Author: Paola Pasqualini

Simple Photo Hacks That Every Photographer should know:

You can never be too informed when it comes to photography and finding new ways to working around your a photo.

Here are some simple tricks that although are easy, can go a long way in achieving a happy end product.

  1. First tip is involves tricking the appearance of a night time photograph that was actually taken during the Day. This is usually a question that arises when one has no choice but to shoot in daylight, due to time or other issues. But if one wants to achieve the illusion of night time, how can one go about this?

Something that photographers often underuse or forget is white balance. This is the function of the camera that focuses on correcting the colours so that everything is properly colour corrected on site. So firstly, turn off the ‘auto’ white balance on your camera because if you want to be in control of the colour tone, like in this situation, you wont want an automatic fix. So during the day, lock your white balance to whats known as Tungsten White Balance. This is because Tungsten is the setting in which is set when shooting indoors or at night.

The main purpose is that its balanced to a cool temperature due to the Tungsten light itself being very warm. So if you think of what would happen when you apply this to a daylight setting (a cool light) you will get an even coloured scene. To add to the effect, you can underexpose the scene a little more and use an ND filter to achieve more of a night time appearance.

Now that you know how to trick photos with a the use of colour balance, we will move onto Tip #2.. This being one that is useful to strobist photographers. This is just a simple tip to help accentuate photos in portrait photography. When shooting a portrait you want the subjects face as best lit as possible of course. Although this tip isn’t one to follow when shooting in natural help, it is still useful in studio photography.

2.When doing studio photographer, you have whatever lighting situation you prefer. In portrait photographer, 3-point lighting is most popular. So when having your 3 point lighting set up and your subject – its best to have you subject facing the key light source. The reason you want this is because of few things. 1) Makes the light appear softer 2)Makes the lighting look more flattering 3) Takes away shadow on their face and other aspects of the photo that may appear unflattering and lastly, gives them a more flattering spotlight. When facing the light source they are illuminated to a certain point but not as harsh as an actual spotlight.

Tip Number #3: How to achieve the best depth of field by maxing out you aperture. Most of the time, best photographs have depth of field and this creates a focus in the photograph. One of the best ways to achieve this is to use a big aperture (small f-number) to blur the background or foreground. This helps to call more attention to the subject you are shooting. The second tip for having your subject pop would be to make sure you have a well rounded contrast between shades and colours. If your image lacks contrast, it tends to appear flat and without layer. Even in black and white photography, contrast in colour is still very important. Lastly, is simply making sure that your lights are positioned properly. This can mean deduction of a light (when creating too much shadow) or can mean the opposite, adding in another light or possibly a flash of some sort. This can help to add nice hair light or create a nice rimming affect on the photo.

There are numerous ways of achieving specific desired looks for a photo, so its important to know all your options so that you can always achieve what you originally wanted to create.

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The Beauty of Technique

French photographer Felix Barjou, 25 is making a big impact on the world of photography. When it comes to taking photographs, he likes to take things to the next step, creating ideas that can only be completed in photoshop. Because he has a wide skill set in photography, he is able to experiment with various styles. His photos can range from being dark, mystical, surreal. He creates a concept and executes it in any way he can. He combines his passion for lighting, image editing and staging to create outstanding and unique photographs.

He has a few techniques that vary with each shoot. For this specific shoot below, he runs us through the process of how he got his final image to be so perfected and realistic.

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In the photo above, he has made sure to separate the elements of the photo (model, mirror, background). He used two flashes – the first a speedlight with a blue gel to illuminate the face and arm. The second flash is a headlight with a grid for a small reflection.

He then asked his model to hold the mirror in two positions so he is able to overlay them together in photoshop and get the complete mirror:

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The final image is almost complete – just needs one more motion, which is the model’s hair blowing:

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After all the photos have been taken,  he took them into photoshop where he mixed all the photos together, fixed and brightened the colors, dodged and burned areas and ended up with the final masterpiece:

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The success of the Joe Barjou is incredibly inspiring, it really shows how far one can go when mastering a technique.



– Paola Pasqualini

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Elvgreen, the pin-up girl prodigy

From the mid 1930’s through to the 70’s Elvgreen produced more than 500 outstanding paintings of  pin-up girls and beautiful women. It is safe to say that Elvgreen was the best pin-up artist the world has ever known and the most influential to all future artists.

Most of his artwork was used for commercial success of companies such as Brown & Bigelow and Coca-cola but many private collectors, dealers and museums would recognize it as real art. Usually using oil for his paintings, he was able to capture feminine beauty with incredible detail. His technique was first taking a photo of his subject and than recreating it on canvas. Many of his paintings based off his photos have slight modifications for more appeal. In many of his paintings based of original photos, he will often change small details – the model will sometimes have more skin showing, or be placed in a more effective position, as well as adding different props and detail to the background. By using the technique of taking a photo beforehand, he is able to capture a woman as a woman would act instead of leaving it completely to his imagination and knowledge. This way it gives a more accurate approach to how a woman should be portrayed. The reproducing of the photographs is also very interesting to look at and compare – it really unquestionably shows his talent and ability to capture the essence of his subjects. He mastered the pin up style, creating paintings that were classy and never too provocative. He mastered sustaining the innocence and elegance within his paintings without going overboard.

The probable reason for his success is not only the artistic talent within his paintings but his vision of what America and America would deem as perfection. His paintings portrayed the American dream, a comfortable happy lifestyle, making them largely popular, especially with commercial industries. Making him largely popular within the commercial world. Elvgreen has become widely respected in the art world and pin-up world, influencing numerous illustrators and photorealism painter John Kacere.

Elvgreen left quite the mark on commercial advertisements and pin up artwork. His pieces can easily be identified, having a very personified style. Unfortunately Elvgreen died in February 1980, but his work will continue making appearances through the commercial and art world, as well as continue to influence artists and will live on forever.

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– Paola Pasqualini

How to properly use gels to colour photos/films

Colour and visual tone are very important when one is shooting a film or photograph. Many times we find ourselves choosing the same lighting set up and will often get stuck in a repetition. In cases where images looks dull and colourless, gel kits become handy tools to correct colour and liven images up. A standard gel kit will come with 20 different sheets – a few specifically for colour correcting and the rest, a range of colours.

This photo shows the different effects of each colour.

In order to successfully use the gels, they have to be placed on specific lights with a precise strength (hard/soft). Although gels have been around for quite some time, people tend to forget the magic they can produce for an image’s entirety.

A lighting set up using a light Cyan Gel, direct flash and a soft box with a Magenta Gel.

The combinations become endless when mixing and matching different gels and techniques together. The possibilities become endless too when using different equipment – you can mix strobes and flashes, try various light modifiers, use soft boxes and reflectors to bounce of specific colours. Another way one can experiment with gels is using different shutter speeds to create traces of color. For example the following photo slowed down its shutter speed to create this specific look:


Colour gels also come in handy when trying to create surreal looks that resemble fantasy. Instead of relying on effects done in post, adding gels to the set can create more natural occurring colour.

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In any case on a set shoot, having gels in sight is always a good idea, aside from colour correcting an image, gels can help to add life to dull visuals.  The kits themselves usually range from $75 – $100 but separately come to no more than $6 each, depending on quality and colour.

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Public vs Privacy Rights in Public Photography

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Back in March 2015, Arkansas Senate was working to pass bill SB-79. Bill SB-79 is named the Personal Protection Act, which claims to protect the privacy of citizens when in public. Meaning it would stop photographers from the freedom of their photos. If the law was instated, it would have implied that if a photographer took a photo of any recognizable person and was posted to the internet without consent it would leave you with an open lawsuit if somebody in Arkansas saw it online. This being said, the bill was  revised and denied on March 31st 2015. When the bill originally got passed, photographers were outraged, stating it would destroy the momentum from all photography if you had to get written permission from every individual beforehand.

Luckily this wasn’t this case but Arkansas Legislature will review the right of publicity bill again in 2 years, so Arkansas can only hope to get lucky again.

Aside from recent news, the right of privacy with the public and photographers has become a major issue amongst the photography world. The rights we have these days are generally flexible. We have the freedom to take photos in public but consent is required (with some exceptions). It is illegal to film on private property, although it is not illegal to film private property from public property. But since iphones have came into the picture the ability to stop people from taking photographs has become increasingly difficult – especially at events like concerts. In the past, taking a photo at a show was absolutely not allowed. Now a days, we are able to photograph and videotape the whole show if we chose to – the only rule instated now is that the use of any camera that has interchangeable lenses is prohibited.

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There has been numerous incidents recently that people have run into problems with the taking of public photos and videos. People will often assume the photographer is going to use photos for other reasons than our actual intent – a good photo. Photographer, Karl Baden receives constant hatred and suspicion from the public for simply pointing his camera into the world. An incident occurred where he was taking a photo from his car of the sunset in a grocery store parking lot. A father and his son walked by as he was taking the photo and was immediately verbally assaulted and accused of taking photos of his child. Another instance occurred a few years ago when FBI agents appeared at Karl’s door shortly after he was observed photographing American flags that were planted everywhere in the days following 9/11. The photographer has a handful of stories and photos of people angrily reacting to his camera and hopes to one day publish a book on it which only shows how much it happens – and this being only one of the thousands of street photographers out there.

Luckily for Canada we have the freedom to aim out cameras wherever we please, but with a possibility that somebody’s going to give us a hard time about it.


– Paola Pasqualini

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iPhones slowly taking over the (amateur) film world

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We all know how much success the iPhone has brought to the digital world of photos but whoever thought it could become so handy for filmmakers. Camera technology is advancing fast and the photo/film world is constantly evolving but who knew that shooting with an iPhone would become more prolific than a RedEpic. Magnolia pictures recently released a new movie Tangerine that was shot entirely on an iPhone 5. Director Sean Baker had originally decided to do this for budget reasons. But after saw that the format and aesthetic that the iPhone had given it, matched the bright bold look that he was looking for. In order to contribute to quality without having to change devices, Baker also used anamorphic adapter prototypes from Moondog Labs as well as Filmic Pro to capture the film at a higher compression rate and, along with a Steadicam rig. Watching the trailer you can see that the quality is definitely still there and adds a natural, unique look to the film.

 Tangerine hasn’t been the only movie ever shot on an iPhone. There are quite a few successful films that have all used to the same technique to help give their films a particular look. Their have been a few very successful ones that have stuck out amongst the rest – for example a film that came last year,  “I play with the phrase each other” tore through festivals with its success. Another movie that brought itself great success and all shot on the iPhone 6 was Romance in New York.  Although the film is only 18 minutes long, it falls short of any regret in using the iPhone as a their medium. Other films including: Uneasy lies the mind, Framed, The editor and Dragonborne are all critically acclaimed movies that have had a lot of success in the iPhone film world.

Not only are movies being shot on iPhones but ever since the launching of the iPhone 6, Apple has been showcasing the remarkable quality one can get from their iPhone. Going in this direction, movies shot on iPhones are only going to increase once people realize that sometimes its not the tools but the carpenter.


– Paola Pasqualini

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The Hero4 GoPro has been now been introduced.

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For as long as GoPros have existed they have always been rectangles. For some, the rectangle shape wasn’t a comfortable shape to mount on their heads and certainly not very hydro-dynamic. The makers at GoPro decided to try and fix the problem by making the next new GoPro cubed shaped. The camera will be released July 12th and will be selling for $500 a unit. There are many new features that make this the go to model instead of the others.

 The first feature is it being waterproof without waterproof case being mounted on which can be a lifesaver on those days you forget the case at home. Because of this advancement the size of the GoPro has downsized 50% smaller and 35% lighter. With the new cube, it allows more freedom and flexibility with the position of the camera. With this new feature, it makes it the first Go Pro that you can side mount to your helmet without any awkward elbow joint type mount. When attaching it to your helmet you have two position options, standard and low profile, depending on what you prefer. With only two button to manoeuvre the few functions it has, the lack of constantly having to press buttons, as well as the automatic shut off when not shooting. helps to conserve the battery life far more than the other GoPros. The sound quality is also fairly good on the GoPro, including when its submerged in water. The speakers are designed to drain the water quickly when wet so there isn’t a long delay in restoring audio quality after a splash.

In terms of resolution this is what it has to offer:

• 1080p at 60 and 30fps (SuperView at 48 or 30fps)
• 1440p at 30fps
• 960p at 60 or 30fps
• 720 at 100, 60, or 30fps (SuperView 60 or 30fps)
• WVGA at 120fps
• Stills at 8MP with 10fps bursts

Although the new GoPro seems perfect, of course it comes with some bad news. Where did your my cinematic 24 fps go? That’s the go-to mode for shooting less action stuff. Also, 720p at 100fps? 100? All these features are unfortunately missing from the new model. With new added features comes the downfall of having to cut some of those other great features out. Another unfortunate downfall is image quality. In comparison to the Hero silver, the quality is a lot darker softer while the Hero Silver compared, delivers a much Clearer image. The other problem is that because their is a lack of buttons, the only way to change the modes and settings of the camera is to purchase the $80 app, which of course is sold separately. With most advancements comes a few downfalls but the overall size and added attributes of the Aside from those unfortunate mishaps on the model, the size is a great success and can make all the difference when deciding which GoPro model you’d want to buy. 


– Paola Pasqualini

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7 Best, Inexpensive Lenses

If you own a camera you have a slight idea of the high prices in film and photo equipment. Photography can be an expensive hobby and is often hard not to spend less than a couple hundred dollars on a certain gadget upgrade. The lenses these days are becoming increasingly expensive with newer features and cleaner designs. Finding a lens that is good quality and affordable can be challenging, but we can rest assured that there are a few out there that wont break our wallets.

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1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 – $125

This is an excellent prime lens that is affordable and delivers good quality photos. Because the length is a little longer than a lens you would used daily use, it is a handy lens for something like portrait photography. Another plus to this lens is how far the aperture opens up – a maximum aperture of 1.8/f allows the photographer to catch lots of light as well as if desired, create great bokeh effects.

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2. Lensbaby Spark – $90

Now this is an interesting lens because of the manual freedom the user gets with it. The lensbaby spark allows the photographer to pull the lens in and out to adjust the focus of the photo as well as an option to skew the photo . The effect of the lens may not be for everyone, but for those who enjoy experimenting with photography, these lenses create original and classic low-fi photos.

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3. Canon EF 40mm – $199

This is a great portable prime lens to guarantee clarity in your photos. The lens allows you to open up to an aperture as low as 2.8/f, giving you a relative amount of light for any given scenario. This lens is highly recommended in the photo world as the perfect normal’ lens on full frame, providing an extremely natural perspective to images.

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4. Nikon AF NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D Lens – $130

This is a great lens for users using Nikon cameras. It is an incredibly light, offering a f/1.8 maximum aperture for effective low light shooting and shallow depth of field control. Be sure to check your camera’s lens-compatibility information before selecting this lens as it can only be used with manual focus.

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5.Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G – $196

The Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 is the perfect answer for owners of Nikon DX-format cameras. Because most S-SLRS use APS-C size sensors, their 55mm lenses are actually equivalent to 75mm, making them too long. It is equivalent to 52.5mm/f 2.8 so the focal length is correct for the standard lens. A perfect prime lens that is perfect for low-light shooting and creating softly blurred backgrounds; its classic “normal” angle of view makes it a great all-around lens – meaning it is the closest image to what we see with our eyes

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6. Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G  – $277

Although the price is ranging a little higher for this specific lens, it is still no doubt very popular for its ability to get up and close to objects with great quality. The DX Micro is a great little all-purpose normal lens that can also focus super close. Although, if you desire any serious macro work, a 40mm lens is a bad idea because you have to get too close to your subject to get close-ups and you will end up blocking your life. That is why this 40mm lens is mostly for use as a general-purpose normal lens, with the ability to focus very close for occasional use.

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7. Diana lens DIY bundle – $49

The great thing about these lenses is that there is an adapter available for Canon and Nikon for only $14. Lomo photography has gotten popular in the last couple of years. With that being said, these lenses help give a soft and dreamy look to your photos. Their are many lenses available for purchase such as: 20mm fisheye lens, 38mm, 55mm wideangle/close-up combo, 75mm or 110mm telephoto lens. And again, for no more than $49! Something to keep in mind when not wanting to spend over a $100. 

– Paola Pasqualini

What light is suited best for you? (Continuous vs Strobe)

The technology and equipment available to photographers now is rapidly expanding, constantly giving us more options to consider. This being said, theres almost too much option out there and sometimes can make things difficult knowing in choosing a suitable one for you.

There can be many different factors that influence your decision. Firstly, if you are shooting video or stills. This is a basic first question you should ask yourself because the results can vary drastically. Tungsten (Continuous) and Monolight (Strobe) are the two most common lights. Within these two categories, varies the options.

To break it down simply, all continuous lighting includes: LEDs, fluorescents and HMI lights. LEDs are most commonly used for film, but usually the price for LEDs tend to be on the pricier side. Fluorescent is cooler and uses less energy, but it doesn’t give too much light. Tungsten is preferred over fluorescent lights, in continuous lighting. HMI lights are commonly used on Hollywood sets – they too, tend to be on the expensive side but usually are problem-free. Like LEDs, most people would prefer this if they could afford it.

The upside to continuous lighting is that what you see is what you get. Other than having to adjust your white balance, the light that you see is the way it will appear on your camera. There is no pressure of adjusting settings on the go when the image turns out too overexposed, etc. That being said, it allows the photographer to smoothly operate under the continuous shooting mode. Although, if you are doing flash photography, you cannot burst for too many shots before your strobe or speedlight needs time to cool off. This being called ‘recycle time.’ Something you would never have to worry about with a constant light. Another plus to continuous lighting is having the lighting ratios there in front of your eyes. No flash meter needed, there is no particular need to shoot manual, just trial and error with the desired look.

Hopefully you’re still following…. lets move on to Strobes. Strobes are monolights, meaning they have include a self contained light source. So lights like speedlights (external flashes) and studio strobe lights are both examples of monolight.  These are flexible and easy to work with lights and typically less hot – another big advantage to working with a strobe. Not to mention, strobes are also more powerful than continuous lighting options.

The term “strobe” was originally a shortened form of “stroboscope,” which referred to a special repeating electronic flash used for motion studies.

Now for a general comparison between the two:

Mono lights/Strobes are more powerful than Speed lights. They recycle faster and let you shoot longer bursts.

Speed lights cost less than Mono lights. They are smaller and more compact than a Mono. They are automatic and TTL (through the lens) – however most offer a manual option as well. They allow you to shoot very fast action at high shutter speeds. Typically preferred when shooting sports events. This flash is able to capture crisp bright action stopping light. Allowing you to shoot at very high shutter speeds.




So now that you have been educated on some of the basic differences in shooting with continuous rather than strobe and vice versa, you can now decide which one is best for you. Don’t forget that it will always be important for you to determine for yourself which method of lighting is best for you based on your own specific situation.