Archive for the ‘Photography Accessories’ Category

Mirrorless Cameras

Can you take our classes with a mirrorless camera?


Mirrorless cameras are becoming more and more popular- they’re lighter, often less expensive and have some great features. Looking back a few years, we probably saw these cameras sporadically in classes, maybe one every few months but in the last year, every Using Your DSLR Camera class probably has at least one mirrorless camera user. Students approach us all the time, through email, social media, etc about whether or not they (and their mirrorless camera) are welcome in our DSLR Classes so, I decided to pose the most frequently asked questions to our instructor, George Mach.


What are some of the challenges that mirrorless camera users have over DSLR camera users in class?

Mirrorless cameras offer similar image quality as DSLR’s, but generally in a smaller package. However, the inherent design of these cameras requires that their sensors and viewfinders/ lcd screens on the back of the camera run continuously when the camera is on, so battery life is often shorter with a mirrorless camera than a traditional DSLR.

If I was in the market for a mirrorless camera, is there one brand you would recommend over another?

I wouldn’t recommend any one particular brand over another, but you should know that the various camera manufacturers offer models that have different sensor sizes relative to each other. For example, the Nikon 1 series of mirrorless cameras have the smallest sensors of most of the manufacturers. Olympus and Panasonic models have micro 4/3rds sensors which are slightly smaller than the Canon and Fuji mirrorless cameras, which have APS-C sized sensors similar to many DSLR’s. And then Sony sells cameras with APS-C sized sensors, as well as full frame sensors.
The larger the sensor size, the greater the ability to capture high quality images under low light conditions, but also the higher the cost for both the camera as well as lenses. So there are lots of considerations to take into account.

Word has it you own a lot of cameras… Do you own a mirrorless camera?

My camera count maaaaaaay be currently north of 50, but yes, I do own a mirrorless camera. It has become my main go to, simply because of its compact size – it is very convenient to carry around everywhere, without making any image quality sacrifices when compared to a DSLR.


There you have it! They’re lightweight, great for travel, often less expensive and suitable for all of our classes, including Using Your DSLR Camera! In this 12 hour introductory course, we’ll teach you how to utilize the manual functions on your interchangeable lens camera. By the time this class over you will be experienced in: manipulating ISO, shutter speed, and aperture to produce artistic results and proper exposures, as well as metering differently for specified reasons. We will also explore changing your autofocus settings and using them in the right situations, as well as navigating playback of images, reading histograms, when and why to use the various auto-exposure modes (including the priority modes), and in manipulating the white balance to alter the color temperature of your photos.

Register today!

Camera Tricks and Photo Tips

What do you do when you host a Christmas photo walk, register a bunch of students and then the day that once seemed so far into the future, comes around and you look outside and discover there is no snow?  Well, first you throw a bit of a tantrum but then you channel all of your creative energy, raid your craft cupboard and come  up with ways to capture awesome winter photos, without snow. Here are the awesome tricks that  Susan Temme pulled out for the photo walk in Edmonton on Friday.

Making Magic with An Acrylic Picture Frame

Even with the absence of snow, we were able to create a really cool reflection that gives the look of ice or a reflecting pool in front of the Alberta Legislature Building. You can make this happen by inserting a piece of black construction paper in a plastic dollar store picture frame and then hold it underneath your lens. Experiment and tilt it around a bit until you get the effect you want, and voila!


This photo would actually be quite ordinary without the addition of our acrylic frame trick. In reality, there are actually no lights to the left of the snowman. To add some extra color and make things more interesting, we again hold the acrylic picture frame up to the lens, this time on the left side, and it reflects the lights from the right of the snowman. This definitely added some drama to our snowman photo.


Fun with Filters

Have you ever tried using a shaped filter for your bokeh shots? First, grab some black construction paper and cut a circle larger then your lens. Next, cut a shape out of the middle of your circle (Susan sort of free handed a multi-edged star). Then, tape it around your lens, set your camera to manual focus and start experimenting!


Even without snow, our last photo walk was a success! If you weren’t able to come, give these techniques a try and show us your crafty camera work on instagram @thecplc or send them to us at [email protected]



Tips on Using a Diffuser & Ambient Light

For more information and practical exercises on the topics in this blog post, take Portrait Lighting Workshop and Ambient Portrait Lighting Workshop at the CPLC.

Sunlight causes hard shadows

One of the things that will start to bug you more and more as you take more photos are the hard lines of the edges of shadows that come from sunlight. What makes some lights cause hard edges and others not? The answer is ‘hard light’ causes hard shadows, and ‘soft light’ causes soft shadows. The definition of hard light is a light source that is small relative to the subject you are lighting. Even though the sun is, obviously, huge, it is so far away that relative to, say, a person that the sun is lighting, the sun is actually relatively small. As such, you will see hard shadows, visible in part by the hard lines between shade and sun, as in the lighting on the woman’s face below.

Diffusing Ambient Light | Edmonton photography classes |
ISO 50, f/3.2, 1/200 sec

And here’s a closeup for a better view of the dark vs. bright area on her face.

Diffusing Ambient Light | Edmonton photography classes |
ISO 50, f/3.2, 1/200 sec

While sometimes we can block this lighting by rotating the subject’s position so that their face is lit only by sun (although this will cast dark shadows in the eyes and off of the nose), or better, only by shade, in cases such as this one, doing so would change the angle on the fence, and background, to a worse one that would hurt the composition and lines in the photo.

Softening hard sunlight with a diffuser

As such, to preserve this vision for the photo, the next best move is most often to bring out a diffuser and put it between the sun and the subject.

Diffusing Ambient Light | Edmonton photography classes |
ISO 50, f/2.8, 1/200 sec

From the perspective of the person holding the diffuser, this will look like you are trying to cast the circular shadow of the diffuser over the subject, so that they are entirely in the shade of the diffuser. Once this is done, the resulting image erases the negative effect of hard lighting, by replacing it with even, soft lighting.

Diffusing Ambient Light | Edmonton photography classes |
ISO 50, f/2.8, 1/200 sec

Again, here’s a closeup to show the softer lighting.

Diffusing Ambient Light | Edmonton photography classes |
ISO 50, f/2.8, 1/200 sec

It is soft lighting because, relative to the subject, the light source is now larger than the subject. That is, the sun hits the diffuser, and because of the size of the diffuser (and not, as is commonly, and wrongly, taught, because it is passing through the white fabric), which is relatively larger than the subject’s head, the lighting is soft, and so no hard shadows are cast on the face.

While this does take 2 people to accomplish, and might seem unrealistic to you, it is worth noting that the vast majority of photos you see in magazines, etc. are taken by teams of photographers working together, so this is by no means abnormal. Besides, it’s more fun shooting with a friend, and you can always take turns diffusing for the other person!

To put this skill into practice and get some hands-on experience, take Portrait Lighting Workshop and Ambient Portrait Lighting Workshop at the CPLC!

Baby Photographer Must-have: The Newborn Nester

When it comes to photographing babies, there are many backdrops, many props and objects a photographer can purchase. Each of these items are important, but none as much as a comfy place to put the baby! The Newborn Nester we are about to present is made locally, and creates both a comfy, and super photogenic place for the baby you are photographing!

One reason we love it is that it is made of vinyl, and super easy to wash. Another cool stand-out feature are the little “posing bags” that can be placed wherever necessary to lift a part of your baby higher up off the nester.

Jen Schimanke from Snow Pea Portraits has shared a few images with us to show off this must-have item!



One of our instructors put the Newborn Nester to the test for us, and loved the results! (Image by Picture That Photography)

edmonton baby photography class photograph of baby poser

To order your own Newborn Nester e-mail: [email protected]!