Just Crop It Already! by Tyson Junkers

One of the biggest issues I come across when I watch other photographer's shoot is watching them trying to capture a perfectly composed image. I'm not saying you shouldn't try to compose your shots perfectly (You really should), but you need to think twice about what you are shooting for. Are you planning on printing your photo or are you only going to be showing it off digitally?

If you are printing your shots, you want all the pixels you can get. The higher the resolution, the bigger the print can be. For most photographers you'll want to show off your work digitally. Since that's the only way I show off my shots, every image has been resized to have it's largest length be 1500px. My camera shoots at an image resolution of 4,928 x 3,280. That gives me two options: I can resize the full, properly composed image to 1500px or I can take any section of the image down to 1500px and use that.

Here's an example of what I mean...

 
 

The overall image is the full resolution from my camera. That small white box is 1500px wide and is all I am showing off on my site and Facebook. That means there is no difference between shrinking the entire image down to that white box size or just cropping a section that small of any image I take.

Why am I bringing this up? Many images I have taken in the past have ok composition that I know could have be easily improved if I was a little closer. Well, since I only need 1500px of the image, I just crop in until I am happy with it. Look back at the photos you have taken. I am sure there are some you can play around with that you weren't happy with before.

 
 

ISO Explained... by Tyson Junkers

What exactly is ISO? Well since it's stands for International Organization for Standardization, I think I need to explain no further. But for those of you who want to know more, I suppose I can continue...

In short, ISO is how sensitive your camera's image sensor is to light. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive and vice versa. The Image sensor is responsible for converting light into an image. As you can see, it's a little bit important.

In low light situation were you either don't want to use a flash or just don't have one, you can make your camera's sensor more sensitive to light by increasing the ISO. While this will help you capture a properly exposed image, it does end up adding some noise to your photo. In an ideal world we would all take pictures at our camera's lowest (Base) ISO. This would produce the highest quality image without adding noise to the picture. 

Each increment up from your camera's set ISO doubles the sensitivity of the sensor which is why the ISO doubles in value with every increment.

This brings up an important question: Why would you increase the ISO if the lower it's set, the better? Sometimes if you want to freeze motion in low light without a flash, the shutter speed can't be set fast enough regardless of your aperture. Raising the ISO to a higher increment will allow you to make the shutter speed faster. While your image will have more noise, today's software (Lightroom, Capture One, etc.) can reduce it fairly well.

Now get to shooting!

 
 

Depth of Field Explained... by Tyson Junkers

So what exactly is Depth of Field? To put it simply, it's the area that appears sharp in your photograph. But how do you control what's in focus, how much is in focus, etc? For that we'll have to get a bit more in depth about it... See what I did there?

All cameras focus on one single point. From that one point there is a surrounding area both in front and behind that still appears acceptably sharp. That area is known as the Depth of Field.

I say "acceptably sharp" since there isn't a hard cut off from when the photograph goes from sharp to blurry. In fact, everything in front and behind that single point is out of focus to some degree. Depth of Field is the area where things look, to our eyes, like they are in focus.

If you were to zoom in on an image that looks completely sharp on a small screen, you will notice areas that are actually out of focus. Since Depth of Field is a subjective view to a degree, most Viewfinders / Live Views show you an image at your current lens' widest aperture (smallest f-stop) regardless of your actual settings. To get a preview of your actual Depth of Field most cameras come with a Depth of Field Preview button which gives you a more accurate image.

That's great and all, but how can I make the Depth of Field larger or smaller? Depth of Field is controlled by 3 factors: How far you are from the subject, the size of your aperture, and your focal length. Let's break this down one by one.

How far you are from the subject: Think about Depth of Field like a percentage whos value is changed be the 2 other factors below. 20% of an in focus flower is a lot smaller than 20% of an in focus mountain. So, if you want a shallower DOF, move in close to your subject.

The size of your aperture: The wider your aperture, the shallower your Depth of Field. Want only one subject in focus, go with a wider aperture (smaller f-stop). Want a landscape in focus, go with a narrower aperture (larger f-stop).

Your focal length: See the numbers on your lens 50mm, 70 - 200mm, etc? The larger that number, the shallower the DOF. 

The combination of these three factors control your Depth of Field. Here is the way I usually handle it: First, I frame my shot which determines how far I am from the subject and my focal length. Second, I set my aperture based on what I'd like to have in focus; wide for focusing on one subject, narrow for landscapes. The best way to practice is to find a subject and take a picture at various settings/distances and see what happens.

Depth of Field sounds like a pain to master, but with it you can take some incredible shots that Isolate your subject or blur the foreground to show depth. 

 
 

Focal Length Explained... by Tyson Junkers

16 - 35mm? 50mm? 70 - 200mm? What do these number mean? It's actually not as difficult as it may seem. First, let me explain some general terms you may encounter when looking at a lens online.

Angle of View - Amount of a scene that a lens can take in, measured in degrees. A telephoto lens will have a small angle of view (29°, 18°, 5°, etc.) while a wide angle lens will be much larger (43°, 75°, 180°, etc.).

Full Frame Sensor - A 35mm format (standard for the industry) image sensor. Allows a camera to capture the full angle of view offered by a lens as long as it was made for a full frame camera

Crop Sensor - A sensor that is smaller than the standard 35mm (full frame) sensor. Images produced from a crop sensor are equivalent to the middle being cropped out of a full frame sensor image.

35mm Equivalent Focal Length - a term used for crop sensor cameras to express the focal length as if the camera had a full frame sensor.

So what exactly is Focal Length? By definition it's the distance between the optical center of a lens and the image sensor when the subject is in focus, usually stated in millimeters. Got it? Good! However, for those of you still scratching your head, let me explain a little further.

A standard lens for a full frame sensor camera is 50mm since it's the closest perspective to the human eye. Anything less than 50mm is considered wide-angle while anything over is known as telephoto. 

What about crop sensor cameras? Most websites will have the 35mm (full frame) Equivalent Focal Length. If not, look for a crop factor such as Canon's x1.6 or Nikon's x1.5. Now, if the lens has a 50mm Focal Length, it will be closer to 80mm on a Canon or 75mm for a Nikon.

Here's a great chart from Digital Camera World in case my ramblings made no sense. Click to see it larger.

 
 


Finally back! by Tyson Junkers

It's been too long since my last post here, so it's time to update you on everything I've been up to. Over the last month I took several classes on product photography and even a class on shooting liquids. At this point I think the best thing I can do is start shooting even more and try to pass on any tips and tricks I learn on the way. 

That brings me to what's next. I recently purchased more gear, and a couple of GoPros. My plan is to start a weekly podcast about shooting product photography. More specifically, I plan on breaking down images and trying to recreate them as best I can to show you what goes into some professional shoots. 

So that's about it! Starting next weekend, I hope you look forward to my weekly podcast!.

 
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RGGEDU.com by Tyson Junkers

I just picked up Tony Roslund's The Complete Guide To Product Photography & Retouching on RGGEDU.com. The guide consists of over 20 hours of video tutorials that go through pre-production, 11 product shoots, post production, and more.

I was apprehensive about buying the guide at first since I have watched countless hours of tutorials as well as became a Pro Corner member on Photigy.com, but I figured the more the merrier! Tony Roslund gives you a tremendous amount of information that covers everything whether you're a beginner or pro. This guide is a must have and with a price tag of $299 it's hard to pass up on when it can easily change the way you shoot for the better!

 
 

Pro Corner Assignment by Tyson Junkers

After countless hours of tuorials, I have officially joined Photigy.com's Pro Corner. What is Pro Corner? It's a section on Photigy.com dedicated to challenges, private forums, and enhanced tutorials. The challenges are a lot of fun and are usually something very different every time.

The latest challenge required Pro Corner members to play around with waves of water surrounding a perfume bottle. I had a blast setting up the table and lights, picking the perfect perfume, and snapping the shot. 

This week I plan on shooting a high end watch. Hope it comes out right!

 
 

More was needed! by Tyson Junkers

After making photo after photo, I discovered a few issues I was having that needed to be fixed ASAP! First, I needed a tripod that was super stable. The one I had moved in between almost every shot and that makes compositing near impossible. Secondly, I needed a soft light for rim reflections and some down-the-line portrait shots. Lastly, my ceiling has fluorescent lights. The lights don't effect my shot since my shutter speed is too fast, but the metal holder of the fluorescent lights reflects my Einstein's back into my shot. Shot after shot, I found myself saying, "Where is that reflection coming from!?"

As of tomorrow all my issues should be lessened. I ordered a 22" Beauty Dish for my reflections/portraits. I bought a camera stand that keeps everything incredible stable and finally I bought black felt to cover my ceiling in so all reflections should go away!

 
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Updates... Updates Everywhere! by Tyson Junkers

After making the switch to commercial photography I figured I should completely change my site around while I'm at it! (If you haven't noticed that is...) I really wanted a way to not only show off my photography, but to have a little back story to each shot. If you click Work>Products above you can see what I'm talking about. Ok, back to shooting!

 
 

First Shot! by Tyson Junkers

After getting the studio set up, ordering several things I was missing, and finally figuring out how to get my camera to talk to the lights through the complex, but incredible Cyber Commander, I took my first shots...

Then I threw those shots away and took another, then another, then another. Tweak after tweak until I finally started getting somewhere. There is something about seeing reflections in the right spots and having a background nicely lit that gets me excited to keep trying. Here is the first shot I was proud enough to show.

 
 

An Incredible Week! by Tyson Junkers

This was one of the best weeks I've had in a long time! Not only did I walk in my office on Wednesday and see 13 boxes sitting there all from Paul C. Buff (image below), but I also found out an employee just moved to a different office giving me my own photography studio!

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The room was painted, IKEA furniture was built, hooks where hung, boxes where opened, everything was put together, and the move in finally happened. The room is perfect; It gives me enough space to work, and has a lock on the door so my gear and equipment can stay safe over the weekend.

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In the mean time I have already brought in 5 more tripods (all off camera) to hold diffusers, foam boards, etc. The studio is quite empty, but that's the way I love it. Ok, back to work for me!

Change of Plans by Tyson Junkers

After waiting nearly two months for my backordered Broncolor lights to ship, I started to realize that these lights are brand new to the market. In other words; No reviews have been posted, no tests have been done, etc. While Broncolor's name speaks for itself, I want to make sure I am very happy with the lights I order so I started to look elsewhere.

I also realized I am going to need a variety of light modifiers which I didn't calculate into the initial investment costs. I ended up going with the HIGHLY rated and recommended Einstein E640s from Paul C. Buff. These lights have been recommended over lights 3X the cost, and I was able to order the lights, stands, wireless controller, soft boxes and reflectors for less than half the cost of the Broncolor lights alone. That's not to say the Broncolor lights aren't worth the price, but I am going to wait for a while before making that kind of investment.

These lights should arrive next week. I can't wait to get started!

Flash Basics by Tyson Junkers

One of the biggest issues I have come across on many professional tutorial and training websites is the lack of basics. I have done landscape photography for so long, the basic idea of flash was practically lost to me! Below is a great tutorial from Philippe Dame on the basics of flash that helped me get a better understanding of how flash works, what sync speed is, etc. It's a great video to get you started with flash for those who haven't touched one yet.

The Training Never Stops! by Tyson Junkers

Here's my set up right now for watching tutorials. I figured, why not get a nice workout in while learning something new?

I just finished up the third series from Photigy.com. I absolutely can't get enough training in every day. Have any other recommendations? The more I can learn about commercial photography, the better off I'll be. Let me know!

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Broncolor, Why!? by Tyson Junkers

It took me weeks to decide on a set of monolights. After finally making my decision and spending a lot of money ordering a set of Broncolor Siros lights I was informed they where backordered. Not a problem. However, I was just informed yesterday that my lights won't ship until mid-January due to Broncolor being backed up entirely!

On some other news, I started the next series of training and have even been thinking of going to the 2015 Fstopper's Workshop down in the Bahamas. Anyone going down to take Rob Grimm's class? Let me know!

So Far, So Good by Tyson Junkers

Just finished Photigy.com's "Starting in Studio Photography: Part 1." An absolute incredible course taught by Alex Koloskov. The course covered everything from light setups to textures to reflections. It's an absolute must for any amateur photographer trying to get in the product photography game.

Also, on some other great news, my Broncolor lights should ship this weekend according to Adorama! Hopefully next week I can start taking some shots if all goes to plan.

 

Best Tip So Far by Tyson Junkers

The best tip I have been given so far is for anyone with a small studio space like myself. One of the biggest issues I have come across comes in the form of light bouncing off of areas it shouldn't. When you have a small space to shoot in, light tends to bleed out onto the floor, ceiling, and walls. If the object you are taking a picture of is very reflective or calls for very specific lights and shadows you may end up with problems everywhere. Here is where the tip comes in...

Best case scenario, If you can paint the walls and ceiling, paint them matte black. It will stop most reflections from getting in your shot and will give you better control of your lights and shadows.

If you can't paint the walls or don't want to feel like you are working in a dungeon, buy some black foam board in various sizes. Not only can use these to block light from bouncing off of the walls, ceiling, and floor, but you can also use these to block unwanted reflections that show up.

Hope that helps!