Monthly Archives: December 2014

What are Continuous Lights

In an earlier post on Beyond Here, we discussed How to Build a Home Photography Studio. In that post, I provided a brief overview of the requirements for space, backdrops, and lights. Once you have decided to set up a home photography studio, the decision on lighting is the most complicated and expensive decision. Your choice is between strobes and continuous lighting. Many photographers are familiar with the concept of strobe lighting – they work like large flash units, emitting a short burst of bright light. In this post we look at the question, what are continuous lights?

Very simply, continuous lights are always on. Rather than emitting a short burst of bright light, they emit a continuous stream of light.

Continuous lights

An example of continuous lights in a home photography studio

So why use continuous lights? Continuous lights have several advantages over strobe lights.

  • What you see if what you get. With continuous lighting the effect on your subject can be seen before the shot is taken. If you want to alter the way the light appears, you can adjust your lights or subject and see the impact before taking the shot.
  • They are easy to use. If you are new to studio lighting, strobes can be daunting to learn to use. With continuous lights you literally turn them on and then position the lights and subject to achieve the desired look. They are very straightforward to use.
  • Continuous lights can be used for video. It is increasingly common to shoot video with a digital SLR camera. Continuous lights can be used to shoot video – meaning you can shoot both still images and video in your studio using one set of lights.
  • They are fairly affordable. The exact price of continuous lights will depend on your location, the number of lights  you want, and the power of those lights. It is worth checking with your local photography store or online shops.

To assess whether continuous lights are the right choice for you, it is worth knowing that they have some disadvantages in comparison to strobe lighting too.

  • Continuous lights are not as bright as strobes. If you want to ‘freeze motion’ in the studio you will be more effective in using the short, bright burst of light from strobe lighting.
  • Continuous lights need a steady power source. If you are planning to leave your lights in your studio, then continuous lights work very well. But if you want your lights to be portable, strobes will be a better choice.
  • Strobe lights give you a lot more options in terms of power. With strobe lights you have greater control of the power output from each light, giving many more lighting options in your studio.

I hope this post has been useful in understanding what are continuous lights.

Set Copyright Information In-Camera

Modern digital cameras have the ability to set copyright information in-camera. This means that each image produced by your camera has the copyright information embedded in the EXIF data. This can be very handy if you plan to upload the images directly to social media without post processing, or you don’t want to do any post processing to the file, or if you lose the memory card and don’t want the images to be used by the person who finds it. (If they want to steal your images, technically they may still use them, but your name will be included in the EXIF data for each file which should act as a significant deterrent).

I am a Canon user, so the following images show how this is done on a Canon camera body. The model shown is a 7D, with the slightly fuzzy images (!) taken on my iphone.

Setting Copyright in camera

Image 1 – Select “Copyright Information” from the menu list.

So, how do we do this?

Step 1. First, press the menu button and scroll through the menu options until you find the one where you can see the words “Copyright Information”.

In the image displayed “Copyright Information” shows as third up from the bottom on this menu. Move down and select “Copyright Information”.

Setting Copyright in camera

Image 2 – Gives you options for displaying both author and copyright details

Step 2. Once you have selected the “Copyright Information” you will see a menu like the one in Image 2. This is now  a straightforward process of following the prompts.

You can choose to set both an author and a copyright holders details. If you are shooting for hobby, or for yourself professionally, you will want both the author and copyright holder to be yourself. (If you want more information on when these might be different, add a comment to this post and I will explain). To add your name to these fields first select them and then follow the leads. For this example, lets say you want to add your name to the copyright. To do that select the “Enter copyright details” option.

Setting Copyright in camera

Image 3 – add your name by selecting the appropriate letters.

Step 3. In the final step in this process you will see a screen like the one shown in Image 3.

To add your name here, use the wheel and the button in the center of it (just out of screen in image 3 to the right) to select each letter.

Once you have completed this process, your name will appear as the copyright holder for each image produced by this camera.

If you are using an older Canon digital camera you can add your copyright details by using a slightly longer process. You attach your camera to your computer and open the Canon supplied software. You then find the place in the software’s menu and add your copyright details. This is slightly more complicated but only needs to be done once.

I have been a long time Canon user but assume Nikon, Sony, Olympus and other digital camera makes can do the same. For users of these brands, is that correct? I would be interested to hear. And is it an easy process like it is on Canon? Please add a comment with details of the camera model and process. Thank you.

Thanks for reading this post on how to set copyright information in-camera.



Framing for Impact

In the first 7 months of Beyond Here I haven’t posted often about photography techniques. I’ve assumed people running or preparing to run photography businesses have most of their technique sorted. But I had two emails this week from readers who have asked for more content on technique. It seems a light refresher is welcome. So today I have been looking through images where framing plays a role. Within those images I was looking for images where there is a strong sense of framing for impact.


Here, trees are used to frame the island sunrise

This image was taken at Hahei Beach on the east coast of New Zealand. It was shot in the early morning just before the sun came up. It is a good example of framing for impact. While the pre dawn light was beautiful, the framing from the trees helps take away a lifeless sky, and focuses attention on the island and sunrise.

How do I see opportunities for framing? There are lots and lots of opportunities to use framing in your images. In this case, while I had walked along the waters edge and made some images, I knew the stronger images would be made from further back from the waters edge. Then it was just a matter of finding the right tree to really deliver ‘framing for impact’.


Even wildlife portraits can using framing for impact

Where else can I find opportunities for framing? Once you train yourself to look for them, you will see many opportunities for ‘framing for impact’. I shoot weddings, and classic scenes for ‘framing for impact’ are the bride and groom framed by the church door, or the bride framed by the window of the bridal car. These are good opportunities to add impact to your wedding images. I also shoot family portraits. When shooting an outdoor session with kids, I often use a playground to do portraits. Within most playgrounds you will find something to frame the child and add impact. Check out the venue in advance to plan this shot. It might be a swing, or the top of the slippery slide. The shot shown here is a giraffe in captivity. The nature of wildlife photography can make it harder to use framing for impact, but once your eye is trained you will start to see these opportunities even in fast changing situations.

Thanks for reading ‘framing for impact’. I hope it has been useful to you. If you would like to receive regular emails from Beyond Here, please add your details in the box in the margin of this page. Thanks again for reading, and if you need a place to get away from it all – Hahei on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand is a great place!

Patience and Timing

Bolte Bridge

Melbourne Sunset. Looking out over Bolte Bridge. 8.41pm.

I had the good luck to be in the city in Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday this week as this sunset unfolded. I was meeting a person at 9pm and had traveled into the city early. I was there at 8.15pm and had 45 minutes to occupy myself before the meeting. I had taken my camera with the expectation of being able to do a short shoot and adding to my stock portfolio. The sunset which unfolded took most of my attention and my breath away. It reminded me of the importance of patience and timing.

When I first arrived the sun was going down. There were plenty of light clouds around, but very little color in the sky. I was having a relaxing walk around the Docklands area, unaware of the spectacular sunset which was about to unfold.

For most of the next 20 minutes there was little to get excited about, although there was slightly more color in the sky. Then over a brief 9 minute window I took the 5 images you see in this post.

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.32pm

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.34pm

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.36pm

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.40pm
















At 8.32pm there was still very little color to be seen. I had positioned myself at the city end of Docklands looking out towards the Bolte Bridge and the setting sun. I considered leaving as I had a 20 minute walk to my appointment. I am glad I stayed, as over the next few minutes you can see the change in color in the sky, culminating in a vivid orange and purple skyline in the vertical image here shot at 8.40pm and the horizontal one at the top of this post shot at 8.41pm.

It was a good lesson in patience and timing. Landscape photographers who shoot at sunrise and sunset know this lesson well. It is worth being in position early and then being patient. Sometimes you get a spectacular scene like this and sometimes you don’t – but nothing is more frustrating than packing your gear into the car and realizing you missed a great opportunity. The lesson on patience and timing also applies to other types of photography. I shoot weddings and family portraits and there is often a split second between a great image and a bride with her eyes shut looking terrible.

It seems ironic – talking about patience and timing – that I had to run to make it to my 9pm appointment. I arrived hot and sweaty, but on time and with a series of sunset images!

Great Reads – Visionmongers

I have been writing a series of posts for photographers who want to operate their own business called Great Reads. You can find the previous posts here

This post is called Great Reads – Visionmongers and looks at a book by David du Chemin. You may have heard of the author. He is quite well known for his photography and for his previous book called ‘Within the Frame’.

Photography booksWhat is it about? The sub heading of this book reads “Visionmongers – Making a Life and a Living in Photography”. The author doesn’t shy away from his view that it is not easy to make a living in photography. He outlines that there is no simple path, and no formula to follow. For any practicing photography this will resonate immediately as the truth, and adds to the books credibility. Du Chemin then shares stories of his own journey and that of several successful photographers. I found this a very powerful way to show how the obstacles can be overcome, and the different paths possible to business success in photography.

What can you expect? This book will challenge your thinking about making a living in photography. I particularly like his focus on knowing what you want to shoot. He makes the point that if you focus only on what the market wants you will end up ‘stuck’ shooting subjects you don’t have a passion for. Du Chemin’s logic is compelling – that vision is what drives you, and passion is what keeps you going. That’s a strong argument for shooting subjects you are passionate about.

Outcomes? This is an excellent book if you are considering setting up your business and need to define exactly what you will offer and what role you will fill in the market. It is also an excellent read if you are already in business and need to refocus or rebuild your business. I particularly liked the examples of successful photographers and the diverse and individual paths they have taken.

Rating and Recommendation? Visionmongers is a book I would recommend to all photographers who are planning to start a business or are in business already. It presents all the challenges of making a living in photography and then provides examples of people who are succeeding. I have re-read this book 4 times this year and each time I get something worthwhile from it.10 out of 10.

Thank you for reading Great Reads – Visionmongers.

Help Clients for Christmas

Looking for a final flourish to the year for your photography business? Right now is a great time to help clients for Christmas. They might need a print to gift to their family, a canvas for their special someone, or a family photo session as the extended family gathers for Christmas.

There is less than 3 weeks to Christmas now, which means you will need to act fast to help clients for Christmas. Contact past clients by email to see if you can help them with their Christmas shopping. The type of email I recommend is short and to the point …


December family portraits make great Christmas gifts. There is time, but you will need to move fast.

“Dear (Client), Hasn’t this year just flown past! I hope you and your family are doing well. I am finalizing my print orders for this year, and am reaching out to see if you would like a print ordered for Christmas? Attached is a price list. The most popular this year seems to be the 12×18 inch print for $XX. Please let me know by Tuesday if you’d like to order some – they make great Christmas presents. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Craig.” If you don’t hear back from your clients within 24 hours, follow up with a gentle reminder. Taking the hassle out of buying Christmas gifts can be invaluable for your clients, and often they will say ‘yes’ to an offer to frame the prints and deliver the ‘finished product’. This is  a great way to look after your clients and to have your business flourish.

Tomorrow I am shooting family portraits for this little man’s family. I had the pleasure of shooting his parents wedding 2 years ago, and doing a studio portrait session for them earlier this year. We have planned an outdoor session for tomorrow morning. Now, I just need a little cooperation from the Melbourne weather and we will have prints ready for Christmas.

Good luck as you try to help clients for Christmas.

Jump Start Your 2015

This year has raced past and its already December. At this time of year many photographers pipeline of work slows as domestic clients start to think about Christmas and holiday time, and commercial clients have a ‘crazy busy’ few weeks before the end of the calendar year. December is a great time of year to take a few simple steps to jump start your 2015.

Jump start

Making time to contact past clients in December can jump start your business into the new calendar year

I take a few simple steps at this time of year to jump start my business for the new calendar year. Many of my clients are domestic clients who I have shot weddings or family portraits for. Over the next 2 weeks I will send each of them a 6×4 print, a business card, and a Christmas card. In the Christmas card will be a hand written message. This contact helps maintain a connection with each client, and makes it easier to strike up a conversation the next time I see them, or they refer a friend to me. I want them to think of me as their family photographer and holidays are a great time to reinforce that connection. For my commercial clients, I call them in early December. No one needs another email at a busy time of year, so I choose to call to either speak with the client or to leave a voice message. My message is a simple one, are there any projects they need assistance in getting completed in the next few weeks? How can I help? If there aren’t any, what date will my client be back in the new year? Can I touch base with them about new year projects? All simple stuff to maintain a relationship with each client and to see if I can assist them.

What do you do to maintain contact with your clients? What approach will you be taking to jump start your 2015?