Thursday, December 31, 2009

Few Panos in Work

6 shots - @40 min after sunset 24mm, f/2.8, 20", ISO 200

Attached a few panos I am currently working.  All panos were shot with a Canon 5D Mk II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro C213, Really Right Stuff (RRS) BH-55, and a RRS pano kit. Components were processed in Lightroom, stitched in Photoshop, and optimized with both programs.

9 shots - 24mm, f/16, 1/5", ISO 100

Speaking of panos, a new post on panorama tactics, techniques, and procedures may be found at the following link.  

Digital Photo Experience

If you haven't checked out the above site, there is some great information there.  I'll be contributing some pretty good stuff in the new year.

5 shots - 43mm, f/16, 1/3", ISO 100
Fiat Lux!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Last Minute MNL Cnx

MNL this evening will not broadcast as scheduled.  We are having an issue with the software and do not feel adequate transmission and training is possible tonight. 

Thank you for your patience with this process.  Hal always champions the wonders of the live, world wide broadcast but every now and again it bites him in the tail end. 

Have a great evening and see you back online soonest. 

The shot above is the Nabors 9ES rig on the North Slope of Alaska.  Single shot with the Canon 5D Mk II, EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L, Benro C269, and Really Right Stuff BH-40.  Faux HDR processing in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  Still don't really know what the trails are in the sky.  Obtw, the temp was about -10 with a -35 wind chill.  Good living.

Fiat Lux!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

28 Dec Monday Night Light

Follow the attached link to register for Monday Night Light, our free, weekly, live web seminar.

See you online.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Monday Night Light goes Dark

We hope your holiday season is going well!
This Monday, MNL will be dark due to the holiday season. We will resume MNL on December 28th.
Our office hours are 10am-3pm and email is also a great way to get a hold of us with any questions or orders for your Volatus Wine and Gift Certificates.
Hal is still in Alaska in the -30 degree weather and enjoying every minute of it! He had his Polar Bear safety training since they like to dodge the weather by using their parked cars to shield the wind.
Hopefully we will see some great photos upon his return.
We hope to see you all here soon!
Merry Christmas!
Hal and Victoria Schmitt

Monday, December 14, 2009

Long Travel Day (But still went shooting)

Landed in Anchorage, AK around midnight.  Finally made it to the hotel and had to go do a little shooting.  Long travel day but amazing outside.  15 degrees and overcast but interesting shooting with the trees covered in half inch ice crystals. 

Shot with the Canon 5D Mk II, EF 24mm f/1.4L, RRS BH-40, and the Benro C-269 "travel angel" tripod.  This little tripod is awesome.  Folds up to 13", very steady, and under $375.

Fiat Lux!

Friday, December 11, 2009

MNL Link for 14 Dec

Follow the link below to join us for Monday Night Light, our weekly, live, free web seminar.  Hope to see you online.

Fiat Lux!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Coastal Discoveries Color

Canon 5D Mk II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro C213, and RRS BH-55
ISO 100, f/16, 4"

Day one of Coastal Discoveries is finished and we were treated to an amazing sunset while out shooting this evening.

We spent most of the day in the lab discussing fundamental concepts and techniques before heading out to photograph and practice.  In the field we used live view composition and focusing, hyperfocal distance, panorama, macro, HDR, and slow shutter speed work.  Not bad for day one.

Out and about early tomorrow for sunrise and then Monarch's in Grover and Pismo.

Fiat Lux!

07 Dec Monday Night Light Link

Follow the link below to register for Monday Night Light, our weekly, free, live web seminar.  Light is back in California with class in session.

See you online.

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Light Video

src="" quality="high" allowfullscreen="true" bgcolor="#000000" allowscriptaccess="sameDomain" style="width: 426px; height: 262px;" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="" flashvars='config={"key":"#@da34d01747bd077f2e4","clip":{},"plugins":{"limelite":{"url":"","netConnectionUrl":"rtmp://"}},"playlist":[{"url":"","fit":"orig"},{"url":"mp4:affiliate/video/36017_thdirect.f4v","provider":"limelite","autoPlay":false}]}' >

From some local videographers working with Turn Here!

Friday, November 27, 2009

30 NOV Monday Night Light Link

Follow the link below to register for Monday Night Light, our weekly, live web seminar.  The best and least expensive (free) training on the web broadcasting live each Monday.

Fiat Lux!

Friday, November 20, 2009

MNL Dark for Thanksgiving Week

We'll be dark for next Monday's webinar.  Taking a little time for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Video recaps will be up shortly.

Here at Light we are just starting a three day Lightroom Intensive.  No better place to learn Lightroom!

Fiat Lux!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Night Shooting

©2009 Luis Arismendi

Luis Arismendi took this shot of Hal during the Leonid meteor shower peak early morning 17 November.

Overall the shower was a little disappointing but a three hour night shoot was a great time.   Caught an interesting fire in Montana de Oro and a cool series of some type of ionized cloud left over from a Leonid meteor.  I'll have some shots up soon.

We're finishing up here with Day 4 of the Studio Photography class and start a three day Lightroom Intensive tomorrow morning.

Fiat Lux!

Friday, November 13, 2009

16 Nov Monday Night Light Link

Follow the link below to register for Monday Night Light, our free, live web seminar every Monday from 6:30 to 7:30 PM PDT.

See you online.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Central Coast

Every now and again I have to stop and look at the incredible beauty of the central coast.  A three shot stitched pano from this evening.  15" exposures at f/16.

Happy Veterans Day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Companion Shot

The companion shot to yesterday's post.  24 shot total HDR panorama with the Canon 5D Mk II, EF 70-200mm f/4L, Induro C213, and RRS BH-55/pano kit.  I wanted a different aspect ratio so I shot the horizontal pano with vertical segments/components.

This is a version of the master file.  Have not yet decided on a crop.

Off to Los Angeles for the LA Digital Imagery Group discussion this evening.

Fiat Lux!

Monday, November 9, 2009

HDR Panorama of the Rock

A little high dynamic range (HDR) panorama from a shoot last week.  Scenery around here is not too shabby.

I shot the component images with a Canon 5D Mk II and EF 70-200mm f/4L mounted to an Induro C213 tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55, and a RRS pano kit.  I had six panorama segments and each segment had three HDR components so 18 shots total. 

My workflow is to bring everything into Lightroom where I prep for export to Photomatix Pro.  I normally merge and tone map the HDR components first and then stitch the panorama in Photoshop. 

The image is huge.  Without any interpolation the image would print 24 x 110 at Light recommended print resolution. 

Fiat Lux!

Patch Tool - MNL Video Recap

See you online tonight.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sunset Walk on The Beach

(Click photo to view)

Two nights ago, I was trying to see what the make or break point was for slower shutter speeds and a fast 2 year old. The 5D Mk2 performed great as always and even when jumping up to higher ISO's like 1600 I was able to get some really sharp low-noise images. I took a few test shots at ISO 4000 (below and hand-held), fun, but noise is noise and no matter how cool it is to reach high ISO''s still noise.

This was one of those unexpected sunsets that you think there isn't much color because the sun sort of just fizzled out under the ocean fog. But you turn around and those beautiful pinks just seemed to explode from the clouds! Hal did several long exposures that we will see on the blog soon. They look incredible.
The extreme low tide gave this beautiful glass reflection. Some areas deeper than others which was just more than fun for her little pink rubber boots.

Most of these were taken with ISO 100-400 with a f2.8 and SS 1/20-1/50. A little bit of tweaking in Adobe Lightroom but not much. No vignetting added due to my 24-70 Lens and the full size sensor. But I like the effect that it created with these images. Hal was telling me that a small pop of a flash would have made the images sharper and "better" but to me it wouldn't have looked as "artistic".
(And he also failed to mention that he had a flash in his back pack...)
I enjoy the contrast and dark feeling of the scene. It puts me back into the scene as I saw it with minimal enhancing. And for those of you who know me...I love to enhance...I love Photoshop. That's why I made the panel-panorama, I just couldn't leave it alone!
I think I might have the first night of our Photo Festival here. It just seems fitting to have photographers meet in a large enough and beautiful place like this to kick things off.

-Get out and shoot!

Friday, November 6, 2009

09 November Monday Night Light

Please click the following link to register for Monday Night Light, our free, live, web seminar held every Monday from 6:30-7:30 PM PDT. 

Join us for the best training on the web and become one of the illuminated.

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Speedlite Cheat Sheet Part 2

The following is part two of our Speedlite Cheat Sheet.  For additional training, check out one of our Speedlite mastery courses, three days of flash immersion.  Just remember, flash should not be difficult!

Fiat Lux

Basic Fill Flash Ops

LIGHT recommends shooting Manual whenever possible. Remember, “Friends don’t let friends shoot Aperture Priority.”

With the camera in Manual and a Speedlite attached and powered, basic fill flash is accomplished by setting your exposure and initially ignoring the flash. With the flash in ETTL mode, the preflash burst will “find” your subject and provide the fill. Depending upon ambient light levels set your FEC to overpower or just “kiss” with light. If you prefer Manual flash, set exposure per above and then dial in your desired level of flash. The Manual option may take longer to dial in but once it is set the flash will be completely consistent.
If you shoot in any of the full Auto modes, Av, or Tv mode with the flash attached and powered, the camera’s meter and the ETTL logic will attempt to balance flash fill with ambient light and reach the correct exposure for subject and background. Modify with FEC as desired.
If your desired exposure requires a shutter speed faster than max sync speed, enable High Speed Sync. Remember your effective range will decrease.
Backlight Fill Flash

When your subject is backlit strongly you will need to separate the exposure for the background from the flash fill of your subject using the following technique.

-Flash to illuminate your subject (flash is the primary light source for the subject typical of a backlight situation) ETTL or Manual.
-Set Manual exposure for the background highlights
-Best effect is achieved keeping the shutter speed below max synch
-Recompose and focus on the subject (ignore the underexposed meter reading)
-If you need a shutter speed >max sync speed enable high speed sync
-Shoot (the flash will illuminate your subject)
-Modify your FEC (ETTL) or power (Manual) and flash zoom as required
Low Light
-A low light condition may be overcome by use of the Speedlite. If you shoot any of the full Auto modes, Av, or Tv mode with the flash attached and powered, the camera’s meter and the ETTL Logic will attempt to illuminate the scene for correct exposure.
-Shooting Manual in low light gives you the control to determine how much (if any) you want the ambient light to contribute to the exposure.
-Set Manual exposure for one of two conditions
-Ambient light contribution or negation
-Required shutter speed to stop action or camera shake (good habit even though flash duration is very short)
-Shoot as normal with the flash enabled
-If you need a shutter speed >max sync enable high speed sync
-Adjust FEC and Zoom

Manual Flash

Manual flash is often disregarded in favor of ETTL. This is unfortunate as the manual mode offers the Speedlite user incredible flexibility and power.

Press the mode button to enter Manual flash mode. The flash will not use ETTL metering in this mode. The Speedlite acts in a very similar manner to a studio strobe. Normally you will take an incident meter reading to set the flash output with FEC. Notice in Manual mode the FEC is in the following values 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 164. There are also 1/3 stop increment settings in between each of the above ratios. 1/1 is the maximum output power. Every subsequent setting is a reduction of one stop of light.

LIGHT recommends Manual as the mode of choice when operating the Speedlite in the role of “studio strobe/strobes.”

LIGHT also recommends Manual as the mode of choice for most wedding/event photographers especially when paired with a Hanson Fong Skin Glow card found at  This card is about all you need to modify the Speedlite whether shooting people, pets, or products.  Email Hal for more details about this incredible piece of kit!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Adjustment Brush Recap Part 2

Fiat Lux!

Adjustment Brush Recap Part 1

Adjustment Brush in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR.)

See you online tonight!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Los Ososian Vampire

Happy Halloween!  Light is in session again with Photoshop 1 this weekend.  Two fun filled days of learning interrupted by a little trick or treating, of course.

Careful of the creatures out and about this evening, especially around coastal California.  Don't want anyone to get bitten.

Fiat Lux!

Friday, October 30, 2009

In class with Rob Sheppard this week.  The class is putting some end of week slide shows together in Lightroom for a final review and critique.

The image above is from our Digital Figure class a couple weeks ago.  I shot the image with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, and our ProFoto D1 Air system.  I processed the image in Lightroom and then sent to Photoshop CS4 for editing.  I also brought Topaz Detail into the mix and used some blend mode changes on the resultant layers.

I wanted a high contrast, high saturation, slightly painted look and am happy so far with the results.  Need to work a few more ideas through.  The basic advice of "Don't be afraid to play around" helped me with this one.

Fiat Lux!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

HDR Guidelines Part 3

Took a while but here they are.  The first parts are in August!

After Capture Processing

-Transfer images from card to computer storage media

-Opinions differ regarding processing raw files or processing TIFF.

-My experience is that most simple images will do ok processing the raw files.

-As the scene becomes more challenging, process the raw files and create TIFFs.

-The Lightroom Photomatix Plug-in will create a TIFF

Do not touch exposure when processing the images!
Old School Bridge/Photoshop Method

-Select all source files in Bridge

-Go to the menu bar and find Tools>Photoshop>Load files into Photoshop Layers

-Mask away

Old School Lightroom/Photoshop Method

-Select all source files on filmstrip or Library Grid View

-Right click, scroll, and choose Open as Layers in Photoshop
Bridge/ACR TIFF Creation – First Method

-Select all source raw files in Bridge

-Double click one of them and open ACR

-Hit the “Select All” button in the upper left of the ACR dialog

-Set Tone Curve to Linear and Sharpening Amount to “0”

-Synchronize all images

-Configure full size TIFFs

-I typically save the TIFFs to an“HDR Source TIFF” Folder
Lightroom TIFF Export

-Select all source raw files on the Filmstrip or Library Grid View

-In the Develop module, set the Tone Curve to Linear and Sharpening Amount to “0”

-Synchronize and return to the Library

-From the left panel of the Library module, click Export

-Configure full size TIFF files

-I typically do not reimport the TIFF files

Lightroom Plug-In

-Select all source raw files on the Filmstrip or Library Grid View

- In the Develop Module, set the Tone Curve to Linear and Sharpening Amount to “0” (This is easily set as a Preset.)

-Synchronize and return to the Library

-Right click and scroll down to Photomatix


-I normally reimport and stack the final processed image

-Photomatix Method to Combine

-Open the program and click “Generate HDR image”

-Select the image files and click “OK”

-Select options as desired

-Photomatix will convert

-Save the HDR as a Radiance file

-Photomatix Method to Process

-Open the radiance file

-Click “Tone Mapping”

-Select method

-Tone Compressor for a more photo-realistic look (sometimes)

-Details Enhancer for more control and art feel

-Change sliders to taste

-Click the “Process” button

-Save the output

-Process again as required

-Repeat process saving each time
-Photomatix alternate method to Process

-This works extremely well for single images processed multiple times

-With only one source file process for highlights, shadows, and midtones. Save each version and then continue from here.

-Open Photomatix

-Click “Exposure Blending,” select the source images, and click “Ok.”

-Choose your options and move sliders to taste

-Click the “Process” button

-Save the output

-Photomatix Output is still in a somewhat “raw” state. Take the result back to Lightroom or Photoshop and process.

Friday, October 23, 2009

02 November Monday Night Light Link

Monday Night Light is dark next week as the Light staff is on the road!  Hal will return for a live seminar Monday 02 November.

Please share the link freely.  MNL is growing each week and we want as many as possible to learn from our seminars.  There is no reason Photography, Photoshop, or Lightroom should be difficult so let's get everyone illuminated. 

As many of you know Adobe recently released the public beta test of Lightroom 3.  Hal is reviewing the program thoroughly before making any comments but they will be published here soonest.

Fiat Lux!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day Four of the Digital Figure

Camouflaged with Light both literally and figuratively.

Day four of the Digital Figure is complete here at Light.  Another incredible day of shooting with great students, amazing models, and a ProFoto equipped studio.  Good, good living.

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Digital Figure Day 3

Just completed day three of The Digital Figure course here at Light.  The shot above is a straight from the camera (Canon EOS 5D Mk II) shot from this afternoon (of course, I did a JPEG export of the raw file from LR.)  Looking forward to optimizing this image and trying multiple variations in black and white, tinted, and intense color/contrast.

This week, we are concentrating on light, shadow, and the human form.  Tremendous learning curve so far and ramping it up even more tomorrow.

Fiat Lux!

580 EX II Cheat Sheet Part One

Canon Speedlite 580 EX II Cheat Sheet

Bull’s Recommendations
Revised 17 July 09
Basic Functions and Switchology

-Press the “Lightbulb”/C.Fn. button momentarily to activate the backlight

-Press and hold the same button to activate the Custom Function menu (may also be accessed via the camera’s Flash Control.

-Toggle the Mode button to switch between ETTL, Manual, and Multi

-ETTL = Exposure Through The Lens

-Manual = limited communication with the camera (but consistent)

-Multi = think strobe light

-Toggle the “squiggle H”/triangle button to switch between High speed synch, 2nd Curtain, and 1st Curtain.

-High Speed Synch = allows flash to synchronize when shutter speed >1/200 (5Ds, Rebels) 1/250 (most DSLR,) or 1/350 (1Ds.) These speeds are your Max Synch Speeds. Use only when needed. Remember effective flash distance decreases and batteries will exhaust at a faster rate.

-2nd Curtain = Flash fires just before shutter “closes” (great choice!) Not only for “dragging the shutter.”

-1st Curtain = Flash fires as shutter “opens”

-Press the Zoom button momentarily to activate zoom control

-If flash will not zoom, check the wide angle adapter

-Use the adjustment wheel to cycle through zoom levels

-When the “M” is displayed a manual zoom is locked

- Press the Sel/Set button in the middle of the adjustment wheel to exit zoom

-Press and hold the Zoom button to activate the Master/Slave functions

-Use the adjustment wheel to set Off, Master, or Slave

-Off = stand alone flash

-Master = sets flash as the control flash for multi flash ops

-Slave = sets flash as a dependent flash controlled by another master

-Press the Sel/Set button to activate Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC)

-Use the adjustment wheel to cycle through FEC

-Press the Sel/Set button to lock

-Press the Sel/Set button twice to activate Flash Exposure Bracketing

     -Recommend ignoring this function

Speedlite Modifiers and Shaping Tools

The basic Speedlite output may be modified, shaped, or bounced to change the quality and nature of the light. There are many different products available.

LIGHT 1000% recommends the Hanson (not Gary) Fong Skin Glow bounce device. SIMPLY AMAZING performance with only a 1 – 2 stop light loss. Remember the best light is ceiling/wall light. Call or stop by for more explanation.

Careful with some products. LIGHT has received numerous reports of issues with the Whale Tail device. The “tupper ware” like globe/sphere devices do little and lose 3+ stops.

Many additional modifiers are available. If you have a question regarding a specific model contact LIGHT.

Part two up shortly.
Fiat Lux!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Adjustment Brush Before and After

After Monday Night Light finished up (we discussed the adjustment brush in LR and ACR) Sevan Pulurian sent me a before/after series of shots.  Sevan used the adjustment brush to optimize tonality in his image and really brought the scene to life.  Amazing such a dramatic change from a simple, non destructive, and procedural local adjustment. 



Sevan is a talented photographer and more of his work may be viewed on Flickr at

We at Light always love to see your shots.  Send them to if you would.

Fiat Lux!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Graduated Filter - Adobe Camera Raw video recap

The graduated filter in the Adobe camera raw (ACR) interface. 

See you online tomorrow evening.

Fiat Lux!

Lightroom Graduated Filter MNL Video Recap

The graduated filter recap from last week's Monday Night Light.  Adjustment brush tomorrow.

Fiat Lux!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Monday Night Light - 19 October Free Web Seminar

Join us for Monday Night Light, our free, live, weekly web seminar every Monday from 6:30 to 7:30 PM PDT.  The best (and freest) training anywhere.

Hal will continue his discussion of local adjustments in Lightroom and ACR with the Adjustment Brush.

See you online.

Fiat Lux!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Speedlite Immersion 3-Day Workshop

©Jim Johnson

Just finished Day 2 of our 3-Day Canon Speedlite workshop.  Rainy and blustery outside but some great flash photography indoors here at Light.

I attached two shots from Jim Johnson, one of this week's participants.  We spent most of the afternoon working multiple speedlight set ups and this one was a great example of some good flash work and creativity.

©Jim Johnson

Three speedlights were used to illuminate Miss Brittany.  All wireless connectivity was via the built in Master/slave functions and Jim chose ETTL with three groups to make it happen.

Nice work Jim and crew.

Fiat Lux!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Monday Night Light Video Recap

The completion of our discussion of the Sharpening Trinity: input, creative, and output. 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Detail Shot

Detail shot from the previous post's pano.

Wales Sunset

Canon EOS 1 Ds Mk III, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro C314, RRS Bh-55
16 shot stitched panorama

In class with Jack Davis today and stitched a 16 shot panorama while learning with the class.  This is from a trip I took with Infinity Photo Tours to Wales last year.  Check out the girl sitting on the rocks.

The Welsh landscape and wildlife were amazing and I cannot wait to get back next year. 

Fiat Lux!

12 October Monday Night Light Link

Click the following link to register for Monday Night Light!  The best weekly, live, web seminar found anywhere on the web!

Monday 12 October from 6:30-7:30 PM PDT! 

See you online!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Back Button Focus -Hop Onboard for the Big Win

Back from Photoshop World Vegas and I wanted to take a quick post to describe one of my favorite shooting tips/techniques.  I demonstrated this post to about 20 folks at the convention and thought I should share with everyone.

Most SLRs are equipped with an "AF-On" button on the back of the camera.  For Canon users this button first appeared on the 40D.  If you have an earlier model Canon you can easily program the AE lock button (the star button on the upper right of the camera's back) by swiching Custom Function 04 (Shutter/AE Lock)  to option 1 (AE lock/AF.) This is Custom Function 10 on the new Rebel series.

Per default settings the AF On button will initiate auto focus (as long as the lens' autofocus is enabled) and metering.  The ergonomic and control benefits of using the AF On button for focus should be immediately apparent when you press the button with your thumb.  It feels very natural, comfortable, and simple to press with the thumb when holding the camera body in your hand.  This makes sense as the button actuation is a normal extension of the gripping action. Beautiful to have an opposable thumb, don't you think?  You should also notice there is no intermediate step for pressing the AF On button; it is either depressed or not, unlike the shutter release. 

Adjusting to use of the AF On button for focus/metering takes a little time but the benefit is felt almost immediately.  The simplest and fastest method for switching your technique is to divorce the shutter release button from anything but releasing the shutter.  Focus/Meter = AF On and Shoot = shutter release. 

The only gotcha in this process is if you release the AF On button once focus is achieved, metering is complete, and exposure is set (in Manual by your input of shutter speed and aperture / in Av by selecting an aperture and then alllowing the camera to set the correct shutter speed with AF On depression) and then continue to shoot the image by depressing the shutter release.  Does not seem like this should cause a problem but it does!  By default settings the shutter release controls auto focus, metering, and releasing the shutter.  So when you press the shutter release the camera will also focus, meter, if in Av change shutter speed, and shoot.  This is a major issue for the photographer as our desired focus and, potentially, exposure as set by the AF On button are changed at the last millisecond.

The fix is to not only think in terms of divorcing the shutter release from anything other than releasing the shutter but also to reprogram the camera via custom functions to disable focus from the shutter release button.  As a Canon shooter I will describe the method to set the appropriate custom function.  Would love to have input from some of our Nikon shooters as to the correct method to do this on the Nikons.

In order to reprogram the shutter release do the following on 40D,50D, and 5D Mk II.  Go to the Custom Fucntions tab (Orange) on the menu display and select c. Fn IV: Operations/Others.  Use the secondary control dial on the back of the camera to find the first function or 1 called Shutter button/AF-ON button.  Hit the set button and then scroll down to select option 2:Metering start/Meter+AF start.  The options describe what function will be set to each button shutter first and then AF-On button.  So with option 2, the shutter release only initiates metering and shutter release not focus and the AF-On button does focus and metering.  As you have probably noticed this isn't exactly what we want but it is as close as we can get.  I will describe the potential gotcha in a minute. 

For 7 D users, follow the same procedure until you get to the first function of c. Fn IV:Operations/Others.  Your first function will show a list of programmable buttons on the camera.  Select the upper left icon for the shutter release and program it for "metering."

20D, 30D, and Rebel users do not need to perform this additional reprogramming. 

With reprogramming complete, you now have no focus actuation with the shutter elease.  For Manual shooters, the shooting process is simple.  Depress the AF-On button for focus and metering.  Adjust exposure as required and ensure focus locked at the appropriate point.  Release the AF-On button and shoot. 

For Av shooters, a slight modification is needed.  After locking focus and exposure by pressing the AF-On button continue to hold the button down.  Fortunately, this is easy to do since our natural grip allows/encourages keeping our thumb down.  This prevents the shutter button from remetering and modifying exposure if we recompose.  As always, remember friends don't let friends shoot aperture priority.  Of course, there are always exceptions :).

After a few shots using this technique you will never want to go back.  Whether locking focus and then recomposing or continually tracking a target in motion, the back button focus WILL improve your photography. 

Fiat Lux!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Monday Night Link

The following URL will take you to the Monday Night Light registration page. Hope to see you online.

On the road at Photoshop World in Vegas!

Fiat Lux!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday Night Light Recap - Output Action

Enjoy!  Any questions, comments, or concerns shoot me an email

Fiat Lux!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In the Vineyard with JWu!

Canon Explorer of Light Jennifer Wu
Jennifer Wu demonstrating fill flash for landscape and macro purposes last night in the vineyards of Paso Robles, CA.  We spent late afternoon and evening in the vineyards shooting the soon to be harvested Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, vines, and rolling hills. 

As Jennifer was demonstrating the flash I was executing.  I attempted to overpower the setting sun with a Canon 580 EX II and a Hanson Fong skin glow card.

We just returned from another 5 hours of shooting this AM.  The weather cooperated beautifully as we shot and watched the fog roll in below us.  More shots up soon.

Fiat Lux!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Canon EOS 5D Mk II, Handheld, 3 shot stitched pano

The often talked about but rarely seen fogbow appeared today in Los Osos' Montana de Oro.  Pictured is Canon Explorer of Light Jennifer Wu shooting the fogbow. 

Up this morning at 5ish to shoot sunrise and then chased the light and fog around Los Osos.  Good living.

Fiat Lux!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Late Friday Post

Good day here at Light.  Jennifer Wu is leading a Canon Field Photography course around the Central Coast.  We worked in the lab for most of the afternoon becoming a little more familiar with our cameras and prepping to shoot. 

The moody atmosphere just begged for some B&W treatment.
Canon EOS 5D, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro C213, and RRS BH-55
Lightroom, Photomatix Pro, Photoshop, and Topaz Detail
Will most likely reduce the contrast tomorrow :)

We spent a few hours on the beach north of Cayucos working some of the day's lessons.  The fog did not cooperate with us so most of the time was relatively low contrast and moody, but fun nonetheless.

From a different angle color jumped nicely.
Canon EOS 5D, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro C213, and RRS BH-55
Lightroom, Photoshop, and Topaz Adjust

We'll be up early tomorrow to catch sunrise and then off to a few more spots in and around Los Osos.

Fiat Lux!

Monday Night Light Link and Wacom Winner

Click the following link to register for the best free hour of live, online training anywhere, Monday Night Light with Hal Schmitt.  Come join us Monday 28 September from 6:30-7:30 PM PDT.

Thank you for the huge attendance at last week's Wacom session.  The winner of the free Wacom Intuos 4 tablet is Kay P. from San Luis Obispo, CA.  Light staff will be in touch today!

Congratulations to Kay and thank you to all participants.  Wacom will have the demo DVDs out shortly.

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Some of Today's Maternity Shots

Interpretation #1

Interpretation #2

In the studio today with a very pregnant (9+ months) woman shooting some maternity shots.  It was a great day as I had recently set up a Profoto D1 Air system at Light.  We shot and created for about five hours and ended up with some fun shots.  Whether classic or very artistic the entire process was simple with a tremendous model and the right equipment. 

I am not sure how I worked the studio before the D1 Air.  For those who have never used the system, a proprietary wireless system controls all of the studio lights from a simple remote.  I did not have to touch the controls on any of the generators the whole day (a huge benefit especially for the overhead hair light I have mounted eight feet in the air.) 

Tomorrow Canon and Light are sponsoring a talk in San Luis Obispo with Explorer of Light, Jennifer Wu.  Still time to sign up or just meet us at the Monday Club in SLO.

Fiat Lux!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Great American Fish Company - Morro Bay, CA

The image above is from our recent HDR Intensive course.  The almost final product is a combination of many images, programs, and plug ins. 

I shot the scene with a Canon 5D Mk II, EF 17-40mm f/4L, Induro C213, and Really Right Stuff BH-55.  I used the restaurant as a demo for the class and automating the bracket process.  The bread and butter shooting sequence typically calls for three shots of 0, -2, and +2 EV.  This did not work for the restaurant as the shadows needed more light than the +2 EV provided.  I modified the exposure compensation to shoot another series of three shots yielding sufficient exposure of the shadows below the pilings and deck.  Lightroom imported the six shots and I removed one of them before preparing them for the virtual TIFF export to Photomatix Pro. 

In Photomatix Pro I processed twice, once for realism and once for hyper reality.  Both results are shown below.

After reimporting to Lightroom via the plug in, I sent the two shots to Photoshop and created a stack.  I modified the layer blend mode of the hyper realistic interpretation and did a little retouch work.  I stamped the visible layer and then launched Topaz Detail to generate a little extra sharpening for content. 

Back in Lightroom I modified saturation and also did some painting with light using the Adjustment Brush.

On a different note, we'll be announcing two big 2010 projects later this afternoon.

Fiat Lux!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Forest HDR Before and After

We shot yesterday in the Los Osos Oaks reserve.  Found some interesting places to try some HSR subjects I have not yet tried.  The ivy covered oaks were glowing in the late afternoon sun and played well with the orange and red leaves.  Lightroom and Photomatix Pro were the only programs used.

Five shots to cover the range.  Components shown below.

Friday, September 18, 2009

21 Sep Monday Night Light - Photoshop, Lightroom, and More

Click the following link to register for Monday Night Light, the best training around and the most fun you can have with your clothes on from 6:30 to 7:30 PM PDT.

This week we are giving away a free Wacom Intuous 4 tablet to one MNL participant.

See you online.

Fiat Lux!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Monday Night Light Video Recap

Remember to register tomorrow morning for next Monday's session where we will give away a free Wacom Intuous 4 tablet.

Punk Rooster (Thanks Karen!)

Out shooting with the HDR Intensive class this afternoon and caught this little guy strutting around the place.  I normally carry two cameras and today I had one on the tripod for our HDR work and the other set up for action.  When I saw one of the course participants shooting this rooster, I jumped in as well. 

It was an interesting scene with all of us trying to coax the bird into the best light.  Turns out, chickens don't follow direction so well.

Not exactly sure what type of chicken this is but it caught our attention.  Funny we had just discussed how sometimes the favorite shot of the day will be a total surprise and not the intended subject of the shoot.  Great lesson learned, every now and again stop shooting and look around; often the better shot will be to the left, right, or behind you.

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

HDR in the Bar

Shooting HDR source files in the Sea Pines bar.  Not a bad way to spend part of the afternoon.  We just finished day two of the HDR Intensive.  We took a deep look into Photomatix Pro and all of what it has to offer when generating and tone mapping HDR images. 

Tomorrow we will start with Exposure Fusion.  We have found that method to work best when you have only one source file and need to process it multiple times with Lightroom or ACR.

Tomorrow afternoon we will, once again, hit one of the most amazing HDR locations I've ever seen, the Duval Ranch. 

Fiat Lux!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thanks for Another Great MNL

Star the Silky
Thanks to all the Monday Night Light participants this evening.  Great discussion of Lightroom and it's resizing and output sharpening in the Print Module. 

Not usually a fan of small dogs but I must admit this little Silky terrier is a cute little dog.  I shot the image in a mobile studio with a Canon 5D Mk II, EF 70-200mm f/4, PW, and three lights.  For the lighting setup, I used a single softbox as a main light slightly above the dog's eyes off to camera left.  There were also two strip softboxes 45 degrees off the dogs tail.  As a follow up to a previous post, the Creative Light softboxes are incredible. The backdrop was a simple black sheet draped down and then over a small grooming table. 

The shot does not show off all of the exact breed characteristics but I thought it was a decent portrait.  If you don't have enough challenge in your life try shooting show dogs in a small, mobile studio, especially big ones!

Kicking off our HDR Intensive here tomorrow morning.

Fiat Lux!

Back from Reno and San Rafael

The Light staff is back down in Los Osos.  We had a great time visiting Reno, Nevada for the TOPGUN 40th Anniversary Reunion, Tailhook, and Great American Balloon Race.  Did a little shooting while up in the high desert.  I did some HDR work with the TOPGUN staff and a Navy F-16.  The shot above is the lone F-16B we used as a backdrop for the staff shots.

On the way home I stopped by San Rafael to work with a Light client and photograph the Sir Francis Drake Dog Show.  A completely new experience shooting show dogs.  As many of you know we often work with dogs here at Light but they are agility dogs.  Shooting action is great fun because you are looking to capture the movement and excitement.  When shooting a show dog it is quite a bit different.  The shots cannot be simply portraits because the specific breed characteristics must be detailed in the image.  Believe me it is very much a challenge to not only create a well lit, stunning shot but to also show the breed per the standards.  My take, what fun would life be without a little challenge?

Working with canvas here today at Light and will kick off Monday Night Light at 6:30, as always.  If you haven't registered yet there is still time.  Visit the link below and follow to join.

We start another HDR Intensive tomorrow morning.  Five days of overcoming our camera's limitations.  Whether realistic, hyper realistic, or anywhere in between we will make it happen.

Fiat Lux!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Monday Night Light - 14 Sep Link

Use following url to register for Monday Night Light our free, live, weekly web seminar! See you online.

Fiat Lux!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Free Wacom Intuos 4! Chance to win heads up!

As a heads up, Monday Night Light participants on 21 Sep will have a chance to win a Wacom Intuous 4 tablet!  During the beginning of MNL all attendees can fill out a Wacom survey,  from those who fill out the 7 question form one lucky winner will be chosen. 

Absolutely no purchase necessary to win since MNL is free every Monday from 6:30-7:30 PM PDT. 

Register here every Friday morning when the new link is posted.  You can also follow us and receive the registration link via Twitter,

The link for the Wacom night will be up the morning of 18 Sep.  Even though I'm not giving out anything but great free training come check us out next Monday as well.

Fiat Lux!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monday Night Light Video Recaps! Yep, plural. Photoshop and Lightroom.

Photoshop version above.

Lightroom version above.

Remember to check here or via Twitter at for next week's link.  It will be up, as always, Friday morning.

Fiat Lux!

A Submission from SoCal

©2009 Dennis Oliver
Dennis Oliver sent this shot to me last night after Monday Night Light.  Dennis shot this HDR Stitched Panorama during our recent Rick Sammon course here at Light.  Dennis took multiple shots per segment and merged them together with Photomatix Pro.  He tone mapped and then stitched the results with Photoshop. 

To reduce the pano to a manageable size for the web Dennis referenced our image sizing discussion from the web seminars over the last few weeks.  Great job taking a HUGE file and reducing it to a web ready 50K file size!

Always great to see the results of the workshops and web training.  Thanks Dennis and nice work!

Fiat Lux!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Day Two of Lightroom Complete

Lightroom day two is finished here at Light.  Had a great time today finishing the Library module and then attacking the Develop module to optimize our images.  The only bad part of the day was seeing how incredibly beautiful it was outside.  Most of the class took off to shoot for the balance of the evening in order to decompress.

Our courses are intense but the amount of knowledge, tips, tricks, and techniques learned is unrivaled.  We'll start again tomorrow morning to finish our local adjustment discussion and then move on to Export and Output. 

The images are from a recent shooting course with Rick Sammon.  These shots were the second night we photographed horses on the beach at sunset.  Fortunately, nature cooperated and provided some amazing clouds and color.  Both images were shot with a Canon 5D Mk II and an EF 24-70mm f/2.8L.  After capture processing in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Topaz Adjust.

Remember Monday Night Light is still on for tomorrow.  Click the following link to join the Illuminati.  We'll see you online tomorrow.

Fiat Lux!