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Simple Photo Hacks that Photographers 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.

Rotating LED PAR-Kit

The Rotating LED PAR-Kit was made to be an easy way for anyone to add interest to there party or event with a simple set up and we did just that. The first items in the kit are 2 Rotating LED PARs . These small lights have an out put of 56W giving punchy colours in low light venues. Also included are a  6′ and a 25′ power cable giving more freedom with the placement of your lights, as it allows you more length to move from your power source. In addition we added a  32′ DMX cable witch will allow you to separate the lights up to 32′ apart but have the lights in synch.  Now all of this may sound complicated or out of your skill set but its NOT!

With this short video we will show you step-by-step to putting together this kit so you can be confident and stress free for your event or party.

 

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Which Ring Light is Right for You?

Are you thinking of buying a ring light, but you don’t know which one to buy?

Well, at Big City Lights, we have a variety of different ring lights to choose from. So we have made a video explaining the different types of ring lights we have, and their purpose and features. This video talks about 5 different lights, a 12″ Fluorescent, 18″ Fluorescent, 18″ Dimmable Fluorescent, 18″ LED Dimmable, and the 18″ ULTIMATE. Basically, the 12″ ring light is a fluorescent light, that is only recommended for close up shots only (head / shoulders) Next, the 18″ Fluorescent is just like the 12″, but more for a wider shot instead of closeups. Next, the 18″ Dimmable Fluorescent, this light is very similar to the regular 18″, but it also has a dimmer which allows you to turn down the brightness of the light. Next, the 18″ LED Dimmable, this is very similar to the previous 18″ model, but it uses LED technology. This means you don’t have to replace the bulb because it will last you a very long time, as it is also more durable. Finally, the 18″ ULTIMATE Diva, this ring light has the most features out of them all, it comes with a cellphone holder and a mirror. Also, the light has a dimmer and it is bi-colour, which means you can change the colour of the light to a cool white (5600K) to warm white (3200K) or anywhere in between.

To see a more in-depth explanation of each light, and to see them in action, watch the video above.

Current Ring Light Pricing (with stand, all prices in Canadian dollars):

ring light comparison

 

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Samsung’s New Eye Lens

Have you ever wanted to become a cyborg that shoots lasers from your eyes? Well, that’s never going to happen. Not yet at least, with technology advancing each year, more and more of your Sci-Fi gadgets and gizmo wishes might come true, and now Samsung has a lens that is currently in the works that you can put on top of your eye just like contacts.

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According by SamMobile, the smart lens was inspired by the Google Glass, and is meant to project right into the person’s eyes and seem more invisible. The smart lens can be controlled through blinking and can be picked up by sensors. These images can will also be seen by who ever is wearing the lens and can also be transferred to a smartphone via antenna in the lens. Samsung has just recently been granted the patent, but it hasn’t been fully proven yet if the company will release a consumer product of it. Companies usually file for patents for technology that are prototypes and that may never actually be completed, but we all can dream about very advanced technology actually happening right?

Samsung isn’t the only one with the idea of creating smart contact lens, Google own two patents that are for smart contact lenses that can read a person’s blood sugar level through tears. To do so, it uses flexible electronics that read the chemicals in the tear.

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Patent diagrams for Samsung’s smart contact lenses.

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The GoPro Hero5

As technology becomes much more advanced every year, it helps companies such as Go Pro to create better action cameras.

Introducing, the Go Pro Hero 5, with it’s release on early October 2016. The Go Pro Hero 5 is a much more improved upgrade comparing to it’s older model, the Go Pro Hero 4. With a similar model to the Hero 4, The Hero 5 has much more features to offer.

First, let’s compare the Hero 4 Black to the Hero 5 Black.

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The Hero 5 has it’s own waterproof casing, meaning you don’t need to buy an extra case and it comes with a little more reinforcement. This means, with both cameras naked, the Hero 5 is quite bigger comparing to the Hero 4 without the waterproof case. The waterproof housing can allow the Hero 5 to be submerged unto 33 feet underwater, and can protect the camera against dust and sand. But comparing to the old waterproof case on the Hero 4 (which can go up to 131 feet) it’s relatively better. If you are planning on going below 33 feet with your Hero 5, then you can purchase a “Super Suit Housing” for your Hero 5. This also means that the Hero 5 will weigh a little bit more than the Hero 4 without the waterproof casing:
Hero 5: 4.2 oz (118 grams)

Hero 4 (without case): 3.1 oz (87 grams)

Hero 4 (with case): 5.3 oz (150 grams)

But what makes the Hero 5 a major improvement, is it’s new built in LCD touch screen display. But comparing it to the Hero 4 Silver (which also had an LCD display) the Hero 5 has a much more sharper, brighter and easier display. Also, as it is waterproof without a case, you don’t have that back door panel, which makes it more responsive. This makes it much better when trying to control and adjust your camera’s settings.

The way to control the two cameras are still roughly the same, with three customizable buttons and an LED display in-front (which was improved on the newer model), but now on the Hero 5, you also have a voice activation feature which can be very helpful depending on what you are doing. So if both your hands are occupied, with the voice activation feature of the Hero 5, you can say simple commands such as: “GoPro start recording” or “GoPro take a photo” to control you camera. There is also a waterproof remote that you can purchase to control your camera from a far distance.

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The Hero 5 has also a much more improved video shooting features compared to the Hero 4 Black, even though both can record 4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 120 fps and 720p at 240 fps, the Hero 5 won’t eat up all that memory card space compared to the Hero 4. Also with it’s new video stabilization feature, which can reduce the shakiness of your video. It also comes with more linear FOV, which removes the fish-eyed view of the camera. Both shoot in NTSC or PAL formats and both produce H.264 MP4 videos.

The Hero5 also adds three new options that can be useful:

  • manual exposure where you can set the shutter speed
  • a raw audio track option which creates a higher-quality WAV file
  • an auto mode option that lets you put it in a mode that reduces the effects of wind noise

Both models have an image size of 12MP (4000 x 3000 pixels) and can take similar images, but the Hero 5 can produce much more clearer images and can be seen when viewed at 100%. The Hero 5 comes with HDR, GoPro calls it WDR for Wide Dynamic Range and it aims to capture extra details in shadows and highlights. Another thing is; RAW image format. Shooting in RAW mode have pros and cons. The main reason why, is for the for better image quality. The downside of shooting in the GoPro’s RAW format is that the images need to process and convert to JPG before sharing.

Like the older models, the Hero 5 has the ability to take time lapse of images and video. The first is old way of shooting a sequence of images, downloading those images from the memory card, and bringing them together on your computer using a separate software. Like previous models, the available intervals are 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 seconds. You can also have the camera compile the video to create a time-lapse video. The new model adds a new option, and it’s a lower resolution which is 1080p. The reason for this, is it has been added is to make it easier to share the time-lapse video without dealing with the massive files from 2.7K or 4K video. With the smaller 1080p video it’s much quicker to take the footage from your camera, to your phone then upload straight to social media.

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The Hero 5 can also take external microphones, but  unlike the old model you’ll need the new USB-C mic adapter.

The battery life on the Hero 5 has improved and is using a higher capacity battery at (1220mAh vs. 1160mAh). With the new USB-C  port, the Hero 5 allows fast charging. There is a slight problem though, the new USB-C port isn’t USB 3.0 it still uses a USB 2.0 for data transferring. Which means, you can’t have that fast transferring speed. If you’re using an external microphone, you’ll need a new mic adapter. It also has a micro HDMI (Type D) socket to connect to a TV or display device.

There are a bunch of things that have also been tweaked and improved, which are:

It automatically detects which way is up.

You can turn off the LEDs selectively.

The longest auto-off setting is now 15 minutes rather than 5 minutes.

In the end, the GoPro Hero 5 can do what the previous models can do, but with a lot  more features and higher quality camera. As for now, the Hero 5 is still very limited to new accessories, unlike the Hero 4. Overtime though, that will change because of how advanced technology can become.

If you’re looking to buy a GoPro Hero 5, you can find them at various different websites and stores such as Amazon, Sport Chek, Best Buy etc.  with a price of: $530.00 CAD

– Carlos Jochico, Big City Lights

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Different Modes of Your Camera

Using a camera for the first time can be a little bit tricky. Especially if you’re using a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflect) with a numerous amount of buttons.

Let’s start with the basics:

 

This is the dial of most cameras, here you can find the different modes you can set your camera to.

 

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First, we have “AUTO” which stands for Automatic. For this mode, the camera works like a point and shoot, where all it’s settings automatically change themselves for the scenario that it is currently in. For example: when it’s too dark, the flash will come up, or the ISO might change, as well as the focus of the camera. Automatic mode is one of the simplest modes you can use, because it gets your camera ready for you. (however, if you desire to change these settings for your own liking, take better looking photos and use your camera to it’s full potential, you might want to consider the different Manual modes which are the modes represented with the other letters).

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Second, we have the “P” which stands for Program Mode / Programmable Mode. For this mode, the camera works similar to Automatic mode, where the Aperture and Shutter are on automatic, but you have more control over the other settings such as: ISO and Auto Focus (things that the automatic mode wouldn’t allow you to do)

 

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Third, we have the “S” which stands for Shutter Priority. For this mode, you have control over the Shutter speed. The Shutter speed is how long the shutter will stay open, which allows you to take a variety of pictures at certain speeds. For example: at a slow shutter speed(1/15); a spinning wheel will look blurry with a lot of movement. At a high shutter speed (1/1000); the spinning wheel will look like a still.
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Fourth, we have the “A” which stands for Aperture Priority. For this mode, you will have control over the how large the Aperture will be. The Aperture will control how much light will enter the camera and how blurry or sharp the background will be. The lower (wider) the aperture is (ƒ 1,4) , the more light will enter, and the more blurry the background will be. The higher (smaller) the aperture is (ƒ 32) the less light will enter, and the more clear the background will be.

 

 

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Lastly, but certainly not the least, we have the “M” which stands for Manual mode. For this mode, the camera will be on full manual which means you have total control over your camera’s settings. This mode is what we’d recommend you to start practicing on, because from that, you can learn from your mistakes. On Manual mode, you have complete control over the ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture (which we have touched upon earlier, but I will explain much more now). ISO is the sensitivity of your camera towards light, which means you would normally want to have your ISO at the lowest possible setting, because the higher the ISO, the more grainy your image will look. There will be cases where you would also have to increase it, depending on the conditions of where your shooting. Typically, when you’re indoors and there is not much natural light, or if you’re shooting with low light conditions, raising your ISO would be beneficial towards your image. ISO would usually start at 100 – 200, and would double. So from 200, the next will be 400, then 800, then 1,600 then, 3,200. These numbers mean how sensitive the sensor is to light, the higher the number the more sensitive it is. Next, we have Shutter Speed, the Shutter Speed is how long the shutter of your camera will stay open and let in light, this helps when taking images that have a lot of motion, with a high Shutter speed (1/1000) the shutter will not be open for too long, and a moving car would look still. With a slow Shutter speed (1/15) the shutter will stay open longer, and will make the moving car look blurry, as it is moving. Also what people use this feature for is light drawing. Have you seen those photos of people in the dark writing their names with light? Well a slow shutter speed is how that works. Next, we have Aperture, the Aperture is the how much light will enter your lens, thus creating various effects. Aperture is measured by ƒ stop. So having a low aperture ( ƒ 2 ) will give you a large opening, and let in more light, but will have a less depth of field, and will make the background of your photo more blurry. Having a high aperture ( ƒ 22 ) will give you a small opening, which gives you less light, but will have a greater depth of field, and will make the background more sharp.

 

Next, we have the different Automatic modes that are most commonly found on consumer level cameras:

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First, we have Portrait mode, which on the dial would look like a person with a hat. This mode is meant for photos with one main subject, because of this, the camera will mainly focus on that one subject, and usually make the background out of focus.

 

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Second, we have Macro mode, which on the dial would look like a flower. This mode is usually used for close up photos of flowers, insects, or anything that you’d want to look closely at. (But, depending on your lens, you might not have Macro capabilities, check your lens for this feature.)

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Third, we have Landscape mode, which on the dial would look like a mountain. This mode is used for landscape images; meaning mountains, rivers, trees, etc. (Wide angled images, a wide angled lens is preferred here, but not necessary.)

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Fourth, we have Action mode, which on the dial looks like a person running. This mode is used for fast paced images, for example: a marathon, a race, anything where there is a lot of movement and you want to take a still image of what is happening.

 

– Carlos Jochico, Big City

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Top 5 Event/Party Must Haves

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 Creating a good event can be tricky when your unsure of whats out there. The confusing language and abundance of options can be overwhelming for anyone  not in the industry.  On top of it all trying to get the right feel or atmosphere to your venue is the most difficult but the most important part to any good event. These 5 basic must haves can open your mind to the options and will take your party, corporate gathering, or wedding, to the next level.

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1 – DELUXE LED PARS

There many different lighting options for any event but LED PAR‘s made my list because of its versatility.  LED PARs are a narrow, powerful light that have a wide rang of different colours. These lights are great for creating a dramatic back drop of a stage, wall, or pillar but can also be a cheep substitute for any small stage lighting. In edition to just a solid colour you can have it on auto control mode that slowly changes colours and can even have it go to the beat of the music.  This means MORE options, LESS equipment and MORE money in your pocket.

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2 – Wall Washers

 Similar to the LED PAR lights the wall washer has the same versatility in colour and function. Unlike the LED PARs wall washers have a longer and softer beam, mainly used for atmospheric lighting.  When trying to create a glow of colour up the wall or bar table its a great way to turn a plain dull hall or event room to the party atmosphere you want.  We rent these lights, but they are also ON SALE for a limited time for purchase.

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3 – G3 Wireless Lav

Lighting isn’t everything that an event needs, even if its small speeches at a wedding or a presentation, you will need a way to speak to your guests. The G3 Wireless Lav is a great and simple way to do just that. This is a small clip on wireless mic that allows you to move freely in your space and no working about cables (FREEDOM) but every event is different and have different needs. This is a good mic for any one that will be speaking for longer periods of time not so much for quick and easy exchanges from one seeker to another.  However this mic has a great sound quality and will work well for any presentation or MP at a wedding.

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4 – Laser Lights

There are a few different kind of lasers but the most versatile would be the High Power Animation Laser. This high powered laser has hundreds of  different preset animations making it very easy to turn on and have a lighting show –perfect for the inexperienced.Also with just a little more effort it has so many ways for you to refine the animations to get exactly what your looking for.  Your typical laser will usually only come in red and green the Animation Laser has and additional white and blue light just giving the most options as possible, making it a great entertaining peace to add to your next event.

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5 – Fog Machines

Fog machines and lasers go to gather like cookies and milk, you can’t have one with out the other, so fog Machines made the list. An easy way to elevate your lasers from a simple/kinda cool basic light show to an amazing moody atmosphere and we all know that is all about the atmosphere.

If you are planning on renting one for your next event it may trigger more sensitive smoke alarms, so be sure to talk to your venue about it before hand.

If your looking for any of any of these products to rent, you can see our rental list HERE.

–Stephanie Bradshaw

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The Big City Ring Light in Action!

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The ring light in action, fashion photo by Clint Adam Smyth.

 

Hello everybody, today we here at Big City Lights are showing you an exceptional example of what you can produce using the Big City Ring Light. The image to the left was shot using the Big City Ring Light which only uses 65W of power yet puts out the tungsten equivalent of a 300W bulb, as you can see it can give you amazing visual effects starting with the even tone of light and appealing lack of shadows. When you look closely, you notice the reflection of the light shining off the models eyes which is also a great effect. The amazing power of this light and the way it’s used lets you show the viewers your subject in a very exciting and alluring manner. Besides the outstanding quality of our lighting equipment there’s something else we offer that might matter to you more than anything else… what’s that? An unbeatable price.

There are other lights out there such as Gekko Technologies George Light or Kino Flo’s Kamino Light which both admittedly have a dimmer on them, but they will charge you 5 – 10 times the price! We at Big City Lights understand your need for reliable, top class equipment and, we give you exactly that without burning a hole in your pocket.

The Big City Fluorescent Ring Light retails for $200 CDN, and can be purchased HERE

We also carry a dimable LED model for $350, and it can be purchased HERE