Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I can understand it, when outside, sometimes you've only got flat light on your subject and you've never heard of subtractive lighting because nobody else is teaching this!  See my blog: WHAT IS SUBTRACTIVE LIGHTING USING A GOBO?  So, you work with what nature gives you at that moment in time; I get that.  But, there's no such excuse when you're in the studio. In the studio you are GOD (so to speak)! The studio is a universe of Your creation; YOU say let there be light and WHERE the light IS or IS NOT. YOU say how much and its DIRECTION! Lighting with ONE MAIN LIGHT creates direction and that creates SHADOWS.

Leonardo da Vinci wrote:
"The artist who avoids the shadows may be said to avoid the glory of the art." 

This image shows THREE DIMENSIONAL studio lighting. In this image I have my main light at 90º--to her side on camera left--with no fill light of any kind, not even a reflector. 

The lighting pattern I see the most on forums and on professional photographers' website is the Equi-Angle/Equi-Distance two light setup--that is the two lights each at a 45º angle--and many times they won't even have a background or hair light!

The fundamental problem isn't that this lighting set-up exists--it's great on TWO DIMENSIONAL Things like a stamp collection or drawings and paintings.  It's a COPY SET-UP! It's not for People or anything three dimensional!

This is what I'm calling lighting malpractice.  It's basically a Two-Main-Light set-up.  (Two lights of equal distance and angle.) I couldn't omit the very necessary background and hair lights--but this is basically a flat-art lighting set-up. This is not as flat as I am seeing out there, but you get the point (I had a really hard time doing this wrong.) Notice the double pops in the eyes as well.

Moving my Main Light back over to the Left and omitting the other main light or any fill light at all--there's only a soft white reflector on the right--we now have three-dimensional lighting again.

In order to command a premium price for your portraiture it must look different that the chain store "picture places" in the mall.  If you are lighting people no differently than the passport pictures offered by the Post Office for $20 why should your clients pay YOU more? So, let's not photograph our clients like they're a stamp collection. Give them depth and create dimension by sculpting with your lights not flooding your subjects with light.

As usual should you have questions please don't hesitate to ask…

Author; Jerry W. Venz, Certified, Master Photographer
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


With our 25+ years in the business and hundreds of weddings these are some of our most valuable tips:

#1)  Engagement sessions can be a huge marketing tool for you. Insist on doing an engagement session for your couples and explain why…Do it long before the wedding and do it as your gift to them--Just the session--no prints or files included. It does not matter if they've already had someone take pictures already. YOU haven't done it. Tell them this is how you learn about the best way to photograph them, to learn what they do and don't like, and it's your chance to tutor them on the best poses for them.  We use the engagement session as our opportunity to teach them how to stand, how to sit, and what to do with their hands when being photographed. It's all about making them feel relaxed in front of Your camera.  All of these tips prepare them for their wedding day photography and they will remember their engagement experience.  We've also found that they're far more likely to buy a wall print from a stunning engagement session than anything from the wedding day.

#2)  Tell your couples that you will attend their rehearsal--not to take pictures--but to meet their family, wedding party and most importantly to meet the church's coordinator and their minister or priest.  You need to find out about the rules of the church for photography--where You are permitted to set-up your tripod and if you can move or use multiple locations.  In addition I always ask the coordinator if they would bring the lights UP to wedding day levels so that I can pre-measure the ambient light and pre-plan how I'm going to do the return to altar photography.  I must know in advance if I have to bring additional lighting if the church's lighting is inadequate--especially if they have a large wedding party or large family groups. Besides the technical necessity attending the rehearsal always impresses everybody there because most photographers don't do this! It shows that YOU CARE about their wedding and respect the sanctity of the church when you attend the rehearsal.  In addition when I showed up at rehearsals it was more likely that they would bend their rules to accommodate my photographic requests.

#3)  This is really an important one!  If you have a bride with a bunch of bride's maids, where her hair-dresser/make-up artist is doing everyone's hair and make-up, have the bride INSIST that she be done FIRST!  It does you no good having her brides maids done before the bride--the bride is in all the images!  With the bride done first you can start with the most important images of the day--the bride's formal portraits. Then as her girls are ready you bring them in, pair them up, and do the groups, bring in parents, siblings, etc.

This hair-dresser/make-up issue regarding the order of who gets done first has been the leading reason our photography went behind schedule and the necessity to eliminate more artistic images being done of the bride.  We had a wedding when the hair/make-up person said the bride is supposed to be late…she was soooo late that NO photography was done of the bride prior to the ceremony…they were doing a sunset wedding at a stunning outside location in Carmel Valley, California…she missed the sunset by an hour…no one saw her carriage and white horses bring her to the ceremony and everything was done in the dark…


Should you have questions don't hesitate to ask…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, Certified, Master Photographer
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


In this digital age ISO is now a tool to get me to the f-stop/shutter speed combination I need for a given subject.  It's completely variable and at least with a professional full-frame, or larger, camera we can use ANY ISO we want and still get great images. 

In the old days our ISO choices (ASA back then) were only incrementally variable. Our films had a "fixed" ISO for best results.  Sure there were some notable exceptions like Tri-X and later T-Max Black and White films that we could "push" one or two stops higher and get great, grainy, results.  I used to push my 320 ASA Ektachrome slide film to 1000 ASA with nice results when photographing rock concerts.  Having the freedom to move my ISO so I can use the shutter speed and f-stop I want is the best thing about digital cameras! This is especially true for action/sports photography.
f5.0 @ 1/2500 sec., 800 ISO, lens @ 200mm

Since this rider was racing towards me at a full gallop I needed a high shutter speed--especially with a relatively wide f-stop--so, 800 ISO was the necessary ISO to use.

f50 @ 1/30 sec., 1600 ISO

This antique pump at the State Fair was in a shaded area and to make the spinning rotor transparent I needed a slow shutter speed. At f5.0 for adequate depth of field I needed 1600 ISO.

f5.0 @ 1/2000 sec., 125 ISO

This ice encrusted leaf was in a lot of back light and with a slight breeze I needed a high shutter speed to freeze it.  I also wanted a shallow depth of field. So, with that shutter speed I had to drop the ISO down a lot.

As you can see in each case I don't pre choose my ISO --as some photographers teach on the internet to always use your camera's native (lowest) ISO--NO, all you do then is limit your creative possibilities.

Our most creative tools in photography, besides lens choice, are f-stop and shutter speeds. You can't use their full range of possibilities without a really variable range of ISO's.

As usual, should you have questions please don't hesitate to ask...

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photog. Certified
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


To create my vision, in this stage of my personal project, on the Horse Culture of Idaho, I wanted western style equestrians in a great location.  We put the call out to our clients for models for this complimentary session and were rewarded by an enthusiastic response from Pam and Mary. A pair of genuine and authentic western style horse lovers.

In planning for their session I told them of my requirements for horse photography on location; first and foremost that the place I park my car can not be far from a stunning location for photography…for several reasons:
1) I don't have a horse to get into the back country
2) I may need to go back to my car for equipment at any given moment
3) I always bring, and usually use, my 6-foot ladder on horse sessions (see: Part 1 on camera elevation)

Their answer to my rather stringent requirements was Celebration Park, an hours drive south of Boise just beyond Melba.  It sits along the Snake River and is Idaho's only archeological park with Native American petroglyphs at least 12,000 years old surrounded by huge basalt melon gravels.  It was truly worth the drive!  The image below is the big view I was looking for.

My inspiration for these images, of our cowgirls, were the marvelous cowboy vistas I remember from the old Marlboro print ads and commercials that I grew up with; the missing element being the cigarettes!

It turned out that I didn't need my ladder because the basalt boulders were perfect platforms for the high angle down set-ups I wanted! In the above images my high angle was used to eliminate the sky.

In addition, as seen in the image on the left, it was fun to set-up some action scenes as Pam and Mary picked their way through the boulder field.

Of course, while we were at it, I did some traditional portraits of the gals and their horses.

It's always nice to capture the special bond people have with their animals.

Should you have questions please don't hesitate to shout out…'Til next week.

Author: Jerry W Venz, Master Photographer CPP
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com