June 2012

Rim and Kicker lighting?

Rim lighting is the effect of using light on the the extreme outer edges of a subject while kicker lighting adds light and shadow to surfaces to the edge of your image. Depending on the position of a light source a light can be termed a rim, kicker or combination rim and kicker light. Rim and kicker light sources come from behind a subject and depending on angle will give different effects. During the day, close to sunset or sunrise, the sun can be used as a kicker or rim light depending on where you place your subject. The sun does not have to be your only light source and using a strobe (or flash unit) can add a secondary rim or kick to the opposite side of an image. In the image example below I used the sun to the right of the image and a strobe to the left of the image to create a combination kick and rim effect.

Cold and hard rim/kick effect

Using kicker or rim lighting without fill lighting produces silhouette or semi-silhouette images. In the sample below I needed a rim light, but since the sun had just set I could not get that rim glow from the sun, so I added a strobe behind the couple. The strobe was pointed slightly down to also add light to their immediate background.

Rim light during the Day

What is a high resolution photo?

High resolution photos are required for sharp reproduction of photos, else the printing quality is poor. A high resolution image contains more pixels than a low resolution image. Resolution is expressed in megapixels and derived from the number of pixels in the length multiplied by the number of pixels in the width of an image. For standard post card size prints (15cm X 10cm) you only need 2.16 Megapixels as this is all a standard photographic process will put on paper. If you wish to enlarge your photo to an A4 size print you need 8.6 Megapixels in your photo. If you have less pixels than this, pixilation occurs (parts of photo appear as blocks). Pixelation happens when there are fewer pixels in the image than are needed for the size required on paper and the print processor expands the size of existing pixels.


Why are my enlarged photos fuzzy?

Buying an 18Megapixel camera will not guarantee great enlargements since megapixels only determine how many pixels will be present in the image, not image quality. What a high-megapixel camera will give you, however, are sharper appearing small images when you reduce their size. This is because fewer pixels are present causing an image to appear sharp, but once you look at the image at 100% of it’s actual size it appears fuzzy.

A high resolution image when viewed at 100% should still look sharp

A high resolution photo may not always print well when enlarged as it also requires sharpness and very good focus which is obtained from high quality photographic lenses. An image from a poor lens, such as kit lenses, may appear good at small sizes, but once enlarged to A4 “softness” (fuzziness or appearance of slightly out of focus) can usually be observed.

Most professional photographers spend more money on high quality lenses than they do on other equipment since they know that producing a sharp image which will appear as good when enlarged as it is when it is viewed on internet is important to the clients. Facebook, as an example, shows you images which are only 0.23Megapixels (390 X 580) in size for portrait images and 0.5Megapixel (875 X 580) in size for landscape images. At these sizes photos can be pretty much out of focus and will still appear good, but when printed or enlarged appear poor.

Sample image from photo shoot for RaiGlow Makeup – See the Facebook Page

What makes you a Photographer?

In general you can call yourself a photographer the moment you pick up any device capable of capturing an image on any media, including a camera, cell phone, tablet PC or even your laptop when using a built-in webcam or connected capture device.

Some Photographers who do photography as a profession (Professional Photographers) are offended, for some reason, when someone else using just a point and shoot or entry level dSLR camera calls themselves a photographer. Calling yourself a photographer does not require you to have a studio, an expensive dSLR body and a hoard of lenses and specific camera lighting and/or strobes. To call yourself a photographer does not require you to actually do photography as part of your job, have clients, make and sell prints or even know how to edit photos. You are a photographer the moment you capture a picture and preserve it or upload it to social media sites like Facebook, whether you edit the image or not.



The Different Classes of Photographers:


Professional Photographer

The popular misconception exists that someone who is a Professional Photographer is really good at what they do, but actually a Professional Photographer is just a photographer who does photography as a profession. In other words, a professional photographer does photography as a full-time job and has no other job. You can get a good professional photographer and you can get a bad professional photographer. A professional photographer who is bad will not stay in business for very long, so it is generally accepted that if someone has been a professional photographer for more than a year then they have to be pretty good to survive this very competitive market. If you own expensive dSLR bodies, big fast lenses have multiple studio strobes and a photography degree and know how to use all your equipment you cannot call yourself a professional photographer if you are not actually in the profession. Also see: Wikipedia – Professional

Hobby Photographer

A hobby photographer is a photographer who does part-time photography for a fee or even for free. A hobby photographer has a normal day job as photography is just a small extra income or a way to spend their free time. Many hobby photographers end up doing wedding photography since weekends are the only real time they have to do photography. I know, I was a hobby photographer prior to 2008 and I know how you rush through editing as by the time you get home from work you are tired and the evening becomes very short to do editing. Once you step up from hobby photography to professional photography you have more time to edit and do shoots which is what photographers who have a passion for the art really want to do. Many hobby photographers are really good at what they do, but get stuck in hobby photography because they have not figured a way to sell their art to make a living. The main problem is that hobby photographers tend to charge far less than professional photographers and in essence shoot themselves in the foot as they quickly become known as “cheap photographers” and thus cannot start a sustainable photography business based on their low rates. Many hobby photographers produce the same quality work as professional photographers would, but at the cost of spending all their free time (and usually away from family) doing so.

Amateur Photographer

Amateur photographers are usually those still learning the art of photography until they progress to becoming a hobby photographer. Most people still call themselves amateur photographers, but their art has progressed to the extent that they actually qualify as hobby photographers. Amateur photographers will never charge a fee for photography (unless it is just to cover small costs). The difference between an amateur and a hobby photographer is that amateurs are still learning how to capture those great shots while hobby photographers and professional photographers know how to see something and capture it using their camera and lenses to their full potential.


Anyone can be a photographer, it is just the level of passion one has for the art which will put you into one of the above classes.

Posing on Camera

Not everyone is a model, and when it comes to posing on camera many people, and even some models, feel uncomfortable. I often assist people with various poses to get the best look, but when you become a professional model, posing for the camera is expected of you. Though many photographers will have a posing director to assist with poses for official shoots like magazine covers, models need to be able to pose on their own without direction. Posing is an art form of its own and takes practice.

The most important thing to remember is to understand who you are posing for and what is wanted. If you are posing for yourself you need to think about what you want from your shoot and the look you want to portray. Practice this in front of a mirror, but also remember that not every photo will have you looking at the camera (if that is what you want). The secret is to create variety, emotion, feeling, shape, form and expression.

What you can pose

Posing is not just about making your face look good on camera, but creating a look using your entire body. Use facial expressions, turning and tilting of your head, use your shoulders, your arms and your hands, use your legs and your feet. There is no right or wrong pose, unless you are trying to convey a specific look.

If you are posing for someone else, like a magazine cover, then you need to know exactly what the magazine is looking for. Let’s assume you get an assignment and they say they want “something funny”. You need to find out what their definition of “something funny” is. Do they expect you to dress up as a clown and pose with joyful smiles, or should you just be yourself and smile and be silly by pulling funny faces? You need to make sure you have as much detail possible.

Posing for yourself on camera

We have all seen them… those cliche photos of young ladies on facebook and other social media all staring up at their mobile phone camera with various looks, but what if you want to have professional photos done of yourself in studio or somewhere else. Looking up at the camera as you do with your mobile phone is going to give you a few good shots, but what then? You have a whole shoot to complete and you need poses!

Many photographers can come up with creative ideas to help you with some poses, but this is you allowing the photographer to define what you are, not who YOU really are. This discussion can go on for many pages. In my studio I like to chat with a person for a while before we start shooting to find out what they are after and what they expect from the photos so if they run out of poses I can assist to get THEIR look without imposing my own idea or mood.

Click to the next pose

Now you are in front of the camera and you hear the first click of the shutter and the flashes go off. What now? Should you wait and see? Is the photographer happy with the shot? Should you change to the next pose? When you go for your first shoot these and many other questions run through your mind. As a general rule of thumb, when that camera clicks, change pose. Lift your arms, play with your hair, change position of your shoulders, move your hips, change your leg and foot position, turn away from the camera, look over your shoulder, look sideways, just anything which is different. If the photographer feels they would like another shot at that pose they will ask to try that pose again, but when that flash goes off, don’t wait, just change again. There is no sense in getting 100 photos which all look almost the same, you want variety! When you think you have run out of poses, return to ones you did before with slight variations (one smile face, one serious, one looking away, up, down, shoulders tilted, lean forward or back, etc.)

Feel you need guidance?

If you still feel like you don’t quite understand or still feel you cannot learn to pose on your own you can always book a “Teach me to pose” shoot with me in studio. This is a basic Studio50 Shoot (see price list) where you will also receive 50 edited photos but I will teach you to pose in various positions. I will show you the basics which will help you understand the process of posing so you can come up with your own and never run out of poses again!

Below is a video anyone who has ever considered becoming a photographic model should look at over and over again. Notice how this model changes every pose and look. Some may be funny and may not “work” for the what was required, but the fact is, each one is different and a good pose in itself.

Starlight Photography

Starlight photography with a dSLR can be tricky and until you understand your camera, it will take some practice. There are a number of factors to take into consideration. Putting you camera in Auto mode just won’t give you the results you expect. You need to be comfortable with the full manual mode and understand shutter speed, aperture and ISO to achieve a good image. When doing this type of photography you also have to accept a certain amount of noise will always be present, but controlling the acceptable amount of noise is where personal preference will play a part.

Here is a sample I took on 11 June 2012:

Starscape with Windpump - Copyright Riaan Roux Photography

Click for large View) Starscape with Windpump – Copyright Riaan Roux Photography

What you will need:

  • A dSLR Camera (I used a SONY SLT-A55, results may vary on other makes)
  • A good wide angle lens (I used a 19mm Tokina Lens, a kit lens will do but will result in lower quality)
  • A sturdy tripod (A cheap tripod will do, but don’t expect great results)

This photography is best done on a cold evening with no clouds or wind (motion). Cold is best as you do not want heat waves blurring images. Heat radiating into the atmosphere bends light which is why you see distant objects causing waves, your camera will pick this up too and translate it into a blur. You also don’t want a full moon as its light is too strong for the photography you are going to do here (starlight). Get away from town and street lights. Anything brighter than the stars will cause a hotspot of light on your image.

Pick a spot somewhere where some light from a distant source is to your back and set up your camera away from any light. Distant light will give enough light to light up objects such as trees or rocks, but not fill in enough light to create hot light.


Your settings (manual mode):

File Type – Use RAW (ARW on Sony) as JPG may produce unpredictable results. If you do not know how to edit RAW images, refer to your camera manual and supplied software.

ISO – I use between ISO200 and ISO800 depending on the available light. For a very dark area with no other filling light I set ISO to 800. Some cameras produce a lot of noise at ISO800, so you might want to bring it up.

Aperture – Use wide open or slightly stopped down if you like. This will depend on the sharpness your lens can give you at wide open. I use f/3.5 on the Tokina. Set your focus ring to infinity. Since we are focusing to infinity the depth of field is very deep which is what we want.

Shutter – You can set shutter to between 10 and 30 seconds. I usually do 3 shots of all scenes with 10, 20 and 30 second exposures so I can pick the best one when editing.

White Balance – I manually adjust my white balance to between 2000k and 2500k as stars actually produce a pretty warm light. If you cannot adjust white balance in Kelvin values on your camera, try the “incandescent” light WB as the nearest.

Set up your camera for timer record (10 seconds). When you press the shutter your timer-shutter will start counting down and you should step away from your camera and tripod at least 5 meters and stand still. Tripods can pick up the smallest vibration from the ground and when you walk around behind your tripod while doing a long exposure your image will show more blurring. If a vehicle comes by on a road near you while you are doing the long exposure you can dump that image and try another as the vibration WILL affect your image.

The above is a guide and results may vary from one camera manufacturer to another as well as lens types and makes, but I hope you can get some better starlight photos.

Older Entries