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Aperture vs focal length for bokeh

This was shot over 2 years ago on the beach in Sweden. It was not the most interesting location but it still looks nice thanks to the black & white and the out of focus background. In this time I shot a lot with 70-200. The photo was shot at 145mm and f/3.2 with a Canon 70-200. I really like the look I got from shooting more tele portraits. Now I don’t own a 70-200 anymore so maybe that’s why I miss it. The longest focal length I have used for the last 2 years is 85mm.

As I see it there are a couple of advantages with longer focal lengths of a 70-200 but also a few advantages of an 85mm with f/1.4.When you shoot around 150mm and 3.2 you get more of the model in focus but at the same time nice bokeh. There are also less distracting details in the background and just less background overall. The disadvantage is you have to go far away from the model and you loose some connection. You also get less light resulting in longer shutter speed.

Shooting with a 50mm or 85mm and large aperture like I usually do now give you a nice bokeh too but much short depth of field and less of the model in focus. It’s harder to get sharp photos but you get more light and a shorter shutter speed. A 50 or 85 is also more discrete and better for shooting when you don’t want to attract too much attention.

Now when I shoot mostly available light and all over the world I prefer the 85 over the 70-200. If I was working mostly at home in Sweden the 70-200 would be my favourite.

Let me know your thought about this. Which lens is your favourite for getting a nice bokeh and out of focus backgrounds?

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Brand new retouch videos with updated content and workflow

I started to update my retouch videos. The ones I had before was almost one year old and I thought was time to refresh. Most of the new videos show a different workflow compared to the old videos and now they also have better image quality and resolution. 

Before I worked with Capture One and Photoshop every time. I still do but I started to use Lightroom too. There’s also a video where I use just Photoshop.

Yesterday I got an email regarding my presets. Yes I removed them from my site. I think the videos are better for learning and understanding and with help of them you can make your own presets!

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Against the light

Sorry for the slow updates at the moment. I’ll try to do it more often because I know you like it.

Earlier today I posted this photo in my main Instagram account. After I posted I got the idea what to write about for you guys. This is just a simple tip or advice.

A lot of photographers, like myself, like to shoot against the light with the sun behind the model. Many times the light is too strong and it doesn’t really look like we see it with our eyes. The model have a “gloria” and a glow in the hair and most of it is totally overexposed. Now, look at my photo here.. We still have all the details in the hair and nothing is overexposed. I didn’t use any reflector or fill flash. Instead I put the model in the shade with no direct sun hitting her, just a lot stronger light behind her than in front. This looks the same as we imagine shooting against the sun would look like. Try it and you’ll be surprised!

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Background, aperture and bokeh

I like a nice bokeh. Before I always tried to shoot with as large aperture as I could just to get that nice blur. Then I got the Nikkor 58/1.4G which is not that sharp wide open. I really liked this lens and the focal length and started to used it for 90% of my work. To be sade and to get sharp photos I started to stop down to 2.8. Now I Don’t have this lens anymore and what I have now works well on all apertures. When I look back at these lider shots I see that many times I like the look of 2.8 more that lagret apertures. Many times I got a nice 3D look with good separation. I never got this look with a zoom at 2.8. I don’t know how many times I heard ”I don’t buy a 1.4 lens to shoot at 2.8”. It’s not a bad idea! 
Now to the point. You can affect how out of focus the background will be in other ways. Like this photo for example. Shot with the 58 at f/2.8. It’s about having the model in a different light or different contrast compared to the background. That will make a huge difference. More than a large aperture. 
I think everyone already know it’s about the distance. But did you evenr think about the thing I talk about?

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Brussels and (maybe) Paris soon!

From July 14th until 19th I'll be in Brussels and the areas around (still possible to go to Paris for a day).
I'm available for private individual workshop and/or retouch training sessions in Photoshop. Julia Yaroshenko is with me so if you want to book both of us for a session it's possible now! If you're curious about these sessions you can just use the newsletter form or send me an email and I'll tell you everything about it. I have a very reasonable price and it's not much more expensive than a regular workshop.

I'll have an indoor location available for these sessions. It's also possible to shoot outside with certain limitations depending on the location. All photos here are made in Brussels by me. Just to give you some inspiration and some ideas of what is possible to do.
Same thing for Paris. I have a lot of cool shorts I made around Paris and if you want to see some to get inspiration just let me know. I'll be more than happy to send you.

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Exposure

I guess you already figured out this is a before/after shot. This photo is about 2 years old. In this time my photos always came out of the camera like the ledt one. A little bit funnit in color, exposure was a bit off and so on. Now my photos are much closer to the right picture straight out of the camera.
I always say it better to underexpose to save the highlights. It usually is better for the colors too. This photo was shot with Canon 5d3. I remember from the time when I used that camera that it was very easy to save very bright photos. When I was using the Nikon D810 it totally killed the skin tones with this kind of exposure. What I understand from this is that cameras are different. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. You just need to know your own equipment and understand what works best with it. There’s no general rule that work for all cameras!

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Getting it right in the camera

Most of the time when I shoot I prefer to make the photo in the camera. By this I mean I want the main look of the shot right away… Correct exposure, white balance, crop and so on. But sometimes it is better to shoot in a special way because you know what you want to do with the photo in post. For example I know many times I don’t hold the camera straight and when there are lines in the background they get tilted. When I straighten the photo after I sometimes loos to much close to the edges. I need to shoot with some extra space. Another thing is like in this photo. The camera don’t have enough dynamic range to get a good exposure when there is a mix of shadow and sunlight. Then it’s better to underexpose to save the highlights and bring back the shadows after.
Most important is that you know what is best for each situation. 
This was just some of my thoughts and ideas about exposure. Let me know your thoughts about this and feel free to ask any question.
Gear: Nikon D810 with Nikkor 85/1.4G.

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Finding the light

I get a lot of questions if I use reflector or if I use flash when I shoot outside. The answer is no I don’t use it. Just on very, very rare occasions I can use a reflector or diffuser. I love to work with just the camera + lens and available light. 
A few years ago I had problems with getting nice catch lights and sometimes funny shadows in the face and so on. I never have these problems anymore and I still use the same equipment, camera + lens. I understand a lot of photographer use a reflector to get nice light in the eyes or to fill in the shadows. 
The reason why I don’t use reflectors is that they usually reflects the light up which I don’t like. Brings out funny features of the face. Light from above look much more natural and more beautiful.
I work in another way. For me the angle of the light on the model is very important. I always look for the light on the face and I want it from the front or slightly from the side and a little bit from above. Never too much from the side or too much from above. Then it looks ugly on the face. When I choose location for shooting I look for things that can help me re-direct the light. For example a door opening, a tree and similar thing. In this way I can shape and control the light with just the camera and no other tools.
This photo was shot with a Nikon D810 and 58/1.4G. The trees on the beach helped me to get the light from to direction I like. When you do like this you need less post-production and your workflow become faster. In this photos there’s almost no skin retouch and just minimal dodge & burn.
Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts about this. Feel free to ask questions.

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My camera gear

What camera do you use? Prime or zoom? Feel free to leave a comment. It's interesting for me to know more about what you guys use.

My current gear. I also have a 5d3 as my second camera (but not with me at this moment). I use only primes and I have done so for the last 2 years. Except for 3 weeks when I had a 24-70/2.8 that got stolen. Decided to not get one again because the large aperture if the primes is much more important to than the ability to zoom.
I use Canon because I like their lenses and the overall handeling if the camera. Colors are great too

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New blog/news section

I just decided to start a new blog section on my website. I'll post the latest news here so make sure to come back often. I'll also use this for outtakes, behind the scenes, videos and other stuff. Many photos I publish on for example Instagram or 500px never make it into the portfolio here on my website. I'll use this blog to post the. This will also be a place where you can find the latest news. Feel free to interact, leave comments so I know what you guys think.

I'll start of with posting some photos from a set with Julia that I posted on Instagram a while ago. This was shot in available light late in the afternoon when we were on Ibiza for The Paradise Challenge. The  golden tape is made by The Black Tape Project.

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