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What Is An Editorial Nude?

As I transition more to authoring new books, blogging and participating more on GarageGlamour.com, many photographers have noticed that as part of my “Farewell Photo Workshop Tour,” that we’ve included our editorial nude photography workshops in some locations. This has brought a few emails asking for some clarification.

Simply put, there are various forms (genres) of nude photography, including fine-art nudes (which others fall into also), implied nudes, glamour nude, Playboy nudes, editorial nudes, and just about anything you can add the word “nude” to at the end of it.  You name it, someone is teaching it—the problem lies not in nude photography, but many so-called glamour and nude photography workshops are just gang-bang shooting of cheesecake nude photos—and you wonder why there are some photographers labeled GWC’s, guys with cameras?

Unfortunately nude photography is being diluted daily, so I decided that I’d add editorial nude photography years ago as a different workshop than my “Glamour, Beauty and the Nude” themed workshops—and after conducting almost 500 photography workshops, seminars and lectures around the world in the past 12-years, I think I’ve got a good hand on what is what when it comes to photography.

In the case of editorial nude photography, it’s basically nude images that help convey some meaning, not sex, not porn, but true meaning including sometimes the mood of the subject.  These types of images often tell a story, and sometimes have a great story behind them. It’s about mood, emotion, storytelling, lighting, shadows, and sometimes even controversial, though I tend to avoid the latter.

At my Editorial Nude photography workshops, we work with simple lighting modified normally with 7-inch metal reflectors and metal grids.  The concept is to use shadows in your favor, tell the story, and to get away from marking the treasure map “X” on the floor—in other words, we don’t want you just standing there, we want you moving around the subject so you can see how the “Angle of Incidence Equals the Angle of Reflection” physics law come to play in photography.  We also ask you to turn your camera, not just plain horizontal or vertical images.

These types of images you could sell in art galleries, these are not cheesecake glamour nudes, these photos help you create are artistic but more important, solid and worthy of hanging in art galleries.

Now when we do your “Glamour, Beauty and the Nude” themed workshops, we use larger light modifiers, like 7-foot Chimera Octaboxes, 4-foot by 6-foot softboxes, beauty dishes, ringflash, California Sunbounce Pro reflectors and the list goes on—normally lighting used for editorial nudes is not the type we’d use in glamour photography.  Still not sure, well please visit EditorialNudes.com, my editorial nude photoblog that I just launched—it’s expanding with more images, so please be patient.  For now, since we don’t want to upset Google advertising, we can’t post images here, but you can find them at EditorialNudes.com.  Thanks, Rolando

LensDiaries.com, Let the Stories Be Told

In today’s world of being anyone, including a photographer, we have to constantly evaluate our situation and adapt to the changing times, so I’ve launched LensDiaries.com, my new hybrid photoblog created to spread the gospel of photography as I transition away from an exhaustive, 11-plus years of conducting over 450 photography workshops and seminars to thousands of people around the world. At LensDiaries.com you’ll find the stories and technical specifications of photos I choose for your insight in my photography. This photoblog is an extension of the five photography books I’ve published–so please help me spread the passion of photography.

With your support I will add photography tips and multimedia content along with photo critiques. For the inquiring minds that want to know, I will continue to conduct workshops and seminars, but on a very limited basis starting in the Fall of 2010. This will allow me more time to continue with my writings, future books and my photography. My focus is aimed at smaller, more exotic workshops to provide a more semi-private and a more intimate environment that you sometimes lose in a larger workshop environment. I’m always available for private photography instruction, just contact me here with your contact information and best time to call.

I will still blog on this site and inform you of my schedule and other items that I feel are better left on here, on my personal blog. On occasion, you will see a replication of content on both blogs, but remember, this site is a more personal blog and LensDiaries.com is a hybrid of a photoblog and blog, so both sites will have unique content too. I will also shift my focus from workshops to concentrate on Photographic Therapy, as a concept and the website, PhotographicTherapy.com. I hope you’ll visit all three sites.

Overtime, with your support, LensDiaries.com will transform into a more established photoblog–-this is a photographic journey we can accomplish together. Finally, I close by saying that I need your help to spread the gospel of photography by tweeting all the blog entries both here and on LensDiaries.com. Please tell all your friends and colleagues through all the social media networks—there are Facebook “like” and Twitter “retweet” buttons, please utilize them, every tweet and mention helps. Let’s spread the knowledge together. Let the stories be told! Thanks, Rolando

Back Up And Running

Well after being on the road on “back to back” workshops in the Virgin Islands, Phoenix, Moab and Daytona, we’re back for a few days of rest—however, while I was gone on this last trip, you probably noticed that our site along with GarageGlamour.com and a few other photography and modeling sites were down. Thanks to some hacker looking for glory, our server was penetrated so hard that we had to do a complete server rebuild—thank goodness for back-ups! This was only our third time in almost twelve years this has happened and let’s pray it doesn’t happen again.

I can’t stress, whether it’s your personal photos, computer files, website, databases or your own dedicated server, always have off-site back-ups—this saved us tons, but in the end, hackers do what they do best, they rob you resources, both financially and time that could be used better elsewhere.

Often rumors are abound that hacked servers spread viruses or malware of some type, and some do, but I can assure you neither our dedicated server nor any of our websites on our dedicated server had any type of issues that would have affected your personal computer. While for the most part we’re back to 100%, we’re still updating files and operating systems to the more current versions, which also increases our security and your security while visiting our sites. Through these upgrades you may experience a glitch from time to time, but not to worry, any glitch is only temporary. So far our security checks are at 100% fully secure and we’ll keep monitoring them to ensure a top-quality delivery of our content.

I close by saying thanks for all your support and for loyalty during this time, and yes, the long hours never stop—it’s the nature of the beast sometimes. Thanks again, and don’t forget our military troops, their families and friends, God Bless! Rolando

The Angle of Incidence Equals the Angle of Reflection

Often the Law of Incidence Equals the Law of Reflection is used to fill the "micro pores" of the face using this over/under lighting technique.  In this case, the ringflash fills the pores of the face since the camera is mounted on it.  The main light is slightly higher in power output above the ring flash.

Often the Law of Incidence Equals the Law of Reflection is used to fill the “micro pores” of the face using this over/under lighting technique. In this case, the ringflash fills the pores of the face since the camera is mounted on it.

The main light is slightly higher in power output above the ring flash.  The beauty dish is directly underneath to provide a “kicker” light, or softening of the shadows.  The photographer is shooting through a ring flash between the beauty dish and the main light above.

In physics, the law of reflection states that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. This tenet is fundamental to the understanding of light and can be summarized thusly: if light strikes an object at angle A, it will be reflected in the opposite direction, also at angle A, similar to the way a ball bounces off a brick wall. In photography, the law of reflection is rarely discussed; one typically hears more about the Inverse Square Law or that white reflects and black absorbs. While these are indeed important aspects of light, the angle of incidence and the angle of reflection are two components of physics that, once understood, can help photographers improve their images they create in both artificial and natural light.

The easiest way to comprehend this concept is to go into a place that has hard, shiny floors and overhead lighting (grocery stores work great!). Look down while you walk and you’ll see hot spots of light on the floor move with you as you walk. These hot spots are the direct reflection of the overhead lighting, and they evidence the law of reflection. These equal angles of incidence and reflection can cause hot spots on your subject too. Understanding the law of reflection will help you avoid hot spots on your subjects, whether you are photographing models, cars, food, or landscapes. In fact, managing these equal angles of reflection in your photographs allows you to add or eliminate texture and color in your images.

The white spots or highlights in this image of candles is where the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection, thus the hot spots.

The white spots or highlights in this image of candles is where the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection, thus the hot spots.

The law of reflection is also responsible for the red-eye effect that plagues ring flash users when shooting through the ring. Because the camera’s lens is at the same angle to the subject as the flash, the reflection of light against blood vessels in the retina at the rear of the eye produces red-eye. An easy way to eliminate red-eye is to brighten the room; this causes the subject’s pupils to contract, thus greatly reducing any reflection. Another method is to take a monolight with a 7-inch 20 degree grid and point it at your subject’s face with only the modeling lamp powered on (not the flash unit itself). Many flash units, including the Broncolor, Hensel, and Profoto brands have separate switches for the modeling lamp and electronic flashtube, allowing them to be powered separately.

The law of reflection is especially troublesome when glass or mirrors are present in the image. The equal angles of incidence and reflection cause hot spots in glass and mirrors when using a flash. The simple solution is to move the flash away from the camera so that the angles are not identical.

In the studio, you can use the monolight red-eye reduction technique described above in a darkened room. This will allow you to show more of your subject’s iris and less of their dark pupils. The technique works well with light-colored eyes, especially green and blue. Don’t be alarmed by the appearance of harsh shadows on one side of the nose, as the power of the artificial flash will knock this out when it fires

The stars created in the crystal flower are because the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.

The stars created in the crystal flower are because the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.

By moving the camera and light source(s) independently, you can use the law of reflection in your favor, almost like an added layer of makeup to smooth your subject’s skin. As you walk around your subject, you will notice that hot and washed out spots will appear and disappear based on the angle of reflection. You may also notice that your model’s face appears smoother from one angle and rougher from another angle, as the valleys of the pores are filled in with shadows. Through positioning your camera and light sources independently, you can eliminate hot spots and create the appearance of a smoother skin texture.

Because the vast majority of what we see is reflected light (as opposed to incidental light), we as photographers live in an illuminated world. Without light, we would have no images to capture, and humans would see nothing but perpetual blackness. Understanding the law of reflection will allow you to outshine your competitors, as your photographs will take advantage of one of the fundamental laws of the universe and stand out from those created by your peers.  Well that’s it for now, please don’t forget our military troops, their families and friends, as they all sacrifice to keep our nation strong and free–God Bless! Rolando

Photo Workshop and Party at the Palms!

Photo of Mari, art direction, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag.  Photo taken after the Phoenix Mansion photography workshop.

Photo of Mari, art direction, Playboy photographer Arny Freytag. Photo taken after the Phoenix Mansion photography workshop.

Note: Just announced, next Phoenix Mansion Shoot with Arny Freytag. (info here)

I just returned from a fabulous photography, semi-private instructional workshop featuring Playboy’s top photographer, Arny Freytag.  On occasion, Arny comes out and guest instructs at some of our photography workshops, most recently the Las Vegas and Los Angeles photography workshops.  Next month he’ll join us for a day as a guest instructor at the Los Angeles (workshop info here) photography workshop held at a 6,000 sq.ft. studio location with six gorgeous models including Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and American Idol star, Amy Davis.

Arny also indicated he’ll make an appearance at our Las Vegas workshop and birthday bash celebration this August at the Palms Casino where we’re alway treated well from the owner and staff. This will be our third photography workshop at the Palms Casino and at our Dec. 2009 glamour photography workshop, Arny spent two days instructing our attendees as we photographed models in the luxurious, 6,200 sq.ft., Sky Villa Penthouse suite—in fact, some of those images are in my new photography lighting book, Rolando Gomez’s Lighting for Glamour Photography: Techniques for Digital Photographers.

The Palms Casino and Palms Place always provide for some great shooting and touring of the clubs for all the attendees, and this photography workshop will be the best as Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and I will be celebrating our birthdays on Saturday evening throughout the casino along with a few other Leos who have their birthdays very close to ours.  The workshop is on Friday and Saturday, then more fun begins Saturday evening as we head out to tour the clubs at the Palms like the Rain, The Lounge, Moon, Ghost Bar, Satellite Bar, and even the Playboy Club.

Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Palms Casino Owner Gavin Maloof, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and I at Gavin's house.

Playboy photographer Arny Freytag, Palms Casino Owner Gavin Maloof, Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough and I at Gavin's house.

We’ve got a few slots left, so we hope to see you there, so far the guest list is looking great and our models Holley, Amy, Mari, Candice, Eleya and Heather are looking forward to pose for all those digital cameras.  We might even add a few more models to make it fun and exciting for everyone! We’ll even have our top make-up artist, Stephanie Dawn. All attendees get special room rates, so there will be no need to leave the Palms Casino during this weekend workshop and celebration.

Hopefully you’ve signed up before we run out of spaces, but regardless, don’t forget our men and women in uniform who make all our freedoms possible along with the sacrifices of their families and friends, God Bless! Rolando

iPad, iPhone, i’M an iReady Photographer

liveBooks--Build Your Business

liveBooks Built www.rolandogomez.com

As digital photography went from a revolution to an evolution, so has many things in life, from reading books on an Amzon.com Kindle to using a GPS app on your iPhone—and technology isn’t slowing down. You can order pizzas online and even find long, lost friends on Facebook, and if you’re really into technology, you can tweet your whereabouts and let the public inside your head in 140 characters or less. But for photographers, the evolution hasn’t stopped with cameras, technology has changed the way we present our talents, from multiple photography communities to our own personal, talent portfolios.

The New York Times recently ran an article, “For Photographers, the Image of a Shrinking Path,” on how photographers are trying to survive in a world where the commercial assignments are shrinking as publishers and advertisers license online photos from soccer moms, thanks to Flickr and their partnership with Getty Images. As photographers see commercial sales dwindle, they are scrambling for new ways to pay their bills. Digital diversity is one of those tools, though it’s often overlooked. The photographers that will survive the digital trend are those that have learned to understand the power of the great equalizer, the Internet, not just through social media networks, but through their own personal, professional website.

While many photographers join free photography communities to post their web portfolios, this is only one method of exposure and not necessarily the best method to target “the client” markets that professional photographers seek to survive. These are photographer communities, rarely client communities and whether you’re a wedding, architectural, editorial, fashion or portrait photographer, it’s important to maintain a professional website that targets clients specifically.

A website that showcases your talent. A website that isn’t about smoke and mirrors that overshadow your talent. It’s important that your website showcases your skills, crisply, cleanly, and beautifully—to help you build your business. This is why I trust liveBooks.com for both my professional photography and free photography books websites.

And from me to you, start a free trial now and receive 10% off a liveBooks website through 6/1/10 by using the promo code lbrolando.

Unlike the analog world of mail-in and hand carry portfolios, which still exists, photographers have to project professionalism in an up-to-date fashion—a digital fashion. One that delivers not only the photographer’s portfolio, but provides an easy navigation experience for the potential client plus an easy and reliable user interface for the photographer. In addition, to a simple user and client interface, a professional photographer’s website must be up-to-date so it adapts on-the-fly to the viewer’s choice of viewing device, whether it be their home computer, laptop, smart phone or digital tablet. LiveBooks.com provides professional photographer websites that do all the above, regardless if the viewer is utilizing an iPhone, iPad, or iMac.

My professional photography website, www.rolandogomez.com is digitally diverse and compatible—thanks to liveBooks—it’s up-to-date, it adapts to the viewer’s viewing device on-the-fly,  which means my clients know I’m up-to-speed. Well it’s time to hit some social media networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, all part of the surviving in today’s digital evolution, so please remember, don’t forget our military members, their families and friends, God Bless! Rolando.

Arizona Immigration Law, The New INS

I rarely publicly get into politics, it’s just not good business when you work for yourself to take a political side, but I’ve got to chime on this controversial Arizona immigration law—at least from an American of Latin descent observation of things. There is so much information, misinformation, debates, etc., out there where everyone is split over this new law, and that’s what bothers me the most.  If millions of people can’t come to agreement on how to interpret the law, how can an Arizona lawman be smarter than the rest of the world? And I’m just curious if all law enforcement types in Arizona have undergone specialized immigration training in how to define “reasonable suspicion” when it comes to determining if someone is an illegal alien?

According to this new state immigration law, law-enforcement officials in Arizona have the right to determine the immigration status of a person “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” And if that person can’t prove their status, then they “could be arrested and jailed for six months and fined $2,500.”  (Note: It’s been rumored that TMZ hopes to catch Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County at Home Depot—you know, buying saws, hammers and two-by-fours for his new expansion project.)

Now this is where I have a problem, and I’ll explain from my 47-years of being a Texan born in the good ole US of A with Latin descent.  Growing up as a kid, even with my Spanish heritage, European white-skin looks, I was often called a wetback, spick and all those racial names—in Texas. The darker-skinned Latinos would call me a Gringo and once I told them my last name, I was called a Güero. So most people when they see me don’t think I’m Latino until I introduce myself.

Then I’m asked, are you Hispanic? My first response is, “Where is the country Hispain? No, I’m of Latin descent, born in Texas, and served patriotically for over 8-years active-duty in the U.S. Army plus 8-years more as a civil service employee in the U.S. Air Force. So I tell them, “I’m an American and Texan of Latin descent.”

Right after I provide that answer, not surprisingly, I get the next dumb question, “Are you Mexican-American?” My response, “Nope, I’m an American of Latin descent.” Then I ask them, what descent are you from? Usually I’ll get German, Italian, Polish, etc., you get the picture, so then I say (matching the right descent to the person), “Are you German-American, Italian-American, Polish-American?” Get the picture?  And somehow Arizona law enforcement officers are supposed to be smarter than the Texas Rangers and the rest of the world? Don’t get me wrong, I support law enforcement but feel interpretation of the law, especially immigration law, should be left to those trained and specialized in it.  Heck, in Texas we have board certified lawyers in immigration and Spanish Land Grants.

Let me give you a better analogy, would you let a plastic surgeon do your heart transplant because both are doctors and surgeons?  Would you let a divorce lawyer represent you in a murder trial? Maybe if you were Tiger Woods or Jesse James. And you wonder why Sandra Bullock filed for divorce in Texas. Meanwhile back to the ranch.

In my opinion it seems that the Arizona legislators are targeting the “Mexicans” which sounds like racial profiling. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck!  If they are not racial profiling one specific group, then will they stop someone because they look Asian?  I’m willing to bet money, that Officer Brewer, no relation to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, since she is Caucasian (I bet some of you thought Officer Brewer was a man), will never ask a “Caucasian” person in Scottsdale for their proof of U.S. citizenship, though that same officer would ask Juan Valdez immediately when they spot him at Starbucks ordering Columbian coffee. Though I’m wondering how many law enforcement officers in the United States realize that the term Caucasian refers to white-skinned Europeans? (Source, Wikipedia.com)

Maybe as part of the training of law enforcement in Arizona we should include something like a Coke verses Pepsi taste-test trial and place an Caucasian next to an American of Latin descent (dark-skinned) and see how many officers would pick the Caucasian out of the line-up?  God forbid if the surrounding states of Arizona pass the same law. New Mexico will have some serious problems trying to distinguish real Mexicans from new Mexicans—somehow I picture a lot of their lawmen drinking margaritas after work.  Nevada shouldn’t have any problems though if public perception is correct and Area 51 comes to life, just look for green colored skin—now that would be an irony if those green illegal aliens got pass the Arizona police and crossed into New Mexico.  Then you’d have a New Mexican Caucasian police officer calling aliens Greengos.

Going back to my military days, it’s against the law for the U.S. Military to act as “civilian” law enforcement–yes, I spent 26-months in the Latin American drug war during my soldier time in the early 90’s, so I know that law well as it was never left up to our interpretation. So if it’s against the law for a U.S. Army soldier to act as civilian law enforcement, especially immigration law, why then under Arizona law, are they allowing the local yokals–the type that can “flash their tin” to break speeding laws when off-duty, to question anyone “reasonably suspicious” when it comes to citizenship status?

Does suspicious mean the same to Officer Felipe Calderon as it would to Officer Jan Brewer? Would Officer Calderon always pick out a Caucasian and Officer Brewer a Hispanic or Asian?  Get the picture? Just like the Federal government requires it’s workforce to undergo sexual harassment and suicide prevention training, why shouldn’t Arizona require all it’s peace officers, for the sake of peace, to undergo racial profiling training? Just what does an illegal alien look like that makes them suspicious?

Bottom line–let INS do their job. Local police are already overworked and now you’re giving them immigration duties? Doesn’t make sense. The next Arizona law will give police officers the right to question anyone with a cigarette lighter because they could be an arsonist. Even President Barack Obama strongly criticized the law and is calling for Federal immigration reform—our President people.  I wonder where Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa weighs in on this, at least he had the sense to make prisoners pedal to generate electricity to power TV sets in jail.  I’m willing to bet, “America’s toughest Sheriff,” as he’s commonly referred too, is building a whole new tent city in anticipation that he’ll run out of room and the dinner menu I can assure you is not Kung Pao Chicken or enchiladas.

Well I’m in Arizona next month to conduct a photography workshop, guess I’m going to take my U.S. Passport and put it in my briefcase because if my wallet gets stolen, I could be locked up since my last name is Gomez and not McCain, thus suspicious to someone that is not Latino and doesn’t understand the Latin culture. Like Carlos Mancia would say, if you’re drinking a beer or standing outside Home Depot you have provided enough reasonable cause to look suspicious so thank goodness I drink Canadian, Crown Royal Reserve and not beer and I prefer Lowes hardware stores. Speaking of Canadians, I hope Phoenix Suns player Steve Nash (Canadian) gets pulled over (and is not carrying any identification) on the way to the U.S. Airways center tonight when they meet the San Antonio Spurs for round two of the NBA Playoffs—though I wouldn’t wish the same for Tony Parker or Manu Ginoboli.

I close by saying, let’s not go back to WWII where in Europe you had to carry papers. The Arizona immigration law is just another “persecution” of another ethnic group, which is worse than racial profiling. So I’ll agree with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, it’s not racial profiling—it’s persecution. If there is any good news in this for Arizona, the Diamondbacks aren’t changing their name to the Yankees, probably because they got more baseballs than Arizona Tea, which is scrambling to tell the world it’s brewed and based out of New York—seriously. Just my two centavos for what it’s worth.  Thanks to reading my rambles and as I always say, let’s not forget the men and women in the military and their families as they sacrifice more to protect our freedoms than anyone in this great nation.  God Bless, Rolando

The Triangles of Photography

Often when you hear a photographer talk about a triangle in photography, they are referencing the correlation of exposure, or how the ISO, lens aperture and camera shutter-speed affect one another to create the correct exposure in a photograph. However, the word “triangle” in photography also applies to posing, specifically the great “three triangle” pose for a single subject, and the triangles formed in posing groups of people.

When posing a single model, three triangles are often seen when a model is standing tall, her body facing the camera, and the legs are close together forming a triangle from the base of the feet to where the knees meet, then from where the knees meet to mid-thigh, then mid-thigh to the bottom of the torso. This is often seen when a beauty pageant contestant stops and faces the judges on the runway too. However as in this photograph of Tess, you can use the arms and legs to form three triangles in the sitting position. (Note: If you look closely, the body itself forms one large triangle and the points of the triangle touch the points formed by the “rule of thirds” used for proper composition and framing.)

Tess uses her arms and legs to form three triangles in the sitting pose resulting in a visually pleasing image.

Tess uses her arms and legs to form three triangles in the sitting pose resulting in a visually pleasing image.

When photographing groups of people, great wedding photographers tend to space the front row so the people in the back row are directly behind each side of the person’s shoulder joint in front of them, thus ensuring that each person’s head forms, from each row, points in the triangle in groups of two or more rows of people. Portrait photographers also utilize this technique when photographing families of three or more.

When posing groups of people, form two rows and position your subjects so they form imaginary triangles with their head position.

When posing groups of people, form two rows and position your subjects so they form imaginary triangles with their head position.

Bill Hurter, editor of Rangefinder magazine states it best in his book, The Portrait Photographer’s Guide To Posing (Amherst 20004), “The triangle is one of the most pleasing and dynamic forms in all of photography. Because the triangle is a series of three lines, two of which are diagonal, it has the result of providing direction and visual movement in a portrait. Creating triangles and exploiting natural triangles in posing is one of the most basic skills of a good composition.”

Triangles in art composition was often practiced by some of the great painters, including Rembrandt, and as photographers, we all know Rembrandt lighting is one of the most popular forms of lighting in which a triangle of light forms below the eye. As a general rule in Rembrandt lighting, the triangle of light should be as long as the nose, but no wider than the eye.

While the triangle is easier to spot when replicating Rembrandt lighting, as it’s visually there surrounded by shadows on all three sides, in posing, it tends to be more perceptual and created by the arms and legs of the body when photographing one subject, or by the heads of bodies when photographing groups of two rows or more. Rembrandt lighting itself obviously is one of the elements in the triangle of exposure, and the triangle of exposure is evident in every correctly exposed photograph.

Finding and capturing triangles in posing is more difficult for photographers because we must direct our subjects in posing, however if we can focus on that direction through proper communication, it gives us the ability to move one step higher toward the top of the pyramid of photographers and our subjects will be pleased with the results.  Well that’s it for today, please don’t forget our men and women in uniform that defend our great nation, along with the sacrifices of their friends and family, God Bless! Rolando

Bring Out the Detail, The Black & White About It

Black cards were used to bring out the detail in Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough's hair.  Black cards were used to bring out the detail in Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough’s hair.

Often photographers are challenged to bring out detail in the clothing their model is wearing, especially black or white fabrics. The solution is to understand the 90-percent physics rule of light and reflection when it comes to black and white tones in digital and conventional photography.

The 90-percent rule simply means, whatever is pure white will reflect 90-percent of the light that hits it, whatever is pure black will absorb the light that hits it—the key word here is “pure,” as blacks and whites come in many shades.  Keeping this concept in mind, we can judge how fabrics and even skin tones reflect light, and since we normally expose for our subject’s skin tone, the camera exposure settings will directly impact our subject’s garments if they lean toward black (underexposed) or white (overexposed) tones.

Basically, normal human skin-tone rests closer to an 18-percent gray tone reflectance and when we expose for the skin tone, darker fabrics will photograph darker and lighter fabrics will photograph lighter when it comes to the final image if the photographer doesn’t take corrective measures. A simple corrective measure is to use V-flats.  V-flats are easily made for studio use by taking two 4- by 8-foot foam core boards and taping them together on their longest side.  The best foam core boards are the ones that come black on one side and white on the other side, thus making them reversible for more efficient use.  These gaffer-taped boards are called “V-flats” because they can be placed and adjusted to form a “V” that allows them to stand up without additional light stands or supports.  The V-flat is placed as close as to the subject as possible, but outside the camera frame.

For example, if a photographer had to photograph a bride in her white-gown, the V-flats, with the black surface facing the subject, would be placed on each side of the bride, thus the photographer would have two sets (four foam core boards total) two on each side of V-flats for the subject.  The black adds black tone into the wedding dress by reflecting at least 10-percent black onto the dress.  Some photographers will call this subtractive lighting.  California Sunbounce makes black on one side and white on the other side fabrics for their Sunbounce Pro (4- by 6-foot) frame, which makes for greater portability than a sturdy foam core board and the Sunbounces can be mounted on C-stands easily.  This is a great solution for on-location photography, especially when working on the beach where sand and water act as an additional reflector and foam core boards will deteriorate with moisture.

If a photographer has to deal with a subject, such as the groom, wearing black, especially when the background is black, then either by using a California Sunbounce Pro, white-side out, or V-flats, white-side out, the white surface would reflect light back into the black garments, thus bringing out more detail in the darker fabric.  While this technique is great for bringing out detail in your subject’s clothes, you can also use this technique when photographing dark or light colored animals, such as dogs or cats, or perhaps even a white rabbit.

This technique, though using smaller foam-core boards, is very helpful when trying to bring out detail in a subject’s hair, like the blonde hair of Playboy Playmate Holley Dorrough on my first book cover, “Garage Glamour: Digital Nude and Beauty Photography Made Simple.”  Basically, small black cards were placed around her hair to form a tent of black reflectors to put detail in her much lighter hair since we exposed for her darker skin.  Another concept for using black cards is in jewelry photography.  While most photographers will use a “white tent” to illuminate their diamonds, adding small black cards close to the jewelry will help bring out the diamond facets, thought this is tricky as the photographer must still bring light around the diamond while keeping the miniature black cards out of camera frame.

The key to all these types of photography, bridals, glamour, pet or jewelry is to place your black or white cards as close to your subject as possible, but out of camera frame.  It’s all about the 90-percent rule of reflectance reminding you about what you’re photographing and that the human mind uses brain and psychology perception to help us see differently than a digital camera, as digital cameras capture detail based on physic rules that pertain to light and reflectance, thus the mind compensates while the camera does not.  Well that’s it for now, but please don’t forget our troops, their families and friends as they make the ultimate sacrifices so we can enjoy our freedoms.  God Bless!  Rolando

Follow Your Heart

My son Nickolas during a heart examination, he's so brave. My son Nickolas during a heart test, he’s so brave.

Almost four years ago, when my only son had his two-year check-up, our pediatrician detected a slight, “heart click.”  In fact it was so faint, a cardiologist who would later give my son a more thorough examination, declared that the average doctor would have missed it.  The cardiologist went on to diagnose my son with a “bicuspid, heart valve defect.” This condition is predominate in males, and hereditary, and besides my younger brother who also has it, we have no family history of it.   The history our family does have, is that we  follow our hearts.

In fact, my younger brother was first diagnosed with this defect before my son was even born, and with this condition, other males in the family were encouraged to get themselves tested as this heart defect, when severe, can cause the blood to back-flow and the aorta will enlarge and can eventually burst.  When my brother was diagnosed with it, I chose not to be tested initially, regardless what friends and relatives would say, as my heart told me I was ok.  It wasn’t until my son’s prognosis that I decided it was time to follow the doctor’s orders.

That’s me.  I’m  sometimes a stubborn, Leo, Latin, male who doesn’t always listen to what might be good for me, but I was right, as the same cardiologist who tested my son, Nickolas, told me, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing as you have a heart of a 20-year old.”  While my son has the condition mildly, as any father would feel, I’d rather it be me then him. According to the “doc,” he’ll be fine, as on a scale of 1-10, ten being the worst condition, my son is about a one—though he’ll have to take antibiotics anytime a dental or medical situation exists that exposes the circulatory system, due to the higher risk of heart infection. Otherwise, he should live a normal life and could even be a professional athlete with no problems.

My brother on the other hand is more like a seven, not so lucky—he’ll eventually need risky, corrective surgery. Many people go through life not even knowing they have this condition, and it’s deadly. Since there is no family history, some hypothesize there was some gene mutation from my father’s exposure back from his days with the Atomic Energy Commission, were he used to rebuild atomic bombs in the sixties.  No one really knows for sure, as my Dad has survived a long life and will soon reach his 81st birthday.  What we do know, he has a good heart.

While my soon to be, six-year-old son is lucky compared to my younger brother, I followed my heart at first, and my heart was right. I didn’t listen to anyone else, which sometimes gets me in trouble.  As I get older, knowing time is precious, I still follow my heart.  While there will be people that disagree with me about my past, present, and future decisions, I respect that, as our nation gives us the right to agree to disagree.  Regardless, in whatever I do in life, I’m following my heart, nothing more, so please believe in me when I say, right or wrong, it’s my heart that guides me at times.  Though I’ll admit, I’m not always right in my decisions.  

God Bless!  Don’t forget our military troops, their families and friends, without them, we’d have no heart in our nation.  Keep them in your prayers, Rolando.