Shooting it: Blowing Bokeh

Blowing Bokeh!

Since this gathered a lot of attention on Flickr, I guess I’ll show every one how it went down. There was a bit of “cheating” involved, but it came out great! (And plus, I’m not shooting for a news paper or anything.)

Here’s a shot of how I set up the light!

The softbox was very high, I’d say maybe 9 – 10 feet pointing down at her. I also had a nude flash coming from behind her to give some fill light. Here’s a picture of the setup to give you a better idea just where the lights were.

Personally I don’t think this photo deserves as much attention as it got. I feel the lighting isn’t all that great, and if we had a few more minutes, I could have gotten a better angle of her face, instead of just a flat profile. I got the idea from gathering what other photographers have already done. We’ve all seen the photo of the person holding the sun, or people using filters to get heart, or star shaped bokeh. I’m pretty sure I have seen this exact picture somewhere else, but I can’t seem to find it. :/ Anyways, now to the cheating bit. I used photoshop to change the exposure, and help with the contrast a bit. I also photoshopped out some distracting lights from the picture. Here’s what the photo looks like unprocessed…

Doesn’t it look so boring and lifeless when it’s not processed?

And post processed…

Long story short, it took more lining the bokeh up with her face than it did lights! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this, and feel free to ask any questions!


Suffering from unreliable models

Hello everyone ,

I had some unpleasant experience the past few days due to unreliable models who are actually going pro and I had a few clients disappointed without being able to do my job . I had a great ideas for the shoot and I didn’t sleep last night planing the whole shoot from the beginning to the end. I was waiting for four models to appear but none of them arrived and suddenly every single one of them had something else to do. I had to wait for 8 hours because I had an arrangement with potential client and  having arrangement with someone means a lot to me since I’m keeping my word every time. They said that they require to see something in larger scale which will appear to be TFP the first time and after  that will transform to a long term contract. Of course TFP  means that no money are involved. We agreed that we’ll do the shoot which will benefit us in any case even if we don’t get some kind of revenue.  So the word has been given and the arrangement was done.

I had the props and the SFX and a whole bunch of people who are willing to help us.  Unfortunately the owners of the place where we were going to shoot  had no time anymore to wait for any lazy models to appear so I had to pack back my gear and go home decorated like a Christmas tree with all the equipment hanging all over me attached to every possible place on my body. I was like walking studio……a pathetic picture. So at the end of the day I was thinking about which is right and which is wrong and because any further words would be words of anger I’ve found this article explaining exactly the relationship between model and photographer…….

” Probably the most common complaint about beginning models doing TFP is that they are unreliable and sometimes don’t show up for scheduled shoots. The usual reply to a complaint of this sort is that since the model’s not getting paid, she doesn’t have a real obligation to the photographer. This is, bluntly, wrong. The photographer has committed to the shoot. If they did not believe that they were going to have a shoot with that model at that time, they could have scheduled something else. A no-show model represents time and opportunity wasted, and both of those have a very real monetary value. Models with reputations for dependability get callbacks and referrals: models who don’t, don’t. The world of photography is surprisingly close-knit and it doesn’t take long at all for word to get around. “

You can find the whole article here

I am very grateful to Brian Eathan Williams for writing this article !

Respect yourselves as a photographers and make sure to keep your word every time even if you encounter any difficulties being there in time. This counts for the models too. If you really want to be a model you better make sure to keep your word because every time  it is most important than any contract.

Sorry guys ! No material to show today 😦

Oggy Dimitrov

Useful Gear: Bungee Cords

Every photographer have their way of organizing their gear, today I will talk about one small thing I never go on a photoshoot without. This little think is saving me in many situations, so today  I will just mention a couple of the situations I’m using them! Actually there many many more but, so this is gonna be just a teaser to the other features of the bungees, I will upload them soon on my journal, stay tuned to it, I will also update this article when I’m ready with the other things!

So… what am I gonna talk about! Here it is, it’s my precious Bungee Cords! For every photoshoot I have, I will have a bunch of them!

The bungee cords:

I am using the bungees in really a lot of situations when I want to attach something to something, and in many cases they even replace my tripods and flash stands! In this article I will include only one figure, but apart from that they save in many situations! In the figure below I have included some of the ways I’m using them, and believe me this is just a little part of them!

Here you can see how useful they are if for example you need to attach one more flash to your umbrella, or even put a flash on the fence behind the model, or basically everywhere where you can rope them. In some cases I have even attached a few flashes to one umbrella when I need extra power!

Here are some simple examples of the ways I’m using the bungee cords:

Feel free to write to our e-mail anytime for questions, or also you can leave a comment below and we will make sure to reply!

You can also follow me on my Facebook page: Ilko Allexandroff Photography, or check my homepage where I’m uploading some other articles on other topics:

Stay tuned to our website for other articles soon!

Ilko Allexandroff Photography

Ten minutes photoshoot

I was walking in the park along with one of my friends who just bought Nikon 3100. He asked me to show him some stuff about photography and we went to the nearest park place for a few snapshots but ……. I saw those guys with the bikes and asked them to make a few moves so I can take some photos. We had to leave soon and I had only 10 minutes to search for a better location and make the setup. I ran almost few hundred meters and I’ve found a high place. After 4 minutes the light was ready and we started. I told my friend to go and take a video of the process knowing that he really doesn’t know how to operate the camera yet he managed to take a minute long footage which appeared to be almost useful 🙂 Well.. we did what we could ! Have fun !

This is the lighting diagram which shows the simple setup. I was happy that my single flash unit managed to act as a fill against the strong sunlight which actually caused total nightmare regarding the video footage that we took. I didn’t bring the rig platform that I have so the video output appeared awful but still useful enough.

a simple setup with a single flash and diffusing umbrella

To be more specific I’ve made a short simple video of what we did there. You can watch it right now 🙂

Have fun and don’t forget to show us what you do with single flash !

Oggy Dimitrov

My Flickr Tips! How about yours?

My Flickr Tips! How about yours?
Flickr is one of the most famous photo sharing services in the world. You can see many photographers’ works on it, and get feedback of your work as well. It’s easy to use, but I think there are other things that many people don’t know, and might be very useful if they are used. Here are a bit of my Flickr tips, I would be happy is you share yours too in the comments! I posted them to my homepage some time ago here: CLICK, and now I thought I can put them here! And also you can check my profile on Flickr here: Ilko Allexandroff on Flickr!

1. Portfolio Set!

 To view my PORTFOLIO set: CLICK HERE! As you can see on the image I uploaded, I make a portfolio set, I often use when I want to show someone only the photos that really show me best. I put 21 photos in the set, why is that? Well, the thing is that I like to use the “Detail” view, not the Thumbnails, just because it looks much more clear and I also want to show the photos in only 1 page, so if I put more than 21, the Flickr set will be separated in 2 pages!

2. Flag Counter Tool

 I love that, it’s showing you how many unique views you have from each country, you can see mine in the first comment I have on each photo. You just need to create your Flag Counter Code from the Flag Counter Website, and insert it in the first comment under each photo you upload, and in the comment section of your sets. Then it’s gonna count for you your viewers and give you the idea how many people and from where are they checking your Flickr Page. (I think you can’t use it if you don’t have the Pro Account)

3. Pro Account

 This is really one of the best purchases I’ve had by now, and the Flickr Pro Account really deserves it’s money! And the best thing you have with the pro account is the Stats! It’s really fun to see how many people are checking your photos daily, which of your photos are they checking, and where do they get linked to your profile from You have the full referals list, so you know which of your social networks services actually contribute to your Flickr Account.

4. Using Social Network Sites

 Using Social Network Sites to refer to your Flickr Account, I do that quite often! Anytime I upload some new photos to Flickr, I past the link to some of them at my Facebook personal account, Facebook Page, Twitter, Mixi etc.

5. Flickr Uploader App

 Well, that’s how I’m uploading my photos to Flickr! Flickr have the Flickr Uploader software, and if you haven’t tried it by now, make sure you do it! You can customize your upload batch, add descriptions, keywords to your photos, add them to sets and with just one click everything is gonna be uploaded, clean and organized to your account!

6. Rearange your Photostream

 Sometimes you upload a bunch of photos, and maybe they are not the best phtos to represent your work, but they will be on the top of your photostream and everybody who check it at that time for the first time they will see those photos. If you don’t want that to happen, especally when you know many people will check your page at some time, then why don’t you rearrange your first photostream photos, and put there your best work? How to do that? It’s quite simple! Just go to the “Organize & Create” Section, select the top photos you want the people to see in your photostream, and just change the “Upload date” so they will be the newest uploaded, respectively the photos everyone who check your page will see first!

7. Interesting Photos by …

 Interesting Photos by … tool Now here is one of my favorite tips, please check it out, because it will help you understand what kind of photos actually someone you don’t really know well is taking! For example this is how the tool will show you my most interesting photos: Ilko Allexandroff’s Most Interesting Photos
Imagine you see a nice new photo, you don’t know the author, but you want to know if they have some other nice photos, or you wanna see their most interesting photos with only one click! Then I would advice you to go and check this out Interesting Photos By…, and follow the instructions on the bottom of the screen how to add this to your bookmarks, and when you do that, believe me it’s gonna be one of your most important bookmarks!

8. Add Photo Description!

 Well, I do that for every photo I upload, and never leave that field blank! I like to insert the strobist info of my photos, and I’m happy if people find it useful, and make them come back to my page and see more photos!

9. Be social!

 You you see a good photo, compliment the author! This might give you some really good contacts, and I already have many people that I can ask for honest opinion for some of my photos or get a good feedback from! Also there are so many people you can learn from, so never stop looking at other people’s good work!

I might be missing something, so maybe I’ll add something more later, and please share your tips on using flickr too! 😉

Feel free to write to our e-mail anytime for questions, or also you can leave a comment below and we will make sure to reply!

You can also follow me on my Facebook page: Ilko Allexandroff Photography, or check my homepage where I’m uploading some other articles on other topics:

Stay tuned to our website for other articles soon!

Ilko Allexandroff Photography

Processing HDR Photos

Here is some information about how I make my HDR photos. Basically I have a few steps when I make HDR, here they are:

When we were together! @  マヤカン

1. First of all, I shoot 3 exposures in RAW mode, -2, 0, +2 (might change these sometimes to narrower range, or if I have time might go to 5 or more, but usually I’m doing it with 3). Always in RAW mode, I tried it with JPEGs but it makes difference.

2. Second, when I go to the post process, first I blend the 3 exposures by using Photomatix, I’ve been mainly using the 3 version, but recently they released 4, which is also giving different results, and sometimes quite different from 3. Anyway I’m not using the Photomatix to finalize the photo, but only to blend the RAW files. Although sometimes I’m tempted to play with the sliders in the software I just don’t do it.
After it process the 3 images and give me the HDR image, I save it as a 16bit TIFF file, not in JPEG, and then going to the next step with photoshop!

3. After finishing the upper steps which just prepare the image I’m playing with, I open it in Camera Raw plugin of Photoshop, and there is the main part for my process of HDRs. I have some presets I have saved and used before, but even applying them to the particular image, every photo is different and still needs a bit more tweaks.

4. And to finalize the photo, I open the file I edit it with Camera Raw in Photoshop, and fix it there if there is anything else that needs to be done, or there are small details that need to be deleted or whatever. Basically in the upper steps I’m doing the global adjustments, in this step I concentrate on the local adjustments!

That’s my usual workflow for HDR! I would be happy if you share how you are dealing with HDRs in the comments, or if you leave any comment about it too!

Here are some more images, you can click on each of them to view it on my Flickr account with more information about it!

Temple @ Amagasaki 長遠寺 Seoul, South Korea Kt@Mayakan
Kt@Mayakan / マヤカン Otaru, Hokkaido
And it all starts again... (Sunrise in Kobe) Maya Hotel, 摩耶観光ホテル、マヤカン、廃墟

Feel free to write to our e-mail anytime for questions, or also you can leave a comment below and we will make sure to reply!

You can also follow me on my Facebook page: Ilko Allexandroff Photography, or check my homepage where I’m uploading some other articles on other topics:

Stay tuned to our website for other articles soon!

Ilko Allexandroff Photography

Darktable ! Pro photo editing in Linux.

Many words has been written past over the years about Linux and all the different distributions offering you different packages and functionality. Yet there was no agreement between the different development teams to unite the pieces in one strong operating system . However the same fact appeared not to be a problem about the improvement of the different distributions. The problem is which one to chose !!??  Well….there is no one word answer to that but in my case I’ve installed the latest Ubuntu 11.10. I did not expect it to be the perfect OS and it wasn’t but after some updates it worked fine with no complains. To be honest I am using Ubuntu 11.10 even now and I’m using it more often that any other OS.  The main reason that made me pick this one is that it’s free, constantly updated and one particular piece of software called Darktable.

What exactly is Darktable  ?

When you enter the interface it will be a little bit confusing but only in the beginning. Darktable itself is similar to Capture One, Lightroom and Apperture but in the same time it is different and complex in its own way.  So following that direction of thoughts it wont be so hard to learn but you still have to spent some time to take a look at the different modes and  plugins which Darktable would offer to you if you give it a try.

Saying pro photo editing in Linux would probably make some people laugh but it is real and it is here. Since the developers of Ubuntu considered to put a module for color management easy enough to use you can even attach your icc or icm profile without any problems even if it is on your windows or mac partition. Just paste it in a random folder and load it from there and you’ll have your display working with correct color parameters (as correct as it can be since every monitor produces slightly different colors even if they are the same brand and the same model).

Darktable itself has some plugins allowing you to load color profile and thus to give you the chance to receive the right color . In a matter of fact the whole platform is plugin-based which helps you to turn off or turn on the different plugins in order to prevent yourself from overloading the developing mode menu with unnecessary stuff.

One of the most desired features here is camera tethering and we have it at our disposal. The module is easy to use giving you the opportunity to see and instantly edit every single photo of your camera and it is most useful in studio environment of course. The developers expanded the list of supported cameras even more than the previous versions so you’ll have the chance to use it anyway especially with the most popular camera models from Nikon,Canon,Sony,Pentax,Olympus and etc.

This is de developing module of Darktable called Darkroom. You can see the available plugins menu bottom right and some activated plugins upper right. Exif info and some other features are available on the left menu. The film strip at the bottom part of the screen is optional.

Organizing photos in Darktable is easy and you wont be bothered  with tons of features that you cant understand and you don’t use anyway. You can find here almost the same library compared to the other analogs as I mentioned before. Importing photos form your camera is easy and fast and became faster since version 1.0 as expected. Rating and marking with color is also included. You can still chose only rated photos to appear for further development or those marked with color.

This is the library module of Darktable called Lighttable 🙂

Darktable allows its user  to export photos in various formats as 8/16 bit tiff, 8/16 bit png, 8 bit jpg and other not so popular. You can also create so called styles (actions,presets) using your history panel helping you to instantly apply corrections with one click.

The editing process is non-destructive so the user can go back to the original look of the image any time. It feels  fine and easy after you check the result that every tool gives after use.

Yet it still lacks some extras as some sort of selection tool or brush tool which might be an obstacle for some photographers who are used to paint in quick mask mode to create a selection.  However the developers gave me an answer that they work on that case and such a tool will be included soon probably in the next version. However spots removal tool is present in the current version.  Actually you don’t need much of these tools if you try to do the most of your work behind the camera instead later in your primary editing software.  Don’t be lazy !!! 😀

We came to the most important feature here 🙂 Darktable is completely  free ! Yes ! You  are reading me right !

May be it wont be comfortable for you to install linux  along with your primary OS but it is not hard and it gives you significant flexibility.  In this case Darktable made me to install linux once again on my PC.

More information and recent news about this software you can find here :

Give support to the Darktable team ! They deserve it as they did incredible job creating this FREE product !

Oggy Dimitrov

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