Tag: tips

Common Cat Photography Mistakes To Avoid Today

Cats are adorable, have all kinds of personalities, and are always picture perfect. It’s not surprising that cat photography is so popular!

If you want to get better at photographing cats, there are two things you must be aware of: what to do and what to avoid. In this article, I’ll focus on the latter. Knowing common mistakes will save you a lot of time and help you quickly find your creative strengths.

Always Taking Photos from One Perspective

cat photography

While taking photos from above can result in beautiful pictures, it shouldn’t be the only perspective you use. For example, instead of taking photos from above, get down on your cat’s level to focus on its eyes, expressions, and other details. These are things you would miss if you were simply taking photos while standing above your cat.

In addition to playing with different angles, shoot through objects. If your cat is standing behind a stool, cover part of your lens with the stool and shoot through the gaps. This will create an interesting foreground, frame your picture, and emphasise your cat’s features.

Avoiding Nighttime Photography

cat photography

Nighttime or indoor photography can seem like an intimidating genre because of camera noise and the lack of natural light. Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about these things too much – your camera probably has enough tools to help you take beautiful nighttime portraits of your cat. Manual focus, ISO, and colour temperature will all help you take amazing nighttime photos.

When working in a space with a limited amount of light, use manual focus to avoid focusing on the wrong objects. Don’t be afraid of increasing your ISO number, as it will help you take sharper photos. If the lights in your location are too warm or cold, manually change your camera’s colour temperature.

Not Taking Photos of Details

cat photography

Cat photography isn’t just about classic cat portraits. Observe your cat and focus on tiny details and quirks that make it special.

Experiment with different photography techniques as you do this. Try freelensing, panning, and zooming in.

Always Using Autofocus or Manual Focus

cat photography

Some photographers avoid auto focus because it feels “lazy,” while others avoid manual focus because it doesn’t give them sharp results. Both of these standpoints are understandable, but they can really limit you on a creative level.

If you use auto focus all the time, you won’t have full creative control over your images. You might find it hard to focus on a specific detail, especially if your composition has a lot of distracting elements. If you use manual focus all the time, you might miss out on special moments. You also won’t be able to efficiently sharpen your candid photography skills.

When it comes to cats, using both focusing techniques is important. When your cat is running around, you can use auto focus to quickly capture unexpected poses and expressions. When your cat is calmly resting, you can use manual focus to capture details that appeal to you.

Not Including Other Elements or Genres in Your Pictures

cat photography

If you consider yourself a creative photographer who enjoys experimenting with unusual ideas, you can freely express yourself through cat photography. You don’t have to limit yourself by strictly taking photos of your cat and not including anything else in your compositions.

If you like taking portraits, take photos of yourself holding your cat. If you want to get better at conceptual photography, make your cat portraits surreal by editing them in Photoshop. Feel free to combine as many photography genres as you want.

cat photography

Cats are incredible little models that deserve to be photographed in all kinds of ways.

Now that you’re aware of the most common cat photography mistakes, you can take your cat snapshots to the next level. Even if you’re not going to show off your work on Instagram, you’ll have enough skills to take amazing photos of cats anywhere and at any time.

Candid Photography: Tips for Making Clients Feel Less Awkward

Though posing is great, it’s not as heartwarming as a photo of best friends having an unexpected laughing session.

A lot of families, couples, and friends want to be photographed in the most genuine way possible. To really capture the beauty of candid photography, you have to make yourself invisible and be quick on your feet. Most importantly, you have to make your subjects feel comfortable enough to be themselves in front of your camera.

Here are ways you can make the most of your candid photography photoshoot without making anyone (including yourself) feel out of place.

family candid shots

First, Talk to Your Clients

Whether you’re going to photograph a child, a couple, or a professional model, always prioritize communication. Without it, your clients will feel like strangers and your photos will look stiff.

These simple but effective approaches will create mutual trust and understanding:

  • Explain why you love your work – truly passionate people give out an air of confidence. Be open about your intentions; your clients will feel much more comfortable around you when they’re aware of your creative goals.
  • Get to know your client’s story – when people open up, they feel like close friends. You can get to this stage by asking your client about their interests, biggest passions, and ambitions. If you show them that you care, they’ll relax in your presence.
  • Ask for their honest feedback – it’s likely that your clients know very little about photography themselves, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking them for constructive criticism and ideas. If you give them a chance to control your photo shoot even a little, they’ll feel heard and appreciated.

mother daughter candid

Don’t Get Too Close to Them

If you want to take truly candid photos, you should be invisible to your subjects. This means keeping a distance and letting them freely interact with one another. Getting too close to them might make them feel awkward, so try to avoid that unless they specifically ask for spontaneous closeups.

Zoom lenses are ideal for photographers who want to give their clients space without compromising their own creativity. Your subjects won’t be aware of how close your lens really is, and you won’t feel like you’re interrupting special moments.

child candid

Make Sure They Know What You’re Shooting

Before your photo shoot, let your clients know that the first few photos won’t look that great. Let them know that it’s okay to feel awkward and self-conscious at first. This information might give many of your clients the confidence to be themselves during your session.

Once the awkward stage passes, show your clients your results. Candid photography isn’t about posing, so make sure you don’t throw too many compliments around as you shoot. However, make it clear that you’re okay with showing them your photos once in a while. This will give them a better idea of your style and give them a chance to provide you with helpful feedback.

mother child candid

Let Your Confidence Shine

Confidence is contagious. When you talk to your clients, don’t be afraid of sharing your passion with them. Let them know how excited you are about your photo shoot. This might seem like a silly thing to do, but it will make them feel more relaxed. Passionate photographers have an unbeatable energy that attracts all kinds of people. The more you value your skills, the more noticeable they’ll be to others, and the more comfortable they’ll feel around you.

father daughter candid

Everyone is different. It’s not possible to get along with every single individual out there. However, in the world of photography, it’s possible to provide every client with the most beautiful photos they could ask for. You don’t need to have a specific type of personality to achieve this. All you have to do is wisely use your social skills, make your clients feel at home, and take photos that they’ll cherish forever.

5 Reasons Self-Love Will Make You a Better Photographer

What is self-love? The general definition is a regard for one’s health and happiness.

As photographers, we often beat ourselves up for not being creative, productive, or successful enough. This makes us insecure, resentful, and uninspired.

This can stop right now. Self-love means taking care of yourself, especially when you’re tired. It means being honest, open, and loving.

Respecting yourself will have a significant impact on your work. These five reasons will show you just how important it is to be kind to yourself and why your photographs will be affected because of it.

productive

#1. Proper Rest Will Lead to Productivity

Whether you take photos every day or work in an office, endless job tasks will tire you out. You won’t have time to focus on your other interests, sleep well, or spend time with your loved ones. This, in turn, will lead to an unproductive mindset. It’s a vicious cycle you don’t deserve to be in.

On the other hand, regular breaks and proper sleep will rejuvenate you, which will lead to productivity. Instead of dreading your obligations, you’ll embrace them.

Learn to be aware of what you need, be it a delicious snack or an extra hour of sleep. Here are a few simple yet impactful self-care routines that will make you feel better:

  • Reread your favorite book
  • Go on a date with your friends
  • Go for a peaceful walk in your local park
  • Listen to music without any distractions
  • Look through your favorite photographers’ work

learning new things

#2. You Won’t Have to Force Yourself to Learn New Things

Learning isn’t about forcing yourself to go to school, wasting hours of your time, or relentlessly working on pages of homework. Learning means being truly passionate about a subject and doing your best to master it.

When you respect your skills, you’ll want to work on them. This will make you naturally curious about a variety of topics, many of which will benefit you in the long run. The more you learn about photography, the more skilled you’ll become.

client relationship

#3. Your Relationship with Your Clients Will Improve

An important aspect of self-love is honesty. This means being honest about your feelings, intentions, and goals.

When you know what you want, you’ll be able to clearly translate your needs to everyone around you. This will make your photoshoots easier because it will prevent a lot of unnecessary miscommunication. It will also help you give the right directions, successfully fulfill your clients’ needs, and be open to admitting mistakes.

self-worth

#4. Negativity Won’t Shatter Your Self-Worth

Bring your own #1 fan is an incredible way to block out hate. Social media is filled with direct and indirect negativity without which life would be significantly easier. Self-love will encourage you to spend less time on social media, focus on your own interests, and not shatter when someone says something unpleasant to you.

support

#5. And You’ll Willingly Ask for Help When You Need It

Sometimes, we need support from fellow photographers. Self-love will compel you to humbly reach out to others and ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your feelings, being open about a struggle, or asking for constructive criticism.

When you receive support, you’ll feel heard, appreciated, and understood. This will encourage you to reach new heights and be a helper yourself.

self-love

If you continually beat yourself up, you won’t be as productive, kind, and inspired as you deserve to be. Self-love will improve your life and make you a better photographer.

Learn what works best for you and embrace it. Remember that not every self-care method will appeal to you. Experiment, treat yourself to a variety of goodies and be open to happiness.

Now go do something nice for yourself and tell us about it in the comments!

5 Tips for Taking Spectacular Candid Photos: Beginners’ Edition

Candid photography is a genre that revolves around spontaneity. It’s often associated with the family photographer because of its ability to capture real moment and expressions.

The main difference between candid and portrait photography is posing. While portrait photography usually requires a strong knowledge of flattering angles, poses, etc., candid photography relies on pure presence. Only by being in the moment will you be able to get the perfect candid shot.

Being a skilled candid photographer will give you access to loyal clients, provide you with photos that will make your portfolio look amazing, and strengthen your creativity skills. Even if it doesn’t become your main passion in life, it will leave you feeling refreshed.

Here are 5 ways you can embrace this gratifying genre and become a better candid photographer.

family photos

Take Photos Consciously

Candid photography is all about unpredictable moments. This means you can’t put your camera down unless you want to miss a great opportunity. However, make sure you don’t shoot mindlessly. Take as many photos as you can, but do it consciously. Be aware of what your clients are doing. Read their emotions. This will help you take meaningful photos.

One of the most effective ways to read someone’s emotions is to get to know them first. Before you photograph your clients, befriend them. Observe their mannerisms and listen to their stories. Though you won’t be able to read their faces perfectly, you’ll get a better idea of who they are as individuals. That’s significantly better than photographing strangers.

family photos children

Shoot in Burst Mode

Most modern DSLRs have Burst mode, a feature that quickly takes lots of photos within a few seconds. This is ideal for moments when a lot is happening at once. Use burst mode to photograph your subjects when they’re laughing, playing, and moving around quickly.

family portrait candid

Autofocus or Manual?

Manual focus is precise and requires a lot of patience. Autofocus, on the other hand, is very quick but may not give you the most precise results.

If you’re photographing a moving subject, you might focus on the wrong spot either way. It all depends on the situation and what you’re comfortable with. In my opinion, both autofocus and manual focus are great for candid photography, so experiment with both until you find a method that appeals to you.

candid animal photo

Practice by Photographing Animals

Animals

are fantastic subjects for candid photography enthusiasts. If you have a pet, take photos of it while it plays and interacts with other animals. This will allow you to improve your skills without feeling awkward, wasting time, or making your subjects feel self-conscious. Most importantly, it will help you make mistakes without discouraging your clients.

If you don’t have access to animals, take photos of friends or family member when they’re busy talking to one another. In their presence, you won’t have to worry about awkwardness or mistakes.

low light candid portrait

Use High ISO Numbers in Low Light

If you’re going to take photos in relatively low lit areas, you’ll want to increase your camera’s ISO number. A high ISO number will capture more light, which will help you take sharper portraits. Experiment with different numbers until you find one that has the perfect amount of grain. My favorite range is ISO 400 – ISO 1600 (I use a Canon 5D mark ii.)

Don’t let grainy photos intimidate you. Most modern editing programs, including Photoshop and Lightroom, have brilliant noise-reducing features.

family candid

Candid photography is a genre that will fulfill you in many ways. It will improve your photography skills, strengthen your imagination, and give your clients unforgettable memories. Practice, experiment, and go make someone’s day using your unique point of view.

August Essentials You Must Have in Your Camera Bag

In many parts of the world, it’s currently so hot that people’s cameras are threatening to melt under the scorching sun. During times like these, it’s important to protect yourself from heat, insects, and other inconveniences that naturally emerge during the summer months.

This doesn’t mean you have to invest in expensive protection gear (though that, too, would be handy). You can, however, invest in small but practical items that will make this month easier to handle. By keeping yourself and your equipment cool and protected, you’ll have more energy to take photos and less reasons to worry about discomfort.

Below, you’ll find seven handy items that you can easily carry in your backpack or camera bag.

sunscreen

Sunscreen

This one might seem obvious, but it’s one we tend to forget or ignore most of the time. (I’m guilty of this!) Fortunately, today’s sunscreens aren’t chunky or disgusting. Most of them smell wonderful, are easy to apply, and won’t make you feel like a sticky little frog. Carrying a small one in your bag will save you from a lot of painful sunburns!

An Extra T-Shirt

There’s nothing quite as uncomfortable as having to walk around in a sweaty t-shirt, especially if you’re planning to take photos of yourself or photograph other people. The best solution to this problem is to carry a light item of clothing in your bag.

summer snack

A Snack That Won’t Spoil

Chances are that walking and photographing will make you hungry. If you have nothing delicious to eat during your shoot, you’ll feel extra tired and grumpy. Grab a few snacks that are healthy, filling, and yummy. My personal favourites are small fitness bars filled with nuts, chocolate pieces, and cereal.

Travel Size Anti-Bug Spray

While some insects are simply bothersome, others are dangerous. Don’t enter a forest without applying bug repellent on your skin. This will protect you from ticks, ants, mosquitoes, and other creepy crawlies that could make your outdoor trip an inconvenience.

summer hat

A Cap or Hat

Whatever you do, make sure your head is covered when you go out. A cap will provide you with shade when you look through your photos, while a hat will make you look very fashionable. I often used summer hats to cast beautiful little shadows on my face for my self-portraits.

A Lens Cleaner

Summer means beaches, water, or even deserts, which also means that your lens will be covered in tiny particles. These particles will stand out in your photos, especially when sunlight hits them. Not pretty.

If you clean your lens with your finger or a random cloth, you might accidentally scratch it. The best tool you can use is a professional lens cleaner, which exists in the form of a cloth or pen. Both cost less than $10 on Amazon and will take up very little space in your bag.

neutral density filter

Lens Filters

It’s difficult to take appealing photos on bright days without the help of filters. With a lens filter, you’ll be able to block out unnecessary sunlight, create vibrant atmospheres, or simply keep your lens safe. Here are a few popular ones that might make your shooting experience more interesting:

  • Clear filters are very cheap and will simply add a layer of protection to your lens.
  • Circular polarizers will deepen the colours in your photographs and create more contrast.
  • Neutral density filters will perfectly expose your images (i.e. darken them).
  • Bokeh filters will change the shape of your bokeh and just give you an opportunity to have fun!

summer camera bag

The items above won’t take up much space in your bag, will keep you cool and safe, and will provide you with the best shooting experience possible. Remember to keep your skin protected, your head covered, and your lens clean.

Now go out and enjoy August!

Photo Ideas for Field or Camping Trips for Artists on the Go

We still have over a month of summer left, which means there’s still time to go on exciting adventures, soak up the summer sun with your friends, and make the most of your free time. One of the best summer activities is going on a camping trip with your loved ones. This opportunity is ideal for bonding, spending quality time away from technology, and improving your photography skills.

Camping trips offer breathtaking surroundings and photogenic subjects. They’re great for photographers who want to experiment with a lot of different genres without worrying about the results. However, due to the sheer amount of things you can photograph, these trips can be a little overwhelming.

To save you from unnecessary stress, here is a list of photo ideas that will help you make the most of your travels.

camping trip wide shot

camping trip wide shot II

Wide Shots Featuring Your Surroundings – Landscape Photography

Give your future self a clear idea of where you were during your trip. Photograph your surroundings using a wide-angle lens. If you don’t have one, take several photos of one location and stitch them in an editing program; this will create a very eye-catching panorama.

Wide shots are perfect for capturing the general atmosphere of a location. They also look good in portfolios, on social media, and in art galleries. You might even end up selling your landscape photos to some very eager art appreciators. 🙂

camping trip details

Details – Macro Photography/Diptychs

As appealing as details are, they’re easy to forget. This is why it’s very important that you photograph as many of them as you can. During your trip, this can be the mug you’re using, the food you’re eating, or the leaves on the tree that’s right above your sleeping bag. Every moment counts.

You might not use detailed snapshots in your portfolio, but you’ll definitely use them to go back in time to a very refreshing and fulfilling adventure. If you want to be extra creative, use these details to create two-photo collages called diptychs (pictured above).

camping trip candid portrait

camping trip campfire friends

Posed and Candid Photos – Portrait Photography

A camping trip is nothing without friends, so make sure you include them in your best shots! Make sure you take a combination of posed and candid portraits. Posed photos are great for social media and even your own portfolio. Candid photos, on the other hand, can be proudly added to family albums and cherished for years to come.

camping trip drone photography

camping trip drone photography II

Bird’s Eye View – Drone Photography

Even though drone photos are very, very popular, don’t let that stop you from appreciating your own surroundings from above. By photographing your experience from a unique angle, you’ll add to your rich collection of landscapes, details, and portraits. These visual memories are bound to make your trip unforgettable. (And if you really want to take it to the next level, film your journey!)

camping trip

camping trip

Different Times of Day

To really improve your photography skills, make sure you take photos at different times of the day. Daylight will help you take bright photos of your friends and surroundings; the golden hour will provide you with the perfect light for all kinds of photos, and the evening will give you the chance to sharpen your nighttime photography skills.

camping trip

I hope the ideas above help you make the most of your photography skills and your camping trip. I’m certain that by the time it’s over, you’ll be significantly more experienced as an artist.

Regardless of how much you love the world of photography, though, make sure you live in the moment, too. Trips are meant to be relaxing, fun, and eye-opening. As soon as you start to feel stressed, put everything down and just be there for yourself and your friends.

Now let’s go out and make some amazing memories. 🙂

Top Shooting Techniques and Methodology in ICM Photography

Are you currently finding yourself staring at your image portfolio and feeling underwhelmed or lacking creativity? Truth is that it can happen to the best of us. Why not tap Into ICM To broaden your creativity and get your creative juices flowing.

What is ICM?

ICM or “Intentional Camera Movement” is an image making technique whereby one intentionally moves their camera during exposure. Movement is recorded while the shutter is open and can produce some very interesting and abstract results.

The ICM technique is a great way to force yourself outside of the normal and conventional Landscape Photography restraints. Obeying the Rule of Thirds and other composition aides will help you to produce greater images. However, sometimes you just need to break outside of the box and step outside of your comfort zone.

Adding the Intentional Camera Movement technique to your photographic toolkit, will definitely get those creative juices flowing. After some experimentation and refinement of your ICM technique, your portfolio will also be refreshed with some new and exciting images.

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

What gear do I need for ICM?

Unlike most photography genres, this technique requires nothing outside of a camera and a lens. A tripod can certainly be useful for certain images but it is not essential. In fact, a lot of the time you will probably leave the tripod in the car or at home.

Apart from a camera and a single lens, all you really need is some decent light and interesting subject. One important thing to note though is that best results will be achieved when using a camera with manual controls. A manual camera will allow you to change the aperture, shutter speed and ISO, which will help to create different types of ICM images.

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

What type of lens you use does not really matter. It can be an old manual lens or the latest and greatest autofocus lens. The lens can be a prime lens or a zoom lens. Zoom lenses with varying focal length range can be useful. The tried and trusted 24-70 zoom lenses can be a great lens to have in the bag for ICM. The flexibility to switch between 24mm, 50mm, or 70mm can be liberating. Zoom lenses also provide the ability to interesting ICM images by zooming or “rolling” the lens during the exposure.

Outside of the gear, all you need is a willingness to head out with the camera and put the technique into practice.

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

How can I tell if my ICM image making efforts have been successful?

A lot of photography is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say. ICM images are probably the most subjective. Some viewers might love it and some might hate it. For me, the most important thing is whether the image satisfies me or not. I consider it a success if the image evokes some thoughts or moods within me.

Certain aspects play a stronger part in how our brain interprets and appreciates what it is seeing. For example, when color is absent from an image our brains look for strong structures and shapes instead. Which is why strong composition is so important for black and white photography. I think the opposite is true for Intentional Camera Movement images. The absent of strong structures places a stronger emphasis on color within the image. Of course, you can produce monochromatic ICM images and they might work. But in my experience, ICM images with strong color tones are more interesting than those without. But again, remember that beauty is the eye of the beholder. If you like monochromatic ICM images, then who am I to argue against it.

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

ICM Image by Graham Daly Photography

Top tips for ICM

Below are some of my top tips for producing interesting ICM images. This list is neither exhaustive nor exclusive. These are just the aspects that I have adopted into my ICM shooting technique and methodology. There are other photographers all over the planet who can add more to this list. Each will have their own routine, their own style and will have their own desired ICM results.  But this list is what works for me.

  • Try different focal lengths
  • Look for interesting color tones
  • Play around with different shutter speeds – start with 1 second and then increase from there and measure the results
  • Experiment by changing the focal length on your zoom lens during the exposure (a.k.a zooming/barrel rolling)
  • Try twisting the camera around in a circular motion during the exposure
  • Head into the woodlands – some great ICM potential all around the woods
  • Use a tripod at the coast if you want to keep the horizon level during your ICM images
  • Look for interesting shapes and patterns within the scene
  • Try panning left to right or right to left during the exposure
  • Tilt the camera up or down while the shutter is open
  • Carry larger capacity memory cards as you will end up clicking the shutter a lot in order to capture that one interesting result!

How to Take Self-Portraits That Look Spontaneous

Spontaneous portraits effortlessly capture raw human emotions. Because of this, it’s difficult to associate them with self-portraiture.

As a self-portrait photographer, you’re usually aware of the camera. As both the photographer and model, you have an idea of the emotions you want to document and the way you want to look. This awareness is the complete opposite of spontaneity. Or is it?

Spontaneous self-portraits are a genre of their own. It’s possible to take photos of yourself in which you’re genuinely unaware of the camera. It’s also possible to express yourself so naturally, that viewers won’t believe you took a photo of yourself.

With the help of music, new locations, films, and hobbies, you’ll be able to take photos that look both spontaneous and genuine. Here are tips on how you can achieve this.

outdoor self-portrait

Listen to Your Favourite Songs

We all love music. It lifts our spirits, comforts us on bad days, and gives us creative ideas. Why not let it help you during a photo shoot, too?

Create a playlist that makes you feel empowered, happy, dreamy, excited or anything else you can imagine. Your favorite songs will make your photoshoots more fun, give you more confidence, or even inspire you to dance! Make the most of this energy as you take photographs. Move, laugh, sing, and just be yourself.

Music will also give you room to experiment. You might get so carried away that you’ll forget the camera’s presence! This will result in beautiful and spontaneous self-portraits.

spontaneous self-portrait sample

Take Photos in a New Place

New surroundings can refresh your creativity and distract you from any modeling tension you might have. The more places you explore, the easier it will be to look natural in your photographs.

To take spontaneous outdoor portraits, take the time to admire your surroundings. Look at things you like while pressing the shutter. This will create the illusion of spontaneity. It will also take your mind off poses, expressions, and angles.

movie still self-portrait

Create a Collection of Movie Stills

Actors are experts at looking natural in front of a camera, so take the time to observe them. Instead of simply watching films, take screenshots every time you come across a beautiful scene. Alternatively, you can simply research movie stills and select your favorite ones. Either way, you’ll have access to millions of helpful visual references that will teach you the art of spontaneity.

self-portrait avoid eye contact

Avoid Eye Contact

Spontaneity implies an unawareness of the camera, so don’t look into your lens all the time.

Use your visual references to get new posing ideas. Experiment with different angles, expressions, and perspectives. Look into the distance, close your eyes, talk to someone, etc. This will give you lots of room to look as genuine as possible.

self-portrait look at a distance

Do Something You Love

If you can’t fake spontaneity, then embrace it by distracting yourself.

One of the easiest ways to get lost in your own world is to work on something you love. If you enjoy drawing, take photos of yourself working on a new sketch. If you enjoy spending time with your loved ones, photograph yourselves playing a game. Even though you’ll be in charge of taking the photos, you’ll enjoy yourself so much that posing won’t matter at all.

spontaneous self portrait

Once you get the hang of these techniques (and trust me, you’ll master them quickly), you’ll become an expert at taking spontaneous self-portraits. You’ll also get better at feeling comfortable in your own skin, enjoying your photoshoots, and finding inspiration in the most unusual places.

Start now. Play your favorite songs, go for a walk, and watch a great film. There’s no limit to what you can do when it comes to self-portraiture, so be as fearless as you want. Before you know it, you’ll be thriving in your unique world of creativity.

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How to Take Cool Photos of Motorbikes

I love my work, I love to take photos of many things, portraits, nature, kids, events… but my favorite objects have wheels, two of them.

You can shoot bikes in more than one way. They can be moving objects riding or racing, or they can be models in the studio, on a stand on a show, or even outdoors in front of an interesting background, or even in nature.  My photos of bikes are published on my website, and they are clean without of a lot of disturbing details.

So, we gonna go thru the process of getting quality photos of bikes without fancy equipment or use of a studio.

Ducati motorbike

The camera, whatever is a cheap, used or old DSLR, or even the most expensive one on the market it’s all in the setting, and in the angle.  Any 50 mm. or above will do the job. Just avoid shooting at a focal length of less than 50 mm. unless you want to achieve the wide angle effect.

There is more than one reason to shoot with lenses that are going above 50 mm. The longer focal length would mean the easier isolation of the bike from the background. Also, less focal length will make a nasty distortion on the proportions on the bike.

My usual setting is F4, this is fair enough for the image not to lose the details.

Also, you should mind the time of the day of your photo session. Midday is a very very bad timing because the sun is very harsh. If you don’t have other option than find a good shade. The best time is early in the morning or in the afternoon. At this time of the day, the sun is more even, and the light is smoother. Also, all of the shiny chrome parts of the motorcycles won’t destroy your image. The tendency of the gas tank is to throw a shadow on the machine so probably you should consider using a board to throw a light in those spots. This is the cheaper way, the more expensive solution is professional lighting equipment.

motorbikes

Always check the background for outside sessions, for every model not only for motorcycles. Try to find some background color with a contrast. This will help you to put an accent on the bike. If you ask me just shoot them on an empty field with a blue sky or in front of a brick wall. For me, personally, industrial background works best for Cafe Racers, Bobbers or Choppers, and a modern architecture for new sporty bikes as a background.

When you are shooting a model such as a bike, consider that you will have to take shots from every possible angle. Start from left, right, front and back. After that, you should go for the details. If you are a sick fan of bikes like me than you will know all the details, but if you are not that into this than you should shoot: the bars, the tank, the pipes, wheels, engine, headlight and all the shiny chrome parts. Now that you have covered the basics, use the rest of the time on exploring the bike.   Find interesting details such as skulls and (or) all kinds of different markings. You can also talk to the owner of the bike, or the builder if it’s a custom bike, just in case if you are missing something out. Don’t be lazy and use all kinds of angles. Get down on your knees and get dirty. The lower angle is, the better your photo will be. Never take photos from a standing point, always shoot in the line of the tank or the headlight, this one trick makes any bike look much better. In one situation, I even requested a removal of the tank so that I can get a clear view of a big shiny V twin engine. 🙂

After the session probably you will have to post process your work. Photoshop or Lightroom will do just fine for editing images that you took. Firs look for dark places on your photos such as the seat, tires, engine etc.  Newer crop the photos to tight around the bike and leave a space for text on them. Who knows, they might get to be published in a magazine or a web page. After all, it is a great success if your photos see the light of a magazine.

For this kind of photography, you shouldn’t have to have a problem in finding a model. Try the local dealer, a local custom bike builder, or even a proud owner of unique motorcycle (old timer or a rare model), and don’t be afraid to ask somebody to take photos of his bike. Trust me, the bikers like to show off with their precious toys.

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5 Essentials You Must Have in Your Camera Bag

If you want your outdoor adventures to succeed, your camera bag should be comfortable and lightweight. The more comfort you have, the easier it will be to concentrate on photography and not on your body’s level of discomfort. The lighter your camera bag is, the less tempted you’ll be to leave it somewhere and, consequently, lose your valuable possessions.

For a camera bag to be comfortable, it has to contain essentials only, aka items you simply can’t live without on a day-to-day basis. These tools will keep you safe, inspired, and creatively satisfied. Here they are.

 notebook

A Notebook

Stationery lovers, this one’s for you!

No matter where in the world you are, you’re always close to a new opportunity. Opportunities come in the form of ideas, people, locations, or insignificant details. Since it’s easy to forget them while traveling, why not document them in a reliable little notebook?

A notebook can store contact details, places you’d like to revisit, inspiration, and anything else you find important. At the end of your trip, it will provide you with an abundance of valuable information that might lead you to even bigger adventures.

Since you’ll probably use your notebook often, make sure you buy one that has a rough cover. This will ensure that it won’t fall apart after a few quick uses.

business cards

Business Cards

Business cards reflect style, professionalism, and an eagerness to work with others. They’re also much more eye-catching than handwritten notes. After all, you never know who you might bump into outdoors; potential clients, collaborators, and friends might all be waiting for you to provide them with your contact details.

The best thing about business cards is that despite their lightweight, they can have a significant impact on your life. All you have to do is give them out wisely.

mini tripod

Mini Tripod

Mini tripods are small, light, and easy to use in any situation. They’re particularly great for nighttime, landscape, long exposure, and self-portrait photography. The best thing about them is that they can be effortlessly carried wherever you like.

There are all kinds of tripods available online, many of which are conveniently flexible. In addition to keeping your photos sharp, they’ll provide you with new challenges. You’ll get to work with different angles, settings, and perspectives.

memory card and battery

Spare Memory Cards and Batteries

Finding the perfect location only to realize that your camera battery is about to die. Catching that ideal light only to find that you’re out of space. Not going somewhere because you can’t take more photos and you can’t store your current ones anywhere.

All of these scenarios are discouraging. They’re also avoidable.

The more batteries and memory cards you have, the less limited you’ll feel. Try to invest in as many as you can. Keep your most excited self in mind as you decide how much to purchase. Do you tend to shoot nonstop when you’re inspired, or do you take your time to pick the right shot?

I also recommend investing in battery and memory card cases. Both will keep your precious items safe.

clean lens

Cleaning Equipment

Dust is present everywhere. Wiping your lens with a random cloth might result in scratches. If you want to take clean-looking photos without damaging your equipment, you must have a lens cleaner in your camera bag.

Here are a few tools you can use to clean your equipment. All three are very small and easy to use:

  • Lens Pen
  • Blower
  • Microfibre cloth

photographer holding an adventure cup

These essentials will not only make your life easier but keep your body comfortable as you go on trips. They’ll also provide you with new connections, artistic challenges, and space. Most importantly, many of them will keep you happy and safe. As a professional photographer, that’s exactly what you deserve.

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Drone Photography Essentials: 3 Things You Have to Know

Drones are becoming increasingly popular these days as they become cheaper and more accessible for consumers. Often times, when we think of drone photography, most people tend to think about video. While it is an amazing method of capturing incredibly smooth video, the possibilities for photographers is also astounding. It allows us to get never before seen angles. If we’ve recently gotten our hands on one, how can we use this game-changing device to produce some amazing shots?

Laws

Drone

The first thing we should discuss before we go any further is the importance of following the laws put in place for UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). After doing initial research into purchasing a drone, I was quickly alerted to the ever-changing laws. The fact that many people have made poor decisions which have endangered others, it has led to an increase in restrictions. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) therefore has a list of requirements even if we are flying as a hobbyist.

If we plan to make any sort of money through the use of our drone, legally we are required to get a remote pilot certificate. You can get this by passing the FAA’s Part 107 test. It’s 60 multiple choice questions with a 2-hour time limit that takes place at an airport. It requires a good amount of study and knowledge of air traffic. Many people say you need to pay to take a class in order to pass. This is not the case. If you know how to study you can find all the needed information online.

If you plan to take your drone out of the country it’s wise to read up on the foreign laws as well. Some countries have unique laws while some even restrict anyone from entering their country with a drone. One of the worst situations is being stuck in an airport dealing with customs. Due to lack of prior research, sadly many drones have been confiscated at airports.

Location Scouting

Drone

Once you’ve established how to properly fly your new drone, it’s now time to find awesome locations. This can be a little tricky at first because everything can look really different from above. I’ve found that using Google Maps and/or Google Earth can be an excellent way to see patterns, shapes, and color from above. You can save the screenshots and locations and then use those as a shortlist for when you head out.

Just like with normal photography, the time you photograph can drastically shape your final image. Most find that shooting early in the morning or in the evening (golden hour) will produce the best images.

Flying a drone requires a lot of focus. I’ve found that picking a location with a lot of people is extremely distracting and results in disappointing results. People tend to always want to know what’s going on and will start asking you tons of questions while you’re mid-flight. In order to avoid this, find a quiet place near your location and launch it remotely. This way, even if people notice the drone they won’t be able to bother you.

Settings

DroneOnce you’ve arrived at your location you want to make sure your settings will give you the best results. It is always recommended to shoot in RAW in order to get the most detail. This will give you more to work on the editing process later on. Many drones, especially all the popular drones from DJI have a portrait mode. Many people overlook this setting and end up shooting everything horizontally. For those who post regularly on Instagram, this mode can be incredibly useful in making your images stand out on your followers feed since you can maximize more space vertically.

Using your histogram can also be extremely useful in properly exposing your images, especially when you’re dealing with a horizon line that has a lot of contrast. Many people will tend to rely on the image being sent to their phone. This can be deceiving especially if you are also having to deal with harsh sunlight. A histogram never lies and it will give you the best neutral exposure.

With these things in mind, get out there and start shooting! There is a good market for drone pilots if you have a solid portfolio. Many have gotten into estate photography, news stations and even stock aerial photography with some diligence and patience.

Keep learning and have fun!

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Why You Should Use High ISO for Night Photography

When talking about ISO, people tend to be scared of using high ISO settings. It is understandable and usually, it is advisable to use the lowest ISO that is allowed during the shooting condition, and there are reasons to support that.

First, lower ISO producing lesser noise in your photo compare with higher ISO. The Higher the ISO, the more noises that generated and up until certain ISO setting, the photo can become unusable due to the overwhelming noises.

Second, every camera’s sensor has its own Dynamic Range, which is about the range of the exposure (measured by Exposure Stops) that your camera sensor able to cope with. If your camera sensor having a 12 stops Dynamic Range, it means that it is able to capture the darkest exposure value from 1 stop up to the highest exposure value at 12 stops. However, if you try to capture a scene beyond than that, your photo will experience details lost in either the shadow or the highlight, or both, depend on your exposure setting. Other than that, this Dynamic Range does not stay unchanged following different ISO settings, it performs the best at the lowest ISO and can drop dramatically when you exceed a certain ISO setting.

DX0Mark DR

Here is a photo screenshot from Dx0Mark website, the graph shows how the Dynamic Range drop following the increase of the ISO setting. At ISO 75, the Dynamic Range is 14.5, but when the ISO goes up to 25,600, the Dynamic Range is plummeted to around 7. That’s around 7.5 exposures that are lost. Overall, a higher ISO will have a poorer Dynamic Range.

Although it is true using a lower ISO help preserve the best image quality that your camera can offer, there are several reasons that you should make a good use of high ISO settings, or at least not being afraid in using them.

1 – Noise Control is much better now

Technology keeps improving, now a day, a DLSR camera can provide a far better image quality and a much-improved noise control if compare to the DSLR camera in the old days. At the same ISO settings, you would be able to get a photo with lesser noise now, and that allows you to easily push the ISO up to 800, 1,000 or even 6,400, depending on your shooting environment. Instead of avoiding using higher ISO, you should give it a try, for yourself to understand your camera capability more and also knowing how high the ISO your camera can go up to before the photo becomes unusable.

2 – Speed up your camera setup process

For landscape photographers, we often have to shoot in the dark, whether is to photograph the Milky Way or Sunrise (because you need to be at the shooting spot before the dawn). So, finding the composition sometimes can be very tricky and time-consuming too. Imagine that, you have to use camera setting at maybe ISO 400, Aperture f5.6 and 30 seconds Shutter Speed to do a test shoot between each adjustment of your composition, that would need a total 5 minutes for 10 photos and that still haven’t including the time that you spend on moving around the place for different angles. In this case, I would suggest you boost up your ISO to 6,400, 12500 or higher, which help to greatly reduce the shutter speed to only 1 or 2 seconds and speed up your overall composition finding process. On top of that, this allowed you to do a faster test shot to check on your focusing too. Once you have completed the setup, just switch back to the ideal exposure setting with much lower ISO that you want. Oh yeah, don’t forget to delete those test shot photos afterward. 😉

3 – Using Expose To The Right (ETTR) technique

Usually, noises tend to be more in the shadow area than in the highlight area, which is why this ETTR technique come into mind. Instead of having an underexposed photo, it would be better to use a higher ISO. In layman’s term, if you view your photo in the histogram, just ensure most of the tone (or you can say the “peak”) as far as to the right side of the histogram without touching the edge. If it touches the edge, it means that your photo is losing the detail in the highlight area.

ETTR Histogram

Above photo showing the histogram using ETTR technique.

Let’s get into more detail on this. Here is the comparison of two photos with and without applying the ETTR technique.

ETTR Comparison

Photo A was taken using ISO 6,400 and Photo B with ISO 25,600. Both are using the same shutter speed but the original result of Photo A was much darker and underexposed, which the brightness and the shadow were then adjusted to achieve the same brightness as Photo B. Obviously, you can see the noises appeared to be much more than Photo B even though using a lower ISO.

4 – Doing Noise Reduction

It can be a huge difference between a photo with Noise Reduction applied and without. There are many Noise Reduction techniques available and most of them can easily found and learned from the web. Overall, the more time consuming the technique is, the better the Noise Reduction result. One of my favorites is doing an Image Stacking Noise Reduction. It is a technique that required you to take multiple photos without changing your camera settings and composition. All these photos will then import into Photoshop and merge into a Smart Object. After that, you just need to apply the Median Stack Mode (Layer > Smart Objects > Stack Mode > Median), then wait for the process to finish. You will realize the result can be a huge difference once it is completed and the more photos that are used, the better the result. I would advise you to start with at least 5 photos (personally, I would prefer going up to 20 photos, but that depend on the how high the ISO I’m using).

Before After NR
Above photo is the before and after comparison and the result is evident.

The only drawback of this technique is that it will blur out the sky, due to the clouds and stars moving constantly throughout the series of the photos that are taken. Also because the technique is actually comparing the differences between each photo and eliminate them.

Blur Sky

The solution is simple, just use the sky from any one of the photos that are taken and blend it back into the processed photo.

Conclusion

Although it is still advisable to use the lowest ISO as possible as the condition allowed but then as you can see, in some certain situation, using a higher ISO is able to give you some benefits. I hope you all enjoy the article. Happy shooting!

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Beginners Guide to Street Photography

For many of us, the thought of starting a conversation with a complete stranger frightens us. So why in the world would we do this willingly and also try to sneak a picture out of it? Simply put, because it opens up an entirely new and exciting world of possibilities.

If you’ve been inspired by the work of street photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson or more modern day street photographers such as Bruce Gilden and wished you could gather up the courage to do it yourself, today is the day to get started. We will consider some practical advice along with some tried and true methods that will help a beginner get on the streets.

Gear

Gear

The goal is to be as less intimidating to others a possible. In the day of mirrorless cameras, it’s getting easier and easier to get great quality while at the same time using a very light and inconspicuous setup. One thing you can do, especially if you own bulkier DSLR is cover any brand logos with black tape and lean more towards the use of smaller wide-angle lenses to make your camera seem less intimidating.

Don’t be afraid to use your camera on your phone! It’s said that the best camera is the one you always have on you. With that being said, you can get great images from most phones on the market today. The iPhone also has some clever ways that allow us to take pictures using the volume buttons on the side of your device and also with your earbuds.

Body Language

Many people have differing opinions on whether a photographer should ask for permission to take someone’s photo. While technically it is legal for us to take pictures of people in public (In most areas), one way to make sure you don’t run into trouble is to just simply ask for permission.

Confidence is key. If we are nervous or feel bad about asking for a photo, these feeling will come across and most likely we won’t walk away with the shot. Walk up with a smile and simply explain why you would like to take their picture. For example, you could ask, “Excuse me, I’m working on a photo project documenting this city. Would it be okay to take your picture?”

If they say no, no harm no foul.

There is another saying along the lines of, “the only photos you’ll regret are the ones you never took.” Personally, the worst feeling after a shoot is, “what if.” What if I had asked that person or had taken that opportunity to get the shot. Don’t live in fear. Over time rejection becomes natural; you want to get to the point where it no longer bothers you.

Camera Settings

Settings

It’s often times more important to get the shot than to miss it while trying to get the settings perfect. There are many techniques to aid in your shooting. Many cameras have a fully automatic setting. While this is the easiest way to get the shot, it limits your creativity over the final image almost completely. Many cameras have an S and A mode which will tailor the camera’s settings around either your decided shutter speed or aperture. These modes are your friends.

Some may say that in order to be a “true” photographer you need to be shooting in Manual mode at all times. I can guarantee, this type of thinking will only result in missed opportunities. Don’t allow your ego to get in the way of efficiency.

Many cameras these days have quick autofocusing systems that are crazy accurate. However, if you are using a camera that has less than stellar autofocus, you can switch to manual focusing.

Many street photographers swear by the method of Zone Focusing. Zone Focusing is a technique where you pre-focus your lens at a set distance and anticipate the position of your subject which will result in acceptable sharpness. If your lens gives you distance markers, this aids in your ability to pre-focus accurately. Over time you’ll get more in tune with what you can get away in terms of acceptable clarity.

In order to maximize your area of focus, using an aperture anywhere between f.9 and f.16 should suffice. The smaller the aperture (larger the number) will give you a wider depth of field, meaning more things will be in focus.

Keep learning and have fun!

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What to Do When Things Go Wrong During a Portrait Photo Shoot

Failure can’t always be avoided

. Crying children, uncomfortable models, and technical issues can all stop you from having a creatively fulfilling photoshoot. Even though people and situations are unpredictable, you can have control over what happens. There are things you can do to:

  • Fix any problem that occurs, no matter how impossible it may seem
  • Increase your model’s confidence because of your calmness during the incident
  • Attract more clients thanks to your problem-solving abilities

Below are five scenarios featuring different people and obstacles. Each scenario comes with a few solutions that will keep you grounded and make your subjects feel at home. With these tips in mind, you won’t have to panic the next time you bump into an intimidating problem. Just take a deep breath, remember what you learned, and act like the skilled photographer that you really are.

child hiding behind hands

Take a Break When the Kids Start to Cry

It’s easy for children to lose their patience, especially in the presence of a stranger. If your little model starts to cry or run around, don’t get frustrated. Most importantly, don’t show your frustration. Patience will clear your mind, allow you to find a solution quickly, and show your clients that you’re a tolerant photographer.

If your model is restless, let the entire family take a break. Even if this adds an extra hour to your session, it will be significantly better than continuing and getting highly unflattering results. Once everyone has relaxed (talking and eating always help!) you can safely continue your shoot. If you want to be very hospitable, have a few goodies ready for when your models get tired. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

two girls covered in blankets laughing outside

When Your Model Looks Uncomfortable, Be Supportive

Feeling left out and incompetent can immediately ruin anyone’s self-confidence. To solve this problem, be open about your past experiences. Make sure your subject feels like a normal individual worthy of being photographed. Don’t let your models bring themselves down. Don’t make it seem like perfection is attainable. What you want is for them to feel their best. Once they do, everything else will fall into place.

Be kind, share funny experiences from the past, try to make them smile, and let them know that making mistakes is okay! If they get the idea that you won’t lose your temper every time they strike the wrong pose, you’ll gain their trust and boost their confidence.

photography equipment flatlay

When There’s a Technical Issue, Make Sure You Have Backup Gear

Many wedding photographers stick to this rule like their lives depend on it. Without backup gear, a full-day shoot can turn into a photographer’s worst nightmare. Here are a few things you should have (in addition to your main equipment) in case something breaks:

    • Camera body
    • Batteries
    • Lenses
    • Lens filters
    • Memory cards

If you’d like to find out more about backup gear, check out this article.

girl holding an umbrella

Prepare Lighting Equipment in Case the Weather Gets Bad

Make sure you check the weather forecast before you plan a shoot. If the weather isn’t promising and you can’t afford to postpone your shoot, bring an umbrella and a reflector to the location. An umbrella will keep you, your equipment, and your clients dry during an unexpected storm; a reflector will enhance your subjects’ faces on an overcast day.

In addition to bringing helpful equipment, make sure there’s a building nearby where you could stay during a storm. The last thing you want is to make your clients feel unsafe. Knowing what to do and where to go will save you from a lot of unnecessary misunderstandings in the future.

silhouette of girl against nightsky

Photography, like any other job, has the potential to throw you into a pit of annoying mistakes. Don’t let this trouble you. Knowing how to deal with problems will help you focus on what matters most: taking incredible photographs of incredible people. Being prepared may not completely eliminate failure, but it will definitely keep you happy, sane, and positive. That, dear reader, is how you deserve to feel.

 

 

What to Avoid When Posing Models: A Reference Guide

If you’re active on social media, you’re probably familiar with the perfect photo: a body-flattering pose, a breathtaking expression, and a look that speaks of pure confidence. It may seem like the models in such photos are naturally perfect and that nobody else can even dream of modeling the same way. The truth is that these individuals simply have a strong knowledge of posing which greatly contributes to their modeling success.

Certain angles can make even the most stunning models look unappealing. Every person has a variety of expressions and poses that can make or break an image. It’s up to you to help your subjects find these strengths. To do this, you can show them what not to do. The reason this approach works is that mistakes, unlike ideal poses, are universal; anyone can learn from them. Once your subjects know what to avoid, they’ll discover confidence-boosting poses that will not only make them look incredible in your photos but give you a chance to take your work to the next level. Let’s begin!

model posing out in nature

Don’t Make Them Uncomfortable

Awkwardness and posing don’t work too well together. An overload of compliments, criticism, or silence will make any model feel out of place. If you don’t want to try too hard and give the wrong impression, get to know your subject’s personality first. This will help you understand the kind of treatment they’d be happy with. Even a short conversation will reveal their personality and, in turn, allow you to reveal yours.

Don’t forget to talk about yourself, too. Opening up to people will make you appear relatable, charismatic, and friendly. You and your model may find mutual interests or acquaintances that will help you bond during the photoshoot. And even if you don’t perfectly click with someone, there will always be an opportunity to make them feel good in your presence.

man standing in front of wall

Don’t Ask Them to Pose Immediately

Many photographers treat posing like acting. Instead of telling their models to strike a pose, they ask them to move around, interact with their surroundings, and visualize something specific. This may not appeal to every person you work with, but there’s something important you can learn from it: giving your models room for imagination will help them pose naturally. Spontaneity, in addition to a lack of strictness, will open up many creative doors for you.

model posing outdoors

Avoid These Poses

Once your model feels comfortable in front of your camera, it’s time to let him or her know what to avoid:

  • Slouching: this is something many people do unintentionally. To avoid this, your models should straighten their backs, take a few deep breaths, and slightly turn away from the camera. This will instantly make them look relaxed and comfortable.
  • Entire body facing the camera: this will make your models look awkward and wide. Instead of facing the camera, your subjects can slightly turn their shoulders or put their hands on their hips.
  • Pressing arm against the body: this will flatten your subjects’ arms and make them look much bigger than they actually are.

model laughing in a field

Don’t Forget the Hands

Awkward-looking hand poses can make a generally beautiful image look unnatural. Make sure your models’ hands are relaxed; their fingers should be slightly spread out and placed on their shoulders, under their chins, or wherever they decide. Give them freedom when it comes to their hands, but always make sure to correct them when they start to look too tense. A proper hand pose will give your photographs an air of grace. When your models see how elegant they look in your photos, they’ll feel even more confident in your presence.

closeup of a model holding her face

Posing isn’t always a walk in the park. Even professionals need clear instructions when working with new photographers. If someone with years of experience needs direction, imagine what a struggle it is for non-models to feel comfortable in front of the camera! A small amount of patience and posing knowledge are all you need to create a healthy photographer-model relationship.

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When Should You Embrace B&W Photography?

When does an image deserve to be converted to black and white? This is a question you have probably asked yourself countless of times during confusing editing sessions. Some photographs simply look better in black and white, while others stand out gracefully only when their true colors are present. Others look fantastic no matter what.

To make the decision-making process easier, consider the points below. They’ll help you answer important questions about your work, ones that will give your photographs a chance to shine in the best way possible. You’ll be compelled to observe your image, spot both distracting and appealing elements, and come to a conclusion you won’t regret.

This is when you should embrace b&w photography:

cat yawning

 

When Your Photograph Is Hard to Edit

Some photographs simply don’t look appealing in color. More often than not, those same images look significantly more beautiful in black and white. If your photo has too many distracting colors, chances are that you’ll like its monochromatic version much more. I’m often surprised to see what a dramatic change a simple conversion can make!

When There Are Lots of Shadows

A person’s face partially hidden by mysterious shadows, a street filled with silhouettes on a bright day, and a mountain surrounded by intimidating rainclouds all have one thing in common: they possess photogenic shadows. Impactful black & white photographs often have a lot of contrast, so pointing it out in your own work using highlights and shadows will make it look all the more astounding.

man and train

When You Want to Get Rid of Busy Elements

In addition to color, there are many elements that can ruin a photograph’s composition. A background filled with moving objects of various colors, shapes, and sizes may distract the viewer’s eye and obliterate the entire meaning of an image. If you have photos of locations crowded with different subjects, convert your results to black & white. This will help viewers clearly see what you want them to see.

When There Are Textures Involved

Eye-catching textures have the potential to get lost in colorful compositions. Faces, houses, roads, and landscapes are all made up of elements that, when devoid of color, transform into masterpieces of their own. If your image is filled with interesting lines, patterns, and shapes then consider converting it to black & white. To really enhance the textures in your image, gently increase the clarity, contrast, and sharpness in your editing program.

comparison for b&w
Edits like this are subtle yet effective. To create a similar effect, increase your photograph’s clarity, contrast, and sharpness in Lightroom. The Tone Curve tool is also very helpful when it comes to intensifying highlights and shadows.

 

When There’s an Abundance of Negative Space

Environments are ideal for telling deeper stories, focusing on unusual subjects, and highlighting things the human eye wouldn’t notice at first glance. Unfortunately, environments are also known for their negative space, something that can prove to be a nuisance during the editing process. If you take very atmospheric and environmental photographs, black & white photography may be perfect for you. Black & white conversion will turn any extra space into an aesthetically pleasing blank canvas.

When Emotions Are Your Main Focus

This is particularly helpful for portrait photographers. Relationships between people – and human emotions in general – look very genuine and raw in black and white. Experiment with black & white if you have intimate photos of this sort, and you may get very touching results.

happy couple laughing

From now on, black & white photography will no longer be an unsolvable mystery. Whether you’re an avid portrait photographer, a curious landscape artist, or an eager photography enthusiast, a solid knowledge of black & white photography’s strengths will strengthen your own work. Once you familiarise yourself with the approaches above, you’ll know exactly what to do with every image you edit in the future.

cycling on a bridge

5 Portrait Photography Mistakes You Should Avoid

It’s true, creativity has no limits. What may look like an unforgivable mistake to one artist may be a relieving source of inspiration for another. Regardless of this fact, certain mistakes are simply worth avoiding. Photography genres have unique rules that deserve to be kept in mind during photo shoots. Landscape photography, for instance, demands a type of lighting that may not appeal to portrait photographers.

In portrait photography, unflattering lighting, uncomfortable poses, and tension all contribute to inauthentic photographs. It’s important to know how to deal with models, what not to do during the editing process, and how to approach different lighting situations. In addition to doing all of these things yourself, you can learn from the mistakes of others to boost your learning process.

In this article, you’ll not only familiarize yourself with 5 common portrait photography mistakes but learn from them. Each mistake is accompanied by a helpful solution so that the next time you bump into a creative problem, you’ll know exactly what to do.

Avoiding Conversations with Your Model

Taking photos of someone you barely know can be a tense activity, especially if you’re introverted. It’s easy to forget that the model is probably as uncomfortable as you are. Avoiding proper discussions will not only result in unnecessary awkwardness but give you a massive creative block.

Solution: If possible, have a short meeting with your client before a shoot. Once they get to know both your love for photography and the creative ideas you have in mind, they’ll feel more comfortable in your presence. In turn, you’ll get to know them. Don’t be afraid of asking questions, requesting feedback, and giving them creative space. They may have an idea that will come in handy during your shoot, so remember to stay open-minded.

conversations with coffee

Solely Depending on Poses

Posing guides are undeniably helpful, but they can get in the way. Not every individual will feel comfortable with certain poses. Your client may even end up feeling bad about poses you really like.

Solution: Don’t ditch your posing guide. Instead, give your model lots of room to be spontaneous from time to time. If they enjoy talking, have conversations with them as you take photos. Give them compliments and proper feedback. This will help you catch authentic moments. The photo below is a great example of this.

girl smiling

Beating Yourself up in Front of Your Client

…or in any other situation. Of course, self-deprecation is sometimes humorous and pleasant. When it comes to photo shoots, however, bringing yourself down will bring your others down, too. You’ll end the shoot feeling exhausted and unenthusiastic. If you don’t believe in your creative skills, no one will.

Solution: Embrace the inevitability of mistakes. If something goes wrong, don’t immediately blame yourself. Instead of discouraging both yourself and your client, find a solution. Once your client notices the confidence you have in your problem-solving abilities, they’ll feel safe in your presence.

girl taking a picture

Not Focusing on the Eyes

Experimentation is cool. It proves that you don’t limit your creative mind. Many clients, however, want a combination of simple and creative photos of themselves. Images that focus on their clothes, hair, or surroundings won’t satisfy them completely.

Solution: Manually focus on the eyes when you take simple portraits. This may take some practice, especially if you’re used to autofocus, but keep trying and you’ll get the perfect results in no time.

portrait

Shooting in Locations with Abnormal Lighting

Light is a photographer’s best friend

, but too much of it can lead to the creation of unappealing portraits. Harsh, flat, or distracting light is something portrait photographers don’t use on a daily basis. Unique lighting situations require unique approaches. If used incorrectly, they’ll highlight the wrong features and overshadow flattering elements.

Solution: Before a shoot, find the best locations where lighting won’t be a problem. For instance, a park filled with shaded areas will give you lots of room to take well-lit photos on sunny days. An open field will give you lots of lighting opportunities on gloomy days. Unless you want to create experimental portraits or experiment with portrait actions, avoid locations with lots of different lights.

girl looking through records

It’s true, creativity has no limits. It’s also true that learning from other photographers’ mistakes will benefit you greatly. Absorb this knowledge, learn from your own mistakes, and keep taking wonderful photographs of others.

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7 Tips for Developing your Photography Vision Like a Professional

Developing a photography vision is a challenge. But what is exactly this “Vision” thing? It is the way you see the world. The problem is that we are so used to see the things from our point of view that a lot of times we don’t even think about it as something unique. But our vision is really unique!! As photographers, we have the chance to express our vision through images. However, to do so we need to do some previous work first in order to recognize and develop our vision. Today I want to share with you some ideas about how to do it.

#1. Make a list of the things you love and things you hate

For this first exercise, you don’t need your camera yet. This one it is a bit of self-analysis. You just need a piece of paper and a pen. It will be good that you do this exercise in a moment you are relaxed and that you can invest some time in it. If you feel like, prepare a cup of coffee, tea or any other drink will make you feel cozy. Do anything you need to feel comfortable and make it a nice experience/moment of the day.

Once you are ready, make 2 columns on the piece of paper: “Things I love” and “Things I hate”. Put on them anything that comes to your mind. Anything. The list might seem a bit of a mess, but that´s ok. And remember, the important thing here is that you write things you “love/hate” and not just “like/dislike”. Vision is driven by strong feelings, so a big first step is to identify them.

Photography vision
Feel free to add to your list anything you love/hate. You will be surprised at the number of things you will come up with!

#2. Make it “abstract”

Next step is to take the subjects of each column and think why you love or hate them. You will need to dig more into concepts, ideas, values… To do this might be a bit difficult, especially if you have a long list of things you love/hate.  Work just with some of them for now. In the future, you can always come back to your list and pick new ones.

You will have a collection of concepts that move you. These are some of the things in life that make you react, that make you feel. These are the ingredients of your vision.

Photography vision
Going abstract with the list of things I love I realized that something that moves me in nature is its colors. I am always amazed by the vivid tones you can find in a simple tree. As I want to show colors, I stopped trying to convert my photos to Black & White and instead I am studying color theories in order to get deeper into the subject.

#3. Take photos with your subjects and concepts in mind

Now it is time for action! Pick some subjects from your list and take photos about them for a period of time. It can be during one day, one week or one month. Choose the time that is more realistic for you to keep.

It is always easier to start with one of the things you love because it won´t generate any strong conflict between you. If you want to take photos of the things you hate (in order to make some type of protest for example), make sure you don´t go so far. It is important you don´t do anything you don´t feel comfortable doing or that you put yourself in awkward or even dangerous situations. The whole idea here is to recognize the things you are attracted to and the things that produce rejection on you. In any case, these justify you (or others) end up suffering.

And here the important thing: you need to keep always in mind not just the subject of your photos, but the concepts you linked to it. This is the key of everything!! Because in order to take photos that convey your vision you need to do a little switch in your way of thinking the photo: you need in fact to take photos of the concepts, not just of the subject!

Photography vision
One of the things I love is finding nature in the cities. For that reason, I can just stop in the middle of a street to take a photo of any botanical element. Sometimes people stop by to see what I am doing. This is one of the side effects of following your vision…that some people might think you are a bit crazy 🙂
Photography vision
This is one of the photos I took that day.

#4. Keep your gear simple

When you work on your vision, your aim is not to take the perfect shot, but to try to convey what moves you. Keep this in mind because it is easy to get trapped in the technical part of photography. I think that the technical part of the craft is important and you need to master it too. However, I tend to relax a little about technical issues when I do these type of exercises to develop my vision because I want to focus on feelings and concepts. For the developing the technical part, there is another type of activities.

An easy way to keep things simple is to limit the gear you will work with. Take just one lens, or take photos with your phone a compact camera. In this way, you won´t get distracted.

Photography vision
Compact cameras and some phones might not have the capabilities than more advanced cameras can provide you. But using them might help you to work in your vision because their simplicity takes out of your mind a lot of technical decisions.

#5. Find ways to emphasize the concepts in your photos

This is the trickiest part. Here is where all your creativity and knowledge about composition has a role. If you are not familiar with composition yet, you can start by having a look at the article written by Julian Rad about the subject.

Try to highlight the concept linked to your subject. The way to do it will depend on each concept, so there is no a universal rule here. I recommend you to approach it as a game. Experiment, have fun. You will probably end up with a lot of photos that might not be perfect but that will put you closer to your vision. It is a learning process.

Something that usually works is to keep the composition the simplest you can in order to avoid elements that might make the viewer lose the attention/interest for the main subject.

Photography vision
Simplifying your compositions can be a great way to highlight the elements you want from your image. Here I wanted you to see these 2 rings placed together (symbolizing connection).

#6.Edit photos with your vision in mind

If you edit your photos, this is a good moment to work on your vision too. Editing has a huge role in conveying emotions. Before starting editing a photo, take a moment to think what are the elements in the photo that moves you (that caught your attention). Your mission is to edit the photo in a way that these elements out-stand from the rest of the photo.   This is quite an extensive subject, so if you are interested to have a look at the article I wrote an article about How to post-process your images according to your photographic vision. It will give you a good starting point.

#7. Build something with your photos

Once you have some finished photos that show your vision, do something with them. One option is to print them and hang them in a place you can see them often. By looking at your photos you will realize if they are really conveying your vision or not. If you don´t look at the photos anymore because they are somewhere in an external memory, they won´t sink on you. In addition, if somebody else is coming to your place and see the photos, you can talk with them about them and check if you manage to convey what you wanted.

For printing, it is always great to find a high quality developing place and work with them. Printing in high quality is a world on its own. You need to take care of color calibration, know a little about paper quality, check the printing resolution… If this sounds too much for you right now, forget about high-quality printing and find a printing lab you like and that will make the printing experience for you easier and nicer. Prints for working in your vision don´t need to be huge or expensive. I rather print the photos in lower quality that not printing them because it is too expensive or too complicated. I personally print the photos to work on my vision in lower quality labs and I send my absolute favorite photos to be printed in high quality.

You can do other things besides or in addition to printing your photos. You can build collages, make albums, build collections in galleries… you can do what suits you the most. The idea is always the same: keep your photos in a way close to you that you can come back to them easily to check them and analyze them.

Photography vision
I print the photos I want to work with and I glue them into an album. I personally like this option because I can write notes and ideas about the photo. I that case, the print is not a high-quality one, but I printed it in 5 minutes in a photo laboratory next to my place. It makes its job as a learning material. When I want to frame a photo is when I look for high-quality prints. This is just my personal way of working.  Of course, you can print all your photos in high-quality laboratories too.

I hope this will help you to develop your vision. I just have the last piece of advice: be flexible about your vision. Our experiences in life make us change the way we see things, so our photography vision might change accordingly. Working in your photography vision is a lifelong endeavor. It is good to take it easy and enjoy the ride!! Have a happy shooting!

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Architectural Photography (II): How to Work With Historical Buildings

In the previous article of this series, I gave you some general tips to improve your architectural photography. Today I will go a bit deeper into historical buildings. Let’s start!

#1. Do your homework before visiting a building

A lot of Historical buildings are taken care of and some are open to visit, so it is easy to find information about them either online or at the site itself and in tourist information centers. Once you choose a building, you should spend some time checking the activities/events that the building holds, opening hours…etc. Knowing these details will help you to decide the best moment for you to go.

Historic architecture photography
The beautiful Dome of the Rock is situated on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. If you want to access the Temple Mount, you should check the tourist visiting hours in advance because it is open for visitors just at certain times of the day and only on certain days. It also depends on the political situation, so if you don’t check it you might find it closed.

#2. Take your tripod with you to avoid blurry photos

Using the tripod is always a good thing when you are taking photos of architecture. Some of these buildings can be quite dark, so if you want to take a photo during sunset for example (usually the golden light in this time creates a beautiful effect on this type of buildings), you might find it necessary to use low shutter speed, for which a tripod will be handy. In addition, some of these buildings, because they are interesting to the public, are illuminated at night. If you want to capture them at night, you will need again to use long exposure photography. Having a tripod grants you more stability and lessens camera shaking and blur.

Historic architecture photography
The Sagrada Familia (Barcelona) is the unfinished Cathedral designed by Gaudi. It is beautifully illuminated at night. A tripod is always a good thing to have if you plan to take photos after sunset.

#3. If using a tripod is not an option, there is always an alternative

Keep in mind, using a tripod is not always possible. If the building is open to the public and there is a respectable amount of people visiting, setting a tripod might obstruct the passage for other visitors and cause an inconvenience. For that reason, tripods are not allowed in some Historical buildings (this is another good reason to get information about the building in advance). If you can’t use a tripod, look for an alternative approach in order to avoid blurry photos! You can increase the ISO to keep the shutter speed higher (remember that increasing ISO means adding noise to the image). Or you can look for tripod alternatives like monopods, a wall or even setting the camera on the floor (or on any other stable surface).

Historic architecture photography
I wanted to take a photo of this church in Hannover, but I had no tripod at the time. I increased the ISO, so it turned out really noisy. I decided to edit in white and black and leave the noise to give a feeling of an old photo.

#4. Historical buildings look great in classically composed shots

Historical buildings look great when shot from conservative perspectives because they are usually quite balanced and symmetric. Leading lines and symmetry will work really well with this type of buildings:

Historical buildings architecture photography
In this photo, you can see the building of the Catalan Parliament. In the afternoon golden hour light, you can see how well balanced and symmetrical the building is.

#5. Try exploring new perspectives to give diversity to your images

I know I just said how well the conventional/classical perspectives fit historical buildings… but that doesn’t mean you should not explore a little (or a lot), otherwise you can end up with a complete collection of photos that look all the same. I usually take photos in more than one style, it helps me to not feel restricted and also makes my collections interesting to more people. In the case of a Historical building, having both classical and unorthodox perspectives can be a great option.

Historical buildings architecture photography
A typical perspective of the Central Postal Office building in Barcelona. For editing, I used the Blue Hour Cityscape preset from the Brick and Mortar Workflow.

#6. If the building doesn´t fit in the frame, make it look even bigger

Maybe you are in the same situation as I am and you don´t own a wide angle lens and/or a full sensor camera that allows you to fit big buildings in a single frame. When I find myself in this situation, my go-to solution is to make panoramas. The downside of it is that taking a panorama is not always possible (you are in a hurry for some reason, or you needed a tripod and you don´t have it with you for example). In these situations, I change my mindset. I let go of the idea of capturing the entire building and I focus on getting a photo (or photos) of that building that will convey the feeling that the building has more to it than seen in the photo. So I choose a part of the building, usually the top part, and I try to emphasize the distortion to make it look huge and important. You can do this by lowering the shooting point (kneeling down or even lying on the floor if you don’t mind getting dirty). This increases the tension of the photo, adding some interest on it.

 

Historic architecture photography
Here I am, lying on the floor, taking a photo of the Blue Mosque (Istanbul). This photo was taken by my friend Nuray Akman. If you are going to do this, I recommend you to take care of your belongings better than I do in the photo, someone could have easily take my glasses or step on them…

 

Historic architecture photography
And this is the photo. I managed to fit a big part of the mosque in the frame and the vertical distortion adds to the feeling of grandiosity.

 

#7. Take some photos of decorations and details

Many times historical buildings are full of details that add to their story and atmosphere. Take advantage of that and include them in your photos. Take some close ups of the decorations, or of statues. This will add diversity to your shots and they will tell a bit more about the building. Having a small collection of photos from the whole building and some details will be a great way to show the building to anybody that has not been there.

Historic architecture photography
This is the Buddhist Monastery located in Garraf Natural Park (Catalonia), it looks impressive from afar.

 

Historic architecture photography
Taking a photo of the details helps to complete the collection. Here I included a photo of one of the Snow Lions on the Stupa. These Lions are important in Buddhist culture, they represent a clear and precise mind, free of doubt and unconditional cheerfulness.

#8. Include some hints in the image

Some historic buildings are not so widely known, so adding some hints of where they are located might add to the story. A flag, letters, people dressed in popular clothes and so on. These are examples of details that can be easily related to a country or region

Historic architecture photography
The discrete German flag gives us a good hint about the location of this church (Dresden Frauenkirche, Germany)

 

#9. Keep in mind that some of these buildings are extremely meaningful to people

Some buildings have a strong emotional baggage associated with them. A good example is religious buildings. If you want to take photos there, be Especially respectful of the people around you. They might be praying or in any other type of intimate spiritual moment, so don´t make them feel uncomfortable with your camera. Read the rules of the place or ask, if you don´t see them written anywhere, to make sure you can take photos. Follow all the other rules, such as dressing code and times.

Historic architecture photography
I took this photo of the Stone of Anointing in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Jerusalem). According to tradition, this is the spot where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial. Christian people come here from all around the world to practice their belief, for some, it is the trip of a lifetime, be respectful as the people around you can get very emotional in these situations.

#10. A film look can make your photo more original

Some historic buildings look really nice if you edit them to look like in a film. Photos of the really well known monumental structures can sometimes look too touristic to my taste. In these cases I like to edit them to look like old style photos, it is a way to give them a nostalgic look.

Historic architecture photography
Eiffel Towers looks great with a film look. To get this look, I used the Brick and Mortar workflow.

I hope my article will be helpfull to you, feel free to write any comment or question. Have a happy shooting!

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How to take enchanting photos using cellophane

It’s a given that professional photography equipment enhances every artist’s workflow and is an absolute joy to work with. However, professional tools aren’t the only things that can help you become a better photo-taker. There are many unlikely things in our homes which have the potential to add an extra touch of creativity to our work. Some obvious things, like lamps and mirrors, are often used by creatives because of their interesting ways of either creating or reflecting light. Other things, though occasionally used by artists, aren’t as popular. One of these handy little photo instruments can be found in almost every person’s kitchen: cellophane.

You might be wondering how cellophane, a transparent sheet mostly used for the preservation of food, can be used in the world of photography. You may have noticed that despite the sheet’s transparency, it can quickly become opaque when crumpled up. This haziness is ideal for the creation of enchanting photographs of all types. Whether you’re photographing animals, people, or something entirely different, cellophane can help you experiment with textures and clarity. This experimentation will compel your mind to absorb new ways of thinking creatively. In turn, these innovative ways of thinking will allow you to become a better, more observant, and more open-minded photographer with a bountiful supply of initiative.

Cellophane can be used in limitless ways, depending on your imagination. Though the following tips will help you look at photography from a creatively peculiar point of view, don’t stop there. Let these ideas be the foundation for even more fascinating and striking ideas.

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Using cellophane to take photographs with blurred edges

If you want your images to be sharp with a vignette of blurriness, cut your cellophane into a square that’s a little larger than your camera lens. Afterward, proceed to cut a hole in the center of the square – its size depends on how unclear you want the edges to be. The smaller the cut in the center, the blurrier your image will appear and the more challenging it will be to get sharp results. Once you’re happy with the results, wrap the cellophane square around your lens, making sure that the cut-out hole is placed roughly at the center of the lens.

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Something to keep in mind is that it might be difficult to focus your lens manually due to the tightly wrapped cellophane. To make focusing easier, don’t wrap the cellophane square around your entire lens and leave some space for your fingers to change the focus. Though using tape is optional, it could prevent the cellophane from constantly falling off. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect or visually appealing since the effect itself is the most important part.

Using cellophane to take unclear yet dreamy photographs

To create photographs that are beautifully textured yet slightly unclear, cover your lens with cellophane in the same way as the previous method, but without the cut-out hole. Again, wrap it in such a way that will give you the opportunity to manually focus your lens. If you use auto-focus, loosely wrap the cellophane around your lens to give it enough space to find the right sharpness. The effect will make your photographs look like they were taken straight out of a dream. A certain level of sharpness will remain, though everything will be covered in a pleasant layer of cellophane fog.

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If you want to be even more creative, combine freelensing with cellophane. This will result in unique and charming photographs. For more interesting results, crumple up the cellophane before using it. Adding textures to editing programs like Photoshop will further enhance your shots. If you use Lightroom, make sure to apply your favorite preset for even more stunning results. Using all of these tools and features will transform your images into works of art you’re proud of.

/ This portrait is a combination of cellophane, free textures, and a Lightroom preset.

The beauty of cellophane is its unpredictability. For photographers who are interested in experimenting creatively, this is an exciting chance to grow and to learn new things. No matter what genre of photography you cherish most, use cellophane during one of your shoots. The results might surprise you, teach you new things, or show you a completely new way of looking at photography. Whatever happens, you will be closer to becoming a more experimental and open-minded photographer.

Happy shooting!

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How to Fix Overexposed Photos in Lightroom

We’ve all been there: attempting to capture the heart of a photo shoot in a limited amount of time, coming home with a heart full of wild excitement, and being disappointed with the results. Maybe you shot on a sunny day, creating bright photographs that somehow managed to conceal your subject completely. Perhaps you shot during the golden hour, resulting in beautifully warm – yet unbearably bright – images.

Photographer friend, I have some good news for you: fixing these lighting errors is possible using a number of editing programs. The program we’ll be focusing on today is Lightroom. After installing the Lightroom presets, you will see that Lightroom presets is filled with a plethora of handy little tools like exposure, highlights, shadows, clarity, and more. These tools – which can be altered by using sliders – can fix both dramatic and minor issues. If you’re refusing to share one of your favorite shots due to overexposure, the tutorial below will help you fix your dilemma. In no time, you’ll be able to find potential in photographs that, at first glance, seem impossible to fix. This will give you more opportunities to add great photos to your portfolio and make your shots less stressful.

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Before you begin, it’s very important to remember the power of shooting in RAW mode. The value of RAW lies in the amount of image data it collects; JPEG stores less image data, resulting in photographs whose quality isn’t the best it can be. Thus, editing RAW files enables the photographer to alter things dramatically without instantly ruining the overall quality. When it comes to images that are too bright or too dark, this is especially valuable.

Preset-loving folks, please keep this in mind: In Photoshop, it’s possible to use an action after editing your image and not lose any of the minor details you fixed. In Lightroom, however, this is possible but not easy to achieve. When presets are applied, any changes you made before the application are completely altered to fit the preset’s inbuilt adjustments. To avoid losing precious work, apply your desired preset first and then work with the sliders. This will save you a lot of time and frustration.

Now that you’re aware of these points, let’s begin!

The Basic panel contains the most important sliders – if you were to use only those during the editing process, you’d get an abundance of great images. Imagine how wonderful your work can be if you master the basics, apply stunning presets, and understand how to use Lightroom’s other panels (such as Tone Curve and Split Toning). It would be great also if you could master how to remove blue cast photos in Lightroom.

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  • Exposure: dragging the slider to the left will darken your image significantly. Use this tool carefully as it will affect every part of your image. Of all the sliders, exposure is the most sensitive to changes. Keep this in mind as you experiment with it. Since the eye isn’t always sensitive to small changes, use the before & after tool as often as you can.
  • Contrast: this is as important as exposure, though playing around with it won’t result in overly exaggerated shots (especially if your photograph is very flat). Even a contrast of +100 could work! Drag the Contrast slider to the right until you’re satisfied with the results.
  • Highlights and Whites: the brightest parts of your photo can be fixed using these sliders. Blown out highlights in photos can be softened by dragging the highlights slider to the left. To help your shot reclaim its beautiful contrast, increase the whites by dragging the slider to the right. This will help maintain a balance and prevent any clipping from happening. (Clipping is the loss of image data – this is common when working with photos that require much editing.)
  • Shadows and blacks: to recover the strength of shadows in an overexposed image, drag the shadows slider to the right and the blacks slider to the left. Similarly to the previous point, this balance will get rid of unnecessary clipping and let your image naturally stand out.
  • Clarity: if you feel that your image has the potential to look even better, increase its clarity. Too much clarity will result in very unnatural looking photos, so be careful as you drag the slider to the right.

Once you’re done with the basics, feel free to experiment with other panels. Now you’re ready to make the most of any shoot, no matter how bright it may be outdoors. Be proud of yourself for learning something new!

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Happy shooting, and don’t forget to never stop learning.

The importance of lighting and why you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with it

Light: endless, ever-changing, infinitely majestic. Light can soak a location with heartwarming golden colors or simply dance with mist in a dark room. Because of its versatility, light is often feared. Experimenting with light seems to be an intimidating idea; first attempts to master light are often met with failed results, which might discourage many artists. After all, it’s still possible to take visually stunning photos when there’s a plentiful supply of light available. Though unsuccessful shots are inevitable in any photographer’s life (regardless of their level of experience), befriending the many sides of light is highly important. Several failed shots are worth experiencing if the ultimate goal is a strong understanding of light.

Limited light

Creative potential and light go hand in hand; if there’s even a small source of light somewhere, there’s a chance you’ll be able to use it to create fascinating shots. Dark rooms with limited light, for example, can be used to take mysteriously inspiring portraits. If you prefer to decrease your ISO number as often as possible, encourage yourself to get out of your comfort zone and use a high ISO number. In most cameras nowadays, a high ISO isn’t extremely damaging to a photograph, especially if you shoot in RAW mode. A combination of RAW, a high ISO, and a sturdy tripod will allow you to take photographs that would lose their mystery if more light were available.
Limited light is also a great opportunity to take abstract photographs. Unclear portraits of people whose faces are slightly concealed often have the power to tell a deep story. Silhouettes or shadowed faces are a great example of photos that could instantly catch a viewer’s eye. If storytelling is something you’re interested in, limited light could help your stories come to life.

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The manipulation of light

Light can be manipulated to make your photographs look like carefully crafted works of art. Find beautiful fabrics in your home (curtains are a great resource) to create intricate shadows on sunny days. If you’re a portrait photographer, this shadow play will help you take unique photos of people, photos that both you and the model will be proud to have. Interesting shadows can also be created using hands, trees, hair, grass, and more. Your imagination is the most important part of the equation, so make sure you nurture it whenever you have the chance. A big imagination will constantly give you peculiar and brilliant ideas, which will help you to continuously grow as a photographer. The more ideas you’ll acquire, the harder it’ll be to not make great progress.

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Artificial light

Though natural light isn’t accessible 24/7, artificial light is always there to help you take better images. This kind of light can be altered more easily than natural outdoor light, making it possible for you to have more control over everything. Artificial light can be moved, decreased, and covered in an endless amount of ways. Even everyday objects as simple as torches, desk lamps, and phone light can be used to take stunning portraits.
You might be repelled by the unflattering colors that artificial lights tend to create – yellowish or blue hues that alter skin tones dramatically. This, however, can be fixed by altering a camera’s white balance. If your camera’s white balance doesn’t fix the issue, don’t refrain from continuing to take photographs. Editing programs such as Lightroom can decrease an image’s temperature and gracefully fix any unwanted colors.

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Confront your fears

Any creative fear can be changed by directly confronting the fear itself. If you’ve always avoided darkness for fear of getting blurred results, learn the power of high ISO numbers and strong tripods. If you’ve never been a fan of artificial light, research the works of talented studio photographers like Sue Bryce and give artificial light another chance. If you think your home is boring, notice the way light enters your room or the way your lamp makes your table shine. If you find too much natural light distasteful, dare to experiment with shadows. Open your mind to the beauty of light, no matter where you are, and you’ll get brilliant photographs in return.

Happy shooting!

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Using backlight to create ethereal portraits

You’ve probably come across dreamy-looking portraits, ones which possess a warm glow without appearing too harsh. It seems that the photographers behind these shots mysteriously conjured up the perfect light, creating a composition so striking that you can’t imagine recreating something equally beautiful. The secret, however, doesn’t lie in light that requires an elaborate spell – the key to taking great backlit portraits is the right kind of light and the ideal location to complement that light. Though this might sound like a tough (or vague) challenge, don’t be discouraged. If you find yourself visualizing photographs even when your camera isn’t nearby, mastering the art of backlit photography will come easily to you. Below are a few important basics to get you started:

Finding a great location

If you’d like to experiment with backlight, find a location where light roams freely. (Open spaces like fields are ideal for this.) If you live in a busy city filled with structures that block the sun, find a roof where you can safely photograph yourself or your subject. These locations will give you plenty of light to work with. (If you don’t have access to such places, shooting in front of a window on a sunny day will suffice.)
The backlight will light up not only your subject but everything surrounding your model. This is why shooting backlit portraits in a field of flowers, for example, will yield breathtaking results. If you’re shooting in a more urban location, add your own flowers and plants to enhance the composition. Challenge your imagination. When surrounded by objects which are beautifully lit, your subject will glow all the more. Furthermore, such small decorations will make the overall composition absolutely stunning.

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The benefits of shooting during golden hour

Before we get into the best ways to position a camera for backlit photography, let’s focus on every portrait photographer’s favorite time of day: golden hour. The magic hour comes into being shortly after sunrise or before sunset. This is a time when the light is, as most people agree, at its best. Everything takes on a soft and warm glow during the golden hour, creating an almost nostalgic feeling wherever you look. If you’re an absolute beginner, experimenting in an open space during golden hour will inevitably provide you with the best possible lighting conditions for a successful shoot. For expert photographers, shooting in all kinds of spaces during the magic hour will add a pleasant touch of warmth to their work. If you’d like to learn more about the golden hour, read this article.

Choosing the best time to shoot

To make the most of a backlit shot, you must control the amount of light that enters your lens. Direct sunlight will ruin your shot, while completely blocking it by placing an obstacle in front of it will make your results very dark (unless you’re shooting silhouettes, this method won’t work.) For visually appealing results, make sure light enters your lens from one side. This will create a pleasant light leak which will not only brighten your composition but add a beautiful texture to it.

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Unlike golden hour, a backlight is rarely available in limited quantities. It can be found even on overcast days when soft light is present. If you find the light is too dull on a day when the weather conditions aren’t ideal, use a reflector; this will significantly enhance any available light and make your subject’s face stand out in a flattering way. If you don’t own a professional reflector, it’s very likely that you can find one in your home: a mirror, a white sheet of paper, kitchen foil, or a Tupperware lid.

Experiment persistently

Most importantly, experiment. Break the rules: create dark silhouettes, work with overexposed shots, and photograph whatever you desire during the magical hour. Enjoy the warmth of golden hour and the softness of duller days. If portrait photography is your niche, experiment with other genres using the same methods. Try out taking photos of flowers, buildings, and objects. Broaden your creative horizons. This will be very evident in your results; additionally, it will transform you into a better photographer and observer of the world.
Whatever you do, don’t stop shooting, and you will thrive in the most surprising of ways. Just remember to embrace spontaneity, listen to your imagination (no matter how bizarre it may seem at times), and find potential in seemingly insignificant details.

Happy shooting!

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Experimenting fearlessly with higher ISO settings

ISO:

When I was an inexperienced photographer, I feared that setting. To me, ISO seemed like the equivalent of unflattering, irreparable noise: the complete opposite of a great photo, especially a portrait. As I familiarized myself with different photography genres, I came to realize the appeal in the grainy shots of film photographers. I even discovered the beauty of adding grain digitally in editing programs like Lightroom. When I dared to increase the ISO number during my own shoots, I discovered that the resulting grain was far from destructive. When it came to cozy outdoor shots taken at night, I found much creativity in purposely creating grain.

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ISO 1250

While there are photographers who prefer not to work with higher ISO numbers for understandable reasons (retouching skin in a well-lit environment may be a hassle if the grain is ever-present), experimenting with it is certainly worth a try. When I was just a beginner, I found a lot of comfort in the knowledge that I could take photos whenever I wanted and still produce interesting results. I knew that even if I shot at midnight, my little camera could capture something eye-catching thanks to a high ISO number. It’s important for all kinds of artists – especially enthusiastic, budding photographers – to find creative potential in people and places regardless of weather conditions or time. Here are some tips on how to make the most of ISO.

Consider these points before you begin

Be aware that there are several factors you must consider before you experiment:

  • If you’re shooting for the sake of printing your results later on, keep in mind that extreme ISO will be very visible. If this is the look you’re going for, your photos can be as grainy as you like.
  •  In the editing process, adding a lot of exposure to your grainy photos will highlight the grain and potentially ruin your entire shot. Thus, subtly adding exposure to your images is highly recommended.
  • In relation to the previous point, reducing grain is possible using a number of handy editing programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, and Noiseware. If you plan to edit your shots more, reduce any unnecessary grain first and then proceed to color correct and/or retouch your results.

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ISO 4000

Understand your camera’s ISO settings

The ISO settings in cameras may vary, but the general sequence ranges from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. Thanks to improved technology, full frame cameras like the 5D Mark II are capable of capturing great photographs whilst reducing unnecessary color noise, even if the ISO is high. If you don’t own a full frame camera, don’t lose hope! Research your specific camera online and find out what users have to say about its ISO limitations. Even phone photography enthusiasts can benefit from this research. Most importantly, experiment and remember that your creativity and imagination are what matter most. When I first began shooting, I had a very old phone with a seemingly incompetent camera – this didn’t stop me from taking photographs and embracing curiosity. In the long run, persistence taught me to value photography no matter what camera I was using.

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Embrace your creative side

When it comes to creativity, nothing is impossible. Keep this in mind as you experiment with your camera’s various ISO numbers. Grain can serve as a useful texture; alternatively, it can simply give your photographs a film-like atmosphere. Combining it with other kinds of textures – like dust and scratches – will make your photos stand out. The vintage photographs in the book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs are a fantastic example of dust, grain, and other textures being used to create compelling works of art.

If you’re in a situation where using a flash isn’t acceptable (for example, in a church), or if you simply don’t wish to use one, ISO will be your greatest tool during the shooting process. Similarly, if you can’t use a tripod in a certain situation, a higher ISO will prevent you from taking unclear photographs. A photo with a slight amount of grain is far better than a blurry image. Combine this with a touch of creativity and you’ll find yourself fearlessly experimenting with ISO no matter how challenging your environment may be.
Happy shooting!

 

Getting creative with foregrounds: How to improve your portraits

When I first started taking photographs of other people, my portraits often ended up looking very similar and much too simple. Though I yearned to have inspirational and visually stunning shots in my portfolio, I couldn’t find a way to create them using the limited amount of equipment I had. Compelling self-portraits were especially difficult to make due to the fact that I had neither a remote nor a tripod at the time. Then, during a self-portrait shoot, I held an object in front of the lens for the sake of experimentation. This created a dreamy effect which slightly concealed parts of my face and highlighted others. The difference a single little thing could make a seemingly simple portrait astounded me. If I could place almost anything in front of the lens and create an interesting photograph, what would happen if I chose my foregrounds according to a theme, an item of clothing, and more?

Even if you don’t own a professional DSLR camera, chances are that placing any item close to your lens will cause blurriness. It’s even possible to create such an effect with a tiny camera phone. This kind of blur is ideal for all kinds of photographs, but it’s especially eye-catching when portraiture is involved. Hiding part of your subject’s appearance using things like flowers, hair, and hands will allow the viewer to feel like they’re a part of the story. Like well written stories, photographs that make viewers feel included will glow with potential. Furthermore, these works of art will touch friends and strangers alike, drawing more people to your photographs. Eventually, you’ll find yourself discovering all kinds of ways to include simple things in your photos to create spectacular images. Here are a few tips on how you can get creative with foregrounds:

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Finding foregrounds at home

Whether you live in a tiny apartment or in an extravagant mansion, you’re bound to find useful, foreground-worthy products in your home. Since foregrounds are barely distinguishable when placed very closely in front of the lens, don’t worry about experimenting with items that aren’t necessarily used in the photography world all that often. For example, reflective kitchen utensils like forks and spoons can serve as great additions to a picture, allowing for shiny-looking results that direct the viewer’s eye straight to your subject. If you’re a fan of animal photography, your pet’s toys could enhance your image’s composition; in addition to having a fun time with your pet, you’ll be able to capture a beautifully framed moment. Take some time to look at your possessions from a fresh perspective, giving everything a chance to become creatively useful.

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Finding foregrounds in nature

If your own possessions don’t spark ideas in your mind, take a walk. No matter the season, nature is always prepared to help you with your artistic endeavors. Branches, flower, grass, etc., can all serve as brilliant foregrounds. This is especially effective in the early autumn and all throughout spring when nature’s colors are at their most vibrant. Even shooting through a cluster of branches will add vibrancy and mystery to your shot. If you photograph a person using this technique, your results will be gracefully cinematic.

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Instant foregrounds in portraiture

There are foregrounds which require little to no effort to create. If – during one of your portrait shoots – you’re out of both props and ideas, ask your model to place his or her fingers in front of the lens. By partially covering some of your subject’s facial features, this effect will make viewers wonder what the subject is hiding. Other easy foregrounds include hair and items of clothing.

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Adding foregrounds in the editing process

If you already have a set of images you wish to enhance, you can do so by adding artificial foregrounds to your shots in editing programs like Photoshop. The Internet has an impressive amount of free texture packs. For instance, a free light leak pack will give you access to an abundance of stunning resources which will add vibrancy and brightness to your images. It’s also very likely that you already have the resources to create eye-catching photographs; look through your old work, especially your travel photos, and experiment with anything that stands out to you. Alternatively, you can look for great content on free stock photo websites; it’s very likely that you’ll find what you need there.

Working with foregrounds will give you a chance to appreciate the beauty in everything. Additionally, it will give you a chance to reinvent your style, discover new ways of photographing and find potential in the smallest details. In general, it’ll make you a better photographer. Always stay creatively curious.

Happy shooting!

Finding spellbinding inspiration in films

Films can be thought of as the equivalent of moving photographs. Seemingly endless, these timeless images reveal an array of interesting emotions, places, and people within just a few hours. The stories they tell often touch our hearts and remain with us for a long time, teaching us more about ourselves, the world, and what it really means to be alive. It’s not surprising, then, that the basic blocks of filmmaking – millions of stunning images – have the power to provide us with inspiration. Using movies as an opportunity to take more effective and meaningful photographs will lead you to a future filled with far more creative potential than you can imagine.

But how can you be inspired by films? Any story, whether it resides in the azure skies of a painting or in the mind-boggling plot twist of your favorite TV show, can serve as a source of valuable ideas. If you feel you’ve reached a creative block, or if you simply want to explore other ways of photographing people and places, here’s a list of things to look out for when you’re enjoying your favorite film:

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Darkness and light

Since an indescribable amount of effort is put into the making of a film, each scene is guaranteed to have hints that will allow viewers to understand the story on a deeper level. Symbolism – which can be both obvious and subtle throughout a film – can be found in the way light hits the character’s face, for instance. Films revolving around mystery often include characters who are barely lit by car headlights, or who are overshadowed by a mess of clothing in a dark room. Heartwarming scenes in movies are often accompanied by light that reflects the characters’ sunny dispositions – golden light that makes their eyes glow and their hair shine.

Even if you’re not planning to take cinematic photographs, it would greatly help to understand the importance and beauty of light. The more you look at visually stunning compositions (of which there is an abundance in films), the easier it’ll be to find similar compositions during your own shoots. With time, you’ll be so accustomed to finding both unusual and striking light that you’ll find potential everywhere, even if you live in a tiny apartment in a city that barely gets any light. Even shadows and darkness will cease to intimidate you – they, too, will become your artistic tools.

Films and shows with breathtaking visuals:
The Light Between Oceans
Carol
Riverdale
Her
An Education

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Angles and movements

Characters often do much more than speaking in a film. Bits and pieces of an entire story can be found in expressions, postures, angles, and more. To create a photograph with a deeper story, pay attention to your subject’s movements during a shoot. If you want to get even more creative, come up with a story beforehand to intensify the emotional aspect of your shot. This will make the shooting process fruitful in numerous ways; you’ll get brilliantly emotive results, and you’ll find your path to becoming a more advanced storyteller. The more you practice, the incredible your results will be.

If you’d like to work with more than posed photographs, go on a trip with someone, even if it’s a short walk to the local bookstore. Photograph their movements as they observe the world around them. There will be moments of oblivion – fleeting seconds when they’ll forget there’s someone photographing them – which, if captured, will result in honest and unique portraits. If you’d like to experiment with raw emotions and poses, be spontaneous during your next shoot.

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Details

Close-ups are common in films. They reveal parts of a character that the viewer would’ve ignored in more distant scenes. In the movie Carol, the main character’s (Therese) love interest is often shown up close to reveal exactly how much Therese admires her. As you explore locations with or without your model, find details that catch your eye. If you go out for a morning walk, notice the way light hits a leaf, for example. Find potential everywhere, and the ideas will gracefully swim to you.

So take advantage of the many brilliant films that exist today. Take notes as you observe movements, emotions, light, and details. Inspiration could be hiding in the least likely places; it’s your job to find it and use it. Using this inspiration, you’ll be able to add an abundance of light into your portfolio and improve significantly as a photographer.

Happy shooting!

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Quick and easy hairstyle ideas for shooting sessions!

Every kind of hair is photogenic, no matter its color, length, or texture. Since there are so many variations in the world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that every portrait shoot is exceedingly unique. However, not having to worry about being monotonous as an artist shouldn’t stop you from pursuing more and more creativity. When you photograph either yourself or others, ask yourself which feature, appearance-wise, stands out most to you. More often than not, hair is going to be one of your answers because of the significant part it plays in portrait photography. Decorating it in elaborate ways will provide you with an opportunity to share more of your artistic and imaginative skills, which is something clients of all sorts favor. If you’re finding yourself short on time or feel that you’re out of ideas, try out the following hairstyles. They’re quick and easy and capable of making your images pop!

Side part

Perhaps the simplest of all hairstyles is the side part, which is especially suitable for client shoots. If you wish to have a shoot that’s simple, easy, and elegant, then this hairstyle is for you.For an exotic touch, make your subject wear a flower crown, a hat, or a single flower. The simplicity of this look will provide enough of a frame to nicely complement your subject’s facial features. Best of all, it won’t be too distracting; this is perfect for photo shoots in which striking compositions aren’t a necessity. Side parts also make great foregrounds when making closeups – if part of your subject’s face is covered by their hair, the side that is covered will be blurred, further accentuating features that are exposed.

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Wild and free

For my own self-portrait shots, I often turn my hair into a messy combination of knots and curls. This allows me to work closely with my imagination, challenging me to make the most of a random look. The results, which are often pleasantly surprised, never fail to fill me with original ideas. Though messiness isn’t often associated with positive feedback, messy hairstyles are an exception. The textures of a messy look give images a painting-like atmosphere. It’s almost like going back in time and allowing a famous painter like John Waterhouse to capture your features on a canvas forever. This works best for medium-length (or longer) hair. Unruly hair looks incredible in black and white images; combine this with freckles and you’ll have yourself an impressive shot.

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Top knot

Though top knots can be cliché, they have the potential to look wonderful, especially in cozy indoor settings. If you’re having a casual shoot with a friend or are simply in the mood for taking warm photographs, experiment with this look. It’s fun, easy to make, and will give your subject’s appearance a pleasant frame. For additional coziness and texture, make the top knot messy!

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Wigs

If the aforementioned ideas don’t appeal to you, buy or rent a few wigs. These are guaranteed to give you an endless amount of creative possibilities and thoughts. If your wig looks too artificial, convert your photos to black & white (or shoot in b&w mode if your camera supports this feature). A lack of color will direct the viewer’s attention to your subject’s facial features rather than the quality of his or her wig. Wearing a hat or other hair accessories with a wig will also provide the viewer with an effective distraction.

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Whichever style you choose, don’t forget to experiment and be creative! Sometimes, the messiest of looks end up creating the most astounding images. Add your own unique style to a commonly used hairstyle; for example, a ponytail can be combined with a small top knot, or a messy hairstyle can be accompanied by a tiny hat. Be fearless and your work will thrive because of it.

Happy shooting!

How to take great photos from unusual angles

When you take photographs of your subject, how do you usually hold your camera? Do you always photograph people or places directly, or do you dare to experiment with unusual angles? Though the beauty of a great photograph isn’t completely determined by specific angles, there are ways to enhance an image’s mystery, effect, and overall composition using unique camera positions. To do this, it’s important to embrace new ideas. Even in the world of portraiture, where flattering angles are valued, there’s space for camera angle experimentation. Here are tips on how to experiment in a way that will provide you with amazing results and valuable creative experience:

Don’t use your tripod

Instead of depending on your tripod for your camera’s stability and safety, use flat platforms in your home. Tables, couches, and books can all be great substitutes for a tripod. If there are other objects on your platform, don’t remove all of them; instead, leave a few to make your shot more interesting. Foregrounds have the potential to frame any shot beautifully. Additionally, raise your camera a little by placing something soft underneath the lens. This will provide you with an interesting angle which you can use to take photos of people, self-portraits, etc. To avoid damaging your camera, make sure that anything you place it on is completely safe. Though experimentation is wonderful, you don’t want to end up with broken equipment. This is why it’s safer to experiment without a tripod in your own home.

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Using less equipment to take eye-catching photos will be challenging. When I first began experimenting with self-portraiture, I had neither a remote nor a tripod. As a result, I had to run back and forth with the hope that my results would be sharp. My tripods were often tables, chairs, and armchairs. When I acquired both a remote and a tripod, I was thrilled. The contrast between using a flexible tripod and a simple table was shocking, and it allowed me to greatly value my new possessions. Sometimes you have to take a step back from your professional equipment and rediscover the value of everything you own. This challenge will shape you into a better, more flexible photographer.

If you’re not fascinated by the idea of temporarily abandoning your tripod, consider using a flexible one. Tripods like the GorillaPod can be attached to almost anything, from street lights to branches, and they can give you more creative opportunities no matter what kind of photographer you are.

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Shoot from a low angle

Out in nature, there are many plants and objects which can serve as brilliant foregrounds. Even shooting through branches will give you unique results. Combine this with a low angle and you’ll get unusual and eye-catching photographs. To achieve this effect, carefully hold your camera slightly above ground, finding interesting elements to shoot through while keeping the focus on your subject sharp. Though manual focus isn’t as easy to work with as autofocus, mastering it will save you a lot of time and frustration, especially when shooting through things like plants. Other things you can shoot through are fences, hair, and even your own hand. Don’t be afraid of being spontaneous, and make sure you give everything a chance to be a part of your work. In doing this, you’ll discover the beauty of objects that once seemed dull to you. This will stop you from taking details for granted.

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Look up

If you live in a city filled with towering buildings, let your camera look up. It’s easy to look ahead and ignore the endless amount of photogenic things around you, especially when you’re outdoors. Change this by taking the time to find unique buildings and photograph their vastness. In addition to familiarizing yourself with architectural photography, you’ll learn how to find beauty from every position.

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The more you experiment with angles, the more interesting your portfolio will become. You’ll find value in taking cinematic photos from low angles and in shooting everything above you. Furthermore, you’ll learn and cherish the knowledge that as a photographer, you are completely limitless. No matter where you go, be it a popular location or an abandoned village, you’ll find ways to pour your unique style into your photographs.

Happy shooting!

How to Take Better Photos With Your Phone: 4 Steps to Improvement

Fact #1: Almost all of us have smartphones. Fact #2: Almost all of us have used our smartphones to take photographs at one point or another.

Even if you’re not an avid Instagram user, there are many ways in which phone photography (commonly known as phoneography) can boost your creativity and observation skills. Phone photos, thanks to their ever-increasing popularity, are taking over both the real and the online worlds, compelling others to find something photogenic of their own to shoot.

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What if you’ve already tried out phone photography but disliked the process? Maybe the camera in your phone didn’t provide you with enough options, giving you results that were either too bright or too dull. Perhaps you believed that shooting at night would be too problematic because of your phone’s limitations. If you could relate to any of these scenarios, give phoneography another shot; there’s a solution to all of these issues that might transform your hesitance into interest. Here are tips on how to take great photos with your phone.

Choose a camera app that matches your preferences

It’s very likely that the camera app that came with your phone isn’t being used to its full potential. Advanced settings often present in DSLR cameras – such as ISO and shutter speed – can be altered in phones, too. To make the most of these hidden features, you need a handy camera app. Here are a few great ones:

iPhone users can enjoy apps such as Manual ($3.99), Focus ($1.99), and VSCO (free). All of these apps enable users to alter their camera’s focus, ISO, shutter speed, white balance adjustment, and the list goes on. Apps like VSCO will let you edit your photographs with a variety of presets as soon as you’re doing with your shoot.

Android users have just as many wonderful options to choose from Camera FV-5 ($3.35), Camera360 (free), and DSLR Camera Pro ($3.52). Like the popular iPhone apps, these are capable of letting you take the best possible photograph before you even begin the editing process. If you’re not a fan of editing apps, these instant photo enhancers are the right tools for you.

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Use a tripod

Phone tripods can be found almost anywhere. Nighttime photography enthusiasts, self-portrait artists, and landscape photographers often require the use of a tripod for their shoots. Since most phone cameras have timers, tripods can really come in handy for interesting phone photographs. If you like long exposure photography, for instance, then you’ll get great results with the help of an advanced camera app like Focus and with an affordable tripod.

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Photograph everything

Once you acquire a better camera app, take photographs of anything that catches your eye. Most importantly, don’t forget to experiment and try out new things. The beauty of phoneography is that it’s always accessible no matter where you are. Take photos of details, landscapes, buildings, and people. The accessibility of this photography genre makes it easy to see what it’s like to shoot different kinds of subjects. If you’re a macro photographer, try photographing people. If you’re a portrait photographer, take photos of buildings. During these experiments, you’ll discover new creative worlds. As you do, your inspiration will grow exponentially.

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Acquire an editing app that satisfies your creativity

This last tip is optional but useful for those interested in improving their editing skills. Many editing apps (like VSCO) have presets similar to the ones in Lightroom and Photoshop. By understanding the beauty of color correction and enhancement, you’ll find it easy to use editing programs like Lightroom. Thus, whether you use a professional camera or not, all of your artistic skills will strengthen. iPhone users can find their inner retoucher in apps like Enlight ($3.99), AfterFocus ($0.99), and Snapseed (free). Android users can enjoy the great editing features of apps like Pixlr-o-Matic (free), Photo Lab PRO ($2.99), and Pixlr Express (free).

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Phone photography doesn’t have to take over your life or replace DSLR photography. Instead, it can help you take quick photos using a small device, enable you to find photographic potential almost anywhere, and encourage you to visit new places. To put it simply, phone photography is worth experimenting with. The knowledge you acquire as you take photographs with your phone will come in handy when you use professional cameras. Phoneography is just another reason to be more creative, observant, and imaginative.

Happy shooting!

Complete guide to flash for beginners (III): Tips for using an external flash

If you are still reading this article series is probably because you decided that you need an external flash or you even got already one! Congratulations! You did the harder part. Now it is time to have fun! Unlike with the built-in-flash, shooting with an external one is a bit more than pointing and firing. If you don´t know yet how to handle your new gadget, don´t worry! We will give you some tips that will help you starting using it.

#1. If you want to use the TTL, you need to set your camera in Aperture Mode

This might seem obvious for a lot of photographers, but I did not know it when I started using the external flash. I usually  shoot in Manual, so the TTL was not working for me. I was kind of: “What happens to this flash? Maybe I have to ask for a refund because it doesn’t work!”.  So remember: No Aperture mode= No TTL!

flash guide

#2. Wait a little between shots to give time to the flash to load 

Maybe you are used to shoot several photos in a raw or in continuous mode. External flashes need some time to load , so if you shoot too fast, some of the times it won´t fire.

#3. Become a Bouncing master

Bouncing is  one of the most important things you can do while using a external flash.  It is not common to flash directly to the subject. Light will be too strong, it  will look unnatural and in addition, it is uncomfortable for the model. Instead, the good thing to do is pointing with the flash to a surface close to your subject (wall, ceiling…). It is the light that reflects from this surface the one that will add light to your subject. It will be a diffused light, so it won´t be so strong and it will look

flash guide

flash guide

 

flash guide

If you don´t have any evident surface to bounce in, you can use other things, such as the white clothes of somebody around you, a board, some furniture… or you can use reflectors and difusers .

flash guide

#4 Be respectful when using your flash

Don´t fire your flash directly to the eyes of neither people nor animals. I always like to make sure that people does not mind I use the flash, especially if I am shooting events. The strong light can be quite annoying, so it is good that people agree. Some people get into the situation of wanting you to take nice photos, but they don´t want you to use the flash (or they complain about the light). In that cases, try to explain to them nicely that not using it might affect the quality of the photo. If they decide they don´t want flash anyway, at least you were clear about the consequences.

External flash guide III

#5. Be extremely aware for not flashing  babies.

It is easy remembering not using the flash when you take photos of a baby at home. But when you are in an event or with a big group of people, it is easier to miss it. Flashes are quite aggressive for delicate eyes of a baby, so try to be always aware of the proximity of one of them.

 

 

#6. Do wrist workouts.

Do some gym style exercises that will  increase the strength of your wrists. Just kidding!! But if you are going to hold your camera with a external flash for long time (this happens a lot if you are shooting events), you will notice the extra weight. Rest form time to time to avoid soreness (and now I am serious! After shooting a night wedding and carrying the camera with the flash for several hours, I felt my writs sore next day).

I hope you liked this series and that you find it useful. Have a happy flashing

How to take emotional and meaningful self-portraits

In today’s technologically advanced world, selfies exist everywhere. With the desire to take a photo of oneself comes the desire to look visually appealing. Subconsciously, many of us seek to look acceptable because we wish to feel accepted and welcome. I myself can relate to this desire, one that has often turned into an obstacle in my creative endeavors. Though this need, which is often desperate, makes many people feel like outcasts because of their insecurities, it mustn’t be chastised. A need for acceptance through photos of yourself doesn’t mean you should ditch the mirrors in your home, abandon the art of self-portraiture, and never look at yourself again. Rather than neglecting your appearance, embrace it in an honest way, finding inspiration in the things you often avoid thinking about. Self-portraiture, in its rawest form, is both honest and gentle, revealing the photographer’s strengths and weaknesses simultaneously. Here’s are tips on how to add more emotions and depth to your self-portraits:

Understand and embrace yourself

It can be very challenging to pick out an emotion and label it accurately. Instead of trying to chase and organize your feelings, remember a movie that really touched you. The movie may not have directly explained the actors’ troubles or joys, but what it did was present you with scenes which flipped a switch in your heart. Photography, like any meaningful film, possesses a similar kind of power. Use this to your creative advantage. Read books, watch films, and listen to stories. As you do these things, your mind will get filled with fascinating ideas and the knowledge that you’re not alone, no matter strange your emotions might seem to you. Storytelling will give you the necessary confidence to take self-portraits, and the heart of a creature belonging to someone else will fill you with inspiration. Watching an incredible film right before a shoot will be especially helpful, as your inspiration will eagerly wait to be used by you.

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Use nature and objects to intensify your emotions

Weather, colors, movements, and light will all help you reflect your emotions better.
Though facial expressions can often speak for themselves, their effect can be enhanced using things in your home or out in nature. Weather, for instance, can be used either as a dramatic contrast or a direct reflection of the emotion you wish to convey. A self-portrait of a dancing silhouette against a daunting, stormy background has the power to express passion, perseverance, or an inner struggle. No matter how moody or sunny it is in your area, use it to your advantage – if the weather doesn’t match your desired mood, challenge yourself by finding ways to use the current conditions to your artistic advantage.

Other elements that can further highlight an emotion are colors, movements, and light. Colors are especially useful in the editing process, where they can be altered even more to perfectly elevate the image’s atmosphere. Movement can be used to express things like haste, impatience, longing, and fear; a portrait of a person looking frightened in a room filled with falling feathers could express the subject’s fear of moving forward in life. To complement all of these elements, light must be used wisely. Experiment with it as much as you can, even on a daily basis – soon enough you’ll naturally understand what kinds of shadows and highlights would look good in a certain composition. Once you befriend light, things like colors and movements will be bonuses, instead of hindrances, in your work.

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Find yourself in other people

Oftentimes, the people and things we photograph are a direct reflection of ourselves. The famous portrait photographer Richard Avedon once stated, “Sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me.” When we photograph others, we usually capture them in moments we ourselves can relate to. The angles and poses we prefer are often very much our own; even the editing process is a quietly personal one.

Since self-portraiture isn’t all about human faces, take photographs of the people or things you cherish most. If you do want to include yourself in the image, place a mirror next to your subject(s) to get an interesting reflection of yourself. Whatever you do, find details, objects, and colors which speak to you and use them during your shoot. Though the results may not necessarily feature you, they’ll contain the very heart of who you are, and that can certainly be considered a self-portrait.

There are countless ways to take photographs of yourself without prioritizing perfection; photography of all types can be celebrated no matter who or what the subject is. Accepting yourself in spite of your insecurities and worries through art will make you an endlessly empathetic individual. Again, this doesn’t mean that your entire portfolio must consist of very raw photographs; what it means is that when you do feel insecure, dare to embrace it, not conceal it.

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Happy shooting!

Beating anxiety, one photo at a time

Many people experience intense anxiety at one point or another. The feeling is often paralyzing, forcing a person to believe that they don’t belong anywhere. Though it’s a very private experience, anxiety is also a universal feeling which many of us can relate to and understand. In the photography world, anxious thoughts are powerful enough to affect even the most confident minds. Fortunately, embracing photography can obliterate uneasiness and push us to be more courageous when facing both personal and creative challenges.

Anxiety comes in all shapes and sizes, from a tiny pang of fear to a heavy storm of relentless doubts. If you’re not comfortable whilst socializing, you might fear the idea of photographing strangers or working with new models. If self-portraiture is something you wish to experiment with, you might be afraid of getting unflattering results. Natural as such insecurities may be, they can be removed with the help of a camera. All you need is persistence and a tiny drop of courage.

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If you’re a beginner, especially one who’s interested in portraiture, then taking self-portraits first will greatly benefit you. When I first began taking photographs, I was both anxious and shy. The very thought of asking people to model for me made me queasy. Because I wasn’t confident in my own creative skills, I didn’t believe anybody else would be. This resulted in many solitary hours with the camera, which taught me much about photography’s technical aspects and my own posing abilities. Having to be in front of (and behind) the camera opened my mind; this, in turn, helped me understand the models I would be working with later on. Being able to relate to the modeling side of photography helped my future subjects feel relaxed in my presence. Knowing that I myself had been afraid of the camera made them trust me. If the photographer could face her self-doubt, why couldn’t they?

Self-portraiture let me confront my own fears and express negative emotions creatively. This was both cathartic and artistically productive. Since emotional images are often associated with tears and fury, we aim to avoid them. However, vulnerability doesn’t revolve around fragility only; it’s a combination of sensitivity, openness, and self-awareness. Understanding your emotions will not only help you create touching photographs, but it will also enhance your empathy, allowing you to be comfortable with any kinds of emotions. Viewing deep feelings through your lens will provide you with an objective perspective, one that will enable you to understand yourself and your needs better. Once you get to know yourself, your anxiety will lose its intensity and self-portraiture – or any other form of art – will become a place of creativity and growth.

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If you’re not interested in portraiture but still feel anxious when taking pictures, find a comfortable location and photograph anything that appeals to you. Not having to worry about being disturbed by strangers will relax your mind and enhance your creativity. Go out on days when everybody else is busy or find a spot in your area that is rarely visited by people. These places will become comforting homes outside of home. In them, you’ll find the necessary time and space to familiarize yourself with your camera and various lighting conditions. Once you begin to “feel” your camera, you’ll feel brave enough to explore more, photograph more, and challenge yourself more bravely.

If you think photography causes anxiety, then think again. Photography can be a place of comfort for the frightened and a refuge for the weak. In the world of photos, sensitivity is happily embraced and nurtured. Furthermore, the same sensitivity is turned into amazing works of art which challenge and motivate others to improve. Practicing in any way will:

  • make you comfortable with your camera
  • give you space to understand yourself as an artist
  • enable you to empathize with future clients and models
  • help you embrace your own emotions

Most importantly, all of these things will allow you to beat anxiety, one photo at a time.

Good luck!

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Football Photography Series: Capturing the Action

Watching football is always exciting – tons of smashing bodies, plenty of fast-paced action, and the thrill of cheering for your home team. Capturing a football game with your camera can be equally exciting, but certainly presents a number of challenges to photographers, especially if you’re new to shooting sports.

Before heading to an important game, check out these tips. Consider seeing if there are school teams playing nearby so you can get some practice in before you try shooting in a more intense setting. There are lots of distractions to deal with at football games, and if you want to get good photos, you’ll need to learn to tune it out and focus on your goal.

Keep these suggestions in mind as you pack your camera bag and start shooting. The best way to master the art of capturing the action of a football game is to get out there and do it.

Football Photography Tips on Taking Football Action Shots

1. Use the Right Gear

Football is a difficult sport to photograph because it takes place on such a huge field. And because most of the action will take place at the center of that field, you’ll need to use a telephoto lens to get close enough to the players. While some shots will work better with the expansive field and even hundreds of spectators in view, for truly captivating football photos, you’ll need to get in on the action.

photographing football action

Sometimes, though, the action will come to you. During certain plays, you could end up with players tackling just a few feet away. Using a telephoto lens will make capturing this action impossible. While some photographers will use a second camera body with a wider lens attached for this kind of shooting, hobbyists or people who are just starting out might not have access to another camera.

You can try shooting half the game with one lens and half the game with the other, or switch it up at the end of each quarter. You’ll get a feel for how each style of shooting works before you invest in another camera body.

2. Check Your Settings

The most important camera setting for capturing the action at a football game is your shutter speed. You’ll need your camera to act fast if you want to freeze-frame a group of football players flying past you. Use a setting of at least 1/1,250 of a second, or even up to 1/2,500 if you can.

fast shutter speed

Note that while a smaller aperture will let in more light and allow you to use a higher shutter speed, this will result in a shallower depth of field. Try not to go lower than f/4, and consider increasing your ISO if necessary, to compensate.

3. Find a Unique Perspective

The view you’ll get while sitting in the stands is a familiar one – anyone who has gone to a football game knows what to expect. When you’re trying to capture eye-catching football photos, you want to give viewers something they haven’t seen before.

Get down lower and shoot from the ground up, or find a vantage point that gives you the opportunity to look down on the field from above. Sitting on the sidelines and capturing the players as they sprint by can give you some interesting snaps that you would miss out on if you were in your regular spot in the bleachers.

football player photo

4. Know Where to Shoot

Most of the best shots you’ll get will be of the offense trying to score a touchdown, so watch for the quarterback and follow the ball. You’ll get some interesting shots when your team is on defense as well, though, and if you keep your focus on the football as it moves across the field, you’ll be prepared to snap a shot no matter what’s going on.

Having a basic knowledge of the game can be helpful when it comes to shooting football or any other sport. Even if you don’t, keep an eye on the key players and you should be able to capture the action.

5. Stay Focused

There are tons of other things going on at a football game – mascots running through the crowd, cheerleaders trying to generate excitement, and crowds of people everywhere you look. But if you want to get the best football shots, you need to keep your focus on the field.

If you miss a shot, you won’t get another opportunity. There’s no rewind option. Learn to tune out those distractions and stick to watching the game through your viewfinder to ensure that when an exciting play happens, you’ve got it covered.

football field action shot

The most important thing to remember as you’re starting out shooting football is not to get discouraged. Sports photography is a unique skill, something many professional photographers spend years developing. You won’t be capturing iconic sports images overnight.

However, these tips will help give you a head start to ensure that even your first forays into this kind of photography will pay off. And, as you continue practicing, you’ll start to develop your own style and techniques, making your football photos more original, creative, and dynamic.

Photographer interview: Isabela Mayer

Isabela Mayer is a talented portrait photographer from Londrina, Brasil. Using all kinds of creative techniques, Isabela gracefully captures her models’ inner and outer beauty. In this interview, we talk about inspiration, how she fits photography into her busy schedule, and more.

What inspired you to start taking photographs?

I’ve always liked taking pictures since I was a child, but I think what really inspired me to go after a photography career were book covers. I love reading and even though we’re not meant to “choose a book by its cover” I’ve always done that, the books with beautiful and interesting photos on the cover caught my eye every time.

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You have a great variety of stunning portraits. How do you make your models feel comfortable in front of your camera?

I feel like I’m a bit of an awkward person, I’ve always been really shy so working with models was a big challenge for me in the beginning. Nowadays I try to relax, make conversation and get to know them. The shots always turn out to be a lot of fun!

Judging by your gorgeously edited photographs, you seem to be very familiar with post-processing. What do you love most about editing?

I love choosing the colors I’m going to use for each shot. I feel like that’s a big part of how I make my images look my own.

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In relation to the previous question, what’s your favorite editing program?

If I could only choose one I’d say Lightroom, it is so versatile! But I don’t think I could live without Photoshop. I usually combine both.

Since your portfolio is rich with portraits, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s about to have their first client shoot?

I’d say take your time. Don’t be nervous and rush things, check your camera a couple of times to make sure you are happy with your images, the important thing is the final result and not how fast you end the shoot!

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What parts of the photo-taking process do you find most challenging?

Finding locations. I live in a region where everything is green and not that interesting and the buildings are not that pretty either… I have to improvise and choose my angles well to make it work.

What do you wish you had known when you first started shooting?

I wish I had known more about photography equipment. When I first started out I spent all my money on the wrong things and later had to change all my equipment so it fit my purposes better.

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You’ve grown so much as an artist over the years. What has been the biggest obstacle in your journey so far and how did you overcome it?

Thank you! My biggest obstacle is definitely university. I study architecture full time, so it’s a struggle to find time for photography. I think I’ll only overcome it when I graduate, haha, but as of now, I do my best to fit shoots into my crazy schedule, even if it means not sleeping much!

Is there any type of photography genre you’d like to experiment with more?

I think wedding photography. I’ve started taking photos of couples lately and it’s so captivating! I like the idea of telling stories through my photographs and there’s nothing quite like a good love story. Also, I love capturing feelings.

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And finally, what do you tell yourself when you feel insecure about your work?

When I feel insecure I usually just take a break, watch films, distract myself for a bit so I can start having ideas and getting excited to photograph again. I try to always keep in mind that photography is a never ending learning experience, you are always learning new things and improving and sometimes that involves making mistakes or criticizing your own work.

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You can find more of Isabela’s work on Facebook and Instagram.

Complete Guide to Flash for Beginners (II): Things to Consider when Buying an External Flash

In the previous article, I talked about the advantages and disadvantages of using an external flash. If you decided that it is time for you to get one, now you will face the big question: Which one should I buy? I struggled quite a lot before I got my first flash because I didn’t understand well the specifications. In addition, I did not know what I needed to have in order to answer my requirements. Today I will share with you everything I learned in the process of buying a flash. I hope this will make it easier for you!

external flash for beginners

 

Get to know what the specifications of a flash mean

When you are new into flashes, it might seem that the specifications and reviews are written in another language. TTL, guide number, flash value, zoom coverage, bounce capacity, speed sync…. a lot of new terminology you never heard before! Let’s go over all of them. You will be able to understand flash terminology in a flash (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun)!

Guide number: measures the flash’s ability to illuminate the subject so that it will have a balanced exposure. It is calculated as the distance the subject from the flash times the f-value of the aperture (in order to simplify it, the calculation is usually done with the iso value of 100). This calculation can help you decide on the type of flash you should buy but also can help you to decide on placement in the photo when using the flash you have and your camera settings.

Zoom coverage: indicates how far the light from the flash can reach (and still be effective for the photo). Some flashes can adjust the distance to be synchronized with the zoom of the lens

 Bounce capacity: Certain flashes have swivel and tilting heads. This feature enables you to use the flash not only for illuminating your subject with direct light (which can be too hard in certain situations) but also to reflect (or bounce) the light off of surfaces, softening it in the process.

external flash for beginners

Speed Sync: When using a flash two actions happen: the shutter opens to expose the sensor (or film) to light and it discharges a burst of light onto the subject. In the basic level, these two actions need to be synchronized in order to be effective. In a more advanced level of flash usage, if it fires closer to the moment the shutter opens or having the flash closer to the moment the shutter closes will of light closer to the yield different effects.

TTL: In the camera, you have different modes to choose from: auto, aperture, manual etc. The external flash also has several modes of action. In manual mode, you set it as you want and the settings will remain that way until you change them. In TTL mode your flash changes its settings according to instructions from the camera. The camera tells the flash to discharge twice; first before the shot to allow the camera to adjust the flash settings, and second while taking the shot itself (while the shutter is open) in order to illuminate the subject.

external flash for beginners

Evaluate the use you will make  

Choosing between one flash model and another will depend on the usage you intend for it. Some of the most frequent uses are:

  • Indoors portraits: When you take photos of one or two people in small and closed spaces, as is usually the case with indoors photography, you’ll mostly use the flash to remove shadows and give a bit more of light to the scene. You don’t need a super powerful flash with long coverage because you are usually close to the model and your light conditions are not the worst (you are not shooting in total darkness). However, it will be nice if you have TTL (it will be faster and your model will have easier time). Having a flash with rotating and tilting head will be useful too, because it will give you more flexibility to bounce the light from different directions and objects.

external flash for beginnersexternal flash for beginners

  • Indoors group portraits: Same as above, with the difference of having more than two subjects, this means you’d need to take the photo from a bigger distance from them so they will all fit in the frame. If this is your case, you would want a flash with higher flash value so it could reach from further away.
  • Portraits outdoors: You’ll probably be taking portraits at several locations which probably won’t provide the same protective and dependable environment a studio (or a room) would provide. I heard stories about flashes falling from cliffs or get broken because they fell because of a gust of In this case, I’d recommend you to get a flash that will be powerful enough, but still cheap (you might want to consider to take your chances with a none brand-name product). Then, if something happens to it, you won´t feel so bad about it.

external flash for beginners

  • Events: Events are a bit of a mixture of all of the above, they could require you to switch between locations, you might need to take photos of groups and/or individuals, you’ll probably need to take photos of little details as well as wide angle shots. In order to truly be prepared you might consider having more than just one flash (and even more than just one camera). Of course that depends on the nature of the event and what is required of you.

external flash for beginners

These were just some examples, meant to give you food for thought while you analyze your future use of the flash and why some flashes might fit better that others. You are the one that knows the type of photos you want to take, so the final decision is yours and it might be different from what I said in the examples.

Decide on a budget

Prices start at around 10 US Dollars and can go up to hundreds of dollars. Decide on a budget before you start looking. You can find the perfect flash for you and then realize that it is way too expensive  and you can´t afford it. I always recommend not spend a lot on the first one you get. You don´t know yet if you are going to use it as much as you think. You might love using flash, but you might also hate it. Getting a flash with good quality/price ratio is always a good choice in my opinion especially when you are trying something new. You can always upgrade to a more expensive one in the future, when you are sure of your needs and real requirements. Also, it is better to make all the beginner’s mistakes done on a cheap piece of equipment than on an expensive one.

external flash for beginners

Same brand of your camera or a third party flash?

You can get a flash from the same brand as your camera or from a totally different company that makes flashes compatible with your camera (third party). There are advantages and disadvantages to the two options.

If you get a flash from the same brand of your camera, the compatibility is assured. Besides, most brand names provide worldwide repair services and most reliable private repair services will also be familiar with them. Moreover, some added value functions such as remote communication between the camera and the flash would work only when using devices of the same brand.

Third party flashes are usually cheaper, making a great option in case you have a budget to consider. Also, you might want it to have features or accessories that are provided by a specific brand.

 external flash for beginners

First or second hand?

The advantages of getting a brand new flash are quite obvious, you know exactly what condition it is, you have a warranty and who to contact if you have issues or need of technical support. The major disadvantage is the cost. On the other hand, some people prefer buying second hand equipment when they try a new thing; it’s cheaper, you don’t have the constant fear of scratching it when using it and if you are electronic savvy who likes to fix things by yourself, warranty is not an issue. However, when it comes to flashes you must keep in mind that it has a light-bulb which has a life span measured by how many times it’s been fired (or lit). Make sure it is not going to burn out soon and keep in mind it will entail further expanses and a visit to the service lab.

 

I hope you’d found my article helpful. If you have any questions, suggestions or remarks feel free to write a comment. Happy shooting!

Transformation in self-portraiture: Discovering Identity

Self-portraiture was the very first genre I was introduced to when I discovered photography. The very first self-portraits I encountered and loved were otherworldly images filled with seemingly magical elements. The subjects all looked like they had been taken out of a fairytale: eye-catching neons, impressive costumes, breathtaking hairstyles, and the list goes on. However, upon visiting the photographers’ profiles, I noticed that the real subjects behind those photos looked very different in reality. They were just as stunning without their wigs and makeup, but what really astounded me was how gracefully they had disguised themselves in order to convey a certain emotion. Inspired by this notion of transformation, I became a chameleon myself.

Fortunately, you don’t need a team of makeup artists and hairdressers to transform yourself into a character you care about (though that would be very helpful). All that’s needed is a touch of creativity and a willingness to be patient. Don’t limit yourself to the tips below. Instead, view them as a starting point from which your own original ideas can grow.

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Stories

The most important part of the transformation is understanding the emotion you want to create. It’s okay to simply enjoy the unpredictable nature of a shoot. It’s also okay to have a detailed plan before you begin. Whichever method you choose, remember to have a story in mind. What kind of story do you want to tell? Are there any emotions that really stand out to you? It would help to watch a film or read a book before your shoot; even if you won’t end up planning anything afterward, the emotions of the story will seep into your mind and fill your subconscious with interesting ideas. If you have the time and the desire, writing a short story for your character would benefit you greatly. Not only would it provide you with enriching ideas, but it would also improve your writing and thinking skills.

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Actors often admit that a makeover gives them the necessary confidence embody their character successfully. An outfit change could turn you into someone who’s willing to expose their heart for the sake of photography. While this isn’t a direct transformation tip, it’s a reminder to familiarize yourself with your emotions and to find comfort in them through your art. The results might not always please you, but they’ll give you the necessary amount of empathy to have an honest shoot.

Hairstyles & Hair colors

In a future article, I’ll share many interesting hairstyles with you. For the time being, I encourage you to experiment fearlessly. Most of my hairstyles are the results of random movements and patterns. More often than not, they’re just messy knots which happen to be photogenic. Anyone can be their own hairdresser, especially passionate photographers who wish to tell a heartfelt story.

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Much like hairstyles, hair colors are very fun to experiment with (especially when you learn how to work with them in Photoshop). Selective color in Photoshop allows users to change specific hues in an image, a tool perfect for hair retouching. For instance, dark hair can be highlighted by altering the neutral colors in selective color. Similarly, lighter hair can be completely transformed by changing yellows and reds.

When the lighting conditions aren’t ideal during a shoot, changing hair color in Photoshop might be an ordeal. If you don’t have access to the best lighting at any point in time, investing in several wigs would remove the problem. There’s a plethora of hairstyles and hair colors to choose from when it comes to wigs; using them in your (self)portraits will enhance your portfolio in unimaginable ways.

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Makeup

For those who aren’t big on makeup, the transformation is still very possible. A simple eyeliner can make someone feel like an entirely different person. Even a touch of black lipstick could instantly transform you into the character you admire. Keep this in mind when you look through your makeup tools – chances are that you’ll find creative and eye-opening ways to apply them.

Makeup, specifically eyebrow pencils, are ideal for creating beauty spots or freckles. Such minor additions will dramatically change your appearance, allowing your images to strongly affect viewers. Freckles look particularly alluring in black & white photographs. Makeup can also come in handy when creating fake tattoos or other body modifications. The fact that makeup can be easily removed makes it a self-portrait photographer’s best friend: easy to apply, easy to remove. The results transform you into someone completely different, someone whose emotions and stories you can confidently share with the world.

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Locations

Visiting new and picturesque locations might help you develop a character idea or enhance a vision you already have. If you don’t have access to such places, shoot somewhere familiar and alter the colors using selective color (Lightroom has similar features.) This way, you can transform a summery backyard into an autumnal one. The possibilities are excitingly endless. What you’ll get is an almost fictional world where you and your imagination can thrive.

Adding textures in the editing process could also add an interesting element to your transformation. Since there are all kinds of resources out there (many of them are free), you can make your image look as old or as new as you like. This creative freedom enables artists to create photos that are out of this world.

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Sometimes, we find ourselves hiding behind masks just to please someone or avoid an unpleasant conversation. These situations often leave us feeling so distant from ourselves it makes our hearts ache. To a certain extent, self-portraiture is an ode to all of these moments, a way of relating to all kinds of people by transforming ourselves into something we’re not. One could also consider self-portraiture a form of empathy. We create characters whose stories we strongly wish to share with the world and by doing that, we learn more about other lives and how we perceive them.

Discussing the beauty of portraits with photographer Bluewaterandlight

Ben, also known as bluewaterandlight, is a talented portrait photographer from Germany. His interest in people is very evident in his images, which vary from heartwarming portraits to emotional works of art. In this interview, Ben talks about his working process, how he feels about human interactions, and what he believes aspiring photographers should know. Please enjoy this fascinating conversation.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

Hey, my name is Benjamin, but I prefer Ben. I’m a portrait & people photographer from Germany. I wanted a new toy to play with, which I couldn’t understand directly, so at Christmas, in 2014 I decided to buy a camera. And the journey began. Since I got this camera I knew I wanted to photograph people, but my introversion and shyness made it impossible. But with every little step, I noticed more and more that I must photograph people and not landscapes, so I spent time with other people and I found the most interesting thing in our world: humans.

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Landscapes are really beautiful but without people they are dead. I’ve learned to see the beauty in every little piece of God’s nature. The beauty is there, everywhere. But unfortunately, most people can’t see it. If every earth inhabitant could see this beauty, we would not enslave and destroy our nature, but live in harmony with it.

Photography for me is the best therapy and way to express myself. When I am sad or full of anxiety I create a picture of myself or another person with these feelings and put all my sadness and anxiety in the picture and then my heart is ready for happiness and love. I love people and I think this gives me the power to work hard and follow my dream, to be a worldwide working photographer.

Your portfolio is filled with gorgeous portraits. How do you make your models feel comfortable in front of your camera?

I start my photo shoots with a hug for my models to create a friendship. I’m really interested in people and this is one of the reasons my pictures look so natural. During the shoot, we talk a lot about life, love, anxiety and other things. My shoots look like this: two friends talking about their life and creating “a few” pictures.

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In addition to being sharp and well-lit, your photos are beautifully edited. What does your editing process consist of?

My editing process begins during the shoot. I alway try to get the perfect exposure directly in the camera. Great make-up is also very helpful. At home, I import my pictures to Lightroom and choose the best pictures, if I didn’t do that already at the location together with the model. Then I import my/our favorites to Affinity Photo to edit the skin and if necessary, I remove distracting elements. Then I go back to Lightroom and edit the color, brightness, etc. Here I use my own or the VSCO presets.

Many of your images were shot using a limited amount of light. What do you think is the most important thing to consider when shooting in darker locations?

Shootings at dark locations are really hard because my Canon 6D’s autofocus isn’t good, and at dark locations, it’s extremely bad. So I mostly focus with manual focus and focus peak (Magic Lantern). Often, I use a reflector or even a flash. Many people don’t like noise/grain, but I love it because it gives the portrait a bit of a painting and creates a symbiosis between the model and the background.

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Are there any photography genres you’d like to experiment with more?

In the future, I want to take more “Fine Art” pictures because I want to tell the world what’s in my mind. I want to travel more to talk with people all over the world and take pictures with them. And I would love if I find a model to take pictures of her/him crying, it’s one of the strongest feelings.

What do you find most challenging about portrait photography?

For me, people photography is the masterclass of photography. It’s extremely hard to make people familiar with you and your work and make them trust you. In my preparation for a photo shoot, I listen to my “power playlist” to give myself certainty that the photo shoot will be awesome. You should create your own “power playlist” filled with songs which give you energy and self-confidence.

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If an aspiring photographer asked you for advice, what would you tell them?

  • Follow your heart, don’t give a shit on what other people think.
  • If something doesn’t work, wait a bit, try it later and get some rest. But never give up!
  • Use music to make the emotion more intense (a mobile music box with Bluetooth and battery is helpful.) Classic music, for example, can slow down the space around you and help you see through chaos.
  • Write down your ideas and thoughts in a notebook. If you don’t, you will forget them.
  • Don’t look at cameras, lens or other gear. It’s not important. The image in your mind, your ideas and people are important.

You’re a fan of black & white photography. What do you find most appealing about it?

Black and white photography is the origin of photography and the most natural photography. It puts my focus on the model/subject and away from color. For me, it’s the essence of photography. It makes the light and structure more important.

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If you could meet your favorite artist and ask them 3 photography-related questions, what would they be?

  1. What’s your story?
  2. Why do you do your photography the way you do it?
  3. How do you handle anxiety and depression?

What has been your most challenging creative obstacle so far, and how did you overcome it?

Every single time, it’s hard to transfer the image from your mind to the reality. My most challenging picture was the picture of my best friend Ante. I was inspired by the pictures of “omerika” (https://www.instagram.com/omerika/).

The act of sleeping fascinated me all time because during sleep you solve problems you can’t understand in the real world. During sleep, you can be every person you want. You can be an astronaut, race car driver, a bird and even the doctor (knock, knock. Who is there? Doctor! Doctor Who? Correct. 😛 ) In this picture I wanted to create a symbiosis between a sleeping girl and mother nature. First, I tried to use a tree as a symbol of “mother nature” but then I didn’t like the picture. So I put it away for a few days, and later I decided to use a forest and merge it. It was so beautiful. I love this image.

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A few last words from the photographer:

Don’t do what other people want you to do. Do what you love and never give up!
“The limits in photography are in yourself, for what we see is only what we are.” -Ernst Haas
Good light and great ideas,
With love, Ben 

You can find more of Ben’s work on his website and Instagram.

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A day in the life of a photogenic kitten

I own a sassy little Scottish Fold called Mimi whose rambunctious personality gives me unique photo-taking opportunities every day. Though I mostly focus on portraiture, taking photos of animals gives me a chance to broaden my creative horizons and familiarize myself with mind-opening, genre-specific techniques. With this in mind, I decided to focus on an average day with my cat and find interesting creative doors as the day progressed. Here are the results.

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While some cats are nocturnal animals, others enjoy sleeping at the same time as their owners. Mimi is a combination of both, switching from a peaceful nighttime cat to a wild creature lurking in the dark. The former is preferred by everyone not just because it gives the family an undisturbed night of sleep, but also because it makes Mimi fairly sleepy in the mornings – the ideal time to take cozy pet photos. A kitten experiencing the light of a new morning is exceedingly charming. This time of day is particularly useful for those who own wild kittens; photographing them early in the morning will help you avoid taking unsuccessful and blurry shots. Keeping the curtains drawn on a bright morning will also provide you with the best light: a mild yet clear environment for the best indoor pictures.

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Mimi turns into a hyper creature as soon as she devours her breakfast. While this part of the day is a challenging one to capture, it’s worth diving into thanks to the often funny creative opportunities that arise. The light during this time is still mild, so worrying about lighting conditions isn’t a necessity. Taking into consideration the importance of capturing movement, the good lighting conditions are a huge plus. If the light isn’t favorable when your cat is in a playful mood, consider increasing your camera’s ISO number for less blurred results.

To make playtime more entertaining for both you and your cat, consider using distractions such as toys and snacks. These will catch your pet’s attention and serve as visually appealing foregrounds. Other objects which have the potential of becoming striking foregrounds are hair, blankets, and plants. Remember to reward your cat every few minutes so it feels encouraged and loved. Grumpy pets don’t make the best models, no matter how sweet they may look.

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Exploring the apartment is something Mimi thoroughly enjoys, no matter how well she knows every room. Washing machines, doors, tables, and windows all fascinate her beyond measure. For unique and endearing images, follow your cat around and notice what interests them. Photograph them while they’re in their own bubble of curiosity. Exploration is the perfect time for spontaneity, and spontaneity is perfect for eye-catching and impressive shots.

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Take advantage of your cat’s favorite hobby: napping. Mimi can sleep for hours on end, occasionally getting up and freezing mid-stretch. Since cats are so flexible, their sleeping and resting positions are often quite amusing. Mimi, for example, loves sleeping with her paws lined up neatly in front of her, just like The Sphinx of Giza. Photographing your cat’s unique quirks will give your photos more personality, so use your pet’s naptimes as an excuse to take awesome photos.

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It really is all in the details. Focusing on parts of your cat – its paws, ears, eyes, and so on – will allow you to think more creatively due to the fact that it takes careful observation to find outstanding details. Instead of photographing your cat from a distance, find graceful parts that stand out to you. Making a collage out of those parts could be the start of an interesting project, for instance.

In just a day, you could acquire a plethora of sweet cat photographs. Imagine how wonderful your results would be if you photographed your pet more often if you started a project tracking its development and growth. Such projects, tough as they may sometimes be, are fantastic methods of improvement. Whatever you decide to do after reading this article, remember to reward your cat, be present while shooting (even if you’re focused), avoid stress, and most importantly, enjoy this wonderfully pleasant time together. The experience will leave you feeling warm and the photos will be the beginning of something wonderful.
Good luck!

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5 Tips for Taking Unique Pictures of Fish

With bright colors, unique shapes, and smooth, gliding movements, it’s no wonder fish are a popular subject for photographers. A trip to the aquarium provides endless inspiration for potential captures, but it’s important to know what to look for to ensure your shots give you the results you want to see. Even if you’re shooting fish outside in a lake or river, there are some things you should keep in mind as you venture out with your camera.

Fish photography presents several unique challenges – like low light, reflections, fast-moving subjects, and shooting through water. Fortunately, these roadblocks can all be overcome through practice. In fact, once you know how to approach them, they can actually work to make your final images more interesting.

Your captures of fish could be some of the most spectacular photos in your portfolio – you just need to know how to approach these unique challenges in a way that will produce fantastic results.

1. Stay Out of the Shot

Even though aquariums are generally fairly dark, all those layers of glass reflect each bit of light in the room. You’ll see that the glass reflects the walls, benches, and even you and the other visitors, as well as reflections from all the other tanks. Using a lens hood and pressing your camera against the glass can help to block out all that extra light, but chances are you’ll still need to check your position to make sure your frame doesn’t include any unpleasant intrusions.

aquarium fish photography

Even if you’re shooting outside, you’ll likely have to deal with reflections – but this time, they’ll be on the surface of the water. These can trip up your camera’s light meter, making it think there is more light in the scene than there actually is. Be careful about trusting any automatic settings, and use a handheld light meter if you can.

2. Capture the Action

Fish darting around and even jumping up out of the water will be moving quickly. You’ll need to use a wide aperture setting to let in as much light as possible, allowing your camera to use a faster shutter speed. That way, you can freeze the action and catch those fish in motion before they zoom off to another part of the aquarium, or disappear back beneath the waves.

fish swimming upstream photo

This can be tricky in an aquarium, where the lighting might not be bright enough to allow for a quick shutter speed. To achieve this, try to find a scene with solid lighting and wait for the fish to come to you. Chances are you won’t have to wait long before some vibrant fish come along and capture the light with their bright scales.

3. Get Up Close

Using the right lens can make a huge difference when you’re trying to shoot something as small as fish. It can also help you cut through the water during a shoot at the aquarium, because the more water you have between yourself and your subject, the softer your focus will be. Frame your subject in a tight shot by using a lens that has a good range and can zoom in, where necessary.

jellyfish closeup photo

At the aquarium, fish might also swim right up close to the glass – and if you’re pressed up with a lens hood, you might be too close for zoom. Ideally, you’ll want some range, so you can shoot wherever the fish might be swimming.

4. Don’t Sweat It

Condensation is a frustrating part of shooting anywhere you’ll find water. Humid environments, like on a lake or in an aquarium, can cause your camera to sweat and fog up. Newer cameras will even shut off to prevent damage if they recognized too much condensation in the internal circuitry. To keep this from disturbing your shoot, give your camera some time to adjust to a new environment before you try capturing photos.

5. Make Your Subject Pop

Whether you’re shooting at an aquarium or outside, it’s important to think carefully about your compositions. Frame your image in a way that makes the fish stand out from the background, which can be a challenge.

tropical fish photo

In an aquarium, you’ll have to fight against other brightly colored fish that might be competing for attention, or dark shadows that could close in on your subject. In the wild, there are all kinds of other distractions to deal with – splashing water droplets, plants and other animals can get in the way of a clean, simple composition that shows off the spectacular fish you’re trying to photograph.

Using these tips to take photographs of fish will help you come up with some impressive images that showcase the movement, colors, and shapes of these beautiful creatures. Grab your camera and get to the aquarium to test them out before the crowds show up!

Photographer interview: Martina Bertacchi

Martina Bertacchi is a talented photographer from Italy who photographs people in worlds unlike our own. Her portraits are charming and striking, focusing on the subject’s raw beauty and their surroundings. In this interview, Martina talks about her inspiration, ambitions, and the tips she’d give to aspiring portrait photographers. I hope you enjoy this eye-opening conversation!

What inspired you to start taking photographs?

I started taking pictures by chance about 6/7 years ago when I was still at school, and photography became a sort of safety valve on the days of full study. I took inspiration from the smallest things, also in the house, but mostly when I went out I really liked to capture nature, leaves, and flowers. My main source of inspiration was the Internet, sites like Flickr and Facebook have helped me a lot. I saw some photographs and I remained amazed by their beauty, so much that I wanted to start playing around with my camera and make it my own. Only much later I began to get interested in portraits.

You have many stunning photos of people. What do you look for in a model?

I love spontaneity in people. I think that in every single person there is a beauty. I consider it very important to constantly look into it, details even in the face. Sometimes the imperfection can become perfection. I prefer delicate, dreamy faces that tell something.

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The subjects in your photographs are always very sharp and well-lit. What advice would you give to aspiring portrait photographers?

The advice I would give to a young aspiring portrait photographer is to not be fooled by the desire to have super expensive equipment but to also start experimenting with a simple camera, play with the lights and natural shadows. I think good post production is more important, as that is what gives meaning and feeling to your photo. Lightroom helped me a lot in the beginning.

What does your editing process consist of?

First I shoot in RAW. I find it essential to recover the lights in the background, and it’s more appropriate for the white balance. To develop the raw format I use Lightroom – as I said before, I modify the lights, use Photoshop to work on the skin, and then I play with colors, curves, tones, and contrast.

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Who are your favorite artists and why?

I do not have a favorite artist. There are so many that I admire and I esteem. I prefer to quote emerging photographers that inspired me a lot, like Marta Bevacqua, Alessio Albi, Laura Zalenga, Alexandra Sophie. They represent fully the emotions, through their stories –  almost fairy-tale atmospheres that fascinate me a lot.

Is there anything photography-related you wish you could tell your younger self?

I would say to always be themselves, to never give up, and never stop to create and experiment new things and to be inspired by anything that surrounds them.

Your models look very graceful and natural in your images. How do you make them feel comfortable in front of your camera?

I’m actually very shy. It happened several times to turn on the music and let myself and my models be carried by it. I always try to make them express themselves without forcing anything.

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Is there a photography genre you’d like to experiment more with?

I’d like to experiment more with taking pictures indoors, with natural light, and why not also self-portraits. I find them very intimate and full of emotions.

What do you find most challenging about portrait photography?

Surely to capture the perfect moment, whatever fills my heart with joy and creates something magical and beautiful.

If a photographer approached you and asked for 3 tips, what would you tell them?

Yes, I have three pieces of advice for people who love making photography:
Let yourself be guided by your feelings and inspirations and most importantly, take the time to observe the environment in which you take pictures and always give a close look to your subject’s details in order to give value to your portraits.

You can find more of Martina’s work on her Flickr and Instagram.

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Better Sharpness and Focus: A Guide on Photography Improvement

Have you ever found an image that is not sharp at all or an image that is out of focus or even focused on a wrong section? Because of my work as a web builder, besides as a photographer, this is a common problem for me. I’m going to give you some tips and tricks that I’ve learned as a photographer and as a web builder.

Sharpness is the key for professional photography. Not all of you will notice the difference between a crystal clear and fairly clear photography. But if you a professional and if you are about to make a big print from some photo you will see the difference too.

To achieve crystal clarity of your photos you will have to shoot like a sharp shooter. Those sniper shooters are not fools for using firm foundation. So, therefore, use a tripod, monopod, or even a bench just to stabilize whenever possible. If you have used a moment to think about composition and aperture think for a minute about how to improve your stability. If you don’t have a tripod, just buy one.

Better focus and sharpness
Better focus and sharpness

Don’t zoom to the maximum. If you are shooting with 55-250mm. lens the best focus and for super sharp photos you should not go above 230mm. I am quite sure that there are exceptions from this rule, but I’m talking about average lenses, not the professional the most expensive ones. Test your equipment; for example, shoot a text from newspaper hanged on the wall with different focal length and you will see the difference of the sharpness you will get.

Just as zoom makes the difference to the sharpness so it does the aperture. Most of the photographers learned that the sharpest image is somewhere between f/7.1 and f/8, and this is true in general but it depends on the lens also. As I question everything I also question this rule. So I have tested my equipment and it makes a difference from type to type of lens. For example, a wide angle lenses are sharper at a little higher aperture. I did a little research on the net, and the result was that this is because they are made that way.

Decrease your ISO. Photographers know that with higher ISO you are getting more noise to your image. But you also need to know that with increasing your ISO you are reducing visible details on the image dramatically. So if you are in a situation to increase ISO sensitivity, I highly recommend that you use flash or move to a better-lighted area to get a sharper image.

Sharpness is the key for professional photography.
Sharpness is the key for professional photography.

Also, you need to be gentle with your camera and stop hitting the shooter button like it did something wrong to you and it needs to be punished. Hitting hard the shooter button adds a torque to the camera in that critical moment when you are recording the scene. The proper way to treat the shooter button is to roll your finger back across the button. Additional to this if you are the owner of a less expensive DSLR your shooter button is either plastic or metal. Don’t get me wrong this kind of a button does the job, but the expensive cameras come with squishy shutter buttons with a rubber coating on top so that the press of the button does not create vibrations on the camera. So if your camera is not so squishy you can always buy a rubber pad for the shutter button which will solve this problem and it will cost you a few dollars.

About the focus… first you have to make a difference if you are shooting a moving or a still object. If it’s a moving object choose continuous focus (AI servo on Canon or AF-C on Nikon). If it’s a standing object choose AF-S on a Nikon or Single Servo on a Canon. Always, and I mean always choose focus point manually. Don’t let the camera choose instead of you. Practice using the four-way selector on the back of your camera. If we are talking about portrait photos always focus on the eyes on the person. And if we are talking about landscape photos focus on one-third up from the bottom of the frame. Now that you have focused on the scenery be careful not to move forward or backward at all. And if we are talking about macro photography never focus too close to the lens because each lens has a close focus distance. I usually find that if I focus at the closest point the result is a blurry image. Give it up a little space and back up a little bit from the closest you can be and you will improve the result.

So that’s it for focusing and sharpness, I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and that you have learned something new. Until the next time, I’m wishing you all the best.

5 Tips to Photograph Parks at Night

Some of the most spectacular scenes you can capture at night will be in parks. We’re not just talking about city parks here, although they can be quite remarkable. Visit National Parks, with their incredibly expansive skies dotted with stars, or check out amusement parks, where you can find bright lights, vibrant colors, and thrilling movement.

While these locations will definitely provide you with some exciting subject matter, you won’t get the results you’re looking for unless you follow a few tips, especially if it’s your first time out. To shoot in these places in lower-light settings, you’ll need a more advanced camera, a solid wide-angle lens with a fast aperture, and a tripod.

With your gear packed and your location scouted, head out and capture some of the most incredible night photography you’ll ever take – by keeping these tricks in mind.

1. Get Your Timing Right

The best time to shoot at night is about a half hour after the sun has slipped below the horizon. You’ll hopefully still be able to capture a bit of afterglow in the sky, but it will be plenty dark to highlight the artificial light in an amusement park. If you’re shooting at a National Park, you’ll have just enough light left to keep some of the details in your landscape and whatever foreground elements you’ve included in your composition.

amusement park night photo

You’ll still be able to get some impressive shots after that vibrant glow is gone, though. The lights on the carnival rides will pop against a velvety black background, and in National Parks, you’ll start to be able to capture the detail in the stars.

2. Adjust Your ISO and Shutter Speed

Increasing your camera’s sensitivity to light will help you accurately capture the details in low light settings, so dial up your ISO to 400 or more. This will depend on the capabilities of your specific camera, as you don’t want to push your sensor to the point where you start seeing a lot of noise.

national park night photography

You’ll also want to switch up your shutter speeds. Using a longer exposure time will allow you to capture some movement, but you’ll need to use a tripod and make sure you’re not jostling the camera when you release the shutter. The goal here is to keep static elements of your composition clear while letting the moving parts blur into a colorful, eye-catching pattern.

3. Try Your Camera’s Timelapse Mode

Since night shooting can be somewhat unpredictable, this is a great opportunity to experiment with your camera’s time-lapse feature. This means your camera will automatically expose a frame every four seconds or so, and you’ll wind up with a very unique selection of different blurs, colors, and compositions.

amusement park blurred motion

This is similar to shooting video in that you’ll have a somewhat ongoing record of the scene, but this way, you’ll end up with a series of full-frame stills, instead of a full recording. This gives you some really interesting results that you can play with later, in post-processing.

4. Don’t Rely on Autofocus

Focusing is an issue at night since it’s hard to see the subject of your photo when there’s very little available light. Autofocus is especially unreliable, so you’ll need to get familiar with the manual focusing ring on your lens. You can also use Live View, if your camera allows it, to have a larger screen to work with as you try to focus your lens.

city park night photo

Try using a lens with a wide aperture, so the depth of field shouldn’t be an issue. You want as much of the park scene to be in focus as possible. Try to find areas where some of the ambient light hits your subject, to create a bit of contrast where you can aim your focus.

5. Composition Matters

Even when you’re shooting in the dark, it’s important to carefully compose each frame. As you would with any other landscape, try to include elements to provide a sense of depth – leading lines, foreground interest, and as much detail as possible.

It’s easy to let the star of the image be the lights from the amusement park or the sparkling stars in the night sky at one of the many National Parks around the world. But if you want to create a truly eye-catching, dynamic shot, you’ll need to be sure that there is more going on than just these special features.

composition night photography

Now that you’ve got some ideas in mind to help get you started photographing parks during the night, get out and start looking for some dynamic compositions. Remember that trial and error is one of the best ways to help teach yourself more about photography – so don’t be afraid to get brave and try some new things. With digital files to work with, you’ve got nothing to lose!

How to take heartwarming photos with your cat

We’ve all attempted to take a sweet photo with our pet at one point or another. Such attempts are often fruitless, especially when cats are involved. Taking photos of them, let alone with them, is akin to running a marathon on an unpleasantly humid day (covered in scratches). The secret to taking interesting photos with your cat involves patience, observation, and creativity. The tips below will help you understand your cat and your camera better. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to take unique and heartwarming photos with your beloved pet.

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Prepare your camera beforehand

It’s important to understand your own camera before you attempt to capture your cat’s personality. Plan your shoot at least a day before you have it. Consider the following:

  • Time of day
    Unless you’re planning to use a studio, the time of day is of extreme importance during the shooting process. The darker it is, the higher your ISO number should be. The best lighting conditions are during golden hour (if you’re photographing outdoors) or at noon (if you’re indoors).
  • Focus
    Are you going to be close to the camera or quite a distance away from it? Knowing where you’ll stand with your cat (so that both of you fit into the frame) will prevent you from having a confusing, unsuccessful shoot. Make sure your camera’s aperture is small enough to avoid blurring important parts of your composition. (A large aperture might create photos in which only your cat’s nose is in focus, for example.)
  • Prepare a distraction
    Collect a few of your cat’s favourite toys and treats. Attaching its favourite possessions next to your camera will allow it to feel more comfortable and will encourage it to pay more attention to your camera. You could also ask someone your cat is familiar wih to help you distract it. Some cameras have a blinking timer light perfect for capturing a cat’s attention. If you feel like experimenting, see what your cat finds interesting and look in the same directions; this will add a great touch of spontaneity to your images.

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Know where you’re going to shoot

Is your cat familiar with the spot where you’re planning to take photos? Taking it to a place which it doesn’t know well might result in panic, scratches, and a failed shoot. Consider your cat’s favourite places and take photos there. Even if they might not be the most picturesque locations, you’ll get a great experience which won’t stress anyone out. With time, your cat will be comfortable enough in your arms (and in front of your camera) to explore other locations.

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Make sure your cat is comfortable and happy

If you own rambunctious kittens, play with them a few minutes before your shoot to avoid restlessness. If you have older cats, make sure they’re content and full. Photographing cats soon after they’ve woken up will prevent them from getting too excited and allow them to be calm enough for your shoot. Unlike us humans, cats look photogenic even after a long nap, so makeup or skin (fur) retouching shouldn’t be a worry at all. Furthermore, remember to have some food nearby so your cat knows that its hard work will pay off. Reward it with a small treats every few minutes to encourage its enthusiasm. In addition to treats, keep toys and a bed nearby to make your cat feel safe.

Experiment

If posed photos don’t interest you, embrace spontaneity instead. As mentioned previously, you should familiarize yourself with the settings in your camera before your shoot. Make sure the focus, aperture, and shutter speed are perfect for the lighting conditions you’ll be working with. Once you’re happy with the settings, position your camera and interact with your cat. Play with it, reward it, and accept its unpredictable nature. The results will be unique and perfect for memory-keeping.

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The more you shoot, the more your cat will enjoy the photo-taking process. When it feels more comfortable in your camera’s presence, feel free to experiment with different times of day, light patterns, etc. Here are a few ideas: a silhouette of you holding your cat at night, a double exposure, a simple casual photo in the kitchen with backlight illuminating the room.

If a shoot doesn’t go the way you expect it to, try again later. Don’t allow yourself to give up easily. Photographs of any kind, especially ones with your pet, are worth the hard work and determination because of the wonderful memories they keep for us.

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Photographer interview: Ines Rehberger

Ines Rehberger is a very talented portrait photographer from Germany. Her photographs possess raw beauty, honesty, and an infinite amount of stories. I had a chance to ask her about the value of lighting, her working process, and more. I hope Ines’ outlook on life motivates you to believe in yourself and look at life from a different perspective.

What inspired you to start taking photographs?

I grew up being an art-focused child. I loved to draw and paint. But it never fulfilled my aim to show who I am inside. I wasn’t able to make myself happy with what I did. So one day I grabbed my mom’s pocket camera and started taking pictures of friends and myself and since those days I never stopped. Photography opened a world of endless possibilities to capture my soul, to create worlds and transfer feelings.

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Your portfolio is beyond stunning. Which photograph of yours is your favorite and why?

Thank you so much! Since I’ve been taking pictures for many many years it is really hard to pick a favourite. It also depends on my mood. But as I’m sitting here, feeling kind of Scotland-homesick I have to go with this one featuring my host mom Therèse:

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The quality and creativity of your images are extremely impressive. What does a typical portrait shoot consist of?

You’re making me speechless! Thanks again! Well, usually I welcome the model at my home and we have a chat and maybe a tea and talk about ideas and choose some outfits. My shootings are very spontaneous. Whatever happens, happens. And most of the time I’m happy about it.

Every person you photograph possesses raw honesty and such touching emotions. How do you make your subjects comfortable during a shoot?

To me, it is very important to talk to the model like I talk to everyone else. I don’t treat them like clients. I want to get to know them and in the same way, I tell them about myself. Once there is a state of trust it is quite easy to tell someone what kind of emotion I’d like to have for a portrait.

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Your relationship with light is phenomenal. What lighting-related advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?

I’d tell her/him to go and try as many light situations as possible. Natural light, as well as artificial light. There are so many ways to create beautiful light situations without having to spend money. I personally love to use mirrors to reflect light or use a flashlight through glass. Car lights and traffic lights also create amazing effects.

You’ve shot so many interesting people. Is there anyone you dream of photographing one day?

Sometimes I dream about taking pictures of celebrities like Lana Del Rey or Benedict Cumberbatch. Some people say: dream big, but at the moment I like to take pictures of the people I trust and love the most and in my opinion, they are just as interesting as celebs.

What has been the most challenging creative obstacle in your life so far, and how did you overcome it?

I actually just overcame it. I was really struggling with my work. I still like my old style of photography but it came to a point that I realized it wasn’t what I truly wanted to do. I felt like I was simply taking the pictures people expected me to take. I took a rather long break and came back as motivated as I used to be. Now taking pictures became a rare thing for me but it is more intense than ever before.

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If you could visit your past self, what art-related advice would you give her?

Always trust in art. It will never let you down.

Most of your photos are accompanied by intriguing titles (such as “lumen” and “in winter when I bloom”) which deepen the value of your photos. How important are titles to you and why?

Titles can be important. There were times I wanted to title every series and every portrait I took. With time they became less important to me. Sometimes I want people to find their own stories and ideas for my pictures.

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What 3 tips would you give to a beginner in photography?

1-> Believe in yourself
2-> Be yourself
3-> Take your camera and go outside and take pictures of random things and love the possibility to freeze anything you want in time. You’re a magician!

You can find more of Ines’ work on her Flickr and Facebook.

The Context of Architectural Photography: When Your Photos Need to Talk

This kind of photography, in general, is connected with traveling. All of the world’s popular destinations have an architectural mark, something that makes a difference between the cities worldwide.  Research before your arrival, this will provide you with just enough time to see all sightseeing’s thru your camera.   Also, bookmark your destinations on your GPS device, or make sure you have directions or maps to the areas you want to visit.

When you are on a “once in a lifetime location” take lots of photos. Probably you will never have a second chance to make a correction. Additional to this carry a spare memory card and a fully charged battery or even a spare one. Also when you are shooting architecture try to look above the frame. Maybe you will find an impressive roof or something attractive above you. Use a lower angle if you are shooting close up details.  Don’t be afraid to open the aperture. If you have glass ceilings, underexpose the camera a little bit to catch the dark details.

Context of architectural photography
Context of architectural photography

Composition is essential for this kind of photography. Look for interesting details always, also play a lot with perspectives. If you are shooting spiral staircases instead shooting from the bottom try to go on the top, or maybe try both and select the best photo. As for the perspectives, my advice would be newer shoot from your eye level. Capture the subject from various angles at different viewpoints. This will give you the dose of creativity.

The rules say that when photographing old architecture like a castle or a traditional old house a simple composition works best, or shoot straightforward to show the elegance and the beauty of the object. In this case, scenarios capture some of the surrounding scenery to give context to the building. But when you are taking photos of modern buildings you will have to be modern too, of course, this is not for your clothing but your frames. Use “modern” angles and experiment with the perspectives and lenses, and shoot from unusual sides of the object. Modern buildings are often very close to one another; you can crop in tightly on the building without making the photo unnatural and unreal.

Zoom to catch the details. In almost every case beautiful buildings have lots of details like sculptures or other art. Zoom in to create close up just to bring attention to the art. For example, you can shoot the doorknobs, windows, brick walls of the buildings, or zigzag patterns of the windows, the curving line of the classic spiral stairway, or even a classic white column with artistic touch on it.

Architectural photography : Zoom to catch the details
Architectural photography: Zoom to catch the details

The night photography of buildings or any other kind of objects is also something worth trying. Same buildings are different in other time of the day. For example, if it’s a church you can capture a more interesting image at dusk or dawn. Even the most boring objects are coming alive with ambient lighting on them.  When the night arrives, you’ll see that the ambient light brings color and vibrancy, and cast outstanding shadows all over the face of the building. When shooting this kind of photography always use a tripod and go as low as possible on the ISO to reduce the noise that will occur with higher ISO.

If you have black & white images, try to find strong lines and patterns on the object. Patterns can create an abstract effect, as for the lines look for something that will pull the eye on the center of the image like a bridge or an interesting long street on an olbazaarar. With B&W photography you will have fewer worries about a dull sky. If you got a red filter don’t be afraid to use it. This will help you to draw out the contrast between the dark and light areas.

As for the contest of the architecture, do not limit yourself only on buildings and houses. By definition, architecture is most of the human-made structures. So loosen your mindset, and try thinking about the line. Architecture is churches, bridges, windmills, staircases, light posts, monuments, towers, etc.  Try to find something that most of the people on a regular tourist walk will miss. That is the way to create something timeless that will make you proud.

So that’s it for now, I hope that you will find an interesting advice, and I hope that with this article I helped in creating better architectural images.

How to Shoot Professional Portraits: A Detailed Guide

Those pro portraits you had watched on the net and in the magazines do not need extraordinary gear and special knowledge. In fact, there is nothing that you can’t do. I will prove that in this article, with a focus on the lighting for indoor and outdoor portraits.

A good portrait with interesting expressions, composition, and proper lighting has more power than any other kind of photography. Why? Because of the power of the emotions on a face broth in just a part of a second frozen in time forever.

Professional photographers use multiple flashes with as many as four strobes. At first, you must know why there are four strobes, and what is every one of them doing to your image. It’s simple because each and every one of the strobes is having only one function.

How to shoot pro portraits
How to shoot pro portraits

The MAIN LIGHT- is supposed to be of the camera. You and nobody else wants red eyes on the photos. Red eyes occur when shooting with on camera flash, so that’s why we will get it off the cam. With this kind of position of the main light, we can create shadows and highlights to the face bones, skin or other face parts. If the flash is on the cam we cannot be creative and dance with the shadows, simply there are limits. The newest DSLR models have the feature to trigger the flash unit wireless, if not then we going to have to buy a long enough cord.

Now that we positioned the main light left or right of the object, depends on the side that we choose the FILL LIGHT (also known as diffuser light) should be on the opposite side. The fill light is used only to soften the shadows that occur from the main light. This kind of light is optional but it’s good to have one in direction of creativity. In case you are not able to have one you can use a white cardboard from the opposite side of the main light to reflect the light beams from the main light. In case it’s not good enough you can wrap the cardboard in an aluminum foil for a better reflection. Additional to this you can play with the distance of the cardboard to get a better effect.

The third source of light is the BACKGROUND LIGHT. This kind of light is used only to show what is behind your object, and of course it’s optional only if you need one in a current situation. The light is positioned behind your object lighting up the background. In case your background is black or in the very dark color you can skip this. If you are improvising you can hang a black bad sheet behind your object and you are done.

Portrait: The power of the emotions
Portrait: The power of the emotions

The fourth light is called KICKER LIGHT (also known as hair, rim, or edge light). This light is used to make a distinction between the object and the background or it’s kicking the object in front line. It is placed above the object facing the back of the head. But if you place the main light correctly you can forget about this source of light.  In my opinion and from my experience it is good to have one but you can make more artistic photos without the kicker.

If you are shooting portraits outdoors my advice would be to use wide angle lens. At wide focal length, you can make beautiful distortions such as creating illusions of the length of the arms (for example), and you will catch some of the surroundings. Also, the background can add drama to your portrait and can change the whole context of the photo. Consider that all of us are stuck with the meaning of the orientation or the layout of the image. Don’t stick to a portrait orientation; you can shoot portraits with landscape orientation. Mix your framing up in each shoot that you do and you’ll add variety to the type of shots you take. Play with the expressions and emotions of the person that you are photographing- don’t be a boring photographer.

After we are clear with the positions of the lights it is up to your taste how you going to dose the amount of the light. Remember that you can play with the distance between the object and the source of the light. These would be my general advice for indoor and outdoor portraits. You can combine additional lights for outdoor photography. Also, the article does not mean that lights are only for in the studios. Practice, practice, and experiment with lighting and composition. The greatness of your work comes with the experience.

Tips for Winter photography in a warm weather area

I love winter photos. There is something special in landscapes full of snow, people covered in several layers of winter clothes, animals with white fur… Unfortunately, I do not get many chances to take such photos because I live close to Barcelona, in a warm Mediterranean area. For me snow is something extremely unusual. It snows here once in 20 years and when it happens Barcelona just shuts down.

winter in Barcelona

Although our winter doesn’t look so wintery we still have it!! It is just different and not so hard as in other parts of the world. But we still notice a big difference between our summer and our winter: we have rains and cloudy days, temperatures are lower and it can get really windy. However, we still have quite a lot sunny days even in winter.

sunny winter

Winter photography tips are a bit different for areas with Mediterranean or any other warm weather. Unless we travel to some mountain, we won’t need special protection for our gear from low temperature or snow and even rain can be handled quite easily.On the other hand, we don’t have the typical image of the white winter people usually think of. Today I am coming with winter tips adapted to warm weather areas. Let’s check them out!

#1 Focus your photos in weather elements that represent winter in your area

Observe your winter weather, look for weather elements that represent it. It might be the wind, the rain or a gray sky. Try to include weather elements in your photos to give them a more wintery look. Trees moving billowing in the wind, heavy clouds, rain puddles in the streets…

winter storms

#2 Include nature elements in your frame

Nature has strong seasonal patterns, so you can take advantage of it! Trees without leaves, plants that are typically from winter, birds or other animals that are typical for winter.

tree in winter

#3 Take photos of winter events

There are things that happen only in winter in winter. Well, known holidays such Christmas also got quite universal, so including Christmas decorations might also have a connection with winter ( if you are in the North hemisphere).

winter decorations

But there are a lot of other local events related with “winter”. For example, in some catalonian comarques such as  Garraf and Penedes,  we celebrate the “Xato Days”. The Xato is a typical dish that we eat just in winter. During the Xato Days, experts in xato meet for contests that will determine who is cooking the best Xato. These contests are held in the different municipalities, in a street event.  Here, we heard “Xato” and we think: Winter food! You can find local events around the world that are related to winter. Maybe not a lot of people knows about them outside your region. However, I think that sharing your local events through your photography is a great way to show a different and unique aspect of this season and to spread your local activities and traditions.

winter gastronomy

#4 Look for universal elements that we all associate with “cold”

In the last tip, I told you to go local. Another totally different strategy is to look for elements that everybody associates with winter. Photos of people with coats, wood hats, scarves billowing in the wind, cups with hot steamy beverages, burning fireplaces, all are associated with winter.

winter clothes

#5 Emphasize the wintery look of your photos in Lightroom

You can emphasize the wintery look of your photos using Lightroom or any other editing program. Color has a big association with the mood of your images. Increasing the blue colors by using the Temperature slider in Lightroom (Develop module) will give it a cooler look.

Cold temperature winter

You can check this article about Color and mood to learn in more detail how to modify the color of your photos.

nature in winter

Decreasing the saturation of your photos or using a matte effect might also help you to get a more wintery look. You can check the Masterclass about saturation to learn how the Saturation slide work. For winter look, the saturation should decrease (moving the saturation slider towards the left) because you want to lessen the colors instead of enhancing them. The matte effect is also a good resource for winter. I explained how to get this effect in Lightroom in my article about “Tips for post-processing forest images in Lightroom”. Scroll down to the “Add a dreamy look” for detailed explanations.

matte effect winter

Winter presets are also really helpful. Besides saving a lot of time in post-processing, presets provides you with a lot of new creative approaches.

winter presets

Experimenting with backgrounds for portraits

Backgrounds have the spectacular ability to transform a seemingly uninteresting portrait into an eye-catching work of art

. Their strength lies in patterns, symmetry, and colors; elements often accidentally neglected in portraiture. Though it’s possible to take photos which possess both simplicity and outstanding beauty at the same time, experimenting with backgrounds will give you a chance to greatly boost your portfolio’s visual appearance. The more you practice noticing the uniqueness of backgrounds and the more you include them in your work, the quicker you’ll thrive both as a photographer and as an observer of the world.

Outdoor backgrounds

Making the most of your natural surroundings outdoors will sharpen your creative eye and provide you with endless photo opportunities. Nature, especially, is ideal for photos of any kind thanks to its wonderful patience – it’s always waiting to add something incredible to your images. Its endless presence and perpetual flawlessness give everyone a chance to make the most of its natural beauty. Even better, nature constantly changes, giving us new worlds to work with every season.

Flowers, bushes, leaves, branches, landscapes, etc., can all become important elements in your images if you take the time to include them in your compositions. Sharp mountains could complement your subject’s sharp facial features or, instead, serve as a dramatic contrast to the softness of their expressions. Blurred autumn leaves in the background could work in harmony with your subject’s autumnal clothing. When it comes to backgrounds and what they can contribute to any image, the possibilities are endless.

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Nature could also be used to create powerful diptychs (a “collage” consisting of two images), stunning resources to use in future shoots, and anything you could possibly image. Similarly, cityscapes have the ability to transform your outdoor photos into truly impressive creations. Be it a crowded street or a lonely spot in a nearby park, anything can serve as an appealing background.

The key to great outdoor portrait backgrounds is making sure that your mind and eyes are constantly open, especially when you’re not taking photos. This doesn’t mean you should forcefully notice details around you all the time. Instead, find short, calm moments throughout your day when you can choose to pay attention to your surroundings instead of your phone. If you’re someone who loves adventures, spend a day looking for new and photo-worthy places. Take the time to find interesting locations, no matter how small, if you enjoy running. Eventually, these details will turn into amazing backgrounds for your images, ones that will make you proud of your work and eager to discover more.

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Indoor backgrounds

The colder months often force us to sit at home with our cameras, desperately attempting to come up with creative shooting methods. Many artists don’t own professional studio gear, so the notion of giving up on shooting indoors is an understandable one. However, simple indoor images can be enhanced with the help of “handmade” backgrounds, creations which will inevitably lead you to amazing photo opportunities and unique ideas.

If painting is one of your interests, create your own backgrounds and temporarily hang them on a wall – your very own little studio. Alternatively, you can use other people’s paintings as striking additions to your portraits. If neither of these appeal to you, use wallpapers since they often consist of intricate, symmetrical patterns. Blankets and curtains are also fantastic backgrounds, especially ones that are beautifully decorated. You could even create your own forts out of them and no one would be able to tell. 😉

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The beauty of shooting in your own home is having easy access to your wardrobe – experiment with various color combinations and find ones which enhance both your background and your subject’s attire. If you’re planning to shoot elsewhere, choose several outfits to use in case you come across an unusual (yet original) background. Use rental costumes and wigs to give your portfolio a fresh spark if you have the chance. If you’re shooting in a store, let artificial light be your background. Oftentimes, beautifully decorated light in shops will add an otherworldly atmosphere to your images. It’s also possible to create your own backgrounds in an editing program using other artists’ photo resources and overlays. Whatever you do, remember to use your backgrounds to the fullest and not let your fears bring you down.

No matter where you are or what time of day it is, remember to keep your mind and your eyes open. Before you know it, your images will be appreciated for their beautiful compositions and most importantly, for their eye-catching backgrounds.

Good luck!

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Hiding and highlighting facial features

At times, the key to a unique portrait is a touch of mystery: hands covering an eye, windswept hair sheltering half a person’s face, a seemingly simple texture highlighting one’s lips. These subtle layers of obscurity create fascinating – sometimes even abstract – works of art, ones which amuse their viewers and make their creators beam with pride. Transforming simple portraits into creative, eye-catching ones isn’t as challenging as many artists believe. Even if you’re short on time during a shoot, you can still take gorgeous photographs which will please both you and your subject. Here are tips on how to do this.

Hair

We’re all familiar with portraits in which the model’s face is hiding behind vibrantly colored locks. The impact such images have aren’t capable of losing their allure since there’s an overwhelming amount of hair textures and colors out there. No matter how cliché such images might seem to you, try covering your subject’s face with their hair and see if the results pleasantly surprise you. 🙂

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Foregrounds

Foregrounds possess an infinite amount of creative possibilities because they can be almost anything, from a tattered curtain to a wrecked window pane in an abandoned house. These objects, visually appealing or not, will inevitably increase the meaning of your images and add a great creative touch to them. Foregrounds are blurred most of the time, so how they look shouldn’t be important to you. Experiment with shapes, sizes, and patterns, remembering to hide parts of your subject’s face at the same time. The results will impress both you and others.

Cropping

The cropping tool is perfect for creating mysterious photographs. If you find an image too dull and exposed, forget the rules for a moment and crop part of your subject’s face. Experiment fearlessly with this tool and see what looks right to you as an art-loving individual. Combining intriguing foregrounds and cropping half of your subject’s face to expose their eye, for example, will create an image the story of which others will want to know. Similarly, you could conceal your subject’s face with their hair and crop out their lips. Photos of this sort are a great way to experiment with compositions and to challenge yourself as a photographer and editor. Additionally, mysterious (yet at the same time, simple) photos like this are often used for book covers, a huge plus which will inevitably enrich your portfolio.

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Hands

Since hands are capable of reflecting a plethora of emotions, adding them to your portraits will give them even more potential to touch your viewers. If you wish to give your photos a fragile touch, photograph your subject peeking at the camera through their fingers. If you want to achieve a feeling of inner strength, shoot your subject while they’re covering their mouth during a carefree moment of laughter. These interactions and “disguises” will add an interesting element to your photograph, something that’ll make your entire portfolio stand out.

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Light

While overexposure is often looked down upon, it can prove to be a useful tool for photographers. In the image below, the lower part of the subject’s face is overexposed, giving a powerful idea of silence. Her surprised and almost pleading expression adds to the image’s quietening atmosphere, further strengthening the concept of silence. Thus, finding patches of light and concealing/highlighting certain facial features will not only make your images interesting to look at, but it will also intensify their meaning.

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Objects

While foregrounds serve as composition enhancers, objects like plants can be used to both hide parts of a face and become a part of it. Flowers are ideal for this as they’re photogenic and capable of beautifully complementing a face. (For example, simple white flowers could enhance a natural makeup look.) If you’re having a (client) shoot outdoors, make the most of nature, especially branches and flowers. Hide certain facial features using nature to tell a powerful story. (If you don’t have a desire to strengthen your storytelling skills, this method will still work for you.)

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Textures

The Internet is brimming with textures of all sorts. Even if you’re not experienced in Photoshop, you can master textures within a few minutes thanks to the abundance of free tutorials out there. Textures are valuable to all kinds of photographers – they add gorgeous details to images that would’ve been too simple without them and are capable of concealing unwanted details. Furthermore, they just make your image look great. Use them to your creative advantage, whether it’s to cover an eye using a light leak or to hide everything saves your subject’s lips using a stock photo of water.

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What story do you want to tell? Will hiding your subject’s eyes and focusing on his or her lips reflect your unique story? Will cropping half of their face make a strong point? Prepare ideas before your shoot, taking the time to consider your shooting location and your model’s features, and you’ll end up with impressive, incredible results.

Good luck!

How to adjust the color temperature of your photos directly in your camera

Have you ever taken photos and realized that the colors are not as you saw them in the scene? Don’t worry because this is common in photography. This effect is caused by the difference in the light sources. The sun on a bright day, on a cloudy day, a light bulb… different light sources emit light with different hues and this makes them have different color cast. Our brains “corrects” the color cast, but our cameras don’t do it unless we tell them. Have you ever heard about white balance (WB)? This is what will help you to avoid color casts in your photos due to the light source.  Color and WB might be a bit confusing at first, but once you understand, it gets easy and fun to play with them. Let’s start with color!

How to adjust the color temperature of your photos directly in your camera
The same scene with different color temperature has a totally different effect on the viewer. The upper photo has a slightly yellow cast that makes it seem warm. The lower one has a blue cast that makes it have a cooler feeling to it.

A bit of color science: The connection between color and temperature:

I am not going to get into a huge scientific explanation, but I think it helps to know the story of William Thomson in order to understand where some color concepts are coming from. William Thomson was also known as Baron Kelvin the 1st (1824-1907). He was a mathematical physicist and engineer. He was the responsible for formulating the Kelvin scale which measures absolute temperatures (for that reason temperature is measured in Kelvin units!).

How to adjust the color temperature of your photos directly in your camera
This photo has a color temperature of 5500 Kelvin. This temperature corresponds to daylight and it is usually considered neutral (at this temperature, whites look actually white).

In his experiments, Kelvin noticed that, as it is being heated, carbon changes its color. Thus he saw that it is possible to align a scale of colors to the one of temperature. This is how the concept of color temperature was born.  At absolute zero (-273.15ºC, cold) the corresponding color is black. The visible spectrum of the scale runs between 1700K and 12000K. Ironically, the colors are organized on the kelvin scale in reverse from what we consider as “warm colors” and “cold colors”; “warmer” colors like red orange or yellow have lower temperatures on the kelvin scale than “cooler” colors like blue or purple.

Color temperature and photography

The color temperature of a photograph is the dominance of some colors over others. When the lighting is what we call “neutral” the whites will appear as white. However, when the scene has a light cast that goes towards the red (yellow, orange) or towards the blue than whites won’t look like white anymore, but reddish or bluish respectively. So depending on the light of a scene, its color temperature will vary. Let’s see it with some examples

5500K: white or neutral. Correspond to the midday light

How to adjust the color temperature of your photos directly in your camera
This photo has 5500 K. As you can see, the white parts of the shell are white. When color temperature is different than 5500 K, whites turn yellowish or bluish.

Less than 5500K: more yellow, red

How to adjust the color temperature of your photos directly in your camera
I modified the previous photo to show you the look it has when its temperature is lower than 5500K. As you can see, it takes a yellow cast. The whites are not totally white but cream-yellow.

More than 5500K: towards the blues

How to adjust the color temperature of your photos directly in your camera
If the same photo would have had a temperature higher than 5500K, it would have a blue cast.

Some useful numbers that are good to keep in mind are:

1000K: candle light (they are towards the yellows)

2000K: sunset (yellows-reds)

2500K: light bulbs (they usually have a yellowish tint)

6000-8000K: cloudy day (they are towards the blue and gray colors)

So, in different situations, our light emits different color temperatures, which in turn give our photos different hues. This can be used to make beautiful photos. However, this also causes complications. As I said before, our human brains are able to detect and adjust the images we see with our eyes so we understand what is the true color of the object we see. Our cameras are not able to do it and unless we tell them what is the color temperature of the scene.

Fortunately, we have ways to correct the hues of our photos. We can do it in post-processing using Lightroom for example, but usually, I prefer doing it through the camera itself.

How to adjust the color temperature on the field: white balance

Most cameras (even point and shoot compact cameras) have an option to set the white balance, using this option you are telling the camera what type of lighting you are in. Here I will talk in general, but take a look at the manual of your camera to check specifications.

Auto white balance: This is the easiest way and it actually works in most of the cases. I am not the biggest fan of auto modes (I even shoot most of my photos in Manual mode!!), but I had to admit that Auto White Balance does a decent job. You just need to set your camera on Auto WB and it will make the best adjustment according to the measurements it does when the photo is taken. However, in some cases, the AutoWB is not working well (it usually happens more with artificial lights) and then you need to use other settings.

Semi-automatic white balance: In the more basic cameras, you can choose between a few preset defaults. The most common are Cloudy, shade, tungsten, fluorescent and flash. Each one of these presets try to compensate the light temperature in each situation and bring the hues closer to neutral lighting. Let’s see it with some examples:

Photos from cloudy days are usually looking quite gray. The Cloud setting will warm them up already in your camera. The shade preset is doing something similar, but adding a bit more of yellow than the Cloudy preset.

Color temperature
Cloudy days are usually quite cold in their color temperature because they have a lot of blue and gray in them

 

Color temperature
The Cloudy preset is adding a bit of warmth to the scene by increasing the yellows in the image

For indoors and night photography, fluorescent and tungsten can be really handy. Fluorescent lights are quite cold, so using their preset will warm the image. On the other hand, tungsten lights are usually warm, so their presets will cool down the image.

Color temperature
I took this photo indoors, under a tungsten light. You can see the photo has a yellow cast

 

Color temperature
The tungsten preset corrects the yellow color cast by adding blue to the image

When you are using a flash, your photos might look a bit cold. The Flash preset will also warm the image a little.

Presets change from camera to camera so have a look to your manual and get to know the presets of your camera and play with them in order to understand the effect they have on the image.

Tell the camera a value in Kelvin:  In the more advanced cameras in addition to the auto WB and the semiautomatic presets,  you can also define the light balance yourself by telling the camera the Kelvin value of the light of the scene.

If you took a photo with a color cast you don’t like, don’t worry! You can change it on your computer! However, I highly recommend you to have the files in RAW format and not jpg. Although it is possible to modify color temperature in jpg format, the loss of quality will be so high that it won’t be worth it. With RAW, the process will be easy and your image will keep its quality.

You can adjust color temperature in post-processing using different software. My colleagues wrote about how to do it in  Lightroom, Camera RAW, and Photoshop.

Use color temperature creatively

Now that you have an understanding of color temperature and white balance, you can use the color temperature in order to express what you want in your images. Do you want to give a sense of warmth to your image by adding a bit of yellow? Use the Cloud setting even if it is not cloudy and you will have a yellow cast in your photo! Do you want to add a bit of blues to add a sense of coldness? Try with the Tungsten preset! Experiment and have fun with WB!

Color temperature
I took this photo of a dandelion in the sunlight. It has a pretty neutral color temperature.
Color temperature
This is the same photo, but using the Tungsten preset. This preset added a blue cast to the photo that I find interesting. It might not be the “correct” white balance. I think that when you are being creative, there is not such a thing as “Correct”. If you think that a different WB can express better the way you saw the scene when you took the photo- go for it!!

Happy shooting!!!

Flower portrait ideas: Adding nature to your images

Over 7 years ago, I discovered photography for the very first time and instantly fell in love with everything it had to offer. Inspired by the spectacular array of self-portraits I had stumbled upon, I grabbed a hair clip with a flower on it and stepped outside for my very first shoot. If you were to see the results now, you wouldn’t be impressed. However, my younger self-was beyond delighted because of the creativity a single flower decoration provided. Without the crimson hair clip, my photographs would’ve lacked vibrancy. Such a seemingly insignificant addition pushed me to experiment with all types of adornments, especially flowers.

Natural and artificial flowers possess a beauty capable of enhancing any portrait. Though they’re often used in weddings, flowers can also serve as perfect floral headdresses, foregrounds, and backgrounds for any kind of shoot. Including them in your portraits, whether they’re of yourself or of your clients, will add a pleasant and natural touch to your portfolio. Since spring is just around the corner, here are a few tips on how to use flowers to take visually appealing pictures.

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Simple portraits can be enhanced with the help of a simple bouquet of flowers. If for whatever reason, you’re running out of ideas for a client shoot, blossoms of any kind will instantly transform your portraits into stunning works of art. If natural flowers aren’t available (or if your client is allergic to them) don’t stress. Artificial flowers can possess a touch of beauty akin to natural ones. However, if the ones you own happen to look too artificial, you can use them as foregrounds. Blurred foregrounds add mystery and a striking splash of color to portraits. Since you can’t really see them due to the depth of field, you needn’t worry about unnatural looking details. (General photography tip: any type of object, when placed right in front of your lens without covering it entirely, will serve as an interesting foreground which will compel your viewers to wonder how you achieved such an effect. Try it!)

Flowers can also serve as perfect resources for diptychs. If a portrait of your client holding a lovely bouquet of flowers seems to be missing something, combine that image with one of the blooms alone (or a closeup of an individual petal, for example). This will tell a more powerful story about your subject and provide you with an opportunity to experiment with photo combinations. Since not every photo combination is appealing, experimenting with them will help you acquire your own unique style as well as a great storytelling technique. Diptychs are particularly useful for wedding photography because of this fact, though using them in your (self) portraits will boost both your portfolio and your creativity.

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Golden hour is a photographer’s best friend. Almost everything it touches acquires an indescribably stunning glow. Thus, it’s ideal for portraits, especially ones which include flowers of any sort. As you can see in the photo below, golden hour illuminates plants in a seemingly magical way, perfect for those who love capturing light at its best. Combine golden hour with a happy client holding flowers and you’ll both be beyond pleased with the results.

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For those who photograph children, flowers are perfect for moments of distraction and play. Children are drawn to nature and its exquisite colors; let them interact with nature or, if possible, give them a daisy chain to wear. Spontaneous photos of children enjoying their natural surroundings or laughing at their floral headdress will produce incredibly delightful results. Additionally, you won’t finish your shoot feeling stressed and discouraged.

Perhaps the most magnificent gift flowers give us is diversity. There are so many flowers and as a result, there are just as many themes to work with. Flowers vary in shape, size, pattern, color, etc., allowing artists to work with them in an abundance of ways. Even better, these unique features can be used to reflect emotions, situations, and stories. For example, Forget-Me-Nots could be used to positively enhance your subject’s innocence. Lilacs, on the other hand, could give your images a more romantic atmosphere. Gather or buy flowers before a shoot and study them. What do their appearances remind you of? Take notes and plan a shoot using your observations; rest assured, the results will be more than impressive. If you’re in an experimental mood, start a flower portrait project focusing on the beauty of flowers and the stories behind them.

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Whether you’re in a mood to start a tremendous project, or if you simply wish to enhance the quality of your client work, take the time to experiment with flowers. Their natural beauty will inevitably provide you with many, many invaluable photo ideas.

Good luck!

How to take cozy outdoor portraits in the winter

Warmth is often associated with gorgeous beaches, palm trees, and the sea; freezing weather is the epitome of winter and indoor coziness. Thus, it’s natural to presume that these two elements never go hand in hand. However, snow casts a spell on the outside world, providing us with flawless and picturesque landscapes. Challenging as the winter months might be, this winter spell is as perfect for nature as it is for photographers. Using nature and your subject’s enthusiasm will allow you to naturally add warmth to your snowy portraits. Here are tips on how to achieve such warmth (and how to stay toasty in the process).

Bring something warm (and include it in your photos)

Preparing for a shoot in the winter can be a fun and cozy experience for you and the people you’re working with. Make sure you have comfortable and photogenic clothes which won’t let your subject freeze. The drinks and snacks you prepare could serve as pleasant photo additions, so remember to include them in your shots. Fun props like sparklers could also add both warm colors and a cheerful feel to your images. Take photos of everyone in your team, even if they’re assistants (or pets!). A happy team which feels accepted will warm any type of coldness, and this will inevitably add a heartwarming touch to your photographs. Make sure to take advantage of bright colors and happy smiles to create a stark contrast between your subject and their snowy surroundings.

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A spontaneous behind-the-scenes snap of your subject sipping a cup of warm tea might find its way into your portfolio; a group shot of your friends staying warm and having a fun time could do the same. When it comes to inner warmth and great chemistry between you and your subjects, the time of year doesn’t matter. Remember to interact with your team, enjoy your snacks, and keep your hands and feet comfortable!

Prepare a warm location (be it a tent or a café)

When you scout for locations, make sure there’s a place within walking distance which could serve as a warm temporary refuge for you and your subject. If you’re in a deserted area, acquire a tent to stay toasty in during breaks. (If a tent isn’t an affordable option, grab a few blankets!) This will ensure that you remain toasty no matter how cruel the weather gets. Photographing your subject next to a tent, or in a café, with a stunningly snowy background will create the coziest photo atmosphere. Again, make the most of the spontaneity; if you plan to relax in a tent for a while, photograph each other in it. A tent + snow = perfect atmosphere + perfect photos.

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Take advantage of the sun

If possible, shoot during a time when the sun is present. If you live in a place which rarely sees the light of day in the winter then use artificial light (even a torch would be enough) to create the illusion of sunshine. Either method will create interesting photo opportunities that’ll open and challenge your creative mind. The combination of (artificial) sunshine and snow will give your photos a welcoming atmosphere, a feeling of acceptance during the coldest of times.

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Let your subject blend in with nature

Regardless of the season, nature infinitely inspires those who pay attention to it. It’s particularly attractive in the winter due to its graceful way of holding snow. Nature, when adorned with snow, is a force to be reckoned with. Not only do branches heavy with snow and perfectly white trees serve as fantastic backgrounds, but they make ideal subjects, too. Ask your subject to enjoy their surroundings and discuss what they like most. Photographing them next to the things they find most appealing will result in breathtaking images. Even visiting a park with your subject and asking them to interact with their surroundings will lead to great photo opportunities the results of which you’ll love.

Embracing spontaneity, making sure everyone is comfortable, and staying warm are the most important parts of a successful outdoor shoot in the winter. Be open to new ideas, make the most of the weather, and know that achieving warmth is possible no matter how cold it gets.

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Good luck!

Finding the Perfect Backgrounds for Your Photographs

There is always an element in photography that you have to think about with every subject, and that’s background. This is true in still life, product, fashion, portraits, and even landscape. There are a few background choices for each of these different types of photography. A background can be a wide array of buildings, walls, floors, color, landscape, greenery; the sky is the limit (literally.) It is always a good idea to know what to look for while location scouting as well.

Finding Backgrounds

A lot of your background detail also has to do with your depth of field. You can either control your background with a blurred or sharpness by a shallow or deep depth of field, depending on your subject matter. A shallow depth of field is popular in portraits, so your subject is your main point of focus. You can use a deeper depth of field though to enhance your background clarity and texture. Keep your subject away from the background and not right up against a graffiti wall and tree, this is because these textures and colors can be too distracting. Shooting your subject in wide open spaces with a shallow depth of field and will give you the ability to have a subtle background of light colors and textures. Graffiti is a great example for this because it is a popular choice for a fun and colorful background but can also become a little distracting to your subject so by shooting your subject away from the background you can still gather the color and design without too much detail. Other background choices that you can use the subtle color, texture, and pattern are brick walls, wallpapers, and colorful doors. Think about the landscape in your image too and the great environment you are located in.

Finding Backgrounds

finding backgrounds
finding backgrounds

A variety of angles can also help your background choices. If you are shooting down on your subject you can use various lines on the road, grass, or any other greenery around or even just the texture. Shooting forward onto your subject will give you space and environment area that you are in. Shooting up on your subject can make you a viewpoint of the sky, clouds, or anything else above your subject matter.

finding backgrounds

Finding Backgrounds

Food and still life photography gives you an excellent array of choices with colors, textures, and backgrounds and offers a great way to be creative. You can even make your backgrounds using various woods and papers. Another background choice for smaller subjects is scrapbook paper from your local craft store where you can purchase paper patterns that look like wood, marble, and other surfaces that you enjoy.

finding backgrounds

There are some things you will want to avoid in your background. By using these guidelines, it will help you avoid distractions from the subject of your image. You usually want the brightest point of your image to be your subject; this means that you will want to avoid brighter highlights in the background or colors that could be distracting such as bright oranges, neons, etc. Poles and tree branches are common objects that can get in the way of a great photograph and something you want to avoid, especially when shooting portraits.

If you are having a difficult time finding the right kind of background texture and color you can always Photoshop out your background and replace it with a new background. There are many Photoshop actions, and Lightroom presets to help you achieve this. This is also where green screen photography comes in handy. A green screen can help you knock out the background easier to replace it later on. This color is used because Photoshop can read the color much better to separate from your subject in post editing.

Finding backgrounds

When we are talking about the background, you always want to consider foreground as a factor in your photography. The foreground is a great way to bring depth into your image and also a good use of framing. You can achieve this by setting objects in front of your still-life images. Use trees or greenery in the foreground with a shallow depth of field, or any other creative factors to frame your image. If you find your foreground is too sharp in your image and becomes a distraction you can always blur this in post-production.

finding backgrounds

Mastering golden hour: Setting your path to success!

Golden hour, also known as magic hour, is a particular period shortly after sunrise or before sunset when the lighting conditions are ideal for photographers, cinematographers, and anyone who appreciates the breathtaking light. During this time, light possesses an ethereal quality to it, softening any harsh shadows that may have been present when the sun was higher in the sky.

Summer was at its peak when I first discovered photography. The Golden hour seemed happy to go on forever; as a beginner, I cherished this significantly. While artistic limitations allow our creative minds to grow rapidly, moments which are easy to photograph teach us the importance of embracing every type of season and weather. When the colder months arrived, I was satisfied enough with the hundreds of golden images I owned to challenge myself in more elaborate ways. My portfolio, which had significantly grown thanks to the opportunities the magic hour provided, was ready for new atmospheres, lighting conditions, and emotions. Had it not been for a golden hour, my photographic journey would’ve been hindered much more intensely. Because of this, I’d like to share the many ways in which photographers, especially beginners, can master and enjoy the golden hour.

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Practice daily

Every day after school, I’d eagerly run home in hopes of creating another set of magic hour photographs. This was an emotionally and artistically fulfilling experience as it prevented me from sitting in front of the laptop for the rest of the day. Dedicating half an hour to nature and photography gave me a chance to take a break from reality and to focus on my creative needs. Turning such a positive experience into a routine played a large part in my growth and discipline as a photographer.

When the golden hour is at its strongest during the year, try to make the most of it as often as possible. Even a 5-minute shoot will allow you to stretch your creative mind and come up with impressive ideas. No matter where you are if you sense golden hour approaching, grab your camera and shoot something you’ll love.

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Find a safe place

In addition to creating a healthy daily routine for myself, I discovered a beautiful corner in my garden where I could shoot daily. It was filled with cicadas and cheerful flowers in the hot summer months, a combination which made me feel safe and accepted. Because I felt safe, my images didn’t look forced, and my emotions were void of discomfort.

It’s important to find a spot where you won’t have to worry about strangers approaching or vehicles passing by. When it comes to developing a daily routine, especially a creative one, a feeling of safety is key. If golden hour enters your room, remain in your room and shoot; these indoor shots will be nothing short of beautiful. If the sun doesn’t reach your home at magic hour, go out with your friends for a shoot; this will create a stronger bond and provide you all with memorable, stunning images. No matter what, make sure to stay safe; safety will preserve your life and add a sincere touch to your images.

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Include other elements in your shots

In the image below, I used a garden hose to create my summer rain. The raindrops, lit by gorgeous sunshine, created an absolutely cheerful summer atmosphere. With this in mind, make the most of your outdoor possessions, be it a garden house or a bucket of water. Hair looks absolutely wonderful when illuminated by the sun. Raindrops look breathtaking during golden hour; their shine is akin to the glow of stars, an effect which enhances any image. Make the most of these elements, and you’ll discover a brand new world of creative ideas.

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Photograph everything

Photographing everything is ideal for both beginners and experts. As a beginner, it can be tough to find the type of photography you’re most drawn to. Because of this, it’s important to experiment with all genres of photography; this is when the golden hour comes in. Since the lighting conditions are close to perfect during the magic hour, you can completely focus on your subjects without worrying too much about light. Use this opportunity to photograph all kinds of things: animals, nature, landscapes, people, objects, and so on. The experience will increase your confidence as a photographer and allow you to appreciate every genre out there.

Experts who focus solely on one genre, be it portraiture or landscapes, can benefit from this opportunity in much the same way as beginners. If you wish to grow artistically and deepen your creative knowledge, try out something you’ve never taken the time to focus on before. The further you go from the knowledge and skills you’re familiar with, the more you’ll grow as a different photographer. Once you familiarize yourself with another genre, you’ll go back to your original genre with confidence, valuable information, and an open mind.

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Golden hour, a seemingly short period, will significantly challenge you, compel you to come up with quick yet great photo ideas, and provide you with a pleasant daily routine. These newfound abilities and experiences will help you grow not just as an artist, but as a person.

Good luck!

Taking Creative Photos Through Windows

A lonely figure sits in a coffee shop, observing passing cars with a ghost of a smile. Next, to the figure, a girl speedily takes notes, her hand a messy blur of movement. The scene is a delightful one, enhanced by the ever-changing window reflections: loneliness and busyness placed together, one giving in to the world it doesn’t fully know, the other creating one of its own. It feels like a film – or better yet, a cinematograph – a moment that seems to possess an indestructible eternity. If you were a witness to this fleeting moment, would you photograph it? If you would, your image’s atmosphere would stand out partly due to the aforementioned window reflections. Had you shot the scene in the coffee shop itself, the effect would’ve been vastly different?

Windows do not simply serve as passages to a person’s soul, as the famous quote says. Windows are also a brilliant way to enter the world different to your own, a way to empathize and reflect. Photographing through windows provides viewers with a personal look into someone else’s realm of thoughts, teaching them the importance of compassion and open-mindedness. Even nature, when photographed through a window, gains a quality unlike any other. Photos of this sort seem to be whispering a story as if listening closely could teach you spectacular things. And indeed, such stories do teach fascinating and eye-opening things.

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It wouldn’t surprise me if you’d call window photos cliché. In fact, had you mentioned this even a year ago, I would be tempted to agree with your musing. However, in the very depths of failed shoots and impatience, I have discovered a beauty and originality in what many of us often render cliché. The world cliché, by definition, is something that is mindlessly repeated over and over again until its very existence is officially deemed useless. Approaching useless objects from new angles might reveal to you a helpful piece that was ignored by everyone else, a piece that is perhaps helpful to you only. Using this in your art will enable you to add your own usefulness to the techniques and projects that seem to have lost their value long ago. Thus, windows can be approached in ways unique to you and your creativity.

Here are a few tips on how to take compelling photos of people and nature through windows.

Portraits

Taking photos of people through windows is a fun process as it gives the photographer unpredictable reflections on working with. If it’s a rainy day, the effects will be impressively abstract, since blurred foregrounds often make for stunning photo elements. Spraying water on a window could also work. In fact, the contrast between a droplet-stained window and a summery backdrop will give your photos uniqueness unlike any other. Covering parts of a window with paint or fabric could also work in your favor.

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Some of the best photos taken through windows are spontaneous ones. A subject lost in their own thoughts combined with a reflection of a field tells a captivating, yet peaceful, story. Even a couple of silhouettes observing a cityscape could work. Don’t be afraid of including abstract shapes and lights in your images – these will enhance your style and make your images stand out. Literally reflecting your subject’s emotions and thoughts with the help of a window will strengthen the impact your work has on others. Your photographic courage will push other artists to reassess their own work and find new ways to challenge themselves.

Nature

Working with nature is almost effortless because it’s always around, it’s always waiting to be found. If you don’t have anyone to photograph when your inspiration is at its highest, use your surroundings instead. Look out of your window and try to find something you’ve ignored before – perhaps an exquisite little flower is growing right next to your window, waiting to be documented by you. Look near and far and find a story you could tell using everything that’s right in front of you. You could even document the view out of your window during various times of day, or throughout the year.

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Working with emotional storytelling techniques will give you a brand new world to use in your art. Writing stories before a shoot might also boost your creativity and present you with an abundance of artistic possibilities. Regardless of the potential absurdity of your ideas, experiment with them and see where the results take you. It’s the unpredictable shots that end up becoming the most spectacular pieces of art.

There are a plethora of journeys you could take as a photographer. All you need is a window and a willingness to keep your eyes open, no matter what.

Good luck!

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Just a girl and her camera in a small room

Many of us can relate to the claustrophobic, often disconcerting spaces which seem to thwart our potential. Enter a small room and you’ll lose the desire to create, especially if said room is dull and undecorated; find yourself in a room fit for kings and you’ll feel artistically overwhelmed. Having lived in a rich variety of (mostly cramped) houses and apartments over the years, I’ve learned the art of appreciating small spaces.
In honor of that, I thought I’d challenge myself by taking all kinds of portraits in one room. I hope that this photographic endeavor compels you to look at your surroundings from a fresh perspective, knowing full well that you can make something meaningful out of anything. Each photo description will consist of the way I took an image and a few tips on how to achieve such an effect. Let’s begin!

flower background
Backgrounds are often ignored in photographs (I myself am guilty of this.) Using them can add an abundance of depth to your images. Had there not been a painting in this photograph, the image would’ve lacked a story. The painting’s graceful strokes and colors – mixed with a similarly colored wallpaper – create an atmosphere reminiscent of museums. Such photographs can be interpreted in a plethora of ways. (Including pets in your photos is an added bonus.)
rose backlight
Backlight is a portrait photographer’s best friend. In this image, the room’s large window is covered (it was also a gloomy day). Despite these hindrances, I was able to achieve a certain glow by increasing the ISO number. Limited light is ideal for ISO-related challenges; it also gives you a chance to grow by compelling you to leave your artistic comfort zone.
torch light
Since it was a gloomy day, I wanted to experiment with artificial light. To create this photograph, I used a simple torch. Never allow yourself to be intimidated by lamplight, torch light, or anything of the sort; familiarizing yourself with them will give you more chances to make the most of natural light.
curtain backlight
Curtains, especially when combined with backlight, create hauntingly interesting atmospheres. Widening such photos using the cropping tool will give your them a cinematic feel. All kinds of fascinating photographs can be taken with curtains only, so don’t be quick to ignore them if you’re shooting in a small room. Curtains mixed with silhouettes create mysterious and emotional photographs.
doors
Blurred foregrounds are useful when it comes to visual storytelling. In this case, the door serves as a secret look into the subject’s cozy reading world. To create spontaneity, encourage your subject to interact with his or her surroundings or objects. Adding a hint of oblivion will inevitably give your images an attractive and warm feeling.
wallpaper
If you want comfortable-looking portraits with a twist, place your subject in front of a complicated background, be it a spectacularly designed quilt, fascinating wallpaper, or anything else that catches your eye. Such backgrounds will add uniqueness to your image without completely distracting the viewer from the subject’s face. As you can see, the light source is hitting half of the subject’s face. This, too, adds a pleasant twist to a seemingly simple image.

 

rose silhouette
If the room in which you’re shooting is too small for atmospheric images, let your subject interact with an object; the more complicated it looks, the better. Flowers, air, and books are perfect for such photos. Objects like roses can not only tell a touching story, but they can also add an elegant touch to an image’s composition.
ceiling mirror
Mirrors add space; they’re incredible helpers when it comes to self-portraits. This photo was taken with the help of a ceiling light mirror – despite its smallness, it provided both an unusual angle and a strange combination of colors. Abstract images of this sort boost one’s creativity and add unconventional beauty to a portfolio.
front light
Finally, don’t forget direct window light. Despite its simplicity, it can provide you with clean, easily editable photographs which you’ll be proud to include in your portfolio. Hiding part of the subject’s face using hair or any kind of object will make your results stand out. If all else fails during a shoot, don’t give up and stick to window light. The finished results will inspire you to try again and provide you with at least a few photos to work with.

The ability to find details in any corner of a room gives one a chance to treat life a similar way; no matter how simple or nanoscopic a room is, something great can be created in it, something that exceeds its physical constraints. The same can be said about life. Thus, photography strengthens not only our observation skills but also our ability to live fully and freely, no matter how insignificant we sometimes feel.

Keep challenging yourselves and your creativity will grow, improve and bloom beautifully.

Good luck!

 

 

 

Posing Models Part 4: Facial Posing Tips for Stunning Portraits

The face is important in photography, whether you’re looking for a beautiful close-up portrait, or just the right expression for a full-body fashion shot. The only thing that will consistently land you professional shots is practice. This is especially true when it comes to photographing the human face, but a little basic knowledge can help anyone improve the quality of their pictures.

When it comes to facial posing, light and shadow become very important. The shape of the face is largely going to be determined by how the shadows fall in the final photograph. Too much light will blend the features, while too little can obscure them in shadows. You have to work the angle of the face with the lighting to get it right, all while getting the model to convey the right emotion. It sounds complicated, but some simple tricks will have you well on your way to better pictures in no time!

Decide What Kind of Lighting to Use

You should have some idea of what you want to convey with your photograph, along with some good lights for studio portraits. Are you taking a professional portrait, fashion photograph, or moody art piece? The overall mood will be determined by the model’s expression and your lighting choices. You should use the lighting to work with the basic shape of the models face as well.

For instance, a wider face can by narrowed by shadowing the side of the face angled towards the camera:

shadowing faces

The reverse is true as well. A narrow face can be widened by lighting the side of the face angled towards the camera:

lighting faces

Research different lighting methods and techniques before you begin the shoot, and make notes of what to experiment with based on what kind of shot you’re going for.

Make Sure Your Model Knows the Basics

Take a minute to see what your model knows about moving her own face in the shoot. While looking through your camera, ask her to shift her angle and expression slowly. Pay attention to the following, and work with her until she is comfortable with these basics:

  • How far she can turn her head before her nose breaks the line of her cheek in profile;
  • To follow her nose with her eyes so that the whites are not showing too much;
  • To angle her chin out and slightly down for a well-defined jawline, but to do so without looking strained;
  • To express the appropriate emotion with her eyes;
  • To keep the lips slightly parted to create a relaxed jawline—especially true for fashion;
  • More than anything, make sure your model is comfortable!

posing faces

Once you’ve spent a few minutes ascertaining how well your model understands the basics of getting a good close-up, coach them as you see fit. Instruct them to turn their head by degrees until you see an angle that works for them, ask them to hold it. Tell them why it works. Continue to do this throughout the shoot and you’ll see increasingly better photographs as you progress.

A Handy Trick to Avoid Dead Eyes

Sometimes a picture still falls flat, even though the model had the perfect expression! How does that happen? Something goes wrong with the eyes. Even if the feeling reaches them, without enough light they will simply look dead. There a simple trick that will help you correct this: make sure the angle of the camera and the face work together with the angle of the lighting, allowing you to capture a reflection of a foreground light in the eye of your subject. This will add a little sparkle to an otherwise dark eye, enhancing the feeling behind any type of mood.

facial posing tips

Experiment, Experiment, Experiment

It bears repeating: the only way to learn to take truly stunning close-ups is to practice. That’s how you’ll learn when to use butterfly lighting, or go for a standard loop lighting. Butterfly lighting is created by placing the main light source above and slightly behind the subject, resulting in a butterfly-shaped shadowing effect on the face. Loop lighting requires the light to be eye level, angled at 30 to 45 degrees from the camera depending on the subject. The only way to learn what kind of lighting will work for what kind of face, and what style of shot, is through experimentation.

Next time your friend needs a new professional photograph, why not bust out a light and your camera? With the above tips, and little experimenting, you’ll probably be able to make them look gorgeous! But first, check out the other tips in our posing series. They are full of advice that will help you make your friends and family look better than runway ready! The practice will have you well on your way to landing perfect studio shots with ease.

A Photographic Journey around San Felipe, Mexico

I have had the opportunity the past four months to live and photograph around San Felipe, Mexico. San Felipe is located in the Baja California and located about 2-3 hours south of the border along the side of The Sea of Cortes. San Felipe is filled with color, culture, great food, and beautiful desert land. Pack all of the correct gear for your travels and take an adventure to gather some great photographs. San Felipe SignOn your way to downtown San Felipe, you will first spot The Arches, a very popular monument of San Felipe. They call the arches “The Gateway To The Sea” The arches offers many angles. However, the only problem photographing the arches are all of the distractions around such as signs and wires, which you can Photoshop out later. Around and past the arches you will also find a hillside where you can explore to gather some more cultural photographs of the areas. This area is where you will find all of the best authentic food with local taquerias and is always a great photo op in itself by practicing your food photography. Down at the end of San Felipe is The Malecon, which sits next to The Sea of Cortes. The Malecon is lined with restaurants, shopping, and with a great view of the sea. This is where all of the events happen in towns such as food festivals, music festivals, and parades. This is a great place to take some iPhone street photography. San Felipe ArchesSan Felipe Culture

San Felipe Food Truck

San Felipe TacosSan Felipe TortaSan Felipe DowntownSan Felipe MaleconSan Felipe MaleconSan Felipe Shrimp FestivalSan Felipe is also a great place to gather some night photography. One of the best spots for night photography is down at The Shipyard, which you will find at the end of The Malecon. The Shipyard used to be a marina but was flooded, and they could not move the ships, so they are left there are part of a San Felipe gem. Up on a hill, you will find a building, The Boom Boom Room, a place that has also been abandoned and a very interesting location to photograph during the day or evening. Up on a mountain, you will find a little yellow chapel that looks over the town of San Felipe and right next to it is the lighthouse, which you can shoot from ground level or up at the top where the prayer building is. This is a great place to work with your angles. If you are in town during the full moon make sure to catch the moon rise over The Sea of Cortes: I was there for supermoon, and it was an incredible experience and a really good opportunity to try my moon photography skills and also work with some post editing. San Felipe Tampico ShipSan Felipe BoomBoom RoomSan Felipe MexicoSan Felipe ChapelSupermoon in MexicoThere are many smaller day trips you can take from San Felipe for some great opportunities including more water and desert land. On a note of transportation, you will need some form of 4-wheel drive out in the desert. It is a famous landmark in the area is The Valley of The Giants and a photo opportunity you will not want to miss. The valley holds cardon cacti that stand nearly 50 feet high. You can also drive further south to Percebu where you will find a little more surf in the water and also a great location to find treasures along the beach. Along the way, you will find more abounded buildings and interesting homes and land to photograph. The desert land has a lot of beauty to offer, and San Felipe is surrounded by beautiful desert land. You can take a drive out west closer to the mountains for some more variety in your desert landscape. The desert also offers some interesting finds such as bones, rocks, and maybe even a carcass or two. If you are going out in the middle of the day, you will have problems with harsh lighting in your landscapes, but you can always enhance your lighting in post production with landscape Photoshop actions or Lightroom Presets and Brushes. Valley of the GiantsValley of the GiantsPercebuSan Feipe DesertSan Felipe Mexico DesertSan Felipe Mexico DesertI hope you have the opportunity to visit San Felipe in your future travels or even Baja California to discover color, culture, and beautiful desert land by the sea or ocean side. As they say in the Baja “No Bad Days!”

Tips for low light photography without flash

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to shoot low light photography without flash? It happened to me in some events, one of them was a night wedding in the countryside.

Wedding in low light
Weddings at night are beautiful…but they are difficult to shoot!

These challenging situations of having to shoot low light photography without flash usually happen at events when the flash is annoying some of the participants and guests or when babies are involved. On those occasions, I feel as if someone tied my arm behind my back (only one of them, the other is holding the camera). With these limitations, I have to change the way I shoot photos. I am happy to share with you a few things you can do if you find yourself in situations of this kind.

External lights
It can be frustrating not being able to use external flashes (on the left) or LED lighting devices (on the right). Take these situations as challenges that will make you grow as a photographer (yes, optimism is a good approach here).

Use a wide aperture

The first thing you can try to nail that low light photography without flash is to open your aperture wide. If you know about your predicament in advance, you should choose a lens with a wide aperture that you are comfortable to work with (keep in mind that not all wide aperture lenses will be good for you, there is a tradeoff and you need to compromise over things). When you work with this low f stops (wide apertures), you should keep in mind that they are usually making the background blurry. This is great for isolating your subject and making it pop in the photo, however, if you forget about this, you might lose important parts of the image that you wanted sharp. Just try to remember and take care.

Shallow depth of field
This photo was taken with an aperture of f1.8. As you can see, the depth of field was so narrow that the only thing in focus is the megaphone of the little guy on the right.

Although fast lenses (the ones that can get really wide apertures) are great for low light photography without flash, they are also quite expensive. I have just one of them, a 35mm. This is a great lens and it is affordable. It is pretty good for newborn photography, when you get close to your subject and you usually have time to react or even set a little the scene. However, for situations where you have to react fast I think using a zoom lens can be more useful. The problem is that those are much more expensive! I have never been able to get one. If you are in my situation, keep reading because I developed strategies which solve low light situations without getting expensive equipment.

good lens for low light
This is my only lens that can get to f 1.8. It is a 35mm and I love it!!

Increase the ISO…and fix it later in post processing (Lightroom)

I am not the biggest fan of using high ISO values because the images get noisy. But extreme situations like low light photography without flash call for extreme measures! A high ISO value of 800 or higher will be helpful in this case. It is always good to know that you can reduce the noise in post-processing. And good news: using Lightroom for dealing with noise is easy. In the Develop module, under the Detail section, you will find several interesting slides dedicated to Noise reduction: Luminance and Color Noise slides.

low light photography

low light photography

 

The Luminance Noise is the general noise caused by the brightness of the image, Color Noise is the color dots you see when you zoom in on an image that you shoot at high ISO. You can see them easier in the shadows of an image. Before starting to work on reducing the noise it is better to zoom in on the image by clicking the 1:1 in the Navigator and selecting on it the area you want to focus in.

low light photography

First thing to do is to reduce the Luminance Noise. A good value will be 30-40.

low light photography
These are the original image settings.
low light photography
By setting the Luminance Noise Reduction slider to a value of 40, we managed to reduce the noise a lot while keeping details in the image.

Keep in mind that when you decrease noises, you also lose definition. Everything has a price! Photos can get a painted look, so you aim to find the sweet spot where you reduce enough noise but still keep enough detail.

low light photography
This paint look produced by a too high Luminance Noise Reduction makes the Buddha figure look unnatural.

Once you are done with the Luminance Noise Reduction slider, you can adjust a little bringing some detail with the Detail Slide. Increasing the detail brings noise back though. You can also increase the contrast a little, but this one also brings noise back. In summary, The Luminance Noise slider is the one that you have to use to do the first Noise reduction and then you can tune it finer with the Detail and Contrast sliders.  It might be tricky at the beginning, but it gets better with some practice.

low light photography

Now you need to do the same with the Color Noise Reduction Slide. The default value is 25. If you don´t have a lot of noise, this value might be good, but if your image has a really high ISO value, you will need to increase it quite a lot. Try 50 and adjust accordingly. Then you can fine-tune it by increasing the detail, but remember that this will bring back the noise. You can also play a little with the Smoothness slide. I usually leave Detail and Smoothness on their default values.

low light photography

And finally, if you can’t beat the enemy, join him. Add a grainy effect. It might seem like you were looking for it! The trick here is to make the photo look clearly grainy, to let the viewers see that this effect is intentional.

low light photography
You can add a grain effect by increasing the amount of grain and its size in the “Effects” section (Develop mode).

Use a tripod or alternative stabilization methods

To increase the amount of light going into your sensor, you can also decrease the shutter speed. There is a limit where the speed is so low that the slight movements of your hands cause the photo to be smudged and blurry. This limit depends on the lens you use (more zoom, more evident is the shaking) as well as your personal abilities. Usually, the limit is around 1/80 sec. You can avoid it by simply using a tripod.

Tripod, great tool for low light situations

I find tripods really useful in low-light situation when you can stick to a spot and take photos of objects or places. However, if you need to be mobile, or you are in a busy event, the tripod can be uncomfortable and sometimes even impossible to use. In that case, you can use alternative stabilization methods, that might not be so efficient, but they can solve your situation. If you have money to spare, you can buy equipment such as monopods, or wearable chassis. Alternatively, you can use any surface you find to stabilize your camera (like tables, closets, chairs…anything can work). You can lean on a wall and shoot with the elbows tight to your sides to avoid shaking. You can also sit or lean forward with your elbows on your knees while shooting.

If you still get people blurry because they move all the time, you can try to ask them to freeze their movement for longer than usual (“excuse me, could you just not move for three seconds”). Try to make it sound fun and people will usually be fine with it.

I hope these tricks will help you in low light situations. Do you have any other strategies to handle it? Please, share it with us. We are always happy to learn new things. Have a happy shooting!

Tips to improve your outdoor portraits

(Though this article mainly focuses on portrait photography, almost all of the following tips can be used by other types of photographers, too.)

Outdoor photos can often end up looking dull and uninteresting. To avoid that, it’s important to seek nature, come up with stories which mean something to you as an artist, and be cunning when it comes to challenging lighting conditions. Like anything in the art world, outdoor photography requires curiosity, sharp observation skills, and patience. These three elements will enable you to take better photos outside, no matter what (or who) your subject is.
Here are ways in which your outdoor portraits can thrive.

Look for nature

It’s no surprise that humans, when given a chance to spend time in a tranquil place, feel warmth and acceptance in their natural surroundings. Even a small park at the very center of a bustling city can serve as a refuge for many. Signs of nature in any location create both hope and admiration – reflecting that in your photographs will give your work an air of familiarity. If you feel that your photographs are too simple, find a peaceful area brimming with nature and shoot there. Allow your subjects to gracefully blend in with nature and let your creativity do the rest. For example, branches can be great blurred foregrounds, and flowers in the form of bokeh can add vibrancy to a photo. No matter how insignificant a detail seems to be, challenge yourself by attempting to use it in your photograph. You’ll be surprised to notice what a tremendous difference simply adding an element can make. Sometimes, the things that are ignored by most people are the things which deserve our attention the most.

Outdoor

Outdoor

(Un)favorable lighting conditions

If portrait photography is new to you, try experimenting with soft natural light first. In the warmer months, golden hour is your best creative friend; its light will make any photograph stand out. It addition to being the perfect backlight, golden-light will illuminate your subject’s face beautifully, making it easier to enhance your results during the editing process.

If you’re willing to experiment a little more fearlessly, work with artificial light at night. Nighttime light is very flattering when it directly hits half of a subject’s face. In addition to being visually appealing, this composition creates mystery and originality. Add a few more elements to it, like a mysterious foreground or a freelensing technique, and you’ll discover an exciting world of creative possibilities. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of experimenting with light – if used properly, it will reflect your ideas in the best possible way.

If you find the lighting conditions unfavorable on a very sunny day, take photos in the shade. Nature is ideal when it comes to blocking harsh sunlight or creating interesting light patterns. If it’s a gloomy day, create your own light or use a reflector – even mild reflected light can add an attractive glow to your subject’s face. If, however, a shoot doesn’t go as planned, don’t be afraid of trying over and over again. You’ll achieve your desired results sooner or later.

Outdoor

Outdoor

A story, or two

The outside world is perfect for storytelling. While homely photos are ideal for creating cozy feelings in the viewer’s heart, images taken outdoors are wonderful for telling more elaborate stories. Photos taken in a busy crowd could reflect your subject’s fish-out-of-water feelings, while a beautiful field in the countryside could be a terrific opportunity to add a sense of belonging to your photographs. Whichever location you choose to take photos in, you can find a fitting story to keep in mind throughout your shoot.

If, for any reason, you feel you’re running out of ideas, read a book or watch a film before your photo session to give your creativity more resources to work with. There’s an abundance of themes you could work with, from isolation to exhilaration, to fascination, and the list goes on. The outdoor world, filled with unpredictable situations and all kinds of elements, can make those themes come to life. Keep your artistic eyes open at all times, and your mind will soon be filled with all kinds of ideas worth revealing.

Outdoor

Once you become more comfortable with lighting, strengthen your nature-finding skills, and become adept at coming up with photo-related stories, you’ll find your portfolio blooming rapidly. A thorough knowledge of lighting will help you find potential in all kinds of weather situations, while strengthened storytelling skills will allow you to feel more confident as a photographer. These skills will be reflected in your work, making all of your portraits, outdoors or indoors, stunning and full of meaning.

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How to Photograph Drinks in Studio

The food and beverage industry is always looking for good photographers to capture the essence of their brand through amazing product photos. Do you have what it takes to capture impactful image of drinks? Can you capture those little droplets of water as they condense on the edge of the glass?

As it turns out, you don’t have to. Many beverage photographers use a spray of glycerin mixed with water to create the effect of condensation on the outside of the glass. Throw in a few fake ice cubes, and you’ve got yourself a pretty picture. Okay, so it takes a little more than that! Here’s some advice to get you started.

Typical Lighting Rules Do Not Apply

Normally, you would light your subject from the front. This allows your camera to capture the light that’s bouncing off the subject. The combination of glass, ice, and liquid can create a strange glowing effect when you use the traditional methods.

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Instead, when shooting drinks, your primary lighting should come from the back of the shot. The light should pass through the liquid. This will prevent the glow effect while perfectly illuminating the contents of the glass. Obviously, you’re still going to need additional lighting. You’ll end up with dark image otherwise.

You don’t want to completely neglect illuminating the foreground. If you want a stronger light, use a strobe with a softbox. For a softer light, use two strobes in the background and place a reflector at the front. Use your strobes in combination with the natural lighting of the room.

It’s Time for the Snoot

A snoot is a simple piece of equipment that you can place over the strobe to make strong directional light. You can make one out of a thick, dark piece of fabric. Simply drape it over the strobe in the background so that it frames the bulb and directs a strong beam of light through the drink.

Since you’ll be using two lights, and possibly a reflector, be sure to watch for double shadows. You can prevent this when you’re using a light in the foreground by ensuring the backlight is brighter.

Don’t Be Afraid to Play Around with Settings and Lighting

You’re probably going to be making a lot of little adjustments to the lighting angle and intensity throughout the shoot. This will help you capture different moods and angles. If you want to save yourself some time, use a tripod for your camera. That way, you don’t have to reframe the shot every time you tweak the lighting.

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A handy way to balance out the shot, especially when you’re lighting from the front and the back, is to adjust each one individually. Get your initial shot set up, then turn off your foreground light. Snap a couple of test shots, play with your camera settings so they pick up the background light just right. Then switch to the foreground and use test shots to make sure the light is falling properly. Turn your background back on and you’re ready to go.

Timing is Everything

Working with drinks can be more difficult than working with food, especially if you decide to work with real ice or condensation. Okay, so not everyone uses glycerin! It is a good trick, especially since there are some complications to shooting with real condensation. You will only have a small window of time to snap pictures before the condensation begins to drip. While this may work for your shot, most photographers prefer the rounded beads of liquid on the glass.

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If you’re using real ice, but you don’t want condensation formed on the glass, then you should wait to put ice in the beverage until right before you’re ready. Fake ice in a room temperature beverage would be better. That way, you can take shots from multiple angles without worrying about condensation.

Don’t Forget About Mood

Like any promotional photography, you want to capture what the company wishes to convey. You’ll need to play around with form and composition to create different moods. For instance, lighting an image from the back without a strong foreground light will create a dark and moody composition. Colorful liquid splashing out of the glass against a white background would look cheerful and fun. Remember the aim of the shoot when you’re setting up your props and your lighting. Take the images above and below this paragraph into consideration. They feature similar subjects, but a change in scene and lighting renders a completely different mood.

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One Last Thing

The last bit of advice for photographing drinks may seem simple, but it’s very important:

Don’t touch the glass.

No one wants to get that perfect shot only to find that they left a big smudge on their subject. Try using gloves, especially if you have to move the drink around during the shoot. No matter what, remember to have fun! Drink photos are usually bright and happy, so why not have a good time while you’re taking them?

Histograms: get to understand them and improve your photography

Today I want to talk about one of the most helpful features of the camera- the histogram. Don’t think I always liked histograms. When I started, I found them complicated to understand and in fact, I totally ignored them for a while.  However, once I saw the point of the histogram, I started checking them on the screen of my camera every time I was taking a shot. Trust me; the time invested in understanding histograms is totally worth it. They will become one of the best tools you will have, both in the field and in post-processing.

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What is a histogram?

The histogram is a graph that shows the range of tones in your photo, in other words, it tells you which shades you have in the photo you just took.

Check the histogram in the field

You can set your camera to show you the histogram in its screen each time you take a photo. This is quite handy, especially at the beginning when you are still not used to checking it and you might forget to ask for it. In my Nikon camera, in order to see the histograms in the playback, I needed to check the Histogram in the menu of the Display mode. If you have another type of camera, have a look at the Manual and check how you can set it. It will probably be something similar to what I explained for the Nikon.

Most cameras also have the option to show you the RGB histogram. In fact, this is a group of three histograms, each one showing you the histogram of colors Red, Green and Blue. Today I am going to focus in the general Histogram, but I just want you to know that you have the option to use it by the 3 colors as well, should you choose to do so.

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Check the histogram in Lightroom

Once you import a photo to Lightroom, you can automatically check the histogram from the Library and Develop modules.

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Getting familiar with the histogram

Histograms can look a bit scary at first, but once you know what to look for, they are quite friendly. The histogram is a graph with a horizontal axis which represents the shades you have in your photo. On the left edge you have the pure blacks and as you go to the right on the axis you have lighter and lighter tones until you reach to the pure white in the right edge. I have a little trick to remember where are the blacks and whites in the histogram. I always think the histogram is like “B&W photography”, black is first (in the left) and whites after them (in the right). For this trick to work you have to think from a left-to-right writing mode.

OK, so now we know what the horizontal axis means. What about the height of the histogram? It tells you how much of each shade you have in the photo. The basic principle of reading the histogram is the same; the more peaks you have in one area on the horizontal axis and the higher they are means that these are the tones and shades that are the most dominant in the photo.

Histogram

Let’s see this in a real photo:

Histogram

 

The histogram is a great tool for getting well-exposed images. A general rule of thumb is to have the histogram stretched all over the horizontal axis and avoiding having strong peaks (spikes) at the extreme left and/or right of the axis.

Histogram
This photo is quite balanced, you can see that the histogram stretches almost all over the horizontal axis, the most dominant colors here are bright and for that reason, we see higher peaks on the right side of the histogram (but not at the edge)

A photo with too many picks in the blacks means that it is too dark or underexposed. To correct the exposure, you will need to increase the light of your image by, for example, using a wider aperture or increasing the ISO.

Histogram
This photo was under-exposed, that is why it is so dark and the histogram stretches only over the left-hand side of the axis, and we see that the peaks (which are high enough to be called spikes) are concentrated at the left-hand edge

On the other hand, if the photo has a lot of high picks in the white, it means that it is overexposed or even burnt. This time, to correct the exposure, you will need to decrease the light of your image by, for example, using a smaller aperture or a lower ISO.

Histogram
This photo has been over exposed and parts of it are even burnt, the histogram shows just that; we see the graph is very low the most part of the axis and only towards the right-hand edge of the axis the histogram rises sharply

 

Now you know! If you see that your histogram is too much in the blacks or in the whites, this means that you MIGHT need to correct the exposure of the image. Notice that I said MIGHT. Why? Because as photography is a creative craft, it might happen that having a underexposed or overexposed photo is exactly what you are aiming for. You need to think what do you need in your final image and then see if the histogram you have matches what you are looking for. I will show you with a little game!

Let’s play the histogram game!

I am going to show you a histogram and you need to decide which kind of photo might correspond to it. Spoiler alert! Don’t scroll down too far or you will see the answer! Let’s see the first one:

Histogram 1

 

 

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Options:

  1. A boiled egg on a white table
  2. A night photography of a street event
  3. A chess board
  4. A multi-color chicken

Solution: Number 2! In night photography you will get histograms with a lot of pick in the blacks area. But this is normal because night is dark and black is what we expect to find in the frame.

Histogram

Histogram 2

 

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Options:

  1. A boiled egg on a white plate
  2. A beach at night
  3. A chess board
  4. A gray cat on a brown sofa

Solution: Number 1! We got a histogram with a lot of whites because the image is mostly white!

Histogram

Histogram 3

histogram-egg-black

Options:

  1. A polar bear in the snow
  2. A groom in black sitting in a black car
  3. A multicolor bouquet of flowers
  4. Eggs in a white plate on a black table

Solution: Number 4! Here the histogram shows picks in both blacks and whites and almost no middle tones because the photo has high contrast: white and black are the main colors.

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Histogram 4

Histogram

  1. A cat in the middle of the night
  2. A bride in the snow
  3. A colorful house with a sunburst
  4. A colorful patchwork blanket

Solution: Number 3! The beautiful Gaudi House and the most part of the photo is well exposed, so the histogram has a lot of middle tones. However, the sun-star makes the whites in the histogram quite high. Exactly what I wanted!

Histogram

What do you think about histograms now? Still scary? I hope not! It takes a bit of practice to get used to them, but believe me, it is totally worth it! Grab your camera and tell me how it goes! Have a happy shooting!

Taking meaningful self-portraits

When my interest in photography awakened, self-portraiture was the first genre with which I experimented. I was in awe of the skills and talents that were used to create impressive self-portraits independently. A completely new world was revealed to me; there were people who, for the sake of a stunning photo, would come up with ideas, organize a shoot, take incredible portraits of themselves, and retouch them all on their own. The individualistic nature of such an alluring challenge swallowed me up, allowing me to gently fall for this genre.

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Photographing other people is skill-strengthening and ever-changing. Since peoples’ level of comfort, personality, and attitude greatly vary, you often finish a shoot having learned a rich variety of artistic information. Self-portraiture is similar in its essence; in this case, the people we’re dealing with are the various sides of ourselves. Having full control over our own time, creativity, and equipment is a useful advantage. The challenges that cling to self-portraiture will help you understand your styles and preferences better, transforming you into a more comfortable person to work with. This will make future shoots even more pleasant and creative, which will in turn help your portfolio grow.

Like writing eloquent stories, taking expressive self-portraits is often seen as something that belongs to the elite individuals who possess the largest amount of talents and the priciest of resources. In reality, touching portraits of oneself are quite attainable. Once you become comfortable with your newfound skill, you’ll begin to reap the emotional and creative benefits of self-portraiture. Here are ways in which you can create eye-catching and meaningful self-portraits.

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Lighting

This might be a straightforward thing to point out, but people are often oblivious to the importance of lighting. Light is a reflection of emotions; it’s often a sign of untold stories which have found their way into an image. Making the most of artificial or natural lighting is a skill worth learning.When outdoor lighting conditions are unfavourable, use any artificial lights you can get your hands on – you’ll be surprised that almost anything makes a great portrait if you take the time to experiment with angles, positions, and poses. (Just as an example, even a simple lamp can be a brilliant source of light, especially backlight.) Taking a few steps from a window on a sunny day will create a darker atmosphere, allowing for somber photographs. Similarly, standing right next to a window will create a more cheerful atmosphere. However, don’t limit yourself to these simple steps; try various positions, angles, and expressions, and soon enough you’ll find yourself enjoying the process instead of being intimidated by it.

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Emotions

In addition to lighting, a photograph’s emotional aspect is of great importance. Unpleasant feelings like jealousy and abandonment can be soothed, if not completely obliterated, with the help of self-portraiture. It’s not necessary to sob or scream in front of your camera; it’s just as possible to cry through a fragile pose or to be angry with your eyes. It’s also possible to glow with happiness without smiling and to show excitement through a simple hand gesture. If you’re not comfortable with showing your face, remember that self-portraiture doesn’t have to revolve around a subject’s countenance; even a faceless photo of you holding a book in a homely atmosphere could be deemed a self-portrait.

If you don’t feel any profound emotions on any given day, or if the idea of expressing anger doesn’t appeal to you, watch a touching film or read a great book. Short films (Vimeo is a great place to find those) and poems are also great shortcuts if you’re short on time. Experiencing the very depths of art will inculcate in you a desire to nurture your emotions and find new ones to observe. After watching a film, no matter how different its emotions are to yours, you’ll feel creativity rushing inside of you. Such moments of intense emotion are absolutely ideal for photography, especially self-portraiture.

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Other photographers

Finding your style as a self-portrait photographer might seem like an ordeal. To soothe the pain of creative frustation, take the time to study other photographers’ images. You’ll notice that there’s a myriad of genres within self-portraiture, from conceptual, to horror, to anything you can imagine. Let this knowledge give you the freedom and the courage to work with your ideas in every way imaginable. As you experiment, your style will gracefully emerge. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few skilled self-portrait artists worth following: Seanen Middleton, Rosie Hardy, Bailey Elizabeth, Karrah Kobus, Laura Kok, and Cristina Otero.

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Transformation

As you may have noticed, many photographers transform themselves completely for the sake of self-portraiture. This is a fantastic way to represent emotions, fictional characters, sayings, nature, etc. This world is limitless and exhilarating; you can look for wigs, costumes, props, locations, and backgrounds (or even make your own). You can add freckles to your face, experiment with dramatic makeup, and fake a haircut; the possibilities are endless. Your results will stand out, add diversity to your portfolio, and allow you to create as many self-portraits as you like without worrying about monotony.

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Whether you’re comfortable with showing your face in photos or not, you can be considered a talented self-portrait artist. All it takes is a patience, openness, and a willingness to experiment. Becoming a part of the self-portraiture world will give you the necessary skills and patience to work with other people. Thus, you’ll be both a wonderful self-portrait photographer and a creative photo-taker in general.

Good luck!

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4 Easy Tips for Working with Surfers

Surf photography is a technically and physically demanding field. It can be as dangerous as it is exhilarating. You share the risks with your subjects, the surfers themselves. Getting the perfect shot of a surfer riding through the barrel of a wave is nothing like regular sports photography. Shooting with surfers requires a unique partnership with the athletes you photograph, and that teamwork will invariably impact the quality of your photos. While it’s always important to work with your subjects, it’s vital to establish a good working relationship with surfers before you try to photograph them hitting the waves.

1. Make Plans with the Surfers

As we already warned you, surf photography is vastly different from regular sports photography. Photographing sports requires good timing, but you shoot from the sidelines as a spectator. Surf photography often requires photographers to join in the action themselves. It’s usually a struggle to get in the right place at the right time to capture that perfect image. A surfer skimming along the bottom of a barreling wave is a beautiful sight, but it’s also a short one. You cannot get these images alone.

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It’s imperative to work with the surfers from the very beginning. Explain what techniques you’re planning, and encourage the surfers to ask questions. If surfers know where you’ll be, they can help you get the best image by speeding up or slowing down as they approach. By involving surfers in the planning process, you also decrease potential sources of frustration. Surfers have to be patient in order to learn their sport. By integrating timing requirements and setting up a plan before hand, it’s easier for surfers to see your needs as a surfing challenge rather than outside interference.

2. Be Flexible

Having a plan is great, but be ready to go with the flow. You never know what the weather may do later in the day, and even if certain beaches usually have great waves, even the ocean has quiet times. Surf photography encompasses more than just shots of surfers on cresting waves. Surfers still have a distinct presence on land, and they make great subjects when they’re just sitting on their boards and waiting for a wave. Surfing is all about patience. Although it’s punctuated by flashes of intense action, surfing has many quiet moments. You should take these opportunities to add variety to your portfolio.

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Allow yourself to be creative, especially between major shoots or on slow days. Just because your camera is out of its water housing doesn’t mean it’s time to stop working. Experiment with candid photos or ask your subjects to show you their favorite local areas. You may be surprised how many great surfer shots you can get on land.

3. Ask for and Listen to Their Suggestions

Surfers know the best places to surf. They know where and when waves will be at their highest. They know which beaches are crowded and where the surf is just too tough for tourists. Take advantage of this information. Surfers are more than just the subjects of your photographs. They can be your guides if you let them.

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They may even offer some new ideas for composition and lighting. Even if they aren’t professional photographers, chances are they’ve snapped some pictures of their friends in action and recorded great views to show off later. More importantly, they can offer valuable safety advice. For example, if there’s an area of the beach with particularly strong riptides, they can warn you away from that risk.

Depending on your arrangement with the surfer(s), your preferences may come second. Sometimes surfers hire photographers to get pictures they can use when entering competitions or submitting profiles. You can still expand your portfolio, and your subject will likely listen to your professional advice, but remember that the relationship works both ways. Be willing to experiment. Your images can benefit everyone. Even if you are not hired by the surfers themselves, take time to see what images excite them, and plan future shoots accordingly.

4. Have Fun

Photography and surfing are both serious business, but always remember to have fun. Surfers risk their lives for the rush, and you wouldn’t be attempting surf photography if you weren’t happy to get in the ocean with them. You’ll have a lot of missed opportunities and inevitably get frustrated at times. Remembering to enjoy yourself can prevent that frustration from destroying a productive shoot. You may not get what you want today, but there’s always tomorrow. So long as you have fun, you’ll never see a day as wasted.

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Once you’ve set up your plan and actually gotten in the water with your subjects, everything changes. Surf photography is stunning because it captures moments of intense, rapid action. The waves are breaking, the surfer is moving, and that’s just the action on the surface. Working with surfers is challenging because the pictures you’re trying to take are extremely difficult to capture. That only makes the final images all the more rewarding.

How to use a reflector to enhance your photography: a beginner’s guide

One of the most important elements of photography is, of course, light. If you like taking photos outdoors, one of the challenges you will face is that you can’t adjust the light sources so much. The sun and street lights can’t be moved, so you need to find the way to make their light work for you. Sunlight is also influenced by the time. For example, if it is high noon our light is coming from right above us and it is a very hard light. But if we are taking a photo at sunrise or sunset, the light will come at an angle. Light intensity also varies between sunny days and when the sky is hazy, foggy or cloudy.

Light variance allows us to take spectacular and diverse photos. However, sometimes we want to have a bit more control over the lighting. One of the simplest and most efficient means to do it is by using a reflector.

What is a reflector?

In my opinion, the best photography equipment that I ever got is my reflector. It took me several years into photography to get one. I guess that I always saw reflectors as something that only professionals use. In fact, reflectors are one of the most affordable pieces of equipment a photographer can have. Mine have cost me around 14 euros in Amazon.

reflector
The reflector I’m using. The envelope is made up of four pieces, the gold and the black are sewn together back to back, and so are the white and silver. A zipper connects the two pairs. this enables one frame to have 4 different colors. Together with the diffuser, it really is a 5 in 1!

A reflector is basically a surface which redirects the light towards a desired subject. You can even make one yourself with a cardboard and aluminum foil. There are many variations and kinds of reflectors available on the market. The most common and affordable ones are the collapsible round reflectors with multiple colors. They consist of a foldable frame with a translucent cloth stretched over them. These frames come with a reversible envelope which offers four different surfaces (usually white, silver, gold and black). Don’t repeat my mistake, get (or make) yourself a reflector soon. You will see how easily your images improve.

How to use a reflector

Using a reflector, you can bring in light from additional angles and lighten shadows. In other words, you use them to change the direction of the light sources in order to add light to dark areas that make your image look bad. Using a reflector is very similar to what we did when we were kids and we played with the light beams from mirrors, but in a more delicate way.

A common use of the reflector is for portrait photography in the middle of the day, when the light is coming from above the model’s head. In this situation, the model’s face will be full of shadows and hard lights. In addition, the eyebrows cast a shadow under the eyes, making him/her look a bit like a raccoon. By using our reflector, we can bring light from a lower angle and lighten the model’s face, this way we avoid the “raccoon effect”.

You can set the reflector on a stand or hold by yourself. However if you are holding the camera it can get really complicated. You can also ask an assistant or a friend to hold it. Another option is that your model holds it. A good option is to let your model sit and put the reflector on top of his/her knees. In some situations you might need to use your imagination and have the reflector standing on walls, cars, columns or even lying on the floor. Don’t be shy and try different options until you get the results you want. This is part of the fun of a photo session!!

Gold and silver sides of the reflector

Keep in mind that both the silver and the gold colors are metallic and reflect a lot of light. For that reason they should be used from a certain distance (that will vary according to light conditions). If you are using it to reflect light on a person or animal, it might be even blinding. Take care and if you need it, ask the model to close the eyes until you adjust the light reflection to an intensity that will be comfortable for him/her.

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The metallic colors reflect the light almost like a mirror, be careful when you aim it at people.

As the silver side reflects the light without softening it, besides being a good option for greater distances, it is also great for weaker lighting conditions. Silver is also a good one to start getting used to reflectors because you can see the effect very vividly, making your life easier at the beginning.

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In the first photo I didn’t use the reflector, the middle one was taken with the reflector too close to the model, the last one was taken with the reflector set at a greater distance. See how the light is much more delicate in the last photo in comparison with the others

The gold is very much like the silver except that it is giving the reflected light a warm yellow shade, similar to the golden hour light. It can be great for emphasizing sun tan, or if you want to bring out a certain color in the photo. But take care, because the yellow light can be overpowering.

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In this photo you can see how the golden-yellow light reflected from the gold emphasizes my friend Nita‘s sun tan. you can also see how the shadows articulate her muscles

White side of the reflector

The white side reflects a very soft and delicate light, you need to place it very close to your subject in order for it to have an effect and it won’t work if the lighting is bad (like at dusk, or if it is cloudy), but the result will be a very warm and soft photo, which is great for portraits (family, children, pregnancy photos, flowers).

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Here you can see how the different colors affect the photo: in the top left I didn’t use the reflector, in the top right I used the silver and you see that the illumination is almost equal on both sides of Porky, the bottom left photo was taken using the white and you can see how the light on Porky is softer, the bottom right photo was taken with the golden reflector and you can see Porky has here a much warmer light.

Black side of the reflector

Finally, a reflector can be used as a light blocker too. If you have a light coming from an undesired direction. For example, if you have light reflecting from a window,  you can reduce the reflecting light by placing the reflector with the black side towards your subject.

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Here you can see the effect of the black side of the reflector, on the left I didn’t use a reflector and on the left photo I used the black. Do you see the difference?

Using the reflector’s frame as diffuser

Besides reflecting the light, the reflector’s frame (the one with a semi opaque cloth) can be used as a diffuser. Diffusers soften the light coming directly from a light source and make the shadows less hard..

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These two photos were taken in the same spot moment one after the other. In the upper photo I took the photo when Inna was subjected to the hard mid day light, in the lower photo Inna was “sheltered” from the harshest light by the diffusing inner frame of the reflector.

I want to thank my friends Inna and Nita for being my models and also my nephew for letting me use Porky to illustrate this article. Now that you have the basic information about reflectors, it is time to grab yours and start experimenting with it!

Enjoy and have a happy shooting!!

Tips for learning photography when you have no free time

I started photography just six years ago. At that time I already had a professional career as a Biologist. I moved from Barcelona to France and then to Israel for work reasons. Now I just moved back to Barcelona because I found a new job in a private laboratory. I work there 40 hours/week. Besides that, I need to take care of some things for my family while still trying to do yoga and sport to keep healthy. I also cook my meals, I need to go to the supermarket…. Well, let’s say that I am quite busy in my daily life, and I guess that if you are reading this article, this sounds familiar to you.

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I am Biologist and I spend 40 hours each week working in a laboratory analyzing the microbiological quality of water samples.

Photography is one of my passions. For that reason, although I don’t have a lot of free time, I still want to develop myself as a photographer. The biggest challenge is to combine my everyday life with my more artistic side. Along the years I have developed some strategies that help me to organize myself better and keep learning photography even during busy times.

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Time is gold… Nowadays we have extremely busy life. But if you organize yourself well, you might find some time to invest in your passions!

Take profit of the trips to and back from work

Maybe you are lucky and you live a 5 minutes walking distance from your workplace. But if you need to invest time every day going and coming back from work, I have good news for you: your photography might benefit from these traveling times. Taking photos on your way to work might not be convenient or at all possible, but you can still use this time by learning the theory or feeding your creativity with some resources.

If you are using public transportation, you can invest this time in reading photography or art related books. An electronic format might help you to travel lighter (this is extremely important when you are already carrying your meals and some other things you might need throughout your day). If you don’t want to carry a book with you, using the phone is an excellent alternative. You can use a RSS reader application to make lists of interesting photography articles that you can later read on your way to work.  I am using one now that I like a lot and it is called “Feedly”. Another thing you can do for taking advantage of your trips to work is searching; for new photography resources or courses, doing some networking with other photographers…

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It takes me 40 min to get to work by subway. I like investing at least one of the two trips I do each day in photography related activities. Doing so, I get at least 200 minutes of catching up on photography each week. At the end of the year, I managed to accumulate a lot of learning time.

If you drive or walk to work, you can listen to photography broadcasts. You might also listen to some TED talks about photography or creativity. You just need to plan ahead which information you would like to listen to. Sometimes you can even download the broadcasts/talks.

Learn in baby steps

I don’t know about you, but when I decide to learn about a new subject, I get excited and I want to learn everything about it right now! But if you are a busy person, this way of thinking can lead you to frustration: since you are busy, you never have what you think is the right amount of free time for learning the subject properly. You wait until you have enough time to learn a particular photography subject. After some time you get mad with yourself because you didn’t manage to learn anything because you just can’t get a whole afternoon off two times a week… If this happens to you, it is time to change your learning strategy! Divide the subject you want to learn into small lessons that will require less time to finish or just decide on an amount of time you can invest each day on the subject.

For example, you might decide to read 3 pages of a book each time you have a chance, or read one photography article each time, or invest 15 minutes after dinner each day in learning something.  It might not seem a lot at first, but if you are consistent, you will notice improvement in your learning curve along time. If you do this, I recommend you take notes or write a summary of what you learned. That way, when you have the time, it will be that much easier to catch up on what you read already but might have forgotten a little.

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Learning step by step might take you far.

Take photos with what you have at the moment

I wish I could always take photos with my DSLR camera, lenses, and tripod. However, because of my everyday obligations, it is quite difficult for me to carry my gear everywhere I go. I used to think that if I don’t have my DSRL camera, then I can’t practice photography. Nowadays I know this is not true. We don’t leave the house without our phones. And all of them have a camera. Depending on your phone, you might not have the best camera, but it is still a camera!  For example, I have a simple camera on my phone. I can’t set it’s aperture or shutter speed and when there is not a lot of light, the photos can turn out quite noisy. But I can still take photos with it to practice my composition or storytelling skills. I’d rather practice photography with my phone than not at all. When I have the chance to take my DSLR and gear with me, I practice all the other things that my phone doesn’t allow me to do.

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If you can’t carry your camera, you can always use your phone.

Join a photo challenge

You can decide to take upon yourself a challenge and take one photo every day/week/month. One photo a week might seem  an achievable goal even if you are busy. But to be honest, I find it quite difficult if I am doing it alone. One alternative is to join a photo challenge. It is usually easier to accomplish things every week if others are doing it too, because you feel encouraged.  You can find several online. If you are a busy person, I recommend you to have a look at 52frames.  Each week there is a subject and you need to submit one photo. I recommend this challenge because the community is really welcoming and the policy is about enjoying your photography and improving by being consistent. You don’t need to submit a masterpiece each time, but you need to submit something. And by doing so, you assure a bit of creativity in your life every week!

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I joined recently 52frames because I think it will keep me motivated even in busy times. This is the photo I submitted in Week 2. The subject was “Rule of thirds”.

Be patient with yourself

There is a tendency in our society to do a lot of things and do them fast and now. This trend is somehow making us less patient with ourselves.  As we love photography, we might have the feeling that we need to take great photos  NOW. However, there is a learning process. And this process takes time. If you are a busy person, you have to understand that you can invest just a bit of time on photography every day/week and in consequence, it will take you longer to improve your craft, but if you are consistent, I assure you that you will improve. Whatever you do, don’t turn photography into something stressful. If you are extremely tired one day, you might consider skipping your practice and rest. The same goes for times when you have an unexpected event that changes your entire schedule and miss your photography plan of the day. These things happen and it is OK to skip your photography practice. Just make sure you come back to your practice routine as soon as you can if you want to develop your photography skills. Patience and persistence will take you far on a long road.

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Our society is leading us to have a maybe too busy lifestyle.

Do you have any other strategy for learning photography during busy times? I would love to hear about them and include them in my list. Have a happy photography learning!

Make your photographs stand out with Strike A Pose Lightroom presets

An exquisite day beckons to you, asking you to leave your house and shoot outside. You gather your equipment, find a location that catches your eye, and photograph for as long as your free day allows. Confidently shooting in RAW mode, you aim to make use of every precious pixel. Contentment eventually fills your creative mind and you return home, eager to view your new works of art, your potential magnum opus. However, when you import your images into Lightroom, you notice flaws that weren’t noticeable in your camera. The tingles of excitement you had initially felt somewhere in the pit of your stomach no longer exist. Certain colors don’t stand out as dramatically as they did in your camera’s LCD screen and to make it worse, Lightroom reveals your desired effect for a few seconds before teasingly neutralizing the colors and dulling your images.

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This sudden transition is due to your camera company’s default settings. Chances are that Lightroom’s default settings don’t match that. As a result, any RAW file is slightly adjusted during the rendering process because of Lightroom’s different interpretation of the image data. Is Lightroom, then, attempting to sabotage your work or hinder your artistic progress? No – this matter is easily fixable. One of the benefits of shooting RAW is that the resulting images can be rendered in many ways without being destroyed. Thus, altering photos is easy.

Manually adjusting the contrast and temperature of your image can prove to be effective. However, there’s an easier and far more creative method to get the best results possible. Dreary photos can be fixed easily with a handy tool called a Lightroom preset, a color enhancer which automatically makes an image pop. In most cases, such presets can be adjusted to fit the photographer’s taste and needs (i.e. fixing clarity, saturation, temperature, etc.). Once you obtain a preset, you can use it on several images at once, making the editing process quick and straightforward. If finding the perfect colour combination isn’t within your skill set, you can work with presets to make the most of your images.

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Edited with “All In One – Sunset Portrait 3”

Sleeklens offers a variety of mesmerizing Lightroom presets for any kind of shoot. The Strike A Pose Lightroom presets are a diverse collection of instant, adjustable portrait enhancers. From richly golden tones to cooler shades, this collection will suit any artist’s taste. Here are a few previews and tips to make the best of these resources.

1. All In One Presets

Strike A Poses’ All In One Presets are instant photo boosters. If you wish to transform your image into something you’ll be proud to share with others, then experiment with these. Hovering over them will allow you to see a preview of what your image will look like. Allow yourself to fearlessly experiment with each one. You never know when a new color combination will lead you to a more experienced version of your artistic self. Remember that presets are instant photo enhancers, not instant photo “perfectors.” Consider them the foundation of your image. One that has the intention of being adjusted and used based on your taste. The more adjustments you make, the closer you’ll get to discovering your own style.

(If, however, the all in one presets don’t strike your fancy, check out the next section for an alternative editing method.)

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Edited with “All In One – Golden Shadow”
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You can do almost anything with your image – presets just act as helpful color guides. Don’t limit yourself to the “Basic” section. Play with color tones, hues, and sharpness. Make the most of Lightroom’s practical features.

 

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The color section is ideal for playing with hues and saturation.
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Edited with “All In One – Beach Glow”

2. Base Presets

The All In One presets are quick fixes, but the second part of the collection has a far more controlled environment for photographers to enjoy.You can neatly place base layers on top of each other to create a noteworthy image. Just imagine the many layers of a cake. The chance to adjust each section as you move from one step to another creates a more open environment for you as a photographer. There are 6 bases in total, all of which contain assorted subcategories; combining these in any way or order will result in outstanding photographs.

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The editing process for this was:
1: Glow Baby Glow
2: Brighten
3: Reduce yellows
4: Golden Glow
5: High contrast
6: Black dreamy

When an exquisite day calls you to leave your house and shoot again, you don’t have to worry about the editing process. Having confidence in your photos will give you more room to create and grow. This will result in a happier, freer, and more developed photography life.

Good luck!

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7 Useful Tips for Photographing Celebrities at an Event

If you’ve always dreamed of being a fly on the wall at a celebrity event, maybe it’s time to grab your camera and use your photography skills to get your foot in the door. The following tips will help you get amazing photos of celebrities that fit with the specific event and sell.

1. Do your Research Beforehand

If possible, you’re going to want to know about the layout of the venue before you arrive to take photographs. Do as much research as possible, and even visit the place if you can. This ensures that you will already know where you can frame the best shots, and it will help you feel at ease during the event. This will also help you to blend in to your surroundings better.

2. Learn How to Blend In

If everyone knows you’re taking photographs, then you’re not going to get those shots of celebrities interacting naturally. When you research, take note of the expected attire and dress accordingly. Look like you belong and you won’t be as noticeable. Additionally, it is a good idea to always keep your camera in hand. Not only will you be ready to quickly capture a moment, you also won’t draw attention to yourself by grabbing your camera to do so.

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3. Carry the Right Equipment

You’ll need a good camera that works well in all types of light, especially low-levels of light. You should have extra batteries and SD cards to ensure you’re ready to keep snapping pictures until the lights have faded and everyone has gone home. Make sure you use a camera you are very comfortable with, and know the settings well.

4. Work with the Scene

The point of researching the venue beforehand is to know where you’ll be able to get the best frames for shots. Take note of this and use it to your advantage. Are there some interesting decorations that would make for a stunning photograph? Is a celebrity wearing something that pops against a certain background? Knowing the scene and how to set it will take you very far.

You also need to know what kind of lighting you’ll be working in so you can have your camera settings ready. It’s a good idea to avoid flash as this can take the guests out of the moment, leading to photographs that fail to capture the natural flow of the evening. If you’re light is low, take a step back and zoom out to capture the most light without using your flash.

5. Take a Variety of Shots

You should capture a mix of action shots, posed pictures, and photographs that set the scene by focusing more on the wide view than an individual subject. It’s a good idea to get there before the party starts and get some general pictures of the overall setup before people arrive. This will not only please the venue, it will help you to better frame photographs later.

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6. Frame Photographs According to the Event

You’ll need to keep the event in mind to know what kind of photographs to focus on. At a red carpet event, you’ll want to strive for up-close individual shots where the celebrity is looking directly at the camera. Once inside, you’ll need to widen the view to include the action. Is someone having an emotional reaction to what’s happening on stage? Try to capture the reaction and the event that caused it within the same shot. At a film festival or more social event, you’ll want a mix of individual shots with group action photographs.

7. Be Respectful of the Guests and the Venue

Don’t focus on one person or a group of people for most the evening. Remember that, while celebrities profit indirectly from a good photograph through publicity, they are also there to enjoy themselves. If they feel like they’re being stalked, that’s not going to be possible. It may even give you a bad reputation, which will only hurt you down the road. Respect the venue as well by blending in and being polite. A venue will not invite you back if you someone feels harassed by your attempts to get the right shot.

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If you need some practice, consider covering non-celebrity events until you feel more comfortable with your skills and abilities. It’s not going to work out well for you if you don’t know the basics of how to use your camera. You need to be quick, and you need to know how to play with the settings to get the perfect shot. You’d also do well to remember that celebrities want to be photographed at events because it increases their publicity, so there is no need to feel nervous or intrusive.

If you feel like you’re ready, it’s time to grab a camera and hit the red carpet!

Tips for Post-processing Forest Images in Lightroom

If you like nature and landscape photography you probably take photos of forests, your local wood or even parks. I can teach you how to install presets if you want. In Mark Jones’ article you will find nice tips for forest photography. I take a lot of forest photos in autumn, so in winter I usually find myself with a bunch of photos to post-process. In today’s article, I am going to give you some tips that will help you on the post-processing in Lightroom of all the forest images you already collected. This is a lot different from editing a macro photography in Lightroom.

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Decrease shadows and increase blacks

When you take photos of trees, with the light coming from up and going through leaves you usually get the upper part of the image with a nice exposure but the soil remains in the shadow.

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This is the non edited photo. As you can see, the leaves are well exposed, but the earth is way too dark.

You can improve your photo by opening the shadows (moving Lightroom preset Shadows slider to the right). Maybe this will make you lose a bit of contrast, but you can fix it easily by darkening the Blacks (moving the Blacks slider slides to the left). With these two adjustments you will make appear the details in the shadows without losing contrast in the blacks.

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If you want to open the shadows a bit more, you can do it using the brush tool. Select a brush with the shadows slider towards the right and “paint” the area you want to work with.

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You can “paint” areas of your image with a brush that will brighten the shadows even more (Shadow slider towards the right side). If you check the box that says “Show Selected Mask Overlay” you will see in red the area you are painting in.

With these adjustments you can improve a lot a photo with a combination of light and shadow

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On the left, the non-edited photo. On the right the image after brightening the shadows and darkening the blacks. I will probably work a bit more in this image (color, highlights…), but as you can see, just with these simple adjustments you can improve a photo a lot.

Adjust the highlights

When you take photos of forests you will end up with images that are well exposed in some areas, but others are quite overexposed. It happens for example when you take photos of a tree from its base.

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This is the non edited photo. The sky and some of the higher branches are clearly overexposed.

 

The tree is well exposed, but some branches and the sky can get quite overexposed. In these cases, adjusting the highlights might help you. You can do it in the whole image.

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As you can see, in the non edited photo the Highlights have a value=0.
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Once you slide the Highlights to 100, you will see that you recover detail form the overexposed area.

Or you can do it in just some areas by using the brush tool.

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As before, you can “paint” areas of your image with a brush. This time its setting will affect the Highlights (slider towards the left side).
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This is the final edited image.

Adjust colors

Colors are an important element in forest photography. The way you adjust the colors will depend on what you want to communicate with your photo, so it is quite subjective. With forest photography, increasing the intensity of the colors might work quite well. To do that, you can increase the vibrance and/or the saturation by moving its sliders to the right.

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Here the non edited photo. The values of both vibrance and saturation are 0.
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You can increase both vibrance and saturation, but take care because too much color might look unnatural. Try to find a balance.

You can be more selective by adjusting individual colors in the HSL/Color/B & W section. You can see that each color has its own slide of hue, saturation and luminance. I usually modify just the saturation.

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In autumn forest photos, increasing the saturation of just red and orange might be enough.

Highlight the main subject of your photo

You can highlight the main subject of your image by making it a bit lighter or a bit sharper. This is easily achieved by adding a circular filter.

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This is the original photo. I would like to highlight a bit more some of the leaves in the foreground.
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If you add a circular filter, to make adjustments inside the circle you need to check the box “Invert Mask. A Feather value of 100 makes changes in exposure and sharpness (in our particular case) look smooth.

Add a dreamy look

If you are looking for a dreamy mood, you can achieve it by blurring some parts of the photo and adding a matte effect.

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I made some little adjustments in this image (exposure, highlights…). Now I would like to add a more dreamy look.

To blurry some parts of the photo you can either use the brush tool or the circular filter tool. In both cases, you need to decrease the sharpness and/or clarity.

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Here I applied a brush to decrease both the clarity and the sharpness of just the leaves.
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You can see like the blurriness achieved by the brush give to the trees a more dreamy effect than when they are sharp.

To achieve a matte effect you will need to make some changes in the Tone curve.

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This is the Tune curve adjustment panel. When you move the cursor on top of the curve it might appear as a little cross. If it does not, click on the little box mark here with a blue arrow.

You can select a point in the curve that it is around 30%-40% to anchor it. When you select it, you see a circle in the curve. This means that you can move any other part of the curve, but this particular spot will remain there.

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Then you can drag up the left bottom of the Tone curve. You can try with 10% up and adjust it according to your taste.

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Try some presets

If you need to post-process a lot of photos you might find useful to check some made presets as the Through the Woods Workflow. They will speed up your editing.

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This original photo has potential, but it seems a bit dull right now.

The good thing of these particular presets is that they have been designed for landscape photography. You can stack several presets on one single image, giving you a lot of flexibility.

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In the History panel you can see that I applied 5 presets and their effects stack on top of each other. The photo looks totally different now.

They also provide you with brushes.

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Here you can see all the brushes provided for doing local adjustments In this case, I chose the one for Brighten the shadows and I applied in some of the trees.

Another thing I also like is that the names given to the presets and brushes are intuitive, so you can easily find the ones you need. And if they are not exactly fitting your needs, you can always adjust them a little. However, they already gave you a good starting point.

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Final image. It took me to edit it just 2 minutes.

I hope you liked this tips for post-editing your forest photographs. Do you have any other tip? I would love to hear about it! Have a happy post-processing!!!

How to post-process your images according to your photographic vision

I like reading and watching all kind of tutorials and talks about photography. I have a list of photographers I admire but the one that has had more influence on me is David du Chemin. He is a world and humanitarian assignment photographer that promotes quite actively the idea of developing your own photographic vision. At first the concept of “my own photographic vision” sounded foreign to me. I am not a famous photographer and I don’t even have the best quality gear. How was I going to have a photographic vision?  Well, I was mistaken. We all have a photographic vision. The difference is that some of us are not aware meanwhile others work actively in order to develop it and express it.

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The concept of photographic vision can be confusing. One of the reasons I like David du Chemin is for his way of making complicated things look achievable. He defined vision as the way YOU see the world. It is unique because it depends on how your eyes and mind filter the image you see in front of you. Thanks to this definition I understood that I also have a vision of life and I decided to work on discovering it (this will probably be a life-long job). I focused in the 2 big parts of my workflow: shooting and post-processing. Today I want to focus in the post-processing part and tell you the 3 things I started doing that are helping me to find and express my vision.

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You won’t find your photographic vision one day and that’s all. Your vision will evolve and change along your life because it is the way you see things.

Make a personal list of how do you understand certain components of a photo

I found really useful to look other photographers’ works in order to understand my vision. This might seem a bit contradictory at first, but let me explain myself better. We all have a particular way to understand a scene. This is because we all have a different background, experiences, feelings… so we face things and react to them in unique ways. It is part of the beauty of being human.

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Which one of these 2 images do you prefer? This will depend on the things they make you think when you see it. One of them will fit your vision better than the other and just you can know the reason for that. Working on your vision means to study your reactions and thoughts, it is a kind of self-study.

I find really difficult to establish abstract connections between elements of an image such its color or sharpness and my feelings or vision. For that reason I decided to do a bit of research about myself using other photographer’s images at first. How I do it? I look for a photo that calls my attention and then I study the feelings the image awakes on me and the possible connection between the feeling and the  photo element. Writing my conclusions in a document or notebook is a good way to keep track of my thoughts.

I use this list to know myself and not to copy the style of the other photographers. You should check photos that you like and also the ones you don’t like too much (it is also good to know what generates this rejection feelings). For example, thanks to my research I know that sharp images for me are synonym of energy and strength.

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This image is quite sharp and for me sharpness means strength.

Now, if I take a picture in which I want to express energy and strength I know that one option to achieve it is to sharpen the image in post-processing. Or after watching tones of photos of flowers I realize that I love when they look a bit blurry in the border of the petals because this gives them a delicate look.

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Thanks to my study of photos I understood that I connect some blurriness with softness.

I let myself to growth the list slowly in order to enjoy the whole process of understanding the way I see things. Follow your own rhythm and try not pushing your vision.

Work on your photos thinking on the feeling you had when you were shooting

Ideally, I would recommend to post-process the photos as soon as you can because then you will have fresh in your mind the vision you had meanwhile you were shooting. Maybe you were happy, or melancholic, or taking some photos make you think in a particular subject. The idea is making this thoughts pop out in the post-processing. This will depend on your own way to see the world, but I will give you some examples using my vision just that you can understand what I mean:

For me happy moments are full of light and color, so a photo that expresses my vision of happiness will look something like this:

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However, I relate nostalgic moments with a kind of dreamy mood, so if I want to express this in the same image, it will look like this:

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In this case, the post-processing will depend on your way to understand happiness and nostalgia. For that reason doing some previous work on knowing yourself (previous tip) will be really helpful.

We can’t always post-process our photos right after shooting. We might be taking photos far from our computer and it will take us time to get there. Or maybe we are busy and we just find the time for post-processing after some days after the shooting (or even weeks!). In that cases I try to make a real effort of remembering my feelings on the shooting day or I even write in a little notebook some notes that will help me to fly back to the real scene once I am sitting in front of the computer.

Start by choosing just few post-processing tools that will help you to express your vision

There are a lot of post-processing tools you can use in order to better express your vision. However, it can be a bit overwhelming to do a self-discovery work about your vision and at the same time try to master all the Lightroom or Photoshop tricks. I would tell you to focus in few tools and once you feel comfortable with them, you can introduce more. Some tools that can be good to start with are both the Temperature (Temp), Tint and and Clarity slide in Lightroom.

With the Temp and Tint slides, you can modify the colors of the whole image to fit the vision you had when you took it. You just need to play around with the slide until you get to a point that fits you.

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Here a photo I took in Germany with its original values of Temp and Tint.
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When I was there I was amazed by the autumn look of the scene. For that reason, I moved the Temp slide towards the yellows and browns.I wanted to increase the autumn colors.
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But imagine that instead of autumn colors I want to show how cold it was over there and that the place was quite lonely. In that case I will move the Temp and Tint towards cold colors (blue for example) and grey. For some reason I always relate cold weather with blue and grey color. This is my particular vision of “Cold”.
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My vision of autumn in the left vs my vision of “cold” in the right.

Moving the clarity slide you can either make all the details of the image stand out or you can soften them.

 

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In the image in the left I moved the clarity slide to the left (decrease clarity) in order to give the leaves a softer look, that for me is synonym of being delicate. On the left, the clarity slide was moved towards the right (increase clarity). You can see the details of the leaves better. The image looks harder, that for me means that these leaves were quite tough.

I hope you liked this tips for starting working on your photographic vision. Do you have any other technique to do it? I would love to hear about it! Have a happy post-processing!!!

Tips for Shooting Street Fashion

If you run a fashion blog or want to break into the world of fashion photography, shooting street fashion is a great way to get material to build your portfolio. There are a lot of challenges that come with shooting street photography. You have to make sure you get the lighting right and choose a good setting and background. All of these variables, along with working up the nerve to ask strangers for their pictures can be daunting. But with enough practice and time, you’ll be getting amazing street fashion pictures for your professional portfolio.

Location

The first thing you need to think about when you are shooting street fashion is the location. You can’t shoot street photography on a street that has no people. You also won’t be able to get a good shot of someone if the street is crowded with people. Finding a good balance of foot traffic and space can be hard, but there are a few tricks to help you get the best of it.

First of all, do your research and look for places that match the style of what you’re looking to shoot. You won’t find any wild and outlandish clothing in Amish country just as you wouldn’t expect to see overalls and straw hats in a city. So think about what kind of fashion you’re looking for (weird, popular, new, old, etc.) and look around where you live for where you can find people that wear those clothes.

Once you know the general idea of where you’re going to shoot, there are two options for places you can shoot. You’ll rarely find a good outfit waiting around on a street that has no one walking on it, but you can get great shots in places that have a lot of foot traffic. Look around for streets or plazas where a lot of people gather, then wait for the traffic to die down. Even parts of busy cities all have a few hours of downtime where there’s space to move around. Visit these areas at that time to get a lot of choices without the busy background. Parks and town squares are great in-between locations that have a decent amount of foot traffic, with enough space to get a clean shot.

Lighting

Your biggest enemy when shooting street fashion will be the weather. You’ll have to time your shooting to the position of the sun, and often the clouds don’t play nice with your schedule. The best time of the day to shoot when the sky is clear is the first few hours after sunrise and the first few hours before sunset.

If you wait for the sun to be high in the sky, you’ll end up with an odd effect of strong light on the top of your street model that will cast shadows down. This can be especially disastrous to the effect is has on the clothes. If the day is cloudy you’ll need to wait until the sun is high in the sky. The clouds will diffuse the light and give you a softer overhead, reducing the shadows on the fashion.

Approaching the Model

No one particularly enjoys going up to strangers on the street and asking them for a picture. And not many people enjoy being approached on the streets by a stranger, especially in a city. When approaching someone you want to photograph, you need to be open, patient, and polite. Remember that they’re going to be wary of you; you could be a weird stalker for all they know. So if they decline, don’t push it too far and just let them be on their way.

The best way to get people to trust you is to have a decent camera. It’s not necessary to get a perfect shot (some phones have amazing cameras these days), but it certainly makes you look more professional. It’s also a good idea to have your blog up on a phone or tablet. That way, if they ask you about it, you can show them to let them know you’re not crazy.

Make it Comfortable

When a model agrees to have their picture taken, stay in the populated area. Taking someone down a side alley is sketchy and the model might change their mind and leave. So, stick to populated areas like from parks or busy streets.

Instead, to get a good shot, go to the nearest building and have them pose against the wall. Generally, people will see you taking the picture and walk around, but be prepared to wait for some unknowing pedestrians to walk in between you. After you’re done, always thank the model for their work. As a gesture of kindness, offer to send them a copy if they’re willing to give you their email address.

Always be willing to block out a person’s face or tattoos when shooting if they don’t feel comfortable with their face on the internet.

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Street fashion is something a lot of people are interested in. Having a blog or building about street fashion is a great way to build up your skills and professional level. It can be a chore to get the weather to agree with you, but by sticking to well-populated areas and keeping your mannerisms polite, you can land the perfect shot.

Black and White Lighting – How to Light a Black and White Portrait

Lighting is essential to photography, and this is especially true for taking black and white photographs. Depending on what kind of lighting you’re using, you can capture a flat image or silhouette, a dark image with textured portions of the foreground showing through the shadows, or a crisp image in which you get a clear portrait of the subject with all of the rich texture and dimensionality.

You need to know what style you’re going for before you determine what kind of natural or artificial lighting you’ll need. You should also take the subject of the photograph into consideration as different types of lighting work better on different subjects. Portraits will be our subject today, so let’s take a look at different lighting techniques for this type of black and white photograph.

Portraits and Lighting

When working with black and white portraiture, if you’re outdoors, overcast lighting actually works really well. While this will produce a pale image in color, in black and white it creates nice contrasts between the lights and shadows. You’ll also pick up the grayscales that add depth and rich texture to the image.

If you’re indoors, you’ll need to play around with main lights and fill lights until you create a rich tonality. Find a balance between the highlights, shadows, and mid-tones by playing around with the positioning and number of lights that you use. It can help to set your camera to preview the shot in black and white even though you will take the shot in color and convert it later using a computer program.

Strong directional lighting will create harsh shadows that may not look good in a black and white portrait, which is why overcast outdoor lighting works better than bright sunlight. Remember this when you’re playing with the lighting in your studio. Try using a strong backlight with soft foreground lighting to create strong contrasts without losing the mid tones that add depth and texture.

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On the other hand, you may enjoy the look of harsh shadows created by hard, directional lighting in a black and white image. As shown in the above photograph, it can create some interesting contrasts. The only real rule is to discover your style, then set up your lights to reflect it.

General Rules to Follow, Bend, or Break

As with any form of art, it’s better to understand why something works than it is to follow a set of rules with the blind hope that you’ll get the shot you want.

With black and white photography, the name of the game is contrast. You want deep blacks and ultra-whites to stand out against each other within the image. At the same time, however, you don’t want to create such a stark contrast that you end up with a flat image – or maybe you do.

Black and white portraits, specifically, bring in another element to style. A black and white photograph is all about capturing mood and emotion with the image. When you are deciding what style of lighting to use, keep in mind what mood you wish to convey. Also, the eyes of the person are one of the most important parts of the image as the expression of your subject will also affect the mood of the shot.

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So, if you’re shooting indoors—whether your subject is a person or a still-life object—think about what you want the final image to look like before you set up the lights. If you are going for something two-dimensional, use hard lights in the background. You can choose to fill in the foreground with some soft lighting if you want to create a little more texture, but you don’t have to if a silhouette or flat image is what you’re going for.

Shaping Light

If you want something more three-dimensional and with all the detail, you may not need a hard light in the background. However, you will need to play around with more soft lights off to the sides and in the foreground. This will bring out more of the grayscale, creating a richer texture without losing the contrast. This creates a dark background wherein only the softly lit portions of your subject shine through.

Lastly, if you want a more even image that doesn’t focus as much on contrast, and captures all the detail of the shot, use a combination of hard backlighting and soft foreground lights. You’ll want to create a little deeper shadowing than a color image would require keeping the photo from falling flat but try not to create a harsh shadow unless you are going for a particular style.

Have fun playing around with lighting to see what kind of shots you get, and remember that bending the rules can sometimes result in a truly unique picture.

10 Tips that will help you prepare a yoga photo session

Yoga is an ancient eastern discipline that is getting more popular every day in western countries. Yoga combines physical, mental and spiritual practices that help to improve the well-being of the practitioner. My personal story with yoga started four years ago when I decided to take some classes. It was a life-changing experience, not just because of the benefits I got for my mind and body, but also for my career as a photographer. A friend that is a yoga professional asked me to take photos of her in different yoga postures (called asanas) because she needed them for her social media channels and accounts (to promote herself). This is how I got into yoga photography… and I love it!

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My friend Nita was the one who asked me to do my first yoga photo session. This photo was taken at our last photo shoot in Barcelona.

If you also want to get into yoga photography, first of all, you need to know how to get ready for the photo sessions. Most of the preparations I do for this type of sessions are the same as for another kind of portrait photography. You might be interested in checking my “A How-To Guide on organizing a portrait photo session” to learn in more detail how to get ready. However, there are some special things in yoga photo sessions that are handy to know beforehand.

#1 Get inspiration from yogis on social media

Some yoga professionals have a great social media presence. You can find them on Facebook, Periscope and of course…Instagram! In my opinion, Instagram is one of the best sources for yoga photography inspiration. If you follow some of the great yogis you will have an idea of the trends in the field. The list of yoga professionals you can find on Instagram is endless. Some of my favorite accounts:  kinoyoga, yoga_girl, beachyogagirl, nolatrees, carlingnicole, patrickbeach, dylanwerneryoga. And last but not least, the Instagram of my dear yogi friends: reinodenita and lilatotheworld.

Ask your yoga model if she/he has something in mind. Probably she/he is also following other yogis and can provide you a list of asanas she/he would like to try. However, do your own search to increase the variety of options.

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#2 Get familiar with the asana’s names

Asana is the name that yoga postures receive. They have names in Sanskrit, such as “Urdhva Mukha Svanasana”. But don’t worry. You won’t need to learn Sanskrit to be a yoga photographer. All the postures have translated names in English. For example “Urdhva Mukha Svanasana”  is also known as “Upward-Facing Dog”. Easier, right?

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This is how the asana “Upward-Facing Dog” looks like.

You will get familiar with these names while you are doing your inspirational searches. You can also make yourself a list of names with the corresponding asana posture and take it with you to the photo session. Having an idea about yoga terminology will make it easier for you and your model to communicate and convey your ideas during the session.

#3 Divide the asanas by categories

If you take the list of postures with you to the photo session (like I do), you should have them classified in a way that makes sense to you. This will help you to be more efficient. To find an asana in a big list can get really complicated, especially when your model is waiting for you to tell him or her what to do next!  I usually divided them by standing positions, sitting, inversions, bridges, arm balances and so on

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#4 Take photos from all the asana categories

Having the asanas organized in several categories has another advantage: you can make sure that you pick asanas belonging to each category and be certain that you have a good variety of photos. Your yogi model would love to have such a variety of photos!

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Diversity is always good in a yoga photo session and one way to achieve it is by taking photos of asanas from different categories: standing, bridges, and arm balances are just some examples.

#5 Get close

The whole body is included in the asanas. However, getting close to your model and take photos of just specific body parts can add new perspectives to your images. Hands, feet, back… play with your close ups and you will be surprised by your results!

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Feet are a photogenic subject in yoga photography.

#6 Clothes matters

Yoga is not about fancy clothes. However, clothes are important for the photo session. First of all, having several outfits will add variety to the photo session, so it is always a good idea. It is also possible that your model is promoting some brand. You should make sure to get photos of all the clothes he/she is interested to be photographed in.  In any case, you should include time for changing outfits when you plan the schedule of the photo session. You should also think how/where the yogi model will change the outfits. The solution for this will depend on the location of the photo shoot; if it is held in an urban environment maybe you should contact a local clothing store and ask permission to use their changing rooms if it is held outdoors perhaps you should bring with you a tent…

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I also recommend you to tell your models to choose the outfit wisely, especially the underwear. They are going to be moving all the time and sometimes they are going to be upside down. They need outfits that stay perfect in all these different positions. Also, the last thing you want in your photos is underwear coming out. Or if it does…it needs to be a beautiful one! If you don’t want to spend hours on Photoshop retouching clothes, take care of these details during the photo session.

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Underwear might show up especially when the model is upside down. Here you don’t see it because I clone it out using Photoshop. You can save a lot of editing time by taking care of the clothing during the photo session.

#7 Give the model time to warm up

Yoga asanas are demanding. It is dangerous for the model to start with the yoga positions without warming up. Make sure they have enough time to do it in order to avoid injuries right before or even during the photo session. You should also make sure your model doesn’t get cold during the photo session, especially in between postures. Remember, for them, it is also a workout, they sweat, and between postures they can cold really fast!

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Sun salutation is the name given to a sequence of postures that yogis often do at the beginning of the practice to warm up. Here one of the asanas that belong to this sequence.

#8 Decide when to do the complicated postures

Some asanas are more demanding than others for the models. It is always good to ask them when they prefer to do them. Some yogis prefer to do the hardest positions at the beginning of the photo session because it is when they feel fresher and stronger. Other prefers to leave them to the end either because they need to warm up and stretch first, or because after these hard asanas they won’t be able to do anything else. You need to adjust the photo session to their body requirements.

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No doubt this is a quite demanding posture!!

#9 Never push your client to do something (even if it seems easy)

Some asanas might seem easy when you look from the side, but they are not. In these cases, it is especially easy for you and/or for your model to get carried away in an attempt to get the perfect photo. You mustn’t let your model lose the awareness of their body and their limitations! If they push themselves too far it can end in serious injury. Be respectful and if they tell you that they can’t do something (even if it seems easy to you), believe them. The safety of your model is the most important thing, not the photos. Anyway, there are tons of other asanas, all of them are beautiful!

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This posture might seem easy but can end up in a back injury

#10 Go to a yoga class before the photo session to get a feeling

Participate in a yoga session! I’m not telling you to become a yogi now (it is entirely your decision), but yoga is easily available for everybody and there are a lot of yoga studios everywhere. You should attend a class in order to get the yoga feeling and understand where your model comes from and what he/she has to deal with. This will make you a much more empathetic photographer. It is always a good thing to improve the model-photographer relation!

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I hope these tips will help you on organizing your yoga photo sessions. Feel free to contact me with any question you might have. I will be happy to help you! I would like to thank all my yogi models for giving me the chance to become a yoga photographer! Nita, Ashley, Ami and Inna… you are amazing! Namaste!

Tips for editing your flower photographs in Lightroom

In a previous article I gave you some tips about flower photography. Today I want to talk about the editing of this type of photos. I always recommend doing your best in the moment of capturing the photo. Invest some time looking for the right perspective, work on the composition of your image, avoid cluttered backgrounds, focus on the right spot and aim for a good exposure.  However, there are some simple things you can do in post-processing that can make your flower photo even better.

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I will show you some of my general post editing tips in Lightroom.  They are general, not universal. These tips will give you a good basis to start with, but they might not work in all the situations you might encounter. You will need to experiment with your flowers a little (this is part of the fun in photography, isn’t it?). The basic idea behind all my editings is to make my main flower/s pop out. So let’s jump to Lightroom Develop module and see how these tips goes!

Do some global adjustments first

This is a good tip for any kind of photography. First of all do the global adjustments, meaning the ones that affect the whole photo. For this tutorial I am going to use this straight of the camera photo:

Straight of the camera photo
Straight of the camera photo

The slides I like to work with are:

  • Exposure: You might need to adjust a bit the exposure (or a lot if you didn’t manage to adjust it at the moment of taking the photo). If your photo is overexposed, you need to move the slide to the right and if it is underexposed, to the left.

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  • Highlights: I usually try to recover some highlights by moving the Highlight slide to the left. This is especially useful if you have to deal with a background which is too bright because it will bring a bit of detail to the photo. By default, our eyes are drawn to bright things so they tend to focus on the lighter areas of an image. If the background is too bright it will draw our eyes to it and make us ignore the flower, and this is exactly what we don’t what want!! So if you can make the background less bright, it will be better. This doesn’t mean that you always need a dark background. You can use white backgrounds too. What I mean is that they should not be extremely bright.

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  • Shadows and blacks: If I see that my main subject has an interesting area too dark, I move the shadow slide to the right. You will see how details will appear in your image.

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However, the contrast of the area can get a bit weak. Increase a bit the blacks (moving Blacks slide to the left) and your problem is solved! By decreasing shadows and increasing blacks you give a higher dynamic range to your image.

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Add your personal touch with the clarity slide

I love the clarity slide! This is the point in the editing when you really need to decide which kind of final look you want for your flowers. Do you want to show all the little details of your flower? Then you should move the clarity slide to the right. This might darken your photo a little, so you might need to adjust the exposure again.

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If you prefer a softer look, move the clarity slide to the left.

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In this case too, you might need to adjust the exposure. In the example, by changing the clarity I also causes the colors to stand out a bit too much, to counter this side effect, I moved the vibrance slide to the left in order to get a more natural look.

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When you decrease the clarity of a photo you get this blurry dreamy effect. However, you might like to keep the details in specific parts of the photos. For this, you can use a circular filter like in the image below.

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You can add a circular filter to do local adjustments in your photos. In this case I checked the “Invert Mask” because I wanted the adjustments to be made inside the circle. I wanted the center of the flower to be more defined, so I increased the clarity and the sharpness of the area inside the circle. Note that I feathered the circular filter quite a lot to make the adjustments gradual from the center of the circle to the outside.

So here you have the 2 versions of the same photo.

This is the final shraper version of the image
This is the final sharper version of the image
This is the final softer version of the image
This is the final softer version of the image

Increase (or not) vibrance/saturation 

By increasing the vibrance and/or saturation you can make the colors of your flower pop out. However… if you increase them too much your flower’s color can get to a point it looks unreal. If you are doing some creative post-processing, this might be a good thing. But if you are trying to achieve a natural-looking flower image, too much vibrance and saturation will not be good.

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I did some general adjustments to this image, but I didn’t touch the vibrance and saturation slides yet.

I usually increase the vibrance little by little until I reach to a point that I like. Sometimes you won’t need to touch vibrance/saturation at all because your original picture has already beautiful colors.

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I usually increase the vibrance little by little so I could find a point where the colors stand out, but the flower still looks real

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In this image I increased both the vibrance and the saturation too much the so that you can see their effect on the photograph. You should be careful with these slides because you can reach an unnatural look pretty easily.

Highlight your subject

Imagine that you have a photo like the one below. The background is ok because it is quite dark, but your flower does not really stand out.

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In this situation you can use a circular filter to highlight your flower and make it the focus of your image. I usually add the circle, then I check “Invert Mask” so that all the adjustments will affect the inner part of the circle and I feather it at 100 to make the adjustments look gradual. You might need to play a little with your adjustments, but usually you will need to increase the exposure. I also like to add a bit of sharpness and clarity, but this is up to you!

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I use the circular filter to increase the exposure of my main subject/s and make them pop out from the darker background.

If you are using black backgrounds…make them really black!

If you are using black backgrounds for your flower photography, they might look a bit grey-ish in the original photo.

Straight of the camera photo
Straight out of the camera photo

Make them really black by using Lightroom brush tool. You just need to “paint” the background. I like to check the “Show Selected Mask overlay” because then I can see in red the places where I paint. Another tip: check “Auto Mask” and Lightroom will detect the edges and will help you to paint just the background (and not “stray” with the brush onto the flower).

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When you have the “Show Selected Mask Overlay” checked, you can see in red the places where you “painted” with your brush. Check also “Auto Mask” to make Lightroom help with not painting outside of the borders.

Once you have painted the background, adjust the brush by decreasing the exposure, making the shadows darker (slide to the left) and make it smooth by moving the Clarity slide to the left too.

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Last thing is doing general adjustments to the photo to make the flower really stand out!

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Now it is your turn to practice with your own flower photos and Lightroom! Do you have a tip I have not included here? Tell me about how it goes with your editing! Have a happy post-processing!!

Tips to improve your flower photography

I think that flowers are one of the most photogenic subjects in nature. Do you agree? Their big diversity of colors, shapes, and sizes offers endless possibilities. In addition, there is something attracting about the ephemeral nature of flowers.  I always think about the impermanence of things when I am taking photos of flowers. It’s as if they are telling me “Look at us, we are beautiful and we are not going to wait here for much longer, so bring your camera already”.  As Frida Khalo said: “I paint flowers, so they will not die”.  I am not good at painting, so I take photos of them instead! Today I am sharing with you some of the tips and tricks I learned along the way.

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Keep it simple

Flowers are beautiful, so they don’t need much more things in the frame beside themselves. I agree that this might be a matter of aesthetic preferences, but in general the most part of the flower photos that will make you go “Oooooh” have very few elements in the frame, if not just a single flower.

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Flowers are beautiful subjects that don’t need much more in the frame in order to show their beauty.

Eliminate distractions

Your main objective in flower photography is to highlight the main flower/s in your photo. This means that you need to eliminate from the frame as many distracting elements as possible. These elements can be other flowers, branches, anything you can find around gardens and parks… there are a lot of them! You can try to crop out distractions by doing a close up of the flower. You can also move the flower so that the distracting elements disappear from the frame. Another option is to move and change the perspective in which you are taking the photo.

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The sunflower field where I took this photo was a bit messy. To avoid distractions I change the perspective and instead of taking a photo with the other sunflowers I decided to use a single sunflower in my composition.

There is another way to make a background look less distracting: make it blurry. You can achieve this effect by using a wide aperture (low aperture number). f/5 or lower can work really well. It is also useful to keep in mind that a longer focal length will make the background blurrier. For example, if you shoot with a 150mm lens, the background will be blurrier than if you use 35mm. In conclusion, a good option (if possible) would be to combine a low aperture number with a long focal length.

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I took this photo with an aperture f/5 and a 70mm focal length. You can see that in this particular situation I managed to blur out the background. You might need to check the aperture and focal length that will work better for your photos. Wide apertures and long focal lengths will give you a good starting point.

Make sure that you are focused on the right place

This is especially important if you are using wide apertures. You might be so focused on getting blurry backgrounds that you might lose a bit of the focus of your camera. Think always which part of the flower must be sharp in your photo. Then, after taking the photos, check that you achieved what you want. A lot of times I realized that I didn’t focus on the right spot only when I was back home uploading the photos to my computer! Oops!!!

Create your own backgrounds

In some occasions, you can create your own distraction-free background. You can use a simple blackboard (or any other color you like) and just place it behind the flower. These photos lose the atmosphere that the surroundings provide them (because just by looking at the photo you can’t really tell where they were taken). But on the other side, by using a background you make sure to have at least some elegant images of your flower.

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Black backgrounds make the colors of the flowers pop up.

Be aware of the wind

When you are shooting at low shutter speeds the slightest movement of the flower will make it appear blurry in the photo. Be aware of that! You can try to block the wind or wait patiently to have a moment of calm. You can also increase your ISO and/or use a wider aperture (meaning lower f-number) to be able to use a faster shutter speed. However, this blurry effect can be beautiful too. It can give a unique and creative look to your photo. If you like this blurry style… go for it!!

Try different perspectives

Don’t be shy trying perspectives. Take photos of flowers from the front, the back, from up, from down, just a part of the flower, the whole flower… You might be surprised by your results.

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Changing the perspective I managed to get photos with a more abstract look

Allow yourself to be creative in the editing

Flowers are perfect for trying a more creative editing. You can use Photoshop filters to make them look like a painting, you can add a soft effect for a more romantic look… Have fun to experiment!! I will share with you some of my editing tips for flowers in my next article.

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Flowers are a great photography subject if you like being creative in your editions

And now you just need to find some flowers and start practicing your flower photography! Do you have a tip I have not included here? Are you crazy about flowers as I do? Tell me about your experience! Have a happy shooting!!