Reflector v Flash, Oct 2018 Adobe Updates, Shooting Basketball

In Master Photography Roundtable by Jeff Harmon1 Comment

Reflector or flash to fill in shadows on an outdoor portrait shoot? What’s new with Adobe Lightroom Classic CC 8.0 and Adobe Photoshop CC 20?  What are the basic tips for photographing indoor basketball?

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Is it better to use reflector fill or flash?

We had a great question come up in the Master Photography Facebook group that I wanted to start with today, trying to balance out the technical discussion we will have about the Adobe updates.

Michael Cotton: “For on location outdoor senior or general portrait sessions do you prefer a reflector for fill light on the subject or an off camera softbox with a flash and why? Thanks and love the podcast.”

Nick, you are known as Lord Page for your landscape photography, but you have also done a whole lot of portrait photography in your time.  While I have an opinion here for sure, I want to give you a chance to answer Michael’s question first.

Nick: Reflectors can be nice in low light situations, but when reflecting bright light sources, they have some pretty big drawbacks.  Squinting client… tough to get the angle just right sometimes. For most situations I much prefer flash, but reflectors are nice when all your trying to do is get a little light in the eyes.

Jeff:  I remember very well going through the various stages of photography.  At first I was saying to potential clients that I am a natural light photographer and justifying to them and myself that it made me more agile.  I didn’t have to worry about all of this lighting gear and we could really emphasize getting good poses, good composition, good smiles, etc.  The results were pretty good, I learned how to utilize the natural light really well and created good portraits that clients were very happy with, but I really knew it could be better with more fill light.

So I graduated to using a reflector because flash was scary and reflectors were dirt cheap.  So I was still a natural light guy but now I was blinding my clients as we were shooting portraits.  Not a good thing when the models are putting the hard up in front of their face to shield their eyes from that massive amount of light.

I finally took the plunge and set out into flash photography and just like you hear from pretty well any good portrait photography, I am a full convert to flash for good portraits – no matter the shooting environment indoors our outdoors.

More control over the lighting and doesn’t make the models for the portrait feel like they have to cover their eyes because there is this very bright thing in the way.  Harder to make sure the reflector is properly reflecting the light.  Harder to have a helper work with you on holding the reflector just right as the sun moves.  Much less creative control over where you pose your model because you have to make sure you can get good reflection of the sunlight on them.

Bottom line is flash is a better way to add light to your outdoor portraits.  Check out the doodad of the week below for inexpensive but very adequate (it is what I am using today) flash equipment and get going on it!

What’s New in October 2018 Adobe Lightroom Updates?

As we record here in mid-October 2018 Adobe has just released Lightroom Classic CC 8.0, Lightroom CC Windows (2.0.1), Mac (2.0) and iOS & Android (4.0), and Photoshop CC 20.

I want to walk through the new Lightroom features first, but before we do I want to add my standard disclaimer here that if you rely upon this software to run your business I highly recommend that you do NOT install these updates for at least two weeks after their release.  Same goes for the macOS Mojave and Windows 10 1803 release.

I watch the Adobe forums really closely after releases like this to see what kind of problems are being reported.  Sometimes things go just fine. Sometimes there are a large number of people who have significant problems that really kills their productivity for days to weeks.  If you rely upon this for your business and can’t afford any bumps then just hold off until I give you the all clear.

In fact, I am working on a page over at that will give you the current status of updates and if it is safe or not.  So look out for that soon.

OK, so Nick let me run down the laundry list of new features Adobe has put into Lightroom Classic and discuss them.

Not a Major Update

The first thing to mention is that even though they went from version 7.5 that was released in August 2018 to 8.0 in October 2018, this is like a 7.6 release and you shouldn’t get all that excited because they went to 8.0.  Those numbers are really more for support purposes, who knows why they decided to skip to 8, but they release functionality as soon as they think it is ready these days. Exactly how subscription models are supposed to work.

Can Easily Rollback

A very good thing about this update is that the format of the catalog didn’t change from 7.5.  So that does make it less of a problem if you do run into an issue with 8.0 because you can just install 7.5 again and be right back to where you were.

Supported Operating Systems

macOS Mojave is now officially supported.  Support for macOS El Capitan and Windows 8.1 has been dropped.  You may be able to run Lightroom Class CC 8.0 on those operating systems but if you have any trouble Adobe won’t be supporting you.

Improved Canon Tethering

If you have done much of any tethering in Lightroom you know that it has been pretty spotty.  Really slow, disconnected frequently. They have improved it for Canon cameras in this release and are working on improving tethering with Nikon.  You can now choose to have the photos saved to both the computer and the camera as well.

Depth Range Mask

iPhones with dual cameras (7+, 8+, 10 and above) photos taken in the HEIC format have depth data in them and now you can make adjustments of those photos using that data.

Single-Step HDR/Pano Merge

Until now if you did a bracketed panorama you had to merge them in two steps.  Do the exposure blending for the HDR first and then merge to panorama or vice versa.  Now you can do it in a single step.

My good friend, Greg Benz, has tested this out pretty well already and he says that the new single-step process is saving him a huge amount of time, he is really happy with the results.

Nick: Love this new feature.  My favorite out of this release.  I was surprised that Adobe did such a good job with it.  I am used to releases being kind of half-baked and an initial release of a feature to have drawbacks or be close to what I needed but not quite hit the mark.  This one nailed it.  This is the kind of value we expect to get out of a subscription for software.

New Process Version 5

Raw processing has been updated to improve image quality in high ISO files – specifically better colors.  Also less noise when you do negative dehaze where in some extreme cases where photos looked very yellow.

Bug Fixes, Support For New Cameras and Lenses

There are a few bug fixes in the release, nothing really worth mentioning here but you can find a link to a list of them in the show notes.  Support for new cameras and lenses are usually not worth mentioning much either, but it might be worth saying that Nikon Z, Canon R, and Fuji XT-3 are all supported in this update, which seems quite a bit faster to support those new bodies than in the recent past.

October 2018 Adobe Photoshop CC 20 Updates

Adobe also updated Photoshop in October 2018 to version 20.  Too many to go through here, so here are those I think are most interesting.

Content-Aware Workspace

Choose which pixels to use in your fills using a new, dedicated workspace, and rotate, scale, and mirror your source pixels thanks to Adobe Sensei technology. You can even create fills on separate layers to preserve your original images.

Nick: Love this new update to Photoshop too.  Again, Adobe really just kind of nailed it here.  Takes some getting used to, always will when Adobe makes a big change to a new workspace, but totally worth it.  Not a thing where you do content-aware fill and then pray that Photoshop pulls pixels from the right spot to make things look like they were never there.  Now you can help Photoshop understand what it is you are looking for as it does content-aware fill and it is really good.

Multiple Undo

Use CMD-Z (Cntl-Z on Windows) to undo multiple steps, just like in other Creative Cloud apps.

Live Blend Modes

No more guessing which blend mode to use. Just scroll over the different options to see how they look on your image.

Jeff: I use this feature a ton.  I do Game Day photos and I use layer blend modes in Photoshop extensively for this.  There are a lot of blend modes available and I only do these a couple months out of the year so I can’t always remember which one I want for the thing I am doing.  This is was harder to use on Mac than on Windows before this update because you had to change the layer blend mode in a drop down, have Ps render it (which is fast but a step), and then hit the drop down again to change the blend mode again.  Really excited about this feature to preview the blend mode just by floating over it.

Tips for Shooting Basketball

Now that we have gone through some technical things, let’s talk a little about shooting here.  With basketball season starting up I wanted to offer some tips on how to shoot a basketball game.  So let me ask you a few questions to get your experience Nick and I’ll add what I have learned.

Position on the Court

Where do you stand?  When do you change positions?  Do you sit or stand?

Nick: Get close to the action, my biggest critique of most sports photos is that people dont shoot tight enough.  I like to be under the hoop off to one side or the other, and shooting from a sitting position. Ceilings make better backgrounds than fans typically, and it makes the players look taller.  

Jeff: I stand between the key and out of bounds on the baseline.  Usually on the right side of the basket if you are looking at the back of the basket your team is playing offense on.  Let’s me get their faces when they are on offense and when they are on defense.  Getting down low has been hard for me.  I usually need to move around a little to not get in the way of the refs and to try and get the right angle for shots and getting down low makes me less mobile.  I need to make a better effort to do that.

Focal Length

What focal length lens do you recommend?

Nick: One of the only sports I like to shoot with a prime lens.  Typically a 50mm or an 85mm. Gyms are dim, and a prime gives you extra light, and extra separation from the background.

Jeff: I shoot with the best quality lens I have in the right focal length, so that is my Tamron 24-70 G2.  On my crop sensor that is more like 40-100mm which allows me to get the action on the offense and on the defense from the same spot.  Parents love it that I can get some pretty good shots of their kids playing defense because most photographers hyper focus on shooting the offense only.  I have sold a lot of photos because I was the only one to capture their child doing the thing they were most valued for on the team as a defender.

Starting Point Settings

What settings do you recommend you start with for aperture, shutter, and ISO?  How do you recommend you adjust them? How do you find white balance?

Jeff: I use a crop sensor so I really do hit up against the limits of my gear shooting basketball.  Really anyone will though.  The gyms are deceptively dark, something most people don’t understand and it really makes them wonder why their smartphone can’t capture the action well.  I want a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion, but I also know that with my Canon 7DM2 I can’t go any higher than ISO 2,500 in order to have sufficient dynamic range to have the edges in the image be reasonably sharp.  So I shoot at 1/500 of a second, aperture f/2.8 (fastest the lens will go), and ISO 2,500.

I would love to go faster on the shutter, but I just can’t raise the ISO any higher so that has produced the best results for my gear, which I am very pleased with.  It does mean most of my shots are nearly full two stops under exposed in most cases, so I have to raise the exposure in Lightroom, but the image quality for my camera is better that way than if I were to crank up the ISO higher and increase the shutter speed.

Nick: This is the advantage of full frame where ISO 5,000 is roughly equivalent to ISO 2,500.  So I shoot 1/1000 of a second, f/1.4 with the fast prime, and ISO 5,000.


Jeff: Yongnuo YN-560IV ($70) and YN560-TX II ($37) controller.  Long been a favorite thing recommended on the podcast, this is a great way to get into flash photography.  Inexpensive but super functional. They don’t have every feature and you may outgrow them for something like the Godox AD200, but there is no excuse not to add flash to your portraits with how inexpensive these are.  I have just recently been able to make them so embedded in my own portrait work that it is saving me a ton of time.

Nick: Dry guy boot dryer. ($43) Best investment ever for a landscape photographer



  1. Would you guy please review Photo Director by Cyberlink? I saw it on DP Review and gave it a try. I will still use Lightroom for events. However, this is nice software. It runs faster than On1 Photo Raw, has better raw format updates compared to Aftershop Pro, and is not as expensive as Capture One. The noise reduction needs to be refined more; however, for the hobbyist it would be good.

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