. Ideal for putting your subject in focus and blur the background.

TV (Time Value) - also known as shutter priority. This mode allows you to choose the shutter speed but lets the camera select the aperture depending on how much light is coming through the camera's sensor. This is ideal for shooting fast moving subjects or for long exposure shots.

P (Program) - Partially automatic. Camera will chose aperture and shutter speed but still allows you some flexibility and to change certain settings such as your ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation.

A+ (fully automatic) - the camera will select and adjust the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for you. This mode is for people who are new and not very comfortable with adjusting their own settings. Occasionally, if your camera feels like flash is needed, it will automatically fire the flash as well.

No Flash - Automatic but without flash.

CA (creative auto) - this mode lets the camera make automatic adjustments for you but also allows you to adjust the aperture and choose the color tone that you want for your images. I pretty much never use this setting and didn't quite figure it you until recently, lol.

Portrait - camera will select wide aperture and auto correct your skin tone so that it looks more natural.

Landscape - camera will change to a smaller aperture and which will give you a wider depth of field so that everything is in focus. It will also auto adjust saturation of the blues and greens to make them more vivid.

Macro - allows you to take sharp close up shots. I see only a very slight difference in sharpness when I shoot in macro mode and it may have something to do with the lens. I think you would need to pair the macro mode with a macro lens in order to get a true macro picture. One thing that really annoys me when shooting under macro mode is that sometimes the camera feels that there isn't enough light so it might fire the flash unexpectedly.

Sport - ideal for shooting fast moving subjects. The camera will auto adjust to allow you to capture the moment. If you leave your finger on the shutter, it will continuously shoot until you release.

Night Portrait - this is for night portraits and the camera will automatically determine what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO is needed. Whenever you are shooting at night or with a slow shutter speed, you absolutely need a tripod in order to avoid blurry images.

Video - for shooting videos.

Once you get more familiar and comfortable with these shooting modes, you will be able to determine what works best for you. Personally, I rarely use the basic modes and the only one I've mostly used there is the Macro mode. Otherwise, I'm always switching around between the creative modes and honestly, the best way to go is Manual because you have full control over your camera. It can be intimidating and frustrating when you don't know what you're doing and which buttons to push but you'd be surprised how much you'll learn through trial and error.

Hope this was helpful. What mode do you typically go for and why?

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