Saturday, March 20, 2021

A Giant Softbox - for Free!

Also in this issue
Shooting the Northern Lights with Video
Three Ebooks released (and one in the pipeline)
Contest Winners
We're moving (again!)
A Giant Softbox for Free
And much more...

Shooting the Northern Lights with Video

My wife and I were watching a cool movie one night entitled “Under an Arctic Sky”, where a bunch of 20-somethings went to Iceland in wintertime to surf. (Pretty amazing cinemaphotography. You can see the trailer for it here). Toward the end of the movie (and the trailer) there’s footage showing them surfing at night, in darkness, with the Northern Lights painting a picturesque backdrop. “That had to have been shot with an A7S!” I exclaimed, thoroughly annoying my wife who hates it when I talk about technical BTS stuff during a movie.  “That’s the only camera sensitive enough to shoot useable footage in such low light!!”  Sure enough, as the movie progressed you can see them handling the Sony gear, and at the end, you can see that Sony was actually a sponsor.  Ever since the original A7S came out, cutting-edge filmmakers have been using it to shooting things previously unshootable.  The example that really sticks in my mind is this nighttime drone shot (again, the Aurora Borealis) using the original Sony A7S and a 20mm f/1.4 lens.  There's another one called "Moonwalk", also sponsored by Sony.  Just amazing. 

I bring this up as a prelude to my announcement that the long-awaited, most-thorough-book on the Sony A7S III is now out!  (It would have been out sooner had Adobe not moved all of the legacy arrows and shapes out of the shape tool in Photoshop and not told anybody.)  All of the new menus, all of the new video modes, even the new HEIF files are all explained, in 703 pages of insane technical (yet completely understandable) detail.  Get your copy now, available in .pdf, .epub, .azw3, and printed versions!! 

Other e-book announcements: 

A7R IV Ebook - in Spanish - 
It takes awhile to translate large books into another language, and now the book on the Sony A7R IV is now available in Español!  If you speak Spanish, or know of other photographers who do, please help spread the word online.  

A7C Ebook - v2.0 released - If you purchased from my website or registered your purchase outside of my website, you should have received an automatic update.  If not, email me with a copy of your receipt (Gary at Friedman Archives dot com) and I'll take care of you.  

A1 Book in the Pipeline! - You spoke, I listened.  I'll be working on a book on the new Sony A1, and you can pre-order now at a discount!  

A Giant Soft Box... For Free!!

Like the wheel, some things are only obvious after someone else points it out to you.  

For example, what if I told you that you probably already had a giant softbox in your house, suitable for the kind of soft light and un-harsh shadows that can are commonly used for portraits?  For FREE?

That's right; a shower curtain (specifically the inside one which tends to be more translucent and pattern-free) can act like a giant diffuser.  Of course it's a little less portable than The Five Dollar Studio I blogged about back in 2010, but hey - it's free!!

Some technical notes:
  1. You can use TTL flash metering
  2. Use Manual exposure mode: ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/160th of a second
  3. Zoom in for a tight headshot.
  4. You can get even softer light by pointing the flash in the opposite direction, having it bounce off the white wall before it gets diffused even more.  This requires either a more powerful flash or a higher ISO / larger f/stop.

You're welcome.  :-)

Don't forget - Zoom lectures for your photo club!

They're incredibly popular and photo clubs just love them!  Book me now before my schedule gets insane again.  More info here.  

Next time in Cameracraft 
I profile Domingo Leiva, who since 2006 has been putting his home town in Spain (and later the world) on the map using his incredible HDR techniques.  Read about how he started as a psychology major, ran his own advertising firm, and then graduated to photography full-time.  Subscribe to Cameracraft magazine today!  

Ciudad de Almería

Contest update

Last month I pontificated about the value of proper lighting in the age of Photoshop.  And for fun I challenged my readers to take a poorly lit image and make it look like a well-lit one:

Original files to work with

A lot of other people pontificated about it as well.  I'll share with you 3 of what I thought were the best entries:

David Lowenherz

John Morterz

Rene Kral

What do you think?  

Moving Again

We haven't actually seen Boston since we've hardly left this 2-bedroom condo.  But after we get our 2nd vaccine shot we'll be moving again to a much larger place in Plymouth, about an hour South of Boston.  And thanks to a huge unfunished basement, I'm going to get a huge studio space once we finish it.  No more breaking everything down and setting everything up just to transition from portrait studio to Youtube or Zoom studio!  (The move also means the A1 book will take a little longer than I would like.)  Stay tuned.


  1. Your 3 contest picks. My $0.02.
    #1 Looks over exposed and flashed.
    #2 Looks the best without looking flashed but don't like the vignette it looks too photoshop.
    #3 I like the hair light but needs more exposure on the face, maybe just a higher ratio.

    1. Thank you, GEGjr - #2 is mine. You are correct, in that I did add a vignette (a bit too much, you think?) - but my effort was not done with PhotoShop ... I'm using DxO's excellent PhotoLab product.


  2. You should drop Photoshop and try Affinity Photo. One-off purchase and got everything that Photoshop has and much easier to use.

    1. Nor until they release a lightroom replacement as well

  3. Gary, I always tell my students to buy a cheap shower curtain liner and a set of suction cup hooks and keep in their cars. If they ever have a large window with harsh light, hook up the hooks and hang the curtain and Instant Soft Light. I recently had a student send me an email and tell me how great it worked for them. Cheers, Roger


Thank you for your comment! All comments must be approved by a moderator before they will appear.