Bright sun lighting tips!

Lighting - Kevin Kubota
The summer sun is out, birds are singing, unicorns are happily playing, and photographers are cursing the lighting! Everyone wants beautiful outdoor portraits, but the bright sun can pose a challenge to your soft, flattering light desires. I've been a wedding photographer for over 20 years and faced challenges from sunny beaches to baking hot concrete parking lots. Here are some of my full sun lighting tips.
  1. Find shade! This might seem obvious, but many photographers neglect to simply ask their client to move locations. Either they are too shy, or think the client absolutely loves their current stake of ground. If you kindly suggest to them that the light is MUCH more flattering to their faces if you move "over there", they generally oblige.
  2. Use the sun as a backlight or hair light. If you have any direction to the sun at all, meaning it's not directly overhead, then you have a potentially beautiful backlight or hair light. Just make sure the sun is not casting dark shadows on the face and then create your facial lighting with a soft, white reflector or a diffused flash. Our LunaGrip works perfect for this.
  3. Create a sun shade. If you have a larger diffusion disk of 40" or so, or better yet, a larger scrim (a translucent white fabric on a frame), then you can shade your client and create an amazing soft light. Ask an assistant, or two, to hold the diffuser overhead – or wherever the sun happens to be. Sometimes you may also want to add a reflector, or diffused flash, to complement the diffused overall light from the scrim.
  4. If you get really desperate and can't move or shade your subject, then fill flash might be your only option. I prefer to use a diffused flash instead of a direct one. This gently fills the shadows and doesn't look so snapshot like. Use a small softbox, LunaGrip, or other flash diffuser directly above your camera lens to avoid creating cross shadows. Take a test shot or two to find the right exposure balance and open up those eye sockets.

About the Image: The LunaGrip is used with a single speedlight to add beautiful lighting to the subject's face, and sparkling catchlights in her eyes. I moved her just out of the bright sun to keep her from squinting and to eliminate the harsh shadows. The LunaGrip keeps the bright, sunny day feel, but creates the perfect portrait lighting. Get a LunaGrip now on sale for under $100!

Thailand photography service workshop

Workshops With Purpose Thailand 2017
We are doing a very special photography workshop in Thailand this fall! I've led workshops all over the world, but this one is particularly unique. Why? Because we'll give our talents to one of the most important causes in the world, with some of the most caring people in the world, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Join the Workshops With Purpose instructor team in Thailand this November.

This workshop is designed for photographers to learn to use their talents to directly assist local service agencies who are creating positive change around the human trafficking situation in Thailand. You'll be guided by photography educators, experienced in world-travel and service work in 3rd world countries. You'll learn while actively donating your photography services to the local agencies that serve Thailand. We'll experience some of the challenges facing Thailand, but not without appreciating its immense beauty, rich culture, and warmhearted people. Oh yah, then there's the food. Wow.

November 1-12, 2017 (Participants will need to arrive in Bangkok, Thailand by the 1st)

Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai

WWP will be working with HUG Project and The Freedom Story. HUG Project is located in Chiang Mai and “exists to prevent, protect, and restore children from human trafficking, exploitation, and abuse.” The Freedom Story is located in Chiang Rai and works to “prevent child trafficking and exploitation through scholarships, mentorship, and resources for at-risk children.”

Benjamin Edwards, Kevin Kubota, and Andrew and Marianne Nicodem

The WWP team will adventure to Thailand in pursuit of learning and loving as we explore a new culture, hear from those creating positive change, and give back with our photography. The photography we capture will allow HUG Project and The Freedom Story to further promote and educate others about the important work they are doing. During our workshop time, we will cover the latest workflow techniques, efficient editing in Lightroom, troubleshooting while photographing on-site, off-camera lighting, and the legalities of working with nonprofits. We’ll discuss how we can use our talents and passions to inspire and give back to the world around us.

Day 1 (11/1/17)
  · Team arrives in Bangkok.

Day 2
  · Group Introductions. Meet organization leaders in Bangkok who are doing their part to fight against human trafficking. Dinner at a surprise restaurant that is delicious and fun!

Day 3
  · Fly to Chiang Mai.
  · Explore Chiang Mai - massages, amazing food, markets, lantern festival, etc.

Day 4
  · Team meeting and class time.
  · Lantern Festival.

Day 5
  · Work with HUG Project, which “exists to prevent, protect, and restore children from human trafficking, exploitation, and abuse”
  · Evening visit to the night markets, last day of lantern festival.

Day 6
  · Work with HUG project.
  · Chiang Mai sightseeing.

Day 7
  · Travel to Chiang Rai.
  · Explore Chiang Rai - markets, temples, more amazing food.

Day 8
  · Work with The Freedom Story, which “prevents child trafficking & exploitation through scholarships, mentorship, & resources for at-risk children”

Day 9
  · Work with The Freedom Story.
  · Evening sightseeing.

Day 10
  · Team prepares images for HUG and The Freedom Story.
  · More Chiang Rai sightseeing.

Day 11
  · Visit the picturesque Anantara resort and elephant sanctuary for elephant experience and amazing lunch.
  · Closing team dinner.

Day 12 (11/12/17)
  · Fly back to Bangkok to fly home, or explore other parts of Thailand!

$3995. This investment covers most meals, transportation (including two in-country flights), and accommidations while in Thailand. This also covers group adventures, translators, instructors, and financial donations to HUG Project and The Freedom Story. Attendees are responsible for their flights to and from Bangkok. Sign up now.

Payments will be made to The Freedom Story, which is a 501(c)(3). This is tax-deductible.

There are only 12 spots available for this workshop! Please let us know as soon as possible if you'd like to apply to join WWP in Thailand 2017! We're so grateful for your interest in Workshops with Purpose, and hope you'll join us on this life changing journey! Get more info here.

WWP Bolivia Highlight Video
WWP Kenya Highlight Video
Drone Footage of where we'll be going in Thailand
Ben's reflections on WWP Bolivia
Holli's experience at WWP Bolivia
Hadassah's experience at WWP Bolivia
Resource Magazine "Kijabe Project - How 10 Photographers Changed their World"

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Can't wait to hear from you!
Kevin & Clare Kubota & the WWP team

The Dungeon Master

Gandalf with iphone.jpg

The following story is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

I was in the cave, patiently observing as my Lady in Waiting researched a mysterious problem with my Macbook. I was at a "genius" bar, but this was not an official Apple storefront. It was a knock-off. The bar was more of a "Smarty Pants" bar rather than one worthy of Mensa inclusion. I waited patiently, enjoying the spartan design of the cave and the hipster music floating in the air. 

M'Lady continued to search for answers on her company Mac, while I stood on the other side of the bar, feeding her details. Next to me, a new victim approached and asked for help. He held his iPhone out in front of him, like a pet rat that had mysteriously gone motionless. He was obviously in a bad way. 

"One moment, Sir." She greeted him without taking eyes from the screen in front of her. I'll summon Gandalf, he'll know what to do. 

A wisp of smoke mysteriously appeared, and through it stepped "The Wizard". (I'm fairly certain the smoke was generated by The Wizard, but it could have been a laptop burning. I’m not 100% sure). His ragged beard was red like the layers of earthen minerals embedded in a prehistoric mountain cliff. His spectacles were thick, and battle worn with smudges from obvious encounters with dragons and other mythical beasts who spit annoying liquids on your face. His eyes, weary from many late nights as Dungeon Master, or from leading leagues of Legends. This was no amateur. 

"How may I assist, kind sir?" His said with a slightly detectable bow. 

The young man in waiting, his plain blue hoodie unzipped to reveal a plaid shirt, presented his quest, "Um, yah, my phone won't charge very good anymore."

Gandalf's beady eyes narrowed. There was intensity in them. He hath seen this before. 

“Lay it in my hand.” His outstretched palm bore fingernails stained yellow with the remnants of cheese puffs – a common war-time nourishment. The young man laid it upon the wizard's twitching, chubby fingers. 

Gandalf tightened his grip around the phone, and carefully brought it closer to his face for inspection. He turned it over to peer cautiously into the charging port. “As I suspected.” He said confidently.

He lowered the phone and looked unwaveringly into the young man’s eyes. He did not even need to clear his throat. “Fortunately, we offer a special port repair service. It is $29.95 and the work is 100% guaranteed. If for some reason it stops working again, we will service it again at no charge.” He went silent. His gaze did not falter.

The young man contemplated for a moment, then responded, “Well, um, I guess so. How long will it take?” 

As I watched silently on the sidelines, I could understand his concern. The technicians in the back were already overloaded with repairs and the neighboring advisors were quoting other customers “days” for devices they were dropping off. But this was an emergency. This was his iPhone.

Gandalf did not hesitate in his reply, “It should take less than 30 minutes and it can be done immediately.”

Gandalf obviously had some authority with the technicians in back. The young man perked up. “OK, I guess so then. I pretty much need my phone to work.”

“Very well.” Said Gandalf, and he opened the drawer in front of him, at the “Smarty Pants” bar. He rummaged for a few moments then seemed to find what he was searching for. 

“Ah!" He said, while removing the P.R.E.D. (Port Repair and Extraction Device). It looked strikingly familiar to a paper clip. I’m pretty sure it actually was a paper clip. He un-folded the device to extend the point.  

“You never want to try this procedure yourself, at home.” Gandalf warned. “You could destroy my precious…your precious.”

He proceeded to dig and scrape the inside of the power port with the paper, I mean, extraction device. He thumped the bottom of the phone on the counter top a few times and some micro crud fell out. 

“Bingo.” He said, as if he knew he would be successful. He blew some magical clearing breath in to the port for good measure. 

The young man stared in disbelief. I stared in disbelief. Gandalf smiled a gratified smile. “I’ll escort you now to the other counter where you can submit your renumeration.” He led, and the young man followed. I can only assume this fellow was elated that his repair service only took 45 seconds rather than the full 30 minutes Gandalf quoted.

I watched as he reluctantly pulled his wallet from the worn and imprinted back pocket of his jeans. He slowly pulled the barter plastic from the sheath, eyes somewhat lowered in concession, and handed it over. He did not speak. 

“That will be $29.95. Sméagol will finish you off now. Good day sir.” Gandalf motioned to the figure at the collection machine, and bid farewell to the young man while simultaneously beginning his return to the Smarty Bar. Before reaching it, he had already greeted his next target, “How may I assist, kind madam?”

My spellbinding was broken by the exclamation of My Lady in Waiting, “Ah ha! I think I found something. Have you tried to restart your Mac?”.

“Yes, I have.” I said without trying to sound sarcastic. “Please don’t charge me for that."