Bob Barford Photography: Blog en-us (C) Bob Barford Photography (Bob Barford Photography) Mon, 09 Jul 2018 01:03:00 GMT Mon, 09 Jul 2018 01:03:00 GMT Bob Barford Photography: Blog 119 120 Ropes Ropes

I was fortunate enough today to get a 1:1 tutorial on rope works. Rope work can be very artistic and there is definitely a niche that some photographers can focus on. Rope work (Shibari) can date all of the way back to ancient Japan (1700) where the Samurai would use rope to restrain prisoners. When done well it can contrast very well using knots and geometric patterns with the bodies own curves.

The instructor was very clear that the most important thing about rope works not lighting, knot perfection, but rather COMMUNICATION with the subject. The subject depends upon the person (rigger) knowing how to tie the knots, but the rigger depends on the subject to continuously communicate with the rigger about numbness, pain, weakness, or other signs that something may not be just right. There needs to be a mutual trust between the rigger and the subject or serious injury may occur as a result of the tying process or weight bearing once the rope has been tied.

Types of rope may vary, but hemp is very common. When it is tied properly it will not move or knots will not shift position once stress is placed on the tied body part. It typically is very strong and will not stretch or break when used properly. Similar to hemp is a rope called Jute. It photographs well and generally handles knots as well as hemp. 

Cotton rope is a natural fiber and can be died many colors. Unfortunately knots can compact very tightly and can be very difficult to untie which can be a problem in case of an emergency.

There are synthetic ropes (Polypropylene)  that come in a variety of colors and the webbing may spread pressure over a larger area of a limb. The problem lies in the fact that this rope may slip or knots may change position due to coating on the rope. This MAY make it unsuitable for hitches, and potentially problematic for your subject. A variation of this is Zenith all purpose rope, which can be very smooth and comfortable for the subject.  This type of rope may be more suitable for couples bondage but not recommended to anything weight bearing.

Whichever rope it used, there are proper methods of tying to avoid injuries to nerves, joints and muscles. A basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology is a must. Basic knot tying can be learned from a variety of sources including the following book

Knotty Boys from Amazon. However, it is best learned by actually attending a workshop with an experienced rigger so that you can ask questions and receive feedback relating to your knot techniques. 

-Bob Barford is a published photographer is Southern PA.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) knots rope ropework shibari Mon, 09 Jul 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Maternity in Nature Maternity Fashion in Nature

Recently I was found myself lucky enough to shoot a very active model and fellow photographer who was pregnant and still very active in modeling.  Maternity shoots can bring new dimensions to a portfolio as well as be very important to the woman as an important point in her life.

There are things to consider, like any concept, when planning this type of photoshoot, not the least of which is the model.  In most cases, the woman will be noticeably pregnant somewhere around 25-30 weeks along. At this point most, but not all, women are past the period where they are incredibly nauseated during the early stages of their maternity and yet it is not so strenuous to move as in the later stages. Obviously, there are no hard and fast rules with pregnancy and activity. Some women may need to be bed ridden through much of their pregnancy while others are fairly active right up to the point that they deliver. 

If you choose to shoot outside, ideally you will want a day that is not sub-zero if shooting during winter months, nor when shooting during the summer do you want a very hot and humid day. Like any model, the more comfortable the temperature the more comfortable the model will be and the better the final images will impress everyone.

Wardrobe can vary, but in these shots we chose a long white form fitting dress. Avoid anything too baggy since you want to easily be able to show the baby bump, and long free flowing dresses act just a little bit of grace to this concept. The off- the- shoulder look to this outfit was perfect in that the highlights (white) were focused where we wanted the viewer to look.  If the fabric has a little texture to it, so much the better. The model (or client for that matter) should be wearing comfortable shoes while walking and may choose to be barefoot for the posed shots. 

The model wanted shot of her walking though this wooded area. As with most maternity shots you subject can either be looking at her baby bump or supporting her abdomen with her hands. This was not necessarily a glamour shoot in which I was looking for just head and shoulder shots but full length shots added interest to the image when paired with the gown. This mixed with gentle shadows added a very natural and almost serene look to the images.

Of course, additional elements could be added to these images such as her husband if desired. His clothing would be rather casual and more subdued as compared to hers so as to keep the focus on maternity rather than a typical couples photoshoot. Even so, a gentle connections between husband and wife could be shown such as hand holding, the husband gently touching the baby bump, sitting together both looking at her expected child etc..  

A nature based fashion maternity shoot may be just what certain women may be looking for as they prepare for their newborn child.


-Bob Barford is a PA based portrait and glamour photographer.






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) fashion Maternity nature Photography Mon, 02 Jul 2018 12:37:14 GMT
Anatomy of Parachute Fashion Dress Anatomy of a Parachute Dress

A parachute fashion dress shoot can be a little complex to put together, however once you have all of the pieces, it can be very dramatic. What one needs to make it happen is the skirt (which is the parachute itself), the top of the dress, some helpers, a wide open space, as well as a little photoshop helps as well.


The skirt

The skirt (parachute) could be obtained from an army surplus store, or more readily Ebay. Searching for parachute will give you reliable results, whereas 'parachute dress' will often give you a variety of other styles of pre-made dresses. I choose green, which will be readily apparent is just a little bit, but white and even black parachutes are available. If you can obtain one without the strings attached, you will save time creating the final product. The parachute size will  vary from 35 feet in diameter to over 100 feet in diameter.

The parachute will come with a hole in the very center.  You will need to create a waistline for your model. Depending upon your preference, you may opt to create an elastic waistband, or a drawstring waistband. Be sure to reinforce which ever style that you choose so that the "dress" waist can be worn easily.


The Top

I opted for a full size corset. Corsets are not available as easily as I thought even through outlets such as Victoria Secrets. I turned to Amazon, and of course there was quite a variety. A corset gives a certain elegance to the creation and the waistline can be stuffed under the corset to made the dress appear as though it were one piece. Another option is a tank top camisole which could be worn alone on in conjunction with a corset. I chose to match the color (olive green) to the skirt for a more unified look to the outfit.

Location, light, & help

There are quite a few projects that a photographer can get by where it would be nice to have help, but it can be done with a just a model and a resourceful photographer. Depending upon the size of the parachute (mine with 118 ft in diameter), I really needed help. The extra set of hands is useful for lifting the ends of the dress so that air can get underneath of the dress to create the billowing look. While a model may be able to work a smaller parachute, it can be tricky to pose and fluff the dress at the same time. 

You will also want a wide open space, particularly as air gets under the parachute and lifts. Be careful of uneven surfaces as the model can easily trip or get wound up in the parachute and fall. If you can shoot later in the day as well, as the sun starts to set, you can get some interesting light behind the dress. It can be tricky to get enough light on the models torso, so another helper with a reflector may be a good idea. The dress will often move unpredictably, so be ready for anything.

Camera Settings

You will likely be shooting with a wide focal length (35 mm). Once the wind catches the dress, movement can often become unpredictable, so be ready for anything. You will probably want a shutter speed somewhere in the range of 1/125 to 1/250 sec depending upon lighting conditions and the aperture you choose. In most cases, you will want most of the dress in focus, so an  F-stop of F8 or better is a good idea. Larger apertures may work to blur the background, but you will also risk part of the dress being out of focus.

Your Model

Ideally, you model will want to make large movements with her arm and upper body. Once again, if the wind gets up underneath the dress, it may 'bury' your model in fabric, so be sure that there are not obstacles that she may fall over.

Post production

The nice thing about choosing a green dress, is that the color is VERY easy to change in photoshop. A few steps can lead to quite a variety of color creations.  

  • Make a selection around your subject with a tool of your preference (pen, polygonal lasso, ect..). You will notice with the model below, she has shoulder straps. To select everything would be VERY tedious, so I selected the dress and the model together. You may have refine your selection as I did since she was posing on grass.
  • Add a Hue/Saturation layer with the 'colorize' checkbox checked. Adjust the Hue and saturation sliders to your preference. In this case, I wanted a slightly purple dress. 
  • Using the mask that is added at the same time that you added the Hue/Saturation layer, paint BLACK over the body of the model as well as any areas that may have 'spilled' color where you did not want them.

Although there are certainly other ways to change the dress color, I find this technique the easiest with the best results.







Have fun with some very dramatic results!

Bob Barford is a published photographer is Southern Pennsylvania.






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) colors dress fashion parachute Photography Mon, 25 Jun 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Landscapes with a little twist  





Although typically I photograph people, I started my photographic career my photographing landscapes. The image to the left is a Cityscape of New York. The image itself is not bad, but certainly is similar to many others taken of the city. I thought, how could I make it just a little different? 

I stared by darkening down the sky just a little by using the gradient tool in lightroom. I took the sky down about 1.5 stops so that ideally it would not overpower the buildings in the lower portion of the image. This was a start, but what next?



I came down to the 'split-toning' portion of the lightroom panel and wanted to deepen the shadows. By clicking on the Shadows swatch block I was able to open up a color picker and chose a fairly dark blue.







I moved the saturation slider over quite a bit, and then finally settled on a saturation of 79%. Of course every image will be different and sliders can be moved to ones own artistic taste.  If I wanted to, I could always move the hue slider if I did not like to overall color in the the shadows. In this case, I did reduce the hue slightly since the images was a little too purple.




So, once again comparing the two images at the top of the post, they look very different from each other and very different from many of the images that were probably taken that day.  Think about color toning your Cityscapes next time you go out to get just a little more boost from the shots.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) color creative landscape photography toning Mon, 11 Jun 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Try something new..Neon? Something New?

Regardless of what genre of photographer (or model) you may be, sometimes it can be fun or inspirational just to try something new for a change. The project may not necessarily go into a portfolio if it is radically different from your 'brand', but it can lead you in creative directions that you may not have thought about in the past. 

In this example, think about Neon (blacklight) photography. Like any genre of photography, you will need a few things to make this work. For starters, the makeup can be found at many local costume stores in your local area. If not, one website that is a great resource is Silly Farm. This site not only has blacklight makeup, but also a variety of other makeup and props that you may find useful.

What about the lights? One thing you want to avoid is the very low power "poster lights" sometimes sold in novelty or party shops. These lights will not put out anywhere the amount of light that you will need to make this project successful. LED lights are typically much brighter and can be much less expensive that you may think. One portable model can be found here Twin blacklights , and will light up a fairly large area. You will need to place the lights fairly close to your model (12-18 inches) for the best effect.

The background is typically seamless paper, but could really be anything. You can be as creative and putting paint in a squeeze bottle and spraying different colors over the background, or you may want to actually draw figures. One possibility is this set of paints from Amazon Black light paints which come in a set and offer a wide variety of choices. A quick tip here is that you probably want to paint your background first so that the paint has a chance to try. Small spatters may not show up under normal light, but you could have paint tracked everywhere if your model is walking through wet paint

Camera setting can be a little extreme. In most cases you will be working with an ISO of around 2000 or even higher depending where the lights are located relative to your model.  A starting aperture may be 5.6, but again this will depend upon lighting. Try to keep your shutter speed at 1/60 sec. if you are hand holding your image to avoid blurry images. A tripod may be a good idea when shooting under these conditions. Needless to say, it will be better shooting in RAW during this type of photography. In post production, you may want to change the luminance or saturation in parts of your image. If you have difficulty focusing, try using the liveview function of your camera. In some cases, you may need to manually focus for the image to be sharp.

The model is a little limited in what he/she can wear. It is certainly possible to model is a tight form fitting body suit. Some models will work in bikini's, and others will model only with g-strings. This of course depends upon the models comfort level and expectations should be made very clear PRIOR to the shoot so no surprises or misunderstandings occur by anyone. Depending on lighting and camera settings, the model will need to hold very still for each exposure, unless of course plans include motion within the image. The paint can sometimes appear very dull and indistinct under normal room lighting, so sometimes it can be helpful to paint the model with the blacklight active. 

Genres tend to overlap in many areas, and by exploring an area that you may not have worked with in the past can lead you into directions that you may surprised that you find that you like!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) black light neon photography Mon, 04 Jun 2018 12:00:00 GMT
LR retouching Retouching in Lightroom?

Everyone knows there are many ways to accomplish similar things in Photoshop or Lightroom. In addition, there seems to an abundance of 3rd party plug-ins for both programs. Some of the plug-ins directly take advantage of features already built into Lightroom or Photoshop, others add a little twist to what is already there.

Although many people do not do extensive retouching in Lightroom, there are options that are available that not everyone takes advantage of to same valuable time as well as computer resources. Lets say, in the image to the left, you wanted to soften the moms skin, or you wanted to boost her eye color.  You probably would not want to apply a general clarity slider or saturation slider since this would affect the entire image. For example, in the case of the daughter, a decrease in clarity would be unnecessary and you may possibly loos detail that you want to preserve. 

The targeted adjustment brush would certainly be a good option, but can we automate the brush just a little to help our workflow? The answer is of course Yes we can.

If we open the develop module in Lightroom and select the targeted adjustment brush, we see an EFFECT choice just below (see white check). This opens up a whole new set of 'brush-presets' that can be helpful for your overall workflow.





There are quite a few presets for the brush, which include things like smoothing skin, whitening eyes, warming skin, and many more. Each of these presets adjusts sliders according to what it is intended to do for the image. For example, the smooth skin preset will decrease the clarity slider and you may now brush in a little smoother skin. Suppose the lips look a little pale..well just click on the lip booster and slide the adjustment brush across the lips.

Like any preset, you can of course adjust the slider to your personal preference. Nothing is ever carved in stone in Lightroom. If you do not like an effect, you can always move the slider, take a step back on the history panel, or even reset the entire image.


Take a look at this feature just prior to moving into Photoshop or opening a plug-in and you may be surprised at what you can accomplish quickly and easily.


Bob Barford is an award winning photographer in New Freedom , PA.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) adjustment brush lightroom presets retouch Mon, 28 May 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Portraits vs memorable images Portraits and Memorable Images

Recently I was fortunate enough to be involved in a themed mother/daughter photography event during which each mother and daughter wanted portrait shots. Well, there of course is the technical side of getting a well exposed image, good composition, posing, retouching etc... which certainly generates in most case a good image. It may even be an image that hangs in the wall of someones house. But the question is, is it really something taking up wall space, or is it really a memorable image? To get a really memorable image, in this case, of family members, ideally you want to show some connection and a little of their personality.



 These to images showcase a special relationship between the mom and her daughter. They had a close relationship and had fun with each other. Although the portrait above may certainly hang on the wall in a den or living room, the two are more likely to enjoy the lower two images with some interaction.  If the images were to be sold to this family, is is likely that the lower two would be included in the purchase. As it turns out, both mom and daughter were very pleased with the images and showcased them on social media. 



When taking a 'portrait shot' even if it is of a single subject, ask what the person's hobbies may be, special interests, where do they work etc.. Apart from the 'formal' shot, you subjects may be interested in some images that bring out their inner self into their photo and be much more 'excited' about the images. In turn, this could generate more return business and positive word of mouth marketing for the business photographer!


Bob Barford is a portrait photographer based in Southern PA





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) connections family fun portraits Mon, 21 May 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Balancing act with Equipment Balancing act with your Equipment

There seems to be no shortage of vendors trying to sell you different ways of carrying equipment. In photography there are shoulder bags that range in size from messenger bags to full sized bags able to carry several bodies and sports lens. Black packs and sling packs are also available that will support a compact mirrorless camera to packs that allow you to include extras including clothing and water bottles for a day hike.

Sometimes though, these are simply not enough. Suppose you want to transport your light stands or other other long equipment that may not fit into any shoulder bag or backpack. Even if a lightstand comes with a bag, what if you want to put TWO stands in the same bag. You could easily find yourself carrying support poles, large umbrellas, and lightstands loose which could be as tricky as hiking on loose rocks.

There are of course some solutions provided by photography vendors such as The bag pictured below from Newer. This is a 30" bag that has a convenient should strap as well as a side pocket to hold extras that you may need.





Some equipment though is much longer than 30" and some bags can get quite pricey. SO... how about looking within another industry for something. The bags pictured below are heavy duty bags from the music industry. This bags can be purchased padded, and often come with multiple compartments. Shoulder straps with these bags allow you to sling the bag over your shoulder and even carry it similar to a very long backpack. Bags such as these can range from 50-58", are heavy duty and comfortable to carry and even come at very reasonable prices.






What IF... you need something even longer? There is yet another solution that comes from the Skiing world. Bags such as that pictured below can be bought, even padded, and are typically very weather resistant in the event that you would run into a rainstorm while on location. Most of these bags are very well made and come in lengths as long as 78 inches with room to store multiple stands, umbrellas, or other very long equipment!





Each of the bags pictured above can be ordered from Amazon or of course directly from the dealer themselves. If you are not concerned about not having a 'photography' name on your bags these can be a very viable way to keep very long equipment together and make it much easier to transport. Need something longer than a ski bag...Think about a truck  :)

-Bob Barford is a photographer based in Southern PA.










]]> (Bob Barford Photography) bags outdoors photography Mon, 14 May 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Makeup Artist... yes or no? Should you hire a Makeup Artist (MUA)?

Most, if not all women are able to do basic makeup. Certainly if you are working with a professional model she should be versed in basic beauty makeup.  The real question is what are you shooting? Are you shooting a senior portrait? Are you shooting glamour or boudoir? Are you shooting for a magazine or professional portfolio for both you or your client?  If the answer the any of these questions is yes, then you should consider a professional make-up artist. Note here that I mentioned a professional make-up artist. There are quite a few people that will 'do' makeup for a client, but are not skilled enough to produce a polished final product. If you are looking for artistic makeup, a MUA is a must.

From a photographers standpoint, the MUA can serve as a second set of eyes on set. They can look for shiny skin, smudges, fly away hair. She can be a valuable member of your production team particularly if concept images go out to everyone at the same time. If you let the MUA know, for instance you are shooting with a particular type of lighting, or shooting with Gels, She can be certain the bring the appropriate makeup. Are you planning closeup glamour shots or are you planning casual lifestyle images with few if any close-up images. Are you shooting indoors? Outdoors? Is your subject going to very active during your shoot? 

A dedicated make-up artist can also serve as a second set of hands on the set. Moving props, holding reflectors, adjusting lights can be an incredible time saver for a MUA who is familiar with studio shooting.  She may even be able to help move equipment if shooting on location.

Let also be honest for a moment.  There is no shortage of models or clients concerned about their safety during the photoshoot. Social media is often flooded with comments related to "Guys with Camera's". Many photographers are reluctant to allow a 'escort' on set, but if the client or model is aware that a MUA will be on set, she will likely feel more comfortable. This is particularly true is the photographer is male and he is shooting lingerie or artistic nude images. A MUA on set can often serve as a safety net for the photographer as to what did (did not) happen and well as make physical adjustments to hair or wardrobe during the shoot.

Another point to consider is word of mouth relating to clients or models. If word gets around that you regularly work with a MUA, this is a great marketing tool since those shooting with you will know that they will look their very best.

OK, this does add production costs that either you or your client will have to pay. This may not be true ALL of the time. A makeup artist may like a particular concept of shoot, may be looking to break into a particular market like senior photography, or simply may be looking for someone to collaborate locally. Any or any of these factors may allow you to negotiate a rate with the MUA particularly if you shoot on a regular basis.  Keep in mind though that Makeup kits can be expensive, so don't expect too many trade shoots as she needs to cover her expenses like all others on the team.

Not sure where to find a makeup artist? Forums such as model mayhem have dedicated forum for makeup artists. If you are part of meetups or other social media groups, put out the word that you are looking to collaborate with a makeup artist and chances are good that you will get in touch with someone who will only elevate your art!


Makeup kit photo by Kinkate (Pexels)

Bob Barford is a portrait/glamour photographer is PA.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) collaboration creative makeup mua photography Mon, 07 May 2018 12:00:00 GMT
The Journey The Journey - Airport Tips

Staying with the organization theme from the last few posts, I thought I would share a few points about travel through airports for photographers, models, or really anyone in the industry.



  1. Does your airline allow for on-line check in?
    • ​​​​​​​If so this can be a great time saver, especially during peak travel times or popular destinations. If you are not checking much baggage, you can bypass the long line at the ticket counter if you have checked in at home prior to your trip to the airport.
  2. ​​​​​​​Keep control of your baggage
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This is almost a common sense tip, but no one wants their baggage stolen, or possibly worse yet, to be stopped at airport security with something illegal planted in your luggage!  It's easy to sit down for a minute once you arrive at the airport to gather things up prior to going through security, but be aware not everyone who flies the friendly skies is really that friendly!
  3. ​​​​​​​Travel light when possible but travel smart
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This is a common tip, but it REALLY matters. No matter what type of luggage you may have or how well you may have packed, walking around with 'extras' get very heavy. Even worse, dragging it through the rain can really put a damper on your day. Do you really need that large studio strobe? Is that large makeup case really that important?  By the same token, don't forget things like chargers for your electronic devices or even medications that you may need. 
    • I recently was able to go on a two day trip and placed a small backpack within a piece of carry on luggage allowed on an aircraft. This was a business trip so I really did not need many clothes, and the backpack really helped when I was not in meetings.
  4. ​​​​​​​Time zones
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Are you traveling between time zones when making flight connections? Be sure to update your watch of check your phone as you land at the airport.  You don't want to think you have just over an hour between flights only to find out that your connecting flight is leaving within the next 10 minutes!
  5. ​​​​​​​Logistics
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​If you are making connecting flights, one of the first things (after going to the restroom) I would advise is to find out immediately when your next departure gate is located. It may be a five minute walk or a 15 minute walk in larger airports. You certainly don't want to be running at the last minute to catch your connection while waiting in line at the airport Starbucks! 
    • Double check your departure time while at the gate. A good practice is to try to remember to check your departure time before you leave home the night before.  Airlines have been known to change things (or even cancel) with very little notice.
  6. ​​​​​​​All aircraft are not created equal
    • ​​​​​​​Just because you started your trip on a full sized commercial airliner does not mean that you will not end your trip on a smaller commuter aircraft.  Storage area is much smaller on commuter aircraft and what may be allowed on larger planes may mean that you have to check your carry on luggage on a connecting flight. If you have something very valuable, be sure that either you are carrying it in a smaller shoulder bag, or at least your carry on is well padded.
  7. Ground transportation
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​How are you getting to your final destination when your plane lands? Rental car, Taxi, Uber, public transport, or a friend? Think about this carefully and have a backup plan in case something unexpected happens. Recently I was fortunate enough to land at a airport that had a metro train leaving directly from the airport to just outside my hotel! The cost of the metro was about 10% what I would have paid for a taxi or even Uber. 
  8.  BE SAFE
  • ​​​​​​​It's nice to be able to travel with your nice new expensive camera with a long telephoto or it, or dress like a movie star when going out at night. But be aware that the world is not always a nice place. Large expensive cameras can be a target for thieves. Elaborate clothing can draw unwanted attention from others. Be very aware if traveling on public transportation, and consider traveling with companions if exploring the local area.




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) planning travel Mon, 30 Apr 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Getting Organized- Part 2 Getting Organized - Part 2

This is a follow-up from my post earlier this month that spoke about the many things that a photographer or anyone within the industry should consider when working either from the standpoint of a serious hobby through a full time profession Anatomy of an Event

Anyone in the photography industry often has many, many hats that he/she has to wear and it is very easy to get overwhelmed especially if working alone. There is help out there, some better than others in the form of software and services. One such product is called 17 hats.  This is a subscription based service that has many if not all of the tools that someone may need. I know that some shy away from subscription services (yes, I was running Photoshop CS6 long after Adobe when to the creative cloud). However, this service is certain worth looking at, especially since it offers a 17 day free trial.

17 Hats offers:

  • A contact list that lets you know what is happening by whom in the next week
  • A project list that let you know what stage each project including which are active and those complete.
  • A lead generation tracker than links directly to your website
  • Questionnaires  Allowing you to develop customized questionnaires online
  • Quote Templates  To send to perspective clients
  • Contracts  That offer E-signing without having to worry about faxes
  • Invoices  That can be sent to clients with reminders
  • Online Payment  That accepts credit cards and paypal
  • Bookkeeping  Which can especially important around tax time
  • Calendar A shareable calendar which synchs with Outlook or google calendar
  • To Do  A concise list or multiple lists of things to do
  • Time Tracking  How much time are you spending on certain projects- you may be suprised
  • Workflow lists  Recurring tasks are automated so you don't have to re-enter them
  • Email Templates Tired of retyping the same email again and again?
  • Email synch to Projects   Emails that you receive can be linked to certain projects


All of this included in a custom dashboard that displays highlights of what you need to know.  When pre-paid, the service is $200 per year which is about mid-range for such services. It certainly is worth taking the free trial to take a look at the service!

-Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) 17hats business organized Mon, 23 Apr 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Couples Recently I was Shutterfest (Highly recommended), which is a trade show for photography held annually in Missouri. Within the show they had many classes, demonstrations, and lectures, once of which involved a groom and a bride.  While instructor was discussing lighting and poses it seemed as though the models portraying the bride and groom were uncomfortable around each other regardless of the pose. There are any number of reasons for this, but one reason that may come to the forward is that they may have never worked together before.  Bride and groom pictures are often posed very close to each other with poses such as hands around the waist, touching each other faces, holding hands, etc..

This can be difficult for some models, both male and female. I have noticed an uncomfortable stance at different shoots as well. It can be difficult at times in simulated intimate poses when one person does not know the other person.

I would recommend for the best possible results for a couples shoot, bridal shoot, or really any shoot where two subjects may be in close contact with each other to have both models meet a least for a short time prior to the actual photoshoot. The photographer should develop a mood board and discuss what he/she has planned to the photoshoot. In the best of all worlds, actual couples should be used who are willing to be photographed. This will give the most genuine emotion and connection between the two people possible. A real life couple need not be professional models and they may appreciate images provided by the photographer after the photoshoot.

Just a quick thought for the next time a 'couples' shoot.


Image courtesy of Pinterest

Bob Barford is a published photographer out of Southern PA.



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) bridal couples photography Mon, 09 Apr 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Oh my lord.. I forgot! (Anatomy of an Event) EmotionEmotion Anatomy of an event

(or.. consider things things to avoid a REALLY bad day)


Unless you are working for a large studio, chances are there are many pieces of a photoshoot that you will need to take care of. This is true for the photographer, but also true in many respects for talent, such as models, vendors, make-up artists etc..

Lets assume an event is in the planning, and YOU are the person responsible for coordinating that event. How effective communication is (or is not) can drastically affect how well the event is perceived as being run by you. Depending upon what type of event, things to consider may include:

  • Start/end time:
    • Is there free time to shoot after the main event?
    • What time is talent expected to arrive?
    • What time is vendors (if any) to arrive?
    • What time is setup/tear down of any sets? 
  • What EXACTLY are participants going home with? Do you have a firm plan as how to deliver that? Backup plan? Are you VERY familiar with what you are offering in the event someone needs help? 
  • Parking: Where? Is there a charge? Do you have Valet?
  • Exact meeting place - Room number? Do you have a dressing area? Makeup area? Do you need signs if outdoors?
  • Contact info: Do you have everyone's phone and email info? Do you need to share that information with other people?
  • Social Media: What site(s) have you posted the event? Do you keep each site updated? Have you shared portfolio info of any talent?
  • Paid event: How are you keeping track of who has/not paid? Do you accept payment at the door? Do you have change if someone hands you a large bill?
  • Are you serving food? What if people have special dietary needs? Do you have a caterer? Backup plans?
  • What about props? Special lighting? Set design and setup? Deliveries? Extra supplies in the event a participant 'forgot'?
  • Are you providing any paper based information? Mailing time? Badges? 
  • Do you need security staff? Runners? Helpers? "Expert" resources for things that you may not be familiar with (eg. Camera settings for a Nikon camera if you are a Canon or Sony shooter).
  • What are your expectations of any talent? What do they go home with? If they are paid talent when, how, and under what conditions do they get paid?
  • Do you have appropriate permits and releases according to any regulations or laws?
  • What type of follow-up will you make after the event has finished for the day? With talent? With participants? Any others involved? 

Most of the bulleted topics above could be broken down even further depending upon what type of event is being held and who is actually coordinating it.  Although coordinating an event can be exhausting, it can also be very rewarding when everything falls correctly into place and most people are happy at the end of the day. If something does not go well, consider it a learning experience for the next event. 

I am including a form that some may find helpful when planning events here Event planner .  This is in Microsoft word format, so you may modify the form to meet your individual needs.


Bob Barford is a published award winning photographer based out of Southern PA.





]]> (Bob Barford Photography) events organizing planning Mon, 02 Apr 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Umbrellas Silver beadedSilver Beaded Umbrella









                     Beaded silver                             Mat Silver                         White Bl. backing                               Translucent refl.                 Translucent Shootthru                             

Umbrellas are still very common is photography studios, and they come is a vast variety of styles and sizes. A question that I recently asked myself is what impact would different styles of umbrellas have on an image. I set up single strobe kept it at the same power throughout the test. My camera settings were the same, as was my relative camera position. The umbrellas were 33" umbrellas during this test. 

The styles I tested were:

  1. Beaded silver 
  2. Mat silver with a black backing
  3. White umbrella with black backing
  4. Translucent white umbrella used as a reflector
  5. Translucent white umbrella used as a shoot through

The mat silver seemed to produce the highest level of specular highlights in this test; the beaded silver to a much less extent. Interestingly enough, the white backed umbrella caused a slight color shift. The translucent umbrella used as a reflector was the darkest, yet captured most of the actual tone of the image and still stayed within acceptable exposure range according to the on camera histogram.

As you can see, there are some subtle and not so subtle differences between each umbrella. In a real life situation of course, power and camera settings would be adjusted to provide the best results. Which is 'better' is really a subjective response depending upon what the actual purpose of the shoot may be intended to produce.

Umbrellas are probably here to stay, even though photography vendors are marketing an expanding variety of light modifiers. Umbrellas are relatively inexpensive, travel well when folded down, and setup quickly. Strobes and even speedlight stands continue to have slots to position these modifiers. In addition to those tested above, a variety of shapes and sizes are available for most styles. Shoot through umbrellas can often be close to your subject if you like the soft wrap around lighting for many female subjects.

Umbrellas can be purchased up to 7 feet in diameter, which would be ideal for group shots. A softbox of that size would be VERY expensive.  Softboxes tend to be a little more focused with the light that they produce, especially when used with a fabric grid. Of course softboxes take longer to setup, and in some cases can be difficult to assemble correctly. When used outside the umbrella almost always needs to be weighted down since even a gentle breeze will often send it tipping over. 

In the end, the choice is yours and your creative concepts!

Bob Barford is a published photographer out of Southern PA



]]> (Bob Barford Photography) umbrellas Mon, 26 Mar 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Original Themes in Cities




Many people will say that there are no more original themes anymore in images, this may or may not be true, but when making your images it's a good idea to think about how can I make this image better or more original? This may be from an unusual angle or location as you frame your shot. If many photographers are huddled in one spot, well that means that each photographer will likely get a similar picture depending upon the actual camera settings.

I recently visited New York City, and it is fair to say that likely millions of images have probably be taken of the city over many years from many different positions. Photographers have certainly made color graded images, black and white images, abstract images, close up of buildings, etc.. as well as many other possibilities. So when taking many images of the city I ventured up to the 86th floor of the Empire State building. Of course there were many people with cameras, and no doubt that thousands of images have been made of the city from this location.

So I happened to notice that pigeons were flapping around the observation deck. I started to think what what about the birds view of the city. So, patiently I waited until one of the fine feathered friends landed at a spot that I had picked out which just happened to be a corner ledge. It almost seemed like the bird knew what I had in mind since he (or she) ventured near the corner of the ledge and looked down, and then looked at me as if to say, did you get the picture.

I had chosen a high DOF for this image (f22) hoping to get as much of the image including the bird in focus as possible. Obviously is was a little tricky getting a good exposure since the bird was dark colored against the brighter sky. Fortunately within light room by adjusting shadows slightly and toning down highlights, I was able to get details including the birds eye well exposed within the image. 

The next cityscape or landscape that you make, look for unusual props or actors that will bring a new light to your image. You may be as lucky as I was and have a cooperative bit of wildlife or bird stop by for a photo opportunity.


Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) cityscape original perspective Mon, 19 Mar 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Compelling B&W images

Despite the popularity of vibrant colors from even home printers, black and white images still are popular among many people. The B&W aspect of an image brings out a feel of traditional artwork dating back toward the beginning of photography. Black and White images often evoke emotion from a viewer that is not always possible when processed in color.

Since  these days, I photograph people more often than other subjects, I will focus primarily on getting some good results when shooting people. Some principles to other forms of photography can certain apply.

In most cases, we are looking for a high contrast image. This means that a dedicated, directional source of light is ideal. Shooting people with natural light coming from a large window on an overcast day will probably not bring forth your best results.  Also shooting with an umbrella will 'probably' have light so scattered that it will be difficult to control the direction of the light.

LightingSetupLightingSetupUse this to share your lighting setup or to document your setup for future reference. Email me at kevin@kertzdesign for comments and/or suggestions. Not for commercial use. In many cases, a strobe with a reflector focusing the beam of light can be used quite effectively as in the diagram. A strip light with a grid can also be used effectively. In the top image, a strobe was placed camera right. Most black and white images are defined by areas of brightness and darkness (contrast). Since little to no light is hitting the model in the top image, there is a relatively clear border between the lightest portion of the image and the darkest portions.  Since the wall behind the model was relatively dark itself, her back falls into nearly full shadow where her face and upper body appear relatively very bright.

The transition between darkness to light will also depend upon the size of the strobe and distance from the subject. Smaller light sources will create a much harsher contrast. Also, moving the light 4-5 feet away from the model will also increase contrast, whereas bringing it in close will result in a very quick fall off of light as it hits whatever may be behind her. Experimentation is often the best route here to decide how close to place the light source to the model.

Also important, when shooting people, position of the shadows and camera angle is important. Positioning the camera approximately in line with her shoulder allowed for capture of the 'contrast' line and curves highlight the pose. In most cases, camera crop will be fairly close to the model depending upon the purpose of the image.

In post production, your friends in Lightroom will be your shadows and highlight sliders. In Photoshop, levels and curves can be very useful in pinpointing exactly what areas that you want in shadow and how deep you want the blacks. Some photographers prefer texture to the skin, and will actually add grain (noise) to the image. Other photographers will reduce the clarity slider in lightroom (or use a small amount of blur) to create a much different look to the final image. In the end, the choice is up to your creative spirit!




]]> (Bob Barford Photography) b&w images Mon, 12 Mar 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Skin Tones Have you every taken a set of images where the skin tone just does not look right to you?  Your white balance could be off for a number of reasons including improper camera settings or mixed lighting (strobe/daylight/colored gels).  Ok, so you forgot your color checker, or did not perform a custom white balance, it happens to almost everyone. The question is though... is the appearance of the skin really off? Is your monitor calibrated? Are you trying to edit at 3 a.m. in the morning? 

Checking your monitor calibration with one of the tools such as the Datacolor Spyder  or Colormunki  is always a good idea, especially if you print images on a regular basis.  There is great info on both products within the links that I have provided above. Lets assume though that your have already have performed your monthly monitor calibration.

Within Photoshop, you can gain some quick as important info using the eye dropper tool.  The steps are pretty easy. 

  • Open the info panel in photoshop
  • Place the eyedropper tool over what appears to be a well exposed area of the skin. Do not sample an obviously a under or overexposed portion of the skin.
  • Now look at the CMYK portion (checked above) the info panel.

In almost every case, the %yellow should not fall below the % magenta. Most Caucasian skin will fall 5-20% more yellow than magenta. The more bronze the skin (as tanned) the person may be, the higher yellow and magenta will be in terms of percentage. For example, A fair skinned Caucasian may have 25% yellow and 20% magenta, whereas a very tanned person may have 62% yellow and 45% magenta. 

The same technique may be applied to looking at skin tones in other cultures. African-American skin tones are fairly close together when looking at the yellow-magenta percentages.  Asian and Hispanic skin will typically have 10-20% more yellow than magenta.

Well, what can you do about it? 

  • You can try to sample a near grey or white portion of the image with the eye dropper to color correct.
  • You can open up a Hue/Saturation layer, choose magenta, and reduce the hue, saturation, or lightness; or boost yellow

  • You could try selective color (a little less precise)
  • You could try a photo filter

​​​​​​​As with most operations in Photoshop, there are of course other options. As you might imagine though this can get rather tedious particularly if you have shot hundreds or even thousands of images.  A good rule of thumb is to be sure to take a good look at what lighting conditions are (or might be) around you and make appropriate adjustments while you are shooting.

-Bob Barford is a published photographer is Southern PA.






]]> (Bob Barford Photography) color balance photography photoshop skin tones Mon, 05 Mar 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Matching colors to a near monotone scene There are certainly many ways in Photoshop to edit and match colors within a scene, but here is a quick tip that will work with primarily monochrome scenes such as the one displayed above. The mermaid was shot in a studio setting and then composite the image into the coral scenery. The overall cast of the scene is sort of a hazy blue with some of the corel being slightly darker.  Obviously we want to at least match the mermaid to her surroundings as close as possible.

There are numerous tutorials on compositing, and I have discussed different techniques in the past such as using greenscreen or even shooting on a grey background. For this quick tip, lets assume that you have your subject placed and sized appropriately on the background with at least an appoximate brightness that you desire. Now take your "eye dropper' tool, and sample a clean area in the background. In the image above, I sampled away from the corel in the top portion of the image to get a 'True blue" sample.

Now, take a VERY large paint brush, set to a opacity of 20% or less. This setting may be slightly more or less depending upon your image. Paint over the entire image. You may have to take more than one pass over the entire image to help with the process.  What you should find is the tone of the image including your composited portion now shares a similar appearance. 

Will this technique work for every image, certainly not images that have a lot of vibrant colors. Again this technique is one way you may get a composited monochrome image to look a little more natural. Other tools within photoshop that may help include the 'blend-if" functions, hue/saturation layers as well as using trying the 'color match' feature of photoshop. Photoshop has a myriad of tools, and almost certainly one will work for you.


Bob Barford is a photographer located in Sourthern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) color composites matching photography Mon, 26 Feb 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Do you capture the character of your character? Many photographers go to conventions, comic-cons, or similar events and make images of the participants. Some outfits are very elaborate, and some of the participants REALLY get into their character. So the question that may occur to you is who is the character? Not just what the costume represents, but what makes the character special enough that someone may want to model that outfit. If you understand that, chances are you will really come out with some outstanding images. 

For example, Catwoman (above) has endured in the Batman world for many years. The costume is certainly very well done, and the participant may even want images of the entire costume not already taken by a camera phone. The way the costume fits and is designed may give you ideas for future concepts. But clearly there is much more to Catwoman that just the outfit. From the almost tame nature of the cat to the more aggressive and dominant characteristics that has made Catwoman famous within the Batman world.

Conventions are often very crowded with very little room at times, not to mention most participants may not want to spend hours posing for pictures. If you as a photographer, like a character, it may help if you spend a little time with the con-goer to find out about not only the character being played, by what makes the character special to the person who is modeling the outfit. 

One you have this rapport, you may get dynamic images that you thought may not have even been possible!


-Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA.

]]> (Bob Barford Photography) characters conventions photography rapport role play Mon, 19 Feb 2018 13:00:00 GMT
Trigger and strobeproblems at events? Many photographers will go to events where photography is promoted and studio strobes are commonly used for lighting. At times, even professionals will participate in general meetups to network with local photographers, models, and others who will frequently provide important contacts.

There are certainly many triggers on the market from manufacturers including Pocketwizard, Paul C. Buff, Phottix, as well as other well known brands. In general, signals from one manufacturer 'should' not interfere with signals from another manufacturer's units. But what happens when you press the shutter button and the strobe does not fire, resulting in a radically underexposed or totally black image?

Think about a couple things:

  1. How fresh are your batteries? Remember that even if you have only shot with the batteries once of twice, voltage drops over time even with batteries sitting in your camera bag.  What type of batteries are you using? Purchasing 1000 no-name batteries in a plain brown wrapper may not be the best investment. The power setting on the strobe will also affect how long a battery may last. It's not a bad idea to periodically check the voltage in your battery supply, and when they start to get weak toss them. One last note, most batteries WILL leak if left in a device for long enough. Don't risk ruining an expensive piece of equipment.
  2. Are several people at the event using the same style transmitter on the same channel?  Try picking an unusual channel like channel 6 or 7.  One hint that people may be on the same channel may be that your strobe is firing when you are not taking pictures (there are other reasons, for this of course).
  3. Are people close to you on the same channel and pushing the shutter at the same time (or close) to what you may be shooting? This is like two people talking at the same time- signal collisions may cause mis-fires.
  4. Strobes need to re-charge their capacitors after being fired. If you are pressing your shutter button more frequently than once per second, the strobe may not have had time to recharge. The higher the power setting on the strobe, the longer the recharge time.
  5. Is the optical slave turned on? In this case, it really does not matter which manufacture of transmitter you or another may be using, if the optical slave is turned on the strobe will likely fire in response to another strobe in the area. Keep in mind that your strobe may be firing from a REFLECTION off a wall from another strobe. This will affect recharge time and possibly prevent your strobe from firing at the moment you want it to.  If you do not need the optical slave, turn it off (or cover it).
  6. What condition is the trigger in? If you are borrowing it, it could have been dropped or abused in some way. There are several inexpensive triggers on the market for the casual photographer such as this time Strobe trigger  .

It can be frustrating missing that one great shot, but perhaps with a little planning it may not happen too often!

Bob Barford is a published photographer out of Southern PA.


]]> (Bob Barford Photography) lighting meetups strobes triggers Mon, 12 Feb 2018 13:00:00 GMT