Bob Barford Photography: Blog en-us (C) Bob Barford Photography [email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Mon, 19 Jun 2023 11:15:00 GMT Mon, 19 Jun 2023 11:15:00 GMT Bob Barford Photography: Blog 119 120 Cyber-Weight and Big Rocks Cyber Weight and Big Rocks

Recently I was in my backyard and found some sizable rocks that needed to be moved. They had partially sunk into the ground after several years and needed to be dug free. Finally dead lifting rocks, even 50 -80 lbs rocks was not an easy task. These rocks were taking up valuable space and I had to ask myself were they decorative? If not, why were they still there?

Files created in Photoshop can grown to enormous sizes with layers, and composited images within the main image. The Cyber-weight of these images in some cases were over 500 Megabytes. These were high resolution files with large dimensions. During the editing process, I initially was not too concerned over the size of the files since I had plenty of storage space on my external drive. However, I did notice that it took longer to open these files and then save them when compared to my normal working files of 20-25 megabytes. If we were to compare this to the real world, this is like lifting those large rocks from the ground in my garden.

Depending on your computer, this can place a significant strain on the processor and graphics card. I have a reasonably powerful editing computer, but did notice some lags and even a freeze at one point since I was importing files from Lightroom which was still open.

When looking at the files, I had to consider how I was going to use them now, and reasonably in the future. Was I going to print the files? Did I really need all of those layers (in fact, most files only had 5 layers)?  Did the large files need to be submitted to a client?  

In the end, I decided to reduce the file dimensions on many of the files and even merge layers in several files. The space savings was not only incredible, but the speed at which the computer handled those files was increased dramatically. Many of the files that were so large were primarily for social media, so I had to ask myself why keep giant boulder files on my drive.

It seems reasonable to consider the Cyber-Weight of the files on your storage systems in relation to what you plan to do with the files. If unsure, certainly keep them as they are understanding that your computer may strain when processing those images. Are you sending a 200 megabyte file to someone who has a wimpy computer?  Many contests and even magazines have limits on the size of files that you can send them.  Of course, if you have a work in progress you certainly want to save your work with layers intact and at a higher resolution. 


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) cyber education layers Photography resolution size Mon, 26 Jun 2023 11:15:00 GMT
Smile- Really? HappyHappy Smile- Really?

I recently saw a post in social media concerning photographers asking models to smile. The model posting was a little critical in that she said that it is hard for her to Smile on Command and make it seem like it is a genuine smile. While smiles certainly may not be appropriate or desired in all images, photographers may occasionally want to see some level of emotion within their subjects.

This can be difficult, especially if the photographer is not very engaging in the first place.  In addition, if this is the first time a model and photographer are working together, things may not always flow smoothly. One photographer who does seem to get reactions from his clients is  Peter Hurley, who is well known for his expertise in getting the perfect headshot. One of his Videos is shown through the link.

Some of his catch phrases that he may say to his client may be:

  • Give me a look like you are impersonating a cabbage
  • Pivot, rotate, and bend simultaneously 
  • Flare your right nostril slightly

Of course most of his phrases are a little silly, and of course it depends on the client, setting, and of course his delivery.  Another phrase may be " Image your best friend has just walked in the door..."

Some of these phrases help ease the nervous nature of the photoshoot, especially if a client has does not like being photographed or has never been in front of a camera before.  The downside may be that a particular phrase may throw off the entire flow of the shoot so there is a timing and delivery can be important to get a positive reaction. While some people can bring a subject to easy very quickly, other times it can be very tricky.  Some shoots such as executive headshots must be done very quickly and efficiently especially with busy schedules. 

Every photoshoot certainly does not demand a smile, but it can be helpful to know how to put a client at ease and get a little emotion when the concept may benefit from at least a little smile.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Smile Mon, 19 Jun 2023 12:00:00 GMT
Generative Fill, a work in progress Generative Fill, a work in progress

The above image was one that I made a few years back, and after despite an initial thought, the multicolored wall just did not match the mood that I was going for in the image. Despite various techniques with radial spotlighting, burning, cropping the background still seemed distracting to the theme. Now of course I did have options.

I could have:

  • Found a better background (my collection or downloaded)
  • Imported into the main image
  • Made and appropriate selection, possibly including layer mask work
  • Adjusted the opacity to block out the colors and candles along the wall
  • Blended it to match general tone and lighting

So, in my case, these actions would have taken at least 30 minutes if not longer. Considering I had multiple poses for my subject, the editing time could have increased significantly.  

Advantages are:

  • I would have likely used the same background that I liked for all images
  • I likely would have had a series of steps with lighting and blending that would work with most of the imagesdis


  • Time consuming, especially if I had a large number of files to edit
  • Probably at least slightly inconsistent between images


The second image was created with Generative fill in photoshop. 

  • I made a selection around the background
  • Told Photoshop that I wanted a stone wall in the dialog box.



  • Trimmed my editing time by 75%
  • Had several options for stone walls to pick from with blending, lighting, and masking complete


  • Wall style not immediately replicated between images
  • Some very strange options were offered


Generative fill looks to have a good start with options that will help most photographers and certainly can be a time saver. It is still in the beta release and hopefully will be even more refined when it is released in its final version.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) AI creative generative fill Photography Photoshop Mon, 05 Jun 2023 14:57:01 GMT
Stand out or blend in? Stand out or Blend in?

Most photographers want their subjects to stand out from the background, to achieve some depth or interest. This involves a sometimes complex arrangement involving lighting ratios, distance from subject, size of the modifier, and type of modifier. Of the two images above, most would agree that the darker background gives the subject a little more depth and possibly more interest. The subject clearly stands out a little more in the second image compared to the first image. The second image even appear a little warmer than the first image.

The images above were taken with a single light, a medium softbox. Such lighting effects can be accomplished by moving the light a little closer to the subject and allowing light to fall off a bit quicker (inverse square law). A small adjustment (1/2 stop) on the lighting created an different look for this subject. Of course a second softbox or even a reflector could have been added to the rear of the model to soften some of the shadows, with lighting ratios possibly at 1:2 (second light on a lesser power).

But sometimes we may want the subject to blend a little more into the background such as:

It would be difficult to achieve this effect with a single light without significant post processing. This high key image with a pure white background was accomplished with two large umbrellas pointed at the background with an additional large umbrella lighting the subject. Lighting ratio's were close to 1:1 and adjusted to give the subjects skin a very pale look. Very minimal shadows appear even on the skin of the subject. The larger umbrella lighting the subject was several feet away from the subject to achieve a high key effect.

We may want to blend the subject into the background to create yet another look. In this case the model was surrounded by black to absorb as much light as possible, and the single strobe was fitted with a 10% grid to focus light onto the subject. Here much of her body tends to blend in with the darker background.


Depending upon the look and feel of the image, the choice to separate the subject from the background can give a very different feel to the image.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) light Mon, 29 May 2023 12:00:00 GMT
What about the floor? CuriousCurious What about the Floor (or surface)?

Photographers often invest in a variety of things such as new cameras, lenses, backdrops, props, wardrobe etc., but sometimes when it comes to taking the actual image, the surface or floor that a person can be standing on may not be just right for the concept or even distracting. Composites that look realistic can be time consuming especially when it comes to looking at reflections or shadows. Even studio's may be limiting.

I recently watched a location photographer who wanted a white reflective floor for his model drag in (literally) large plexiglass squares and then take the time to carefully clean off each square.  He probably was used to transporting and caring for each of the 6 squares that he was carefully putting into place, but obviously it was a very labor intensive process. In addition, transporting them in his vehicle obviously took up quite a bit of space, and these products can be very expensive.

There are alternatives that can make life just a little easier.  Amazon (as well as other retailers) sell roller material such as this product for a variety of purposes. The link points to a product specifically for photography, but various companies also sell similar material for applications such as greenhouses.  Some of the material is mylar based, while other material may be PVC. One may purchase rolls in white, silver, or black reflective material. They are available in a variety of width and lengths depending upon the application.  A product photographer may only require a small roll, white a portrait photographer may require a larger quantity. Size and ease of transport are clear advantages, but these rolls are often much more cost effective than larger plexiglass grids.  

The Plexiglass rolls can be a challenge to keep flat, but rolling the product in the opposite direction of the natural roll can often flatten out the bulge. Strategic use of gaffers tape can also help keep the product flat on the ground.  While some may consider the mylar silver rescue blankets as an option, it can be nearly impossible to completely get rid of the folds.

Suppose though that you want the hardwood floor look? Although there are certainly rolls of floor mat that one could purchase from a photo equipment vendor such as Kate, this too can become expensive and still may be prone to bunching up for those using it for photographing people.  One could go to a home supply store and purchase a single package of wood panels (5" x 4 ft) that could be used quite effectively. One could purchase a variety of looks, often for less than the cost of a single mat.


These could be viable options for either the product photographer or portrait photographer in many cases!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) education floor photography Mon, 22 May 2023 12:00:00 GMT
photopea SecretSecret Photopea

There are many photo and graphics editing programs available both commercially and some actually free. They range from very simple to more complex and many online editors offer very limited access unless you pay a premium fee. I recently discovered an online app that offers a photoshop like interface which at least for now is free

Photopea runs completely in your device such as desktop, tablets, or even a phone. It does not require that you upload any files to the cloud, and in fact you can load Photopea and then disconnect from the internet and continue to use the app which makes it unique in many ways.

The opening screen allows you to select a variety of templates or document sizes, or upload a image from your computer to work on. The App does support layers, much like Photoshop and other image editors. The interesting aspect of this editor is that it allows you to upload vector formats such as from Corel Draw, illustrator, or work with typical JPG files or PSD files. If you upload a vector file you will notice that it will load the file into layers depending upon how the file was originally created. You can turn on/off each layer much in the same way you may work with Photoshop.

The menus in Photopea have many of the choices that one may recognize from Photoshop and other editing programs, but certainly not all. Even so, it seems to be a feature rich program that will satisfy the needs of many of those who may be looking for options when it comes to editing images.

Photopea has a on line help file that guides you through many of the functions that the App offers and is supported in a Reddit forum for those who may have additional questions and need support. It will even allow you to create sized images that are common in various social media formats. One can even batch convert images from one format to another.

Photopea in its free form is commecial supported, but for $5 per month (non-subscription), you can have the commercials removed and have access to a storage vault.


Photopea is certainly worth taking a look at, and you may be surprised relying on it more that you may expect.








[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Photopea Mon, 15 May 2023 12:00:00 GMT
Blur Background in LR? Blur Background in Lightroom?

Photographers typically want to get everything right in camera, but the reality is that sometimes conditions are not right, sometimes camera settings are not quite right, and sometimes during post production, a photographer may think, what if it looked like (insert idea) here. Blurring background can be done using a few different techniques in photoshop, including the beta release of blur background in neural filters. What if we wanted to stay in Lightroom for this effect?

Lightroom does not (yet) have a blur background feature, but you can simulate the effect in Lightroom. If we take an image such as above and mask the background (If you have not used masks in Lightroom yet, there are many Youtube tutorials to describe the process.

Once the background is selected, move the texture slider to the left, and the will notice the definition of the background becoming less sharp. Depending on the image, reducing the sharpening or even the contrast may help as well. 

While this is certainly not a true depth of field effect, it can soften the details in the background enough in many cases to make the photo a little more interesting and bring attention to your subject. I have found that a gentle use of this slider often gives the best results. You may be able to subtract some of the effect with a brush if you choose to do so.


While this effect will not give you the gradual blurring as with some techniques in photoshop, it may be worth trying for certain images that you post to social media.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) blur lightroom Mon, 08 May 2023 12:00:00 GMT
Theft SuspiciousSuspicious Theft

I have been fortunate enough never to have anything stolen from me, despite the fact that I have attended some events in questionable venues. I watched a video of a photographer who had quite a bit of equipment with him have a lens stolen directly off of his camera while other people distracted him. It is very easy to have thousands of dollars worth of equipment within a single camera bag. Possibly even worse is to have memory cards stolen along with the camera and lenses. Here are some suggestions that may help.

(Image courtesy of Deamstine) 

  • Don't make yourself a target, especially in unfamiliar areas. Remain alert to things and people around you. There are many very capable compact cameras, even if you have to rent, so do you really to be carrying every lens and camera that you own? Sadly, the more expensive your camera gear looks at certain venues the more likely it is to attract unwanted attention.


  • Keep you hand on you camera and lens especially when moving through crowded areas. This of course does two things. First, it keeps your expensive lens from swinging into a pole or some other object that could damage it. Second, a camera strap can be cut quickly and the thief can vanish into the crowd with much of a problem.


  • Once you fill up a memory card, keep it on your person instead of putting into a bag. If the bag is stolen, there goes your work. If on a trip, back up your memory card once you return to your hotel or room.


  • Make a note of the serial number of your lenses and camera(s) at home and possibly with you when visiting a place distant from your home or studio. You may have registered your camera and lenses when you purchased them.


  • Photograph lenses, cameras, lightstands and any thing else that you may feel that is important. If it comes down to a police report, this info will be important in identifying the equipment that you own. Telling an officer that you have a [insert name brand] may not be helpful if 10 other photographers have the same brand. Put your card or name in a each bag that you may have. If the police or others recover a bag very quickly and open it up to find your business card, ownership is essentially proven.


  • Make it known that you are looking for your equipment. This is especially important if you are at an indoor event. Announcing that you are looking for [....] may get many eyes looking around and could make a potential thief consider it may not be worth it to have your property in their possession. If you are carrying a bag or backpack, put something VERY distinctive on the bag to make it easy to identify.


  • Photo equipment can be heavy, but be very careful sitting something down even for a minute to get that special shot. Things can vanish quickly. Small battery powered pressure or lanyard alarms are available that emit a shrill piercing sound if violated.


  • Consider insuring your equipment. Agencies such as the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) have policies as part of their membership.


Hopefully you will never have anything stolen, but it is always a good idea to be prepared just in case.






[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Stolen thief Mon, 01 May 2023 12:00:00 GMT
Lightroom Denoise

LightRoom Denoise

Some of the updates that Adobe introduces work well, so not so much depending upon which photo you intend to use. As Adobe continues to keep a competitive edge, it has recently introduced a automatic denoise feature to Lightroom in addition to the manual denoise feature that has been present for many years. I decided to give it a try with one of my more difficult images.

The above images were taken in a dark underground cavern tour where flash photography was not permitted. Halogen lights for the most part lit a dim pathway as a tour guide lead us through different parts of the cavern.  The rockfaces and Stalagmites were interesting, but somewhat difficult to photograph with much detail. The image on the left was photographed with an open aperture  of 4, 1/60 sec, and ISO of 12,800.  Perhaps with a private tour I could have come up with some other alternatives but such was not the case.

Bringing the images back to my home computer, the left image was as processed with curves lighting shadows but as one might expect going too far even with these methods lead to really nasty color noise (red primarily) and even softening of the image. Of course there are other software packages outside of photoshop and Lightroom that, at least at that time, I did not have access to in an attempt to further improve the image.

I decided to try the AI denoise feature in Lightroom. This feature renders a DNG file from your original image and may take a minute since it seems to process the information in the cloud. The Denoise feature has not worked on all images, and Lightroom will let you know which images it can not process. In this case however, it did a reasonably good job at reducing the noise level and allowing me to open up shadows just a little bit more while maintaining detail. The quality was certainly not good enough to blow the image up to a 30 x 40 inch tack sharp wall print, but that was not what was not my goal.


The new AI denoise feature may be helpful with at least some of the images that you may have had difficulty with in the past.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Denoise Noise Mon, 24 Apr 2023 12:00:00 GMT
An Afterthought? CuriousCurious An Afterthought...!

Most photographers try to plan their concepts out in detail for quite a few reasons. It could be time, it could be financial, or it could be as simple as not wanting to look inept in front of a client.  In any case, there always seems to be something that could be just a little bit better.  In some cases, like this example, a photo conference had some models posing with some basic sets and lighting.

OK, the subject is reasonably well lit, and has sort of a dramatic look about him.  But what if you wanted a few different looks with this subject, perhaps with a little more separation from the background? That may be your vision, but perhaps not the 10 other people in line wanting to make a pic of this subject. Once you get home there is a pretty quick and easy way to get a little separation only using Lightroom (or camera raw in photoshop).

Grab your radial gradient tool and increase the exposure by quite a bit. We now have a separation light on the background, but the subject's face is very overexposed.

With the radial mask still selected, Choose Subtract...subject.

The subject is now subtracted from the mask, and the separation light still remains behind him. You still increase or decrease the luminosity of the light, or even change the color of the light behind him if you wish. While this may not be as ideal as if a strobe was actually in place, a little experimentation with this technique can go a long way. Give it a try the next time you want just a little extra in one of your images.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) ACR creative education Light lightroom photography Photoshop Mon, 17 Apr 2023 12:00:00 GMT
Going according to Plan? Is Everything Going According to Plan?

Many times the photographer will be concentrating on the focus, composition, props, lighting, during a photoshoot. The model may be focusing on the perfect pose for the theme of the set.  Yet, does every shot need to be a masterpiece.

Photoshoots can be stressful in many ways for everyone involved. Location, time, weather, props, other supplies, team members, all of which and much more may have to come into play in order for the project to turn out correct. While a certain amount of detail is certainly important, one can get so wrapped up into the pieces that we can forget that we are working with people.

During major movie productions, it is not uncommon for one of the actors to ad lib, or make a mistake during the production. Sometimes this breaks out into laughter from the other cast members. This can be a good thing, and even mistakes can make it into the final production as actually better than the actual planned script.  Other time real emotion develops during a production such as someone crying real tears during a intense portion of the script.

When we hire someone in the industry, we are hiring more than just a pre-programmed robot that will behave exactly as expected and execute a perfect performance. Sometimes a little variability in what is planned can turn out to be a good thing. If someone wanders too far off the plan, then of course that person needs to be nudged back into the correct path. All members need to be respectful not only of the process, but of each other for the concept to work as expected. With that understood, a little variability can be a good thing and the final process can turn out even better than expected.

A masterful project can come from understanding who the team is, and what they are bringing to the table. This includes not only technical skills, but personality to a degree as well. If we allow a little bit of artistic freedom, we may be surprised to see the final product.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) artistic freedom concepts plans Mon, 27 Mar 2023 12:00:00 GMT
Adobe Express SecretSecret Adobe Express

Adobe Express is a app that adobe has released fairly recently that has a ton of features. Most of these features are free, and even more features are available if you have the creative suite plan. Some nice features include:

  • Remove a photo background quickly with the need of additional software
  • Resizing and image
  • Converting an image into JPEG, PNG, or GIF
  • Creating a PDF
  • Basic video editing
  • A huge library of templates for projects
  • Ability to create a project such as a flyer from scratch with detailed edits
  • Layers (similar to photoshop)
  • Large library of Fonts


There are quite a few Adobe Express  tutorials on line, but sometime it can helpful to dive in and this what the app offers sometimes.  It seems to draw features from such programs such as photoshop for converting and resizing images as well as programs such as Indesign for graphic design.  It even seems to borrow at least some functions from Premiere for video editing. The result is a feature rich app that seems to meet much of the needs of the casual user who may not need to power of the full fledged name brand programs into a easy to navigate service. 

In addition to the above, Adobe express offers a social media scheduling function so that you 'may' be able to schedule your posts throughout the month. I have not tried this feature, and typically social media services such as Facebook and Instagram have developed systems to defeat prescheduled upload, so how this feature will work in the real world is yet to be seen. However, it will allow you to resize images specific to what each social media platform requires and will even allow you to enter your own dimensions if needed.

QR grids are fairly common these days for a variety of services, and yes, Adobe Express will allow you to develop your own QR code for whatever reason that you may need one.


Adobe express is certainly worth a look, even if you only use it on an infrequent basis.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) adobe express Mon, 20 Mar 2023 12:00:00 GMT
Please spread the Word! SecretSecret Please Spread the Word!

"I lost my camera with pictures of my grandchildren since they were born and other valuable pictures".  I can not count the number of times I have read or heard a similar message. Most professional and even hobbyist photographers use some type of back up for their images, but many casual photographers/parents don't even think of the need to back up their images. Last year my cell phone needed a total reset which erased all data including photo's that I had taken.  Had there not been a backup, I would have been very upset with myself even though these were not professional images.  Damaged Cards, stolen phones, even a hacked account can ruin your day with the loss of images.

To be clear, this post is not covering professional back up systems, nor a indepth discussion of RAID. Rather there are SO many options out there to backup accounts, many of which are very inexpensive for the casual user. For example, Portable thumb drives

are available on Amazon for as little as $20 - $30 which have very good customer reviews. Thumb drives are available that can be used directly with call phones for as little as $30.00.  Thumb drives of course can be lost, but they are very portable and are relatively easy to use for just about anyone. 

A step up, but not quite so portable are small external disk drives. Seagate currently is offering a one terabyte hard drive with rescue service for about $50.00.  A one TB hard drive for a casual user will likely last several years if handled with just a little bit of care. Even less expensive the  Mazone is currently offering a 500 gb portable drive on Amazon for about $35.00 which seems to have good reviews.

Of course there are many on line services that are common such as google drive or drop box which will offer cloud storage for very little money. Google allows 15 gigabyes of storage, so if someone is very selective, this could be a short term solution with some phones having built in apps that allow direct up links to the cloud. Cloud services are arguably the safest way to backup photo's, even for professionals. One never has to worry about a hard drive failing, a fire, or any other disaster that could happen with local storage.  Of course, one needs a reliable internet provider for access to these sites.


Loosing treasured pictures that can never be replaced of parents, friends, vacations, pets or anything else that one may value. Professionals are well aware of the need to backup their images to protect their livelihood but the casual person taking baby pictures may not even realize that dropping their cell phone in the bath water will ruin everything!

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) casual education Low cost backup Photography Mon, 06 Mar 2023 13:00:00 GMT
Can Photoshop create happiness? Can Photoshop Create Happiness?

Can Photoshop create happiness? Well maybe, sometimes!  A photoshop user may be happy when a project turns out just right, or a client may be happy when they like their images, but does it really show? Photoshop has matured over the years and some of the filters can actually make it seem like a subject is smiling.

Several years ago, the only way to realistically place a believable smile on someone's face was the use the Puppet Warp tool This is a specific type of warp that places a fine mesh over a certain area of a body so that one can move it realistically once you put pins within the mesh. It can be a fairly powerful tool as shown in the link above. However, Photoshop has developed a new tool under the Neural filters menu.

The Smart Portrait neural filter actually has a Happiness slider (note: like many filters the image needs to be 8 bit). Photoshop gives you a slider that when pushed to the right will not only up turn the corners of a subjects mouth, but will add creases in the cheeks and even create teeth for you. If you go too far to the right, you risk making your subject look like the Joker in Batman. Like any filter, sometimes a little can be enough.

In the top images above, I thought the composition was less than cohesive since one of the subjects was smiling while the other looks as serious as possible. I wanted both subjects to be smiling, and in this case it did a fairly decent job, and even created teeth for the open mouth. This effect may take a few seconds, since it appears to be processing in the cloud initially. After the initial manipulation, small changes appear as quickly as any other filter. It may not be perfect, but this image was destined for the web, and not a poster sized production.

The smart portrait will do other things for your subject as well such as change the eye direction which could be useful it the pupil and iris are in the extreme corners. Again, pushing this too far will give VERY strange effects.

Like anything in photoshop, every image can be different, and this filter may not work well in all cases. But it is worth giving it a try if for nothing else for practice!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative education Photography Smile Mon, 27 Feb 2023 13:00:00 GMT
Memory Cards Memory Cards

Memory Cards have been around for quite a few years and come in a variety of capacities and sizes and speeds. Essentially they are a version of a floppy disk used years ago in desktop computers (without the spinning disks of course). They have a specific file directory that tells your computer where a particular image may be found on the card.  Without doubt, they can carry some very valuable information within our cameras and phones but are fragile to say the least. There are some things that we can all do to protect the data and the card itself against data loss.

One of the simplest and least expensive things we can do is put them in a case. Several years ago SanDisk would ship each card with it's own case to protect it but that practice has stopped.  Placing cards in your pocketor loose in a camera bag with other equipment is begging to have the metal contacts on the card (or the card itself damaged). Hard cases are very inexpensive through sites such as Amazon.

Formatting cards within the camera that they are being used in can be valuable. Formatting creates a new file system and of course deletes any information stored prior to that point on the card. If you format a card within the camera that you plan to use, you are creating an ideal system for that can be accessed by your camera. Simply deleting files from your computer or camera can leave gaps in the file structure that can cause read/write delays or even data loss over a period of time. Sharing cards from different cameras can also issues due to the unique method the file directory has been created. 

Is the fastest card always the best? Not really, but it all depends on what you are planning to shoot. If you are shooting video or action photography then of course a fast card is important. Are you shooting product photography on the other hand you probably paying for something that you may never need. Another point is to look at what your camera is capable of handing in terms of card type and speed?  The card still may work in your camera, although once again you are paying for more than what you may need or worse yet, it may not work at all!

Should one buy the super high capacity card for an upcoming project? Well this in part depending how you have your camera set to produce image files followed by what you plan after the project.  Raw files will typically take up more space than JPEGs and if you have set your camera to the largest size possible, then the card will obviously fill up faster. If you need to immediately hand your card over to an editor staff (similar to some sports photographers) then handing the staff a dozen cards will not be your best bet. Even so, a 64 or 128 Mbyte card will hold quite a few images (a 128 mgbyte card will easily hold thousands of images). The down side to cards with even higher capacities (apart from cost) may be if the card is damaged or lost, the entire photoshoot may be lost!

So how long do cards last? It depends on how often you use the card and how you handle it.  If you are photographer who shoots several times per week every week, it maybe good practice to buy new cards every year. On the other hand, if you are an occasional photographer who may shoot once per month, a card could last 2 or more years. A general rule of thumb however may be 'how important is the project'? If you are shooting a wedding professionally with a card 2 or more years old, you are taking a risk.

What about the microcards in adapters?  Microcards are great for gaming systems, cell phones, and even music players. Will they work in standard DSLR or mirrorless cameras? Of course, but keep in mind that you are adding additional hardware and if the microcard is not inserted properly, damage could occur. Micro cards outside of the adapter are VERY easy to loose!


As with most things, what you choose to buy depends on your needs or wants. Most photographers will want to purchase cards from a known brand that have a track history of reliability. Even a vacation memory can be valuable to most of us.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Cards Mon, 20 Feb 2023 13:00:00 GMT
It is really worth it? Is it Really Worth it?

Recently I was in a major photo retailer in New York after attending a conference. I was browsing in the lighting modifier section and happened to come across what some may consider a moderate sized (24 x 32") softbox by Prophoto and was amazed at the $$$$ price tag.  I have purchased softboxes in the past of similar size from other suppliers for $$$ or even $$  if I managed to catch a good sale. So if took a close look at the outer material as well as the inner diffusers. So the question is the added cost really worth it to the end user?

To be honest depending on your needs, photography can be very expensive. When it comes to electronics we want them to be reliable, versatile, and produce the effect(s) that we need to produce in a consistent basis. We probably want the vendor to be responsive in the event that something malfunctions and we need support or accessories. Major manufacturers certainly spend quite a bit of $$ each year in marketing and development to keep up with current trends within the industry. While accepting all of this to be true, how much is too much?

In the case of a softbox, there are no electronics, but we also don't want the fabric to rip when we assemble the unit, and hope that assembly is fairly easy. Of course there are numerous tutorials out on the web to built your own softboxes, which certainly can be fine for product photography. Portrait photographers though often don't want clients to see duct taped equipment and often go to a variety of long term reliable supplies such as Neewer, Godox as well as others that supply a wide range of equipment that in many cases operate as well as the top brand names within the industry.

Is this a question of prestige? Or is a belief that if one gets equipment from a top brand name that product automatically translates into the best that one can purchase?  A leader in new accessories and customer support? Perhaps at least some of this is true, but what is also true is that some of the smaller companies certainly have a solid history with many happy customers.


As with most products that we purchase today, it certainly beneficial to look at what you need, which may or may not be the same thing as what you want. Think to it really worth it?



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) money photography worth Mon, 13 Feb 2023 13:00:00 GMT
Fine art of not? Fine art or Not?

Artwork is subjective, rather you like it or not and is very subject to a debate as to whether it falls into the class of Fine Art. Sometimes is is relatively easy to classify an image and it really depends on the reason WHY it was made. Most people would agree that selfies are not generally considered fine art. Fine art is often found in medium such as photography, painting, and sculpture and the intent is often to be displayed for esthetic purposes rather than what maybe considered photojournalism.

Elements such as color, space, light, and shape placed together in a cohesive package which may then may be displayed at an art show.  Images that depict a newsworthy event which is then sold to a news source typically would not be considered fine art at least initially. Then again, historic images that have been heavily edited and relate to an important aspect of our lives could be considered fine art. 

Usually, fine art is not created to be decorative nor would it be created to promote a commercial product. Typically, fine art does not contain a subject that we would use in our daily lives but rather we may see it in a gallery to be appreciated. In some cases it may abstract where no clear image is recognizable, other times it may actually be a picture of a person. Fine art is may be displayed in back and white format, but also quite a bit of fine art is represented in bold colors. 

Often fine art is created not to display a particular person (eg. such as portrait photography) but the subject is often heavily edited to create a certain response from viewers, and not just a memory.  A snapshot of a roller-coaster at an amusement park would not necessarily be considered fine art, but if the image was taken from the top of the hill and edited to appear as though it were in a lightning storm, that could then fall into the class of a fine art image.

Ansel Adams was once quoted as "Art controls reality .." and historically painters, sculptures, and other forms of art have traditionally been manipulated in some manner to create a pleasing image.  A landscape image taken during the day may be adjusted to produce a colorful sunset.  In the image above, a headshot of the subject would not typically be considered fine art, but by changing the lighting and photographing it as a silhouette changes the dynamics of the image.


In the end, knowing what the intent of the artist may be could define whether or not an image could be considered fine art. The line is very unclear and while some may consider it fine art, others may consider it otherwise. The choice is often with the viewer.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) art fine Mon, 06 Feb 2023 13:00:00 GMT
Wheels to Go Wheels to Go (Tripods and Dolly's)

Tripods in general are hit and miss. Some photographers use them, some do not. They are almost a necessity for things such as long exposures, some composites, and cases where the photographer has to assist the talent in real time during an exposure. They can also be somewhat restricting during action shots and can limit the movement of the camera even get into the way during something as simple as a fashion shoot. Tripods can become unstable, especially out doors.

Despite some shortcomings, some photographers swear by tripods. One can reproduce the framing of an image shot by shot by keeping the camera level and in a stationary position. This can be particularly valuable if you want the same image, yet may only be adjusting exposure. They are almost essential for panorama landscape that involve multiple images being pieced together in post processing. If one uses a long lens, a tripod can be a great asset in stabilizing the lens.

When combing images such as with a composite, the camera position needs to be stationary or a great deal of extra work is required during the editing process, which incredibly slows down workflow.

So if you use a tripod effectively, one can still run into problems, Lifting the tripod from position to position, and there is the ever present risk of you or someone else kicking it, sending your precious camera crashing down to the floor. Tripod dolly's are often a good addition or accessory to you arsenal. A quality dolly can easily add stability to your tripod making it a valuable asset. Rolling the tripod on a dolly reduces the need to pick up and sit down something that is necessarily top heavy, particularly with a longer lens. The legs are typically locked into place inside the dolly, so one does not have to worry about one leg suddenly becoming loose at the tripod is replanted. 

For those who combine videography with stills, a dolly can be particularly valuable in getting smooth shots if you happen to be moving around a subject. When paired with a portable gimbal, the overall final product will often be improved.

Some things to look for in a dolly:

  • Larger wheels (3 inch) with wheel locks
  • Solid construction
  • Extendable legs that will adjust for a wider tripod base
  • Foldable for transportation


While a tripod or dolly is not essential, it certainly does have a place in the well equipped photographer.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) dolly Tripod Mon, 23 Jan 2023 13:00:00 GMT
Scanned Images- Some Help Scanned Images- Some Help

Recently I made a post relating to scanners and scanned images.  If you have images that are 20+ years old from your family or have been hired to tried to bring some very old images back to life, here are a few tips that may help. This post does not cover advanced restoration techniques for badly damaged images such as cracks or tears, but rather some relatively simple steps that can be made in editing programs such as Lightroom, Capture one, or many other photo editing apps.

Try scan images at at least 300 dpi, if not 600 dpi. Compare the images to see if one looks better than the other. Scanning at higher than 600 dpi rarely will produce great results on a older image.

Old images can suffer from a multitude of problems ranging from poor camera technique and lighting when originally made to radical deterioration of the image over time. Image deterioration can be a result of how images were stored or the photographic paper that they were originally printed upon. Some common issues include:

  • brownish color
  • grain
  • flat dull image
  • spots

In the first image above, we certainly have some issues. the color balance is brownish and something to try since the image features a person is white balance. Select the skin and you may notice an immediate improvement. Try different portions of your subject (face, arms) to see how (or if) this improves your image. In addition, you may want to try to adjust your black point on the photo, which also may give the image a little more depth.

Clarity and Dehaze controls can also be your friend with images such as this. Try increasing both controls to see how if may affect the photo. Go slow and back off on the effects as necessary.  Contrast to a small extent may also help in providing more depth to the image.

Of course, reducing noise is also a good measure, however using this control alone will usually not produce great results. As with any image, if you push the reduce noise process too far, you will risk loosing detail. Remember than images taken from older cameras such as disposable models may have poor optics to begin with, resulting in a lack than sharp image.

The image may have spots from dirty lenses or any other source, so the spot healing brush or similar tool can help clean up the image.


While a scanned image will likely never be ask crisp as the original, some significant improvements can certainly be made with some simple and quick edits. The latest beta release of photoshop also has a Photo Restoration App which may also help some images.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) editing education Photography Scanned Mon, 16 Jan 2023 13:00:00 GMT
Scanning old Photo memories Plustek photo scanner Scanning Old Photo Memories

If you have been a long time photo-bug, taking photo's from vacation and family events from 20 or 30 years ago, chances are that you have photo albums.  Most people used film cameras 20 years ago, long before cell phone cameras and even digital cameras were common place and affordable. Of course today there are some who still prefer film for artistic purposes, but this post is about long ago memories.  

Photo albums can easily grow in size, with larger albums weighing close to 5-8 pounds worth of material. Smaller albums seem to multiply so fast they easily take up entire bookshelves. As time passes the photo's tend to dull, loose definition, and white areas often turn muddy. I can be time consuming to find a particular picture only to find out that the quality is pretty bad and not at all like you remember it. Bad things happen, and a flooded basement may ruin all the images that you once cherished.

There are ways of course to preserve those memories by scanning negatives or prints themselves. One could submit the images to a professional company to scan images such as Everpresent. Depending upon the number of photo's that you have, this could turn into a very expensive project costing hundreds of dollars.

There is certainly no lack of consumer level scanners on the market from a variety of sources. Some scanners are flatbed scanners which rely on you placing several images on the glass surface. Sheet fed scanners typically run one or more photo's through a slide mechanism. Some questions to think about:

  • Can the device scan at least at 300 dpi (or 600 dpi)?
  • How fast is the scanning motion?
  • Can you see results and edit images prior to a save?
  • What software does the scanner provide?
  • Does it have positive user reviews?
  • What size can you scan?

You may already own a scanner that provides decent quality images. Photoshop will allow you to import images from your scanner and even automatically crop and separate images semi-automatically. This could work however I have found that photoshop results are inconsistent and in some cases does not work well at all.

One unit I have tested and has provided very decent result is the PlusTec photoscanner Z300. It has great reviews, can scan at either 300 or 600 dpi, and is very quick. The included software allows you to make some basic adjustments such as white balance to any of the images that you choose. An expected the software does have limitations (eg. no batch processing) so one may still need to work with an image in a higher level photo processor.  The one significant limitation I have found is that the software buffer only allows 50 images to be imported before one needs to save those images. Once saved, one needs to use a external editor to work on the files.


Scanned images may not always have the same appearance as those taken from your camera, but for keepsake purposes the option of scanning old photo's is a good option. 



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Mon, 02 Jan 2023 13:00:00 GMT
The puzzle of Posts CuriousCurious The Puzzle of Posts (on social media)

Many photographers, models, and others within the industry struggle at times as what to post on social media. Questions such as is it good enough, appropriate, within brand, as well as many other questions flood through the artists brain. Why there are no clear answers, there are things that may influence whether a post is well received. 

Who are you?

No, not asking if you are good enough. If you are very good at networking, contribute to the community in some way, and produce regular content this factors will go a long way to getting likes or attention on social media. Yes, it helps if the work is outstanding, but a popular person will often get more attention on social media than an unknown person producing similar work.

What are you producing?

What type of art are you producing in what forums? Are you in the right forum for your style of work? If you are submitting to general groups, does your work look like everyone else? How can you put a twist on it so that it is just a little different? If you get quite a bit of attention with one type of post, it may be likely that is what your audience wants to see from you.

Who or what are you featuring?

If you are a photographer who shoots people- are the people that you are posting notable among the group to which you are posting.  Honestly, posting images of well known individuals will often get noticed more frequently than a similar image of an lesser known person.  Landscape images are often well received when the image is well recognized by your audience (not always by name, but subject for example a beach scene). 

How often do you post?

If you post on a regular basis, people may look forward to your next image.  Hundreds of posts may appear within a certain group each day or week, and it is easy to get lost in the mix.


Is is good enough?

A question that even seasoned professionals deal with on a regular basis. "Good enough" is really left up to your personal opinion and although there are countless people willing to give an opinion. In the end, if you have put best your best effort to select and produce an image, then yes it is good enough.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) puzzle Mon, 26 Dec 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Short Backgrounds & Composites

Short Backdrops- Composite?

Sometimes despite your best planning, backdrops just do not work for a particular project. Sometimes they are not quite wide enough, sometimes not quite long enough. You are then left with an arm of legs often hanging outside of the border or trying to microadjust the background for each pose. Is there an option? I will add that this point that this post requires that the user have at least a moderate understanding of photoshop.

Solid background are typically not a problem especially if your subject is just barely over the border. Photoshop for quite some time has had the warp and transform tools that allow you to adjust a portion of the image. Of course, this has limits, and after a point you loose quality. Content aware scale is also possible for areas without a great amount of detail, depending on how far you wish to stretch the pixels, but then again after a point you will loose quality of the image.  If you plan of blurring the backdrop slightly, you may even be able to paint in a portion of the missing backdrop. Cloning is also an option, but can be very tedious.

The above solutions tend to fall short though if you have a detailed backdrop or if there are significant gaps between the subject and the backdrop. At this point you may want to consider a composite.

In the left image above, the detail and varied colors tended to rule out anything other than a composite. At one point this was a very detailed and tedious project that almost needed to be performed with the pen tool in photoshop. Recent advances in the software however have made this just a bit easier. Using the Select Subject or Select Object (Select Menu) tend to provide a very good selection in most cases.

It is typically important to follow up with the Select and Mask tool next which will let you see your selection and refine it is necessary with the brush tool, or refine edge tool. Once everything looks good, be sure to feather and smooth your image to avoid a cutout look. A feather of 2 px and a smoothing of 5 px is often enough for many images. You may output this to a selection.

Whenever I photograph a subject onto a background, I ALWAYS photograph the background FIRST prior to placing my subject in frame. This give me a decent starting point for exposure, as well as a BLANK PLATE for my project. 

From this point, it is a relatively easy job to cut and paste or just move my selection on to the blank plate. I resize my subject to assure that it is proportional to other objects in the image by scaling down. Scaling up will cause some major resolution issues if done to excess. Blending the subject into the background can be another entire post to itself, but lighting, contrast, and color are often important points. Working with the Adobe camera raw editor (ACR) can be valuable here. Photoshop also has in a beta release the Harmonize Beta Release which can be found under Neural Filters (Filter menu) which I have found to be partially helpful in some cases (Be sure you are in the 8 bit editing mode for this to work). 

Sometimes a composite can save a project and if you are challenged by this project Realistic composites may be able to help.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Backdrop background Mon, 19 Dec 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Background Stands for Fabrics Background Stands for Fabrics- Choices

Background stands for fabrics have been around since the early days of photography, but have certainly have developed into different forms as years passed. Most have advantages and disadvantages and depending upon what your purpose may be you may choose more than one style. 

Wall mounted:

  • Advantage: If you have a permanent studio, this is a real time saver especially if you have a signature backdrop. You may rarely have to worry about folds or wrinkles and you may even have your signature lighting ready to go.  Any fabric you can imagine can be used.
  • Disadvantage:  It takes up wall space and depending upon how you have it mounted, it may take significant effort to replace it with another backdrop. If you rent studio space, clients may not choose to use that style.

Traditional Tripod overhead bar (Pictured above):

  • Advantage: Available in a variety of sizes and frame strengths. Mobile and can support a wide range of backdrops from simple light weight fabrics to more heavy weight canvas backdrops. Certain the most versatile of the support stands. Almost any fabric you can imagine can be used. Fairly portable when carried in its bag.
  • Disadvantage: May be time consuming to erect and awkward to work with raising one side and then the other to assure that the backdrop is level. The tripod feet can take up quite a bit of space and may interfere with the base of the backdrop (Although different bases are available on some models). Folds and creases are common in fabric, and may need to be steamed out.

Pop up Support Stands:

  • Advantage: Often very quick to setup and relatively easy to use. Single support leg which can be a space saver in tight quarters. Some models allow for portrait or horizontal orientation. Fairly portable when carried in its bag. Most useful for head and shoulder shots. The fabric is often wrinkle free and held taught by the extension arms.
  • Disadvantage: Limited to a 5 ft x 7" in most cases. The fabric must have pockets to accept the extension rods to choice of fabrics are very limitedWhen photographing people, the choice of poses are limited by the size of the backdrop.

Collapsible Backdrops:

  • Advantage: Often quick to set up any many are reversible so that a different color or pattern appear on either side of the backdrop. Most useful for head and shoulder or 3/4 shots. This does not necessarily need a support stand if placed against a wall. Fairly portable though less so than some other stands. Fabric is wrinkle free and held taught by spring frame.
  • Disadvantage: Can be tricky to fold back into circular shape in tight quarters. Limited to 5 ft x 7 ft. Fabric is mounted to spring frame so it is not interchangeable with another fabric. 

Tee Stands:

  • Advantage: Often very quick to set up and a variety of light weight fabrics may be used.  Very portable and travels well. Single central support so may be a space saver in tight quarters
  • Disadvantage: Lacks side supports for fabrics, so choice most useful for fabrics that drape well without creases. Limited to 5 ft x 7 ft fabrics. Fabric not as stable in position as some other stand models.


None of the above stands are particularly useful outdoors since even a mild wind will topple them to the ground. Even though it may be the most time consuming to setup, the overhead bar stand is by far the most versatile. The other stands may be a good choice if you have very limited space and need to set up and take down quickly and are looking to shoot head and shoulder or 3/4 images. All styles can be found readily on





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) background stands. Mon, 05 Dec 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Drama in the Profession- Is an Organization the Answer? EmotionEmotion Drama in the Profession; Is Organization the Answer?

Once one has been in the modeling and photography industry for a short time, one sees a great deal of drama in the Freelance market, not all of which is in images. The drama can range from accusations of abuse to people just not showing up on sets as well as many other issues.

As we look at the profession today, anyone can essentially purchase a entry level camera and either attend events or start hiring those who model. This in itself is not a bad thing, because we all need to start somewhere, but without some education there are those who do not even know how to adjust their own camera.  An individual can certain decide to become a model and attend a workshop or offer modeling services to for hire. Yet without training or education, this person may stand in front of a camera and like a statue waiting for even the most simple direction. Some areas require certification as a makeup artist, and yet some amateur artist may not even clean their brushes between clients.

While there are organizations such as the Professional Photographers of American (PPA) which offers training, workshops, and even insurance, there is certainly no requirement to join or participate in this program.  Model agencies offer benefits to new and experienced models, yet again there is no requirement to join a modeling agency.

Actors and Actresses have an organization such as the Screen Actors Guild, which offers some level of organization and benefits to those who perform in movies or on stage. There is an entry level to become a member (Background actor), and the organization offers quite a few benefits to its members and at least some regulation. Clearly far from perfect, it does offer some level of structure of rewards and as necessary, sanction to its members.

Many people fear and distrust government involvement to regulate, since at times it seems like politicians have difficulty regulating themselves. Even so, many professions are licensed by the state or federal governments that expect a certain level of behavior from those who are licensed. 

Inherently, many people dislike being told what to do, which is very obvious in this age of extreme self-entitlement. Structured organizations can however present many benefits such as group health care and representation which can be difficult to obtain on an individual basis. What such an organization would eventually look like depends upon those developing and supporting such a venture.   Something to think about!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) organize Mon, 28 Nov 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Is photoshop a must? CuriousCurious Is Photoshop a Must??

With cost skyrocketing in almost every area possible, one often needs to stop and think where can I cut costs? For may photographers Photoshop has been essential and have been loyal to Adobe for many years. Some have left after Adobe started the subscription model, but even so the price for Lightroom and Photoshop remains at about $9.95/mo which considering Photoshop alone was almost $600 during the last stand alone version (CS6) this is still a fairly good deal. Photoshop is very well supported by Adobe, industry experts, as well as the photography community in general. Updates over the last two years have improved the product significantly.  But the question still remains, do I really need to pay Adobe or are there other alternatives?

To answer this question, one must ask themselves, what type of photographer am I? Hobbyist, Professional, collaborator, digital artist?

Affinity Pro is a robust suite that offers not only a photo editor, but also a publisher and design module that rivals some of the Adobe programs such as Illustrator. The programs are available on both Apple and Windows platforms and even on the ipad.  At $40.00 for the photo editor, it can be a very attractive purchase. Another program that has been around for quite awhile is GIMP. GIMP is an open source free editor that again is available on multiple platforms useful primarily for photo editing, although some use GIMP for illustrations.  Pixlr , PicMonkey, ACDsee are also options with free or very low cost subscriptions for premium versions of the software. Lets not forget that Adobe also puts out Photoshop express, which is a limited version of the full program. Of course there are numerous other editors, some of which will allow editing right from the cell phone.

Lets stop for a second and take out of the discussion wants vs needs. Also lets look carefully at the word Professional, since it can mean many different things to different people. If you want Photoshop for whatever reason, then by all means sign up for the subscription service.  Do you really need it? If you are a Hobbyist, amateur, or just starting out with little experience in photo editing why do you need a program that almost all agree has a fairly high learning curve? Many professionals who are paid for their photography use a suite like Affinity Pro and do quite well with it.

Capture One has gained quite a bit of traction over the last few years. It is a full fledged editing program that has most of the features that one would find in Photoshop. One can get Capture one for a subscription price of $179/yr or a one time fee of $300 to own the program. A free trial can be obtained from the website.  

Microsoft windows actually comes with a photo viewing app (Photo). You can view images, set up catalogs, and use some presets to do some basic edits. InfranView is another free app that has quite a bit of power for a free program. Free programs that adds lightroom-type features are Darktable and Rawtherapee. Both apps offer essentially a powerful editing and cataloging that are well worth a look. 

However, suppose you are a collaborator working closely with others in an office? Suppose you are a digital artist working with complex composites? Photoshop is very hard to beat with the level of support it offers directly and indirectly. There is a very large community surrounding photoshop and practically any question that you have can be answered by a quick search either directly from Adobe or a forum. If you shoot in Raw format and want to import into an editing program, Photoshop and Lightroom do a decent job updating compatibility with a variety of camera formats.


In the end, one can look at what one wants and/or what one needs. Cost, features, and support all roll into a well informed decision as to what may be best for you.





Some free program Links:

Microsoft Photos: - IrfanView Graphic Viewer: - Adobe Photoshop Express: - darktable: - Raw Therapee: - Gimp:





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) alternative education free photography Mon, 14 Nov 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Sometimes little things count Sometimes little things count

I rarely throw away images, even from years ago unless there is a pretty significant problem such as poor focus or studio lighting was radically wrong. The image on the left was from about 10 years ago looking down a heavily forested mountainside. As you can see the trees are very dark. I remember that trees being a very saturated green color growing along the mountainside. 

Obviously there are a few things that one could do but I wanted to be subtle and not blast the image exposure and have to go back again and tone down the guys tee shirt and probably the rock face. I also wanted to maintain the texture on the rockface without necessarily going back into photoshop.

So I made some very gradual changes to:

  • shadows
  • contrast
  • vibrance
  • saturation
  • Black/white points

Each change brought be just a little closer to what I remembered, but I wanted to try just one more slider.

I moved the color grading shadows wheel slightly toward the green side. The combination of these gradual changes gave the trees back the full saturated look that I remembered. I could of course go back into the image in photoshop and tone down the tee shirt, since that could be still a little bright.


These gradual changes directly translate to other time saving steps in editing or during the actual photoshoot.  In the studio, gradually adjusting lighting, even one light at a time, can save you effort in having to make multiple camera adjustments or lighting changes mid shoot.  In editing portraits, a little editing is often enough unless you are trying for a very special high glam look (in which case a model choice is also important).  When using Lightroom presets, some are now adjustable much like the opacity slider found on the adjustment panel in Photoshop.


Sometimes "A little is a lot" and can save time both during the photoshoot and during post processing!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative education gradual lightroom little photography photoshop Mon, 07 Nov 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Trolls Trolls

Trolls (Cyberbully's) are present on almost any internet platform one can consider ranging from simple threads to forums. They can take many forms from the 'expert' in the field that offers an opinion that dare not be challenged, to individuals making outright threats against others. They are often very disruptive to any meaningful discussion and may cause high levels of doubt and anxiety in their victims.

A troll (or trolls) tend to aggregate where other people gather, much like the mythical trolls hiding under bridges waiting for people to cross. They often jump into a thread attacking any weakness that they may think may be present. Often self absorbed with their own feelings of worth they thrive on arguments, may spread lies, offer their own twisted opinions, and want nothing more than a emotional response from an audience.  They may seek to disrupt your following and even your business in some cases. When they perceive they perceive a defense or even an attack on themselves they often resort to name calling, slurs, and social/political labels to try to gain power. Very similar to the mythical trolls, they are often Cyber-cowards and would rarely if ever confront their victim(s) in real life with an actual honest conversation.

Trolls can be difficult to defeat, since they often have an altered sense of reality. They don't play by the same set of rules as rational people. There are things that can help:

  • They want an emotional response from you; don't give it to them (ignore them entirely if possible). If you step down to their level, things will almost always get worse. Sometimes trolls travel in packs like wild animals.
  • Report the troll to a moderator. The troll could be banned from the site.
  • Announce your audience that we have a troll in our midst attacking those who are trying to create art. Like the mythical troll, some do not like being forced out into the light (taking control from them).
  • Ask the troll for solid facts to back up their position- often they will only provide vague personal accounts.
  • Thank them for their opinion, but express the need to get back on track with the main discussion.

Remember that in many cases, you will not know the troll. Although they can be hurtful, their words are essentially meaningless in the real world especially if you have an audience that appreciates your work.  However in some cases trolls can escalate to stalkers and follow you on your personal pages, forums, and other places you may visit. Many cities have laws against cyber-stalking especially if threats are issued. Resort to law enforcement if and when you feel the need to have help.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Trolls Mon, 31 Oct 2022 12:00:00 GMT
New Adobe Releases- AI New Releases for Adobe

Typically I don't post about releases for Adobe, since honestly there are typically more than enough 'experts' voicing their opinions. 

However since I do a fair amount of portrait and composite work this release interested me more than some other earlier software updates. The latest releases involve Photoshop, Lightroom, and Adobe camera raw. The new portrait feature which is present in LR/ACR and Photoshop will identify people or backgrounds when you select the "mask" icon.  The new feature can identify one or more people within an image and allow you to select a very specific portion of the image. For example, eyes, hair, skin, or face and allow you to make adjustments to that specific area.  One could also lighten or darken a background by choosing the mask icon.

When cleaning up an image features such as a cloning tool, patch tool, and the content aware tools. In the 2023 version of Photoshop out this October one could use the object selection tool to choose an object such as one of the beer bottles on the floor. Right click on the selection and and an option to delete and fill the selection. While this is still not perfect, I find that it shows an improvement over the older content aware fill option (this original still remains). 


I am providing a short Youtube video that covers these new features quite well. This update is worth the few minutes it takes to update each of the programs!

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) ACR Adobe LR Photoshop Mon, 24 Oct 2022 18:45:00 GMT
Just can not get the light right?

Just Can Not get the Light Right

In the first image above light is coming in from a window camera right. In addition, a strobe in facing the model also camera right at an elevated position. Although the image is well exposed, it gives the somewhat different look that one might expect if the photographer wanted to have the main light appear primarily from the window. This can be tricky if one is working quickly, such those who attend workshops and may not have total control of the set.

One option is to use overlays with light rays. Photoshop and some other editing programs do have the ability to form light rays however this can be a time consuming process, especially if you are creating the light rays from scratch. One option is to choose a light ray package in an overlay set. Overlays are images that come in the form of a typical photo shot in a certain method, or are also available as files with transparent backgrounds (PNG). 

Files with solid backgrounds are typically 'embedded' into an image using one of the blend modes such as softlight (Photoshop). PNG files typically do not need a blend mode unless further refinement to the image is necessary. These light ray images can flipped, rotated, sized to need and placed anywhere within the base image. In this case, the file was rotated and sized to make the light appear to be primarily coming from the window. The darker area appears on the wall behind the model to simulate actual light fall off.

Overlays are available from many sources including Etsy, which often provides once of the lowest cost for download packages that often a high quality product.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) light overlay photoshop Mon, 17 Oct 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Speedlight- Last Minute?! Images taken from random posts (not my own)

Speedlight - Last Minute?!

Most photographers like to be prepared for most situations where they plan a specific concept and know at least approximately what the environment will be around them.  But what if you keep your camera with you and just happen to run across a photo worthy event or person. It looks like you only have your camera, a speedlight, and perhaps a few lenses in your bag. It turns out this opportunity in indoors without the greatest natural light- what are your options?

You do have a few options in this situation. You could crank up your ISO and work with a wide open aperture, work with a slow shutter speed and hope that your images do not turn out too noisy or blurry. This of course can only take you so far of course, especially if you are photographing people or a pet.  So you break out your speedlight and of course you don't happen to have any of the fancy modifiers, stands, or triggers that are sitting home. So, on camera flash it is today! Speedlights are handy, but typically produce a very harsh light. You know that you can adjust the angle of the flash head and even rotate the head itself.  You quickly look for a light colored wall or at least a piece of paper that you can use to bounce your light.

There are of course other spur of the moment modifier that you might use such as tissue paper or napkins in front of the strobe to soften the light. But if you think for a moment, do that location have trash bags?  By partially inflating a white (unused) trash bag and securing it around the strobe you could find yourself with a very nice larger modifier. OK, it looks silly, but it can work!

What about the nice foam plates so commonly available? Do you have something similar to tooth pics available? Well then, you could create a impromptu beauty dish. Cut a opening in the back of the foam dish for the strobe head. Now cut out a smaller circle just slightly larger than the strobe head lens. Use tooth picks or something similar to advance the smaller foam circle so it it rest in front of the strobe lens (See above). 


While these 'hacks' might not impress a potential client, they will provide you with options that you may not have thought about in the past. 


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative diffuser Hacks speedlight Mon, 10 Oct 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Ai- is it art? AI - Is it Art?

There are a growing number of AI generators in the net with some requiring only a text prompt to generate an image. Some generators like "Altair" are quite literal and allows you to enter an image if you wish to start the project. Other Ai generators such as "Orion" will create abstract images from your initial prompt. The question may be asked are these actually art? Well most certainly they fall into the category of Art. But the real question is that are they YOUR art?

Consider that you contact a chef to make you a bowl of potato soup. You go to your local grocery store and purchase the potatoes and possibly even the broth. You have certainly contributed to the creation of the soup but...

  • You did not peal the potatoes
  • You did not cook the potatoes
  • You did not decide if the potatoes were to be crunchy or soft 
  • You did not decide what, if any thing else was in the soup
  • You did not add or decide what if any spices or salt was to be added to the soup

In terms of art, lets say you want a picture of your dog painted. You go to your local art store and purchase a paint brush and give it to an artist to paint an image of your dog.  Once again, you have contributed to the artwork since the artist is somewhat limited in painting the image based on the type of brush that you have purchased. It is your dog, so hopefully the artist will paint the same breed and color of your dog.  But in the end, did you create the image?  No, the artist painted the image even though you gave him the brush and subject to work from.

The Ai generator is referring to a massive database of images and effects that it tries to match to your typed input. In reality, you have no idea how an image will turn out until the generator has rendered the image. To be honest, you really don't even need to know how the Ai generator is working. You are not manipulating the image in any manner except to tell the program is general terms what you would like to see.  Some people might say " I used presets, actions, and filters in photoshop, and create my own work!

Not quite the same thing. "Presets" simply move sliders in one direction or another. You may select a brightness preset and a program such as Lightroom will change the brightness level of an image. You can control how much or how little brightness is added or cancel the preset entirely. Nearly every "Action" in Photoshop uses a function already built into Photoshop. Using the soup example above, you are telling Photoshop to peel the potatoes, and the program is just doing it a little faster than you may have done it manually. 

Clearly, there is nothing wrong by presenting a piece of artwork with a subtitle such as "Created using xyz Ai generator". This lets your audience know that certainly had a hand in creating that piece of artwork.  Since Ai generators are new, the legal system will eventually have to rule on things like copyright. But in the meantime, there are very practical implications to claiming that the work is entirely yours with help from the generator.  Suppose you are selling the artwork and someone asks you to create something similar? If you a professionally employed, you may be asked to create something without the aide of Ai generators (could be blocked). Is it really an original piece of art when nearly anyone could log onto the Ai generator and create the same or very similar piece of work?

Some things to think about as you move forward.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) ai artwork creative generators Mon, 19 Sep 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Is there hope? Is there Hope?

Every now and again, we make mistakes in exposure.  We may be caught up in the moment, not use a light meter, or simply misjudge what the exposure should be for an image. In this case, not only was the sun out brighter in the morning but I was shooting against a highly reflective surface. The dress was overexposed, turning a pink dress into a very pale shade and blowing out the color entirely in another portion of the dress.

While the details in the blown out highlights are unfortunately lost, some of the original color may be able to brought back into the dress. Although the Hue and Saturation adjustment layer is often the first choice for many, the channel mixer can also be helpful in some cases.

The channel mixer allows you to select a specific hue and boost or reduce it as you feel necessary. In addition, you may choose to turn the entire image black and white using the monochrome check box. You may even alter the tones of the black and white image using any of the RGB sliders. The constant slider controls how bright the image may be in its final edit.

One could also choose an entirely different hue for a portion of the dress by selecting the dress itself, then moving the sliders to the desired color. Special note that if one does not select the dress, the entire image will be affected.

In this case, I boosted the red channel so that I was able to see more of the pink in the dress. Clearly highlights are still blown in the lower portion of the dress, but the image does show some improvement. In fact, changing the color of the dress to  blue made the highlights that much less apparent.

I chose this image as an extreme example, but of course if you want to the channel mixer can serve as one more option when color grading or otherwise adjusting images.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) channel mixer color Color grade creative education Photography Mon, 12 Sep 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Revisit the Inverse square law Revisit to the Inverse Square Law

There are literally hundreds of photographic accessories that you can purchase for your camera and studio strobes. In addition, thousands of Presets, overlays, actions, and other editing tools for practically any photo editing app out there for the public or for professionals.

With all of this being true, a little photographic theory goes a long way. Looking at the first thumbnail, there is a 2 ft x 3 ft facing the model at a distance of about slightly over three feet. Certainly depending upon the look that the photographer is planning, there is nothing wrong with this setup. In this particular case, there were no reflectors, or additional light in the studio.

However, to give the image a little more push similar to what you see in the second image above, a little knowledge of the inverse square law is helpful.  In photography, the light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from its source to the subject.

Simply put, light intensity falls off pretty quickly as it leaves the center of the light source so that objects further away from the light are not well illuminated. This is pretty obvious if you shine a flashlight into a yard at night you will notice that the light fades pretty quickly, and the end of the yard is much less well lit than those things directly near you.

Now if we combine this general principle that large light sources close to your subject are often appear softer and less contrasty, we have a plan for an interesting image.

The softbox in the second image was moved very close to the subject (1 ft). While this someone limits posing possibilities, we can see that the room behind her has fallen into darkness, and even starts to fade on the model herself. Given a little cropping and adjusting contrast on the editing program has certainly produced a dramatic image. Depending on the camera, one may also need to set the white balance to "flash" so that skin tones are not blown out and appear natural.


Sometimes going back to the basics can save time and effort with an image and turn an ok image into a WOW image!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative education ISL Photography Tue, 06 Sep 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Batteries Batteries

Batteries can certainly be a challenge to some people, and can be frustrating when one encounters a drained battery or even worse yet a leaky battery.  Capacity, voltage, discharge, as well as how you are using the battery can all be things to consider when choosing which batteries to purchase. Double AA or even triple AAA are certainly the most common types of batteries used in most electronics. Yet, just because a battery may say 1.5 volts, all batteries will not typically perform the same.

Approximate Energy:

Carbon-Zinc: 400-1700 mAh

Alkaline: 2000 -2500 mAh

Lithium: 3000 mAh

Carbon-zinc batteries are slowly becoming more difficult to find, but certainly are the least expensive. They often deliver the least amount of energy and are typically not useful in the photographic world for producing a consistent reliable results. The energy needed for most speedlights is considerable especially if operating in a large darkened area. Also, they do not perform well in cold temperatures.

Alkaline Batteries (potassium hydroxide) are common and typically moderately priced. They typically have a long shelf life (5 yrs +) and can power photographic devices under moderate use.  They typically are long lasting especially in photographic triggers that only require a small amount of energy to initiate signal. These batteries when used in speedlights will have a short life span (weeks) especially in large darkened areas. Alkaline batteries also have a tendency to leak due to pressure build up within the batteries and release of hydrogen gas. They should never be stored inside any expensive piece of electronic equipment.

Lithium batteries offer the higher energy density of either of the two battery types above. They often have a shelf life of over 10 years and perform well in a variety of temperatures. They typically will provide the most reliable and consistent results even under heavy use.  Unfortunately the are very flammable and should never be thrown away in regular trash. They can also be very expensive. Larger lithium batteries are also often found in studio strobes, cameras, and other larger pieces of equipment.

What does this mean in practical terms? It could be difficult to defend a carbon-zinc battery with the energy draw of current photography equipment. Perhaps if you had lost other batteries and were at a dollar store, you may be tempted to pick up their supply of carbon batteries. 

Alkaline batteries are very common, and can last several weeks or even longer in a remote that triggers strobes. They cost about 97 cents per battery as of this post so their are fairly cost effective. They are fairly durable in hot and cold climates though may not last as long as lithium batteries.  When used in speedlights they have a relatively short life, especially if the speedlight is used at near full power. One can sit and wait until the speedlight is fully charged between shots, which can waste quite a bit of time and may result in missed opportunities. Almost all alkaline batteries leak after a certain point, so they should never be stored in an electronic device.  A leaking 97 cent battery can easily destroy a $400.00 speedlight!

Lithium batteries are expensive (about $2 or more per AA battery). Even so, they provide more energy on demand than a alkaline and much more than a carbon battery. They tend to hold their charge longer than other batteries. When shooting a high priority subject (such as a wedding), one does not want to see battery failure.  Camera batteries and strobes are often lithium for reliability purposes. In addition, lithium batteries are often rechargeable.  The downside is that they are often heavy, and are flammable.  Airlines may prohibit flying with larger lithium batteries and mail services may require special carriers to deliver lithium batteries. 

I tend to follow these general guidelines:

  • Always check your battery strength before a shoot which includes strobes and your camera battery. Battery charge checkers are readily available for the smaller batteries.
  • Have a camera battery charger in your backpack or bag.
  • Have spare batteries
  • Never store alkaline batteries in any photo equipment. If a battery leaks get rid if all batteries purchased around that time. Be careful about getting leaked contents on your skin because it can cause chemical burns.
  • Check with airlines about traveling with larger lithium batteries. How many do you 'really' need?
  • Decide on how you plan to use the battery; trigger or a light source.
  • If you are traveling, consider what may be around you. If in a city, replacement batteries are likely common. If in the wilderness, you better consider the longer lasting and reliable battery.

Obviously there are some type of batteries such as Nicad, however I addressed the more common batteries within this post.








[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Batteries education Photography Mon, 29 Aug 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Bleached skin Bleached skin and Gobo work

There are many tutorials on the net that describe how to edit a photo to get a bleach white skin effect, and often some type of gobo is added to the image. The fact however it that many of these tutorials use stock images that have been downloaded with lighting well suited to this project.  Depending on how you actually lit your subject, the bleach effect may turn out to be more of a desaturated grey. Several extra steps would then needed and you may (or may not) get the results that you wanted.

This technique involved importing the image into camera raw, desaturating the oranges, which essentially left the skin desaturated with red lips (although some orange spots do still remain in the skin that need to be touched up). This is not really what I was going for in the project.

By pulling up the levels adjustment layer and moving the white point slider to the left, I was able to get closer to the white skin that I wanted.

The same effect can be achieve using curves in a very unusual way. By moving the highlights section of the curve (Upper right) to upward and flattening it, I was able to get the white skin effect. Pure white, maybe not, but by using the curves or levels adjustment I can fine tune the final result.

Some additional work will be needed on this image such as removing a few orange spots that remain on the skin. I could also return the hair color to its original shade by adding a layer mask.  This technique will likely also affect elements in the background that once again can be corrected by a layer mask or adjusting lighting using curves.

Give this technique a try the next time you may want that special bleached skin effect!







[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Bleached Skin color creative education Photography Mon, 15 Aug 2022 13:33:56 GMT
Investing tips for your future (may not be what you think)! SecretSecret Investing in your Future

When most people hear the term 'Investing for your future" the though almost immediately comes to mind is financial security. Without doubt, finances are important as prices soar at near record levels. To be able to live a life which is reasonably without daily struggle is a goal for almost everyone.

Many people in the modeling and photography industry need just a little more than money. Indeed money may be hard to obtain if solid building blocks are not in place. For many people, investing in your future means developing a community around you that you can relate to and who trusts you. In most cases, this community does not develop overnight and is often the result of consistent work habits over a prolonged period. Relating to peers in a ethical and professional manner can look a little different for different people, but the people around you can often sense and feel it.

One can have the most intense artistic ability that has come along in the last 50 years, but if the community as a whole does not trust that artist, success is almost certainly to be limited. Clearly, not everyone is an extrovert or has exceptional marketing ability but building relationships one on one can certainly be a stepping stone for a solid future. Once trust is established, professional can add to that trust, not too different from adding a few dollars in to a savings account with every payday. By building that trust within a community, others may seek you out as they find you relatable and providing services, products, and even friendships that can be difficult to find.

Rest assured though that breaking ones trust is like crumpling up a perfectly good piece of paper. You can smooth it out, but it will likely never be the same again.  People's memory relating to what you do right is sometimes short lived, but operating in a manner consistent only with your personal goals will often become scorched into someone's long term memory. The undeniable truth is that people will discuss things within a given community both the good and the bad. Details may be added, details may be left out. History has shown us that even major companies or celebrities who have lost their community makes it very difficult to continue and their investment and support, even if originally substantial, can vanish rather quickly.

While few know exactly what the future actually holds in terms of how secure we may be, seeking to understand where others may coming from in their lives and treating them like you would like to be treated, seems like a solid investment.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) community consistent Investing relate trust Mon, 01 Aug 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Modifier or a emergency device? Modifier or Emergency Device?

Most photographers and models are familiar with the umbrella as a light modifier. It certainly has been around for many years and one of the easiest to use and quickest device to set up. Yet, not everyone considers it an emergency rescue device.

During the summer months the sun can get very intense in certain areas of the country. While some people can bask in the sun for hours and enjoy every minute, some people are sensitive to the direct sun even for as little as an hour.  Location photographers should be aware that some venues allow very little in the way of shade from the sun. This can lead to serious problems such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. 

Heat exhaustion is usually characterized by excessive sweating, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and cramping. While this can be serious enough, Heat Stroke can be life threatening. Heat stroke occurs when the body cannot cool itself any longer with symptoms often starting as heat exhaustion but progressing to the victim stop sweating and the body temp rising rapidly up to 105 degrees or higher in as little as 20 minutes.

During the summer months some important things to think about for location photographers include bringing extra bottles of water on each shoot. A 60 inch umbrella can be purchased from a seller such as B&H for as little as $23.00. Some umbrellas come with a black covering to block out the sun entirely, or just a white covering to act as a diffuser. An umbrella this size is more than large enough for a few people to huddle under if necessary.  An extra step would be to mount it on a lightstand (with sandbags) so that it need not be hand held.

While we are at it, consider also including an emergency rain poncho in your day kit. These can be often had for $10 or less at most department stores. Why end up on the shoot on a soggy note?

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) heat heatstroke umbrella Mon, 25 Jul 2022 12:00:00 GMT
LightRoom Maps

How do you use Lightroom Maps?

Without doubt, google maps and even the GPS systems that are within many vehicles have made navigation much easier than it was 20 years ago where people were parking on the shoulder of the road with paper maps.  But when it comes to planning, is that your only go to references? The Map module in Lightroom can be surprisingly helpful when it comes to planning. Of course, it has the added advantage of being able to directly add the location of an image you have taken if your camera has gps tracking enabled. 

Lets say that you have a place that you wish to visit or an event and you wanted to get a general idea of where it was located. This can be important especially if you are traveling to an unfamiliar area out of state. I happen to live in Southern Pennsylvania, and suppose that I became aware of an event in Pittsburg. If at my computer I could take advantage of the mapping module in Lightroom and zoom into the entire state of PA. Visually I can see that Pittsburg is really not anywhere close to my home town, and probably several hours by car to the event.  This approach may be helpful, especially if I am on an online conversation with someone else.

By moving in even closer, I can see what highways, stores, and even local roads may be along the course of a potential trip just by continuing to zoom closer and closer to an area of interest. There is no typing involved, no possibility that google voice (or other voice) will misunderstand what you may want, but just a quick and easy method to get a fairly specific idea of where you may be interested in attending. You even have (limited) search ability above the map.

On a more academic level, suppose you were reading an article that mentioned two European nations and you were not sure exactly where they were located in relation to each other.  Easy enough, Lightroom opens up as a world map so all one needs to do is zoom in on the part of the world that you are interested and you may have your answer in minutes. As least for now, Lightroom does not provide details for other countries that it provides for the continental United States.

Lightroom of course will not give you turn-turn directions to your destination, but certainly may be a time saver.  Of course it has the added advantage of helping you remember exactly where you were when you happen to make that incredible photo!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) lightroom Map Mon, 04 Jul 2022 22:15:00 GMT
Labor Saver Labor Saving Effort

Any photographer who has carried props, lighting, clothing, stands, and other camera equipment knows that things can get VERY heavy and bulky even within a fixed studio. Add to this trying to carry equipment, even in a small roller bag over dirt, grass, sand, or mud and your effort is magnified to the extreme. One answer of course is a very strong assistant who will not be very happy, the other is a version of a collapsible roller cart.

There are many companies that put out roller carts but in general the body of the cart is some type of fabric braced on a metal collapsible frame along with large wheels. The better carts have from wheels that will rotate 360 degrees to make the cart easier to push or pull as needed.  Most carts will fold with about a 75% space savings when not in use.  After a little research, the size of the carts only vary slightly by inches but there is often a steep price jump and shipping costs with certain models. 

One deciding factor may be how much weight do you want to put into the cart.  Many carts are rate to just over 100 lbs, although some of the heavier cart could even carry a small child. The wheels are larger and of course the metal frame is heavier on the larger carts.  Fabrics vary from a canvas style to a light nylon mesh which may be suitable for lighter loads.  Most models have an extendable handle which is typically made of lightweight aluminum or in some cases steel. Some models also come with pockets outside of the main body of the cart to allow for things like water bottles, tablets, or any other light weight supplies.

The one notable limitation of these carts is that they will not do well with stairs. While there are carts that will help that will help with stairs, their capacity is much less that as shown above.

Roller cart can be very valuable for the location photographer who may need to travel outdoors with significant equipment. As with anything though, a rain cover can help in the case of an unexpected downpour!





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Carts Labor saving Mon, 27 Jun 2022 14:15:00 GMT
Bad Debt CuriousCurious Bad Debt


Bad debt occurs when an individual or company is planning to receive money (typically after they have provided a service or product), and that payment is not made.  Sadly, bad debt occurs more often than what we would like to think it may happen. Although there may be reasons why a debt is not satisfied, but it still adversely affects the one who the debt is owed.

In the photographer and modeling field, if a professional is booked for a certain fee, that model expects that fee on a certain date much like many expect a paycheck on a certain day.  If that booking is cancelled or lost for any reason, this represents a loss of potential income. If effort is made in preparation, travel, supplies, location rental, etc.. this represents an actual loss of income based on preliminary services provided which were not reimbursed or in other words, bad debt.

Any professional agent should be able to absorb a small amount of bad debt, however sustained exposure to bad debt experiences will clearly have an adverse effect on the professional providing the services and even in a broader sense to future business clients. As the cost of achieving a profit becomes more difficult, the price of services or products will often increase and may even be more difficult to obtain. The cost of doing business and profit margin will vary greatly from person to person and there are many great resources on the internet to help anyone determine their break even point as well as desired profit margin for example CODB.(The info here is dated, but consider the principles).

Some individuals will request a deposit on services or products depending on the size of the business. This may lessen the burden of bad debt but also may limit customers unless the service is very well known. Some agencies may even require the entire amount upfront in a non-refundable status. This of course also has the potential to limit customer engagement.

Force majeure a common clause in contracts which essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a warstrikeriotcrimeepidemic or sudden legal changes prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract. Explicitly excluded is any event described as an act of God, which covers a separate domain and legally differs, yet it is still related to contract law. In practice, most force majeure clauses do not excuse a party's non-performance entirely but only suspend it for the duration of the force majeure

Unfortunately there are those in the industry who take obligations very lightly. In most industries a set of rules of guidelines are in place that often holds participants accountable though a variety of means. Active communication is often the key here and one only needs to causally browse the forums to find words like 'flake' or 'ghost.'  Not honoring an obligation without just cause not only hurts the person providing the service, but eventually may affect the reputation of those people who make bad choices.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) bad debt Mon, 20 Jun 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Challenged-underwater Challenge - Underwater


One of the most challenging forms of photography for a model or photographer is underwater photography. There are many Youtube and other tutorials available,  but unless one actually experiences this genre it can be difficult to describe. This post is not necessarily a in-depth step by step guide, since you will rarely if ever find  a tutorial that will be a one size fits all, but rather some high points to consider should you work on a similar concept.


Where will you shoot? 

  • Outdoor pools can be nice because you know exactly what you dealing with such as the depth of the water and what is actually in the water.  Unless one is trying to shoot in a public pool (not recommended), it is not too likely that someone will interrupt. If it decides to start to rain, cover is often nearby. On the other hand, some pools may not be deep enough for certain shoots. Chlorine can be very irritating to the eyes, and you may be limited to props due to the pools filtration system.
  • Beach underwater shots can offer a number of natural and scenic backdrops. However the water may be murky, tides and waves may sweep people off their feet, other beach goers may pop into shots, and one never knows when a jelly fish may stop by for a swim.
  • Dives in deeper water can eliminate some of the problems one may find at a popular beach. Scenic backdrops may be available.  One really needs to be an accomplished swimmer or scuba certified for this to work out well.

What equipment?

  • Hand held point and shoots such as the GoPro models certainly have their place especially in dive photography. Many GoPro cameras have mounts to a helmet that can leave your hands free. Handholding, aiming, and operating the controls though can be a major challenge underwater.
  • Waterproof bags such as DiCAPac can be useful for pool shoot where one may be shooting at a shallow depth. One has to very careful how the camera is placed in the bag to avoid damage to the camera. Controls of course can remain difficult to manage within the bag.
  • Dedicated water proof housings are often the best bet if one is going to be shooting on a regular basis. Controls are often larger and easier to mange and the housings are often designed to be used with a certain type of camera.  These housings are expensive though and must be inspected regularly for leaks.
  • Wide angle lenses are typically ideal for this concept. Burst mode on the camera can capture images quickly.  It can be difficult to focus underwater, especially if the water is not crystal clear a fast lens is ideal for this project.
  • Sadly, there are no perfect setting for this style of photography. It will depend on lighting at the surface, and lower depths, clarity of the water, subject to camera distance just to mention a few things.  As a very general rule, try to keep a fast shutter speed (at least 1/160 sec) with a DOF of at least f-stop of 4- 5.6. An ISO of 400 -800 should normally not affect the quality of images but one may need to go higher.

Who is Photographing, Who is modeling?

  • Ideally, both parties should be adequate swimmers even in relatively shallow water.
  • A model/photographer who can exhale when she/he submerges for 30 seconds to a minute is ideal to allow bubbles to dissipate, to pose, and to focus on the subject.
  • Buoyancy can be a problem, especially for the photographer. A small weight belt (5-10 lbs may help). Yes, one can go to many stores and pick up a exercise weight and belt for a few dollars.
  • Gowns and fabric can be dramatic, but be careful that the model does not get tangled and can not reach the surface.
  • Try to encourage dramatic open or extended length poses. This is even more important if your water is not crystal clear.
  • Unless you have the luxury of photographing in a warm tropical paradise, the water is likely to be colder then ambient air. 
  • If a model opens her eyes underwater, they will likely get red or irritated. Eye drops may help if tolerated by the model.

Post Processing (Photoshop is your friend)

  • Set your camera to daylight, and consider using an underwater grey card. Even so, you will need to color correct and possibly sharpen your images.
  • Unless you are shooting in crystal clear water on a sunny partially cloudy day, the models skin will look anything from ghostly white to cyanotic blue.  You will want to select your model from the rest of the scene and adjust skin color using a hue and saturation layer, color balance, or other toning control. Using the eyedropper tool may help but will adjust the entire image color.
  • Sharpen the image with contrast, texture, clarity controls for your model. If you apply global changes and you have particulates or murky water, this could worsen the image.
  • Don't forget option like your color lookup tables. Experiment with different blues and even darker hues as adjustment layers. You can alter the opacity of an effect if it is too extreme. Depending upon the effect, you may need to re-select your model to restore normal skin tones.


Underwater is not easy and certainly is one of the most challenging styles of photography to create with. It can be beautiful though!

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) color creative Photography Underwater Mon, 13 Jun 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Our eyes can deceive us

Our Eyes can Deceive Us

Our eyes and brain have a wonderful tendency to fill in the blanks and allow us to make choices and decisions. For the most part, this is a good thing giving the world that we living in today. However, just like the spoken word can lead us to make wrong choices, sometimes when composing an image we may make mistakes.

Looking at the images above, most see a pink dress which superficially is true. When breaking down the palate of just the dress itself we can see from the far left hand block that there are very significant differences in the value and saturation of the pink. The hue is much lighter in the highlights as opposed to the shadows. The sited example above is pretty extreme, but the same may be true for almost any image. This can be important when we are trying to balance colors with the editing process straight out the camera, but can be even more important for those who may choose to edit composites. 

There are multiple tools in most editing programs including Photoshop can can help which include:

  • Highlights & shadows sliders or adjustment layers
  • Black point
  • White point
  • Hue/Saturation adjustment layers
  • Color balance adjustment layers
  • Selective color adjustment layers
  • Channel mixer adjustment layers

It is beyond the scope of this post to cover each tool, however I have mentioned most of these tools in prior blog posts. Much in the same manner as photographs, if we combine text with images as part of a larger project the resulting project may not work for our audience


The first font, its size, and color against the green background would be difficult to read whether it be in print or on a website. The contrast ratio is simply not sufficient for this layout to be effective.  In some cases a larger font can help, but consider also about 1 in 12 men in the United States has a form of color blindness (1 in 200 females), so it can certainly worth your time to take an extra few minutes to look at your project.  There are college level courses based on the science of typography but there are tools that can help in a pinch. Consider a trial version of Adobe's InDesign program, or a free alternative such as Scribus

Adobe can also give some quick and useful help by using the following Adobe color wheel.  This online utility not only gives you an interactive tool to view various hues and variations but will also allow you to upload your image directly to the site and will analyze the palate of a part or the entire image if you wish. The Accessibility tool will allow you to upload a text and background project and then grade it in terms of contrast ratio. This feature is also interactive and will allow you to use the color wheel to assess your readability. 







[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) balance composition confuse Deceive design Mon, 30 May 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Troubleshooting Communication problems CuriousCurious Troubleshooting Communication Problems

Even with the best intent, breakdown in communication may occur between artists such as models and photographers. It is very easy to get frustrated, and even blast someone on social media but in the end this makes the working situation tense and explode causing reputation harm to one or perhaps everyone involved.  

Multiple accounts can lead to a dark road... 

One will often post on several social media platforms or even several accounts. This may be a model coming into town to let people know that she is available, or it could be a photographer making a casting call.  It is crucial that the same information be released on EACH account. Even to the extend of copying the original message and pasting it each additional account. One typo can lead to massive confusion.

Like phone number, one must check these accounts on a regular basis. Think about it like leaving a voice message asking someone to call you back, then never checking to see if they called back.

Once making contact with an individual, the basic who, what where, when, how questions are almost always a must. As important though, communicate through the same account. By communicating through two or more accounts it is likely that some information will get confusing or even lost.  If an absolute must (such as an account being lost), start out with recapping the information that was already discussed. For example, "Sorry Jim, this is Mary. My other account was shut down but here is what we left off with last time, is this right?"

If booking from multiple accounts, keep some sort of calendar/appointment book to keep everything in one place. Booking for a 1 pm session on one account and then a 1 pm session on a second account can obviously lead to problems. This also includes not only when but where an appointment may be held.  If appointments are in different parts of the city, it may be difficult if not impossible to stay on time.

Who are you? Some people will have different names on different platforms. Mary Marvelous may be Mary Magnificent on a second platform, especially of a certain name is already taken.  It is vitally important that clients, photographers, models, or anyone else know to whom they are communicating with to avoid problems.

Things change due a variety of circumstances. Be sure to UPDATE everything on every account that you have posted. If a client is working from old information, this can lead to massive confusion and bad relationships.

Within 48-72 hours, it is always good to re-confirm and repeat everything that was agreed to originally. This is especially important if an appointment was made months ago on another account.


Multiple accounts or platforms are fairly common, but can lead to radical confusion on all parts if a cohesive plan is not used with each appointment made.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) appointments communication confusion Multiple accounts Mon, 23 May 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Is Marketing or Technique more important with social media?  Marketing or Technique in Social Media?

Many photographers, models, and other artists will post to social media as a means of self promotion. It is almost like a pat on the back when one receives 'likes' or 'positive comments' on an image. But are people liking the image, or it there more to it?

Often an image may be placed on a social media platform by a casual artist with a few hundred followers. The artist may go events one or two per month but has a more subdued personality. The image(s) may be outstanding in terms of technical quality, however this person may only receive a relatively small amount of attention or "Likes" on the image.

Now take a more popular person who may go to many more events during a month and have a more outgoing personality or even appear 'attractive' to some.  This person may indeed have many more followers on social media.  The followers may be much more engaged with the more social artist who happens to post the EXACT same image that the casual artist posted.  Perhaps the casual artist had even photographed the more social artist.  In most, if not all cases, that the more social artist will receive many more likes that that of the more casual artist who posted the same image.

While the number of followers may play some part in this process, it is likely that the more social person have either deliberately or by chance developed a large number of engaged followers.  The more social artist has developed a very effective marketing following.  What one may see is that the more social artist may post an image that is of average quality, yet receives a large number of likes or positive comments relating to that image. This may put the more casual or subdued artist at somewhat of a disadvantage even though he or she may be producing excellent quality work. 

Now lets say a local artist who has a reasonably good marketing strategy has posted an portrait of a relatively unknown person. The number of comments or 'likes' will likely be much less than expected even though the image is technically good.  Taking this one step further, lets say a nationally known artist posts a very similar image onto social media (subject is unknown to most people). The nationally known artist may have many more followers who are actively interest in his or her images and thus will receive much more attention to that post.


The reality is that Effective marketing and popularity plays a major role in how an image is received on various social media platforms. One may be very technically proficient, but without an effective marketing plan (and essentially gain popularity) success may be more difficult to achieve. Certainly there is no lack of guidance to marketing from a vast array of sources, but each individual must one the system that best suits their personality, resources, and time commitment.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) likes Marketing popularity social media Mon, 16 May 2022 12:00:00 GMT
One image, many uses

One image, many uses

Genres in photography tend to overlap greatly in most cases. Is the Image commercial, boudoir, glamour, fine art or something else? In many cases it really depends on the intent of the image. Are the images above trying to sell a romantic getaway for a couples weekend? Is it a personal boudoir image for a partner? Is it an image for a model for marketing? 

It often comes down to the intent of the image and how it is styled.  If the focus of the image is the model herself, one may caption it with the models name.  It the purpose of the image is that romantic getaway, it likely has associated images or at least descriptive text about a resort.  It it is intended to be fine art, it may actually focus around an emotion and styling of the image.

It you notice in the second image, it is essentially out of camera. It could easily be a portfolio image or a commercial image. Turning the image into black and white, certainly give the image a bit of a different feel, similar to an image you may see hanging in a gallery. Yet the first image has a different feel to it, a deep orange yellow cast much as though it was lit by candles throughout the room. If we look at a image to be considered fine art, it is often styled in a manner to way to evoke a certain feeling from the viewer, rather than focus on the person within the image.  Could the same shot be an abstract, of course! If we crop into just the back, the viewer may need a second to think about what he or she is actually viewing. This final image certainly brings forth a different feel from the first three in the set.

Captions can also guide the viewer into what the intent of the image. For example:

  • Mary Model (model name)
  • Come visit my website
  • Beauty comes from within

Each of these caption will likely evoke a different response from the viewer. Sometimes a commercial attempt, sometimes a very personal message that could strike home for an individual.  It may be very possible to create several distinct series from a single image!







[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative Images Photography Mon, 02 May 2022 17:00:00 GMT
Another Look at temperature- a one stop fix? Another Look at Temperature

Most experienced photographers understand the basics about light temperature and color based on the Kelvin scale. Without going into a whole bunch of physics here, the scale as it applies to light describes light moving from a warm orangish tone at about 3000 degrees Kelvin to a much more blue tone as it moves toward blue at about 7000 kelvin.

Many studio strobes and speedlights are calibrated to produce light at roughly 5200  Kelvin which produces a very white light. Commercial household lights may be slightly cooler, in the 4,500 up to 5,000 Kelvin range. Candlelight of course is much cooler coming in around the 2,500 to 3,000 Kelvin range.

Understanding this can have a subtle or dramatic effect on your images. This is particularly true as it relates to photographing people. Strangely enough, many studio strobes produce a color temperature similar to the sun at about Noon which is not always pleasing to skin color.


Taking a look at these two images, we can clearly see that the skin tone on the left image is significantly lighter than the skin tone on the right. The image on the left was made with a standard studio strobe and the skin looks a little bleached. Many photographers avoid making images around noon for a number of reasons such exposure and harsh shadows. The image to the right was editing by moving the slider in Lightroom (or photoshop) to a higher temperature, which in this case  from 5,200 to about 6,500  Kelvin which is similar to what one may find in shade. Notice that the skin color appears much more natural. Even the colors in the flowers seem a little more natural. This was the ONLY change that was made to this image. 

Now this seems totally backwards from what it should be! One would normally try to move to a LOWER number on the scale (warming the image) if the Kelvin scale is correct. Well the Kelvin scale is correct, but in most editing programs including photoshop you are actually compensating for an incorrect color balance on your image. So if we consider the image to the right as having too much blue, we are are saying during the during the editing process is to decrease the amount of blue in the image.

This is VERY strange, however it seems like those who designed photo editing programs would be somewhat consistent in the manner in which they designed controls to work.  In any case, when in a portrait shot, think about what we would normally do is try to move a subject out of direct sunlight. In a landscape image, we would probably try to wait a little later in the afternoon so that our colors would be more saturated than they may be at high noon.


Obviously every image is a little different, but give the temperature slider a nudge even if you are working with high end studio strobes and you may be surprised at the results.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) color editing lightroom Photography photoshop temperature Mon, 25 Apr 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Shadows and Highlights- Another Look Shadows and Highlights - Another Look

It can be difficult at times in camera to get exactly the correct exposure, especially around highly reflective surfaces like pools. The concrete, the water, skin tones, other things in the water can be frustrating and easily confuse the cameras sensor if you have it set on any of the auto modes. Traditional exposure rules such as the sunny16 don't always work out the way you expect. It can be even more complicated as clouds move creating shade and brightly lit scenes within minutes.

There a quite a few methods both in Lightroom and Photoshop for dealing with shadows and highlights, both manual and automated but I would like to offer a quick reminder that 'could' create a easy fix.

In Photoshop, choosing the Image..adjustments... and then shadow/highlights will bring forth this dialog box. I keep the 'Show more options' checked at the bottom of the box.

In the Shadows and Highlights section, you have three main sliders:

  • Amount: Controls how much correction you want to make. Typically you may want to start out at a low value between 30-40% for shadows, and well as a small value for highlights. You can always move to higher values
  • Total Width: Small values restrict changes to the darkest and lightest part of the image. Larger values move into the midtones of an image. The default is 50, but be aware that very large numbers could result in Halos around certain areas of the image.
  • Radius: The question here is what is the main subject in your image. In the images above it is the girl in the float. Moving he radius to number greater than 50 will likely affect the pixels surrounding the main subject and could leave the entire image either too light or too dark. A little experimentation is needed here, but in most cases one will have the best result on the low side of the scale.
  • Adjustments:
    • Brightness- Typically only affects greyscale images, lightening or darkening an image
    • Midtones - Adjusts contrast in the midtones, with larger numbers increasing contrast and darkening the image.
    • Black/White clipping: Adjust contrast by how the shadows are clipped to the extremes of the curve (0 -shadows to highlights - 255). It is usually a good idea here to leave the values relatively low to avoid loss of detail.


The advantage of using this menu choice is that if you shoot in a certain style, it can be a tremendous time saver by saving number as default values.  Simply open the panel and you have a very good start on the image. On the other hand, this is not in the layers panel so one can not simply un-click it if the results are not favorable.  Other choices include levels adjustments and curves, which are found in the layers panel but will likely take quite a bit more tweaking to get what you find as a good end point.

Every image is a little different, so there is not really a one technique fits all, but it is certainly worth giving this feature a try on one one of your next images!

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Highlights photoshop Shadows Mon, 18 Apr 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Considering Artboards? Artboards

There are certainly many ways to work, present, and even your images in photoshop. In many cases though we are working with a single image displayed on the canvas at a moment in time. Have you ever considered working with one or multiple images on an artboard?

The easiest way to think of an artboard in the physical world is taking several images and laying them side by side on a plain background. It may be different versions of the same image, or it could easily be several different images. From that point you could select which image(s) you like and even copy the board to send to a client.

The digital world has added advantages. You make a duplicate of the first image and then any various edits to the copy while comparing results to the original in real time. Perhaps you want to send a series of images to a client as a mood board and the client may wish to print the images for any number of reasons. An art board could be valuable.

To create an artboard in photoshop

Create a document in any size that you wish but click the ARTBOARD checkbox near the orientation icons. This will create your base document. Next:

  • Open the image that you wish to work with
  • Drag and drop (or paste) the image onto your artboard (resize if necessary) 

Now hold down on the move tool (looks like a +) to get the 'artboard' tool (looks like a square).


If we move our artboard move tool over the corner of an image and click we will see (+) symbols appear. If we click on a plus symbol, we will create a new white square (artboard) next to our first image. If we want to duplicate the first image (Control -J) will create an exact duplicate.

From here we have several options:

  • Continue to add new images by opening up an image and dragging it on top of the new artboard
  • Editing a copy of the original image and comparing it real time.

Notice on the second board I simply darkened the image, while in the third board I added a new image. Now suppose I wanted to send these images to a client (or anyone else) who may wish to save a physical copy. Not too difficult.


  • File
  • Export
  • Artboard to files (or to PDF)

If you wish to save to pdf, each artboard will appear on a separate sheet. The following link, although using a different example, will take you through this process in a Video


An additional feature of Artboards is that you can resize each individual board to meet the requirements of where you wish to post.  For example, in the example of the dancer above I easily could have resized one of the artboards to post on Facebook and the other on Instagram. Give Artboards a try, you may like this as another tool in your editing and workflow toolkit.











[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Artboards creative education Photography Photoshop Mon, 04 Apr 2022 12:00:00 GMT
DIY Gobo Creations Gobo and Shadow Creations

A few weeks back I made a post relating to Gobo's (patterns which you make appear on various subjects). But I a recent project had me in a relative small space and using a patterned cloth on my subject.  I considered what if I could create light patterns from the cloth, but alas, I did not have the resources or even an overlay at the time to work with.

Not all is lost, since I owned the fabric, it is certainly possible to create your own overlays to use of a highly specific pattern that may not be available commercially, or available in a projector template that you could use in real time. With a little work, you can create your own library of custom gobo's with just a little effort.

In this case, I wanted to use a fabric, but in reality, it could be anything that you wanted to use to create the shadow pattern. You will need the following:

  •  Hard Light source, either constant or strobe
  • Support stands for the object you are going to create a pattern 
  • A light colored background (white, grey)
  • Your camera

Steps are fairly straight forward for this project;

  1. Adjust your light source at least 2-3 feet away from the object you are using as a gobo. This will give you a crisper image.
  2. Mount your gobo so that the light is reasonably just above the object.
  3. Your background should be plain (no patterns itself), and should lay flat. You can experiment with greys, whites, but obviously if the background is too dark, your pattern will not be distinct.
  4. Choose a position underneath your gobo so that you or your camera will not cause additional shadows.
  5. Turn off other lights in the room, so that the only light will appear from your light above the gobo and adjust light to get a shadow desired.

Camera settings can be tricky, especially if you have selected a dark background. It may be necessary for you to focus in manual mode. Depending on how you plan to use this pattern, the shadow created does not have to be crisp. A shadow too dark and defined may detract from the object or person that you are placing it upon. Try starting with the "program" mode on your camera and adjust your settings to the desired effect.

Once you have your JPEG file.;

  1. Load your primary subject
  2. In photoshop, choose file.. embed
  3. Select the image that you have created above
  4. Adjust size, position, and opacity as desired.
  5. Scroll through the blending modes to see if you can enhance your effect.


You can create gobo's and shadows from practically anything, so give it a try and you may be please at what you come up with!.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) DIY gobo shadows Mon, 21 Mar 2022 18:37:03 GMT
Enttitled? Recently I came across several alleged photographers or Videographers who claimed that they had the absolute right to photograph anything they wished as long as they were on what they claimed what public land. These individuals were not part of a new team or any organized group for that matter. If challenged, they self reported themselves as a victim, and became antagonistic towards anyone who may even question their "right" to photograph.

On the surface, one may see that these individuals have a valid point. After all, generally speaking if you are on public ground a photographer typically will have the law on his or her side regarding photography. Although it is always a good idea to ask permission to photograph a person, if an event is considered newsworthy, a photographer may still be allowed to photograph a person without a specific release.

In one case, a videographer was filming a public utility (why this project, is unknown). When approached by a utility worker and asked why he was filming, he emphatically stated that it was his right since he claimed to be on public land. The police were notified, and the videographer refused to explain why he was filming, and refused to identify himself, once again claiming it is his right. This adversarial exchange made it to a Youtube video.

More now than ever we realize that we are not in a safe and secure world either domestically or internationally. The concern as why someone was filming was actually valid, since the filming could have been a prelude to an aggressive act against the utility. A simple answer such as "I am an art student" could have eased concerns, and the police may never have been notified. The aggressive stance that 'I am entitled by law to be here' may have been true however the police certainly have the right to investigate suspicious behavior even if it turns out the be harmless.

Consider an unknown person filming in front of your home. That person may have every right to do so, since they happen to be on public property. The photographer may wish to purchase a similar house as an innocent gesture, or may be planning a robbery. Consider an unknown person taking pictures of children at a playground without a child of their own. The county may be trying to close the playground down and thus it could be a very valid reason for showing the value to the community. Another possibility may be that this person is a predator.

While one may be technically entitled, a civil and non-aggressive response may indeed provide many benefits when approached by others. For example, in the case of the playground, one could find many allies to potentially help stop the playground from closing. If police become involved and you are generally cooperative, they may advocate for you toward to potentially nervous person. Even if an authority figure attempts to compel you to leave, how important is the project? Should you have planned better and perhaps asked permission? Should you have gone with a news team or other organized group if you suspected a problem?

An aggressive, "It is my right" or "I am entitled" may easily ruin your day and with a little planning understanding of one may encounter could make the project a picture perfect day!




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) courtesy Entitled Photography Mon, 14 Mar 2022 12:00:00 GMT
Gobo Gobo's

GoBo's (Go-between's) are devices that 'go-between' the light source and the subject. In some cases Gobo's can prevent light from Falling on the background, other times it can create a new dimension to a photo.

Gobo's can actually be anything from a spare piece of foam core, to a more elaborate Gobo projector. They can also take the form of a pasta strainer, patterns cut in cardboard, or cinefoil shaped like a snoot to restrict light from a constant light or strobe, or even a window blind next to a window.  Gobo's can be placed just about anywhere on a set depending on what the photographer is trying to accomplish.  One may even consider a grid a highly specialized gobo attached directed to a lightsource.

There are many reasons for using a gobo other than just restricting light. Sometimes a background looks just a little plain. A pattern can be projected onto a background to offer depth or even mystery to an image.  Sometimes, photographers are not quiet lucky enough to have the sun in the exact position to create that stream of light. Other times the photographer may want to be creative and add the illusion that a large window frame is creating a shadow on the subject.

Sometimes though after a photoshoot, could stop and wonder 'what if' there was a light streaming across the background or subject. There are many Photoshop techniques for creating artificial light but some techniques can be somewhat complex and time consuming.  One option to help with overall work flow may be to consider an overlay.  Overlays come in different formats for photo editing but the most common including JPEG files and PNG files.  

Overlays often come in a graphic shape like the one displayed here. To add an overlay to a photo the initial steps are the similar regardless of what file type you may use. In photoshop:

  • File menu
  • Place embedded
  • {navigate to the place you have your file stored}
  • Position the image
  • Accept the check mark.

If you have a PNG file ( a file with a transparent background), the majority of your work is done.  If you have and JPEG overlay, the next step is to choose a blending mode that works well for than image. Most commonly screen, overlay, or soft light work well but you may need to experiment to find the one that works best.  If the overlay is too intense, you have the option to change the opacity of the overlay.  You could also add a layer mask and remove portions of the overlay that you may not want in the image.

Here is also a tip of you happen to be using a projector or even a piece of foam core with a pattern.  Take the image WITHOUT the gobo at first, then place the gobo where you wish it to be.  Even the best plans don't always work out so by placing both images into photoshop, you can apply a layer mask and edit things that may not have worked out so well in the final image.

Give one of these techniques a shot, you may be surprised at how well it works!





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative Gobo patterns Photography Mon, 07 Mar 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Are you shooting more or less- why? Are You Shooting More (or less) than in Previous Years???

As a follow-up to my last post last week about conversions, I had myself wondering if I had been shooting more or less in the last 5 years. If I was shooting more than in prior years or if I was shooting less than prior years, I stopped to ask myself why?

Many people when they move into photography they often shoot quite a bit and many times they will explore a variety of topics. In my case, I started out taking travel pics as well as a variety of animals. My photographic adventures were fairly limited to my vacation times during the year with an occasional special project.

As I became more interested in people photography, I studied how to improve from a variety of sources and became intrigued by the possibilities.  I began to take many more images not only of people, but also pictures during my travels using different lenses.  As I joined different groups I purchased a variety of photographic supplies and of course I needed to shoot with them to test out my new abilities hoping to improve when each new opportunity. I was gaining experience in editing programs such as photoshop, so I of course needed to shoot a variety of genres. 

Business opportunities did eventually present themselves and I eventually began shooting even more than years past. Different photographers were posting on social media on a regular basis, so I also felt the need to generate new material to as a marketing strategy.  So to use the term 'conversion' from last week, there was a positive conversion (or benefit) financially and emotionally to continue shooting at a fairly high volume.  This of course had a slightly downside to it since I was spending many hours behind the computer editing images. (Side note here, there are companies and retouchers  that will edit images for you)

Last year, I noticed that I was shooting less. Certainly COVID was a part of the issue here, but not the only issue. I found myself becoming more picky about when and what I shot. Instead of taking every possible avenue to shoot images, I became more selective about what I really wanted to shoot. Of course, that did not mean that I did not practice and improve on skill levels. One should never fall into the trap where they feel that they are 'experts' and have no need of practice or improvement. This almost always ends up in a downward spiral not only with skills but also with potential customers and co-workers.


Are you shooting more or less than prior years? Why?



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) improve less More Photography picky why Mon, 28 Feb 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Conversion Rate for opportunities CuriousCurious Conversion Rates for Opportunities 

Most of us are bombarded almost daily with opportunities such as 'Buy This"., "Subscribe to", "Sign up" , at times this "offers" can be very tempting until ones dives a little deeper. For example, "Buy this lens it will transform your photography"!   "Attend this workshop for this fantastic speaker (or model)".  The real question here is, what is your conversion should you jump into the offer?

By conversion, I mean what is in it for you? Sure, it is certainly nice to support others within the community but many of us have limited time, money, or other resources. Conversion can come in many forms including emotional, social, professional development, and certainly financial just to mention a few conversion benefits.

Suppose you get an opportunity to make a trip to a place that you have never visited, and it likely that you are not going to visit again at least for the foreseeable future.  This could potentially hit several levels of conversion, but at least it would convert to an emotionally satisfying experience. You may make photo's and have pleasant memories, even if there is no material benefit. The conversion of your time and expense would convert to a very positive experience.

What about attending an event? Similar events may be occurring, but can you convert this into a valuable social networking experience? Is there an opportunity for professional development if he event provides a valuable learning experience? Are there people at the event which you would like to meet for personal reasons? If you are a photographer who photographs models and you attend an event with a particular model, what benefit(s) are you receiving? If you let the images sit on your hard drive without looking at them for months, your conversion rate is probably pretty low.

On line opportunities may present themselves on a daily basis. When looking at a sales pitch, is it really hype or would purchasing that item convert into a means to increase the quality of your work, or possibly productivity? Would it make your life easier? Are there competing services or products that would be a wiser investment for your purchase?  As mentioned above sometimes an efficient professional network can help you may a wise decision here. 

We all need financial resources for a great number of reasons. Can the opportunity convert into a financial reward that can either make that special trip possible, help with professional goals, or just pay daily expenses. This of course may get back into looking at your current and potential clients as well as your general target audience. Other elements of conversion such as the emotional, professional certainly are in play equally here as well.

Some financial experts also look at this as a cost:benefit ratio. What will it cost you in time, resources, personal commitment, and money in order to take advantage of (or convert) it into a benefit to you.  With common approaches such as 'limited time' or "scarcity" it can be a difficult decision to make at times. Some people are clearly more impulsive than others and even fall prey to what seems at first to be a unique and valuable opportunity.

Future investments such as purchasing a piece of equipment or computer app may be a good option to convert it into a valuable asset for future projects. Then again, if you don't practice with the equipment or use the app for months it's value may not have been as good as one may think.  You may find yourself actually at a loss if trying to learn something at the last minute only to find that it really does not meet your needs.

Often it is wise to take a breath, do a little research, and see if the presented opportunity can really convert into a positive experience for you!

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) benefit Conversion photography Mon, 21 Feb 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Velour- A consideration for a backdrop? Velour- A Consideration for a Backdrop?

There seems to a never ending list of possibilities for photography backdrops with seamless paper and muslin historically being the most common. Seamless paper certainly has the advantages of many colors as well as the absence of folds, wrinkles, and creases when handled properly. Of course storage and transport of large rolls can be very problematic. Various fabrics including muslin although also appearing in many colors and very easy to transport can be very difficult to remove wrinkles. Some materials may not be durable, washable, or even have a glossy and reflective surface.

This brings us to the possibility of Velour. Velour is a knitted fabric made from cotton and polyester that resembles Velvet. It stretches much more than velvet, has a fine soft texture to it, hangs seamlessly, and is less shiny than velvet. Another plus is that it much less expensive than velvet. It is also machine washable with a little care.

Practically speaking, one can fold this up (or even ball it up) in your bag, pull it out and is ready to drape or hang without noticeable wrinkles.  The fine plush fabric has a rich look and feel to it and can be lit effectively without concern of glare or the need to back it with another fabric. It is a very durable fabric that will last for years if not abused.

One may see variations of Velour such as Velveteen or Duvetyne used in theaters as curtains or backdrops for some of the reasons listed above. Velour can be significantly less expensive that some other backdrop materials and is very practical. Take a look at your local fabric store and you may find that it is just what you have been looking for!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) backdrops education Photography velour velvet Mon, 14 Feb 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Hidden (quick) actions Hidden (Quick)actions in Photoshop

As most know, there are many ways to accomplish a task in Photoshop. As updates and versions have certainly replaced the original photoshop released in 1990. Some methods are straight forward time honored tools found in many other programs such as the magic wand tool. Other methods are not so obvious such as the quick actions panel.

If you are not familiar with the Quick actions panel:

  • Go to Photoshop Help
  • Discover
    • You may type in 'quick actions' or you may see the panel if you hit the [back] arrow

Quick actions are a single keypress function to accomplish quite a few tasks such as:

  • Remove a background
  • Select background
  • Blur background (not well developed at this time)
  • Smooth skin
  • Adjust lighting
  • Duotone
  • Black/White Background
  • Charcoal

As well as several others.  Some features of the quick actions panel require several additional keystrokes if you were to apply this feature manually. A few quick actions such as Duotone allow customization of the effect being placed.


Although not technically a quick action, it is also worth mentioning here mentioning the Landscape mixer under the Neural filters menu. As of today, it is still in the beta version and you may need to download it from the cloud and turn it 'on'. 


The landscape mixer can turn a spring landscape into an autumn or even a winter landscape. This feature has sliders that will allow you to adjust how much or how little of an effect that you wish on an image.  You may choose presets, or you can simply adjust sliders to your taste. A word of caution however, this feature does compress your image and can obscure certain details in your image. 

While quick actions or the landscape mixer may not work for every image, it is certainly worth knowing that these options exist for potential workflow enhancements.





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) features Hidden Photoshop Mon, 07 Feb 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Pretty Images? CuriousCurious Pretty Images??

While on social media recently, I ran across a posts that gained quite a bit of attention relating to how images are processed by photographers. Some models complaining that images may be over processed through third party products, lighting issues, and even failure to edit images to their satisfaction to be appealing.  Obviously this is somewhat of a sticky subject, but here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

Art by its very nature is subjective. What one person feels may not be appealing, others may even pay thousands of dollars to purchase. I recently attending a lecture on NFT's (non-fungible token) in which the images that sold for large amounts of money appeared as though they were very low resolution images.

Any project should start off with the end in mind. To that point, there are hundreds of thousands of images in Pinterest that could be sourced for at least a starting point for a concept.  Regardless of trade or paid shoot, all parties should have a reasonable idea what the end product may look like. The photographer of course is responsible to assess their skills, knowledge, and equipment necessary for that concept and practice.  The model should determine if this concept meets his or her needs, how it may affect their brand, and where the final image may be displayed.

There are hundreds of possible combinations of lighting set-ups with vary not only with the style of lighting but also with the equipment used itself. Sometimes a few inches placement of light can alter the final product dramatically.  Hard light or even Rembrandt lighting with modifiers may not be flattering to a subject and may bring out harsh facial features that a subject may not find appealing.

Editing of course is very subjective and to some extent depends on the concept. Some editing may involve extreme effects, while some editing may go for a more natural look. A professional image editor may often require that the client describes what look he is she is moving toward. Editing may be as simple as removing an unwanted blemish in 10 seconds, or could take an hour or more to achieve a certain look. While some photographers may move toward commercial products, it is important to take a close look at the final product especially if processing a large amount images.

Some models may want to have the ability to edit images themselves for various reasons. This could be as simple as a crop, or as involved as skin texture.  This gets into a complex discussion beyond the scope of this post, but could easily move into some serious legal issues. Generally the individual who pushes the shutter release owns the image, and if the image is significantly altered from the owner, then a question may arise as to who actually produced that image and it rights were violated. The subject of a image certainly may want the image to represent the picture in a positive manner. A discussion of usage rights should become part of the process and appropriate fee negotiation should be made to the owner if the subject wishes to alter the original image. Model releases are almost a must when working together regardless of whether the images will eventually be published or not.

Events such as shoot-outs (photographers and models randomly working together) can be problematic. Each party may not have worked together in the past. Concepts and skill levels of each party may vary dramatically and often time and resources are often very limited at these events.  While shoot-outs can be valuable for networking purposes, final results are uncertain to say the least.

In the end analysis, it may be down to planning and communication. What is the end result? Does the model have the correct look and skill level to achieve the end results? Simply because a model is popular does not guarantee a polished product. Does the photographer have a solid concept and a portfolio strong enough to pull off the final concept. Again, popular photographer does not assure one will end of with a product that a model wishes to be displayed publicly. Either party should be comfortable enough to say 'no thank you' if a concept is offered and possibly even recommend another person.

Once an image is released, unless openly defamatory, the subject often has little recourse if a model release has been obtained.  There are even certain cases such as if an image is newsworthy, has educational value, or taken in a public venue where the subject may have few rights even if a model release has not been obtained. During events such as tradeshows, a wide variety variety of professionals as well as casual photographers could be making images.  Depending on the nature of the photographer, an oversight could be corrected if approached in a professional manner. A public rant will in most cases, while gaining sympathy from some will almost be viewed unfavorably by many.

Being in the public light can be a challenge for all parties involved. Careful planning is almost a must but the occasional unexpected event will likely occur when we least expect it.





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) communication creative education models Photography Pretty public Mon, 31 Jan 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Look Up Tables- One stop shopping? Look Up Tables (LUTs)- One stop Shop?

There is certainly no lack of programs in addition to photoshop that will allow you to adjust images. While some photographers prefer to have absolute control over every aspect of an image, there is some value in considering options when one is under a time constraint or processing a large volumes of images.

While moving from one program to another can be helpful, it can also slow down the overall workflow, especially if the photographer works primarily in RAW format. The file will often need to be converted, at times automatically, within the second program itself other times a manual process may be necessary. Certainly Luminar was a big boost to replacing skies prior to Photoshop adding this feature.

If one wishes to stay within photoshop, there is an option called Look Up tables. These were originally developed for video applications for some time have been available within programs such as Photoshop. 

By clicking on the (Ying/Yang) symbol on the adjustments panel and then choosing Look up tables a menu such as above will appear. LUTs may adjust an image color, contrast and even color.  Some LUT's will allow you to change a day image into what appear to be a nighttime image.

You are certainly not stuck with the effect of the LUT, since you can change the opacity of the effect, or even change the blending mode. For example, you can change the luminosity or color effect of a LUT by choosing the appropriate blending mode.

Photoshop comes with a variety of LUT's, however you can certainly download free or paid LUT's from the internet. Unfortunately, Photoshop does not have a nice import feature for LUT's similar to adding brushes or actions (perhaps with the next release). For now however the process is manual, which is described fairly well in the PhotoCafe Link.  You can also download some additional LUT's from this site if you wish.  

Suppose you have a favorite edit for many of your images. You could of course save each step within an action, but this can be a little tedious.  To create your own LUT:

  • Make sure your image is on a background layer
  • Create which ever edits that you wish, which could by on a new layer
  • Choose File, export, Lookup table
  • Name your LUT in the format that you wish (typically cube)


Give it a try, and you may like what you see!

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) color contrast creative editing luminosity LUT Photoshop Mon, 24 Jan 2022 13:00:00 GMT
TOO serious? Is your Photography TOO serious?

In the majority of cases we want our subjects to look their very best in their photographs. It may be extensive makeup, it make be wardrobe, it may be the light, or any of the many options in post processing.

While this concept is fairly true, in some cases it can put an exceptional amount of stress not only on your subject but also on the photographer and production team. Most clients will want to enjoy themselves just a little bit. In some cases, this will bring a client will remember a silly shot even more than the more formal images that you have made.  

In the shot above, the girls are just being silly after a more formal photo of their dresses. One must admit that at least some of the faces are really funny.  Of course, one needs to be careful not to be defamatory and publish an image that can tarnish the reputation of someone since even a model release will not protect you in most cases. 

The next time you are working with someone, suggest an shot that they may not necessarily want in their social media profile but could actually show the wild side of their personality!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative Photography Serious Mon, 10 Jan 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Computer Junk Controlling Computer Junk





Over time an incredible amount of Computer Junk Files will appear on everyone's computer. Computer junk files come from various sources when on the internet, but also from computer programs that you think that you have uninstalled. Some files are quite small, only a few kilobytes or some files can can easily be several megabytes.  Allowing enough of these files to accumulate, and it will also certainly affect how efficiently your computer operates. This post will not get into things like viruses or malware, but will briefly discuss some of the more common files that should be cleaned. Think of it as vacuuming the rugs in your house in a regular basis.

Probably one of the most common sources of computer junk is from cookies and other small files that are downloaded to your computer when visiting certain sites.

Depending upon your browser, the display may or may not look similar to the image displayed. However, you should occasionally empty your browser's cache. If you have not done so, you may have thousands of files stored and it may actually take a minute or two to empty the cache.

Another very common source of computer files is from computer programs that your once loaded, and have chosen to uninstall. Windows uninstall is very bad at removing all files from your computer despite displaying the message that the program has been installed. Many programs, by default, will attempt to install to the "C" drive and in some cases will not even give you a choice to determine which drive the files will be loaded. Depending upon the size of your "C" drive, and other factors such as cache or swap directories, your 'C' drive can fill fairly quickly along with the programs that you wish to keep on that drive.

There are programs such as System Mechanic that can help you remove some (but not all) of these files, or even those VERY TECH oriented may work with the computers registry. Working with the computer registry can be relatively dangerous if you are not absolutely sure what your are working with, and is relatively easy to crash your computer working with the registry. 

Lets cover something relatively easy, such as getting rid of an excessive number of JPG or other image files. If you move along carefully this can save space and improve efficiently but be warned that you can still adversely affect program functions if you work carelessly.  An example of a service program downloading an excessive number of image files can be from a online service that allows you to create albums or format photographs in a particular manner prior to ordering. Of course other commercial programs may also leave your with dozens or even hundreds of image files.

I would suggest searching your drive for JPG files using a program such as Agent Ransak to locate where the files are located. If your computer is like many, both currently used and former JPG files will appear in the list.  Your operating system, such as Microsoft windows will likely have quite a few image files.  Lets say that you uninstalled a program called Image master last month and although the program files are gone, you still have hundreds of JPG files. So if you see a directory called Image master with JPG files, it will probably be safe to delete that directory. In rare cases, two programs may share these files such as a program downloaded from the same manufacturer as Image master.  If you have a "Image Master" and "Edit Master" from the same publisher, take care not to delete those files.


File maintenance is important, but should be carefully done. If you are not certain , DON'T delete the files.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Computer files junk Mon, 03 Jan 2022 14:43:03 GMT
Are you Prepared? Are You Prepared?




Recently I  was invited on what I planned to be the last photoshoot of the year. This was to be a short hike to a tunnel overpass for a fashion shoot. Upon arrival to the site I discovered that the hike was traversing several large rocks in order to get to the path, and also somewhat surprised to find a very rocky path with the only easily accessible way through was along the wooden beams on a railroad track.

Yes, I was somewhat surprised, and am well aware of potential dangers of traveling along railroad tracks and tried to avoid them as much as possible.  So, the first thing I 'should' have been prepared for was to ask a little more about the hike.  Second, I found walking along a rocky path unsteady and uncomfortable and should have been better prepared by bringing actual hiking shoes with thicker soles (home in my closet).

Fortunately, the rail road tracks had not been used in quite some time, and found myself eventually walking on the wooden beams between the rails much like other people within the group.  This strategy also slowed my pace as well as others since the beam were close enough for small steps, but were not quite spaced well enough to skip beams for a wider and quicker pace.  I did plan to take my camera gear, so at least my hands were free for this trip and to keep balance.

We started out a little later than ideal, since a group member needed to make a stop before the trip. The event went as planned at the tunnel and even obtained a few lakeside images.  The sun was beginning to set by 4 pm, and we started back to the parking lot. We began to seriously loose light, which was problematic since we needed to find the opening between the rocks to get back to our vehicle.  While some broke out their cell phone lights, I did have a small flashlight in my backpack that helped navigate back to finally complete the trek.


Sometimes as a photographer, you are the location scout, photographer, director, producer and may have other roles. In other cases, you may attend an event where some or not all of the details are made clear or everything may not go as planned. While there are hours and hours of advice as to what photography gear to bring, not quite as much advice is available as to what to bring especially on location shoots. Too much and one can be seriously weighed down, while missing things can certainly become a problem. 

Some things to think about include:

  • Backpacks are usually a good idea. In this case, one of the group had a shoulder bag and as we walked along the bag not only was swinging but she needed to move it from one shoulder to the other to avoid muscle pain.
  • Good walking shoes especially if you are not familiar with the area. Sandals or open toed shoes in this case would have been nasty.
  • Weather- A very light foldable jacket or even an emergency poncho in case of rain (no weather forecast are not always accurate)
  • Cell phone, possibly even with a small battery powered quick charger
  • Small palm sized flashlight or even a light with a headband
  • Small 8 oz water bottle/ energy bar during travel in hot areas.

Of course there are many other things that one could bring with them, but there need to be a balance and no one wants to lugging 50 lbs of gear over rugged terrain.

To wrap up, during your next location shoot think not only what lenses to bring, what non-photography supplies that you may need!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) gear Photography Prepared trip Mon, 20 Dec 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Gels and Collaboration Gels and Collaboration

There are volumes of information available to allow artist to use Gelled light sources such as this one from Lindsay Adler.  This post is not to repeat this information in a short blog post which one could easily learn from a little research on the web. Many of these tutorials review color theory, lighting setups, which modifiers and choosing particular gels.

While this information is essential to getting good results, collaborating with your talent is a step that some of the tutorials miss. Discussing concept(s) with your talent is always a good idea, but certain concepts such as gel photography may need a little more communication upfront before the day of the shoot.

Are you using your Gel as a main light, a fill light, a rim light? Will you be using more that one colored gel? Are you using hard light or diffused light? Warm or cool colors?  While these questions seem to focus around how the photographer designs the set, it will also influence how your talent interacts with the set.

For example, what clothing will your talent bring? What accessories will your talent use? What type of make-up should your model prepare? Do you want your talent to have natural or gelled colors on their skin? If you decide you would like a warm color palate and your talent brings outfits that have a cooler tone to them, it may require some last minute adjustments. Make-up can certainly be a consideration not only for colors, but how the makeup is applied in some cases.

Color wheelColor wheel Remember the old adage, when you assume, it makes an A** out of U and Me.  Don't assume simply because you may have hired an experienced model that the talent understand color relationships.  This is even more important with a subject who may have never posed for this type of concept in the past. It can be amazing if you present the same color swatch to several people, you may get several different answers as to what they believe the color represents!

Sending images through email or worse yet, cell phone images can lead one down a dark path. Your talent may be viewing your messages on a display that may make red look orange  or green to appear to be a shade of blue.


In the perfect world, photographers would provide their talent with all the wardrobe needed in any color and size that may be desired as well as have an expert makeup artist on set to match the palate perfectly.  Well, we can only dream, but in most cases this is far from reality. While there is no perfect answer, asking your talent to bring multiple outfits and avoid extremes of makeup make may your concept flow a little smoother.

One final mention regarding post processing. There are many ways to adjust colors and luminosity in photoshop and other editing programs. One of the quickest and easiest method to try if you don't seem to have effect that you wish is to try to change the white balance.  Depending on your image, the effect may be subtle or rather dramatic.













[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Collaboration Gels Mon, 13 Dec 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Putting your purchases though a Test Drive CuriousCurious Do You put your Purchases through a Test Drive?

As much as we would like to think so, everything we purchase is not up to the quality that has been advertised. This principle applies to both big name brand products as well as lesser know suppliers. Despite what we may learn from on-line research, word of mouth, and past experiences sometimes we may get a bad copy of a product, which is especially true for electronic devices. Thinking about a 'check-out' is even more important around the holiday season.

We may purchase a variety of products in advance either for ourselves or for others during the holiday season.  We may plan to gift and item, or may not use it ourselves saving it for that special day. However, there are some pretty important things to consider particularly since some things may not be immediately obvious to a simple quick look.  There are some time honored things to consider initially such as:

  • Research - Read to bad things about a product as well as the glowing reviews. Keep in mind that some vendors may actually pay to have their products reviewed in a positive manner.
  • How far ahead are you purchasing a product? - You may happen upon a wonderful sale 6 months before a holiday or even a birthday, but what are the return policies if something is wrong? 
  • Keep your receipts. - Particularly for expensive electronics, think about keeping your receipts in a folder or envelope somewhere in your house. If you are gifting, consider providing the receipt to the person receiving the gift.
  • Keep the packaging until you are sure that the device is working. Especially around birthdays and holidays you may be tempted to repackage a gift.  Some retailers require you to return a defective product in its original packing. Even if this is not the case, packages are often custom designed for a product. If you need to mail it back to a retailer the original box will likely be the best way to send it back.
  • Consider using a credit card for the purchase. These cards add some consumer protection and in the case that you run into a uncooperative merchant, you have the option of a charge back process.
  • Accessories- Expensive and easy to find? Keep in mind that if you are purchasing something like a printer, the ink can be VERY expensive and available only from certain retailers.

So, lets say you have decided to buy yourself something nice for your birthday or a holiday. You are pretty good at working though most of the things listed above and you have bought yourself a nice camera or something else electronic. The real question is though how well does it work?

  • Are all the parts present?
  • Does the device charge, or how long does it hold a charge?
  • Does it connect to a home network (how easily)?
  • Is it really compatible with other things that you may have?
  • Are there features that you may not use often, but do they work? This is especially important for complex electronics such as computers, pads, cameras, ect..
  • Is the device user friendly, or do you have to search through on-line manuals to operate most of the features.  Obviously some things are more complex than others but if you need to research even the most common features there could be problems.
  • What kind of warranty do you have, and have your registered your product with the retailer?


Putting a product though it's paces soon after purchase may save you some headaches with a retailer if you are disappointed in the product. Many retailers are willing to work with a customer to assure brand loyalty or at least avoid complaints. Even so, many retailers may work on a slim margin and may make it difficult to work through problems.  Warranty service (when available) may leave you without a product for several weeks especially during busy seasons. You may even have the option in some cases to test out a demo product (such as a camera) in a store that has knowledgeable staff.

Test driving a product may avoid some bitter disappointment!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Drive Test Mon, 06 Dec 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Contact Sheets- Do you need them? Contact Sheets- Do you Need them?





If you are like many photographers, you have a folder of images on your computer, phone, or tablet for inspiration.  They may be of different resolutions, sizes, orientations, colors covering a wide range of subjects. There are several ways to organize these, including a variety of on-line and software options one of which include contact sheets.

Contact sheets have been around for a very long time from the early film days. Contact sheets allowed film based photographers to print negative strips out on a single sheet to help decide in part which images were worthy of enlargements.

In the digital world, contact sheets can provide a valuable resource some of which include:

  • Organizing a series of concept sample images within a binder 
  • Presenting your images to a client in the field in the studio as a quick reminder to poses for a concept
  • A reference to props, lighting and wardrobe which may be stored along with certain props
  • Organizing various images quickly without the need of keyword searches

Although several options for preparing contact sheets are possible, one of the quickest methods is through the Adobe Bridge.









  1. Navigate to the folder in which you have your images stored (essentials)
  2. Select the Output Menu. and you will see a series of your images in a film strip
  3. You have several choices of templates. For this example, I choose a 5x8 template.  You will also have other options such as page size, background color and even file names.
  4. Drag and drop any images that you wish onto the contact sheet.

Once you have your images on the contact sheet, choose "Export to PDF" at the bottom of the page.




You now have a very portable reference which can even be stuck in your pocket if you choose once printed. At a location, this is one less piece of gear the photographer needs to drag along. Using this method one does not have to 'import' files into a gallery which can be a time saver and well as save disk space. When working with a client, the photographer does not have to 'wake up' a computer or tablet or tie up a resource such as a phone.  

Give this a shot and see what you think!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Contact sheets Sun, 28 Nov 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Symmetry in Posing Symmetry and Connections in Posing

There is something special when you can get subjects to pose in a nearly identical manner while showing connection between the two parties. It often takes careful working between the two partners as well as a careful eye on the part of the photographer.

One can certainly use a variety of techniques in photo editing programs to achieve a symmetrical  or even a complimentary pose using only one model. In the image below, the same model was composited onto the image with a different pose using photoshop.

The TwinsThe TwinsMusic Room

One YouTube tutorial can be found through the Photo Extremists if you have not performed this type of photo editing in the past. However, this does have some limitations since the model can not actually 'see' his or her cloned image. Another option could be to 'mirror' and image of the same model in photoshop. A variety of photoshop actions are available though many web based sources.

In the desert image of the models above:

  • Both models knew each other
  • Had worked together in the past 
  • Had similar outfits
  • Had similar physical features

Having a pair of models who compliment each other in several ways can bring forth a vast variety of poses and interactions that would be difficult to accomplish simply using cloned or mirrored images. To be honest, photo cloning and mirroring are fairly obvious to detect even by the casual viewer.

To create dynamic images that don't require quite a bit of editing time, a little pre-production and direction by the photographer is also necessary.  Clothing that compliment each of your subjects is certainly important as well as designing or finding a natural light source that is fairly even on both subjects. Having the subjects that are comfortable with each other is also a key component to obtaining posing that do not look forced or strained.  Subjects with similar physical characteristics also goes toward creating a more unified image.

During the pose itself, it may be necessary for the photographer to fine tune poses. An example may be arm placement or head tilt on one or both of the subjects. At the same time, some poses may be difficult to hold for long periods of time, so the photographer should be ready to make the image at just the right moment. This is almost like choreographing a dance set for a production.


If you get the opportunity, the project can not only create some great images but can also boost confidence for both the models and the photographer in their work!






[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) couple creative education Photography posing Symmetry Mon, 15 Nov 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Immersive Experience An Immersive Experience 

Recently I had the opportunity while in Nevada to attend the Shark Reef Aquarium. The aquarium itself had quite a variety of sealife, but also had a 3D immersive underwater experience similar to what one may find at some of the major theme parks. While it would be difficult to try to simulate that experience without quite  bit of fancy equipment, the basic concept can certainly be followed.

It can very tricky at an aquarium to get really interesting images. One often has to work around crowds, tour guides, low light or very strange lighting patterns mixed with daylight, reflections, moving animals and, well you get the idea.

While not everyone has experienced sealife closeup in real life, most of us have watched at least one movie in our lives that features the underwater world. To create a very memorable experience for both yourself as well as others looking at your images, an ideal approach would be to create images more than just as though you are looking through a glass wall.


  • Most aquariums will have subdued lighting. For this reason you will want a lens with a fairly large aperture (less than f4). 
  • Most aquariums will also have path lights or background lights to keep visitors from falling on their face! This can create a major issue with reflections not only from the light, but images of yourself and visitors. Try to move as close as possible to the glass surface with your lens. 
  • Be sure to remove any lens filters, you will not need them here. One might be tempted to use a polarizer, but this will only reduce the light to your lens even more.
  • There may be lights or even lights with gels within the tanks themselves. Try to avoid those lights in the frame if at all possible. If not, smaller lights can be removed in your editing program.
  • Please do not use a flash!


If you were actually underwater with this creative, what might it look like? Probably not huddled up against a metal plate. Many aquariums simulate natural environments. Try to capture images as close as possible to rocks, coral, seaweed, or any other natural looking underwater props. Be patient, and try to wait until the animal gets as close to midground or foreground as possible. Avoid images that include the back glass plate of the aquarium. Crop in close with your editing program. 


Unlike people, the animals is not going to stop and wait for you to snap its picture (ok, some might). Watch your shutter speed and do not be afraid to go HIGH on your ISO (1250 or more). Shooting in manual mode will often get the best images.  The ocean often has particulates floating in it all of the time, so a little extra noise in your images is certainly ok. In most cases you will need a shutter speed of at least 1/125 sec to capture moving animals.


If you were actually a diver underwater, some animals may be above you, some may actually be below you. When possible, consider different angles.


 During the final editing process, you may need to use filters such as contrast, black and white points, highlights, as well as other controls to get the look that you want. If you take your time, people might actually wonder if you were actually at a undersea adventure!







[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) aquarium creative immersive Photography sealife underwater Mon, 08 Nov 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Not quite so Seamless Not Quite so Seamless

Many  portrait photographers have been in the situation where a model or subject does something spontaneous, it may look good, funny, or in some cases may actually be a 'money shot'.  Unfortunately, you may not be in the perfect position to capture the shot as you would like. 

Seamless paper had some great advantages, and comes in several sizes. It is important though to keep your subject as well as you the photographer with the boundaries of the paper. In some cases, like above, the photographer can capture the edge of the paper. There are a couple of solutions here. One is to ask your subject to repeat the same pose, which may or may not work out with some of the spontaneous moment lost.  One could possibly crop, but as in the case above this would mean cutting off some of the subjects fingers and hand. Of course there are some time intensive compositing techniques one could use, but lets keep this simple.

Sample the backdrop along the edge of the paper that you wish to extend. Then with your paintbrush paint along the border to extend the back drop (you will want to use a large fairly hard brush).  At this point, it may look ideal, since there most likely will be a seam. Despite your best sampling, the color may not match as well as you have liked. You could resort to the healing brush or clone brush. Either may (or may not) get the result that you like.

If your image still is not where you would like it..

  • Select your subject from the background. There are quite a few techniques, use the method that works best for you. 
  • Invert the selection so that the background is selected
  • Now go to Gaussian Blur and select a very high blur rate (over 100)

You may find that your background is practically uniform at this point without that nasty seam and possibly any mild color shift may have resolved.


- Give it a shot, see what you think!




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) backdrop seamless Mon, 01 Nov 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Targeted adjustments- Revisited Targeted Adjustments - Revisited

Photoshop has long had a tool that what Adobe calls a targeted adjustment. It is located under the curves dialog box which looks like a pointed finger.

In theory, you may select a portion of the image with this tool (either in RGB mode, or a color channel) and by moving the 'hand' icon up or down one should be able to achieve the effect desired.  In the real world, this is often not the case. For example, in the landscape image above, it I wanted to increase the reds in the trees, the tool would adjust all reds, including the reds in the tee shirt.  Yes, there certainly other tools such as hue/saturation adjustments, but what if you really wanted to zero down to a very specific part of the image?

You could of course make a selection of that very specific portion of the image and then use one of the adjustment layers just to affect that selection.  There is yet another way to work this issue.

In the image above, the trees below the cliff are very drab. Not at all how I remembered the shot. I could add a vibrance layer, but this would affect the ENTIRE image, and that is not really what I want.

I am going to add a vibrance layer, and then I am going to INVERT the layer mask so that it is black (black conceals).  Now I am going to adjust the vibrance slider to what ever level I wish, and then paint with the brush tool set to white ONLY on the trees below the cliff.  The only portion of the image that is being affected by the vibrance layer is the trees. 

This techniques not only saves the time of having to select and mask portions of the image and can be a great boost to workflow in many types of images. Of course, I could have selected a different type of adjustment layer with a layer mask, so this process is certainly not limited only one type of edit.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) color creative Photography targeted adjustments Mon, 18 Oct 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Lack Luster Images?

Lack Luster Images- Tonal Values in Lightroom and ACR

Many photographers have shot an image that although the camera settings seemed correct, seemed to lack luster when the image appeared on their computer screen especially if shot in the raw format. Sometimes that image may need a little adjustment, or quite a bit. The above image was shot against a grey sky, and of course, the bridge is a steel grey so the image even seemed a little out of focus.  There are a few options here to adjust tonality of an image:

  • Contrast- Increasing or decreasing contrast will increase or decease the level of brightness between adjacent light and dark pixels. The effect is global and will typically affect the entire image.
  • Sharpen - Works along the edges to increase contrast between adjacent pixels. Typically this too is a global effect for the entire image.
  • Texture: Tends to target the mid-tones in the image to sharpen or blur the finer details. A less extreme of clarity and typically does not affect luminance or saturation.
  • Clarity: A more intense version of texture and it darkens contrast areas, reduces saturation, and slightly bleeds over from pixel to pixel. It may increase brightness of an image globally. Clarity in portrait images tend to work globally on midtones.
  • Dehaze: Affect large areas of contrast often resulting in a non uniform color shift by boosting saturation. Can be used on landscape images with foggy or misty appearance.


Many of these controls have a global influence on the image.  Clarity when used very sparingly can soften the skin on portraits but may also brighten an image that may be bright to begin with. Texture has a more subtle effect on portraits and can also soften the skin. Increasing texture can bring out the details in buildings, rocks, and bridges, and other objects with a hard edge in certain landscape images.

Combining one or more of these control may be able to rescue and image that you may have decided to pass by without much thought. Although they may not be able to fix a blurred image due to a shaky camera or missed focal point, but they are certainly worth giving a try.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) contrast lightroom luster sliders Mon, 27 Sep 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Are physical filters useless? Are Physical Filters Useless?

In a time where filters, presets, actions, and assorted other features are available within graphic editing programs as well as cell phones, are physical filters that you apply to your lens useless?

I would argue that they still have a place within mainstream photography. Most photographers try their best to get things right within the camera. There are some great reasons for that including workflow. It can be difficult and time consuming in some cases to duplicate of certain filters even in programs such as photoshop.

Two such filters that I would claims still have a strong place include the neutral density filter and well as a polarizer. Take the two images above, straight out of camera with nothing done other than a little cropping. A circular polarizer was placed on the lens after the first image. Notice the high flare especially on the windshield.  Now take a look at the second image which was polarized. Once can easily see the interior of the vehicle and the glare is not distracting. Granted the effectiveness of a polarizer will depend upon ambient lighting conditions but the effect can be dramatic.  It would be time consuming to get the same detail in post production especially since glare may be so significant to completely blow out highlights.

Another useful filter can be a Variable Neutral Density Filter. There are many out there in the market place ranging from less than $100 to several hundred dollars. Price is often a function of the quality of the glass within the filter.  When one is shooting in bright sunlight, it is often necessary to use a higher f-stop to get a proper exposure. What if you wanted to blur out the background with a shallow depth of field? A neutral density filter, whether a variable unit or a set of filters can come in handy.  Neutral density filters can also allow you to use a very slow shutter speed if the photographer wants to blur water movement, such as from a waterfall.

Take another look at these two filters if you do not already own a set!

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) filters Mon, 20 Sep 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Magic of Duotones

Magic Of Duotones

When some people think of Duotones, they think something along the lines of the image above. The subject is split between one color and another. Yes, there many cases of images which may be colored in one or more tones of color. The technique is fairly simple as shown in this YouTube Video and the results can be very creative if colors are chosen well.

There is MUCH more to Duotones, Tritones, and even Quad tones which is included in the current release of photoshop. There are dozens of possible combinations and it is possible to change the background of a subject without the use of masks, cut-outs, or any other extraction mode. This is one of my longer posts, so please bear with me.


I photographed my subject against a grey background, and then loaded the image into photoshop. Like most things in photoshop, there are many ways to proceed, but I will try to describe a technique that is very flexible.  First steps include:

  • Duplicating the image (Control J)
  • Making the duplicate a smart object (right click on the layer, and choose convert to smart object)
  • Now double click on the smart object to open the 'protected image'

  • Click on the Image menu
  • Choose the Mode selection
  • Your image moving forward will need to be 8 bit (not 16 or higher)
  • Reselect mode again (if necessary) and convert your image to Greyscale
  • Once again, under the mode selection, choose Duotone


A dialog box will open will a dozens of presets that you can choose from. Consider the many emails that you may receive on a daily basis for photoshop actions and Lightroom presets. Some of these offers can get expensive, and yet you have a large library of possibilities.

You could continue to Tritones, or even quad tones, but for this post lets keep it simple.  Choose one of the presets and your image will change color corresponding to the preset that you have chosen.

Now, save your project (file-save), then return to your original document.

Your New image now rests above your original picture.  You can adjust opacity of the newly created image if you wish if it appears too intense. The next step is to blend the two images together.  You can scroll through the blend modes, however in my case I wanted to go with soft light blend mode.

So you can see, I how have a blue toned background with almost the skin tone of my original subject intact. In some cases however one additional step may be necessary when the blue tone overlaps onto the subject. There seems to be a little bleed over, especially in the subjects hand.


To normalize the skin tone back to the original, Choose layer styles (Fx button at the bottom of the adjustment panel) to bring up blending options.

Sliding the "Underlaying layer" slider to the right will bring back some of the natural tone to the skin from the subject. 


A video description of this This process can be found with step by step instructions relating to background material and some additional editing tips. Although the speaker does not deal directly with changing the background, clearly it can be done with a little experimentation when it comes to blending modes.











[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) blending creative duotone education Photography Mon, 13 Sep 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Triggers - how many? Triggers- How many?

If you shoot with photographic strobes most photographers will understand that the shutter release signal needs to get to the studio strobe in some manner in order for it to fire. There are several ways you may be able to get this to happen.

  • Synched camera and studio strobe
    • The camera talks to a specific strobe and fires the strobe(s) on command. This can be very convenient, but then again you are limited to that system. If you go to an event that has studio strobes other than what your camera can signal, you may be shooting with natural light inside a darkened room (not good).
  • Wired connection 
    • While it is certainly possible to connect a synch cable from your camera directly to your strobe and this can be very reliable. The problem of course is short cables, tangled cables, and it can be difficult to make this work with more than one strobe.
  • Speedlight -optical triggered
    • If your studio strobes can be optically triggered (most can), pointing a speedlight at the ceiling or a reflector aimed at the studio strobes can work in a pinch. The problem comes into play with a very high or dark ceiling and the optical sensors are hidden with modifiers.
  • Wireless Triggers
    • Clearly the most common and most convenient for most photographers.  Most are very reliable and are available from a variety of vendors.  A transmitter is mounted on the camera, and a receiver is attached to the studio strobe.

A valid question is how many wireless triggers do you actually need? That really depends on how many studio strobes that you own and how you use them.  If you use bare bulb strobes or modifiers such as umbrellas or even softboxes, you may be able to deal with one transmitter and one receiver. An umbrella or even a bare bulb will typically scatter enough light to fire quite a few strobes if the strobes have optical slave functions.

But suppose you have a modifier that has a grid?

The light can get so focused that one strobe may not be able to 'see' light coming from another studio strobe using the optical trigger feature depending how you have arranged your lighting around your subject. In this case, each individual studio strobe must have a wireless trigger and in many cases set to the same channel. Depending on the model of the trigger, this can become VERY expensive often costing hundreds of dollars. So the question you may ask yourself is do you use a very similar lighting setup for each concept. Do you experiment with different lighting setups? How much room to you have to be flexible with your lighting setups?

If you vary your lighting setups, is there a budget minded option?  The answer is yes of course there is a budget option. Vendors such as Neewer supplies the budget minded photographer with trigger sets such as:

that can meet the need of many individuals with a limited budget who many occasionally need many triggers for multiple lights. While these triggers may not be the high end name brand triggers than many are used to carrying in their camera bag, they certainly can come through in a pinch and are typically reliable.  If your typical go to triggers are not quite operating the way you may like, an extra set of triggers may be just what you need!






[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) education Photography Triggers Mon, 06 Sep 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Traveling light- need a subject? Traveling Light- Need a subject?

Recently I needed to make a presentation featuring how to shape light to a small group. I really was not sure how many people were actually going to show up for this meeting, and even if one of the group would be willing to model, he/she could miss the information. My options were to bring a professional model or try to bring a life like manikin.  Funds were tight, and the full sized manikin did not quite fit into my light case.

I happened to like Halloween, so I had several foam heads in storage so I chose one which was relatively lifelike. I pulled a small lightstand out and hung an old shirt on it. It really did not work well for representing a human torso.

So I pulled and old wire coat hanger out of the closet (I could have just as easily used Craft Wire) as long as it was at least 18 gauge. I secured the hanger with some gaffers tape (non sticky) and molded a set of shoulders to give the subject some form. I buttoned my old shirt around the neck of the home made manikin, mounted the head on the light stand and a quick and easy subject was born (ok, the shoulders are uneven in the shot above). 

For my purposes and possibly anyone who is just testing out lights, this subject worked very well. I was able to find a flesh colored foam head, but a human face mask could have worked. White heads without human features tend not to work quite as well if one is trying to get a real feel for the exposure. Be careful not to spray paint a white wig foam head since the solvent in the spray paint will melt the foam!

Manikins can be expensive, with a plastic human appearing manikin starting at about $150 and above. Fiberglass manikins can often cost much more and articulating manikins can easily cost several hundred dollars and above. Full sized manikins can be bulky to move and painted manikins are prone to chipping. 

The next time you need a subject quickly or need to travel light yourself, give this project a try!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) lighting manikin photography subject Mon, 30 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Creative Light Masking-Drama Creative Light Masking- Drama

Creative light masking and shaping typically involves molding light to allow it to fall where you wish, and prevent it from spilling into unwanted areas of an image. There are dozens of light modifiers that soften and redirect light but creating drama typically needs a little more planning than off the shelf modifier. 

Suppose you wish to create an image similar to above, with just highlighting a portion of your subject. This image appears a little mysterious, dramatic, and even relates a little to some of the images that you may see in movies. Of course you may be able to create such an image in post production, but what does it take to create it in camera. Now, you can purchase a dedicated device such as The Wellmaking device , but there are other options that many studio photographers already have immediately available to them.

Here are a few things that may be helpful:

  • A studio strobe 
    • A constant light could be used, if you have a means of a tight focus
  • A snoot with a grid
    • You may be able to achieve a similar effect with high end lighting, zoom reflectors, and small grids, but this option is much more expensive and complex.
  • A dark background
    • Ideally black or grey
  • A cut out mask/gobo. OK, so you may ask where do I get these? The easiest and most creative way is to make a mask out of sturdy construction paper, or you could order a set Design Gobo's.  If you make your own, you can custom fit it onto your snoot. You can certain make any cut out shape that you wish.

Now you are set to shoot:

  1. Set up your snoot on your studio strobe and turn on your modeling light positioned about 2 feet from your subject, then insert your gobo while  positioning light until you get a reasonably crisp image. If you are using a snoot with a grid, cut the gobo to fit directly into your grid housing.
  2. Set your camera to manual, with an ISO of 1250 to start, F 2.0, and a shutter speed as fast as possible (1/60 sec or better) depending on your lens.  You may need to mount your camera on a tripod. Adjust ISO as necessary.


In post production, adjust highlights and shadows according to your personal preference.  Of course, if you plan on using creative light masking on a regular basis you may choose to purchase one of the commercial units with a focusing lens from companies such as Godox, Newer, or Wellmaking.  






[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative Light masking Photography Mon, 23 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Old- not so great images Do you have older, not great images?

Many people have photographs from many years ago, some taken with early digital cameras and even scanned images from film cameras. It goes without saying, that every image whether digital or in print does not need to be a masterpiece. Sometimes an image can bring back pleasant memories from the past even if the photo itself is not the best quality. But, what if you want to bring just a little bit of life into the image?  This post will not deal with restoring very old damaged photo's, but rather older images that simply lack luster.

The photo above was taken over 20 years ago with a plastic point and shoot camera. It was a overcast day at a beach. Certainly not a really bad image, but is certainly flat. Can we bring a little life back into the image while still keeping the overall mood? Of course we can.

I wanted to keep the moody appearance of the image but wanted give it a little spark. The greyed out sky was an area that I wanted to improve.  Programs such as Luminar and Photoshop  both have sky replacement features. There are also a variety of third party vendors that offer a quite variety of skies( Sky replacement). Sources such as Etsy has sky packs for less than $5 Sky replacement packs.  The key in using the sky replacement is to try to match light and at least close to your original image. While Photoshop and Luminar typically do a great job in replacing skies, there are some images, particularly poorly scanned images, that either program will not be able to fix automatically. In these cases, here is a very quick and easy was to manually replace a sky Sky replacement in 2 minutes.

Of course, we will often will need to make additional adjustments to these images. Some valuable changes that I have found in landscape images include:

  • Increasing contrast
  • Increasing clarity
  • Opening Shadows
  • Reducing noise
  • Vibrance and Saturation
  • Sharpening the image

I am also including the following reference that includes some detail as how to adjust sharpness and noise if you use Lightroom to edit your images Sharpness and Contrast.

Take a look at your old images, and see if you can breathe a little more life into them!





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) editing education old Photography replacement skies Mon, 16 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Templates Have You Used Photoshop Templates?

As artists, we often want to create our own original work from start to finish. That certainly is a goal that we should all strive for in most cases, but there may be exceptions now and again. Suppose you have a concept, and you may not have the artistic drawing skill to bring your concept to life? There may may time limitations that although you could draw your concept, it may actually take you several days to bring it to life. There is another option, photoshop templates.  If you have ever used a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, you probably understand what a template may be.  It essentially is a pre-formatted element that one may insert other items into to create a final product. In word, this could be a business letter, a business card, or even a flyer.

Photoshop has pre-installed templates, that are fully licensed and Adobe allows you to use for your personal projects.  Quite a number of templates are available on the internet, and if one chooses to go this route please make sure that it is licensed for the purpose that you have in mind. The following video (Ok, it is a little wordy) Using a photoshop template  outlines the steps necessary to insert your image into a prepared template.


  • Make a COPY of the template before you start.
  • Open the template
  • Click on the small square in the corner of the template (it will often say insert image here)
  • A new window will open where you can then paste and size your image
  • Save the project 

Depending on the template, text may be included and the above video also reviews how to alter the text. One can often move the image around slightly even after the image has been saved within the template frame.  There are numerous Youtube videos that will explain how to create your OWN templates. This can be very valuable for future projects where one may have spent hours or days on artwork, and potentially may want to insert different views of a subject into the template.  This can be an incredible time saver!  As mentioned in steps above be sure to make a copy of the template before you import any image. Once saved, the template contains your imported image and can be time consuming to start over with the original template.


If you have not used templates before, give them a try!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative Photography Photoshop Templates Mon, 09 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Some thoughts on beach photo's Some Thoughts on Beach Photo's

Quite a few people flock to the beaches during the summer and apart from the water there are quite a few photo Ops that we can take advantage of during our trip.


One thing to think about even before you hit the beach is 'how will I protect my gear'? The most obvious threat is sand and water so think about how will you keep you equipment clean? Sand can blow, be transferred by your hands, and can easily transfer from clothing or even your cloth camera bag. Think about putting your camera into a hard shelled case for the day, possibly even water proof. There are quite a few options out there but one of the most cost effective can come from Harbor Freight.  Be sure to bring a lens cleaning kit along with you. Strongly consider using a telephoto lens, even if that is not your norm. Remember, each time you change a lens, you potentially expose the inner workings to sand.

What about heat? Leaving your camera equipment hot temperatures for extended periods of time may degrade the cameras function. Returning your camera to your car is usually not the best option since the temperature inside a car can easily reach 105 degrees F while sitting in the sun. 

Do you really need to bring your most expensive camera with all the accessories? The reality is that there are those on a beach just looking to 'pick up' expensive equipment.


While some people dismiss the idea of screw on UV filters, this filter at the beach can potentially keep an expensive lens from accumulating sand and scratches. Just be sure you purchase a quality filter so not to degrade your images.  A polarizer filter can also help here, but reducing unwanted reflections from the water or sand. 

Giant Reflector Compensation>>

Just about everything is going to reflect light at the beach. Sand, water, sidewalks, some rocks, buildings etc... and can really throw off the metering in your camera.  Using exposure compensation controls on your camera can actually bring out the texture in the sand (-1 EV will underexpose). Look for areas that may have a bit of shade, and if you are shooting people in the afternoon sun consider a inexpensive speedlight to lessen harsh shadows.  Also consider SPOT metering if you want to avoid overexposure or underexposure of your images.  Check your histogram frequently on the back of your camera. 

Beach Sunsets >>

Can be tricky to be certain as the light values will often change minute by minute.  One of the manual modes, aperture, time, or manual is usually best for this type of shot. Take a meter reading from the sky starting at about F8. Bracket your shots by one stop in either direction, and in many cases your camera will allow you to auto bracket.  Based on the camera, it may either change the F-stop or exposure compensation value, and will allow you to take 3 or more shots normally exposed, underexposed, and then overexposed. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust your ISO manually as light level changes.


Beach shots can be dramatic- give it a try the next time you are on vacation!




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Beach creative Photography shots Mon, 02 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
The Best Camera is... The Best Camera is... The One You Have With You!

Camera manufacturers from most brands put out new models every 12 to 16 months and often several versions of each model. Lenses complete with the finest optics made. Prices can range from a $500 for a starter lens/camera to several thousand dollars for just the camera body alone.  Cell phones with high end optics can run well over $1,000 per phone.  Yet, is there an ideal for everyone in each circumstance?

Before I go any further, this is not a camera comparison post nor is it is to recommend a specific camera. I have blog posts in the past that deal with various cameras and there are many sites such as DPReview that can help you if you are looking at your first camera and lens, or are just thinking to upgrade what you may already own.

As mentioned, cameras can be expensive and many are bulky. The trend toward mirrorless cameras is certainly making things a little lighter to carry around, yet they remain VERY pricey. So, do you want to take $10,000 or more equipment to be beach with you to lug around on a hot day, risking sand and water damage? Do you want your modifiers to fly off the end of cliff like a kite? Do you want to be walking around in a crowded street with someone who may be looking to steal an expensive camera and sell it within 30 minutes?

One does not necessarily need their best camera with them under all circumstances. Of course, if a photographer is being paid by a client, the client will want the best results possible. Yet, suppose the photographer is just on a family vacation?   A studio photographer has almost total control of the environment, yet once outdoors many things can and do happen unexpectedly and sometimes fairly quickly.

In every circumstance it is really necessary to set everything in manual mode? Aperture priority can lead to some pretty bad ISO or shutter speeds.  Shutter priority can also lead to some unfortunate choices in aperture or ISO. Yet, there is the dreaded PROGRAM mode, that some professionals try to avoid at all cost (By the way, depending on the camera, it is a very viable option in some cases).


The next time you go out, especially for a personal project, consider what you really need (or don't need). For anyone who may choose to read this blog to the end, the images shown were taken with a $200.00 cell phone!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Camera cell phone cost quality theft weight Mon, 26 Jul 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Was I drunk or what? Was I Drunk or What?

Sometimes it happens, and one may not really be sure why, but the camera is not quite level during a shot.  It could be that the photographer was shooting fast, the background happened to move, taking pictures while traveling on a vehicle, or some other reason :)

This can be very disturbing when vertical or horizonal lines are within the image. It could be the wall, as above, or it could just be the horizon on a landscape shot.  Fortunately, in many cases in Lightroom, Photoshop, or several other editing programs, there is a solution.

Many photographers are aware of the ruler (or align) tool in their editing program. This shot shows an image from Lightroom. Grab the ruler tool, draw a line along a vertical or horizontal line within the image and in many (not all) cases the image is now level.  This is often at the expense of cropping out part of the image as seen above the process has cropped out a portion to the bottom and right of the image (Hint: It is almost always a good idea to shoot a little wide).

Lightroom also has additional tools when the ruler just does not work for an image. 

The transform section in the develop module of Lightroom can potentially save an image when the ruler of a simple crop will not straighten a image.  The dialog box has several buttons as well as some manual control over the photograph. My experience has been the vertical button can be the most useful. Lets take a look at one more image below:

The image to the far left is well...slanted.  In this case the ruler tool did not help much.  If we take a look at the transform box and select the vertical button, we get a crop similar to the second image. The tool has cropped the right and left side of the image quite substantially leaving white space to either side of the shot. We could of course continue to crop out the white space, but here is yet another option within the transform box.  By scaling and adjusting the aspect of the image we are able to get close to what we hoped for in the original picture.  Again, as with the ruler tool, one can see that a substantial portion of the image still is absent from the final product.

Of course you can always experiment with the other sliders such as the vertical horizontal slider, to see what works best for your final image. The "Auto" button seems to generally result in the worse results.  Also keep in mind, there is also LENS  CORRECTION tool also found in Lightroom that may also be able to help.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) crop lightroom Photography Transform Mon, 12 Jul 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Is there any benefit to Model Mayhem anymore? CuriousCurious Is There any Benefit to Model Mayhem Anymore?

Model Mayhem was once a go to resource for nearly all within the modeling and photography world. Founded in 2005, it once boasted over 6 million members world wide. One could find photographers, models, makeup artists, wardrobe designers, as well as many other professionals. Members could issue casting calls, network in forums, participate on contests, create online portfolios, as well set up events with other members.

Although all features still remain, membership has dropped significantly to slightly over 1 million members as of today, many of which are active members. There could certainly be many reasons for the decline, which no doubt includes the popularity of several social media platforms. Controversy has long surrounded the service since nearly anyone could join with only a few images for approval.  New memberships are slower than many other competing services.

Everything considered, Model mayhem does still retains some valuable services even at the free membership level. For example, lets say you are looking for a specific type of model within a certain genre, age, hair color, etc.  One could apply various filters and search by state and city a model that met your requirements. That can be a real time saver when compared to most other means of searching out models. One could also search for photographers, makeup artists, retouchers, or even body painters.

To use the service effectively though, an important detail to take notice of is when the last time a member has logged into the service. Some members may have logged in a hour ago, some members may not have logged in for almost a year. Taking the time to contact only active members can certainly produce some powerful leads.  If you are traveling to a new state, or even country you may be able to find just the right person locally without having to pay to fly in talent to your location and therefore may save some production costs.  One can ask for help in a number of forums, and there almost someone willing to express his or her opinion.

Premium membership is about $6/month currently which allows you access to things such as unlimited casting calls. The service still provides options that one may readily find elsewhere and is certainly worth taking a look at or revisiting if you are a member who has not signed in recently.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Mayhem Model Mon, 05 Jul 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Hotels- An Option? SecretSecret Are Hotels a Viable Studio Alternative?

Studio rentals can be expensive by the hour and can subject to availability by location and slots available for photography. When lighting and modifiers are provided, such equipment may not be what a photographer is comfortable using on a regular basis. Home studios are an option, but of course that means bringing strangers into your home as well as a dedicated space in most cases. Owning a studio property almost requires a steady income to cover the cost of operating the property even if it is not used on a regular basis.  So, can Hotels be an occasional option?

There are reasons why this could be an attraction option in some cases.  Hotels are available in almost any location that one can think of so they are convenient for the photography and modeling community.  They are certainly cost effective when comparing an equivalent amount of time in a commercial studio space. Some major hotel chains even have restaurants  and other stores nearby.

On the other hand, hotel chains discourage commercial operations on their property. In some cases, you may actually be told to leave if management discovers that you are engaging in a photoshoot.  As with anything, some careful planning is needed when deciding if a hotel is right for you.

  • Have you actually visited the hotel before? What are the rooms like? Some budget hotels have rather small rooms with furniture bolted to the floor so it can not be moved.  
  • What do you plan to shoot? A straightforward boudoir, lifestyle, or fashion shoot may work out well, but if you are shooting something potentially messy you could end up with a cleanup bill on your credit card.
  • How much equipment will you need? Keeping it to essentials will benefit you. If you are noticed carrying in bags of equipment or worse yet assembled photo gear you could attract unwanted attention.
  • Are you shooting with a single subject, or a group throughout the day?  High levels of foot traffic in and out of your room may also attract unwanted attention, especially if you are not in a resort area. Also keep in mind that space will likely be limited.  Any model should be attentive to wardrobe especially outside of your room.
  • Perceptions- There may be excellent reasons why a hotel is a good idea such as a suitable studio may not be located at an area where both you and your talent wish to work. On the other hand, your professionalism may be questioned if you book a bargain rate hotel in an isolated place.

If you do decide a hotel is a good choice, here are some additional tips:

  • Exercise superior communication with any talent. Specifically WHY are you shooting at THAT hotel? Stay on concept which is important for any photoshoot and avoid changing concepts simply because a bed is available. Working with professional models is highly encouraged since experienced models are likely to understand your reasoning for shooting at a hotel.
  • Choose at least a mid-range hotel. Talent walking into a room with stained carpets and water stained walls will not give your talent a good impression of you as a professional.
  • If your room has an exposed window exposed to the outside, close the curtains. Other hotel guests may easily walk past your room.
  • Consider your angles and strobe power.  Strobe flashes, particularly during the evening, may attract unwanted attention.


With a little preparation and good communication, a hotel may your answer to getting some great images.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) hotels photography Mon, 28 Jun 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Airbnb - an opportunity? BeachBeach AirBnb- An Opportunity?

Airbnb is a world wide agency that operates a travel and lodging service as an alternative to traditional hotels and motels. Many times properties are offered from individuals who may own condos, vacation homes, or even apartments at rates that rival rates and accommodations provides by the major commercial travel chains. 

As you may expect, marketing is a major aspect of this company and as such requires photographers and even videographers to highlight properties. Although the company certainly maintains a regular staff they also hire freelance workers.

Are you a photographer that enjoys making images of buildings and home both exterior and interiors? Can you light a larger area properly? Can you tell an exciting story about a building that you may have visited? Are you interested in working with a company that has a brand that you can easily support?

Airbnb is also looking for freelance photographers who would like to photograph properties that are relatively close to their own home. The company allows you a reasonable amount of freedom, but of course images will be submitted to editorial staff in order to be published as part of their team.  Although real estate photographers sometimes have specialized high end equipment, the company only requires a wide angle lens, a 16 mp camera, tripod, and basic retouching skills to start.  While you may not be doing any wildly creative work for the company, it could be a good start if you are interested in this genre.


Air bnb


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Airbnb Photography Mon, 21 Jun 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Paid site Usage? CuriousCurious So Your Model Wants to use Your Image on Her Paid Site

Paid sites (fan sites) are very common these days and are used by a wide variety of people, including of course models. I have discussed copyright in the past, so I will not be delving into that deep topic, but lets assume that she wants to use the images that you and she (or he) may have made to earn some extra income.  Clearly, photography can be a very expensive venture on many levels, but models also incur expenses.

Discovering your images on a paid site without permission can lead to some nasty and time consuming issues, but lets suppose you and the model likes your images and have had the paid site discussion and have agreed as long as she gives you credit. By the way, this discussion should always occur regardless of a paid or trade shoot. A photographer may send a model a few images as a courtesy even after a paid event even through it is not required. If you were paid as the photographer, the discussion still occur as to what the model wishes to do with images delivered.

The model has a significant following in social media, so lets say you agree that you are going to License a certain number of images to be used on the site. You become the Licensor and the model becomes the Licensee.  As part of this arrangement, consider:

Exclusive or Non exclusive: Do you want to use the images on your site as well as the model using the images on her site? Keep in mind that if you duplicate the same image(s) at the same time, you may be diluting each others efforts.

Unlimited Use: The model can use on any site that she or he wishes for as long as he/she wants. Usually it is a good idea to build a reasonable time frame into these agreements.  Are there sites that you do not want the images published?

Format: Digital or Print?  Sizes? Providing both formats will require extra time on the photographers part.

Number of images: Again, more processing time.


 If you were paid for the shoot, and discussed commercial or even retail use of the images, then your rate for the shoot should be adjusted upward accordingly. There are numerous examples of pricing available and can vary significantly depending upon what region you work within. Regardless of the nature of the shoot, licensing can be a tricky situation. You may want to be compensated for your creative efforts, but there is also a relationship with your client model to be considered. You may not wish to damage a professional relationship by imposing tight terms.  In some cases, non-monetary licenses could benefit both parties in additional modeling sessions are offered at no fee.  Here is one source to get you started Photo Licensing.






[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) License Mon, 14 Jun 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Office Work (Part IV of series) CuriousCurious Office Work (Part IV of Organizational Info)

My last three posts focused on Market info, Communication, and budget. The 4th in this series tend to tie much of the info together in a resource that many of us have used at work, school, or even home, Microsoft Office.

As some may know, Microsoft Office has been around for 20 years first release in 2000. Over the years it has had many competitors, most notably Wordperfect was in tight competition with Microsoft Word for many years.  MS office still has able competitors, even a free options such as google workspace, LibreOffice, and Openoffice just to name a few.

Core components of MS office are Word, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint which are most commonly used in business and educational settings.  Professional versions include Access (database), Publisher (desktop publishing), Note (notebook), and in some editions Lync (Video conference), and Infopath (data collection/organization).

As professionals in the photography industry, we almost certainly will have need for a word processing program such as MS word, and next most commonly used would be and Excel spreadsheet. So where is all of this going?

For many years, MS office was a stand alone product, however Microsoft has followed other companies such as Adobe and has created the subscription model of MSoffice 360 (various editions).  The subscription model may work for you, but since some still even resist moving to the Photoshop/Lightroom subscription model from Adobe there is hope.

You could of course use one of the free programs, which honestly work very well in most cases. Suppose you REALLY want MSoffice? You are familiar with the interface from work or school and really do not want to spend time learning how to navigate a new suite.  There is hope!

Mr. Key  Shop is a highly trusted site where one can purchase fairly recent versions of non subscription versions of MSOffice at very reasonable prices. In fact, MSoffice 2019 is only $89.00 with older versions costing at little as $44.00. Software is avaiable via download with complete licensing info provided. If you do not need the absolute latest version of MSoffice this is a very budget conscious deal!   

BEWARE of sites that offer  versions of MSoffice for $10 - $20. The old saying that "If it is too good to be true, it probably is not" are words well spoken. Trust Pilot rates Mr. Key Shop as a "5" which is considered excellent in terms of reliability.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) MSoffice Mon, 07 Jun 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Your Market CuriousCurious Understanding Your Local Market

There are literally reams of articles, countless experts, and hundreds of Youtube video's that will feature the topic of understanding your market. This post is not intended to repeat or go into the great depth that has already been covered many times before. But regardless of whether you may be just starting out, or have been in business for a few years, it can help to have ready to use tools that are accessible and relatively easy to use.

One tool is a site called Photobooker which has been developed through Zenfolio. The intended focus of the site is to allow clients to find a photographer in their community that offers a service that the client may be interested in booking. For example, you can search the site for headshot photographers in Newark, New Jersey.  The search will bring up photographers in this area that offer Headshots.  The site will show an image that the photographer has posted, his/her rating, and hourly rate. The site will also provide allows the photographer to provide a short intro as well as display some work.  So... How can you use this information?

First, the site does allow you to sign up, provide sample images, and a short into to your services. A client can book directly from the site, and the promises only vetted high quality photographers. Obviously, this can be a time saver for some and open doors that the photographer may not had access to in the past.

A second benefit though, can be just as valuable. The site will show you that there are XX number of photographers that have signed up to use the service in YOUR area.  In the example of Newark Delaware, There are 86 photographers who have subscribed to the service and provide headshots. It does cast a pretty wide net, since some are photographers located in New York.  So, lets say that you want to to provides headshots as part of your business. This search will tell you how much each of the listed photographers are charging for this service. By reviewing the information closest to your location, you can determine what a reasonable rate that you may wish to charge for that service. Obviously, there are quite a few factors that go into a calculation as to what your CODB (Cost of Doing Business) may be in your case. Once again, there a numerous tools and spreadsheets to help with this calculation which include items such as rent, equipment, utilities, payroll, etc.. One such tool is through NPPA.

Obviously, you don't want to undercut yourself, and operate a business operating in the red.  A rate too low may make clients question the quality of your service. On the other hand, if you rates are well above the average for your area  you may see potential clients looking for a more competitive rate.  The choice is of course yours where you set your fees and you gain more experience your rates may climb toward the top tier of your geographic area.

Take a look a the site, it certainly has a dual purpose which may aid in how your operate and develop your business.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) CODB Competition Market Mon, 24 May 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Keeping yourself organized on a budget HappyHappy Keeping Organized on a Budget

The past year has been very hard for most people, especially with the pandemic and economy. Many businesses have shuttered their doors for a variety of reasons. While it has always been important to stay organized and methodical, in practice it can very difficult.  This especially true when dealing with the public and even co-workers.

Paper management systems can be VERY tedious, especially if other team members need to access similar information at the same.  Clearly, there is no lack of companies willing to sell business management software and with many companies moving to a subscription model, this can cost several hundred dollars per year!  For those who have stand alone copies of integrated office programs such as Microsoft Office including Excel (still available on site such as Ebay), this can be option which a variety of downloadable templates. As convenient as this may be, if the spreadsheets formulas need to be customized and linked to other spreadsheets, some specialized knowledge is certainly required.

Trello is a Free project management service that is loosely based on a Kanban board system.  Think of the sticky notes on a white board going all the way across describing ideas, stages of a project, who is responsible, and all without the mess to clean up afterwards. The service allows for standardized templates or you can design your own.  A calendar feature or voting options is available with the free service, and of course you can opt in for additional features for an annual fee.

Another service that takes a slightly different path is Asana. Starter program for this service is also free and allows for a fairly robust integration of team members input into a project or projects. One can assign a specific person to a certain project with a due date. Calendar and board views are also available with this service. Lists can be private or shared with an entire group. Both Trello and Asana are available as mobile Apps, which is also a major plus when out on the road. 

So, what if you are sort of a grass roots person, and want to built an integrated system yourself that is totally private?  Of course this is going to take a little more work on your part but is certainly possible. A service such as Tiaga may be a good choice for you. The starter package is again free, but for about $5.00 per month you obtain a step up in resources that is a reasonable value for your money.


We all need a little help now and again, so it may be worth taking a look at some of these services to see if they may be right for you.





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) group management organized projects. Mon, 10 May 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Do you and your client understand? HappyHappy Do You and Your Client Understand?

One of the most satisfying things in the photography and modeling profession can be when everyone is on the same page for an entire project. The who is involved, where are we meeting, when are we meeting, how much (if any) money is involved, what do I need to provide, just to mention a few important details.  How do you accomplish this in an ever increasingly complex world?

Are people just glancing at your website? Have they read an email that you have sent three weeks ago (or worse yet, accidentally deleted it).  Are they dodging phone messages? Do they really understand, despite your best efforts?  Even info sent through traditional postal services can get misplaced by some people. It can be frustrating and even time consuming if a client arrives on set and is confused or disagrees on an aspect of the meeting.

Although no method is completely foolproof, one option is to have a client engage in an interactive document that can be saved electronically or even printed for reference.  From model releases to more involved contracts, the more actively involved that one is when looking at a future engagement the more likely that things may stick in their mind.  Some may rely on products such as Adobe PDF products that allow for an electronic signature. Once again, some people will skim over a document and then sign it, yet claim ignorance on part of what they have just signed.

One service Doc Hub, may be able to help.

This service will allow for customized documents, but of course many services and even stand alone software will allow you to create your own documents.  This service will allow you to send a document to a potential client, and then take the client through each field that needs to be completed. Multiple parties can sign a document, to see what other players roles may be, and then send the document back to you although this feature is still needs to be refined. The service will take a potential client through each necessary field, step by step until the form is complete. It then becomes a legally binding document.  Best of all, you can start out with a free account that allows 5 signatures on your part, and 3 return requests. The Pro version is about $60/yr which by most standards is reasonable and allows unlimited signatures.


Take a look at the site, it may be just that you need!




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) communication documents education plan understand Mon, 03 May 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Can the Healing Brush Help? Can The Healing Brush Help?

You may own a collapsible background, which is typically about 5 ft x 7 ft. They can be very convenient for a number of reasons. They fold up to about 1/3 of their expanded size, they are spring loaded so they set up much faster than almost any other form of background, and they are basically wrinkle free. These can be found B&H Photo as well as many other photo dealers.

These backgrounds are useful for head shots, 3/4 shots, and even seated poses. They are often reversible and if one side is white, they can also serve as a reflector. Sometimes however, depending on your subject, your composition may run outside the limits of this background. This can be distracting to the viewer and usually needs to be fixed in post production.

One method of fixing the problem may be to crop in a little tighter on your subject. This could work unless a body part is very close to the edge of the background. You may end up cutting off a body part that you had not intended.  There are several other go to tools that you could try such as content aware fill or even content aware scale. These techniques may work depending upon your background and how it may have been lit.  You could also try sampling the color, and then painting out the offending borders. You may even be willing to try the clone stamp (very tedious in many cases).

Many of these techniques may leave a blotchy appearance if the background is not lit perfectly and the material has a completely uniform appearance. This means even more time in post production!  One technique that I have found to be helpful is the healing brush.  

Starting on the main background, and while using a large brush cover the offending border to the background. You may find that not only has the border vanished, but the color tone is perfectly matched with the rest of the background. Hardness should be set to at least mid-level or else the edges may appear very soft.  You will also want as large of a brush as you can manage while not crossing over into your subject.

This technique will certainly work with the more traditional backgrounds that are solid in color.  Patterned backgrounds can be hit or miss depending upon the nature of the background. Give it a try the next time you have an annoying border to a background and you may be surprised how easy the fix may be!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) brush education Healing Photography Photoshop Mon, 26 Apr 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Can Dandelions help? Can Dandelions help?

Although lawn owners may curse these small yellow weeds that appear every year, they can be helpful in a number of ways. There are many articles such as Promoting Health through the use of dandelions, but since this blog centers around photography, let me focus on that area.

As the weather gets warmer, many photographers choose to shoot outdoors featuring nature shots. These images can range from the fashionable subject in a maxi dress, to a more casual summer dress. Some even may strive for the Bohemian look when photographing outdoors within fields of flowers.  Surreal images are possible with almost a endless supply of filters, movement and even varying the DOF within images.  A prop crown can even be created using Dandelions which children will almost always enjoy.

The delicate white plant that spread seeds so easily has been featured in almost every type of nature photography ranging from fine art to subjects gently blowing the seedlings into the wind.

Here is an unusual idea for a photographer who may be planning an outdoor shoot, but rain or something else forces the shoot to be held within a studio.  Home supply stores often have carpets or rugs that have a grass like appearance to them ranging from the very short putting green type carpets to the more realistic long blade grass. Some of these carpets can quite expensive and bulky coming in 12 foot widths which can be a problem to store especially in a small studio. But suppose you opt for the smaller pre-cut carpet with grass blades barely 1/4" tall. This can a little unrealistic in a couple of ways.

Grass is rarely a uniform green color, even within manicured golf courses. These carpets tend to be a uniform dark green, but we can fix that in a couple of ways.  One way in pre-production is to purchase a can of light yellow spray paint.  Standing at least 18 inches from the carpet LIGHTLY dust the carpet with paint in random places so that the 'grass' has a more natural appearance to it.  A method that could even give you more control would in in post production in photoshop using tools such as Dodge and Burn to give the grass a more lifelike appearance.  

Grass again is rarely totally flat, so one could make a rolling hill by placing different objects underneath the carpet to give it a more natural look. A large rolled object placed behind your subject may may the carpet look like a hill is in the background.

The blades of the grass may be still a little short, unless you opt for the higher end carpets. A 12 foot x 4 foot premium carpet could cost well over $100, which unless used as part of a regular studio, could be cost prohibitive. Another option in post production may be to use brushes such as from Brusheezy while working within photoshop in post production.

OK, back to the dandelions. If you have ever picked a dandelion, you know that the stem is not very sturdy (at least not for long). One way to effectively place dandelions, and perhaps even some small flower is to look at the stem. A dandelion stem is hollow, so you could easily place some craft wire (or even 16 gauge electrical wire) within the stem to allow the flower to stand upright. The wire could be taped to the carpet of even poked through the carpet into some styrofoam.  Of course, if we go to Amazon, they even could provide you with Fake Dandelions for a more permanent look for a set design within a studio.

By using a combination of these methods, you can obtain a reasonably realistic 'field of grass' even within a studio on a one time basis or as a regular set.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Dandelions Mon, 19 Apr 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Can your subject get into the moment? Into the Moment?

There are many ways to draw your viewer into a photograph. Contrast, Highlights, cropping, vibrant colors just to name a few. The question is, can you get your subject to play an active role in your image? Of course, how it plays that role really depends on your subject itself.

In the set above, the two models who were cosplaying had fairly elaborate period costumes. I certainly could have photographed them together, changing the crop, angle and possibly even the shadows falling on the subjects. However, the male was cosplaying a character similar to jack the ripper. So as you can see, I asked 'Jack' to sneak up on his prey and she was not to notice him until the last minute.  Her expression seems like utter surprise and even fear as he brings his knife around.  This mini set certainly is a little more interesting than just have two models stand side by side to show off their outfits.

If you are a food photographer, for instance, are your able to get your subject into the moment? Yes, lighting and composition play a role into making food look good, but there are certainly things to make your subject for appealing such as Food Tricks.

Domestic animal like dogs and cats can be a little tricky to work with especially when you are trying to get them to look at the camera. Having an animal interacting with their owner can really bring the eye of the viewer into an image. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of 'bird in flight' images, but what if you could capture an image that is not so typical such as this bird looking over the city as if trying to decide where to go next.

There are countless other examples of getting your 'getting your subject into the moment' regardless of your subject.  What about a tree with mis-shapen branches against a stormy sky? Sometimes captions can be helpful as well such as a car pulling into a garage with a caption that says 'home sweet home".


Let your imagination run wild and you may be surprised at the results!




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) The Moment Mon, 12 Apr 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Bad picture-really? DCIM\100MEDIA Bad Picture - Really?

Did you ever have an image that once you looked at it, you asked yourself "did I really take this?!". It could be out of focus, composition could be bad, over or underexposed, or any other number of possibilities. Despite expert editing attempts, you can still not make the image look the way that you would like it to.  It is really for the trash bin? Well... not always.

The image above was taken with an inexpensive camera on automatic exposure settings. There are several things that certainly could have made the image better and perhaps with a little work much could be corrected. However, the figure in the image is turned out to be VERY grainy almost to the point of no reasonable recovery.  Does this mean trash bin requirements? If we look closely at the water, it is really not that bad.

DCIM\100MEDIA A selection of the water itself has produced a usable image, particularly for those who may use textured backgrounds or even composite images.  It can be a tedious process creating a displacement map and for a water based concept. Sometimes one just wants to see the water ripples where there were not to start with. Other times this could serve as a backdrop for a creative portrait image.

While some images can not be used in there entirety for any number of reasons, think about saving a portion of an image as a stock image for any future concepts that you may have. You could save yourself some time and possibly money by avoiding going to a stock image site and using what you already may have in your very own collection!

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative images Photography stock Mon, 05 Apr 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Posing for photographers Dress fashionDress fashion Posing for Photographers

During a photographers career a variety of people will appear in front of the lens. Some will be clients, some friends, some other professionals, and even family members.  Many will say a spontaneous image is best, and in some cases this is very true. Other cases require the watchful eye of the photographer to accomplish the best image and avoid embarrassed subjects. Even professional models may not realize how they appear in a particular set, so some gentle guidance can be very helpful. 

Some tips that Lindsay mentions in many of her presentations is negative space. In other words, moving the arms and legs to create definition and interest toward your subject. Think of a typed page of words without paragraphs or spacing. Tedious to say the least.  Positioning the arms and legs are important, but also remember what is closest to the camera looks larger. Giving a person a large elbow, knee, or even a foot is not necessarily flattering. 

One of the most prolific teachers in the industry is Lindsay Adler, who is a fashion and portrait photographer based in New York City. She has been featured many times on , providing valuable tips on a wide variety of photography related topics. She also produces independent content that she provides to fellow photographers on a regular basis.

One may think that sitting chair poses may be easy. Well, not necessarily since many people, even professionals may slouch within a chair.  Here is a quick clip to give you some tips:  Seated Poses.

As strange as it may seem, posing hands even for a professional model can be challenging. Little things such as turning the palm of the hand toward the camera can appear very bright and distracting particularly when photographing with strobes within the studio. This can even be more pronounced when shooting a head and shoulders image. Putting too much pressure with the hand on a body part can actually distort a body.  Here are some more tips: Posing Hands.

Some photographers struggle when it comes to posing full figured clients to get the most flattering images from a session. Creating negative space, moving legs and arms, shifting shadows can often make or break a image -   Full figured

When posing clients or models who may be wearing an dress with a concept on movement of the dress for a more dynamic look can also be challenging since the model may be moving requiring the need to rapidly recompose a shot to get the desired look. One way to handle this situation is here: Motion


There are endless variations to the above, but if the photographer keeps in mind certain essentials the final images may come out even better than imagined.









[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Posing Mon, 29 Mar 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Dress Creation Parachute Magic

I have recently photographed several models in a Parachute Dress in a variety of colors. I wanted to share some techniques that I used to make some of the images stand out. This is an intermediate level post when referring to photoshop, so I assume that those reading this post have some familiarity with skills in photoshop such as making selections.  Of course, there are many ways to achieve similar results, but I found these techniques below lends themselves to a reasonably good workflow. In addition, although I used a parachute dress here, the techniques will work with almost any dress.

I purchased a parachute from Ebay, without the strings or harness attached. As of this post, a parachute such as this will run about $120 plus shipping. One may be able to find a parachute for less at a military surplus store. My next step was to have an adjustable waist sewn the top of the canopy. I chose to have an adjustable drawstring waist to fit a variety of size models.  As you can see in the illustration above, the parachute was originally green. I also purchased a matching coset top.

I needed to make a selection of the dress itself to isolate it from both the model and background. Quite a number of methods are available in photoshop, including the newer 'select subject' from the select menu.  The 'Select and Mask" choice from the same menu will allow you to refine your selection. I tend to feather and smooth my selection by as least 2-5 pixels so that it looks natural as opposed to a cutout. I then output this selection to a new layer mask.

Referring to the image at the very top of this post, my client wanted a pink dress. Not necessarily an easy task making a dark green dress light pink. I opened a curves layer and pinned it to the dress cutout with a clipping mask. I next opened the green channel and dramatically pushed the curve upward.

This of course made the dress look like it was glowing neon green.

I next opened up a hue/saturation layer and once again pinned it to the dress layer using a clipping mask. By choosing "colorize" I was able to adjust the hue/saturation/lightness of my selection.

In this case, I produced a pink dress.  Had I not used the curves layer adjustment as described, I was only able to arrive at a magenta dress, however by boosting the luminosity of the dress I was able to get a much lighter color.

I wanted to finish the image by making it just a little darker, so I added a color lookup adjustment layer and choose 'moonlight' to give the image a but more contrast. To finish the image off, I added a vignette around the edges of the image.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) color creative dress Photography Photoshop Mon, 22 Mar 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Should Your Models Smile Should Your Model Smile?

Smiling in a social setting is often seen as a positive and welcome behavior for many to demonstrate. However, when photographing models a smile may have some barriers. What is the purpose of the photo?

In fashion photography, one will seldom see a runway model smiling as she (or he) walks down the runway. The reason is simple in that the clothing is what is being highlighted during the show. A smiling model may have the audience and potential buyers focused on the model and personality, rather than the true point of the event. In fact, makeup is often performed so not to emphasize facial features in this setting, but will also hide blemishes which may also detract viewers.

Artistic shots which may emphasize form, lighting, or poses also seldom show models smiling, as this too can detract from what a photographer is trying to portray. A smile is often inviting to an audience and if the photographer wants to demonstrate special lighting or a model wishes to demonstrate a form, the viewer may loose focus on what he or she is intended to appreciate.

Portraits can be a mixed bag. What is the person photographed trying to portray?  If this is a salesperson is attempting to sell a product, smiles may be an invitation to see that salesperson, or at least the company that the sales person represents. A corporate executive perhaps may even smile for a headshot so that he or she is seen 'more human' to those within the company.  In other cases, a judge in a courtroom will probably not smile for a headshot, since this position is often viewed as being very serious.

Smiles may not always be viewed as inviting in some cases or even considered sarcastic, or demeaning depending upon the person and the circumstances under which the photo was taken. This could be the case when a person is photographed with a controversial product or even with another person in the same image. 

Some genres such as boudoir and glamour images often have smiling models. The smile will often draw the viewer into the image in a positive manner since in this case the photo is planned to showcase the beauty of the subject.  Those who specialize glamour images, such as some public figures, may want to attract as much publicity as possible either for personal reasons or for future employment. However, even within this genre there are exceptions to the rule depending upon where an image is to be distributed.  In some cases, the face of the subject may not even be shown depending on who may actually view the image.

In the real world, some people are shy and although they may agree to have their image taken, they may not naturally smile. If a smile is forced it will probably look unnatural and even ruin the image entirely no matter how much attention is made to other aspects of the shot such as lighting or makeup.  Some people do not have perfect teeth, and may even make professionals uncomfortable if forced to smile.  Even if the person is a smiler, once a camera is facing them they may freeze up into an uncomfortable position.  

The photographer may need to spend some time with his/or her subject to get them to 'loosen up' for the best possible image often taking 20-30 frames before a subject starts to relax. While some may never smile, others may have a glowing smile from the start.  Clearly, the emotional state of the person being photographed will play into whether one gets a genuine smile. 

Ultimately, some form of connection needs to be established between the subject and the photographer for the best possible results. Where is the image being taken? Is it too warm or cold? Is the subject being rushed or on a tight time table? Are they hungry or thirsty?  Knowing WHY the image is being taken, as well as making the subject comfortable is a sure path to making a good image.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Smiles Mon, 08 Mar 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Dehaze or Contrast?

Dehaze or Contrast?

In lightroom there are two sliders that seemingly have similar functions, the Dehaze and Contrast sliders. In some cases, yes they can produce very similar results.  The Contrast slider is intended to make the darks darker and the lighter tones lighter, thus increasing contrast.  This can be an important tool, especially outdoors when one in photographing landscapes or landscapes with people.  Bright sunlight has a habit of reducing contrast which can result in desaturated colors and even images that appear a little fuzzy.

The Dehaze slider was introduced in photoshop and lightroom to reduce the atmospheric haze of distant objects which can leave certain objects less distinct.  This slider can be helpful early in the morning, later in the afternoon or even if there is a light fog anytime during the day. The dehazer can also be helpful in some cases to reduce glare on reflective surfaces. While true, a polarizer filter can certainly accomplish a similar task, it is most effective when the light source is at right angles to the filter. 

In the first image above, I wanted to increase contrast, since the models skin was somewhat washed when I viewed it during the editing process.  Adding contrast did help a little, but it also increased some of the glare in the water as a result of making the whites whiter(second image). Dehaze works slightly different than contrast, in that it only focuses on the darker parts of an image, and leaves the whiter parts alone.  Using the dehaze function in the third image I was able to target the darker portions of the image increasing saturation of the skin and water but was also able to avoid the additional glare that I obtained with the contrast slider.

If one adds dehaze and contrast together, the result is often a very dark image, and is almost counterproductive. The next time you have an outdoor image, try the dehaze slider, even if the image does not appear to have need to this function. You may be surprised at the results!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Dehaze Lightroom Photoshop Mon, 01 Mar 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Social Media or Mag Cloud? CuriousCurious Social Media or Mag Cloud?

Many within the Photography and Modeling industry use a variety of methods to market their work. Personal websites, pay websites, various social media sites, and magazine submissions just to mention a few. While most use multiple approaches to electronic marketing when it comes down to Mag Cloud (paid magazines) or social media, what gives you the most bag for the buck so to speak.

To be 'Published' is often a goal or aspiration of many artists even outside of this industry. However to become published in a nation wide or even international magazines takes a great deal of effort, often contacting and networking with magazine editors long before any work is published. Top magazines often have staff photographers and perhaps even use agency models so to get your work seen in one of these publications is often a challenge. 

Mag Cloud (Paid) magazines range from relatively local markets to in some cases international.  Instead of publishing magazines and placing them in bookstores and other retail outlets, the publications are often printed on demand. That is to say a customer may purchase a copy of a magazine by subscribing or contacting the magazine to purchase a copy. Although like major magazines they are both in printed and electronic form, the price for printed copies is generally much higher than one would pay to purchase a publication from a major title.  Models or photographers may submit their work to a Mag Cloud publication in some cases for free and wait for approval for a future issue. Most Mag Cloud publications also allow the artist submitting images to pay for the opportunity to become published. Some fees can be modest, other fees can be rather high depending how the artists wishes to have his work presented in the magazine.  

Advantages include that smaller magazine publications may be a gateway to larger more recognized publications. It also looks good on an artists resume. Disadvantages certain include very limited exposure to your work, waiting for a publication to be appear for purchased, and maybe expensive if one pays to become published. Significant editing is often required to make images ready for print publications.

Social Media on the other hand is often completely free to almost anyone who wishes to 'publish' an image on-line. To be successful one must have a relatively consistent amount of engaging content. This often involves developing an on-line personality, producing new and equally engaging content, and even supporting to some degree of peers within the industry. A knowledge of when to produce content as well as various algorithms is often important to make this system work well. Developing a group of supporters that grow and actively engage with you may be the key to making social media work for you. 

Advantages include potential exposure to a wide audience on almost a daily basis at very little if any cost. Disadvantages include thousands of other images also being produced on a daily basis, so your work must have a very unique style to it to be noticed. Engaging with your audience can be very time consuming and much like a traditional job, one must show up almost every day. Social media certainly opens itself up to a variety of 'opinions' , some helpful, some not so much. Social media is also becoming more restrictive as to what may or may not appear on their platforms.


Is there a better choice? What will really get you noticed, sell work, or get you hired? Often a combination of the two media happens to be a good choice for many people, however the real question is time management as how much resources you wish to spend on one approach or the other depending upon personal goals.  Clearly, if smaller magazines provide you a gateway to a larger audience this may work for you. If you have hundreds or thousands of followers on social media, this may be where you may wish to spend most of your time.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) magazines magcloud Marketing social media Mon, 22 Feb 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Buyers remorse or something else? EmotionEmotion Buyers Remorse?

A Client or model may pose in a certain manner for various photoshoots, and while receiving the images that they contracted for also understand that the photographer may use these same images for advertising, sales, prints, or other promotional material. But, what happens if you subject decides that the image is not flattering or cast them in a bad light? This could be anything from a goofy smile, strange body position, or even embarrassing images. The client/or model may then contact the photographer asking, or even demanding that the image be removed from public view. There are many possibilities, some helpful to the subject, some protecting the photographer, and some rather neutral.

  • News worthy image - Let say that you may be a freelance photographer covering a house fire with a crowd and fire services present. A individual who you may have photographed in the crowd perhaps should not have been at that place and time. Although this individual may contact you, there is very little that can be done if the image has already been published to hundreds or even thousands of viewers. A person in a public venue, and the image TAKEN FROM A PUBLIC VENUE, does not have a right to privacy and therefore can not demand that the image be retracted. Often a photographer can not trespass on private property even if an image is considered newsworthy and if trespass has occurred, then legal action is possible.


  • Professional Model Images -  A model often has a 'brand' or style of modeling that he or she is known for in that career. If a model sees an image that may not be complimentary, the model may request or demand that the images be removed from social media or print. The issue may be range from retouching, bad lighting, or just a bad pose.  Model releases are almost a must in this type of photography regardless of state or local laws.  Although the model can not demand (assuming a proper release) that the image be removed, it certain can be at the discretion of the photographer and may even be beneficial if the photographer wishes to work with the model in the future.


  • Age of Consent - In most venues, a subject can not enter into a contractual arrangement without parental consent. If an image of an underage subject is posted, regardless of any documentation, the parents of the child could have legal grounds to have the image removed from publication.  An exception may occur as listed above relating to a news worthy event such as if a child was at the scene of a house fire.


  • Sensual or Erotic Images - Even prior to the Sesta/Fosta act, it has always been incumbent on the photographer to determine the age of a subject. Even with a proper model release, documentation of the models age is necessary. Failure to do so may have serious civil or even criminal consequences.  However, even with documentation, a model may have posed in a sensual or even erotic manner several years before, and now wishes all such images to vanish as a result of new employment. A model often has little recourse to have the image vanish except as a courtesy of the photographer.


  • Derogatory Images - Very subjective category here, but the question relates to the original intent of the photoshoot. An noteworthy example many years ago was a model who had a headshot taken for a portfolio, and then much later used in campaign for HIV treatment. The model claimed that the campaign cast her in a negative light as though she may be undergoing treatment for HIV.  Even with a carefully worded model release, the subject could claim emotional distress and loss of income relating to a derogatory image. 


While it is true that the photographer OWNS the images, he or she is clearly responsible to following processes such as obtaining a model release and at least a ethical business sense as well as being aware of any local prevailing laws. Challenges to an image may never occur, or may occur depending on what genre is being photographed. Clear communication with the subject is essential and in the case of a challenge, negotiation sometimes can sometimes make everyone happy.  

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Buyers Remorse Mon, 08 Feb 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Validation? HappyHappy Do You Measure Yourself With Someone Else's Ruler?

Do you find that those around you may be getting for recognition (or more work) that you may have recently received? Have you worked in a genre for several years and others may seemingly be passing you by? Do you feel that you work may be undervalued or not appreciated?

Regardless of whether you may be a photographer, model, MUA, or any other professional in the industry, nearly almost everyone has these concerns now and again.  One common example may be in social media where some may get dozens of 'likes' where you may struggle to get 10 people like an image you post. Social media can be difficult to navigate and there are people who specialize in understanding how Facebook and Instagram algorithms work. One such person is Jasmine Star who specializes in helping fellow creatives with techniques for improving engagement on social media platforms.

Even so, an undeniable fact is that those individuals who are very likeable in person or who provide something extra to the industry above and beyond their personal artwork tend to get more attention on social media than those who may be more 'quiet.' A simple snapshot may generate dozens of 'likes' simply because that person is who he or she may be.

A person may claim to be totally booked for week after week which in itself would be pretty amazing if true based on our current economic conditions. But what if that person is only allowing a small number of slots to be filled during the week, and perhaps working at another job? Is the person photographing trade shoots, nearly any genre possible.  Of course there is nothing wrong with taking jobs outside of what you may typically work, and make even open you up to networking possibilities.  However, being totally booked does not necessarily mean that a person is excelling in a particular genre or developing their personal brand.

Some may claim that they are published in 'x' number of magazines on a regular basis. What are these magazines? Are they paying to be published?  Even those who submit excellent work to a magazine may be turned down simply because there is not enough space in upcoming issues. 

It is very easy to get discouraged, but keep in mind that even Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout, and his first business was a failure. Thomas Edison's teachers once told him that he was 'too stupid' to learn anything. The point here is to keep moving, learning and practicing your profession, and putting forth the best effort that you are able to muster at any given point. Although we often are taught to follow the rules, sometimes breaking the rules is a way to get noticed or to stand out. Obviously, that is not to say to be destructive, but create something with a twist that might not win a contest for technical expertise but may stand on its own merits.


Moving forward, even by tip-toe, is still moving forward.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Validation Mon, 25 Jan 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Shooting for sales to the public CuriousCurious Shooting for Sales?

How you pose your subject (or not pose them) really depends on what your actual goal for the image may be.  Formal headshots are typically used for identification for a variety of legal and business purposes and your subject is typically looking strait at the camera typically with flat lighting with the subject essentially filling the frame. Certainly there is a market for this, particularly in the business and entertainment world. Glamour and Boudoir images typically have a client looking directly at the camera as well, occupying the majority of the frame with the goal of being very appealing to the viewer. A market obviously exist for these images not only for individual clients, but to fans of the style of photography. Clearly wedding photography is a genre until itself and has the most meaning to the wedded couple.   But sales to the general public, certainly to hang in their homes the approach may be slightly different..

To shoot for sales to the public usually has a slightly different twist. Unidentified subjects in many cases will sell better. Not many people will want a stranger hanging on their walls unless of course it is some iconic figure. Shooting subjects that cannot be easily personally be identified typically has a better chance of sale to the general consumer. In many cases, a spouse does not want a sensuous image of a stranger plastered on their living room wall.

Fire danceFire dance  

Some art lovers will still post certain images will post images that may inspire them, or find them appealing in some manner, such as a subject looking away from the camera. We may seek distant images of people on a mountain top or even an subject playing a mythical creature. Often the subject is a smaller part of the larger image such as with a landscape or seascape.

There are of course abstract images, that some collectors within the general public may choose to purchase, which tend to represent some sort of altered reality.

Speciality collectors will certainly seek out images of their particular interest, and people in business may be looking for a particular type of image for a very specific project. That said, photographers who are successful in selling to the general public may require a certain approach that appeals to a wide audience. References for stock photography may be found on sites such as Shutterstock.  Artists such as Brooke Shaden are very active in the education process for those wishing to hang art in galleries.





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) education photography sales Mon, 18 Jan 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Do you shoot with speedlights? Do You Shoot with Speedlights?

Most of my studio work is performed with studio strobes, however many photographers have become very well known using primarily speedlights. There are many advantages to Speedlights  such as:

  • Size - almost pocket sized for some models
  • Power - Many are battery powered (no need to look for electrical outlet)
  • Variable tilt head- One can leave the lightstand in the same position yet position the light head at various angles, or even backwards. 
  • WorkFlow- similar to above, it your don't need to move lightstands, you may save time.
  • Cost savings for multiple units- Manual speedlights of the same model can often be purchased economically and produce similar results to each other.
  • Many models have zoom controls to focus lighting

Of course, there are disadvantages as well:

  • Size - although many modifiers are available, in its native form is is a small harsh light
  • Power - Battery powered units may go through batteries like a hungry shark. Output will vary significantly as battery power drops. 
  • Workflow - Higher level units have built in receivers to receive signals, but not all units. This may require adding external receivers.  Most units require adapters to attach to lightstands for quick removal.
  • Cost- Some name brand TTL speedlights may be as costly as a studio strobe.


Speedlights are certainly a worthy addition to almost any photographers collection. There are numerous modifiers that modifiers that can be purchased to aid in their abilities. Pictured above are speedlight supports than can house two or even three units attached to a lightstand. Add an umbrella to one of these units, and you have a reasonably large and light source with some punch behind it.  Wescott adapter

Even if you camera does not support communication with a certain model of speedlight, triggers can often be purchased for a fraction of one may spend for a trigger for a studio strobe  such as Newer Triggers.

When working in a studio, speedlights are capable of achieving the same lighting effects as studio strobes as long as one keeps an eye on power. Battery packs are of course available for speedlights such as the JJC rapid flash.  Spare batteries are often very affordable, compared to a spare battery for a studio strobe.


In the end analysis, if one has to travel light, speedlights are a hard item to beat, especially when shooting on location!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Speedlights Mon, 11 Jan 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Contrast in portraits? Contrast in Portraits

In many cases, a photographer wants a very sharp image. In fact, some want images tack-sharp. But does that really fit into the narrative of every image? Maybe not.

In the images above, the concept was to have a series of images by candlelight with a soft feel to it. There are of course many ways to arrive at this goal. The first image (left above) is certainly sharp enough for a typical portrait. That is to say, it is technically exposed and toned correctly for the lighting. The multiple small sources of light however create a hard lighting style. Not quite meeting the overall design concept.

One could of course drop back on the clarity, which would reduce contrast in the mid-tones. The skin would appear softer, and one may be ok with that result. The second image shows a much softer effect on the skin with less defined detail. Another option would be to select one of the blur options with a small threshold. This would of course blur the entire image, unless one took the time to carefully make a selection around the subject. With the latest version of Photoshop, the neural filters has a blur/soften option for the skin, but seems to be limited as to what may be selected.

Of course there a quite a few third party programs, actions, and pre-sets that could be used. In terms of overall workflow, the more complex the operation though, the longer it may take. In the third image above, the contrast was adjusted downward. There is a notable difference in the image tone and overall sharpness. This gives the image a different feel from either of the two posted samples above. It seems that reducing clarity increased the overall warmth/saturation of the image over the original image, while reducing contrast actually made the image less saturated, and possibly cooler. Reducing the contrast also created almost a dreamy or slightly hazy feel to it.

Depending upon the look the photographer is moving toward, it would be easy enough to slightly warm the image if desired. In the end, it is all about what feel one wants to impart to an image. One could argue points on any of the images above, however in this case the client choose the image where contrast was lowered.


The next time a romantic softer image may be desired, consider that you have many possibilities only limited by the time you spend on an image, your vision, and in some cases a clients desired final results.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) blur clarity Contrast creative photography sharpness Mon, 04 Jan 2021 13:00:00 GMT
Hiring, or want to be hired? CuriousCurious Hiring.. or Do You Want to be Hired?

The world of photography and modeling is a strange one indeed, with few standard practices such as what may be found in other professions. With limited oversight in many cases, finding a clear path to be successful in the industry can be a winding and sometimes confusing path.

Entry level for a photographer may be as complex as obtaining a college degree and working for a commercial enterprise or as challenging as finding the right camera and starting out photographing what one finds interesting. Models may attend a formal education in the arts as well as modeling or may choose to "try out" the career at a local event. Others such as wardrobe specialists, set designers, graphic artists, and makeup artist may come from extremely varied backgrounds.

To be Hired...:

At some point a creative will likely need to develop a 'Resume', similar to other professions. As with almost any other profession, a little research goes a long way.

  • What do you want to be hired to do? 
    • What genre are you interested in primarily following? Although a general interest in many genres may be a decent start, developing your 'voice' for a specific field will often get you noticed. For example, a lawyer may specialize in criminal law and be sought out for that speciality.  
  • Is there a market for what you are interested in?
    • A little research goes a long way, especially for a career. If there is little or no activity in the area that you wish to specialize within, one should not give up, but it may be quite a while before one becomes well established within that genre. Are you ready to travel to somewhere a market is stronger for your interest?
  • Investing in yourself
    • ​​​​​​​Formal education, On-the-job training, purchasing the necessary supplies that you need even if you are working within the framework of a larger company. Practicing and perfecting the skills on a regular basis to become proficient is almost a must. A lawyer who only sees a courtroom a few times a year may not win very many cases.
  • Networking and promotion
    • ​​​​​​​Are you a people person or a wall flower? Getting out and meeting other professionals, working along with them, and promoting that you are interested in will get you noticed. This can often be the most difficult and time consuming task for anyone, since it not only requires person-person contact, high levels or organizational ability, and social media just to mention a few elements for success. Do you have a solid visual representation of the work that you would LIKE to do?
  • Specific goals?
    • ​​​​​​​To earn a full time self-supporting income? As a part-time interest?  Some business knowledge is almost a must. Starting out as a generalist may be ok, but specializing will often push you ahead of the pack

Putting this information and well as tracking your accomplishments into a written Resume and updating the Resume on at least an annual basis may be keeping you on track.

To Hire

Congratulations, if you are far enough within your field to consider hiring someone. Many of the same point listed above are also essential to hire someone:

  • What are you hiring them for? Do you have a visual representation of what you want or need? Do you have a clear vision of who you want, and what resources that you will need?
  • What is your market? What is your budget? What is your timeframe if someone have to travel to your location? Do you need support personnel to make the project happen? 
  • Investing in yourself includes having skills, equipment, locations ready to go? Do you have a strong example of your work to show people that you are ready to move on the project?
  • Networking and promotion again can be tricky and time consuming. Have you attended events so that potential talent knows you? How are your social media skills?  Do you get things done consistently and reliably?
  • Communication of goals of who does what, when ,and how, is absolutely critical. Often this may be spelled out in writing multiple times in multiple locations to that everyone is on the same page. Do you have a plan "B" is something does not go exactly right?


Some very good resources for these point as well as other can be found in may places, but one of the best places that is searchable and provides a variety of expert information is Creative Live. This is an online streaming education program that offers a wide degree of topics from industry professionals. Education can be viewed live or classes purchased as desired. 




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) education Hired Hiring Photography Mon, 28 Dec 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Can lighting affect the perception of sharpness? Can Lighting Affect Sharpness?

In many traditional discussions of photography, sharpness is often thought of in terms of Depth of Field (controlled by the the aperture), ISO, type of lens, type of camera, image stabilization, shutter speed and hand holding, as well and other factors such as atmospheric haze. But, is there a perception of sharpness depending upon lighting?

Most cameras have difficulty focusing in low light where there is not much contrast, but suppose the photographer does not necessarily want a 'perfectly' exposed image for any number of reasons. When working in low light low contrast situations, of course it is possible to manually focus but that can be sometimes difficult to get spot on depending upon the equipment used and experience of the photographer.

In the image above which may be considered 'exposed well' the image has a perception of being sharp. The second image was taken with EXACTLY the same equipment and camera settings, but the lighting was changed. The image to the right may 'appear' to be less sharp, especially around the eyes. The image is less contrasty, therefore the perception may be that the photographer may have missed focus even though from a camera/lens standpoint, things were executed identically.

In post processing, one could always adjust the image to brighten it, and if the image was shot in raw format, it is likely that very similar results could be accomplished. This assumes that the image was not dramatically under exposed and detail was lost. Depending upon the circumstances though, there is a risk of adding noise to the image by brightening the picture. Noise can be reduced using most photography editing programs, but that in itself could actually soften the image.

When making some of my images, I don't mind if the image is SLIGHTLY bright in camera. Obviously I do not want the image overexposed to the point of loosing detail, but a slightly hot image can be adjusted in post processing with little loss of image quality. Checking the histogram in the back of the camera, or even using a light meter may be a decent was of evaluating results. Displays on the back of camera can vary greatly, so short of turning on the 'blinkies' function, the back display may not yield great information. One other option would be to shoot tethered, but this option requires more hardware.


Consider shooting slightly bright on your next images, and see if you notice positive results!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) education light Photography sharpness Mon, 14 Dec 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Don't be afraid to experiment Don't be afraid to Experiment with Hi ISO's

Many photographers have historically be reluctant to photograph their subjects at high ISO's. The reason of course is that the subject would often develop a sandy or grainy appearance. While this may appeal to some who photograph in black and white with an artistic flair, it is typically not very complimentary to those who photograph glamour images.

Even so, modern cameras made within the last 5 years handle noise rather well. Full format cameras tend to do a little better than cropped sensor camera, but surprisingly enough even some camera phones do pretty well in low light conditions. The exposure triage (ISO, aperture, shutter speed) are all intimately related.  Typically, when you raise or lower one of these elements, it affects the others unless you are in full manual mode. In the image above, I was in an aquarium in a section with tropical fish. For those who have visited aquariums, lighting is often very subdued not only in the walkway, but at times even in the tanks. 

I wanted to get a few shots of the fish, but there were some obstacles that needed to be considered. Fish, typically will not stop and pose for a quick pic, and even if they are still for a second or two their fins are still moving. Obviously the fish were in a glass tank, so flash was out of the question in this case. The fish were moving toward and away from the glass at a fairly brisk pace at times so there was only a very slim window of opportunity for a good image.  

During this day I was shooting with my 50 mm 1.8 lens.  This is certainly not one of the high end sports lenses, but I thought I would give it a try.  After a few trial shots, I ended up with a shutter speed to 1/40 sec, f 5, and an ISO of 25,600! While not tack sharp, it certainly got me the image that I wanted for several of the sealife during the day.

Photographers sometimes get comfortable shooting with certain settings most of the time. Of course, when shooting for a client one wants the best possible images. Every now and again, we may be surprised by trying something new and stretching the limits of what our cameras are truly capable of producing!




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative Experiment ISO Mon, 30 Nov 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Bulging storage CuriousCurious Bulging Storage (Where do I put it?)

Like many photographers who are very enthusiastic about many genres when they begin their careers, I purchased A LOT of different camera supplies, props, modifiers, fabrics, etc. In my case, I shot a fairly large amount of cosplay when I first entered the industry. There comes a point however when the storage lockers are bulging and there are supplies cluttered sitting almost everywhere.  It makes one stop and wonder, " It would be really nice to have XX, but where will I put it? 

In some cases I have sold or donated bits and pieces, but more bits and pieces seem to accumulate faster than I can keep up with on a regular basis. I really dislike clutter, and sometimes it makes it a little difficult to find things that I really need.

So, as a step forward I am posting a link to some props that I have seldom used or in some cases, have never used.  Cosplay props that I will be listing here are for the most part some form of prop weapon. Some props are straight from the manufacturer, other props I have painted or slightly modified (such as 'Nerf' guns) to meet an expected concept. I will place links to four different groups below that I plan to sell. Prices are 50% or more less than what I had originally purchased the prop. 

Old World


Classic Guns

Metal Props


Except the link that species Metal props, all props are photo-realistic plastic or resin composites. There are NO ACTUAL firearms in any the collections. Some guns such as the soft foam dart gun will shoot the nerf soft darts. Prices are posted at the very top of each gallery, so if you are interested in a purchase, please let me know. Props are only sold in sets (nothing sold separately).  Delivery is possible within 10 miles of York, PA.  Sets may also be shipped, and shipping cost will be quoted based on location.  Purchase is either PayPal or Cash to be made prior to actual shipping. Cash will be expected at time of purchase if delivered.

You may contact me at:

[email protected]  for any additional questions or to purchase a set.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Props Mon, 23 Nov 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Wrap Around Wrap Around Lighting (Rim light)

There are many forms of classic lighting to generate a specific results, and of course variations in each style. Wrap around lighting (a slight variation in rim light) is more of a style rather than a formal style of lighting, but it can generate some very nice results. By Wrap around, I mean that the light tend to extend from back to front of your subject rather than just highlight the outline of a subject as classic rim lighting might accomplish.

There are of course many ways to achieve this with numerous lighting modifiers. In this case, I will cover a method that I have recently used based loosely off of tutorials by Lindsay Adler. The first step in this method is to place a large softbox behind your subject. 

The softbox will give you a clean pure white background. Some softboxes will have a hot spot near the center, however your subject will often obscure the hot spot (but more on this later). Of course, our subject is now has a rim light, but is also in shadow. Adding another light as shown in the diagram below will help.

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. The strobe in front of the subject is typically set at least 1 stop LESS than that strobe within the strobe in the softbox.

We now have our subject lit as well as the background. But we are not quite finished here. but it is a little hard to see just where the front strobe starts and the light from the softbox ends.

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. One thing we can do is add a gobo or opaque shield over the center of the softbox. By positing the black gobo you can control exactly how much of your subject has the wrap around effect. For example, you may only want the wrap around effect over the head and shoulders, and not lower arms or waist area. We can still add creative effects to this process.

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. We can add a gel (red in this case) over the softbox strobe, will will give a much more defined area of color wrap around your subject (See top image). By adding a gel, you may loose up to 1 stop of light, so you may need to re-adjust the power to the strobe in the softbox. Remember this should be set at least 1 stop higher than the strobe to the front of your subject. If you wish, you may add an umbrella to the strobe to the front of your subject to soften the light striking your subject. If you are still having difficulty getting just a highlight on your subject, try adding a grid to your forward strobe. Your forward light should remain at approximately 45 degrees from the camera axis.

By experimenting with power of the softbox and front strobe you may be able to get some very creative results!





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative light photography Wrap around Mon, 16 Nov 2020 13:00:00 GMT
White Balance in the Studio- Creative Effects

White Balance in the Studio- Creative

Photographers will often white balance their images either through the camera or in post production to get the best possible results. The skin colors need to appear natural, clothing and background colors should ideally appear as close as possible to real life- well in most cases.

But, suppose you wanted to be a little creative in your images. The images above were all made with the same camera, with the studio strobe in the same position and same power, and with camera setting the same. Clearly, the results vary between one image to another sometimes dramatically.

So have you thought about using white balance creatively. One example which is fairly common may be that a studio strobe may bleach the skin rendering it a lighter color than natural. One could play with power and distance settings, but why not try a 'cloudy' or even a 'shade' white balance? 

Perhaps you may be shooting a winter scene complete with snow, ice, and other props. You may want to have the scene look a little cooler by shifting the white balance from flash or AWB to Tungsten to deliver that blush appearance.

It is often true that as studio strobes age, the color temperature will often shift sometimes more to a blue tint. Many cameras have the ability to set a color temperature in Kelvin to bring back that fresh out-of-the-box  performance.

Colored Gel photography can be rewarding but also can be very tedious. Finding just the right gel color, the lowest setting on a strobe to avoid blowing out the color and yet avoiding noise, distance to subject, as well as other factors.  Adjusting the color temperature can sometimes get just the right look for an image.

Is automatic white balance the best choice when using strobes, or should you change it to 'flash'. Do you need to create a 'custom white balance' to get just the look that you want?


Obviously, every camera even among the same brand will look just a little different at different white balance settings. Post production color adjustments are relatively easy to do but can also affect your overall workflow. The next time you are looking for a specific look in images (even outdoors), try adjusting the white balance and you may be pleased at the results.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) balance colors creative photography White Mon, 09 Nov 2020 13:00:00 GMT
I understand, or do I? (Get it in writing) LeatherLeather I Understand.. or Do I?

Photography is basically an interactive process in most cases, unless you are taking images on your own property for your own enjoyment.  Photographers may deal with models, companies, property owners, other professionals, the public and often a varied combination of any or all other above.

A nationally known photographer once related a story when she was just starting her business. She was taking images of a model to perfect her skill. It was an informal friendly relationship, certainly nothing formal.  At some point later, the photographer submitted one of the images to a contest, won a prize, and subsequently published the image and was rewarded financially. The model eventually discovered the image, claimed that the photographer did not have permission to publish, and sued for compensation. In this case, the photographer settled out of court because she did not have a release. It was an innocent omission, but it did not matter.

Another example, possibly even more common today is that a photographer hires a model for a  fashion shoot.  The photographer pay a fee at the venue and on the day the model arrives in her outfit at the studio, and he tells the model we are going to drive out to this scenic overlook overlooking the valley. The model promptly tells the photographer that she is afraid of heights, and can not do the project. The conversation was amounted to a 'simple fashion shoot, meet me at...". A day of shooting was lost as well as  the deposit to the venue, not to mention having to hire a a different model.

If a company hires you, are they in direct competition with another company for a similar product?  Do you understand that they may have something in a contract or work agreement stating that you can not work for the competition now or in the future?

As innocent or formal as an arrangement may be, the lack of some form of written communication can lead to a loss of time, money, and even legal issues. Photography shoot-outs are fairly common at some locations. An organizer may tell a group of photographers (who pay for the event) that an event starts at 11 am. The event organizer states that 20 models will attend. Unfortunately, the organizer allows the models to show up when they are available, with only 2 models present for the first hour or so for 10 photographers.  Many photographers are upset having to sit around, without the promise of a model for an unknown period of time. Obviously some ill will has been generated

When ever possible, all professionals (not just photographers) should gain as much information in WRITING as possible such as:

  • What am I expected to produce? (in as much detail as possible)
  • What do I know about my client, company, or anyone else that I may be working with? (Timeline, what do I need to provide, what is provided for me)
  • Where and when will I be working? 
  • How will I be compensated? What do I need to pay for? When can I expect payment and in what form?
  • What will be final product be used for? Does it need to be licensed? Are usage rights necessary? Can a model financially gain from the image(s) on a paid fan site?
  • Are model and property releases necessary? If so, who handles that?
  • If someone gets hurt, who is responsible? (Liability) Important point here is to never ask talent to perform as task or execute a skill that he/she is not ready and or willing to execute. That is one reason why big movie producers hire stunt people! This is not limited to physical injury, recent history has shown lawsuits have been based on emotional injury. 
  • Somewhat related to above, is property insurance necessary and who provides it? Are you on the hook if a $5,000 wedding dress is ruined during a shoot?
  • What happens if the makeup artist does not show, camera malfunctions, illness, or a even a major rain storm comes out of no where?  Is the event rescheduled? Compensation for time? Is there an 'Act or Government or god" (as we have seen recently) that cancels the event entirely?
  • Who owns final project? Can you use images for your personal portfolio (sometimes the answer is no). You may 'own' the pictures, but what is done with the images should be spelled out. In the case of a single photographer and model, language is often included in the model release. Do you need to keep certain elements of the project private (non-disclosure)?
  • Are there laws governing what you may or may not do in a certain jurisdiction? A common example is that drones may not be flown in certain areas.


Keeping emails, voicemails, or any other tangible documentation in as much detail as possible can help one avoid some sleepless nights!






[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Communication legal Photography understand Mon, 02 Nov 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Surreal or Real? DCIM\100MEDIA Surreal or Real?

This year has certainly offered some real challenges to just about everyone. It almost seams like something out of another world, unreal, almost like a dream! Do you get a feeling that it is Surreal?

Especially within the photography industry, artist strive to set themselves apart not only from other artists, but also from the rapidly improving images that are taken with cell phones.  Strangely enough filters in cell phones can make a fair image into something that may be fairly good.

So when an artist goes back and looks at an image that was through to be good at the time, but maybe it did not get the recognition that it may have been due. Perhaps it was very similar to other images that may have been released just prior or at the same time. While it is clearly important for most to stay within their 'brand' as it relates to their business, many photographers will experiment every now and again and release, perhaps a special limited edition piece that may reflect a certain period in time, a feeling, or even and event. This images can be edited to give almost a dreamy appearance in order to record an event or even a particular feeling. One such artist who has make quite an international name for herself is Brooke Shaden ( Much of her art is fantasy that in some cases relates to how she is feeling at a moment.

While producing this type of work with every image certainly may not be appropriate for everyone, it certainly bears a little examination to say the least. How can a work be made surreal? Good Question!

Sometimes all it takes is a little color toning to change the palate apart from what one may expect to see in the real world. For photoshop users, one of the quickest and easiest ways to dramatically change the color palate is to use the "Color Lookup table" under the adjustments panel.  Photoshop comes with quite a few which can even make a daylight image appear as though it was taken must later in the evening.  By creating a hue and saturation layer the colors, saturation, and exposure of an image can be changed dramatically.  Artistic filters can be added to create almost endless results. Lets not forget any number of actions that are available commercially or free in some cases.

Lightroom of course has hundreds of presets available that can turn an image to B&W, change the exposure, colors, white balance with just a simple click of the mouse (or tablet). Tone curves are also available in Lightroom for a variety of results.

Not to be left out of the mix, some artists have moved on to programs such as Capture One. This program of course has various options for color grading. I am not a Capture one expert, but Youtube certainly has many examples of how an image be be slightly or dramatically changed using this program.

Most image editing programs have some degree of color grading, which is certainly worth a look.  Consider creating a surreal image, if not for publication, at least to express how you may feel about the world around you.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative editing Photography Surreal Mon, 26 Oct 2020 12:00:00 GMT
How do you support fellow creatives? CuriousCurious Supporting Our Fellow Creatives

In traditional jobs, fellow co-workers may see each other several times per week in the course of their jobs, or at least within regular industry meetings. Certainly this is a little different within the photography and modeling industry. This of course includes MUA, set designers, and other professionals within the industry. While some may work within a business structure, many have a much looser arrangement in that most of the communication may be electronic through social media or email.

How do like minded creatives support each other?  Of course one answer may be financially by hiring services or purchasing products. Then again, few have the resources or time to financially contribute to dozens or even hundreds of contacts.

Word of mouth is certainly an essential marketing tool that many photographers and models depend upon on a regular basis. By recommending and answering questions about someone in person can greatly support that person, sometimes even more than all of the paper and electronic advertising put together. Once a professional relationship develops, mutual recommendations not only strengthens each other but deepens trust in each other. 

One element of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is to have one website reference another website.  Providing a link on a website that a photographer may own to a models website can enhance the chances that the models website will be ranked a little higher and therefore additional bookings may happen. If the model links back to a photographers website, this will also increase the chances of additional photoshoots or other opportunities.

Social media, is by far, the most common method of support that we provide each other. But this goes a little further than just 'friending' someone. The amount of traffic on a fellow creatives social media site(s) can actually help that persons standing according to certain Algorithms on the site. Although 'likes' are nice, comments are even better and shows higher levels of engagement.  Some people may 'like' any and every post that a fellow creative may make on his or her account. Depending on the social media site, this may even hurt someone causing some administrators to think that a 'bot' is liking each post. 

If you like a post, WHY do you like it? This not only helps in terms of avoiding a site administrator suspecting some sort of 'bot' automation, but it directly helps the person whose account you may be liking. Be specific; do you like how makeup was done, composition, colors, or just how overall new the concept may appeal to you. Then again, one wants to avoid criticism unless it is asked for by the account owner. How something is said is at least as important as what is actually said to the account owner. In some cases, criticism may be someone removed from a group.

In the same sense, in todays society we have to be mindful of even what we consider positive comments. Some models may brand themselves within a sensuous genre. Some comments may go overboard such as the following example ""My Goddess , you're so breathtakingly beautiful and amazing as always and forever and you're so SUPER SEXY...".   Comments such as this as well as more explicit terms about body parts may tag you as a 'stalker' rather than just a fan, especially if made on a regular basis on a general post within social media. Compliments are always nice, but no one wants to be blocked or even reported to a site administrator. Of course, some people may develop personal relationships outside of a professional relationship, but overly personal messages may be best left to direct messaging.

In general, we all need support within this industry and it can come from many different places,  and sometimes just at the right time when we seem to need it the most!





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative media social Support Mon, 12 Oct 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Let it Snow (or Not)?! Let it Snow and Ice (Or Just Pretend it is)

It's the time in the Northeast (Where I am located) that snow and ice is probably not far off. Not many people with the exception of skiers and snowboarders look forward to the snow, but there is sort of a pristine beauty to fresh snow. Some photographers simply like the snow covered landscapes and yet others have created some great portrait shots in the snow.  Obviously though there are some obstacles such as just the perfect timing just after a new snow, cold weather, and icy driving conditions just to name a few.

Landscape photographers brave these wild conditions, but what about portrait photographers? Can you get close? Well maybe with a little planning one can create a snow/ice scene inside without having to worry about a 10 car pileup on the interstate.

When looking for backdrops, there seems to be an abundance of options to order from. One such Snow backdrop can be found here on Amazon or some other sites.  Try to avoid the thin vinyl backdrops since they typically can be difficult to remove folds and creases.  Some printed backdrops are sensitive to water, so be careful about ironing the them on a heavy steam setting. Sometimes it can help to hang a backdrop for several days with a small weight near the bottom to lessen the appearance of folds. Also avoid front lighting unless using a very large (6 ft) soft light source since glare can be a problem. Careful side lighting backdrops often yields good results.

So what about ice? Well, you certainly have several options here. One choice to have an object seemingly covered or wrapped in ice is to use Encapso K. This is a clear silicone rubber that looks very much like water and ice.  It is durable and long lasting, but is somewhat expensive as you purchase larger quantities.  

This video (audio is not great) Home made blocks of ice does get the point across in a relatively easy method. Of course, like all real ice, it does have a relatively short shelf life and does get a little messy but certainly is one of the most realistic ways to portray an ice scene.  Another realistic method, although not home made, to get realistic ice is to purchase dry ice. Believe it or not, some Walmart's actually sell dry ice. Depending on the environment, you may have 18-24 hours before the block of ice evaporates.  Dry ice is typically not very expensive per pound but care must be taken not to touch the block of ice since it may burn the skin.

Blankets of snow can be created in several ways. One method is to go to your local fabric store and pick out a textured roll of snowy fabric. This of course could cover quite a large area, but is rather flat and snow often occurs in mounds here and there. Instant snow such as Ainolway or a similar product can produce as much as 10 gallons of snow for a reasonable price. Placing the instant snow on top of a snow blanket can give a realistic appearance.

Spray snow In a can can produce a textured look to props and other portions of a scene that may not necessarily be laying on the ground. If you want the sparkly Icy snow , products often are finely cut portions of plastic that can give that extra sparkle to your set. Add a few Styrofoam snow balls and you may be on your way to creating a perfect snow scene.

As a quick reminder for those who really want the real thing, be sure to use your exposure compensation dial when outside since most cameras will try to turn the snow grey. A (+1) or (+2) may actually help get a true white snow. If you are coming from a warm room, you may need to give the camera a few minutes in the outside to avoid lens fogging. If you are in REALLY cold weather remember that batteries will deplete much faster than normal, so be sure to keep an extra with you!








[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative ice snow studio winter Mon, 05 Oct 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Do you captivate your audience? Do you Captivate with your images?

In a recent post I spoke about 'Dwell Time' (How long a viewer looks at your image(s), which is related to engagement with your posts.  An element that can contribute to Dwell time may be story time and anticipation. Many posts that I see on social media may have the models name or event the photographers name and then the image. Crediting yourself as well as your team is important, but how you credit them is equally important. The image above is certainly ok and I could have left it with just the models name, but I added a "simple pleasures" line to he image. Many people can identify with the simpler things in life such as relaxing out doors. The line captivated at least some viewer to 'dwell onthe image for a bit before scrolling.

What about this image? Where is the girl going? She looks as though she is looking back at you either to see if you are watching, or for you to join her. Why is she in a nightgown in the middle of a field? There are many questions that the viewer many want to stick around to see if he/she can find the answers.

By creating mini stories or potential stories in the mind of he viewer through a single image or even with a series of images, the viewer may be inclined to come back to your site or social media feed. Sometimes it may be just to linger a second more on a life experience, a future trip, or even to explore a fantasy/mystery.


Think about creating a new dimension in some of your work the next time you choose image(s) for your audience with either an thoughtful caption or even a post that suggests a storyline!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) captions Captivate creative education photography story Mon, 28 Sep 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Backgrounds - Clean Removal?

      ORIGINAL                                  PS                     

Removing a Background Outside of an Editing Program

For those who have worked in an image processing program for many years, removing a background has not always been easy. Most editing programs have tools such as the magic wand, but tools like this are limited to simple backgrounds, and even then are not completely reliable. 

Photoshop has long had tools such as the Pen tool, or even the polygonal lasso tool. Making selections with these tools can certainly be tedious and often require a layer masks and the refine edge tool in order to clean up a selection. The results were often good, but certainly took time and patience to make a clean selection and place it into a new image.

Almost any editing program can make a reasonable selection of an object assuming that the background is plain and contrast sufficiently with the subject. Take a look at the first image above, and the background is anything but plain. Reds, greens, shadows, dark colors surround the chair, although probably the most challenging part of a selection would be near the base of the chair.

I put the latest release of photoshops auto selection to the test by first opening the image, choosing the magic wand tool, and then select image.  

Photoshop made a reasonably good selection as seen in the second image automatically. However, if you look closely the selection included part of the ground where the chair was sitting. Overall, not too much of a problem which can be cleaned up fairly quickly.

The third image was made through a website called  The site operates fairly simply by uploading an image that you choose, and after a few seconds a image appears as what your selection may look like.  You may actually download a low resolution JPEG of the results. The third image above is a sample of the same chair on a cluttered background. As you can see, the results are pretty decent. It did not get the support stand for the chair, but overall a clean selection. If you want a higher resolution image the site offers a per image charge of $1.99 per image (1 credit), Pay as you go option (up to 500 images for 40 cents per image), or even a subscription plan. The JPEG has a transparent background so that you could even import the image into a presentation program such as Powerpoint without ever opening your image editing program, or of course you could import it into your favorite program and add a new background.

This website is certainly a viable option that could speed workflow, especially for those working on desktop publishing projects.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) apps backgrounds DTP education Mon, 21 Sep 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Behind the scenes -increase your dwell time Behind the Scenes

Sometimes as photographers we are very much into the moment of creating the perfect image either for ourselves or a client. The correct lighting, composition, camera settings, ect.. Of course all of that is important, but consider taking a few frames of less than perfect shots.. why?

If you are a landscape, food, or any other style of photography that does not deal directly with people having their images recorded, your clients may be interested in what also happens on the set.  This is not necessarily a how-it-was-done, but certainly could be part of the process. Lets say you are a food photographer and you accidentally drop some of the food on the floor! Whoops! If you have a website or post on social media this image might be a show stopper for the scrolling viewer. This image could actually increase your DWELL time and generate interest into someone looking at more of your images.

Suppose you are a portrait photographer who regularly photographs people. Obviously you will want to get the best image that you can for a client, but thinking about that extra image can certainly be worth it. What type of personality does your client have? Is your client willing to move forward with that image that could be really fun. Your client may never use the image professionally but giving them the chance to do something out of the ordinary could generate a return customer.  In the case above, the original concept was a fine art image, but the girl had a playful personality and decided to give the tree a big hug during the shoot. Ok, maybe that may (or may not) make it into her portfolio, but she had a little fun during the shoot and was able to loosen up from the expectation of the perfect pose. Of course, for the photographer, before placing a shot like this on his/her website, it is prudent to ask permission. Obviously the aim is not to embarrass anyone.

Whether you motivation is to increasing interest in your posts or just making a session a little more fun, consider including some behind the scenes images when you shoot.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Behind the scenes BTS dwell engagement fun social websites Mon, 14 Sep 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Human Tapestry? Human Tapestry- Painting with light on People

There are certainly many ways to display images or paint textures with light with dozens or videos on youtube as well as formal presentations and workshops. But what if you wanted to try to light paint directly on the human figure? It is certainly possible to use some of the same techniques that one may use in open air or even against another structure. But, here is one more technique that can potentially get you noticed.

Suppose that you wanted to project ready made and easily recognizable images onto a human?  Well, that is what we are talking about today! First thing to think about is supplies which are listed below:

- High definition projector (and cable to connect Projector to camera)

- Black backdrop (Most effective)

- Laptop (or portable) computer

- A willing model

- Images (Ideally fractals, which demonstrate the same pattern or shape as the size varies). Many examples can be found in Pinterest.

- A fixed aperture lens ideally 2.0 or 2.5 


It can be a little tricky as first. Set your lens with the widest angle possible. Most modern projectors come with a HDMI cable which may be directly connected to your computer. Other connections are also possible, however you may not get the best image quality. Now, bring up one of your images on your laptop. and open the channel to your computer so that the same image appears on the computer as appears on your projected image.

The image above a tiger was projected. You really want a black background for the best possible results. Next, ask a model to stand in the projector beam. Ideally the model will be topless and have little or no tatoos to detract from the shot. In addition to the wide aperture, you will likely want a shutter speed not much less than 1/60 of a second. The ISO can be fairly high for some of these images, in fact start with an ISO of at least 1000 and move upward as necessary to get a sharp well exposed images. The model should essentially stand in the same spot, although may turn forward and backward, In my opinion, the back is one of the best places to capture a good image. Make sure the projector is focused and that the stays relatively still as you take your image. You may also have to move the projector now and again to get the correct size of the image that you wish.

Once you have captured the images that you wish now is the time to move them into your favorite editing program. Lightroom or Adobe Raw work fairly well for me. Some of the controls that you will need to work with include Clarity, Contrast, Dehaze, Vibrance and saturation, and of course noise control. You may have to adjust exposure as well. Make small adjustments with one control at a time and adjust to fit your needs.

Give this a try, and who knows, You may like it!







[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Photography projection Tapestry Tue, 01 Sep 2020 13:36:57 GMT
Romance in Photography? PosingPosing Romance in the Photography & Modeling Industry?

Often I will discuss in my blog some of the more technical or aesthetic qualities of photography, but this week I have more of a thought provoking post. Romantic relationships within the industry.

The industry provides some unique challenges to romance not found in many other industries. There are challenges between those within the industry as well as challenges to partners who may be outside of the field. On the job romances is often frowned upon, much like many other industries.  Marketing and connections are critical if either a model or photographer hopes to do well within the industry, yet the expectation is that it is a job much like many other jobs in the workplace. Unlike most other occupations however there is very little structure or oversight from external sources.  A friendly photographer or model, especially freelance professionals can often spend hours together and communication can get very blurred.  

Dating a 'model' has seem very desirable to some people, yet the life can be difficult to say the least. Except for very few, modeling assignments can be sporadic even if a model has an agent. It can be tricky and very time consuming to maintain a steady level of income. The same may be said for many photographers; even wedding photographers have a slow season. When not actually on a photoshoot the model or photographer may be working diligently with contacts to fill up their schedule. Some professionals may actually be juggling a second job, going to school, or developing materials to improve their market position. Long hours of travel plague many within the field, especially some freelance models who may find themselves touring throughout the United States during much of the year.

Trust in critical within any relationship. Partners who may not be in the modeling and photography industry may not truly understand what the job involves.  In addition to travel, some models who may specialize in glamour or artistic nude may experience frustration on the part of their partner.  Certainly be separated from a loved one many times during the year can place a stress on a relationship. Communication is of course a key point, which leads to devotion to one another within the relationship.  Tools such as 'Facetime' can  certainly make the separation a little easier.

Although romance can certainly be challenging in the modeling and photography profession , many make it work very well. A strong bond between two people, looking beneath the surface and understanding who the person actually is, and what drives their passion within the art can lead to a lasting bond which can overcome any obstacles!






[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) relationships Mon, 24 Aug 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Smoke photography - a new approach? (Pinterest image)

Smoke Photography Challenges


Smoke photography can be very dramatic and artistic, but can also be very difficult to control to get the effect that one may want. Especially outdoors, the slightest change in the direction of the wind can cause the smoke to head off in a totally different direction that expected. The wind may wildly diffuse the smoke, or in some cases, can actually appear to drown your subject.

Traditional methods of handing smoke grenades include laying the device on the ground near your subject or having the subject hold the grenade. Almost any smoke generating device, even smoke emitters, will generate a significant amount of heat and can easily be uncomfortable or even cause burns. In addition, clouds of smoke can easily irritate the eyes of your model when held too close.

So, are there options? Commercially there are of course various options to contain various sized smoke bombs, but are often product specific and can be pricy. How about a visit to your local home depot or Lowes?

PVC Tee pieces as well as an assortment of elbow and screw attachment are available at most home improvement stores.  An example is the Tee piece pictured here.  By selecting the proper sized tube, you could easily insert the smoke bomb within one (or both- different colors) of the horizontal openings to the tube.  Another possibility would be to attach elbow attachments to the horizonal openings so that the smoke would be directed backwards.

A straight piece of CAPPED PVC pipe could be fitted into the vertical aspect of the Tee piece and potentially wrapped with tape to serve as a handle.  Yet another option for a straight piece of PVC pipe would be to partially bury it within the ground behind, your subject, then drop the smoke bomb within the pipe. Depending upon the length of the pipe, the smoke could potentially released at different heights to give a variety of artistic effects.

WARNING: All smoke bombs get VERY hot. The PVC pipe WILL get HOT (Smoke bombs within an enclosed space may actually start to melt pvc piping). Please be careful!

The options are only limited by your imagination and connections that you are able to find in your local store!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) bombs colors pvc safety Smoke Mon, 17 Aug 2020 12:00:00 GMT
An experiment in editing An Experiment

With COVID and other circumstances affecting the photography world, I have been experimenting with some editing and even surprised myself at what I came up with recently.

At first look, the image to the left may appear as though it may be a dark creepy forest taken late in the evening. Maybe just a little bit of ambient light peeking through from either the moon or perhaps even distant city lighting. The truth is, that as you look at the second image, it is simply a reflection in a puddle of rain water.  I happened to have my camera with me after a heavy rainstorm one day and I took the image and initially did not think too much about it. It was a cool reflection and who knows what if anything I may do with it in the future.

As weeks past, I went back to the puddles, and started working the some images in Lightroom.  Some things I did  included:

  • Flipped the image 180 degrees
  • Cropped at the top and bottom
  • Increased contrast and sharpened the image
  • Reduced exposure
  • Adjusted the black and white points
  • Adjusted shadows

So as you can see, the final image looks radically different from the rainwater puddle I originally shot.  I do make a habit of shooting stock images after a main project, since I never know what I may need as a composite in the future. In this case, nothing was composited onto the image, and I stayed entirely in Lightroom during this edit. 

Typically, I photograph people, however I feel that it is important to take advantage of potential subject matter for future images. The reality here is that I really had no plans for a specific concept, but the results turned out interesting to say the least. Do you take stock images? Challenge yourself the next time you go out to see beyond what you may typically photograph, and you may be pleasantly surprised!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative education experimenting Photography stock Mon, 03 Aug 2020 12:00:00 GMT
An original Location White Cliffs

It can be difficult to find location shoots these days that offer a variety of opportunities for both your subjects and the photographer. Studio shoots can be problematic these days, with many studio's shutting their doors at least temporarily. For those who are near the Pennsylvania area, one location include White Cliffs of Conoy, located in Marietta Pennsylvania. These cliffs are located along the Susquehanna River, adjacent to Koser  Park.

Visitors are greeted by a wonderful view of the Susquehanna River and park directly adjacent to a paved trail leading to the cliff area. The trail is wooded offers an opportunity for a peaceful walk while enjoying a little bit of nature along the way for about 1.5 miles. 

Along the path you have an opportunity to relax for a moment along a pathway bridge. The area is adjacent to railroad tracks, but the brush is very thick is most areas can be tricky to access. Although a train did not pass on the day I visited, there was an active signal device, which lends one to believe that the tracks are still in use. 

The Cliffs themselves were created via Limestone, which actually gives them a dull white appearance. Once you reach the cliffs, you are given a view of the forested area, the Susquehanna, and a rough beach area. The view is impressive just from this point, however you could venture down to the beach area with some effort. In all honesty, The descent down is short, but not necessarily an easy one since some of the cliff area itself is brittle and in some areas very steep.

The beach area itself is a little rocky in places, but certainly has ample room for small groups and a picnic lunch. The water clear and it is easy to wade out  for several yards to cool off on a hot day. You may experience a dragonfly party within some of the plant area along the beach. 


White cliffs has many photo possibilities ranging from fashion shoots along the cliffs, grunge shoots, forest nature shoots, as well as swimsuit images. More information on this location can be found at here.  









[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative Photography White cliffs" location Mon, 27 Jul 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Customer Presentations HappyHappy Presentation Choices?

If you photograph people, it is quite easy to come up with hundreds or even up to a thousand images depending upon the type of shoot. You painstakingly cull your images down to what you may feel may be a reasonable number. When presenting images to a client, whether it be a model, a bride, portraits, or even another company executive there are some important decisions to make:

  • How many images?
  • Should they be fully edited?
  • How should they be displayed?
  • What next?

In a more formal relationship such as a wedding or working with another business, everything may be spelled out in a contract. Even so, the number of images you show a client does not necessarily mean that you show them everything (even if they say they want all of the images). Problems such as out of focus images, limbs chopped off, exposure issues are relatively easy to eliminate. When considering the number of images that you show, consider your last eye appointment when the optometrist asked you "Does the first lens look better or worse than the second? How about this one..."  In general, 25 images per hour of shooting tends to work out for many photographers.

Should you edit everything? Basic editing is almost a must including composition, lighting, retouching etc. A client may certainly say I don't like that image because of (insert reason), which could easily be fixed with a few more minutes behind the keyboard. How much time you spend editing before your client depends on the nature of the shoot. Glamour images for publication may take a little more prep than casual lifestyle images.  You will probably want to show details in a wedding gown, whereas another shoot may well be focused on some other aspect of the image. If you have a hectic schedule you may not wish to keep your client waiting too long for the edits or you may loose a potential sale.  There are many companies that offer Retouching services; choose one that works well with your brand and produces quality results with a reasonable turn around time.

Displaying the images can certainly take many forms such as moving through images in a Lightoom catalog so as to compare one image to many others. Sending a client several hundred images through a website with the expectation that he/she will get right back to you the next day is probably not going to happen to often. In fact, without guidance from you, the client may not be able to make up their mind at all. If you are selling prints, once you have narrowed down client choices to 10 images or less, service such as Nu-Vu Room View can actually have a client see the image(s) as through they were hanging above their very own couch in their house. The same company offers proofing galleries to make a client session flow even smoother without having to move from application to another.

Delivery usually follows and it goes without saying that if you are providing digital images to a client, make your deadline. Number of revisions should be carefully discussed and adhered to by both parties. If you are selling prints or other products be sure to have samples WITH YOU at your client meeting. Let them see, touch, and experience the products to the extent possible. While you may not have every possible size or color combination at your meeting, the client should have a reasonable idea of the actual physical product, rather than looking at it within a catalog. 

Food chefs will sometimes say, "Its all in the presentation" , which is why at some upscale restaurants the food on a plate may look like a piece of artwork.  An artful presentation may easily make the difference in working with the client (or not) in the future.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative galleries Photography presentation Mon, 20 Jul 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Authentic Couples photography Shooting Authentically for Couples

In this world where almost everyone has a camera in their pocket, it can be difficult to get noticed with some of your images. An image can be captured with a cell phone camera very quickly and selfies are common. So if you wanted to promote that you photograph couples (for example), are there ways you could possibly stand out from the thousands of selfie portraits taken almost every day? Is there a way to add images with impact to your growing portfolio?

One of the first things to consider is seeking out an actual couple. Models are fine for most images, but two people who have never met except for your photoshoot may be a difficult time pulling off a BELIEVABLE couples shoot. When the viewer looks at an images, it should be pretty apparent that the couple enjoy being around each other and have a mutual attraction. When images look stiff or overly posed, a viewer could easy scroll directly past them. Almost everyone knows an actual couple, and often they may enjoy some new images. 

Are you selling artwork, or are you trying to get into couple photography. Your approach may be radically different. If you were selling artwork, you may create a perfectly staged silhouetted couple embracing which may very well sell to a potential buyer. On the other hand, this may look very artificial to many couples. What about the image above with the girl riding on her boyfriends back.  We could have photographed a more intimate image, but in this case the girl almost lost her grip walking though the woods. Both she and her boyfriend are having a spontaneous moment. Although this could be staged, the expressions on their faces would clearly not be the same.

Obvious points of course as with any image would be to consider lighting, composition, as well as what are you trying to portray at the moment. In most cases, you will want both faces reasonably lit unless you are moving for a very dramatic image. Are you trying to a romantic moment or a fun moment. With this said, the images are not always glamour images. If you over edit the image you could easy take away the moment the couple may be experiencing.  When composing, consider with some of your images to leave room for copy.  A couple may want a message on their image, or you may want to add a message of your own if you are advertising a new service.

Do you have a special location? Sometimes where you shoot is as important as what you are shooting. While your main focus should be on the couple themselves, giving the couple a chance to interact with their environment can result in some very interesting results.

Are model releases necessary? During your promotional shoot for a new service of course you will get a model release from those working for you. During an actual client shoot, if the images are ONLY for the couple, and you DO NOT plan on placing images in your portfolio for advertising, you probably will not need a release. In general however, some form of release is always a good idea. Years after a shoot, if you decide you really like a client's images, you already have the release. Publishing an image for advertising purposes without a release may get you sued.  Although not as common, if the couple appear at a recognizable private property, you may also need a property release if you use that image in your advertising.

After the shoot, your clients may well have trouble choosing which images they want to purchase. Sending the couple an online gallery may result in weeks that go by without a word from them even if you send a reminder email. Invite the couple (both of them) to your studio or office, or even their home where you can walk them through the image selection process.

Couples shooting can be fun and rewarding for everyone involved and can lead to repeat customers such as engagement or even wedding images!















[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Mon, 13 Jul 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Rethinking Shooting in todays world   Rethinking Shooting Environment

Without doubt COVID-19 has great impact on our society.  It has touched almost everyone in some manner and not necessarily through illness, but certainly financially and socially.  Many photography events have been cancelled this year, and depending upon where one may live, more are yet to be cancelled. Some portrait photographers have moved to other genres such as landscape, animals, still live, while others may have shelved their cameras for the time being.  But what if you really enjoy shooting people?

With all forms of photography, we need to be respectful of one another.  Current guidelines require a mask in many areas with good reason. One can disagree, however if your subject want to protect themselves, we need to respect their wishes. Attempting to argue will only make any photography concept go down the tubes with sub-par images.  This can make shooting indoor particularly problematic especially in small studios. One may be very comfortable shooting in studio's, being able to control almost every aspect of your environment is great. But, does that limit you as a photographer? Does that limit what clients you may be able to attract? As importantly in today's world, many clients may not wish to risk their health.

Shooting outdoors can be a challenge, light, shadows, rain, wind, as well as many other factors can certainly affect the overall outcome of an image. But then again, it can provide an opportunity to develop a skill set and planning ability that can be well worth it in year to come.  One resource that can be valuable is a book written by Lindsay Adler Shooting in Sh**ty Light  is a guide to shooting in circumstances that may be some cringe.

Of course if you are more into Youtube video's there is certainly no lack on subject matter on shooting outdoors. This particular video using Fills, flashes, and diffusers  outdoors which can be very helpful.  Another resource includes videos both on Youtube as well as CreativeLive from Roberto Valenzuela in which he provides tips for ideal locations and concept execution.

Of course there is more than light to worry about, and mother nature does not always cooperate with us when we get that great idea for a photoshoot.  Videos such as this one Grim Weather focuses on landscape, but of course one could always place a brave model into one of these images.

Photography is generally about planning and being flexible. If you are a portrait photographer, working with clients to obtain comfort is only going to get you better images. 







[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) education outddors Photography Mon, 06 Jul 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Discard bad images???   Do you discard bad images?

Most photographers take many more images that the public or clients will ever see. In some cases it becomes choosing between some ok images, good images, a brand, or just bad images. No photographer regardless of professional or casual will create the perfect image each time the shutter is depressed. But.. what do you do with the not so perfect images? Are you flexible?

Some photographers will outright delete images that he/she feels are bad images. This may be due to focus, exposure, angles, or many other reasons including an artistic dislike of the image. Other people may store the image on a hard drive, never to see the light of an editing program again. Still others may store the images, with plans of 'maybe' coming back to them someday. After all, hopefully we continue to get better at our post production skills, or at least there may be a new action, preset, or program that will help us along at some point in the future.

The image to the left above was a 'scanned image' of a 35 mm print, and not a very good scan at that. The sky is an almost unnatural blue without couds and is very noisy. The rockface as is soft, and the exposure appears way off on the ground.  In most respects, this image would be a discard. I had some time available to me so I thought I would experiment a little on this image with some automatic and manual post processing techniques.

My original idea was a puffy cloud bright image. But efforts to make the sky reasonable with a program such as Luminar were not successful (In computer language, garbage in-- garbage out, and the sky was too badly recorded in the scan). There are of course several ways to replace a sky in photoshop, but one of the quickest Sky Replacement technique can be done almost as quickly as with many plug-in programs. Even so, the bright puffy clouds did not seem to work here so I went with a more dramatic sky, and darkened down the image considerably. In this case I used the levels control, but curves would have have worked just as well. 

The image still appeared soft despite the typical tool like unsharp, contrast, etc.. in Photoshop. The image was certainly much more dramatic but I also wanted a bit of a crisp look to the photo.  I took a chance and first converted it to an 8 bit image with the mode command in photoshop.  Next I choose the filters menu and applied a DRY BRUSH effect to the rock face. This gave the image a crisper and almost painterly look. 

So I started out with one idea, but I kept an open mind into different possibilities that the image could take. The final image of course looked much different then even the original print image. There are seemingly hundred of plug-ins and presets/actions out there today, many of which are even free or for very little cost. A variety of stand alone programs are also available. Adobe has recently undated several features in Lightroom. Of course there seems to be a never ending supply of Youtube or even commercial tutorials on the web.

The next time you have a 'discard' image, try something that you maybe have not worked with on a regular basis. The results may surprise you!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative discard editing education photography Photoshop Mon, 22 Jun 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Trade.. Is it dead? CuriousCurious Trade for... Is it Dead?

The photography industry is one of the very few remaining industries that has worked on a barter system instead of cash flow. A model may ask for images in exchange for his/her time modeling. A makeup artist may wish images of their work for marketing purposes and will do a session in trade for a simple makeup job. Although it may occasionally occur in other industries, but often as a one time situation under special circumstances. Harry (who is a plummer) may help Joe (who is a carpenter) with home repairs and not charge labor fees as long as each pays for and provides the repair materials.

It goes without saying that the economy is struggling given recent events in 2020. Some people have yet to receive any unemployment benefits or aid in any manner from the government. Many businesses have closed their doors permanently after being successful for many years. Although trade for files (prints) has been slowly disappearing over the last several years, one can expect the practice to become very rare with the exception of very good friends. Modeling and other professional fees can be expensive. Depending upon the area of the country, some modeling fees can start at $75.00 hr for a minimum of 2 hrs and may be higher.

BUT.. Can you perhaps increase the chance of a trade deal? Maybe, by providing something special and extra!

  • Provide food. No, not just dry bagels in the morning or fast food for lunch. Let them know that you will provide food and ask them what they like to eat. Are they on a diet, A vegan, Kosher?  Have condiments such as jam if you decide to include bagels for breakfast as well as coffee. 
  • Will you submit to a magazine? One can never guarantee a submission will be accepted for a certain issue, but let your talent know that you plan to submit to several magazines.
  • What is special about this shoot? Has it been done many times in the past? What props, lighting, or even post processing are you offering to make this a special event? 
  • Can you rent wardrobe for the day? Your talent may have a once in a lifetime chance to wear this special outfit. 
  • Transportation issues? Can you help?
  • Deliverables.. Yes, you may have paying clients who require quite a bit of your time.  If you expect someone to provide a free service to you, make certain that you have the time to fulfill your part of any agreement. If trading for prints or files, how does your talent want the images delivered. It should be VERY rare that your talent needs to wait for than 30 days for you to meet your obligation. If something happens, communicate PROactively and let your talent know. Don't make them call or email you.
  • Don't take advantage of a personal relationship. This person may be your friend, treat them as such or you may find yourself with one less friend.

In General, treat anyone who still wishes to work in trade like GOLD, since these people are valuable! If a modeling fee is $150 for a concept, and you may only spend $50.00, it only make good business sense to make this person feel special.





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) business modeling Photography Trade Mon, 08 Jun 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Are your Dynamic props ready? Dynamic and Passive Props- Ready?

Most photographers perform at least a quick check of their equipment prior to a Photoshoot.  Are the batteries charged, do I have enough memory cards, what about the synch cables... etc. But sometimes one may not consider the ready state of props.  

A passive prop is something that someone may hold, let say a coffee cup. The subject may hold the cup or it may just be sitting on a desk in front of a person. In any case, the cup is a cup in most cases and it really does not have any action on its own (in this case, it may need to hold a liquid or just be empty). Simply be sure to bring the cup with you for the Photoshoot.

A dynamic prop may have a active function due to the characteristics of the prop. For example, in the image above, a basketball would normally bounce if dropped or deliberately bounced due to the material the ball is made from and the air within the ball. In this case however, lets say you want an image with your subject bouncing or throwing the ball.  The ball needs to have a reasonable amount of air within it in order to bounce (the dynamic action). If the basketball has been setting on a shelf for months, air could have leaked and you have a soggy basketball without much chance of a bounce.

Even a little more tricky is a candle. Why is a candle tricky? Well, you probably want it to be lit and have a flame as part of a scene. How much wick is actually showing at the top of the candle? If just a few millimeters, you will likely only have a tiny flame that will go out fairly quickly. Most candles need a little trough around the wick to get that strong frame most look for.  Wax often melts around a candle wick almost forming a flat surface that you may need to carve out before your event.

MilkMilk A flower by any other name? Depending upon the nature of your Photoshoot, a flower itself can be active (sort of). Suppose you were doing a water or milk bath shoot and decided to incorporate flowers with that shoot. One thought may be to pick of some artificial flowers well ahead of time so not to have to worry the day before about shopping for your favorite daisy.  In this case, you will need to flowers to FLOAT. Almost all artificial flowers which have a natural look will sink quickly in the bath. Most fresh flowers will float at least long enough to get though your concept.

Thinking about how you want your prop to work within your shoot and preparing well can save time as well as some embarrassment with your project.

Candle and basketball images courtesy of

Bob Barford is a photographer based in Southern Pennsylvania 


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) dynamic passive Photography Props Mon, 01 Jun 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Tidbits you may not know about L4 Things You May Not Know About Luminar 4

There seems to be no lack if articles and praises about Luminar 4 by Skylum Software. Without doubt the software has made great steps forward when it comes to editing landscape images, especially with the Sky Replace feature. There a numerous tutorials on line on the program including this one from the SLR lounge , so I will not repeat what probably has been said numerous times. There are things however that I have discovered while trialing the program that bear mentioning here.

If you have worked or trialed the program, you may be aware that you can either replace the entire sky, or just a single element within the sky such as a cloud. Essentially you are making a composite image with and included program element or one of your own. One of the basics of composites is: Make sure that lighting and colors match as close as possible. I found that importing certain sky's, the blue was too intense for the rest of the image. The program offers a LUMINOSITY MASK directly within the sky replace dialog box that will tend to match overall tone of the image just a little better shown above. I typically work from Lightroom, and I also found that the water which was a highlight needed some color toning once I returned to Lightroom.

As mentioned above, you can also add elements into your landscapes that may not have been there before. In the image to the left, birds were added to the sky to add just a little more interest to the boat anchored by the beach. The key when adding these elements is to ask yourself do they look realistic, or are they out of place for the when the photograph was taken. In order words, would I really see an Aurora in the gulf of Mexico (not likely).

Sunsets may be cool, but the program does not always work well with each image. As you may be able to see if the lower left hand side of the image, the program converted a bank of clouds into a grey 'blob'. Although the program does quite well in many cases, it certainly has limitations.  In this case, the original sky was quite grey with little contrast between any clouds and the sky itself.

Since I work in Lightroom, I make sure that any image that I export into another program (including Photoshop) that I am working on a copy and not the original image. In the case of Luminar, it seems to strip out all of the metadata from the copied  image including keywords and any copyright information. If your workflow is similar, be alert to this little quirk within the program.

My impression of the program is that it is impressive with the landscape images that I have worked with so far.  One can certainly import sky's and other elements an image using Photoshop, but Luminar does the work much faster and in most cases creates a realistic final product. Trial versions of Luminar are available for those who may wish to give it a shot Skylum .




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) edit landscape Luminar4 review sky Mon, 25 May 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Set.a.light Set.A.Light 3D

I wanted to share information on a new program that I have trialed and like called Set. a. light 3D by Ellixier. This is a 3D studio environment on your desktop. While there are certainly other programs out there such as The Online lighting diagram, this product has some interesting features that seem to work well such as:

  • Realistically rendered male and female models
  • Variety of colored backgrounds, floor styles, and studio sizes and colors
  • Ability to change hairstyle, makeup, eye color, clothing, shoes with each model
  • Ability to add multiple models male, female, child
  • Posing with either pre-sets or by creating your own poses in fine detail including opening or closing eyes
  • Variety of lighting equipment including modifiers, strobes, and speedlights
  • Ability to change the power, position, and height of each modifier and see in REAL time what effect that lighting has effected.
  • Ability to change camera settings and lenses in real time 
  • Ability to add props such as sunglasses on model, chairs and couches
  • Quick controls that allows the model to look directly at camera or light

Once you have your lighting, camera, and model set the way you wish, you can export various lighting diagrams such as:

Which shows all of your equipment in relation to your model, as well as the various camera settings and lighting settings. Ellixier allows you to download a free fully operational copy of the software to try for 30 days. Two versions are available, a basic version that will be useful for most people at about $80.00 as of this post, or a studio version that adds features such as the ability to add patterned gobo's on your model.

Like any software, it does have some limitations. The number of sets are limited in either version and I have not be able to locate additional sets on the website listed above. As with any 3D environment, care must be taken when placing props, lighting, or models so that they vanish within other parts of the set. Overall, I think the software is worth taking a look at, especially when planning shoots.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) education lighting photography software Mon, 18 May 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Cancelled Events CuriousCurious  Cancelled Events- A Problem?

With COVID-19 still striking in many parts of the world, there are a multitude of agreements, contracts, and events that could not reasonably take place. While some organizers or businesses are proactively refunding money or making alternate arrangements to satisfy clients. For others, it can be a little more difficult, especially if monies have already been spent by a business and can not easily be recovered.

Especially in the United States, anyone can issue a lawsuit for just about anything. Will it be successful, or even heard within a court depends on many factors, not the least of which is what part of the country you may live in.  Written contracts such as for wedding can be especially tricky. Some organizers post in written communication or within contracts that no refunds will be given. Although this is a good start it is often not enough to avoid a lawsuit being filed when the party offering a service fails to provide that service.

Force Majeure is often employed written contracts, but may also apply in certain cases for events being cancelled, and may leave the client with a lost deposit. Force Majeure may be employed in a number of circumstances such as acts of God such as severe weather, epidemics, war, and some others that can not reasonably have been foreseen by the provider of the service. The pandemic certainly seems to meet these circumstances. But what if a client persists? Another element of Force Majeure is the act of governments making it illegal for people to congregate as well as orders to stay home.  In addition, photography or related fields was certainly not determined to be a essential service.  These factors suggest that the cause of the cancellation could not be overcome and therefore the provider can not be considered negligent or in breach of any agreement.

This MAY or MAY NOT apply depending upon the area of the country where the event was to be held. In that case, a Impracticability/Impossibility or Frustration of Purpose defense may still apply. The Governors of many states issued a lockdown  forcing many non essential businesses to close. A Frustration of purpose makes the provider of the service worthless to a client , frustrating the purpose of the contract or agreement.  A photographers services are worthless to a potential client if the government has shut the business down. Both parties would not benefit if the police would potentially halt or arrest anyone attempting to complete an activity.

Given our current circumstances, it would seem likely that if a lawsuit were filed, that the defendant would prevail using one or both of the defenses above.  Economic hardship WOULD NOT enter into the situation above.  Simply because it would be a economic hardship to provide a service would not be a viable defense and the such a defense would loose. In theory, if the virus only affected one or two states, a client may claim that the provider complete the agreement by moving the event to another part of the country not affected by the virus. Simply because the photographer experienced additional expenses would not be grounds for a successful defense.

With all of this said, providers should make reasonable efforts to keep their clients happy, regardless of legal issues. Discounts, rescheduling, or when possible even refunds should be considered since word of mouth from an unhappy customer can have a significant impact on the future of any business


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) cancel contracts event force frustration impossible law majeure Mon, 11 May 2020 12:00:00 GMT
The Model Release..Facts and Fiction CuriousCurious Facts and Some Fiction about Model Releases

If one stays in the photography field even for a short time, he/she will likely hear about model releases.  Laws can vary significantly from state to state with some spelling out the absolute need to have a release for a published image, some states barely mention the topic at all within the United States.  Laws in other countries may also vary significantly even with neighboring countries.  At the very least, a model release is signed by the model and gives the photographer permission to publish the image. The following should be considered general principles held true within the USA.

  1. I have copyright to the image, I can do anything I want with the image... right?!
    • FALSE. Copyright states that the photography owns the image unless it is specifically assigned to someone else. It does not give the photographer any rights to publish the image. 
  2. The model said that I could use the image, that should be enough..right?
    • FALSE. In most cases, unless it is in writing, it did not happen.  In some cases a group photography event (shootout) may have a blanket release signed by the participating models. Photographers should make an concerted effort to receive a copy of this statement.  A verbal statement made by a model to the entire group MAY be held binding, but only if photographers in attendance would be willing to legally witness to that statement.
  3. If the photographer plans to promote, service, or organization, including his/her own, a model release is necessary.
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​TRUE. A model may not be attending the local opening of a restaurant in your area, but if you use an image of her sitting at a table eating a meal, you better have a release signed if you plan on using her image to advertise the grand opening.
  4. A payment, or at least a print of the image is necessary for a model release to be valid
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​MAYBE NOT. It depends upon the wording of the release and the overall environment. Keep in mind if there is an understood expectation of some form of consideration, that must be delivered to the model. A common example of a non monetary compensation may be TFP (Trade for Print) or TFF (Trade for files). Failure to deliver may or may not invalidate the model release.
  5. ​​​​​​​We are not professionals and are just playing around with the camera. A model release is not necessary.
    • TRUE. IF two people are just photographing each other to place in an album, on a computer, with no intention of promoting or selling anything then a model release is generally not necessary. Publishing the images on social media may or may not get a little tricky but images of family or friends MAY not cause a problem. Of course, it is always a good idea to let anyone know, even a family member, that you are posting on social media. It may not get you into legal trouble, but your person life may get a little rough.
  6. ​​​​​​​A model release is a contract.
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​MAYBE NOT. A contract typically is a signed document that typically offers some form of compensation, promises or duties that must be met by all parties.  Depending upon where you live, a release may or may not be considered a contract. Most informed people recommend that a release be written according to the laws in your particular jurisdiction.
  7. ​​​​​​​If an image is taken in Vermont, and later shown in New York promoting a product , the model release from Vermont will suffice.
    • MAYBE NOT. It depend on how the model release in Vermont was worded. If photographer Pete whipped up a quick release from his home computer based on what he thought should be in the release, he may be looking a some problems if the model decides to sue from the image published in New York. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
  8. ​​​​​​​Editoral, fine art, and newsworthy images may be exempt from needing a model release.
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​YES, Generally speaking.  If a news crew photographer takes an image of you standing outside of a burning building, a release is not needed since the photographer is not advertising or promoting the fire (we hope!).  Now, if the editor of his agency used the image as an advertisement as to how great his news crew is and looking for contributions from others, there could be a requirement for releases.
  9. ​​​​​​​I can use my images for anything I want once I have the release.
  • ​​​​​​​NO. If any image is used to falsely portray an individual without their consent, a lawsuit is possible. IF someone is photographing the subject of drug abuse and the model during the shoot is modeling with drug paraphernalia then the model is aware of the intent of the shoot to portray drug abuse. On the other hand, if the model was shot as part of a fashion shoot and sometime in the future syringes and drugs made it appear that she was associated with drugs, a serious lawsuit could exist.

10. A Release is forever

  • YES. Unless the terms of the release specify otherwise, a release is forever.


If it is not obvious from above, it is a good idea to have an attorney look at your model release. It may only take 30 minutes of the attorneys time, so any fee should be considered well worth it. One can not go wrong getting a model release in any case. Sample model releases are plentiful on the internet and also available from the Professional Photographers of America.  If an issue goes to litigation, something is better than having nothing at all. 

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) contract education Model Photography release Mon, 27 Apr 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Orphan Works CuriousCurious Orphan Works- What Are They?

'Orphan Works' are artistic properties that do not have a specific author and/or it has been impossible to locate the photographer who made the image.  The practical implication for this situation is that under normal conditions if one wishes to use an image, the photographer would be contacted and one would get written permission. Well, what if the photographer has passed away, or simply the studio has gone out of business?

With the exception of use for educational purposes in a classroom (fair use), the person who wishes to use the image is out of luck. Legally, one can not copy the image or use it for their own purposes. Simply because a logo, watermark or other information that can not be readily found does not give one the right to assume that it is public domain.

If the photographer, his family members, estate, or any legal representative would see an image in use that would belong to the original photographer, a major lawsuit could and probably would happen against the individuals who stole (yes 'stole')the image.  A diligent search is necessary before any image can be used by someone who did not make the original image.  

One such problem can be seen when a picture from a swimsuit model is taken from the Sports Illustrated annual issue. While the infringer may think it may be funny to delete the SI logo from the image and post the image on Facebook as his new girlfriend, not contacting the magazine will almost certainly land him in hot water.  Simply because the photographers name was not directly next to an image does not mean that he has the right to use the image in any manner whatsoever (this is NOT fair use).

Until congress settles on a law that deals specifically with the issue of Orphan works, the best plan of action would be to search for another similar image where one could get permission, or even purchase a similar image from a stock site.


Bob Barford is a published photographer based out of Southern Pennsylvania.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Mon, 20 Apr 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Hi Rez Virtual Photoshoots? LeatherLeather Hi Rez Virtual Photoshoots- A New Niche?

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, many forms of people photography are at a standstill, and justifiably so. Some have trialed streaming over the internet, but in many cases this only results in screen shots with a low resolution images. While this may be ok for social media and some on-line promotion, it certainly has its limitations. What would it take to fine tune this process without investing in quite a bit of high end electronics?

The camera:

  • First one would need a camera that is capable of high resolution (generally 240 ppi or above).
  • The camera should have the ability to either have an memory card or directly upload images to the web. 
  • The camera should either have the ability to to time lapse photography or at last have a built in self timer
  • The camera should perform reasonably well taking images with room lighting or natural light

OK, so these features are not really high end, in fact, some cell phone cameras have these features.


  • If indoors, the room should have plenty of natural light
  • Should be free of distracting elements. One way of achieving this is to hang a bed over a wall for a plain background. Tacky.. no.. you would be surprised how many professionals have used this technique.
  • Should be spacious enough that you can move around as necessary and yet position your camera to capture the concept.


You will want some method of communicating (both visual and voice) with the person to whom you are sending the images. This could be your cell phone (if not used as a camera), or a Skype session over a laptop.


This can be the trickiest part for someone who may allow others to adjust lighting. As above, ideally a room well lit with natural light would work well. If a model does not have professional lighting, experimentation is the key here. Try a mini session and look at the images and evaluate whether they are too dark or overexposed. Where are the shadows? Are any props light appropriately?

The Session

The client or photographer should agree on what type of session and how images may appear. Pinterest is a great resource for almost any kind of inspiration. Once the session has begun, the photographer or client may continue to communicate over Skype of whatever other method that has been set up.

After the Session

Images should be uploaded to a source where the client or photographer can access them. It may be a dropbox account, or it may even be a google drive account.


While this certainly is not a perfect arrangement, it is practical for almost everyone. Of course there are cameras that can may be able to accept web controls to to exposure, but this may be getting into expensive options.





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) business communication creative Photography photoshoots virtual Mon, 13 Apr 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Studio withdrawl? Studio gridStudio grid Are you Itching to get Back Out in the Field?

It is hard now with stay at home orders in many states for photographers. Not only for business owners, but also for those who crave the creative challenge. With the COVID virus still at or near its peak in many areas, it would be irresponsible to potentially expose ourselves, our families, or even our clients to illness. But there is hope from both a business perspective as well as a creative perspective.

The Small Business Association (SBA) is working for small businesses to provide grants and loans which can be forgiven to businesses that are suffering under the current order for business closures. Although photographers and videographers  are important, they are not considered essential life supporting businesses. There is also a plan which has yet to be released for business owners who employee others to keep those employees on as long as possible through a government grant. Some of those business financial aids are listed Govt COVID help.

What about the creative side of things. Most photographers try to specialize in a particular style or genre of photography to set themselves apart from all others. BUT... while you are at home, why not practice some styles of photography that may not be in your particular genre? For example, product photography can really fine tune your lighting skills by dealing with highly reflective objects, very textured objects, totally flat objects, or many other objects that you may find around your home. If you have gels that you typically use in the studio for portraits, why not try them on a vase or a bottle? One such guide for product photography can be found on Creative Live.

Most of us have features on our cameras that we don't use often.  Have you ever tried time lapse photography? Pointing your camera out of your window might just produce some interesting images throughout the day.

For those who may have animals, how about some action shots? Catching your dog run through your back yard, possibly jumping for a ball that you have thrown. How about your cat? Catching a cat jumping through the air may just make it look like a flying squirrel. 

Of course there are hundreds or actions and presets that you may want to add to your collection for those who use Photoshop or Lightroom.  Some of these sets of instructions for your programs can save you much time in your overall editing process and help your workflow once everyone is able to make it back into a daily lifestyle again. Some presets such as those offered through PhotoWhoa are actually free, so it does not hurt to experiment with them.


Yes, this is a difficult time for many people, but as creatives we can work though this and probably come out stronger than ever.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) business camera creative education help Photography Photoshop Mon, 06 Apr 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Is there another Way? Is There Another Way?

With the COVID-19 virus spreading world wide, is there another way to keep photography and modeling business practices moving in the right direction?  Clearly, it is a major challenge when one looks at cash flow, availability of people and locations, and even proper handling of props.

Some artists have turned to on-line sales, where in the past it may not have been through of as a main revenue stream.  Personal websites, commercial sites such as Only fans, or even becoming a stock image provider to such sites as Adobe may be options. Each of these option has advantages and drawbacks and may work for some and not others. For example, personal websites do require that you purchase a domain name and in some cases pay the hosting provider. Hosts such as Wix will even help you built your own website at no cost however the Wix brand will be featured even within your web address. The advantage of personal websites is however you often will not have to pay a commission fee for anything that your sell to a particular customer.

Some commercial sites that host images may actually charge a fee for every image that you sell to a customer. If you have developed a significant social media following, fees charge may not add up to much if you are able to garner a significant amount of sales per month. This usually means that you may need to place a significant amount of 'teaser' images to your regular social media accounts and direct potential customers to your pay site. One thing to keep in mind, for models is that the model must own the images such as self portraits, or must obtain permission to sell images from the photographer. Significant lawsuits have been filed relating to people selling images that they do now own.  On the photographer part, make certain that you have a model release. Again, lawsuits have been filed and awards made without these documents.

Stock sites sales can work if you are providing images that are currently in need. Simply posting images without careful research into what is 'hot' and what is not can lead one to much disappointment.  Those who do well at this often provide a significant amount of work each month and the payout may vary depending upon which stock site that you choose.

Video events, can help through sites such as Youtube. But in order to make this work, you will need a significant amount of your social media traffic to your channel in order to monetize your work. This can take time, and in most cases you will need something unique about your channel to draw a significant audience.  Streaming videos can also be helpful, and in some cases webcams or even some cell phones can produce reasonable quality. This avenue some require some advance work on the producers part such as having a consistent place to film, good audio and lighting, and well as engaging subjects.

Obviously, in person events and be tricky. There is not only a risk of person to person transmission of disease but all props and surroundings must be disinfected before and after each use. Many local governments are placing restrictions on what may happen in public places which makes in person events even more difficult to manage well.


I wish everyone well in these stressful times and hope that you maintain your passion for the arts!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) media Paysites social stock video Mon, 30 Mar 2020 19:54:25 GMT
Do you really need insurance? CuriousCurious Insurance: Yes or No for the Freelancer?

I recently had some events happen during photoshoots that made me wonder about insurance. Clearly some freelancers carry it and some do not.  So my high end camera strap attached to my expensive camera and lens decided it was time to part ways both from the bottom of my camera and along the safety strap. Fortunately, I was holding the camera at that time!  As I was raising my supposedly heavy duty lightstand the stand startled to wobble even though I was indoors on a flat surface. What if the stand had hit the model, or tore an expensive piece of furniture?  As my mind continued to wonder I remember part of a ceiling collapsing a few years ago, and landed on part of my computer with a cloud of insulation following it.

If you operate leased studio or commercial building, your lease will probably require you to have insurance. But what if you operate out of a home studio and home office as a freelancer? Home insurance, without a rider (a schedule of specific professional equipment to be covered), probably will not cover professional equipment (strobes, pro cameras etc). While a rider would certain cover equipment, it would likely cover that equipment under a depreciation schedule. That is to say a $2,000 camera purchased 2 years ago may only worth $ 750.00 in replacement costs!  In the case of my ceiling incident which could have ruined all data on my computer, homeowners insurance would not cover images destroyed from a once in a lifetime wedding event and a very dissatisfied client.

As if that is not enough, lets say you have a awesome outdoor location you want to do a photoshooot.  You arrange a trade shoot with a local model and on the day of the shoot all seems to be going well. As your model moves into throughout the shoot, she stands in what you realize too late is a patch of poison Ivy. She starts to freak out a little telling you that she is sensitive to Poison Ivy.  Later the next day she informs you that both legs are covered with welts and she is unable to work at her regular job.

There are several options for professional insurance, one of which is through the Professional Photographers of America Benefits. These benefits can cover your equipment, lost data, and even liability. There are of course other companies such as Full frame insurance that will allow you to purchase annual insurance of insurance for a specific one time event that you may have planned. 

Some venues, especially those owned by federal, state, and sometimes local governments may require you to have a Certificate of Insurance (COI) before you can shoot on their property. Some major private venues may also wish to see a COI or they may not let you shoot at that location. Obviously, if you provide this insurance to potential venues it lessens the possibility that they will be held responsible if something goes wrong. If you are a location photographer , you may not be allowed to shoot at a location if you can not provide a COI.

Health and Disability insurance for yourself can without doubt be expensive. What if during the outdoor shoot as mentioned above, you are rushing to move the model out of the patch of poison ivy and YOU fall and break your ankle? Now you can not work (as least not easily) AND potentially have a claim coming in from the model.  If you happen to be a AAA member, the service provides much more than than just roadside assistance and may be other benefits at a discounted price.

As if the above were not not enough, there are companies that offer an Umbrella policy. This is a policy that covers issues that may not be covered explicitly in other policies. It also provides additional financial coverage above and beyond what may be offered with other policies.

Insurance for business owners who are offering coverage to employees, and one should investigate what local, state, and federal laws may be in your particular area to set up such a program.

The final point that I wanted to mention, is consider forming an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation). In the event that a disaster happens, your personal finances would not be wiped out.  I may go into this structure in more detail at a later time.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Insurance Mon, 09 Mar 2020 12:00:00 GMT
Written communication CuriousCurious Written Communication Can be a Challenge

Written communication to co-workers, clients, and even friends can be a challenge. Words can mean many things to many people depending upon background, area in which people live, their experiences as well as many other things. Communication within the modeling and photography industry can include quite a bit of jargon not always found in other industries. Here are some thoughts when sending out a email or physical letter to either a new client or even a long term business colleague.

  • Who is your audience? 
    • This will often determine how structured and detailed your letter or email may be written. For example, reaching out to a new client may require an introductory letter, avoiding overwhelming the contact with jargon. The introductory letter may well invite them to view your work or visit your website for additional information if they are interesting in contacting you. Even a long term colleague may have different levels or understanding such as a photographer may not understand details that a makeup artist may think is second nature.
  • Structure
    • It almost goes without saying that planned communication should use proper punctuation and grammar. Spell and grammar checkers can be worth gold for someone who sends out daily written communication. It's amazing sometimes in social media communication how I may need to read a sentence over again begin to understand what the author may be attempting to say. This tends to cast a unprofessional light on the person sending a poorly constructed message.
  • ​​​​​​​Templates
    • ​​​​​​​There are volumes of templates on the internet covering practically every known business use. Are these for you? They could be especially if you are sending out similar information to a relatively large number of people. They can improve your workflow. An important aspect to consider with templates is to personalize them based on your audience. A Salutation that begins with "Dear Mr or Mrs ..." is likely to be deleted from email or thrown away in paper form. People often receive volumes of sales emails or letters and may be quick to dismiss them. A letter that begin with 'Dear Bob..." ( a personal greeting) may at least stand a chance of being read.
  • ​​​​​​​Purpose
    • ​​​​​​​Why are you sending the information? To inform someone of your service? To follow-up on a service already rendered? People tend to have busy lives these days and failing to make your point early in a message can be frustrating to the receiver. Some people may have seen on-line advertising that seems to drag on for pages without providing critical information to the viewer. When sending an email providing critical information in the subject line can get the message read quickly such as:
      • " Photo estimate for Monday March 2nd"
      • "Invoice for photography services on March 2nd"
      • " Message from Bob Barford Photography"
    • If your communication is of a legal matter, have the communication reviewed ideally by an attorney.  A misplaced comma, a imprecise word or even omitted details can create problems. Laws can vary from state to state and certainly if dealing with international business. 
    • Regardless of the purpose, have a friend or colleague read your newly drafted letter to see if it makes sense. If it does not make sense to them, chances are you will need some revisions.
  • Your Signature
    • ​​​​​​​This is especially important with emails.  Many email programs will allow you to develop a standard signature block that may include details such as:
      • ​​​​​​​Your name (Bob Barford)
      • Position (Photographer)
      • Business name (Bob Barford Photography)
      • Location (Street address as necessary, but at least city and state)
      • Telephone (Business and Cell)
      • Email (select ONLY one for clarity, you don't want to miss a response) 
      • Website or social media reference (your on-line portfolio)
  • ​​​​​​​Copies
    • ​​​​​​​Who else needs to know about the communication that you have send? Do you need to send an extra copy to yourself to remind you that you have mailed out correspondence? Do you have associates such as MUA that need to know the details of a project?
    • Be careful about using the "Reply All" function found in many email services. It can be useful, but can also be very annoying or even embarrassing if a message is forwarded to the wrong people. In some cases, can have adverse legal consequences.
  • ​​​​​​​Thank you notes
    • ​​​​​​​People like to be thanked for their participation, regardless of whether or not it is deemed part of their job. Even a friend likes to be acknowledged for participation within a project!




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) documents email Notes Mon, 02 Mar 2020 20:10:20 GMT
Thinking about Court? CuriousCurious Thinking About Taking Someone to Court?

Sometimes no matter how hard you try you are not able to get the result that you want with an individual or company. The event may be a egregious event such as an after discussion and paying for an individual to work at an event and once there that individual refuses or demands more money than agreed upon leading to the event coming to a grinding halt. It could also be less serious but just as annoying as an individual chronically late on payments due you. Yet another example may be that you hire and pay someone for a specific concept and once they arrive they decide that they do not like that concept, but want to work on one of their own.  Did someone infringe on your copyright?

Some things to think about:

  • How clearly did you communicate, in writing, to your contact person?
    • If you are working with a model, did you send concept images?
    • How clear were you on payment, hours, location?
    • What was your backup plan in case of inclement weather? 
    • Have you read and understand any communication that they sent you?
  • Who are you Communicating with?
    • A business.. are you speaking, writing to the correct decision maker?
    • An individual.. what references or background do you have on this person?
  • Copyright?
    • Did you register your images with the copyright office?
    • If you claiming copyright infringement, this will likely end up in Federal Court (expensive). 


When deciding which path to take, a civil or small claims court could be your best bet. Depending upon the state that you live claims could be limited to as little as $2,500 or in some cases up to $10,000. There are advantages to small claims court such as not having to hire an attorney unless you happen to be suing a corporation, in which case an attorney is almost always necessary. Suing a company may draw a trial out for months or even years before a settlement is made. On the other hand, if you are suing an individual, just the process of going to court may induce the person to settle with you quickly.

The Small Claims Enforcement Act (CASE) is pending approval before congress as an alternative to the very expensive and lengthy process of moving through the federal court system in cases of copyright infringement. This is actually a board (vs court) to review copyright cases. This act was approved as of October 2019. Time will tell if this is an effective process to resolving disputes effectively CASE.  Small claims courts will sometimes accept arguments such as 'theft of property or services' in matters of lawsuits regarding photographic images but results vary dramatically depending upon the laws in individual states.

Some states have mandatory arbitration boards before anyone can even appear before a judge. If this is the case, you and those whom you may be suing will sit down before an impartial arbitrator and he or she will try to get all parties to come to an agreement. If an agreement is reached, the courts will enforce any settlement.

Most of us want to avoid the potentially complex legal court system but if all else fails remember to keep GOOD records of ANY and ALL communications with clients regardless of how well you may think that you know them. This includes any social media screen shots that you may have made with a client. Remember that you can always get advice from an attorney without necessarily hiring that person to represent you. If the case is complicated, suing a company, or certainly if you are headed to the federal court system you will need representation.  





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) court Law lawsuits Mon, 17 Feb 2020 13:00:00 GMT
PhotoBooks Saal Design PhotoBooks

Recently I had the opportunity to take a look at professional photobooks from Saal Digital. I selected the Elegant Acrylic Cover for my project which I planned to place a variety of my travel images. The website itself is easy to navigate and a variety of products are available in addition to photobooks including photo prints, cards, calendars, and gifts. 

Photobooks themselves are available in a variety of sizes in both landscape and portrait orientation. My choice of the Elegant acrylic cover comes with a leatherette blinding and back page.  The company provides its software to load your images into through a free download and I found it relatively easy to use after a short video tutorial. Users have the option of loading all of their images with the book and letting the software automatically create a layout for your book or you have have almost total manual control over your images. Images can be set to a collage, or even a two page spread. There is an option to create a layout external to this program, however I found the supplied software useful in itself.

Once I created my photobook, I uploaded it to the Saal Design site, and about two weeks later I received by finished product. The acrylic cover is about 3/16" thick with the title page embedded within the acrylic. The pages themselves are glossy heavy weight paper that I found displayed colors vividly and accurately.

Saal Design is currently offering a $45.00 voucher for their professional line of photobooks. I would recommend taking a look at their Professional Photobooks  selections  as well as other products that they offer.







[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Photobooks Mon, 03 Feb 2020 22:11:13 GMT
IRS- Are you ready? SuspiciousSuspicious Are You Ready For an IRS Audit?

Self employed business people tend to be squarely in the cross-hairs when it comes to tax audits.  Even the NY Times recently wrote an article in which they stated that "People who are self employed often fail to report all of their income properly. The reality is, with almost 9,000 pages of tax code in the United States, it can be difficult to keep up with everything, particularly when things tend to change from year to year.  Unfortunately, IRS auditors will often not accept "Well, I did not know..." rather they expect people to comply and remain current with reporting expectations. Fortunately, most of us are only responsible for a very small portion of the tax code.

Needless to say, whether it be with personal finances or business finances it is important to keep accurate records and well as to review them on a regular basis. Most banks and credit card companies maintain an online record of your transactions which you can download to your computer or even paper records if you wish.  Financial management software packages such as Quickbooks can help you stay organized and keep track of even daily receipts.

Proactively, you can reduce your odds of an audit by:

  • Being honest on your return and report your income
  • Avoid high number of deductions compared to your income. If you deduct more than 1/2 of your income, this will raise flags.
  • The more precise you can be, the better. Be careful with rounding numbers. Rounding $2000.01 (one penny) is certainly ok; rounding $2,100  to $2000 may be caught with an audit.
  • Consider forming a LLC rather than a sole proprietor or even a partnership. This will also lessen your liability in other areas of business.
  • Be careful if you have a high income and claim EITC. This can be a red flag for auditors.
  • Seriously consider a tax professional or at least the VITA (Volunteer income tax assistance) program as your income increases. 
  • Keep your receipts in a organized file! Remember that many companies keep a detailed list of your purchases for several years and you may need to contact them in some cases.  Even small amount may add up over a period of a year. 

If you are audited, don't panic and carefully read the information that the IRS wants from you. Many audits are done by correspondence and you may not even have to go sit in front of an auditor. HOWEVER.. now is the time to get professional advice. If not, you may do or say something in person or in writing that may cause an auditor to look deeper than what they original audit has intended.

  • If you are requested to appear in person, you can bring your tax professional with you. Upon filing a legal power of attorney, you may even get a tax professional to appear in place of you.
  • Be nice. If you are sitting in front of an auditor and throw a pile of receipts at him/her, things are likely to get worse. Auditors love very organized people and the process will go much smoother.
  • The IRS allows you to re-construct your tax records if you do not have a receipt for a particular deduction.  In the age of the internet, it may only take a few minutes, even during an audit, to retrieve something that you do not have in front of you. 
  • Deliver what is asked for, and nothing more. If you provide additional information, it may slow down the audit or may be cause the auditor to head off in another direction by raising a red flag.
  • If you are claiming part of your home as a business, the auditor may want to home. Although you do not have to let him/her within your property (without a warrant) he/she may dis-allow your home business. Try to have an audit at your tax professionals office if at all possible.
  • Be careful with charitable donations. The rules can change from year to year. Often you can only donate raw materials, and not your time. Donations to organizations such as Goodwill (get a receipt) may add up over a period of a year.
  • State and federal laws may vary. It is even possible to be audited by your state for things such as sales tax.


In summary, being prepared with your records and being somewhat conservative in what you claim as deductions will often work in your favor during any tax form review. As your annual income increases, the need for a tax professional to review your records will also likely increase.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) audit IRS Tax Mon, 03 Feb 2020 13:00:00 GMT
PLUS- Interested? CuriousCurious Do you know PLUS?

I wonder how many people are members of PLUS or have even heard about it? (Hint: No, it is not a warehouse for clothing). The Picture Licensing Universal System—a cooperative, multi-industry initiative — provides a system that clearly defines and categorizes image usage around the world, from granting and acquiring licenses to tracking and managing them well into the future.The first component of PLUS is the picture licensing Glossary. Obviously, in order to reach common agreement on license parameters, we must have a common understanding of the language that forms a license. The PLUS website  is quite exhaustive as to how this system works to benefit the photography industry in general. Best of all, it is free.

The PLUS Registry at is an online resource developed and operated cooperatively by a global Coalition of all communities engaged in creating, using, distributing and preserving images. Search the Registry to find rights and descriptive information (“metadata”) for any image, and to find current contact information for related creators, rights holders and institutions. 

I was at an event recently, and was told that some photographers simply provide images and really don't care what may happen to them. So, does that mean that they will be distributed to the general consumer public market with the photographers name attached? Will they be limited to just the photography and modeling industry? Will they potentially appear in magazines and editorials or advertising? Will they rest only on a home computer?

When one licenses an image (gives permission for use), there are some basic questions to think about such as:

  • Duration: How long are you going to give (or sell) permission (License) the image for? One month? Years? Without limit?
  • Exclusivity: Who can use the image? The photographer? model? Magazine? In what forms (printed, electronic)? Languages? Third parties?
  • Geography: With the US? Anywhere in the world?
  • Rights managed (specific rights controlled by the image owner) -OR- Royality Free (once licensed, essentially a almost unlimited use of the image or group of images although resale may be limited)

The PLUS system has a generator that is able to guide almost anyone through a basic licensing practice. Keep in mind that this system DOES NOT suggest a price point for images. That is left solely up to the content producer and any negotiations that he/she may have with a particular client. In fact, the license may actually be embedded within the photograph's metadata itself by using this system.


  • Media: Promotional-marketing materials
  • Size: Any size image
  • Quantity: up to 1000 copies
  • Duration: Unlimited
  • Region: Unlimited
  • Language: Unlimited
  • Industry: All industries
  • Exclusivity: Non- Exclusive


Too much to think about? Perhaps for some, but for others in could have a significant impact if an image is of great value. Of course this is a formal system which can add extra time to work flow even for the seasoned professional. Is it really necessary to license you images? Well, is it important what a client or someone you provide images does with those images? Of course, there are alternatives, though granted not as comprehensive.

Programs such as Lightroom allows you to add design a preset for your metadata for any image that you may import. You can also view or change the metadata Lightroom Classic Help.  This will not provide the central registry such as the PLUS system, but may it just a little easier when it comes to processing bulk images from a recent shoot. Outstanding images however may still gain value from placing them into this system.  

Of particular note, this is NOT the same as registering a copyright. While this may indeed help with the process should an image be infringed, registering the image with the copyright office will give the photographer (owner) the help needed to recover from any damages as a result from an image being stolen or misused.

Please refer to the website listed above if you would like to know more about the PLUS system.










[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) license PLUS rights Mon, 27 Jan 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Stylized Portraits dramaticdramatic Stylized Portraits

This week I thought I would like to talk a little about what I try to achieve in a portrait. I have been photographing people for about 7 years, much less than some who have spent most of their lives perfecting their portrait images. I started out primarily photographing landscapes and animals...

and even today I still enjoy capturing animal images, especially of the big cats.

But when I photograph people, I try to capture more than just a snapshot of the person. I do my best to create an image designed with either special lighting, poses, wardrobe, location, makeup, or even post processing to bring out somethings unique related to that image.  I often will discuss the overall concept with my subject and see if she (or he) has ideas that I had not considered. This brings a level of anticipation to my subjects, so that rather than just Bob took an photo of me, the feeling of my subject may be that we created the image together.

In a recent shoot, my subject actually logged onto Pinterest and expanded the concept that we had already spoke about briefly. This can get people heavily engaged into the image so that they put more of themselves into poses, expressions, and overall spirit during the photoshoot itself. Does it pay off? Of course the images are going to look better when someone actively is anticipating a special experience during their photoshoot.

Of course, as a photographer I need to be realistic with a client as to what my skill level may be. If I promise something I should be pretty sure that I can deliver on that promise. I certainly don't mind trying something new, but I am very clear with the client that I can not guarantee how something that I have never worked with will turn out. Most clients are ok with this, and even if one aspect of a project does not work out i make sure that the client still has images from another portion of a photoshoot. Which is of course, an important point to mention -- always have a plan B that you and your client are comfortable with executing.

In some cases, such as composite shoots where someone may be posing in front of greenscreen or seamless paper, I provide a concept image on set. My subject may not actually be in a misty forest, but if I have a large image that they can refer to it really helps get the imagination moving.

This approach is quite different from the " I have a 10 am head shot appointment"  in which one might do one or two lighting changes along with a few variations in poses for anyone who walks through the door. This approach may work well for a corporate headshot assignment in which you only have 10 minutes to work with a client that you have never met. I do like to be a little more creative with my images.

Think about your next photoshoot. What do you know about your subject? What have you shared with your subject? How engaged are they in the entire process?  The more engaged they are, the better the images will be and a pretty good chance that they will return for more images!





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creative Photography portraits preparation style Mon, 20 Jan 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Avertorial? Your Work has Been Seen and You are Contacted for a Advertorial

So you were successful in getting your work seen and a magazine contacts you for one of your images to use in advertising. An Advertorial may appear in the magazine as an advertisement, but is formatted to look like an editorial in terms of the magazines overall style. 

The content of the Advertorial is typically not written or submitted by the advertising client, but rather the magazine iteself in order to make the advertising client look good. The material, and in this case your image, is then submitted to the advertising client for their approval at which time they may suggest (or require) changes. 

Most photographers have a higher rate for advertising usage as opposed to editorial usage. After all, the advertising client may well have significant exposure relating to their product(s) depending upon the circulation of the magazine and the appeal of the article itself. The advertising client may also sell quite a few of their featured product if the magazine reaches their target audience.

An editorial on the other hand, is basically an opinion expressed by the magazine, which may or may not be favorable to a particular product or service. The magazine may in fact have a regular piece where it reviews products or services during each issue and may not simply feature a single service or product with each article rather compare several and issue an opinion on what may be a choice for its readers.

So, the magazine is looking to get a lower quote from you for the image that it is interested in purchasing. Another possibility is the magazine may want favorable usage rights ('unlimited') so that that it may potentially use your image in future publications for as long as the magazine remains in publication.

As you are contacted for the use of your work, it is important that you take the time to understand how you image will be used. If you are not sure, there are resources out their such as the Professional Photographers of America who may be able to shed some light on any questions that you may have.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Ads Advertorial editorial images Mon, 13 Jan 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Are Your images being seen? CuriousCurious Are Your Images Being Seen?

While some people take photo's for their own personal enjoyment and safely store them on their computer, many of us wish our images to be seen by others. Keeping up with social media rules algorithms can be difficult since they can seem to be in a constant state of flux. So, have you considered printing your images?  

Printing can be a complex process, so here I will try to highlight work flow providing specific links to certain processes when necessary. One of the first questions in you would like to go this path is deciding the basics of Who, what, when, how etc. from the literary world.

Perhaps you have already answered the WHO, if you are sharing your work on-line. People who enjoy the type of art you produce will likely result in you producing more of the same type of art for similar groups. If you see some of these people in real life, your cell phone images may not do justice to your work. Depending upon the type of art you create, the general public may enjoy your images as well. You may ask yourself, how to move forward if I want to print, which is a good question.

The HOW part really depends upon you. There are some excellent national labs such as Mpix ,White WallBay photo , Nations as well as many more some which may be more local to you than others. Most professional labs offer a wider selection of print options that what may be available at your corner drug store, which in turn will really make your photo's shine to others. Printing at home may be an option if you have a high quality photo printer but keep in mind that you may not be saving money when you add up the cost of paper, ink and other consumables that you may be using with your home printer. If you are a CreativeLive fan, there are several great classes to help you completely understand the printing process even if you choose to do it yourself.

How will you display your work? One way to start out is with a Print Portfolio. You may have a nearby art store that sells these books or you can certainly purchase them on-line.  But this leads to another question, WHAT size should I print images? Once again this is up to you from relatively small 3" x 3" images up to gallery size 30" x 40" images. The WHAT size is really going to a large part determine how you display your images. Smaller images can certainly be held in a print portfolio as shown above, whereas larger prints will likely need to hang on a wall. Keep in mind that small images may not show the detail that you would like people to see; larger images may be difficult to store and handle. Also keep in mind that the larger you print, the more obvious any edits or problem areas in the image will appear to your viewer.  A good place to start may be 8 x 10" prints in a print portfolio. This size will typically highlight your work, but is also easy to handle.

WHERE would you like your images to be seen? Well, if you have a print portfolio, the possibilities are almost endless from groups that you already may attend to new groups of people or individuals. Are your ambitious and would like to see your work hanging on a wall? Perhaps visits some restaurants in your neighborhood and ask them if they will hang one of your pieces. Of course, this means that you will likely need to have it mounted or framed. If you stick with standard size photo images ( 8 x 10, 11 x 14 ") you will likely be able to find an appropriate frame in a nearby art store. Of course you may also wish to have your image mounted on material such as foamcore when you have your image printed from a professional lab. A rule of thumb is to look at images already displayed where you wish to hang your image to determine how best to proceed. You may even choose to have your images printed on metal for a very unique look.

Other possibilities include local art shows, special events at photo clubs that display art, or even professional galleries in you are really experienced. If you would like a really good tutorial on gallery work, I would recommend that you look up 'Brooke Shaden' on She provides a comprehensive on-line class on how to prepare your work and how to approach gallery owners to display work that you have created.

Is your work polished enough for everyone to see. This is a question that plagues EVERY artist with almost every piece of art that she or he creates. Sometimes it can be helpful to get an honest portfolio reviews from several professional reviewers (Notice that I have commented several, since one opinion may vary from the other). Take it as a learning experience and move forward to display your work!


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) display Photography Portfolio prints Mon, 06 Jan 2020 13:30:00 GMT
Copyright Confusion CuriousCurious Copyright Confusion

Despite hours of Youtube and countless articles and on Copyright, I have noticed on social media there still is quite a bit of confusion regarding this issue. It can be confusing in some cases, since local jurisdictions may deal with the issue in an inconsistent manner. I will re-state what I mentioned in my previous post that I am not an attorney, so the information that I provide here should be considered general in nature and one should contact a licensed attorney local to your area for specific questions.


The photographer snaps the shutter, the image belongs to the photographer. This principle in most cases is true even outside of the United States. Keep in mind though, that even though you own the image your legal rights may be limited unless you register your images with the  Copyright Office  . Specifically, your right to seek monetary damages if your image is stolen will be significantly limited.

So, I can do anything I want with the images that I own.. right?

Actually, no. You can not produce defamatory purposes. There was a run several years ago relating to people posting revenge-porn on various social media sites. There can be civil and even criminal penalties for those posting derogatory images nude or otherwise on social media.

With a couple exceptions, if the person is recognizable in the image, you may need their permission, at least within the United States. This is particularly true if you are promoting yourself or your business. It is also true if you are selling prints of that person in order to make a profit for yourself.

Now you 'may not' need permission if you are photographing a public figure (politician), if you are providing newsworthy images to a media source, providing images for teaching purposes, or for research. 

Most professional photographers are familiar with model releases Download one here.  The wording on releases can vary greatly, but essentially is an agreement between the photographer and subject that allows the photographer to use the subjects image.

So, I can own the images that I take in my friends house ...right?

Yes, you own them, but unless you have a release you may not be able to do much with them. Your friend has a realistic expectation of privacy in his or her own home or within their property (Fourth Amendment- US constitution). Your friend may tell you that you may NOT post any of the images on social media or your website or for that matter print any images and distribute them. Your friend can tell you to STOP taking pictures and you are legally obligated to stop taking pictures. By extension, certain privately owned businesses can restrict you from taking pictures on their property.

NOW..once someone steps onto public land, all bets are off. A person does not have a right to control his or her likeness once on public land (including a public street). You can photograph anyone on public grounds, although it is always wise to ask first. Some people can get quite angry about being photographed! There are street photographers who generally ask first and can submit images to media sources or even publish images in books for educational purposes about people or places.  Once again, if you are profiting personally from images, a model release in most cases will be necessary.

Social Media use...

Most people are aware that social media can use images that are posted on their sites. When you post on social media, you are licensing the platform to use your images. You are NOT licensing other users to copy your images. Technically, if you post an image and other user re-posts your image it could be considered a violation of copyright. If that user crops that image and removes any watermark, the user could suffer a fine of up to $25,000 dollars!

Remember, that if you post on social media, you are publishing an image just the same as if you were to publish it in a book. Think about whether you need a release as mentioned above.

Selling an image on a paid site...

Everything above applies, that is to say you will almost always need a release. Well, what if the image is a selfie? You own the image, and you certainly have willingly published it so all should be good. On the other hand, a model or other subject who does not own the image may not legally profit by posting on a paid site (One can not sell a car if they do not own it).  The subject of course can contact the photographer to gain a license for sale. The photographer may want to split any profits made from the sale.


I hope this overview helps a little to enhance understanding. Keep in mind that these are general principles and certain areas of the country and most certainly outside of the United States things could vary dramatically. Any comments, let me know!






[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) copyright media Misconceptions ownership privacy social Mon, 23 Dec 2019 13:00:00 GMT
Promissory Estoppel? CuriousCurious What is Promissory Estoppel and can you use it?

Let me start off by stating the I am NOT an attorney, and although this post relates to a legal matter you should refer to an attorney in your jurisdiction.  Laws and their interpretation may also certainly vary between one legal professional and another.

Promissory estoppel serves to enable an injured party to recover on a promise. There are common legally-required elements for a person to make a claim for promissory estoppel: a promisor, a promisee, and a detriment that the promisee has suffered. An additional requirement is that the person making the claim — the promisee — must have reasonably relied on the promise. In other words, the promise was one that a reasonable person would ordinarily rely on.

Another requirement further qualifies the required detriment component; the promisee must have suffered an actual substantial detriment in the form of an  that results from the promisor failing to deliver on his or her promise. Finally, promissory estoppel is usually only granted if a court determines that enforcing the promise is essentially the only means by which injustice to the promisee can be rectified.

So, what does this all mean in terms of practical terms? Lets say that a photographer was asked to do a photoshoot on a certain concept. The specifics of who is involved, when will it happen, where will it happen, what exactly is involved have all been spelled out. The photographer then goes ahead and rents a studio for several hours, hires a makeup artist, and arranges to have several expensive props on site.  The Promisor is the person who has made arrangements with the photographer to conduct the photoshoot. This could be a client, model, or anyone else that has promised the photographer that the photoshoot was going to happen.  The Promisee is the photographer who has been promised (contracted) with the photographer that a photoshoot is desired. 

On the morning of the shoot, the only people at the rental studio are the photographer and makeup artist. The client never appeared and despite cell phone calls the client can not be reached. The detrimental component (injustice) can be established by the fact that the photographer reasonably believed that the client was going to appear at said date and time and place. The photographer has suffered a financial loss by the fact of a studio rental, makeup artist fee, props, not to mention time!

Another example may be of a trade for print relationship with a model (TFP). A model (Promisee) travels to a photographers studio and in exchange for her time has been told by the photographer (Promisor) that she will get xx number of prints of files by the end of the week in exchange for her efforts. A week goes by, then several weeks, then a month and no files are given to the model. She attempts to contact the photographer without results. The model in this case has suffered a (detrimental component) in that she has spent travel money, her time, and has not received anything in exchange.

Potentially, the photographer in the first case, and the model in the second case could file in court based on Promissory Estoppel (contract law) in that a promise was made, the promise was reasonable, and may potentially recover damages due to the fact that there was detriment as a result of the promise not being completed (injustice).

Does there need to be a formal contract? No, emails or other non formal communication may be the basis for a successful outcome on the injured persons part. If the judge agrees with the injured party, damages could be awarded based the fact that the injured party relied on the promise being completed.

Obviously, if there are extreme circumstances that prevented the 'promisor' from completing the promise, this could be taken into account. For example, a car accident in the studio rental case may have prevented the client/ model from appearing. In the second case, an extended illness may have prevented the photographer from delivering files or prints. 

Keeping a promise is always a good thing...and if you can't make it right with the person to whom the promise was made!!

Bob Barford is a published photographer in So. PA.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Contract education Law Photography Promises Mon, 16 Dec 2019 13:00:00 GMT
Backgrounds BackdropBackdrop Background Choices

When I first started photographing people, I thought that I needed to purchase high quality commercial backdrops from well known companies. I really did not know the difference in materials or types of backgrounds were available, or even that I could create certain materials myself and still get great results. As time past, I learned a few things.

Things that I began to realize when purchasing backdrops included price, availability, colors, size, portability, durability and preparation for a photoshoot. Here is a quick summary of what I have learned after almost 7 years photographing people.

Local Fabric Stores

  • Availability & color -If you have a local fabric store, there are often a wide variety of materials and prints that you can choose from ranging from floor covers to elaborate backdrops. Sometimes undyed muslin fabrics are available. Don't overlook bedsheets since they can often make great floor covers or even simple backdrops themselves.  Often you can pick up a needed material at the last minute!
  • Portability & Size - Most of the materials will be very portable. The downside to some fabrics is that they are limited in the width that you can purchase from the bolt. Some fabrics are limited to 3 - 5 feet in width.
  • Durability and Project Prep -  Depending upon the material, some are quite fragile while other materials can stand up to outdoor use many times. Some materials are more prone to wrinkles, so a portable steamer is always a good idea. Some materials can be reflective when using studio lighting.
  • Price: Depending upon the material it can be very cost effective when compared to other sources ($ to $$)

Commerical Muslins

  • Availability & Color: Often colors and prints are only limited by your imagination. If you are creative and wish to purchase undyed muslin, you can even color it yourself. There are numerous on line locations to purchase muslins such as from Savage Universal.
  • Portability and Size: Very portable and sizes vary to over 20 feet high!
  • Durability and Project Prep: Some muslins come with a sewn in pocket which makes them very easy to hang from a stand. While certain muslins can be very thin and almost translucent, others can be heavier and very durable. Typically they are relatively easy to clean. The downside is that they wrinkle easily, and one must either steam wrinkles out or hang them overnight and roll the fabric prior to use. Most 
  • Price: Varies depending upon size and style from relatively inexpensive ($) to $$$.

Polyblends and Microfibers

  • Availability and Colors - Often a blend of several fabrics and can be found in solid colors or with printed scenes on them such as holiday, outdoor, scifi ect.. 
  • Portability and Size - Very portable again since these are fabrics and are typically available in a variety of sizes ranging from 3 feet to over 10 feet wide.
  • Durability and Project Prep: Some products arrive from commercial sources sources and it can be difficult to get folds clear  of the material especially with print products. Some printed products require careful handling to avoid fading of an image. The exception seems to be microfiber materials which often have few wrinkles, are lightproof and very durable.
  • Price-  Varies from $ to $$


  • Availability and Colors - Available from a wide variety of photo supplies as well as from party shops in both solid colors as well as various prints. 
  • Portability and Size - Typically folded or rolled depending upon the size and may be available in small 3 foot lengths to over 10- 20 foot lengths of material.
  • Durability and Project Prep: Some vinyl backdrops can be very thin and especially if shipped folded can be nearly impossible to remove wrinkles and folds. Other vinyl products are of better quality but still may suffer from folds. Vinyl is typically more reflective than cloth or paper counter parts, so lighting must be done much more carefully to avoid reflections. Care must be taken with certain products to avoid print images from fading.
  • Prices - Varies $ to $$


  • Availability and Color - Available from a wide range of photo in rolls of 5 ft lengths and 9 ft length. Almost all products are solid colors.
  • Portability and Size - As mentioned above, the paper is typically supplied in rolls. This can be slightly problematic transporting 9 foot rolls for the location photographer, but typically works well in a fixed studio location.
  • Durability and Project Prep: The good part about paper is that (if stored correctly) is wrinkle free and once hung on a stand or rack requires little other preparation. The paper does tear and paper on the floor can become dirty from staff walking on the skirt. It is relatively non reflective and can provide a nice even color for subjects.
  • Prices: Typically $ to $$


I have used each of the above, and for traveling purposes and rapid setup the microfiber tends to work well, and of course with a little more prep muslins can produce a polished look. Don't overlook things like dark colored bedsheets for scarred flooring. When working in the studio, if a paper rack is available paper can often be changed easily and rapidly for a variety of seemless looks.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) backgrounds fabrics muslin paper Mon, 02 Dec 2019 13:00:00 GMT
Artist Statements Do You Have an Artist Statement?

Regardless of whether you are a photographer, a MUA, model, or any other creative professional for that matter it can be very difficult to talk about yourself in a meaningful way without sounding egotistical or as though you are trying to sell something.  An artist statement tells others not only how and why you create your art, but also some specifics behind what you do. Often this is a written statement that is limited to a short paragraph on promotional material, website, or in some cases on a gallery wall.

This does not have to be a fancy literary jewel, but should be as clear and simple so that regardless of whomever is reading it, has a reasonable idea of what you do and why you do it. Some details should be included, but not so much as to detract from the statement as a whole. For example, a photographer may say that he/she uses 'Photoshop in the creation of artistic landscapes' but the statement does not necessarily need to say what tools within Photoshop may be used to create those images.  Your artist statement should include something personal and interesting so that others may be drawn closer to your body of work. Now.. this is not your resume (which is much more detailed), but rather a short introduction of yourself as an artist.

When you are creating your artist statement, look at some of your favorite images. What actually inspired you to create these images? Are most of the images in your portfolio similar? That certainly is not to say that you can not have more than one portfolio with significantly different work. A photographer may have landscape images and people images and have two different artist statements. Of course it is also possible to have a comprehensive artist statement to cover most of your work.  A makeup artist may do beauty work, and she may also do horror effects. She would probably not place them side by side in a portfolio, but she certainly could be inspired to create an artist statement covering all of her work.

This is often related to your 'about me' page so often found on many websites. What do you do, how do you do it, any why do you do it. Your about me often has a photo of yourself or something related directly to yourself as an artist. Your about me could be written in the same first person format, or it could also be written in third person format, much in the same manner you may find on the inside of book covers about the author of the book. The primary difference between the artist statement and the about me is that you are talking specifically about you as a person when you are writing about me and of course writing about your art when you are making the artist statement. The two are related, but the about me tends to be more about your journey as an artist. 

Should you choose to accept this as homework, make your artist statement (or review it). It can change from time to time and just like your portfolio, may be updated at different points in your career!


Some examples are here Artist Statements and may get you started to see what others have written themselves. 



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) about me Artist Statement creative education learning writing Mon, 11 Nov 2019 13:00:00 GMT
Shooting for fit Hiring for Fit


As a Photographer, I network with a wide variety of people, and recently have seen quite a bit of negative information relating to pushing boundaries during photo shoots. As one who has started with wildlife, I know to respect boundaries.

When shooting wild animals, respect is important. Big cats in particular have a personality that can range from playful to deadly. Some great images can be made by being in the right place, patience, and understanding. Trying to convince a 300- 500 pound wild tiger to do something that is not natural to it, will often not end well. The tiger, the person attempting to do to convincing, or more likely both will get hurt.

Yes, one can throw a steak in the direction of the tiger with the hopes that it will move in the direction that you want it to for a good image. Sometimes this may work, but then you get a image of a tiger eating steak. Is this the final image that you really wanted? Probably not if you are looking for natural behavior from the animal.

This translates very well to shooting with 'human' subjects. Who are they really? If you understand and respect the person that you are working with, the results will almost always turn out well. Forcing a concept, or choosing the wrong person for a concept will often end up in sub-par images with a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Sometimes things will not work out in the way that you planned, despite everyone making their best effort. Go home, re-think the process, and try again.

In the end it comes down to careful planning, choosing the right person at the right time to work on a concept that you have in mind.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) boundries concepts Photography shoot for fit Mon, 28 Oct 2019 12:00:00 GMT
What are you trying to say, what do they feel? What are you Saying? How do they Feel?

When you make an image, what are you saying to your audience? How does it make them feel? Every image does not have to be a Steven Spielberg masterpiece but what message are you trying to convey. Are you:

  • Shooting a family gathering?
  • Shooting to promote your business?
  • Trying to get someone to laugh? feel sad?

In the shot above, the girl in the stream is reacting. In this case to some REALLY COLD water. I added a caption on the original image to let my viewers know that she had just stepped into a COLD stream. Most people have felt cold water and can relate to this poor girls experience. Her expression almost jumps out at you and you may even laugh.

If you are at an amusement park, are you shooting to capture your friends or families experiences. If so, focusing on them will bring back really fond memories when they look at the images. Even if you post these images to social media, you may add a caption such as 'We had a great day at xyz amusement park".  Your friends who look at the images are expecting to see pics of you and your family having fun, and may feel good that you got away from the daily grind.  On the other hand, suppose you were shooting to promote the park. You will likely want carefully crafted shots with great lighting, angles, and composition to draw potential customers into the park for the day.  Pictures of the giant Ferris Wheel may not have as much meaning to a day with the family if at least some images don't include your family.

If you post on social media to promote your business, you are likely making the statement that "This is what I can do for you, hire me" and thus the images should be some of the best you are capable of making. You want people to say "WOW", and want to hire you. Of course this would only be part of your overall marketing campaign and your in-person session would ideally draw them further into your studio.

Suppose though you are posting about a event or situation within your community?  Posting about a traffic accident will likely capture peoples attention and will likely encourage them to stay away from the scene.  A post about a county fair may encourage people to visit and get away from their daily routines for the day. These types of posts are informative posts that people tend to appreciate, even though the focus is not on you directly.

Are you photographing a wedding as a guest? You will likely get some ok candid shots or maybe be lucky enough to grab a special moment by being in the right place at the right time. You are certainly freezing a very special moment in time, not only for yourself but for everyone else at the wedding event. Of course, a professional 'should' capture the entire day from start to finish ranging from the candid shots to the most staged shots possible. Here the photographer is telling the 'story' of the wedding day with polished images that the bridge and groom will cherish throughout their marriage.

When you pick up your camera, ask yourself "Why am I taking these images"? Once you answer that question, it will guide the rest of your day and bring your images to the next level.

-Bob B.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) audience community drama family Feel professional sale Mon, 21 Oct 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Green screen (ChromaKey) Compositing Green Screen Compositing

Many photographers and movie makers are familiar with green screen images. The foreground is typically the actor, whereas the background can be practically anything that anyone can imagine. In some cases, the background can be placed in order to save time and money while other times the background can be pure fantasy such as when Superman flies through the air.

Green screen need not be limited only to background images. As seen above, the model is sitting on a stool covered by green fabric, and in the final image not only has the background color been changed, but the model is sitting on a giant mug. Could the mug have been fabricated, almost certainly but the materials, time, and possible expense of such as project may have been prohibitive. 

In our world at least, dragons do not exist.  Puppet forms can be created out of green fabric, filled with stuffing, and the actor can then physically interact with the puppet during the project. In a fantasy project the actor may be working with puppets in different positions throughout the project.  Puppets (or props) need not be from a fantasy world for that matter. They could just as easily be an animal such as a wolf that may be difficult to bring on set, or it could be a very large machine that the actor may need to operate.

Green fabric suits, headpieces, gloves are readily available from costume stores. When photographed against a green background, everything disappears that happens to be green. Think of the possibilities such as levitation of props or even actors during a production.

Of course, some if not all of this is possible though the use of methods other that green screen processing. With dedicated software or specifically selecting out green as in Photoshop, the process flows a little smoother and can be less time consuming. This blog post is really not to teach green screen, although I have shot quite a few projects using this process. There are volumes of information in books and videos that go though each step of the process in great detail.  Some important points that one will find with most knowledgeable sources include:

  • Avoid folds, creases, and shadows on your background
  • Even light across your background
  • Keep your subject at least 6-8 feet from the background to avoid a green cast
  • Light your subject separately from the background
  • Use a longer lens (at least 100mm) for compression

Photoshop is great for so many things, and of course you can use this software to remove the green props or background. Dedicated Chromakey software can make you life a little easier if you choose to work with green screen photography on a regular basis. As a side note here, "Blue Screen" photography is just another version of the same process.

If you would like to try Chromakey (Green/blue screen) photography, the following link Green Screen  will get you started for a relatively low entry price. They kit provides the fabric as well as software so that you may give it a try.  For slightly more this kit Savage Green Screen  will also include a variety of backgrounds.

** Images shown above were taken from Pinterest for illustration purposes only**

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

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) background Blue Chromakey Editing Green Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Business Cards Business Cards- Who Am I??

Despite living in an age when many things are electronic from emails to bulletin boards the paper business card still circulates in many businesses. You may ask why, and perhaps the easiest answer to the question is that it can be produced quickly in seconds. One does not have to wait for Apps to load on a cell phone or tablet, or even a computer.  Most are about 2 x 3" and are easily placed in a pocket or purse. Certainly electronic business cards do exist and perhaps in the future they will completely replace the paper, but for now many people still carry paper versions. Especially in networking events where there could be dozens of people a business card can make you memorable... or not.  

A well thought out business card contains the following:

  • Your Name 
  • Your position
  • Your business
  • Contact information (email, phone, address etc.)

In addition to this information, there are various shapes of cards, finishes (dull to metallic), colors, orientations (portrait, landscape), as well as the material used to produce the card. Fortunately for most of us, there are many companies out there with options that let us design our own cards or use many of their templates.  Some such  dedicated companies include, and Overnight Prints specialize in business cards as well as office supply stores such as Staples or Office Depot  will also print business cards.  A well printed and designed card can be very valuable in certain settings.

Some creatives prefer to create their own business cards on their own home computers or may even opt out of the pre-designed templates offered by some of the professional companies. The desire to stand out and have a unique business card telling the world who you are can be very compelling. This road sometimes may not bring you to where you want to be in the eyes of others if your card is not very well thought out. 

  • Who are you giving your card to?
  • Can they read it in low light as well as outside?
  • Is it durable or will it crush easily?
  • Is it EASY for the person to know who you are and how to contact you at a GLANCE?

Recently I reviewed about 100 business cards that I have received recently and some were great; some not so much:

Be careful with the colors on the card. If the background color is too close to the font color, the card will be likely be difficult to read. Be sure to choose colors that reasonable contrast with one another.

Small fonts, especially when crowded into a relatively small space can also be hard to read. A block of the same font, same color, may not be appealing to the reader. Remember, some negative space is a good thing. Fonts should typically should not be smaller than 10 pt.

Resist the temptation to go with artistic fonts. They can be difficult to read, especially in low light. Some businesses will also use scanning software to add business cards to a database. The software may not recognize letters, and the info on your card may be lost.

Does the text of your business card run close to graphics or pictures on your card. If it is difficult to find your contact information in a sea of graphic images, the business may move on to the next person.


For a few extra dollars, many of the companies listed above will help you design a very distinctive card that is unique as you and your business. It can be worth when it comes down to being chosen for a highly coveted position or assignment. Remember this card is your lasting introduction and you want it to be memorable!


Bob Barford is a published photographer is Southern PA.



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) business cards Mon, 30 Sep 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Social Media Reporting CuriousCurious Social Media Reporting 

A commentary this week:

My social media channels (Facebook, twitter, Instagram) have been blowing up recently relating to individuals reporting undesirable behavior of others within the industry.   The modeling and photography industry has very little regulation surrounding it, and what it does have it seemingly some people choose not to adhere to with their daily practice. The overwhelming majority of models, photographers, MUA, as well as other professionals work diligently to maintain a high degree of personal integrity. As with any industry, some people don't quite get the old saying of "Treat others like you want to be treated".

Some situations are so blatant, such as physical violence, theft, or property damage need to be reported to law enforcement. Remember that although it is important to let friends know to stay away from 'x', reporting the situation to law enforcement quickly lets officials jump on the situation hopefully to avoid 'x' from harming anyone else. The longer you delay, the muddier the water gets and evidence relating to the situation may be lost.  While 'x' may have some power over you professionally our recent culture has trended toward supporting the victim.

Some cases not quite so blatant such as Fraud (Wrongful or criminal deception for personal gain) where facts may not be as clear or a misunderstanding may have occurred. In almost every job, try to assure that there is some level of written documentation as what is going to happen. Most wedding photographers have this down to a science with contracts. Be sure to spell things out (or ask to have things spelled out) prior to any job. Remember the literary Who, what, where,when and how questions that we all need to ask.  If things change, a confirmation email or message should confirm that change.  While it may be necessary to be flexible (eg. moving indoors in the event of rain during an outdoor shoot), radical changes can lead to problems.  If there is a willful deception, records can work to your favor especially if you need to go to court.

We all want to protect others within the industry, but it is important that we be clear with facts. If we post something on social media, and it turns out to be false or malicious, this can turn around and be very damaging to the person who made the claim especially if it affects a business. If we have first hand information of a situation, of course we should let others know (as well as law enforcement as appropriate). Friends should listen and read information carefully. If a malicious rumor gets started without facts, people spreading the rumor or adding to the rumor can run into difficulty themselves, especially in the case of a wrongful accusation. Yes, it may be your page on social media, but you are still subject to libel or slander laws. People making physical threats can be criminally charged.

In an industry with very little regulation, it can be difficult to know where to go for help. These agencies may be able to do more than just get a discussion started. Some suggestions include:

  • Law enforcement (if appropriate)
  • Better business bureau, consumer protection division ect..
  • Lawyers 
  • Group organizers (if the situation occurred under the authority of an other person)
  • Professional organizations that the offender may be registered.






[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) legal problems Reporting social media Mon, 23 Sep 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Social Media challenge- are you blocked? Social Media Challenges?

Social media hosts to one extent or another has maintained control and to some degree over content uploaded to sites such as Facebook as well as many others.  Terms of service are provided to those who subscribe to the services although the language can be vague to say the least. Algorithms seem to be ever changing with images being flagged for some members. The law that was passed last year in an attempt to limit sex trafficking over the internet (Sesta-Fosta) has certainly increased the frequency and of images deemed 'inappropriate' by the service providers. Some members access to their social media has been suspended for posting certain images. Is the images, or is it something else?

Sometimes it is pretty obvious if someone is spamming, or posting copyrighted content that really does not belong to them.  Even so, people who post multiple images many times per day may actually be flagged as a spammer. Sites such as Facebook tend to set their algorithms in some cases such as traffic lights to control how much information flows through servers to reduce the possibility that the servers will get bogged down and slow things down for everyone. 

Sending messages out to many people such as "Vote for Me" to people you know and even they don't know can get unwanted attention from sites such as Facebook. In fact, some sites actually prohibit sending out "Vote" or "Like" messages. These may be deleted, or ignored by those who do not want to see them, or in some cases may actually be reported as SPAM to administrators. This can also draw unwanted attention to groups on a particular service and in some cases, the group or group administrators access may be blocked.

Some people "like' every post that their friends send out. This can actually make you seem like a Like-bot, and sites such as Facebook may incorrectly identify you as a automated service designed to 'like' everything that certain people send out. While most want to support our friends and family, posting or commenting on everything is likely to get unwanted attention.

We all have opinions, however when we get too negative or even make threats against people (whether we mean it or not), this also can attract unwanted attention from social media administrators or even the police. No one certainly wants a knock on their door at 3 a.m. with an invitation to meet with detectives at the local police station. Remember, in the real world there are libel laws as well as laws against threatening or promoting harm to another person. Even if you are a legal firearm owner, if the police discover a firearm in you presence a credible case can be brought to the courtroom.

So, what about images? As stated above, many sites have cracked down on what they consider explicit or sexually suggestive images, especially images that appear to portray a young female. Images that display a female (or male) sexual organs or images that portray a woman's nipples will certainly gain attention from sites such as Facebook. This can be difficult for those working in the fine art field who may work with nudity. There are sites such as Twitter that seem to have very relaxed standards relating to nudity. Posting nude images on Facebook or Instagram can easily get one placed into "Jail" (Blocked from using the site) for up to a month or in some cases loss of access to the service all together.

So, it is not always a simple as the image that was posted, but behavior while we are using the service. Most social media services are free to the user so at least now it looks like everyone needs to play by their rules.

- Bob Barford is a published photographer out of Southern PA.





[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) blocked challenge images jail Social Media Mon, 09 Sep 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Editing Black and White Images-more than you think?

Editing Black and White images in Lightroom

Editing black and white images in lightroom is not always as simple as adjusting contrast on images. Sometimes it can be a little more involved. Three common types of black and white images are high contrast as shown above where there is a very distinct separation of tones in the image. Low contrast, in which tones are a less distinct, and selenium which almost gives off a slightly silvery look to the image. In the high contrast image above, we can see that the white point (+30) is moved opposite and in equal magnitude to the black point (-30). The absolute values of course, are subject to individual taste however the principle of separating tones remains the same. We also see a type of serpentine adjustment to the B&W color mix (Normally set to zero). The reds,oranges, yellows, and sometimes greens are moved to the negative whereas the blues, purples, and magentas are moved to the positive side.

In low contrast images we see a very similar B&W mixture to what we have in the high contrast image, but very notable in that black is zero'd out and the whites are now at (+30).  Another significant difference is that we can see that the clarity slider has moved up to (+10), a control that affects contrast primarily in the midtones of an image.

Interesting, in the selenium black and white image, the Black and White sliders are at zero in this case, the black and white mix is similar to to our other examples, but the highlights are pushed up to (+20), with the contrast control being pushed to a (+15).


The look of each of these b&w images are distinct, not only due to their black and white points, but to some other  important adjustments in tonal adjustments. Of course, we could continue to fine tune any of these images by moving the B&W mix or even  the dehaze slider.  Experiment with your next images, even if you don't normally produce black and white results you may be surprised at where your exploration leads you. As always, nothing is permanent in lightroom, the reset button is always right there!




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) black color contrast editing lightroom sliders white Mon, 02 Sep 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Kelby PhotoWalk PhotoWalk Opportunity

I will be leading a Photo Walk this year as part of the Scott Kelby World Wide Walk. If you have not heard of this event, each year Scott Kelby promotes a world wide photography oriented walk internationally during the first week in October. The walk is, of course, free to participants and leaders. Walks are held to not only support and promote photography, but also to support a charitable cause. This year the charitable cause is the Springs of Hope in Kenya, Africa.

The walk is open to everyone, regardless of whether they are a once a year vacation photographer, or a seasoned pro wanting to participate in a worthwhile cause. Those participating are eligible for prizes offered through the walk sponsor this year Canon, Skylum, and Platypod. You take a look at the prizes here Walk Prizes.

If you so wish, you may also donate to support the Springs of Hope Orphanage may learn more here Springs of Hope. Donations are voluntary and are tax deductible (deductions are becoming scarce these days). Springs of Hope Kenya is a home for children who have been orphaned, abandoned and abused. The goal is to give children who have experienced this trauma and tragedy at an early age faith, hope and love and holistic care.

For those living in the Northern Baltimore county or Southern York County, Pennsylvania, I will be leading a walk along the NCR trail in Freeland, Maryland. The walk is about 1.1 miles along a nature path featuring trees, creeks, and many opportunities for some great images. The walk will be an interactive adventure which looks at natural lighting, composition, and creativity. The walk starts at Parking lot at Freeland road and Railroad and will last approximately 1 hour. As an added incentive, if you comment and mention this blog, I will be adding an additional prize to a special participant.

Additional information regarding the walk can be found here: Photowalk.


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Photowalk Mon, 19 Aug 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Rock and Roll Creating the Stage Rock & Roll Lighting

Recently I found myself in an assignment where I needed to create a rock-roll stage lighting effect in the studio. The image was supposed to look like the model (performer) was on stage lit by colored spots. Well, spot lights are fairly intense as are the colors that sometimes occur when gels are slid into place. 

I set up two bare bulb strobes camera right and camera left at 45 degrees to the model. One strobe was covered with a blue gel, while the other with a red gel and the model was placed against a black background. The next step was to get the camera down low, as if I were looking up to a person performing on a large stage.  I exposed the model at F8 at 160sec initially without the gels, and then with the blue/red gels.  This sounds easier that it actually was to accomplish.  Adjusting the power on my strobes, it seemed like one color or the other was completely muted or washed out all together.

Despite adjusting the distance of the strobes to the model and adjusting their position, it seemed as though I just did not get the color intensity or saturation that I was looking for to do this theme justice.

There are a few possibilities in post production, however once I imported the images into lightroom I took a look at the split toning panel within the develop module. This panel allows you to 'colorize' highlights and shadows within your image. I had placed a red and blue gel on my strobe, so I chose red for highlights by clicking in the small square and choosing a red hue followed by clicking in the shadows section and choosing a blue hue. Of course I could have used the sliders, however by clicking within the square allows a finely tuned effect. The saturation allows you to select how saturated or muted the final colors will appear.  Finally,the balance slider will adjust effect between highlights and shadows.

Using this method I was able to maintain the intense 'spotlight' lighting and still accomplish a nicely balanced stage like colors on the model. While every image may not need this specialized effect, it certainly came in handy for this particular assignment!


Bob Barford is a published photographer based in So. Pennsylvania 


[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) and gels Photography Rock Roll split toning Mon, 12 Aug 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Misty Are You All Misty?

There are certainly many ways to create fog or smoke but the question is how do you control it?  There are a number of products to create smoke ranging from home made devices, commercial devices, and even expensive theater grade electronics. The common element in most of these methods is how do you control the effect? Factors such as controlling density, direction, odor, duration, as well as the all important factor of not setting off smoke detectors or fire alarms!

Smoke grenades experience some common issues:

  • They can get very HOT
  • The slightest wind when working outdoors can cause radial changes in directions of the smoke
  • Fireworks based smoke grenades often smell horrible
  • An assistant (or model) is often necessary to move a grenade unless you want a thick puff of opaque smoke
  • Short duration of effective smoke (some less than 60 seconds)
  • Most are not recommended to be used indoors
  • The powder in the grenades can stain skin and clothing

Smoke machines come in a variety of sizes and outputs. They too, can suffer from some of the same issues as grenades such as not being able to control the direction or density of the smoke.  A fan is often necessary when used in doors to clear out excessive smoke. These devices can get rather pricey depending upon what model is chosen.

Example of misty light rays

So what if you only want a fine mist, not necessarily a fog bank rolling in to take over your entire scene. Some people have used baby powder, but this gets VERY messy.  A water sprayer is also an option, but water settles pretty quickly in many cases and may not give you the effect that you want.

One option that I have found to be effective is the "Atmosphere Aerosol".  It is odorless, relatively easy to control, does not stain, may be used indoors, and the mist remains suspended for several minutes (except in strong winds), Atmosphere aerosol can be purchased from vendors such as Amazon, Adorama, as well as some other vendors. In the image above, I wanted to display rays of sun coming through the window. I sprayed about 20 seconds of the product near the window and the effects are what can be seen above. The photographer can certainly spray, and still have time to get the shot. This product could also be used to highlight gelled lights coming from studio strobes. This product cost less than 2 smoke grenades, and is very portable. I would recommend giving this product a try.




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Atmosphere Mist Photography smoke Mon, 05 Aug 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Photographing Aquariums and Learning Aquarium Adventures

Aquariums can be found today in many larger cities and can be a great day adventure. The photographer can learn new techniques, fine tune some current methods and get some wonderful images.

Commercial aquariums will certainly test almost any photographer will a series of challenges such as moving objects, lighting, crowds, color, depth of field and focus to name some just a few. In my last post I covered photographing insects, but this subject can be even more challenging.

Challenge 1: Reflections

Needless to say, leave your strobes or speedlights at home. You will be photographing through thick glass or plexiglass to start with, not to mention reflective surfaces within the tank itself. Aquariums typically have colored lights at various positions which will also reflect off of the tanks. Windows will also let in ambient light which will of course also reflect off of the tanks. So, how do you handle this?

Move in as close to the tank as you possibly can. This may take some time if you travel during mid-day or evening when crowds can get heavy (Tip: plan an early or mid week trip).  Ideally you will want a rubber lens hood that you can place against the tank to block ambient reflections. Alternatively, angle your lens away from the reflections toward your subject.

Challenge 2: Light

In the image of the large catfish (above), the tank was pretty well lit, whereas in the image of the Jellyfish (above) there was only a very dim light within the tank. Be prepared to adjust your ISO anywhere from 800 to 3200 (or even above). Most cameras manufactured within the last several years control noise well. Your subject will almost always be better exposed when it is closest to you in the tank, rather than further towards the back of the tank. You will want a reasonable Depth of field so f-stops of less than 2.0 can leave your subject partially out of focus.  Start with a aperture of F4, look at your image and adjust from there. If you go above 5.6, you will have to radically increase your ISO. Remember to check the back of your camera frequently!

Challenge 3: Moving Objects

Larger fish will typically swim slower than smaller counterparts. Also, fish tend to swim in front, back, and at times into each other. Lots of movement here. Ideally, you will want to select a small group (or even one) focus points. Motion tracking may (or may not) work well in these cases. Focus tracking on some cameras can be elaborate, so it may be worth trying but I found the most reliable method is to manually track a single subject with a small selection of points. 

Shutter speed will also be a factor here. You may be able to get away with shutter speeds of 1/60 second for slow moving fish such as the catfish pictured above. Faster fish may require 1/200 second to capture sharp images. Remember as you increase your shutter speed, you will likely also have to increase your ISO!  Start with a shutter speed of 1/100 and take a look at your images.

Again, try to be as close to the tank as possible and photograph your subject as it moves very close to the glass. Subjects moving toward you are more likely to be in focus than objects moving across your path unless you track them carefully.

Challenge 4: Color and DOF

Some aquariums will add colored lights to the tanks, in some cases multiple colors. This can add an artistic side to your images and I found it is usually best not to stress over it and leave your color balance to auto. The thic

As mentioned above, large apertures (less than 2) may leave part of your subject out of focus or even completely out of focus if your subject is not close to the glass. Start with an aperture of F4, and adjust based on your needed shutter speed and ISO. 

Challenge 5: Crowds

Children, people with camera phones, as well as many other visitors will be competing for your spot close to the tank. Patience is key here as well as avoiding visits on weekends, holidays, and late afternoons. 


To get the best possibly images start out with a small group of focus points, ISO 800, 1/100 sec, and F4. Check your histogram frequently as you move from tank to tank. Get close to the tank and wait for your subject to get close to you. Angle your camera away from reflections whenever possible and/or use a lens hood. Remember, that you are shooting through (possibly murky) water, glass or plexiglass that is not optical quality and may have hundreds of handprints on it. You may not get tack sharp images!

This type of photography directly translates into most other genres so give it a try and you may find that you learn some valuable skills!







[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) Aquarium creative education fish Photography practice Mon, 29 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Lessons from insects  Lessons from shooting Insects

Although I typically photograph people, I will occasionally shoot other subjects such as landscapes or animals or even insects. Working in another genre of photography may at times sharpen your skills within the work that you may do more often. In this case case, I happened to be walking in a park and various insects were flying around the flowers. I do not own a dedicated macro lens, at least at this point.  Macro photography is a science of itself involving the right depth of field, focus, and lighting when working with subjects of extreme detail. In some cases the depth of field is SO shallow, a few millimeters in one direction or the other may cause you to miss the focus entirely. It is not uncommon to see macro photographers use tripods, cable releases (or timers), and even 'stack their focus' when shooting certain subjects.

Insects, particularly flying insects, often move very quickly from one point to another. Typically they are not too fond of humans approaching them at just the right moment. In fact, stinging insects such as bees can get rather irritated and let you know in no uncertain terms to leave them alone!  However... If you have a telephoto lens, as I did in the image above things can get a little easier.

In the image above, I first started by taking an exposure reading from flowers in the same general area. I was standing at least three feet away from the Bee and focused in at 200 mm @ f 5.6 .  The lighting allowed a reasonable ISO of 200 to 400.  I wanted to blur the background and focus on the Bee perched on the flower. It only spent a few seconds on each flower so I set my camera on burst mode so that I capture a few frames before my subject flew off. It would flap its wings even when crawling along the flower, so I set my shutter speed anywhere from 1/250 sec to 1/400 sec. 

I set my focus point on the Bees back, which in this case was the easiest to focus on at the time. Fortunately, there were other insects also around like butterflies so I had a few subjects to pick from. Here too I chose the back of the butterfly since the wings were almost in constant motion. 

Obviously a tripod would have been an exercise in futility with the insects moving so quickly. I was careful not to move quickly in one direction or the other, since this would have triggered a rapid flight away. To add to the mix, the flowers would also move slightly when the insects were crawling along them.  Everything was shot in natural light.

SO... could this exercise help me with my work with people photography? I have shot dancers whose images require much of the same planning and concentration as with these insects.  Candid shots of people also require the ability to catch the moment whether it be an expression or an action. As photographers, we don't always have the luxury to spend 30 minutes setting up lights, testing with a light meter, adjusting props, as well as other time consuming efforts during a shoot. Being able to adjust to changing situations quickly can sometimes make the difference between an OK shot and a stellar image.


-Bob Barford is a published photographer in So. PA




[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) education Insects Learn macro Photography Mon, 22 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Do you have a shoot-out strategy? Do you have a shoot out strategy?

Photography shoot-outs are events where models, photographers, make-arts, performers, and many others may gather in a combined social and photography event. Organization can range from very organized in which various groups work for a certain amount of time and then move on to another set, or somewhat loose in which all participants organize themselves.

Shoot-outs can be a very good way to network and potentially find others within the community that you may like to work with. Generally there is an overall theme for the event for which models can prepare by choosing wardrobe and make-up artists can bring along certain types of supplies to fit the theme. Photographers as well as others may bring a variety of props to work with as they move throughout the day.

If you attend as a photographer, plan to balance your time between shooting models and having BRIEF conversations with new people that you meet. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards or other contact information as well as model releases if they are not provided by the host. If you are not familiar with the location, it can be helpful to arrive as close to the start time as possible and take a brief self guided tour of the location. This can give you ideas for potential sets, lighting, and general logistics of the location. If the host provides lighting, bringing your own trigger can be a plus since the host may only have a limited supply and may need to be shared.  A good suggestion would be not to try to lug in a mini studio of your own through the door. Space may be limited and depending upon the event it could be crowded. 

When provided the opportunity to shoot with a model, please take the time to introduce yourself before shooting whenever possible. This may help the model connect and work with you a little more smoothly rather than robotically posing. Watch your time with each model, since you may want to shoot with more than one person and be aware when a model may be available. In looser organized events, try not to jump in front of another photographer while he/she is shooting. This could get you booted from the event in some cases.

Models should ideally come prepared to network as well as be photographed.  Do you have contact information? Business cards, even home computer printed can be a plus.  At casual events a model may not be paid whereas at more formal events a standard fee may be available so asking prior to the event is a good idea.  There may well be a wide range of photographers present from very skilled to beginner participants. If the event has an overall theme, are you prepared to shoot that theme?  Do you have wardrobe? Is it a swimsuit event? Remember that images are likely to appear almost anywhere from a hard drive, to social media, to print formats.  Chances are, as a model, you may be pulled in a great deal of directions during an event event if it is well organized. 

Make-up artists and wardrobe designers can also network well at these events. In most cases, these professionals will be working directly with the event organizer or models but can also develop important contact with photographers. As with others, be sure to bring business cards and other promotional material. Be sure to let me organizer know that you will need a specific space to set up supplies and should be a low traffic area. Depending upon the event, you will have to organize your time possibly even more than others. If the host allows you to set up appointments prior to the event start, this may help with time management. 

Shoot outs can be a positive networking experience for all involved with a little thought and planning!


Spot light image above courtesy of

Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern PA.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) MUA networking Photography ShootOuts Wardrobe Mon, 15 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT
What do you bring to the table? CuriousCurious What do you Bring to the Table as a Professional? (A self inventory)

In most professions, one will place his or her most valuable assets on a resume and put it forth to potential clients, employers, as well as others. This may include scholastic work, experience in the workforce, special projects with may be related to the profession.   There are certainly no shortage of photographers, models, and even makeup artists in most communities. So the question to ask is.. what makes you stand out from the crowd?

  • I have been in the field for 20 + years. While experience is certainly a plus, what have you done, esepecially in the last few years that brings your work to the forefront?
  • I have great equipment!  Great equipment is certainly a plus, but how do you use it? Do you explore and practice to learn new ways of using the equipment or do you use the basic features?
  • I offer a great experience for everyone I work with! Good Interpersonal skills are certainly an essential part of your job. What is it that you do that makes the experience so good?
  • I am super creative with awesome concepts! Creativity is a golden tool to have in your arsenal. Are you good with crafts or fabrication? Good finding locations, concepts just appear to you almost everyday or are you a planner?
  • I have been published or have appeared in art galleries!  Certainly a statement that others value your work. Where have you been published or where was your gallery showing?
  • I am a good networker and know important people!  Networking and marketing is certainly an very important part of the profession.  Can you at least semi-quantify how your networking and or marketing is helping your business or better yet, how it may help a new client?


This is a partial list, but I'am sure that you can think of many more things that you have as professional or personal assets. Dig deep and really explore them!



[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) creativity inventory marketing resume self Mon, 08 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Cold shower Have you Taken a Cold Shower Recently?

When is the last time that you have turned on your shower, cold water only, and walked into the shower and stood there for a minute. Not too many like the idea, but everyone should try it once.  This exercise is like stepping outside of your comfort zone as a creative person any trying something new.

Now, there are certainly those who will say to be true to your brand, maintaining brand identity is important etc... and of course for a business owner this is important.  This does not mean that one cannot work on person projects, or nudge their brand just a little for a specific client. This comes down to 'experimenting on your own or with a trusted partner. Some ideas may not be the best and other ideas may be a WOW moment and you may need to wonder why the idea did not occur to you earlier.

One example for a photographer may be to purchase a set of editing templates, overlays, presets, or whatever may work with your editing platform. Take  some images around your house, and outside and try the new editing tools to see how they may differ from how you may have normally edited that image. The results may be subtle or dramatic but certainly worth looking at what may move you into a slightly different direction.  These presets or templates may make your life a little easier by reducing your editing time in some cases. 

Models may select a different accessory or even a slightly different style of wardrobe for a particular project. What about a different manufacturer of make-up?  Maybe modify make-up slightly to give a different look for a project. This of course can move into different hairstyles based on ideas. Take a look at Pinterest and this may give you a broad idea of looks for a project. While a model may primarily focus on a genre such as fashion, try a casual life style shoot. This can sometimes even help your brand since it may help your fans identify with you a little easier.

This idea can even apply to Make-up artists, gaffers, or set designers. Where do you get your supplies? Are there other suppliers? You may not want to abandon a vendor who serves you well, but looking for similar materials in a variety of locations can sometimes surprise you. Purchasing a small quantity of material at first or even asking for samples to new vendors while sharing links to your work can open new doors for you that you may not have considered in the past.

Stepping out your comfort zone can be scary. This does not mean that you have to spend 30 minutes in an ice cold shower, but little steps may lead to larger rewards!


-Bob Barford is a published photographer in Southern PA.

[email protected] (Bob Barford Photography) comfort creative Photography zone Mon, 01 Jul 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Have you tried Composites? Composites (Using Blend Modes)

Sometimes you may want to add a little digital artistry to some of your images. One can do this effectively by composite (blending two images together) work. Before I go any further, this post requires at last a intermediate understanding of Photoshop. There are many educational programs, such as through Creative Live that can get you up so speed very quickly with nationally recognized speakers. Blend modes is similar to taking your background layer, and placing another layer on top of the background. There are many choices, and the link I have provided below can help.

The image above was made on a black background, and certainly is ok as a stand alone image. But what if we wanted to make the background a little more interesting (not distracting).  We could use a textured background so that it may not look so much like a studio shot made 100's of times before.  Textures are readily available in the internet, but one source of high quality textures can be found here: Brooke shaden free textures.  So I have started out by loaded the image as well as a chosen texture into photoshop. As a rule, black and white textures are typically better than colored textures, since they will not cause a color cast on your subject.

We want to:

  • Select the texture layer
  • Select it (Control/Cmd A)
  • Copy it (Control/Cmd C)
  • Select our model layer (background in this case)
  • Paste the texture on top of the background (Control/cmd V)

Now of course we have what looks like a stone wall. Fear not.....

Switch your blend mode to 'Soft light' and your model will once again appear. You may try other blend modes such as overlay, lighten, etc to see which mode is most appealing to you.  If you have never used blend modes, Blend modes explained may help. In truth, cycling through each mode can be very effective. We now also have the texture on the skin, which is not very attractive unless we are going for a horror type effect. We can fix that.

  • Add a layer mask to your texture layer
  • Choose your brush tool and make sure that color is set to BLACK (since the layer mask is white)
  • Brush over your model to remove the texture on her skin and wardrobe

This can be tricky though, how do you know that you have completely removed the texture from undesired areas? While the layer mask is highlighted, hit the backspace (\) key.