NewsFlash – New Wedding Book

Well, my fourth wedding book is finally finished! Hooray!

Digital Wedding Photography: Art, Business, and Style by Steve Sint

About 275 pages, its release date is June 7, 2011. Just in time for the wedding season!

More words than my portrait book (it’s thicker!), even more pictures, but this time, for a change, a lot of the images in it are from my students and friends at the Maine Media Workshops, plus some from two younger, second generation photographers from photographer parents who I consider friends, along with images from my own assignments and ones from the studios I shoot for.

Digital Wedding Photography: Art, Business, and Style by Steve Sint (that’s me!)

Keep an eye out for it!

PLEASE NOTE: Before the new book is released you can pre-order on Amazon If you are interested in a copy I want to ask that you get to Amazon’s page for the new book through this website. Doing so will keep this site alive and healthy. Thanks.

BTW, my publisher is really happy with it. In truth, I don’t know if she’s happy with the book or just that I finished it! Regardless, she wants me to do another book on an entirely different photography topic – partly because I’m tired of doing books about wedding photography! That’s all I can say for now but there’ll be another News Flash about that soon…I’m very excited about it!

Take care
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Posted on February 1, 2011 at 5:53 am by Steve Sint · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: Books

Borrowing a Lighting Technique From Videographers

Compared to still photographers, videographers (and cinematographers) often light things in totally different ways. While still photographers often think about lighting the subject, cine and video shooters often think about lighting an area for the subject to move around within. This makes sense to me because cine and video shooters have to deal with a moving subject while still photographers are looking to capture a frozen moment in time.

But, I’ve been on enough video (and cine) shoots to know that lighting designers on those sets use the still photographer’s technique of lighting the subject when the subject of the shot is static or when the talent hits a spot and delivers his (or her) lines and expressions from that specific spot. I’ve watched a gaffer on a film set use 15 (or more!) little inky spots to highlight each detail on a beautiful banquet table that the camera was only going to dolly past. And, I’ve watched assistant camera operators put tape marks on the floor for the talent to hit and then watched as the gaffers lit a same sized stand-in to still photographer perfection while the stand-in was standing on the tape mark.

So the question then becomes: If cine and video shooters adopt still shooter’s techniques when they are applicable to their subjects, why shouldn’t still photographers adopt cine and video shooter’s techniques when they are applicable to the still shooter’s subjects? Why not exactly!

As a matter of fact, when I shoot a formal portrait I light the subject (see the family portrait and the girl in the piano immediately below), but whenever I light a scene to record my subject’s action (i.e. people on a dance floor or a couple during their wedding ceremony) I no longer try to light them but instead, I light the area they are in. Because I’m trying to freeze a moment, this second style of lighting is not perfect 100 percent of the time because sometimes an individual subject might have a misplaced shadow falling across their face but I think it’s a fair trade off because I can capture the raw emotion of the moment without having to interject myself into what’s happening. Who likes a photographer that stops the fun to get his (or her) picture anyway?

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To be totally transparent with you, I’ve even developed a hybrid lighting style that incorporates both of the lighting techniques I described above. In it, I use my flash on camera as a weak fill light, a second flash unit on a pole held by my assistant as my main light on my primary subject, and one or two AC powered flash units along the room’s perimeter to light the entire area or add highlights to my primary subjects. I have even started to refer to these AC powered lights as my “room lights” and their job is to light the entire area that my subjects are in – just like the cine and video guys do! By throttling down the power of the AC powered room lights, and making sure the flash on the pole held by my assistant is the strongest of all the flash units I’m using, I can get my primary subject to look more three-dimensional and appear to “pop off the page” and my resulting pictures don’t have that “flash in the face/dark background” look the guests get with their little digital cameras. Did I mention that I use Pocket Wizard radio slaves instead of light actuated slaves? That way, none of the guests with their little digi-cams can steal the lighting I’ve worked so hard to create! I’m often told by my clients that my pictures probably look so good because my camera is better than those their guests use, but in reality I know it’s not that I am using a better camera but better lighting instead. I never mention this though – I’m just happy they keep calling to offer me assignments! See the photo taken at a 13-year old girl’s birthday party immediately below.

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If you are willing to try this more advanced lighting style yourself, there are two cardinal rules I suggest you try to observe: 1. I try to position my primary room light (the stronger of the two I use) on the same side of the subjects as my assistant holding the light on a pole – that way his light and the room light cast shadows in the same direction so the lighting looks more natural, and 2. See the photo and a bird’s eye view of the ballroom and where my lights are placed to better understand what I’m talking about plus the photo of the bride sitting on a chair as her friends dance in front of her while her family and friends look on so as to understand what I’m talking about.

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When I wear my wedding photographer hat (which I wear quite often!), I shoot traditional portraits in every sense of the word and for those images I light my subject but, when I’m shooting the guests on the dance floor, I switch to the cine/video technique of lighting the area my subjects are doing their thing in instead.

For those of you that can’t imagine (or be bothered with!) using four flash units simultaneously I must point out that even adding one room light and breaking the cardinal rule of not shooting into it can result in a unique image (again, compared to the guest’s digi-cam photos). As most of the guests milled around the dance floor while the best man gave his toast, after I got my shot of him, I turned around and captured this image of a reaction shot to his toast at a tent wedding on a rainy afternoon. The tent rental company was nice enough to have run a few power lines out to the tent so the band, the caterer, and me too had some AC power available. So, up went a room light! Next, and last, here’s the same lighting style using one on camera flash and one room light but this time I didn’t get the room light flash in my frame. Although I like the second shot better, I don’t think the light in the frame on the first shot matters because both pictures “pop”!

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Till next time, take care and good shooting!

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Posted on January 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm by Steve Sint · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Working with Flash · Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Introducing the New Mentor Program

Every month a number of photographers email me asking questions. Some questions come from past students, some come from readers of my blog, books, or articles, some come from old pros (although no one is older than me…;>), and some come from newbies. I take all the questions very seriously, because I believe in pushing information based upon my own hand’s on experience down the road, and try to give concise, detailed answers; sometimes searching through my files to find before and after images to prove the point I’m trying to make with words. While I find helping others fulfilling the only problem I face is the time it takes to do it!

A photographer from England recently asked a question and also asked if I would be willing to offer a subscription mentor program! After a few emails between us I decided to offer just such a service.

So, here’s the deal.

As of today, and through this website, I’m offering a Limited Enrollment Subscription Mentor Program to other serious photographers. The price is $ 20 (US) per month and for that subscribers can get three to four questions or critiques answered by private email. A second option is a 12-month subscription for $ 200 – a savings of $ 40 over the price of 12 month by month subscriptions; plus it’s more convenient to only have to subscribe once. If the answer is involved, or complicated, or just takes a lot of time, the question/critique limit will be three, if they are relatively easy for me to answer you get to ask and get my response for four. It’s my call, but I think you’ll find I’m fair in deciding what each subscriber’s question or critique limit is. You’ll get your answer within about one week (seven business days or less) except in May, June, September, October, and December when my shooting workload gets a bit crazy and it might take me a bit longer at those times. The last point to mention is that any of the answers I provide remain my property because, if I think an answer to your question is worthwhile in increasing everyone’s general knowledge, I might want to use the information in a future book, article, or blog post.

As the legalese often says, these terms are subject to change depending on the response to the program, but if they do, whatever terms exist at the beginning of the month (or year) you’re subscribed for will continue through that month (or year). Payment will only be through PayPal and if you’re interested in the program, and serious about our craft, contact me through private email (see the contact page on this page) and we can get started! As sponsors often say when advertising my workshops…seating is limited!

Thanks.

To get an idea of what a sample question and response might be here is the exchange between photographer X and myself:

On 15 January 2011 15:24, Steven Sint wrote:
On 1/13/11 8:25 PM, “Photographer X” wrote:
I am currently thinking about how to create an excellent studio set-up whilst minimizing outlay. With 2 x Nikon SB600s flashes with diffusers I hope to have good sufficient main and fill light. It’s the background and hair light that I’m trying to provide without big £. I’m tempted to try halogen bulbs in flexible clip-on spot lights and am hoping that being just for background and hair they won’t warm the colour of the most important parts of the image. I shall have to suck it and see!

The thought has crossed my mind; do you have a mentoring programme based on monthly subscription where the student sends the odd email and photo for comment?

Hi X,

I’m not a big fan of using hot lights (either quartz or tungsten) for people. They create too much heat which makes subject perspire and uncomfortable and, unless they are very powerful (which increases the heat problem) or you shoot at very high ISOs (which lowers image quality), you end up working with a very limited range of apertures at longish shutter speeds which (for people anyway) leaves you open to either subject or camera motion problems. You can solve the camera motion part of the equation by always using a tripod but that can then limit your ability to position the camera quickly and explore multiple camera angles easily – to the point of cramping your creativity.

If you are truly set on trying this (personally, I try stuff like this all the time!), you can use polymer filters to bring different K value light sources into balance with one another but if you do so I would suggest using orange polymer filters over your flash units because putting blue polymer filters over your hot lights can lead to a fire hazard and even if they don’t burst into flame they still will discolor prematurely from the light’s excessive heat (especially so if the heat is trapped in a bowl shaped reflector covered with the polymer filter. I currently have a piece of Lee #204 polymer semi-permanently taped over one of my SB 800’s reflectors (see photo) and use that on-camera flash when working on assignments with cine or video shooters using high output lights. When I use my orange-filtered flash unit I set my camera’s WB to 3130 K (it’s the closest K setting my D300’s have to 3200K) so the flash balances to the hot lights and my camera knows what I’m doing! Compare the next two attached photos to see the difference between using unfiltered flash mixed with ambient indoor lighting (WB set to 5560) while in the second one I’m using a flash unit filtered with a Lee 204 and the ambient room lighting (plus the video lights) while setting my camera’s WB to 3130K. Note that if you go this route, the continuous light source intensity can be adjusted by changing your shutter speed without affecting the flash exposure to any great degree but changing your aperture will affect both the flash and the tungsten light intensity. All of this is covered in my upcoming book, Digital Wedding Photography: Art, Business, and Style that will be out in June and is already listed at Amazon, UK.

Lee Filters is a UK company < http://www.leefilters.com/lighting/ > and I use one of their swatch books of filters for experimentation by cutting the filter I want to try out of the book and taping it over one of my SB800s (although they can obviously be used on Canon flash units too). The website address cited above is in the UK and I mention it because of your spelling of “colour” and “programme” but their US website is < http://www.leefiltersusa.com/lighting/ >.

Thanks for contacting me,

Steve Sint
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Update: Get Organized #2….Your Computer

Got an interesting email and then a phone call on my organizing your computer post and I thought I should share them.

1. A photographer who is a computer guru pointed out that for his assignments he uses the assignment’s date as the ID number but, unlike me, he uses the two-digit year as the first two numbers of his ID (year/month/day). That means in his system an assignment shot today (as I write this on January, 14, 2011) would have an ID number of 110114 while using my system, it would be numbered 011411 and be placed in a folder titled “Assignments_2011″. His advantage in doing this means he can throw all his assignments into a single folder and they will be displayed in chronological order by year, month and date. Although I use a separate folder for each year he finds it advantageous to use only one folder for all his assignments and by placing the two-digit year code first in his ID number system the assignments automatically separate by year. Personally, I’m not about to rename all my assignment folders and merge all my year-by-year folders because I’m happy with my system but if you are thinking about a system for yourself you might want to consider his solution for your organizational scheme.

2. Another friend pointed out that I should remind newbies that single-digit numbers should always be typed as a two digit number if you want the list of folders to remain in true chronological order. In other words; 1, 2, and 3 (etc. through 09) should always be typed as 01, 02, and 03 (etc. through 09). You can see this concept being displayed in the way your camera records files too. Even though the first file is number 1 when your camera’s counter rolls over it is always displayed as 0001.

If any of you want to share other thoughts (either anonymously or with due accreditation) on organizing your computer feel free to drop me an email and I will post your ideas…if they’re not to far off the wall.…;)

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Posted on January 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm by Steve Sint · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Tools & Organization

Summer 2011 Workshop Notice

Maine Media Workshops

Maine Media, P.O. Box 200, 70 Camden Street, Rockport, ME 04856

Toll-free: 877-577-7700, local: 207-236-8581

July 10 – 16 2011

The Digital Wedding Photographer

Enrollment limited to 14

For more info: http://www.mainemedia.edu/workshops/photography/digital-wedding-photographer

Read what past students have said: http://www.mainemedia.edu/instructors/photo/steve-sint

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Posted on January 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm by Steve Sint · Permalink · 3 Comments
In: Workshops & Lectures · Tagged with: ,