Jan Christian


Ambient lighting vs. manual flash: the [strobist] basics

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Off-camera flash is a great way to add drama and interest to a photo. Don’t get me wrong, ambient light can make great photos, but not always. In this example photo, to properly expose the motorcycle, I would have to blow out (bright white, no detail) the sky. I wanted a dramatic sky so I set up my strobes (Elinchrom Ranger Quadra RX). Off-camera/manual flash can be intimidating at first but once you break down the process, it isn’t bad at all. Read the rest of this entry »

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VIP Jet Interior MD-81 – Metro Detroit Commercial Photographer

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I recently had the opportunity to photograph the interior of a VIP jet for Flight Display Systems and Pentastar Aviation. Flight Display Systems outfitted this McDonnell Douglas MD-81 with lots of cool A/V equipment like a display at nearly every seat and very cool OLED switches at each seat. This jet makes me never want to fly coach again! Read the rest of this entry »

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Adobe Lightroom 3 is 50% off until midnight!

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Simply put, Adobe Lightroom 3 is amazing. I used to do all of my post processing in Photoshop but then I gave Lightroom a shot and loved it. I’ve been using it since the Beta release and now I don’t want to be without it. It’s so powerful that I do most of my editing in LR3. If there’s an edit you really like, you can save those settings as a “preset” to apply to another photo with one click. Read the rest of this entry »

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Padded Camera Caddy Bag Insert Custom

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I designed this insert to hold a Canon 5D Mark II with a 24-70 f/2.8L attached, and a 10-22 in the corner. 24-70mm is a great all-around range on a full frame camera. When I want to pack light, it’s usually all I take with me so I made this caddy to fit that setup perfectly. With this caddy, I can turn any bag into a “camera bag” just by dropping in this insert.
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DIY Camera Wrist Strap Paracord

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I haven’t used a regular neck strap in years. In fact, I rarely use a strap at all. When I do use a strap (mainly when shooting a wedding and I’m using two bodies) it’s a sling strap. Most other times I shoot out of a bag so long straps just get in the way. I’ve been using a wrist strap for a while now and love it. It’s quicker to re-bag the camera yet still offers security while the camera is in your hand. Read the rest of this entry »

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P100 HipBag: waist camera bag hip pack

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This client wanted piping, which was a nice aesthetic change of pace. The black & coyote brown colorway looks great! The front flap secures via three hidden magnets but don’t worry, they wont affect electronics or CF cards. There are three slim pockets under the top flap that are padded on the bottom with thick foam and on the top with thin foam. There’s also a zippered pocket in the rear.
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New Photography Business Cards! spot UV/gloss

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While my DIY Business Cards were good in a pinch, I felt it was time to upgrade to “real” business cards. I wanted something that stood out so I opted for spot gloss accents (the stripes and “Jan Christian” on the back, or is that the front?) and rounded corners.

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PhotoVision DVD Seminar Discount Code Coupon

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If you haven’t heard of PhotoVision, you should definitely check it out.

PhotoVision consists of 6 video DVDs a year, each with over 3 hours of educational content featuring leading photographers bringing you the latest and greatest things happening in the photographic industry. You’ll receive one DVD every other month to enjoy at your convenience in the comfort of your home or studio for one low annual price.

You’ll see photographic styles and techniques, lighting and posing, workflow, retouching, marketing, sales and business management. Join leading photographers in their actual working environments; see sessions with families, seniors, children, lifestyle, newborns, engagement, relationships, maternity, fashion, infants. Go on location and on actual weddings.

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Photography/Camera Messenger Bag MIL-SPEC

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Well it isn’t a photography bag per se, but I lined the interior with loop velcro so I could add padded dividers when I want to use it for camera gear. It is made from MIL-SPEC components. The exterior is water resistant 1000D Cordura in ranger green with MARPAT coyote webbing and hardware, which is now one of my favorite colorways! (it looks even better in person) This is my first “messenger bag” and I’m definitely a fan. It’s a great day bag, book bag, gear bag, etc. and the best part is that it doesn’t look like a specific type of bag (like a “camera bag”).
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Engagement: Justin & Pam

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Last weekend we took advantage of the nice weather and headed downtown for Justin & Pam’s engagement shoot. It was a gorgeous day, albeit rather chilly, but they were troopers! The wind was brutal though, which wreaked havoc on my off-camera lighting, but I improvised. They’re getting married this September so stay tuned!
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Wedding: Aaron & Natalie

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I few weeks ago I photographed Aaron and Natalie’s wedding (actually, just the reception) and you wont believe how quickly they planned it. Due to Aaron having to leave for Air Force basic training, they got married TEN MONTHS earlier than expected. They planned it in a week and a half! I’m getting married in June so I know all that goes into a wedding and I think they did a great job.
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New URL!

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If you haven’t noticed, I changed the URL of my site. When I first created it, I wasn’t set on a name and to be honest, I’m still not. At least now it’s closer to the name I go by when shooting. People often asked me what ‘ambrotos’ of Ambrotos Photography meant. Ambrotos is Greek for ‘immortal’, which I thought was apropos for photography; every actuation of the shutter cements that one moment in time.

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DIY Photography Light Stand Sandbag

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If you don’t have the luxury of a “voice activated light stand” when using off-camera flash, then sand bags are often a necessity, especially when working outdoors. I knew I could make a better sandbag for a lot less than what’s out there, so I did! I also wanted a specific color webbing handle so I created the pattern then had Strapworks.com make me some custom webbing. Pretty sweet, eh? The main material is 1000D Cordura, which is tough as hell, and it’s sewn with #69 bonded nylon mil-spec thread. If you don’t have this thread or your machine can’t handle it, use a heavy duty thread like upholstery thread. I used “washed play sand” from Lowes/Home Depot. One bag of that will provide more than enough sand to complete two of these sandbags.
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Padded Range Bag

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It isn’t a camera bag but it is padded. Since it was the first bag I’d ever made, I used another bag as a model (mainly for dimensions) to help me learn. It took a while to make as there was much trial and error but I’m really happy with how it turned out.
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DIY Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Speed Ring

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I have a 53″ Rotalux that I use for my main light but I wanted another softbox (with grid) to use for rim lighting or when I don’t need something so large. As seen in my other blog posts, I have a 2×3 Amvona softbox, which has already been through two iterations (Mod1, Mod2) so why not go for one more. The third time’s the charm!
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Design-Your-Own Custom Camera & Photography Gear Bags!

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As a photographer, I know all about the endless quest to find that perfect camera/accessory bag. Well what if you didn’t have to search for it and could have it made? I haven’t seen any places offer this so I might try to fill that niche, as I already have the tools and materials to do so.
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How to store & organize Strobist gels for Speedlites

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Gels are thin translucent sheets of “plastic” used to alter the color of lights and strobes. They can be used for interesting effects like adding a colored background to a portrait, or to “correct” the lighting when multiple kinds of lights are used. For example, fluorescent lights, incandescent lights and speedlites all operate at different color temperatures. If you make a picture that includes all three, you could get an ugly mix of color-casts on the subject. For example, if you’re making a portrait in an office with lots of fluorescent lighting (and aren’t overpowering the ambient completely), you should add a “plus green” gel to your strobe so that it matches the color of the ambient fluorescent lighting. They also make gels that go around fluorescent tubes (“minus green”) but it’s much easier to just gel your flash.
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DIY tilt-shift/Lensbaby lens with autofocus confirmation

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Tilt-shift lenses have a few specialized uses. For example, they can alter the plane of focus by “tilting.” This can be used to create a sharp focus along something that is not perpendicular to the film/sensor, or to create an interesting depth of field that can’t be achieved with a normal lens. Depending on the subject, this crazy DOF can make a life-size scene appear to be a miniature–pretty cool! The other function of a tilt-shift lens is, you guessed it, “shifting.” This is most commonly used in architectural photography to prevent converging-lines distortion. For a more thorough read on tilt-shift photography, visit the Wiki on it. Read on to see how to make your own.
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DIY Speedlite Beauty Dish

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I recently upgraded to Elinchrom strobes but speedlights will always have their place. This post is long overdue as I built this beauty dish over a year ago… In an effort to make my speedlites as versatile as possible, I thought a beauty dish would be a nice addition to my collection of light modifiers. The hardest part of this project was finding a suitable bowl for the dish. I found an 18″ wooden bowl at a Ross/TJ Max-type store. I would’ve preferred something a little larger but it was all I could find. It performs better than I expected. If you want something a little larger, halfway through the project I found one: a 30 qt. stainless steel mixing bowl, which can be had for about $20 online.

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Facebook page is up

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For all you facebookers out there, I started a Jan Christian Photography page. Now you can actually see some of my photos since I haven’t created the gallery here yet. Feel free to “Like” it or comment :)

Jan Christian Photography

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