Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

I get lots of photo questions and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone who is shopping for a photographer.

Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.

Posted Nov. 19, 2016. Updated and re-posted May 5, 2017.

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Putting Together a “Studio in a Backpack”

Portable Studio in a Backpack

Portable “studio in a backpack” set up and ready to go.

If I am visiting family and friends and traveling by car, I usually bring my “studio in a backpack”. I never know when I might be asked to do some portraits and having some studio gear along helps create better images (especially when natural light is not a very good option). If you want to do portraits on the road (or even at home), these items are very useful.

Posted Nov. 22, 2016. Updated Dec. 5, 2016.

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Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

I get lots of photo questions and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone shopping for a photographer.

Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.

Posted Nov. 19, 2016. Updated Dec. 28, 2016.

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“How To” Series: Off-Camera Flash

Margarita

Margarita, Studio Portrait with Off-Camera Flash

Twelve articles (links below) to get you started with off-camera flash. The equipment you will need and how to use it.

Getting your flash off the camera opens up a whole new world of photographic possibilities. And the really good news: the equipment is way less expensive than it used to be. If you are ready to get started, I just finished writing (or re-writing) a series of articles on off-camera flash that covers the equipment you will need and shows you how to use it.

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Environmental Portraits and Off-Camera Flash, Part 1

Warren Stevens, Magic 106.3, Columbus, Ohio.

Warren Stevens, Magic 106.3, Columbus, Ohio.

If I am using flash for an environmental portrait, I usually prefer having the flash off of the camera. In this portrait of Warren Stevens (program director and mid-day air personality at Magic 106.3 FM in Columbus), the flash is above Warren and to his right, providing a nice semi side-lit photograph. On camera flash is flat and even. Getting the flash off of the camera and moving it to the side provides more shape and texture to the subject.

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Some of the Best Off-Camera Flash Equipment

There are lots of advantages to getting your flash off the camera, and it is probably much less expensive than you think. If you shop wisely, you can get a radio transmitter for your camera plus an off-camera flash with a built in radio receiver, all for $111. A $20 adapter will mount the flash on your tripod. You are all set for only $131. If you want to soften the light, a 43 inch umbrella that mounts in the same adapter costs $22. So if you already have the camera and tripod, the whole off camera flash set up is only $153.

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Radio Controlled Speedlites: Yongnuo YN600EX-RT vs Canon 600EX-RT

Yongnuo 600 EX-RT Speedlite and Yonghuo YN-E3-RT Transmitter.

Yongnuo 600EX-RT Speedlite and Yongnuo YN-E3-RT Transmitter. Click to see a larger version.

Should you spend $469 on a Canon 600EX-RT speedlite, or $120 on Yongnuo’s nearly identical clone, the YN600EX-RT? And what about the radio transmitters? Canon’s is $263 and the Yongnuo copy is $85.49. So you can buy three Yongnuo speedlites plus the radio transmitter for less than the price of one Canon speedlite. The price advantage is clear, but what about quality, reliability, and service issues?

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Photo Shoot: Using a Halo Softbox with a Yongnuo Radio Controlled Flash System

Kristina

Kristina. Sunlight coming from the right. Halo softbox with Yongnuo speedlite providing light from the left.

After testing a Bob Davis 45 inch Halo Softbox and Yongnuo YN600EX-RT radio flash on my most available model (my dog), I needed to test it out on a real model. Opportunity called in the form of a message from Kristina, a professional model based in Los Angeles (and an absolute delight to work with). She would be in Ohio for Thanksgiving and she wanted to schedule a shoot. I was leaving town for Thanksgiving, but fortunately for us we had one day to shoot after she arrived and before I left.

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How To Set Up a Halo Softbox or Umbrella with an Off Camera Speedlite

Halo Softbox set up on location and ready to use.

Halo Softbox set up on location and ready to use. The radio controlled flash and umbrella adapter are inside the softbox.

If you have never used an umbrella adapter to put a flash and umbrella or softbox on a tripod or light stand, the steps below will show you exactly what is involved. If you have already used an umbrella adapter, setting up a Halo softbox will be ridiculously simple for you. Skip to the Halo section below.

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The Best of the Best: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

The best of the best cameras, accessories, photo books and more.

The best of the best cameras, accessories, photo books and more.

It’s the time of year that the number of photo questions I receive increases dramatically. Many of them have to do with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from someone shopping for a photographer, or photographers shopping for themselves.

So once again here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more. I will revise some of these articles in November and December, but most of the advice is good as it stands. The best books on photographic composition or the best photo labs haven’t changed in the last 12 months. As I rewrite articles I will update the links below. You can check the date at the top of each article.

Originally posted Nov. 21, 2015. Updated December 11, 2015.

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Vegetarian Spider?

Spider with pea in a kitchen sink

Spider with pea in a kitchen sink

I found this common house spider in our kitchen sink, hanging on to this pea which was  suspended from an overnight web. The spider wasn’t moving at all so I touched it gently with the tip of a pen to see if it was alive. It quickly ran up a strand of its web. I left it alone and it eventually came back to the object of it’s interest, the pea. It was time to take some pictures.

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Portrait in the Park #1

Erin

Portrait in the Park

Update July 24: I decided to take a second look at this portrait and I turned it into an article on Simple Steps to Better Portraits.

It all started Saturday when this young lady said to her mother “We have great portrait light today. Is Jim available?”  It is interesting to note that she knew from past photo shoots that cloudy bright days made for beautiful portrait light.

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A Photography How To: “Jewel Box Lighting” at the Franklin Park Conservatory

Bruce Munro: Light. Franklin Park Conservatory

Bruce Munro: Light. Franklin Park Conservatory

Jewel Box Lighting is the art of combining lights, lighted buildings, or lighted objects with a deep blue evening sky. It is a great way to do photography and the exhibit this week at the Franklin Park Observatory is a wonderful opportunity to practice this technique and come away with some unique and memorable images.

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Mixing Flash and Ambient Light for a Christmas Portrait

Kristina at Christmas

Kristina at Christmas

On Christmas eve I found myself doing Christmas portraits for a friend’s portfolio (she is an agency represented model). There isn’t a lot of space in our living room when the Christmas tree is up so I had to improvise a bit with the lighting and I needed to get the right mix of flash and ambient light for the look I wanted.

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