Spicy Holiday Photos – Part II – Awesome pictures with small, mirrorless cameras

Spicy Holiday Photos – Part II – Awesome pictures with small, mirrorless cameras

Hey fellow photographer, how’s it going? I’m Michael Zelbel. This is a second video of the series that is about taking spicy holiday photos. Today it’s all about shooting with small mirrorless cameras. I’m going to use my little Fuji X-E2. A small camera which I really love. In addition to that, I’m going to use manual flash kit. It’s named Cactus and I think it’s an awesome addition to any camera. My wife Emily and I, we are still over here at Club Spice, on Lanzarote witch is one of the Canary Islands. One thing we love about the club over here is that all the guest are talking to each other. Nobody stays anonymous. You make friends all the time. So this time, we just arrived and we already found three fellow amateur photographers who are now shooting along with us. So let’s start right into the tips. My first tip for today: lighting with a small manual lighting kit. Our little system cameras give us an amazing image quality. It’s pretty close to the big boy DSLRs. However, to get professional grade photos, we need to use lighting, like the big boys do. Fortunatly that’s not very complicated. All it requires is a little lighting kit. For today, I’m using, first and foremost, an awesome flash which is a Cactus RF60, a flash worth a lot of amazing functionalities and it’s triggered by a Cactus V6 radio controller, which is also an awesome device. It gives me the power to fine tune the flash right from on camera, which is important. Then I’m mounting that on a little Phottix P200 light stand. This is a five-segment lightstand which folds together really small so that it fits into my hand luggage. On the other hand, it extends to two meters which is very versatile. The light modifier I’m using is a simple shoot through umbrella. It’s a generic brand, nothing sophisticated, it just needs to be a big light source. I’m moving this light source nice and close to the subject. The closer I can get to the subject, the softer the light will be. I’m positioning my subject for that in the shadow so that the flash got a chance to grab the subject and light it from the flash’s direction. As a starting point for my camera settings, I’m using 125th of a second at f/8, ISO 200. I want to have a bit of the ambient light, lighting everything in the background, but I don’t want to have it too bright. So I underexpose it purposely. I check my histogram, is it underexposed, if yes, then that’s fine. Now the flash comes in, I put it to 1/8th of power, let’s see how much the flash adds, is it enough? Then OK, is it too dark, then I dial up the flash, is it too bright? Then I dial it down a bit. That’s how easy it is. You take such a small light kit with you and then just use it in your photos, expect them to come out as real professional great photos. Tip number two, lighting into the face along her body. You typically want to position and pose your subject in a way so that the light is really flattering her up. Especially a female subject is looking gorgeous, if the light coming from the right angle, but you might look, not very good if the light is coming from the wrong angle. One sure fire recepie that I can give you is to light into her face and along her body. So how do you do that? Your light is typically your flash or your light modifier. Turn her face towards the light, it will give you a bright face and even an elite complexion , it tones down wrinkles, eye bags and all of that. There will be no shadow whatsoever in her face. This is what you want for her face. However, for her body, you want free dimensionality, you want her boobs to stand out and all of that, for that you need shadow. If you turn her body away from the light a bit then the light floating a long her body it creates highlights of the one side, shadows on other places and you get this free dimensionality. So bring her into a movement where she is turning her face towards the light and her body away from the light. This will typically give you an awesome lighting pattern. Your main light may typically be your flash. However if your ambient light plays a big role, then check where your ambient light is actually coming from. Normally outdoors, that is pretty easy, the sun is somewhere and the main light will come from the direction of the sun, but if you are inside an area where it’s not so clear like this, then one trick would be: Have a look at something round reflective like a little black marble. If you have a look at the reflection on this marble, then you’ll directly see where is the highlight. You’ll directly see, “Oh! the light is coming from over there”. Then you know and then you can work with it. Either as a fill-light or if you’re photographing without a flash, as your main light, and then remind you, face to the light, body away from the light. It will be awesome. And then also take into account tip number three: Leverage open shadow. What does it mean? When you’re photographing outside then avoid direct sunlight. Photography in direct sunlight, it makes for harsh shadows, it lets the highlights blow out, and all that bad stuff. It’s much easier to photograph in the shadow. Over there, you don’t have this harsh contrasts and you can use your flash to create exactly what you want. Now, what does open shadow mean? Open shadow is shadow where no direct sunlight is hitting your model but still the light from the sky is falling onto her. This is a very soft basic light. Taking photos in such a soft basic light, is a very easy starting point for your lighting. So why not make your life easy, search for open shadow and leverage that wherever you can find it. Tip number four, photographs of women might look flattering or not so flattering solely depending on where you cut the model in the photo, how you crop a photo. The only sure fire, bullet prove rule that I can give you is to include her body from her head down to just above her knees. This seems to be a sweet spot for cutting the photo of a woman which would look flattering. Ask her to bring her knees together so that there’s a nice female V-shape and then cut just above the knees, don’t cut below the knees, that’s not so flattering. Don’t cut through the knees, that is looking painful. Don’t cut just above her upper legs, then it looks like a part is missing. Just find a spot, cut right above her knees. And if you didn’t do it in previous photos, if you have included a bit too much then you can always crop them afterwards. That’s OK, just if you didn’t include the upper legs, then you might want to crop quite a bit. So if you follow this rule, if you always cut above her knees, then you can expect a lot of your photos to be more flattering than not. Tip number five, how do I actually get a correct exposure? A lot of photographers think that light is difficult, especially when there’s a lot of light and shadow going on. But for us, it’s pretty easy. Since we use flash as our main light, we have it under control, big time. And the little system cameras, the mirrorless cameras, they help you really really a lot. You have to understand that every exposures that you do with flash is a double exposure. You’ve got the ambient part which is filling in shadows and lighting the surrounding, and you’ve got the flash part which is the main light which is lighting your subject. So you care about both of them a little bit in a separate mode. That means, first care about the ambient part. Put your camera to a starting value like 125th of a second, f/8, ISO 200 on a bright day, and then check if you like the ambient exposure. I like to underexpose the ambient by one or two f-stops. So I would check the light meter in my camera and if it’s on -1 or -2, then it’s fine. If it’s too far up, then I dial down the ISO, or I make the shutter speed shorter. If it’s too dark, I will dial up the ISO. It’s as easy as that until my available light is at -1 or -2 on my built-in camera light meter. Then I care about the flash. I just set my flash to 1/8th of power. It’s a starting point. I try it out with a test shoot and see, is my subject too bright then I dial down the flash, is my subject too dark, then I dial it up. It’s as simple as that The end result is visible on the display, if it’s to bright then the highlight warning pixels will tell me, oh! there are areas which are burned out, then I have to turn down my flash. If it’s too dark, I’ll see it in histogram so that all levels are in the lower half of the histogram, then it’s too dark, then dial up my flash, just like that. So make it a habit to care about these both exposures separately. Turn them in one after another, it might sound a little bit complex in the beginning but if you have done it a couple of times then it becomes second nature and then it goes really fast. Now let’s come to tip number six, which is using shallow depth of field. One big advantage of system cameras over smartphones is: your background is blurry, your foreground is nicely blurry, just your subject is sharp. How to do that? You need a prime lens, a prime lens with a big f-stop like f/1.8, it’s a little lens worth a fixed focal length which got a pretty open aperture. In my example, I’ve got lens with an aperture of 1.4. With this lens, I can make my subject sharp, and the fore- and the background quite blurry. This isolates the subject from the background. It’s awesome, however, it lets in a lot of light and in a outdoor situation like today, it might be too much light for the chip. If you find a setting of 125th of the second so that your flash can still fire, and an ISO combination so that your exposure is okay, then you’re golden. However, over here, it’s too bright. So what do you do in such a situation? You want to isolate the subject, you want to open the aperture but there’s too much light going on, well you attach an ND filter, a neutral density filter. Such a filter is basically a grey piece of glass and it swallows some light. So you attach it in front of the lens and then either you’ve got a fixed filter which just swallows one stops, two stops, four stops, or like in my case I’ve got a variable filter where I can dial in how much light I want to take away from the scene. So this way, I take away a lot of the light from the ambient from the sky and the surroundings, and I make it possible for my flash to really light my subject and bring her out from the background. The background is nicely blurry because I dialed in an aperture of 1.4. I’ve got one little additional tip for you: retouching photos on your tablet. Why that? In our last video we were using camera 360 on the smartphone to shoot photos and directly retouch them, very fast and convenient. On our little mirrorless cameras we don’t have such an app. Hhowever there’s no reason why we shouldn’t tether them to a tablet, get the JPEGs on the fly to the tablet and over there, we can use all kinds of retouching apps.
The example that I want to give you today is an app called YouCam Perfect. It’s an awesome app and it’s completely free at the moment. When you open a photo in YouCam Perfect, you tap on the beautifier and that’s the place where you can do all kinds of beauty retouches. There are also other things, you can make your model tall as stretching it and there’s a rich set of effects, just try it out, play around with it and I think it’s very fast to create a wow photo with this app. Thank you so much for watching. I really, really hope these tips are useful for you and you’ll have a lot of fun with it. If you like this video, please give it a thumbs up, subscribe to our YouTube channel, subscribe to our magazine at GoodLightMag.com because there’s a whole lot tips coming up over there. In the next video, I’m going to shoot with my big boy DLSR camera. Until then, I wish you good light!

Dereck Turner

91 thoughts on “Spicy Holiday Photos – Part II – Awesome pictures with small, mirrorless cameras

  1. Dave Pruett says:

    Enjoyed part I and part II might be even better! Thanks for sharing and thanks to Cousin Emily for being such a patient model!

  2. Tor Ivan Boine says:

    sup with the 90's elevator music? 🙂 

  3. Neopulse00 says:

    Nice location Michael. Will be moving to there soon to the islands.

  4. Hu Ko says:

    Wieder ein tolles Video, danke. Great video again, thanks.

  5. tasty2choc says:

    Vielen Dank!

  6. Nivek says:

    Man I wish I was in a place like that xD must be heaven

  7. Peter Wack says:

    Ich würde mich freuen, wenn du deine Videos auch auf Deutsch hier einstellst! Dein "Know" sollte nicht nur die englisch sprechenden Fotofreunde erreichen! Auch im Jahr 2015 gibt es noch Mitmenschen die der englischen Sprache nicht mächtig sind. Zudem wenn ich mich nicht täusche bist du doch deutschsprachig! Mach weiter so!

  8. Michael's Photo Tips says:

    Peter Wack, ich kann dir nicht antworten, da du scheinbar Nachrichten geblockt hast. 

  9. Silentbreez1 says:

    Great video as always.
    Suggestion: next time try this: you will be the model, and your wife will be the photographer talking to us, giving us all the tips. 🙂

  10. A Davis says:

    Nice job Michael! I think this part 2 video is one of your best!

  11. Oscar Martinez says:

    great video ! 

  12. Erik Siekkinen says:

    Great tips Michael and awesome looking photos! Thanks!

  13. Mike J says:

    Thanks for the great tips (oh my lord @ 6:00).

  14. Steven Brener says:

    Love this video! Great tips and explanation.

  15. Scott Micale says:

    Awesome video! Very informative! Beautiful wife you've got!

  16. AndreAgonia says:

    This video is amazing, simply perfect for me! I just need to find a good flash and remote for my old Canon EOS 20D now, unless this one you used works on it 🙂 quick question since I don't know Fuji much, which lenses did you use? The first picture on the wall and the ones on the stairs are amazing, I'd love to reproduce something similar!

  17. John McKee says:

    Very Helpful.

  18. elr2141979 says:

    With a model that beautiful you could have used a point and shoot camera and she will still look amazing.

  19. SGDVD says:

    thanks Michael,great Tipps!

  20. jfinite says:

    Hey cousin! Great tips and tutorials!

  21. Αχιλλέας Γιαννόπουλος says:

    Nice tips!

  22. Softouch468 says:

    Your videos are really good. I start watching the videos after giving thumbs up 🙂

  23. 0wen says:

    Are you and your wife swingers?

  24. Minarchist 412 says:

    Excellent Michael thank you

  25. Jürgen Kaßnitz says:

    Well done, as always !! I like your easy way of shooting very much.

  26. Sushi Oji says:

    Awsome! thank you very much for those tips they will indeed help a lot.

  27. Alex A says:

    This is a great video! I always like your tutorials but this one is probably my favorite. A quick question. My camera (Nikon V2) doesn't have a standard hot shoe but I have a flash built just for it. If I buy a flash with an optical slave, do you think that pointing the flash up will still trigger the flash while outside? I know it works well inside because there are surfaces to bounce off of, but I've never tried it outside. Thank you!

  28. studiarxis aka gfranky says:

    the cropping bit "above the knee" was interesting!

  29. AndreAgonia says:

    I forgot one thing: I know the purpose of this kit is to be small and portable but when it comes to single speedlite outdoors shooting when would you use an umbrella as a diffuser and when would you use let's say a softbox(maybe still a Phottix one)?

    I mean, did you pick the umbrella for the sole purpose of the kit being light and small or are there any other reasons? I'm curious because both in studio and outdoor photography you see both but I never understood umbrellas a lot.

  30. Damo Hart says:

    That was a very well constructed and helpful video.  Thanks heaps.  Your wife makes a gorgeous model too!

  31. Guggle20 says:

    Damn I love open shadow shots !! 6:00

  32. Guggle20 says:

    Damn I love double exposure shot too !! 9:47

  33. atashiyL2244 says:

    nice tips

  34. ibanezrg470 says:

    the black marble tip,excellent…

  35. Vasile Hurghis says:

    Nice work ,nice model .

  36. Henry Bulger says:

    Now you have me thinking about either a tablet or a smart phone. But thank you .

  37. Peña's Fin & Feather says:

    Good video and lovely model.

  38. Adelitas Photography says:

    Thank you for such great tips!

  39. miluroco says:


  40. RikabyTV says:

    What camera was used to shoot this video?

  41. ibanezrg470 says:

    Excellent video yet again..

  42. David C says:

    i love your videos however i dont agree with nd filters for portraits.. i prefer shooting with highspeed sync allowing a much faster shutter speed to take down the environmental/ambient light..

  43. Stylin Woodard says:

    Really great video. Thanks

  44. sudheer kumar says:

    Very useful tips, Thanks.

  45. Xavier López de Arriaga Candiani says:

    Magnificent video.

  46. Mauricio Fernández says:

    Another tip: never shoot your model with her legs wide open, and at a low angle. Just saying, it's unflattering and she looks cheap.

  47. Getsuga719 says:

    where can I get the pictures?…

  48. Xentius xen says:

    A professional photographer+pretty woman+good lightening set up=awesome photos!
    You are subscribed!

  49. safeharbor7 says:

    Always enjoy your videos Michael, they have been a big help. Thank you. Thumbs up + favorite

  50. nigel thornton says:

    Great videos always very informative, easy to understand

  51. PEACE Hunter says:

    super Tipps. Danke

  52. Al Jackol Salsalin says:

    Two thumbs up for this video tutorial!

  53. alfredt says:

    Thank you so much! This is the BEST video tutorial I have seen for off camera flash. Very well explained and easy ( for me) to understand and use in practice. The beautiful models also help too 🙂

  54. Shang-Hsien Yang says:

    YouCam perfect? The app look powerful, but the name of the app on the other hand….

  55. joe votta says:

    Wow – what a great lesson! You are a great instructor, too! Nice work! Where are you from?

  56. Paul Taylor says:

    Great video thanks very much!

  57. Justin Davis says:

    Hello from Australia.Thanks  for the videos. They're were really helpful. I hope you keep making them.You're subject and photos are beautiful.

  58. angelisone says:

    You wife is very fit like my daughter.
    Well done from both of you.

  59. RS says:

    Great tips but ….

    Why don't you use a light meter so you don't have to talk all those test shots
    Meter your subject with your camera , adjust some stop to the minus. (as you like) to get the ambient light low
    Dial those numbers into your light meter and adjust your light to fit.
    If you model changes position just take another read and adjust the lights again.
    Beats all that trial an error !

    Love your vids

  60. Cornelius Maximilianus says:

    damn nice lookin bitches

  61. twospiders1 says:

    Very well done….smart,sexy and a lot of useful info…….Thank you very much

  62. jackz says:

    Smart explanation !

  63. deterpawson says:

    Hello Michael, I must confess that your videos do inspire to use simple lighting to create drama in images, I now primarily use speed lights in my images, they are simple and portable, however a thorough knowledge of light is a necessity. Thanks for this free educational service you provide, Peace'n'Happiness

  64. Brent Drafts says:

    Enjoyed your information!

  65. Pete says:

    Only watched it because of Emily, but actually, really good and practical tips. Great video all round.

  66. Ken Xie says:

    very useful tips. thanks a lot for sharing.

  67. Jawad Saleem says:

    Thank you. great tips

  68. Agrajag68 says:

    You say you met fellow "amateur" photographers. I cannot believe you aren't a professional. I have learned so much from your videos. You have helped me take my photography to a new level. You are an excellent photographer and teacher. Thank you, I appreciate your effort.

  69. Wong Allen says:

    Great guy, Great photo, Great tips. Thanks so much.

  70. Derek Comer says:

    Another great video, thank you, you could be a pro photographer, but you say it's just a hobby,, people ask me to take photos for them, but I always say the same thing. NO,, it's my hobby, not my job and I only take photos of things I want to take. Keep posting your videos, I love them!!!!!

  71. Simon Smith says:

    Michael. Thank you, thank you, thank you ! Two tips here have done it for me – face to the light and body away plus cut above the knees ! Simple but my god have I struggled with this ! Excellent practical videos

  72. Abigail Sockeye says:

    Going to Amazon to find a black marble. Gear Quest!

  73. W N says:

    Nice find, such great tips. The model is indeed spicy!! Incredible beauty with an outstanding athletic physique.
    Your results flatter your wife wonderfully. Great work.

  74. Dave CoolAZPhotography says:

    Always so helpful!

  75. ACitizenOfOurWorld says:

    If you were a chef, your videos would show how to make dinners that are both nutritious AND spicy!

  76. Jamie L. says:

    Im a bit uncertain as to your comments on the Ambient sun.  Is the  key light your flash with Umbrella ? And ambient sunlight is used as a backlight ?

  77. Anita Dash says:

    I will now start traveling with my umbrella and a portable stand. Your explanation in a few videos of metering the subject and metering the background pushed me into another level. Thank you so much,and I know my images are improving.

  78. MR MR says:

    Spice Resort is now closed @Good Light! Clips

  79. Bugman MD says:

    Fantastic tips – thank you for all your time and excellent teaching!

  80. Jimmy Lomocso says:

    wow.. this is amazing.. thank you for your tips.. 😉😉

  81. Tomas Av. says:

    too much talk too less boobs

  82. ChaChaChávez says:

    I feel I'm late to the party. You're videos are amazing. You're a great teacher.

  83. Mark Harris says:

    Missing your videos, you are the true master of the small light setup. Hope everything is ok.

  84. Win Naing says:

    Thank you for sharing. really useful tips.

  85. archel francisco says:

    awasome! only single speedlight! great tutorials 😉

  86. bitchoflivingblah says:

    I have to admit I watched for the girl but stayed for the tips – YouCam Perfect is awesome. Thanks.

  87. Rogueixpresents says:

    I had fun learning 😉

  88. Paul Manson says:

    Michael, have you used a polarising filter in the outdoor, blue sky pictures? Great tips by the way !

  89. silvafox100 says:

    Some excellent lighting tips for using your small flash set up Michael. Also how to crop your image of your model. I also like the Fuji X-E2 with the standard lens kit which is a great little zoom lens

  90. Albert Smuts says:

    Awesome – Great tips Thank you

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