Back to Top

Corel AfterShot 2

Expert Tips & Techniques

Subscribe to Expert Tips & Techniques feed Expert Tips & Techniques
Digital Photography Tips and Tutorials
Updated: 15 min 24 sec ago

8 Elementary Travel Photography Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Out

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 15:00

Starting out in photography may seem like a daunting task. There are so many things to learn and practice that sometimes it can seem like an impossible task. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts and if you want to take better photos then you need to be willing to put the hours of practice and learning in.

The good news is that these days there are lots of resources online that can help you. To get you started here are 8 elementary travel photography mistakes to cut out when starting in photography.

Mistake #1 – Setting Your Camera On Auto

It always amazes me when I see newbie photographers with the latest expensive DSLR, using the auto mode. Besides capturing better quality photos from a resolution point of view, the other main benefit of DSLRs is the amount of control that you have over the photo taking process.

Admittedly auto functions on cameras are a lot better these days. But often it means compromises which are not necessarily best for the image. For example, if your camera is setting your ISO too high you will get a lot of noise in your photo. Instead, you may decide that actually underexposing your image slightly, which you can then adjust in post-production, will be a better compromise than extra noise.

But the biggest reason you should avoid auto mode when starting out is that it will stop you from learning. You need to learn to be able to set your shutter speed and aperture. You need to learn when and how much to raise your ISO by because it’s the only way that you can have full control over the final outcome.

Mistake #2 – Shooting in JPEG

I can’t see any reason why anyone would want to shoot in JPEG format with a DSLR camera. Unless you are on a specific brief that requires instant upload of the images to the client, capturing JPEGs shouldn’t be an option. The only reason that people use JPEG mode in the camera is to save disk space.

But ask yourself if it’s worth compromising the quality of the photo for the sake of buying a couple more memory cards?

If your camera has RAW files (which all DSLRs and most mirrorless and compact cameras do these days) that’s what you should use. It gives so much more flexibility when it comes to post-processing, supplying images to clients, and even printing them out.

Even if you plan to only use your images on social media you are better off capturing the images in RAW, post-processing them and then saving them as JPEGs.

Mistake #3 – ISO Too High

A few years ago I remember bumping into an amateur photographer in Vietnam. As we got talking it became apparent that he didn’t understand what ISO actually was and how it affected his photos. He just assumed it was a number that allowed him to take photos in most conditions. So while his ISO was at 6400, his shutter speed was 1/4000th.

For those of us who were photographing in the days of film, ISO was the sensitivity of the film to light. So if you wanted to capture photos in darker conditions you would use a roll of film with a higher ISO.

This concept is exactly the same now in digital photography. The higher your ISO the more sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light. The downside of this is that the higher your ISO is, the more noise you will get in your image.

So while the amateur photographer I met was able to capture photos in any and lighting conditions, all of his images when zoomed-in were soft and grainy. So one of the biggest tips for any aspiring photographer is to always keep your ISO as low a possible and only increase it as much as you have to in order to get the shot.

Image taken at 4000 ISO means noise and an image lacking sharpness.

Mistake #4 – Shutter Speed too Slow

One of the biggest struggles for newbie photographers is often capturing sharp images. One reason could be that the camera has been focused on the wrong part of the image. The other big reason is often that the photographer didn’t use a fast enough shutter speed.

At slow shutter speeds of 1/60th or slower, you simply will not be able to hold the camera steady enough for sharp photos. Even 1/60th for some people might be too slow so it’s worth testing this when you are starting out.

Start capturing photos of the same subject at 1/100th all the way down until the image is blurred. You’ll then know how slow you can go. But your shutter speed is also dependent on how fast the object that you are photographing is moving and the lens you’re using.

For example, you might be able to capture a photo of someone running with a shutter speed of 1/250th. But a fast-moving car would need a faster shutter speed to freeze it. If you’re using a 300mm lens you will also need a faster shutter speed (keep the shutter speed as a reciprocal of the focal length so 1/300th).

With experience you will learn what shutter speed you will need so make sure you practice photographing different moving objects.

Shot at 1/40th of a second. This was not fast enough to freeze the action so the image is blurred.

Mistake #5 – Photographing at Midday

For any outdoor photography, light is often the key component of turning an okay image into a great image. As such photographing at midday when it’s bright and sunny will usually mean your images will look flat as the harsh light washes out shadows. So try to avoid photographing around midday and instead build your shoot around early morning or late afternoon/evening.

The light is too harsh and so the image looks flat.

Mistake #6 – Not Being Ready

One of the great satisfactions for photographers is capturing those fleeting moments that would otherwise be missed. But to do that you have to be ready.

That means having your camera out of your bag, turned on, with the lens cap off. You should also get into the habit of adjusting your settings as you are moving around to cater for the conditions so that you are ready to capture the image when the opportunity arises.

Mistake #7 – Highlights / Shadows Clipped

One of the key tools for you as a photographer is the histogram. Even if you don’t fully learn or understand how to read one, the one thing you should know is how to use it to see if your highlights and shadows are within an acceptable range.

Highlights are bright areas in your photos and shadows are dark areas. If your highlights are too bright they may actually be completely white with no detail at all. Similarly, if your shadows are too dark they will be completely black. This is called “clipping”.

The best way to check this at the time of taking the photo or in post-production is to use your histogram. If any part of the histogram is cut off on the left there are pure black areas in your image and if it is cut off on the right there are pure white areas in your image.

By spotting this on your histogram you can either adjust your settings to avoid clipping or fix any issues in post-production.

The areas highlighted in red are pure white and the areas highlighted in blue are pure black. In other words, those areas are “clipped” and will have no detail.

Mistake #8 – Photo Not Straight

Whether you are an advocate of post-processing or someone who doesn’t believe photos should be altered, the one thing that you should always do is to ensure that your images are straight.

Of course, it is best to get things right in-camera when you are taking the photo. Some DSLRs have various elements to help you get your image straight when you look through the viewfinder or on the LCD screen.

But if you find that your image is not straight, make sure you fix it in post-production.


Most people who start out in photography will make some of these mistakes along the way. The important thing is to learn from them and move on. But if you can cut these mistakes out from the start you’ll be well on your way to capturing better photos.

Have you made any mistakes that others should avoid? Please share your experiences below.

The post 8 Elementary Travel Photography Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Out appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Lightroom Local Adjustments – Radial Filter Versus the Adjustment Brush

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 10:00

Adobe Lightroom is image editing software that allows you to edit and make color adjustments to your photos. Among many, the Radial Filter and Adjustment Brush are two very useful local adjustment tools in Lightroom.

But often people get confused between both of these tools and are not sure which one to use in which situation. So I thought I’d share a few tips on the basis of which you can easily figure out the importance of each respective tool.

Radial Filter Tool

This tool is a blessing for portrait, event, wedding, and wildlife photographers. The reason why I am pointing to these genres of photography is that such photos usually have a single subject in the frame which needs to be highlighted.

The Radial Filter allows you to select an area using an elliptical mask. Then the shape of the ellipse can be changed by dragging one of the points. Once the area is selected, you can make adjustments inside or outside the shape using the new Brush component depending on your requirements.

Adjustment Brush Tool

The Adjustment Brush is like painting the image canvas with the required adjustments. You can use the mouse pointer, drag and select the area manually where you wish to make desired adjustments. You have the ability to increase or reduce the size of the brush to make a fine and precise selection.

Radial Filter or Adjustment Brush? How to Decide?

As you saw in the example above, using the Radial Filter allows you to select a particular area using the elliptical mask whereas the Adjustment Brush allows you to manually select the area using the cursor.

As a photographer and a creative person, you have to first visualize the result you want to achieve for your picture. If you believe that using the Radial Filter would suffice for your editing needs, go ahead with it. But if you feel that you need more manual and precise control over the selection of the area where you need desired changes, go with the Adjustment Brush.

It may sound easy but it might be challenging in some situations, so let me help you with this by looking at two examples.

Example 1: When to use the Radial Filter

In the image above, my intention was to make changes to the area around the face of the boy. Now as the shape of the face is defined, I can easily select the area using the elliptical shape of the Radial Filter tool. Later, if I feel that I need to change the shape of the selection I can easily do that by dragging the points or using the Brush feature.

It does not make any sense to use the Adjustment Brush in this particular scenario as I can save my time by simply using the Radial Filter.

Basically, you should use the Radial Filter when the shape of your subject is defined and you can easily make the selection using the ellipse. Weddings, portraits, wildlife, events, and sports are some of the genres of photography where you can use the Radial filter to make changes faster.

Example 2: When to use the Adjustment Brush Tool

In this particular image, I wanted to make exposure and highlight changes selectively in the sky region. As you can clearly see, the shape of the sky area in this photo is not defined therefore I can not use the Radial Filter. If I use the Radial Filter I would either select unwanted areas of the mountains or would miss out some parts of the sky.

But by using the Adjustment Tool I can manually select the area I want to make changes in and I was able to do that precisely. Though this approach is a bit time consuming as compared to the Radial Filter, but you surely get an accurate selection. Now whatever changes I make would perfectly be made only on the sky region.


So the conclusion is that you should be using the Adjustment Brush when the shape of the area that you wish to select is not well defined. Landscapes, Cityscapes, or any photo where the shape of the subject is very complex, the Adjustment Tool would give you much accurate selection than the Radial Filter.

If you want to read more about each of these tools check out these dPS articles:

The post Lightroom Local Adjustments – Radial Filter Versus the Adjustment Brush appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Low Light Photography

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 15:00

Shooting in low light can be challenging, especially for newbie photographers. So now is the perfect time for you to practice so you can master it and be ready for anything!

Weekly Photography Challenge – Low Light Photography

Need help? Try these dPS articles:

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

Is it noisy? Yes but not outrageously so (shot with a Canon 5D Mark III). But without the use of the 50mm lens and high ISO, this shot isn’t even possible.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Low Light Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

6 Quick Tips for Low Light Smartphone Photography

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 10:00

The team over at COOPH consistently come up with some great video tips. In this one, get 6 tips doing some creative low light smartphone photography.

Low Light Smartphone Photography Tips

Summary of the tips:
  1. Backlit portraits
  2. Light painting portraits
  3. Dark object photography
  4. Side-lit portraits
  5. Ghostly exposures
  6. Nighttime cityscapes

We have articles here on dPS covering those topics in more detail if you want to try them out with your smartphone or your regular DSLR or mirrorless camera.

Want more info on smartphone photography? We got a few on that too:

Tell us, do you haul your main camera with you everywhere you go? Or do you use what you have on you at the time, your smartphone? Do you have any additional tips for better low light smartphone photography? Let us know in the comments below.

The post 6 Quick Tips for Low Light Smartphone Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to do Light Painting and Illuminate Your Photography

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 15:00

The first time I did light painting was by mistake. It was New Year’s Eve, it was cold and dark, my brother was holding a sparkler, and I was playing with my camera.

I was immediately fascinated by the result. Until then, I had always thought of and used photography as a way to capture what I saw. But there was a photo of something ephemeral I hadn’t perceived with my eyes but could see only thanks to the camera.

That was a long time ago, but it’s when I started appreciating the camera not just as a tool to record what I saw, but as an additional sense that could help me see even more. My appreciation of light painting has only grown since then.

What is light painting?

Light painting is a pretty broad term that includes everything from using a light source to illuminate specific parts of a scene, to using the light itself as the main subject.

The light source can be everything from a flashlight or a phone to light panels or headlights or even the moon! Basically, it can be anything that emits light.

The light source in this photo is the moon; instead of moving the light source, I moved the camera.

Light painting is a fun way of taking your photography to the next level. Even if it isn’t something that you think would fit your style of photography, it’s worth trying both for the fun of it and for the things you’re guaranteed to learn about your tools and the art.

In this article, I hope to give you some inspiration and the basic information you need to start experimenting. I’ll be focusing on the kind of light painting where the light itself is the main subject, and specifically on something that might more accurately be described as light scribbling. You’ll see what I mean.

What’s the point?

There is always a point to try something you’re going to learn from, and that you’re going to enjoy doing.

I’m mainly illustrating this article with some light scribbled equations that I made some time ago. What was the point? Geeking out, finding something to do on a dark winter’s night, getting familiar with my new tripod, practicing manual exposure, and getting better at writing backward.

I accomplished most of it.

Doing light painting is indeed a great way to learn about camera modes and settings you might not commonly use. For most kinds of light painting, you’ll need darkness, and darkness brings with it a whole new set of challenges.

You’ll need to do quite long exposures and to find a way to illuminate the parts of the scene you want while avoiding capturing yourself in the picture. You’ll often also need to focus manually and figure out the best exposure for your photo, which can be quite different from that for most other scenes.

A physiogram is made by hanging a light source and photographing its movement.

I’m mostly using light scribbled equations in this article, but the technique can also be used for creative birthday cards, unique wedding portraits, and a non-permanent kind of street art.

Your imagination is the limit!

How complicated is it?

It’s surprisingly easy to get started with light painting or scribbling, and the basic tools are nothing fancy. At its most basic, you’ll need a camera, a tripod, and a mobile light source. That’s all.

To get you started, I’ll be using my equations to explain the process and the tools. Use this as a starting point to extrapolate from and to experiment with to get what you want.


To get a photo like the one above, you’ll need your camera and a tripod (or a stable surface to keep your camera on), and a dark night. Since it takes a while to write, your shutter speed should be on Bulb, which means that the shutter stays open until you close it.

Making many of these long exposure photos will use up your battery quite quickly, especially if it’s also a bit cold outside, so bring an extra battery or two. You need to change the drive mode to self-timer/remote, so you don’t shake the camera when it starts exposing and to help you with focusing.

Often you don’t need to stress about standing ready to scribble, though. Uou can just walk into the frame after you start the exposure.


Focusing takes a bit of effort, but it’s nothing too tricky. The difficulty comes from the darkness of the scene, which means that the camera might have a hard time focusing automatically.

You can focus manually, but what I usually do is let the camera focus automatically. I mark the spot where I’m going to stand to do the scribbling, go to that spot in front of the camera (or ask a helper to do it), turn on my light source and use the remote trigger to take a test shot.

Then, before doing anything else, I turn the focus to manual so the camera doesn’t start focusing again when I want to take the real photo. This way the camera will stay focused on the spot you chose, as long as you don’t touch the lens.

After that, all that’s left to do is the scribbling!

Make sure to wear something dark if you don’t want to be visible in your photo. For writing, you want a light source, such as a flashlight, that can be easily turned off and on. This way, you can make separate symbols without too much effort.

Before you open the shutter and start taking the photo, think about what you’re doing. If you’re writing something, practice the motion you want to do in the air so you get a feel for it. Then start taking the photo, scribble, draw, paint or do whatever it is you want to with your light, and stop the exposure.

It will probably take a few tries to get it right, so be patient and enjoy the process. You’ll definitely be creating something unique.

NOTE: You don’t necessarily need to write backward. If there is nothing else in the scene with words you can simply flip the image later on the computer. 

In this one, the boat worked as a canvas: instead of drawing in the air I could draw straight onto the boat.


Drawing or painting with light is a really fun and rewarding exercise that requires some patience, but not much else.

I’d love to see your photos of light painting and scribbling and hear your thoughts in the comments below.

The post How to do Light Painting and Illuminate Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 10:00

Lightroom is anything but intuitive for new photographers. Its multitude of panels, sliders, menus, and buttons are enough to make your head spin. But fortunately, there’s hope for even the most beleaguered beginner.

Amid all the options and icons is a single panel in the Develop module that can handle most of the basic editing tasks you are likely to need on any given image. Appropriately titled “Basic,” this one panel contains a plethora of sliders each with its own unique effect.

Once you get the hang of these you’ll start to feel right at home with the way Lightroom works. The first step in becoming familiar with the Basic panel is understanding what each of the sliders does, so let’s examine each of them in detail.

You and Lightroom: A match made in heaven

The Lightroom Basic Panel

The Basic panel is broken into three general areas; WB (or White Balance), Tone, and Presence.

Each has a few sliders that control specific types of edits and it’s not uncommon for 95% of your editing to be done right within this one panel.

Despite its meek-sounding name, the Basic panel is a powerful and highly effective tool that you can use to give your images the type of punch visual appeal you need.

These sliders are in the Basic panel, but they can do quite a lot.

The Temp Slider

Lightroom’s nomenclature can seem somewhat daunting, especially if you don’t have a background in photography or image manipulation. Temp is the abbreviated form of Temperature, though a true beginner would be forgiven for thinking it simply meant Temporary (Lightroom is not good at helping people learn these sorts of things.)

The temperature of an image, broadly speaking, is how warm or cool it appears. If you really want to dig deeper with White Balance this article is a good place to start.

Move the slider to the left and it will give your image a blue tint, but move it to the right and it will appear to have a yellow cast. If you are editing a JPG image this slider will let you change the value to ± 100, whereas shooting in RAW lets you go from 2,000 to 50,000.

The reason it’s called Temp is that you are adjusting the degrees Kelvin temperature of the white level of the photo. But you don’t need to know all the technical terminology to get good results. If a picture feels too cold or too warm, adjusting this one slider can go a long way towards fixing your photo.

The Tint Slider

This slider works in tandem with Temp to give your image just the right color cast. As you slide Temp back and forth, your White Balance will get closer to where you want it, but it might result in an image that looks somewhat green or red. You can then use the Tint slider to fix that, giving your image just the right look and feel.

If you prefer Lightroom to do a bit of the heavy lifting for you, you can use the large eyedropper icon in the top-left corner of the Basic panel to get your image most of the way towards a proper White Balance and Tint.

Click the eyedropper and then click on a light gray (not pure white) area of your image. Lightroom will adjust the Temp and Tint sliders to what it thinks are the best values for your image. It’s a good starting point and will often get you pretty close to the look you want.

Exposure Slider

Move this slider and you’ll quickly get an idea of what it does. It simply makes your picture brighter or darker. This is a global adjustment that affects all areas of the image including the light parts, mid-tones, and dark portions all get brighter or darker when you move the slider left or right. (Note: The Exposure slider mostly affects mid-tones although other tones are also affected.)

You can see this reflected in the histogram above the Basic panel. Move the slider to the left or right and the entire graph moves to the left or right.

Exposure is often used to compensate for when a picture doesn’t come out right from the camera. This usually happens if the camera wasn’t metering the scene properly or exposure compensation was enabled by mistake.

Exposure is like a blunt instrument that goes a long way towards making dark images lighter or light images darker. Then you can use additional sliders in the Tone section to fine-tune your picture.

Contrast Slider

You might have seen a slider like this on your TV. If you have ever adjusted the values, you probably noticed that as contrast increases, the picture also gets more vivid and punchier. That’s because higher contrast results in a greater degree of variance between light and dark areas.

The same holds true for the Contrast slider in the Lightroom Basic panel. Move the Contrast slider to the right and the bright areas will get brighter while simultaneously making the dark areas darker.

Contrast can also have a negative value which makes your image seem almost hazy since the farther you move the slider to the left the less difference there is between light and dark areas.

Most photographers don’t find negative contrast values particularly useful. But it can come in handy depending on the type of style you are going for in your image editing.

Highlights Slider

This slider, in conjunction with Shadows, works especially well if you shoot in RAW format. That is because much of your image data that might be discarded in a JPG file is still available to you when editing RAW files.

When you move the Highlights slider to the left it makes only the bright parts of your image darker. Conversely, when you move it to the right the bright parts get even brighter.

This works wonders on images where some parts are properly exposed but other parts are blown out and you want to decrease the exposure of just the bright parts.

Shadows Slider

Whereas the Highlights slider only affects the bright portions of an image, the Shadows slider lets you adjust the degree to which the dark areas get lightened.

Many photographers begin their editing by moving the Highlights and Shadows sliders, often by moving Highlights to the left just a bit and Shadows to the right. This will make dark portions of the image brighter while simultaneously making bright portions darker.

Some image editing programs only allow you to bring the highlights down and shadows up, but Lightroom takes a slightly different approach. You can, if you so choose, make the bright areas even brighter and the dark areas even darker by moving the sliders to the right and left, respectively.

Most photographers don’t take this approach but it’s nice to know you have it available if you want to use it.

Whites Slider

While the Whites slider might seem somewhat similar to Highlights, it doesn’t actually adjust the brightness of lighter portions of an image. Rather, it makes the whiter areas more white. The effect might seem subtle, but careful adjustment of the Whites and Blacks sliders can have a similar effect to the Contrast slider but it offers you more fine-grain control over the outcome.

I often begin with a +25 adjustment on the Whites slider just to give my images a bit more punch and brightness and then adjust it as needed.

It’s easy to overdo it when adjusting the Whites slider. You might find that going much past 50 will give your images a strange and unnatural look so take care when editing that you don’t overdo it.

You can also get good results by moving the Whites slider to the right while also moving the Highlights to the left. This tends to result in a bit more even-handed editing while giving your images the added spark you might be looking for.

Blacks Slider

The Blacks slider works just like the Whites slider but in reverse. It makes the dark portions of an image more pure black which can give a nice sense of contrast and tone to a photo.

When you first adjust this slider it might seem like it has the same effect as the Shadows slider, but careful examination reveals a subtle difference in that it is not actually making the dark portions brighter or darker, but adjusting the intensity how black the darkest portions are.

Similar to the Whites slider you might get good results by lowering the black levels and then increasing shadow detail just a bit.

Clarity Slider

Of all the sliders in the Basic panel, Clarity is probably the one that is the least understood and depending on who you talk to, the most abused. Clarity does not adjust the overall contrast of an image but instead, it adjusts what’s known as edge contrast.

Whenever there are harsh lines or edges, adjusting the clarity slider to the right will make them stand out and have a little more pop or visual punch than they otherwise might. Moving it too far to the right will result in images that look artificial and unnatural, but it can be useful to use high values if they get you the result you want.

Conversely, you can move Clarity to the left to make your images appear softer and almost a bit ethereal.

Keen image editors will note that the Adjustment Brush tool contains an option called Skin Smoothing which is merely a -40 Clarity adjustment that you can paint in wherever you want. Using this on a person’s face has the effect of removing the appearance of pores and even small hairs that can, if overused, lend an unnaturally smooth look that you might see in magazines or other media.

Dehaze Slider

Arriving a few years ago for Lightroom Creative Cloud users, the Dehaze slider does pretty much what its name suggests, although the results are not always as good as what users might want.

The idea of the Dehaze slider is that by moving it to the right on images with a bit of a foggy or hazy appearance, you can mitigate some of the issues causes lens imperfections or atmospheric intrusions.

It’s not a perfect solution, but if used in the right conditions it can go a long way towards fixing an image that might have otherwise ended up in the rejected pile.

Vibrance Slider

Have you ever taken a picture that you thought would look awesome, but after importing it into Lightroom, just seemed kind of dull and boring? As if the lifeblood had somehow been sucked out of its colors? Vibrance aims to fix that and it works especially well on images of nature and landscapes.

Whereas saturation adjusts the overall color intensity of an entire image, Vibrance works by making duller colors more vivid. It’s also smart enough to leave skin tones alone which means you can make a scene look a little more interesting and colorful without resulting in portraits that are unnatural or oversaturated.

Saturation Slider

This option can take even the dullest and most boring image and add a massive punch of color. Or it can be used to turn vibrant pictures into faded black-and-white versions.

When you slide the Saturation slider to the right it increases the value of all the colors in an image, whereas moving it to the left has the opposite effect and can eliminate all color entirely.

Similar to the clarity slider, saturation is powerful but easy to overuse and I find that it’s best when adjusted in relatively small amounts.


If you are new to Lightroom and unsure of where to even begin, the Basic panel is a great way to get you where you might be trying to go.

Even though the goal of this guide was to give you a good understanding of the sliders in this panel the best way to learn is to try it out for yourself. Open up some images and start using the sliders and see what you can do with them. You might be surprised at your results!

Remember that Lightroom is non-destructive so you can always undo your changes which makes it even easier to edit or just experiment for fun.

The post Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School.

11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 15:00

Musicians, magazines, fans, and record labels alike turn to skilled photographers to tell a story of a momentous performance and return unique concert photos.

Concert photographers are often on assignment for a publication that has sent them out to capture meaningful pictures that could very well go down in music history. Otherwise, music photographers are individually hired by the performing artists. Whatever brings you to the photo pit, your goal is to capture something wonderful.

That being said, the music photography industry has become surprisingly saturated in recent years. In order to stand out amongst the crowd, you have to take live music photographs that differ from others in your photo pit. Here are 11 tips on how to take more unique concert photographs.

#1 – Don’t Forget About the Detail Shots

Band: Behemoth

Although you want to focus heavily on the musicians performing on the stage, the detail shots are just as important.

Many bands put in a significant amount of effort into their live show productions, from stage props to lighting schemes. A unique and effective statement to your live concert gallery are some close-ups of the epic stage props that the band uses.

At the very least, the artist who created the props or the instrument company will thank you!

#2 – Play with Art and Distortion Lenses

Band: MGT. Shot with the Lensbaby Burnside 35.

Though concert photography is often an assignment from a journalistic outlet, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a couple of minutes to yourself to do something vastly different. You do not have to be afraid of using artistic or distortion lenses at a live show. If anything, they make the frame exceptionally cool!

The fish-eye lens became very famous by well-known concert photographers by being used at live shows. I, myself, love using the Lensbaby lenses at live concerts. The manual focus can oftentimes be much more effective than relying on autofocus.

Try using a copper tube to create very cool swirls around your subject.

Band: A Mirror Hollow. Shot with the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens.

You can submit the standard shots to the outlet, and the unique ones to the band. I am telling you, the musicians will love a new take on their live performances.

#3 – Tons of Flying Hair is Great

Band: Cradle of Filth

Naturally, try to capture the facial expressions of the performers. However, you are dealing with rockstars here, and part of the cool factor of these rock gods is their wild style.

Take advantage of the flying hair and fun headbanging, they can sometimes make cooler shots than your standard singing portraits.

#4 – Perspective is Everything

Band: HIM

Although concert photography can be very limited, between shooting time restrictions and limitations on your shooting location, you can still play with perspective.

The key to being different is viewing life through a lens that is more diverse than those around you, no pun intended. Get low, low, low to the ground and shoot up or move yourself to the very far side of the photo pit and shoot from there! Photograph in between the heads of fans or get up on the balcony.

Whatever you do, find new angles, views, and compositions to take advantage of to create more unique concert photos.

#5 – The Musician Doesn’t  Always Have to Look at You

Band: Nightwish

It is true that the viewer connects best when the subject is looking at or engaging with the camera.

However, you don’t always have to fight for that type of shot during a live concert setting. It’s okay for the musicians not to interact with you as a photographer. Shots of them looking away or down can be just as eye-catching.

#6 – Embrace the Light, Don’t Avoid it

Band: IAMX

Having a good grip on lighting will aid you in your concert photography journey. Stage lighting can differ tremendously between shows, venues, and even what lighting is available for that evening. The lighting can range from bright white strobes to deep reds.

Understanding how lighting is photographed by your camera, how it reflects on the instruments and equipment, and how the bulbs affect the performer’s skin tones will change how you take the photograph.

Most incredibly safe and tame images come from the photographer being wary of taking advantage of the lighting situation at concerts. Don’t be afraid to jump right in there and take advantage of whatever bizarre lighting scheme the performers have cooked up for you.

At the end of the day, the lighting is a part of the concert experience, and your job is to capture that.

#7 – Lens Flares are Rad

Band: Epica

On the topic of lighting, lens flares can be very cool!

This is, of course, an aesthetic choice, but I personally find them to be quite fun. You can cause a flare in a similar fashion to photographing during sunset or golden hour. When the light hits the front glass element of your lens at a specific angle, a flare will appear.

#8 – Overexposing and Underexposing Can Work

Band: The Misfits

To help accurately capture the emotion and feel of the show, it is alright to overexpose or underexpose your frame. This can also create a rather unique and uncommon type of photograph.

Use your best judgment and common sense here to determine when such exposures are appropriate.

#9 – Don’t Be Afraid to Get Close

Band: Jyrki69

Guitarists don’t bite (not hard anyway)! Don’t be afraid to get close to the performers on the stage. Take a wide-angle lens, such as a 16-35mm lens, and get right up in there. The perspective distortion can make for a very cool shot.

However, that being said, be aware of your surroundings. I cannot reiterate this point enough. Absolutely be aware of your surroundings!

It is easy to get lost in the moment and fall into a creative bliss when shooting, but a live music event is not the place to lose yourself.

If you’re not growing eyes in the back of your head, you’ll most likely get clonked right in the temple by a crowd surfer, tangled in a microphone cord, or smacked by a flying guitar. This will help you avoid injury to yourself and others.

#10 – In-Between Moments Tell a Story

Band: HIM

The band may have put their instruments down for a moment, but that doesn’t mean that the job of the photographer ends there.

Some in-between moments can become incredible iconic images through their powerful storytelling ability.

#11 – The Moment is More Important than Technical Accuracy

Band: IAMX

Let’s face the facts, we all pixel peep. I believe that over time, passionate photographers get a bit anxious about technical perfection in their images (I know I sure do sometimes). However, some niches such as event photography are not as fussed over technical mistakes as long as the moment captured is important.

There is be a fine balance between taking a good photograph by technique and taking a good photograph by design (aka a great and powerful moment). However, if you have to choose between capturing a fantastic story and ensuring equipment perfection, pick the story.

Many wonderful images are overlooked because the focus is too set on ensuring that an image is tack sharp rather than what the subject portrays.

Of course, this isn’t meant to be interpreted as disregarding technical proficiency. You should aim to take exceptional photographs, but don’t get lost in your pursuit and forget your purpose for photographing the event.

Your turn

Now that you have these tips in your photography toolbelt, go out there and take some wicked shots!

Band: Epica

The post 11 Ideas for More Unique Concert Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 10:00

Here are some practical steps to take and 5 photography mistakes you want to avoid in order to help you capture better seascape images.

Capturing seascapes is a very popular past-time and one of the most enjoyable and fascinating types of landscape photography. People love to capture the ocean and for good reason.

Seas around the world are more accessible than ever to the majority of us. People take regular holidays to visit the abundance of natural beaches and the ocean provides a fantastic place of escape and freedom from bustling towns and cities.

The ocean is a breathtakingly beautiful place and offers peace, tranquility, and an ideal opportunity to capture some memorable images. While the coastline offers photographers spectacular seas and atmospheric skies, recording these scenes can be challenging.

Mistake #1 – Cloudless skies

A common mistake that is often presented in seascape imagery is a vast expanse of empty sky without any texture or formation from clouds to lift the image.

To avoid this pitfall, head to the coast on partially cloudy days. Photographing ocean vistas to include the different patterns and shapes of clouds above the sea will help your images to become more inspiring.

If you find yourself taking pictures by the sea during first and last light, you will discover the colors in the sky can look even more dramatic than at other times of the day. This can beautify your image with vibrant sunset skies igniting the sky.

Alternatively, capturing big white clouds to complement a blue sky or dark, moody and overcast skies can add drama and emotion to your images.

Mistake #2 – Not checking the tide schedule

If you are unprepared during a visit to photograph the ocean by not checking the tide schedule, you may get caught out by incoming tides and even freak waves during adverse weather.

The sea and waves can be unpredictable and powerful. I have ended up with wet shoes countless times while trying to capture the moving waves. Be mindful of the risks the ocean presents to you and the harmful impact the saltwater can have on your camera and equipment.

Always protect your camera (a plastic bag can keep it safe from the salty sea air) and be sure to clean your camera when you return home.

If you would like to capture the swell of the ocean at high tide or an exposed bay of rocks during low tide, be sure to check the tide times and visit at the right hour.

You will find that planning to be at the coast when the tide is at a certain point will help you shoot better compositions and seascape photos.

Mistake #3 – Not considering your composition

Capturing beautiful images of the coast is not as straightforward as you might think, especially if you don’t think about your composition carefully. A few things worth considering are leading lines and the rule of thirds.

Leading lines are a great way to lead the viewer’s eye into the frame toward the main focal point in the photo. They can help to create depth in an image and provide more purpose.

When photographing the sea, you will find that placing the horizon in the middle of the image will generally be less effective than positioning the water level above or below the center of the frame.

You may be asking if should you include more sea or more sky in your composition? Well, that depends on the nature of the scene in front of you and what is the most interesting and important aspect of the story.

If the sky is compelling and vibrant, your image will be stronger by including more sky. But if the sky is uninviting and lacks drama while the ocean is swirling beautifully, compose the image to include more of the sea.

Whatever you decide to shoot, be imaginative and creative with your composition and capture some great images.

Mistake #4 – No focal point

One of the great benefits of being by the coast is the variety of subjects to shoot. However, it is surprising to see the number of times beginner photographers take images of the sea without including a strong focal point in their images.

You could focus your camera on any number of interesting material at the sea such as piers, fishing boats, lighthouses, cliffs, rocks or fish.

Mistake #5 – Not including any foreground interest in the shot

While the sea can make an exciting subject, a mistake newbie photographers tend to make when capturing the ocean is to photograph the sea and sky with nothing in the foreground.

This can occasionally work well in the right light and setting.

But capturing an extra element such as cliff ledges, flowers, shells, or footprints in the sand will add context and another dimension to your image to help it stand out.


The best seascape images rarely happen by chance. Instead, they are the result of careful planning, diligence, and practice. Keep exposing, avoid these photography mistakes and use the tips and with plenty of practice, you will soon be capturing breathtakingly beautiful images!

How about you, what do you enjoy about seascape photography? Please share your tips and images below, as well as any questions you might have.

The post 5 Photography Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Shooting Seascapes appeared first on Digital Photography School.

10 Dos and Don’ts for Mastering Your Tripod

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 15:00

Love ’em or hate ’em, tripods are an essential piece of gear for all photographers. It will keep your camera steady during long exposures, support the weight of those big lenses you need for wildlife photography, and hold your camera in what could otherwise be an awkward position for macro photography.

But just like any other tool, a tripod can be used the right way, and the wrong way.

DO – Get a good tripod that fits your gear

First of all, make sure your tripod is sturdy and solid. There are a wide variety of models available that range anywhere from $20 on into the thousands, and there is a reason for that. A bargain tripod will hold a small point-and-shoot camera steady but is not strong enough to keep your heavy DSLR steady during a long exposure.

Even if you have a high-quality tripod, there are still some things to consider such as its weight limit and maximum height. Make sure your tripod is built to hold the weight of your camera, biggest lens, flash, and any other accessories you might put on it.

You might also want to consider if your tripod should be as tall as you are. If you need to look through your viewfinder, having a tall tripod will mean you can use it more comfortably without bending down. On the other hand, if you have an LCD screen that flips up, a tall tripod is less important.

A good tripod should last decades with proper storage and care, so it’s worth the investment.

DO –  Make sure your tripod is sufficiently weighted

The weight of the tripod itself is also something to think about. Typically they are made from aluminum which is relatively inexpensive but heavy. For a higher price, you can get one made of carbon fiber, which is strong and lightweight but more expensive.

A carbon fiber tripod is an excellent choice for nature and wildlife photographers who have to walk or hike long distances while carrying their gear. However, they are so light that a stiff breeze could potentially knock the tripod over, taking your camera with it. If you are using a lighter tripod and there is a lot of wind, anchor the legs of the tripod or hang a rock, sandbag, or your camera bag from the center to weigh it down.

I recommend going for a light tripod otherwise it will tend to get left at home. A light tripod is easy to carry and you can always weigh it down on a windy day.

DO – Extend the thickest sections of the legs first

When a tripod folds up, its legs unlock and collapse into sections (usually three or four). The thickest sections of the leg are the most stable. So if you’re not raising your tripod to full height, extend the thicker upper sections before you bring the thinner lower parts into play.

DON’T – Raise the center column until the legs are fully extended

Raising the tripod using the legs offers much more stability than using the center column, which can sway slightly during long exposures. For maximum sharpness, the center column should be used to gain extra height only after the legs are fully extended.

DO – Remove the center column altogether

Consider whether you are more likely to require additional height, or if you would rather be able to get lower to the ground. Some tripods allow you to remove the center column, which means you can set up your tripod lower to the ground for super low-angle shots.

DON’T – Touch the tripod or camera during the exposure

If you’re doing a long exposure, even a slight nudge on the tripod can cause blur. Make sure that nothing touches the camera or tripod while the shutter is open. A camera strap blowing in the wind comes to mind.

Ideally, you should use a remote shutter release or 2-second self-timer to prevent movement when you press the shutter button.

DON’T – Carry your camera mounted on the tripod

Okay, I have to admit I’m guilty of this one! It can be tempting to leave your camera attached to the tripod as you walk from location to location – it makes set-up and take-down so much faster when you need to get the shot.

But the release plates and screws that hold the camera to the tripod assume that gravity will be working with them. They aren’t built to hold the camera at an angle, especially with the bustling and bumping that can happen while walking around outside. By doing this, you risk your precious camera coming loose and taking a bad spill.

DO – Protect your tripod from water, sand and other debris

A good tripod should be fairly rugged, but tiny particles can get inside the tripod and erode the screws that make it move smoothly and fasten securely. Avoid submerging the joints and locks in sand or silty water, and if your tripod does get dirty, make sure it is clean and dry before folding it back up.

I often use my tripod on the beach and sometimes submerge it in salt water. A solution to the problem of getting sand and salt in the tripod is to not collapse it again. I just leave all the legs extended until I get home (or to home base if traveling) and can rinse it off.

DON’T – Over-tighten the screws

Some tripods have spinning screw locks that tighten the legs, and some fasten with clips that are held on with bolts that may need to be adjusted from time to time.

Either way, you want these screws to be secure enough, but you don’t want to muscle them so tight that they can’t be unlocked. Worse, you could strip and damage the threads. Most screws on a tripod should be firmly finger-tight, and no more.

DO – Turn off image stabilization

The image stabilization technology inside cameras and lenses is fantastic when hand-holding the camera, but can actually backfire when used on a tripod.

This is because the stabilization system itself causes vibrations, and when it’s mounted on a stable base such as a tripod, it actually detects its own vibration. It works harder to stabilize this, which causes it to vibrate, even more, compounding the problem.

Therefore, this setting should be turned off when your camera is mounted on a tripod.

Over to you

There’s nothing worse than making a big investment in your photography only to find it isn’t helping very much. So make sure you are using your tripod properly to get those sharp images you are after.

The post 10 Dos and Don’ts for Mastering Your Tripod appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 10:00

This article is going to be a little different from some of the others I’ve written. It’s going to be more like a journal entry or a reflection. It’s very personal in some ways but the ideas within will have universal value for everyone.

The idea is to show a personal exploration of my editing skills, which will hopefully inspire you to explore your skills and progression as a photographer as well.

How much can experience change your editing workflow?

I was recently cleaning up my catalogues and image storage when I ran across a bunch of my older work. I looked at the images and how I had processed each pic. Looking back, I can see how my tastes and skills have evolved.

Over time we become better photographers, but we also become more adept at using Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar or any other editing programs we might love to use. So as our skills evolve so does the way in which we process each image.

It was at this moment that I decided to go back and edit some of my old images. The goal was to compare the ways my skills have changed as well as my personal aesthetic. You can do the same thing. The results may be surprising.

You might also learn something about the way in which your work has evolved over time. Perhaps you were totally into creating monochromatic images way back when. This might contrast with your recent images in which you’re into creating brilliant warms tones in your work. You may also have become more skilled at cloning, utilizing layers, or using plugins. It all depends on what you have learned over time.

So without any further rambling, let’s take a look at an older image of mine.

Here’s the initial image with my original edits. This was framed and sold a number of times during my earlier years.

This shot was one of the first I processed and created for sale in a gallery. It sold quite well. I was very proud of the work but what if I went back now and edited the RAW file again. How would my more refined skills change the look and feel of the photograph?

This image was edited fairly simply. I used Lightroom, and at the time I didn’t have anything else in my arsenal to utilize. I’m pretty sure I adjusted the blacks and whites in this image and added a little bit more saturation to the greens.

At that time, however, I didn’t have much of skill set, and edits were pretty basic. This doesn’t mean that what I did was bad. It was just simple and created a pretty clean and attractive image.

So now it’s time to see the difference and how my workflow has changed.  Here are the steps I took to re-edit this image some six years after it was first shot.

Searching for ideas and inspiration

One of the first things that changed about my workflow is how I begin to create my final image. These days I tend to surf through a large amount of presets searching for some ideas.

Part of this is experience, and part of it is time-saving. Over the years I’ve collected a large amount of presets, some of which I’ve created others I’ve purchased. I’ve also acquired a few plugins and I also use the presets available in these as inspiration.

Most of the time, however, I have a pretty good idea of the type of image I want to create already stored in my brain. As time has gone by, there’s far less trial and error associated with my work. Instead, my work is now far more purposeful with specific goals.

I took the image into Nik Analog Efex just to see what kind of looks I could create. I didn’t use anything from the plugin but I did get the idea to use a radial filter to focus attention on the path.

In the case of this old image, I studied the previous look and decided I wanted to change it. I feel the first edit was flat and a little too dark with not enough warmth or contrast. I also searched through some presets and decided I wanted more emphasis on the pathway leading to the stairs.

The following edits were made to create the look and feel I wanted specifically.

The Workflow Step #1 – Sharpening

I ran the image through a RAW sharpening plugin. I wanted to have nice sharp details on the pathway. The image was also shot long ago with a very basic kit lens which I felt was softer than my newer 50mm lens.

Step #2 – Histogram

The histogram was adjusted so that the image touched both ends of the spectrum for black and white tones.

Step #3 – Local Adjustments

Next, I applied the adjustment brush to several different parts of the image. I wanted the pathway to have a brighter light that leads the viewer’s eye back through the image. More clarity and sharpness were also added to certain parts of the image.

I used the adjustment brush to add more highlights to the pathway.

Step #4 – Presets

I used a preset to quickly deepen shadows and also to warm the tones within the image.

Inspired by a film preset I added a small bokeh to the image by using a radial filter and pulling the clarity and sharpness down. The filter was inverted and applied to the outer edges of the image.

Here’s a quick screenshot after I used a preset to deepen shadows in the image.

Step #5 – Vignette

Finally, to create a little bit of depth, I added a small vignette to the image.

Here’s a side by side comparison of the initial jpeg image and my updated edit.

The editing of the image didn’t take an overly long time. These are all fairly simple steps to take, but they have changed to look and feel of the piece. I didn’t use Photoshop with this image, and as per usual it was edited solely in Lightroom.

When I first edited this image Lightroom was the only program I used, so it seemed appropriate to keep all edits within the same program for a fair comparison.

The look and feel of the new version are certainly bolder and brighter. It’s a subtle change from the first edit. There’s nothing hugely drastic but I think what it shows is how our skills evolve and we become more polished in our editing work.

When I first created this image all those years ago, I loved the look. Now I find it a little flat so the edits that were applied this time adjusted what I now find to be a fault in the work.

Here’s the final image. This was edited fully in Lightroom with the exception of the RAW sharpening, for which I used a plugin.

It’s always good to reflect on things

Sometimes it’s interesting to dig through the past and see what you can find. It’s worth it to experiment and explore how your work has changed. Don’t be afraid to go back and rework some of your old photographs, who knows what you’ll discover.

If you’ve done some experimenting, then please share it with us. We want to see how your skills have evolved or maybe the ideas you’ve come up with as time has passed. I’m sure there’s someone out there with a really dramatic edit.

Let’s see what you can cook up to inspire the rest of us.

The post How to Edit Old Images with Your New Skill Set appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Color Management Can Be Easy

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 15:00

Color Management is the starchy, techie term assigned to a complex set of issues facing photographers every day. How to accurately capture the colors in a scene, display those same colors on a computer monitor and then print those colors successfully on paper.

While this is a very complicated challenge (on the level of herding cats), the answer is a lot easier than you might think.

The Problem in a Nutshell

Color photography is a visual communications system that attempts to equalize the differences between three utterly different technologies.

Imagine three people trying to discuss a difficult topic while speaking different languages. Words and phrases in one tongue have no equivalence in the others. Cultures and behaviors clash as convictions and meanings get misinterpreted. The result is frustration. This scenario pretty well describes the complications of color reproduction.

Cameras record light in one color language, monitors interpret that same light in a different language, and printers try to explain the monitor’s interpretation in yet another language. All three are doing their level best, but collectively they aren’t communicating.

Is it any wonder why accurate color reproduction sounds more like an oxymoron than a truthful description?

Further, cameras are influenced by the color of the light in a scene, monitor colors appear different based on technologies and brands, and printing inks and papers alter how colors are reproduced. Cameras record light frequencies, monitors transpose those frequencies into numbers and printers translate the numbers into colored dots and spots. There is unity but not harmony.

Learn more with the Datacolor complimentary Color Management eBook.

Vive la Différence

Just as foreign languages and international currencies require accurate translation and timely exchange rates, cameras, monitors, and printers interpret colors uniquely. Like both spoken languages and currencies, color reproduction requires an accurate translation of values.

It would be wonderful if all the systems spoke the same visual language, but they simply don’t.


World history notes that in 1878 an attempt was made to unify all national languages and adopt a new common language called “Esperanto.” This proposal was initiated by an ophthalmologist named L. L. Zamenhof in an effort to reduce the “time and labor we spend in learning foreign tongues” and to foster harmony between people from different countries.

While the concept is quite noble and though the movement still exists, the monumental undertaking to reduce all spoken languages into a single world language has proven impractical.

Accurately translating the varied languages of color is a challenge, but one that can be easily handled by adopting a straightforward process. That process is called color management.

The Gray Standard

Every conflict can be resolved when all differences are accurately acknowledged and clearly defined. In the case of color, defined standards have now been established that align the capture, display, and printing processes so that they individually recognize and pledge allegiance to a single corporate “Gray Standard.”

When each stage in the process has been internally aligned to this universal standard and all three processes are linked, then true color consistency is achieved. It really is that simple.

All color issues for all three individual contributions to color reproduction revolve around this single color of neutral gray. The utter simplicity of the concept of color balance is focused on the unbiased and “uncolored” tint of gray. The science of color is based on the fact that all photographic images are recorded as three channels of colored light; red, green, and blue.

When these three colors are produced (captured, displayed, and published) in equal values, the result is the combined color of neutral (no color cast) gray. Gray is the Holy Grail standard of all color. In the middle of the color wheel, between all the primary (RGB) and secondary (CMY) colors is the color neutral gray.

When this balance is maintained in a color photograph, all colors remain “balanced,” the ultimate goal of color management. While the complexity of the process is immense, the control involves only a three-stage process, and the system itself is quite elegant and simple.

Once your camera recognizes neutral gray, all the other colors in the visible spectrum will be recorded accurately. When your computer monitor is taught how to display this same neutral gray (as well as an extended range of primary and secondary colors), it will display the full range of spectral colors.

While the myriad of print technologies, inks, and papers available today is staggering, all printing devices can be taught to produce quite consistent and pleasing results – all focused on printing a patch of color inks that appear colorless.

Here’s how it all works.

Camera Capture

The first commandment of color photography:

Thou shalt faithfully capture balanced lighting.

Balanced light is all about neutrality; respecting non-color. When the camera recognizes gray, it automatically orients all the other colors in the scene. Color always obeys gray. Items like automobile tires and shadows cast on white buildings are examples of reliably neutral color.

All digital cameras are predisposed to see colors accurately during daylight conditions, generally between 9 am and 4 pm. Under this lighting, any neutral-colored objects are recorded faithfully.

The light that illuminates each scene influences the colors captured by the camera. But light is always changing. Even natural sunlight changes (color) temperature constantly.

Each time clouds pass overhead the daylight color of 5500°K – 6500°K changes slightly. When alternative light sources are used (incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, etc.), the colors can change drastically, ranging from 2500°K to 6500°K. These measurements are recorded as degrees of Kelvin (K), with the higher numbers recording whiter light.

There are several ways to ensure that colors are captured accurately in the camera. You can utilize the camera presets (daylight, overcast, cloudy, incandescent, flash, fluorescent, etc.), include a reference “gray card” in a target shot for establishing color balance in post-processing, or establishing a custom color balance (also using a gray reference card).

Monitor Profiling

Computer monitors, like TVs, have a mind of their own. There are a variety of video technologies that use ultra-mini RGB pixels in LCD (liquid crystal display), Plasma, LED (light emitting diode) and OLED (organic light emitting diode) flatscreen displays. Each technology delivers light and color uniquely and has their own spectral qualities.

In addition to the delivery systems, individual monitors of the same technology can display colors slightly differently. There is simply no guarantee that your computer monitor will automatically deliver accurate color straight out of the box, and even less so after it ages a bit.

But there is a surefire way to tune-up each of these displays so that they will produce accurate color. The tune-up involves a monitor colorimeter device; a mouse-size instrument that analyzes the color of light as it gives the monitor a visual exam.

This colorimeter dangles in front of the monitor while special software makes the monitor flash dozens of variations of RGB light on the screen. The device reads the color temperature and intensity of each of these flashes as it records the three-minute light show.

After the show, the software automatically compares the results of the monitor’s performance to a reference table of ideal readouts. This comparison reveals the difference between what the monitor should deliver and what is actually delivered. The two lists are juxtaposed and a visual color personality or “profile” of the monitor is generated.

This profile contains precision adjustments to the normal monitor output and adjusts the monitor’s display signals to compensate for any abnormalities. The monitor’s color “guns” are monitored and adjusted on the fly to deliver color-accurate signals to the display. What once just looked pretty now looks pretty accurate. It’s pretty nifty!

Printer Profiles

Printers face a multitude of variables based on three factors: printing technologies, ink brands, and paper surfaces. Each of these factors has a significant effect on the way colors print.

There are currently three distinct kinds of color printers that can deliver photographic quality results; inkjets, laser printers, and dye-sublimation. Each of these technologies deals with very unique “ink.” I use the word ink loosely because only one of these actually uses ink, as we know it.

Laser printing toner-based geometric dots (left) versus inkjet stochastic-style liquid ink pattern (right).

Laser printers deal with toner, which is a colored powder that gets fused into the paper. Dye-sublimation overlays dry sheets of variable-density colored dye which get baked on top of each other. Inkjets are the only printers that actually spray microscopic particles of multi-colored liquid ink onto the paper.

The colorants (inks) used by each of these printing devices can be purchased from multiple suppliers and thus the consistency of color from one batch to another is a concern. Paper shades and surfaces also affect the appearance of colors printed on them. Ink tends to sit on top of coated papers but absorbs into the fibers of uncoated papers, which changes the way light reflects from the surface and changes the color saturation values.

For this reason, printer manufacturers usually provide “printer profiles” embedded into the printer drivers (the software that controls the printer when files are sent from the computer).

Side view of paper surfaces. The two top dots illustrated here, demonstrate how differently inkjet inks behave when printed on uncoated (top) and coated (middle) papers. The bottom dot shows that laser toner particles are “baked” onto every paper surface.

Printer profiles are color correction “prescriptions” for specific paper and ink combinations. Because printer profiling is a very specialized process requiring specialized equipment, manufacturers usually provide individual profiles for their own brand of papers and inks.

They test each of their papers and inks for reproduction accuracy and then supply you with the “prescription” color correction files for those papers. When you select the correctly profiled paper from the print driver, the printer generally delivers accurate color.

Here’s how the profiling process works

A special file is sent to the printer containing thousands of very specific color patches that get printed on a specific paper. A very specialized device called a spectrophotometer then reads the patches on the test file. It analyzes the color patches and compares the results to the actual color values.

Profiling software then uses the difference between the two readings to create a profile; a set of instructions that tells the printer how to color correct any image file printed on that paper.

Color Management Simplified

So here’s the bottom line to controlling (managing) the colors in your photographic process.

  1. Camera – Take note of the color of light illuminating your photo scene and set the camera accordingly.
  2. Monitor – Purchase an inexpensive colorimeter device and run a 3-minute tune-up process every 60 days on your computer monitor.
  3. Printer – Take note of the paper you load in your printer and choose the proper profile when you print your pictures.

Color management is a very complicated science, but thanks to some great products and information from Datacolor, controlling that science is pretty simple. All it takes is an awareness of the issues and three simple actions.

Don’t be intimidated by technical information – learn all you need to know from the Datacolor Color Management eBook. Sign up to download the free eBook here. Each dPS reader who signs up for the Datacolor FREE eBook will receive one chapter per month and will be signed up for the Datacolor informational newsletter.

Disclaimer: Datacolor is a paid partner of dPS

The post Color Management Can Be Easy appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Rules in Macro Photography and When to Break Them

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 10:05

In any genre of photography, you’re going to be faced with so-called rules, guidelines, or commandments. Macro photography is no exception.

Consider advice such as, “shoot with a narrow aperture,” or “use a uniform background.” You’ve probably heard those time and time again. In fact, I’ve taught most of them, myself!

While these rules are often useful to beginners, as you become a more advanced photographer, you’ll find times when you need to break all photographic rules. But how do you know when to follow rules, and when to break them?

In this article, I discuss five rules in macro photography, and when they can be discarded. I use examples from my own work so that you are able to see what both following and breaking the rule looks like.

Ultimately, you’ll learn how to break rules in your own macro photography, which will allow you to really take your work to the next level.

Rule 1: Use the Rule of Thirds

This is probably the number one most talked about rule in photography, including macro photography. After all, it has the word “rule” in its name!

The rule of thirds is simple: Divide your viewfinder, screen, or LCD into both vertical and horizontal thirds. This creates a grid. The main elements of your composition—horizon lines, leading lines, faces, eyes—should lie somewhere along these lines.

It’s even better if they fall on one of the “power points” of the grid, the place where the lines intersect.

The place where the stem meets the petals of this tulip lies on a power point.

How does this apply to macro photography?

Often, you’ll be advised to place flower stems along the Rule of Thirds grid. You’ll be told to place flower centers along the power points of the image. The same goes for insects and leaves.

The points of focus should fall on the power points of the composition, you’ll be told.

The center of this dahlia is positioned at one of the power points on the Rule of Thirds grid.

This is often great advice. The Rule of Thirds has been used for centuries and generally results in very pleasing compositions. But sometimes it’s best to break out of this mold and get something a bit edgier, a bit more unique.

When should you break the rule?

Let me tell you about two scenarios when I like to break the Rule of Thirds.

The first instance you should break the rule is when you have a symmetrical subject. Symmetry can be very powerful, and it’s usually best emphasized by putting the point of symmetry (the place around which the image is symmetrical) in the dead center of the image.

The second time you might choose to break the Rule of Thirds is when you want to have a more spacious, off-balance image.

I like to place my main subject at the very top or bottom of the image and leave tons of negative space in the center and at the top. This can produce a minimalist feeling, one that I really love.

Rule 2: Keep it Simple

Another common macro photography rule is to keep your compositions simple.

You should have one point of focus, no distracting elements, a clean and straightforward image. Indeed, this is often wise. Random chaos takes away from the main subject and causes the viewer to become confused.

However, more controlled chaos might be just the thing you need to create a unique image.

I like to use controlled chaos when I’m faced with a complex scene. Many overlapping flowers, for instance, are great subjects for a more chaotic image.

The key is to make sure that there is a main subject that stands out and remains as a point of focus. At the same time, it’s okay to let the background or foreground get a bit messy, as long as it complements the main subject.

The flower on the left creates order in an otherwise messy composition.

For instance, you might have a background with colors that match the main subject. Alternatively, your background might include some flashy lights or brightly colored bokeh.

Just make sure that you keep the eye focused. It’s a fine line between having a complex but controlled image and making a big mess.

Rule 3: Have a Single Point of Focus

Macro photographers are often told to compose with a single point of focus in mind. That means something that the eye can focus on. This rule is especially relevant because I suggested that you use it in the tip above!

Notice how the eye is drawn straight to the center of this peony.

However, while there is a time and a place for this rule, there are also times when it should be broken.

For instance, when faced with a noticeable pattern among leaves or flowers or ferns, it is sometimes better to think less in terms of a point of focus, and more in terms of the image as a whole. Try to emphasize the pattern, and let the eye follow it through the image.

There may not be one point of focus, but the image will remain pleasing.

Rule 4: Have a Uniform Background

Uniform backgrounds are especially emphasized in macro photography. Macro photographers will often shoot on a completely black or pure white background for this very reason.

The rule makes sense – the more uniform the background, the less distracting it is. I use it often myself.

However, this is a rule that I also often break. Why?

To be frank, uniform backgrounds can be boring. More colorful uniform backgrounds are better. I find a uniform gold or orange to be the most pleasing, but sometimes even that isn’t enough.

To take your macro photography to the next level, try looking for complementary backgrounds. In other words, backgrounds that offer a bit of substance while enhancing the main subject.

One trick is to place a second subject just behind the first. Choose an aperture that keeps the second subject slightly out of focus, but yet still recognizable.

Another trick is to shoot towards the sun, so that you get creative flare effects and beautiful highlights.

But be careful: you don’t want to go from uniform to messy. The key word is “complementary.”

Rule 5: Make Sure the Whole Subject is Sharp

I’ve saved the most interesting rule for last. It’s a fairly simple one. Just make sure that your subject is completely sharp.

If you’re shooting a butterfly, make sure that it is sharp from edge to edge. When you’re shooting a flower, make sure that it’s sharp from the tip of the front petal to the edge of the back petal.

If you can’t get the entire subject sharp, the rule advises that you should get as much in focus as possible. This is done by narrowing the aperture. It’s common for macro photographers to shoot in the f/8 and beyond range.

Me? I rarely venture past f/7.1. In this sense, I’m a bit of a rebel.

Of course, I recognize that there is a time and a place for images that are sharp throughout the frame. But that is one particular aesthetic, and there are other looks that you can achieve by widening the aperture and shooting in the f/2.8 to f/7.1 range.

This is how macro photographers produce that “dreamy” feeling in their images.

Use a wide aperture. You work at higher magnifications and manually focus on a recognizable part of your subject; a leaf or the edge of a petal.

Then you shoot and come away with an image that is barely sharp, but for some people is very pleasing.


Macro photography rules (or photographic rules in general) can be very useful, especially for beginners. However, as the saying goes, rules are made to be broken.

By breaking the rules discussed above—that is, by breaking the Rule of Thirds, by creating more complex, chaotic compositions, and by focusing only on a small part of the subject—you’ll come away with more unique images.

Know any other macro photography rules that you like to break? Please share them in the comment area below.

The post 5 Rules in Macro Photography and When to Break Them appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Wedding Photography Tip – 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 15:00

One of the most terrifying things in wedding photography is a bridezilla. You’ve likely read the stories of photographer’s careers being ruined by an impossible to please bride. Of course, this is a worst case scenario and fears become heightened by the bridezillas you see on TV.

“I think of photography like therapy.” – Harry Gruyaert

But it’s normal for photographers to encounter some level of bridezilla behavior. The question is how to deal with it.

I’ve learned from photographers like Joe McNally, Zack Arias, and Jasmine Star that it’s our job as photographers to make great photos – no matter what.

So if you’re faced with a bridezilla (or any overwhelming person) at any point in your career you simply need to know how to handle them. Here are 3 ways you can do that.

This was one of the most laid back and down to earth brides I’ve photographed. Hard-working, yet easy going and ready to have fun every step of the way. Unlike some brides, she learned to handle the stress of a wedding very well.

1. Understand

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” – Ansel Adams

Even the most difficult situations become easier to deal with when you understand what’s going on.

The truth is, most bridezillas never actually wanted to become bridezillas. So why do some brides act like that? Major changes in your life come with stress. Marriage comes with one of the highest levels of stress. In addition to the stress, there is also decision fatigue, personal baggage, and pre-wedding depression.

Maybe the question should be why there aren’t more bridezillas!

This photo was taken at golden hour. The unique shape of the sun flare was caused by moisture on the camera lens. There was a mist in the air that led to the surprising effect.

They don’t start out as Bridezillas. Not long ago she was living a normal life as somebody’s girlfriend. Then in the blink of an eye, her entire life changed as she became engaged.

When you put a person in a dramatic situation, you find out how much they can take before they crumble under the pressure. Planning a wedding provides more than enough stress and drama to make a person blow up.

Everybody reaches a threshold of how much stress they can handle. And for a variety of personal reasons some brides reach that threshold on or before their wedding day.

Bridezillas are people like you and me who have discovered what it takes to make them break.

This photo was taken from in the water. The couple was sitting on an abandoned train bridge. I thought the tunnel would make a good frame for the photo, so into the water I went.

2. Anticipate

“When there are other limitations, I don’t let myself be a limitation.” – Fer Juaristi

There is more than enough time leading up to the wedding day to anticipate who might become a bridezilla.

You can almost guarantee that if a bride comes from a happy family and she handles stress well then she isn’t going to become a bridezilla. But if her life is filled with stress and chaos and she doesn’t handle it well, there is going to be trouble on her wedding day!

Engagement sessions are a perfect chance to get to know the bride and groom. Take time to see how they are handling the stress and find out if there are ways you can help.

When I meet with a couple who is interested in having me as their wedding photographer, I ask questions that let me know what sort of temperament the couple has.

Ask about their vision for the wedding. Then ask what would ruin the wedding for them. I had great fun with a couple who insisted that even if a tornado came along and they had to move the wedding to a basement shelter, they still wouldn’t care because their family is what means everything to them. The dress, flowers, and the decor were all secondary.

Ask other questions like, “What simply must be perfect?” or “What is your biggest fear for the day?” and “What would totally ruin your wedding day?”

Ask how quickly her emotions change to the negative and what cheers her up most in life.

This photo was created using a slow shutter speed (about 2 seconds).

If a bride tells me that the most important thing to her is that she has a perfect Pinterest wedding, I know there could be trouble.

There are enough problems with the dress, flowers, and decor to drive anybody crazy. If the bride is anxious and disagreeable, to begin with, planing her perfect Pinterest wedding will drive her nuts. She’s a perfect candidate to become a bridezilla.

When the bride is wearing fun socks and cowboy boots, you know she’s not overly stressed about the details.

Being a wedding photographer means knowing how to work with people. So if you can’t handle the stress of working with a bridezilla, you should politely decline weddings when you think there is a good chance she’ll become one. Let her know you don’t think you’re the best photographer to help her have a perfect wedding.

3. Encourage

“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” – Alfred Eisenstaedt

If you understand the things that lead to bridezilla behavior, and you’re happy with the challenge of working with one then good for you! You could actually help her get through her wedding day without baring her teeth and lower her stress level.

The truth is, most bridezillas don’t enjoy being bridezillas. You can’t help the ones who enjoy it. But you can help the ones who are afraid of becoming a bridezilla.

Weddings can be an exhausting journey, not just for the photographer who works all day, but for the family who has worked for months or years to get to this day.

If she’s open to having help, you can assist her in setting goals, seeing the big picture and embracing what is truly important about her wedding day.

Find out what’s bugging her the most and share stories about other couples who have dealt successfully with these things. That way you’re not just pushing your opinion on her, but sharing stories of real people who found a way not to crumble under pressure. You can even publish these stories on your wedding photography blog.

Help her see her goal and what is truly important to her. Help her pivot around obstacles, and there will be less of a chance of her crumbling under the pressure of her wedding day.

No matter what you do, be the one who helps, not somebody who makes it worse.

When a wedding is done right, the bride and groom are still excited and energized at the end of the day.

Happily Ever After

“If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” – Eve Arnold

No photographer wants to photograph a bridezilla. No bride wants to be a bridezilla.

You can surpass a bride’s expectations of you as a photographer by understanding her situation and being the most flexible, helpful, encouraging person on her wedding day.

All it takes is one good friend to be a calming presence amidst stress and anxiety to help a bride not turn into a bridezilla. This person could be you.

The post Wedding Photography Tip – 3 Ways to Tame a Bridezilla appeared first on Digital Photography School.

The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography

Sun, 08/12/2018 - 10:00

You’ve just splashed out a vast sum of money on a shiny new camera to do amazing travel photography, but what’s next? There are so many different lenses, accessories, and even filters to choose from. Most people would not be able to afford to buy everything they need in one go. So what should you buy first?

Fear not, here is a simple guide on what to purchase, and in what order, after you have bought a new camera.

1. Lens

It may seem pretty obvious but you won’t be able to do much without a lens for your camera, so naturally, this should be the first purchase.

But the lens you choose will impact on the quality of your photos. For travel photography, you will be able to get away with only using one lens most of the time so try to buy the best lens that you can afford. Look for something that has a good focal length range and is fairly fast.

Something like a 24-70mm lens will often mean you can get 95% of the shots that you would take.

Left: 24-70mm f/2.8. Right: 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

2. Memory Cards

The next vital purchase is at least one memory card to be able to store your photos.

Again this is something that is worth spending a little more money on in order to buy a higher capacity memory card. If you are going to be shooting in RAW format (which you should be doing) then your file sizes will be large. This means memory cards can fill up pretty quickly. Something like a 32gb or 64gb memory card should usually last a few days, depending on what you’re shooting.

Whether you buy more will come down to your budget. Using one card will mean that you have to clear your memory cards each day or every few days. So if you can afford a couple more, it will be worth the investment.

3. UV Filter

A UV filter might seem like an unnecessary expense, but the real benefit of buying one is to protect your lens’s glass.

They are pretty cheap to buy compared to having to repair a lens so consider getting one straight away. I fit every one of my lenses with a UV filter the day that it comes out of the box.

Canon L-series lens with a UV filter fitted on the front

4. Tripod

Most travel photographers would put a tripod at the top of the list of their accessories. This is with good reason. If you want to capture the best possible photos at the best possible time of the day a tripod is a must.

During low light conditions, you simply will not be able to hold a camera steady enough to take a sharp photo. The only way will be to raise your ISO which will in turn mean noise in your final shot.

But it’s also worth investing in a good tripod rather than something that is cheap and flimsy. I always find it astonishing when I see people with expensive cameras using poor quality tripods. Not only are poor quality tripods subject to vibrations which cause camera shake and blurred photos, but they are putting their expensive camera at risk of falling over.

So, always look to buy a good quality tripod that can support the weight of your DSLR.

5. Camera Bag

Over time most photographers will end up with a collection of different bags for different scenarios. For example, a long hike will require a bigger bag, whereas day to day, you will need something more compact.

But most people can certainly get by with one bag to start off with so look for something that you can use day to day. I would always recommend buying a day backpack as a first camera bag as opposed to a top-loader or sling bag.

Look for one that is carry-on approved as you should always take you camera equipment on board rather than checking it in when you’re flying. It’s also worth buying one that you can strap your tripod to and has space for a laptop.

There are so many choices out there so do your research and even test them out at your local camera store before buying one. It’s an important purchase that will not only keep your camera equipment safe, but also mean carrying things in comfort.

6. Graduated Neutral Density Filters

Once you’ve purchased the above items it’s time to start building up an inventory of the more specialized things you might need.

Graduated Neutral Density filters are incredibly useful anytime you are photographing at sunrise or sunset. They help to even out the light across your image when you are faced with one area being too bright (the sky) and another area being dark (the foreground).

They will generally come as a glass rectangle that fits onto the front of a lens with an adaptor. There are also screw-in versions (like traditional polarizing or UV filters) but frankly, they are a poor substitute in my opinion.

There are a whole range of brands and options and buying a complete set can work out to be pretty expensive. But you will find them incredibly useful and use them for years.

7. Polarizing Filter

The next thing that you should look to purchase is a polarizing filter. Primarily used for suppressing glare or reflections these little screw-in filters can be really useful when photographing water, metallic objects, or even glass (like shop windows).

They also have the added benefit of darkening blues and greens which makes them very useful for landscape and travel photography. Like most photographic items you are better off purchasing a better quality version rather than cheap alternatives that can have a detrimental effect on the sharpness of the image.

Use a polarizing filter to darken the sky to a rich blue like in this image.

8. Neutral Density Filters

Whereas Graduated ND filters are used for darkening part of the image, these filters can darken the whole scene. They are essentially a square or rectangular piece of glass that come in different darkness levels (representing the same effect as stopping down you aperture).

You might be wandering when you will ever need to darken the scene? Well, for example, if you are photographing water during the day you could use a Neutral Density filter to help you capture a smooth moving water effect. Or cloud movements in the sky.

Again a full set of these filters can be expensive so build up your collection slowly over time.

9. Spare Batteries

While most people can get by with one battery, it’s always worth having a spare. The last thing you would want is to run out of power mid-way through a shoot.

Keep in mind that long exposure photography will drain your battery more quickly than photographing during the day. So if you are going to be doing a lot of this kind of photography or if you’re heading to a remote place with no electricity, this item may move up on your priority list.

I tend to travel with around six batteries in total and charge the ones I have used each night.

10. GorillaPod

It could be argued that a cable release should be on this list, but as you can use your camera’s timer instead, I feel a GorillaPod will be a better purchase.

The great thing about these small bendy tripods is that they will often draw less attention than a regular one. So in places where tripods are not allowed, you might get away with a GorillaPod. The other great thing about them is that you can set them up on tables, which makes them great for food photography on the go.

Just make sure that the GorillaPod you select can support the weight of your camera and not collapse.


There you have the 10 items that you should buy in order after you’ve purchased your camera. There will always be exceptions and you might need to tweak this order for your needs. Building your camera and accessories collection up is expensive, so the key is to plan out your purchases in order and take your time.

What do you think? Have I missed anything? Anything you would swap with the 10 on the list? Share your answers below.

The post The First 10 Things You Need to Buy After Your Camera for Travel Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Tips for Culling Your Photos – How to Throw Away the Worst and Concentrate on the Winners

Sat, 08/11/2018 - 15:00

Can you happily throw away your worst images and concentrate on your winners? Are you confident culling your photos to find the best?

I know many photographers struggle to cull their photos after coming back home from an enjoyable photo session. It can be effortless to create hundreds of images from a photo session you are immersed in. But feeling buried by a mountain of new photos to post-process can be discouraging.

The key to breaking free of this dilemma is to discern which of the photos are worth keeping, which are the best, and which to throw out. To do this you need a method, a good healthy workflow. Possessing a positive attitude will be a considerable help too.

I use Adobe Lightroom to import and cull my images and I will refer to it during this article. The workflow I am sharing can be utilized with any similar software.

Start by Seeing Your Best

Creative people often excel at being negative when it comes to their own creations. How many times have you heard musicians tell you they are not practiced enough to perform? Or friends who paint tell you they don’t have the confidence to complete a canvas they are working on?

It is quite typical of creatives to be too hard on themselves.

When you first load your images from a new photo session be purposefully positive. Don’t let yourself get sucked into negative thoughts. Start looking for the best photos in a series you have made, not the worst.

Take some time to scan through and get an overview of your new pictures. Look for the ones which excite you and mark them. You can use a flag, color or star rating.

Take Out the Worst

You will usually have some photos which are clearly not usable. It is best to remove these from your workspace right at the start.

The most common problems not able to be fixed are:

  • Poor focus
  • Bad timing
  • Very poor exposure
  • Unwanted image blur
Bad focus

You cannot fix poor focus in post-production. If you have a photo that is not sharp where it really needs to be, delete it. It is not worth keeping. Some amount of sharpening can be applied but is only somewhat effective on photos which are slightly out of focus.

This one gets deleted. It is not focused.

Very poor exposure

Working with RAW files produced by a modern camera, the images need to be really over or underexposed before I throw them out. You must know your camera and your own post-processing skills. Still, if the exposure is way off, delete it.

Unwanted blur

Sometimes we want blur in a photo. That nice silky look waterfall. The bicycle rider passing. The people walking by in the market. When you have motion blur because your subject moved or your camera has moved, delete those images.

Occasionally you can still make something of an image like that. Not by fixing it, but rethinking it and applying some careful post-processing, but not often.

Bad timing

Maybe someone has walked in front of your camera just as you took a photo. Perhaps the bird you were photographing had already flown out of frame. Many things can happen like this that means you have missed the shot or the decisive moment. Delete them.

Poor timing makes this photo unusable.

Don’t Want to Delete?

If you are nervous about deleting photos at first, you can just hide them. I use the flags to determine which images I see and which I do not.

In Lightroom when you are in Grid view in the Library Module with the filter bar showing at the top, click on Attributes at the top of the window. If you then click on the black flag to turn it off all the images you apply a black flag to (rejected) will be hidden from view. To quickly apply a black flag to an image, select it and hit the X key to mark it as rejected.

You can bring the hidden black flagged images back into view by turning on the black flag in the Attributes bar.

Once I have am confident I want to delete my flagged images I turn off the other two flags in the Attribute bar. With only the images I have flagged as rejected showing, I select them all and hit the Delete key and delete them from my disk.

NOTE: Lightroom will give you the option of just removing them from the program or deleting from your hard drive as well – I do the latter, but make note they will be gone forever so make sure you have the right images before hitting delete.

Use the grid view, Attributes and flags to help your workflow.

Select Similar Images

Now begin to work through to separate out the best of your photos. Many photographers will take multiple frames of whatever they are photographing. This results in too many images that are really similar. To deal with these, it is good to compare them to each other.

Do this by selecting four to six images and hitting the N key. The selected images will be displayed and the others will be hidden from view. You can now begin to compare your similar images. Using this method it is much easier to concentrate on the qualities of the photos and decide which ones are better than others. Look for similarities and differences in each frame.

Maybe your timing is noticeably better in one than the others. Maybe your composition was a little different or more interesting in one over another. Narrowing down your options as you go will help you see the stronger images more easily.

To do this, keep using the X key to flag the photos as rejects (note: do not do this using the comparison N view as it will tag them all at the same time) so they become hidden. Once you have only one photo in view, press the G key to take you back to Grid view. Now you can select more photos and repeat the process. I sometimes keep the best image from my last selection to compare with three or five other images in the series.

Select similar images (use ctrl+click) and the N key to view only the images you have selected.

Look for Strengths in Your Photos

Choose photos which are well-exposed and well composed. Look at your backgrounds. Are there unwanted distractions which will be too difficult to remove? If so, use the X key.

Do you have one or two where your exposure is bang on? These will be potential keepers. Using the P key will mark them with a white flag (as a Pick). You could also use colors or star ratings (from 1-5) to mark your favorites.

In this frame, the monk was well focused (pun intended)

Find the photos that make you feel good. Narrow down your selection step by step.

By making comparisons with a small selection it should be less vexing than with all your photos showing at once. You will be more confident to come to recognize your best work using this method. If you are more randomly browsing through hundreds of photos at one time you are less likely to find your best photos as easily.

The post Tips for Culling Your Photos – How to Throw Away the Worst and Concentrate on the Winners appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop

Sat, 08/11/2018 - 10:09

If your ideas are more than a photo, why not combine two or three of them in a single image? When you want to create something surreal, ghostly or that is just beyond what you can capture in a single shot, then the multiple exposure effect is the thing for you!

This effect comes from analog photography and some digital cameras offer this feature as well. However, we can mimic the multiple exposure effect not only without film and even without a camera, so let’s get creative in Photoshop!

Achieving double or multiple exposures in-camera means that you have to do your photos in a sequence, this can be very impractical and therefore limits your creativity.

In Photoshop, you can combine a photo you took today with your smartphone with another one that you made last year with your camera or even add a Creative Commons photo that you found online, so let your imagination go wild!

Method Two – Creating Double Exposures in Photoshop

If you need to kickstart your creativity, try playing with opposites or contrasting concepts. To demonstrate, I’m going to use urban versus nature, I’ll also show the practicality of doing this in Photoshop instead of running back and forth from the countryside to the city, so let’s get started.

First open your first image, the one that will be the base on which you’ll compose your image. When the image opens it is the background layer which is locked. You can always change this but for now, it’s fine to leave it as is.

Duplicate your image by going to Menu > Layer > Duplicate Layer or just click and drag it into the Create New Layer button on the bottom of the Layers panel (or use the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl+J). Now you have two identical images on top of each other, one in each layer.

Add your second image

Now drag and drop the second image onto your canvas. I suggest you use this technique instead of copy and paste because this way it gets added as a Smart Object. Therefore you can make it bigger or smaller as many times as you want without losing image quality.

This is always a good thing to have but especially for this exercise since you still need the other photo(s) to see how they will interact to create the final composition. Then click OK and it will be added as a layer. By default it will be dropped on the top, so you won’t be able to see the other image for the moment, but that’s normal.

Click on the layer you just added, the one with the second image, and drag it down so that it’s between the two previously existing layers. Now all you see is the first image again and the new image is hidden, Don’t worry, we’ll get to it in a moment.

Adjust the Blend Mode

The top layer should now be the copy of your background, click on it to select it. Now open the drop-down menu from the top of the Layer panel which contains the Blending options. Select Screen Mode and as a result, you’ll see a mixture of the two images.

Keep in mind that the results will change drastically depending on the colors of your images as this information is what Photoshop uses to make them interact.

For example, with black, it leaves the colors unchanged while screening with white produces white. In any case, don’t worry if your image doesn’t look like the example I’m using.

Adjust to your liking

The result you’re looking for is rarely achieved by just doing this, so click on the layer that contains your second image, and modify it until you’re happy.

You can change its size by going to Menu > Edit > Transform. Then drag it with the Move tool from the top of the Toolbox. Add some filters by going into Menu > Filters or adjust its settings by adding Adjustment layers by clicking on the button from the bottom of the panel. Play with it until you’re satisfied.

Mask out unwanted bits

Once you’ve decided on the final image position, create a layer mask on that layer by clicking on the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the panel. Making sure that the mask is selected, use your Brush tool to paint in black in the areas where you don’t want the image showing.

It behaves like an eraser but without actually losing your pixels. That’s the great thing about masks, it just hides things. If you make a mistake all you need to do is change the brush to white and paint it back in.

Repeat the process with as many photos as you want to add. If you don’t want one image to be predominant but instead you want to have a blank canvas on which to put many smaller pieces, first open a blank canvas that will be your “negative” where you are going to combine your images.

You can do this by going to Menu > File > New and just set the size and resolution that you want and click OK. Then follow the steps above normally. Have fun!

A Trendy Twist, Method Two

As many vintage things, double exposures made a comeback and became trendy just by adding a little twist to it. You’ve probably often seen images of multiple exposures that are silhouettes with the second image inside it. Here’s how you can do that with the same technique as before just by adding one more step.

So, open your first image in Photoshop and duplicate the background layer once again. On this copy, select your background with the tool of your choice depending on your image.

If you have a white background you can quickly select it with the Magic Wand while a more busy background might require the Pen tool or a mix of different ones.

Once you have your background selected then go to Menu > Edit > Fill, choose white and click OK. Drag and drop your second image just like you did in the first part of this tutorial so that it becomes a new layer. Drag it and put it in between the background and the background copy you created.

Now it’s totally covered, so click on the background copy to select that layer and change its blend mode to Screen.

Modify your second image and create a layer mask to paint with black whichever you don’t want in the composition and that’s it.

You can use images with a lot of contrast or monochrome to create different effects. Try them out and share your results with us in the comment section below.

The post How to Create a Multiple Exposure Effect in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Long Exposures

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 15:00

This week, for your dPS photography challenge, you will need to get out your tripod and remote trigger because you’ll be doing some long exposure photography.

Shooting star trails is the ultimate long exposure photography.

There are many ways to incorporate a long exposure into your images. Here are a few ideas:

Car light trails – this image is a combination of several frames shot to capture more lights.

Light painting is another idea for long exposures.

Try an intention motion blur, in this case, the lens was zoomed during a long exposure.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Long Exposures

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge. Sometimes it takes a while for an image to appear so be patient and try not to post the same image twice.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

Long exposures on moving subjects like this carousel can turn out great.

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Long Exposures appeared first on Digital Photography School.

A Guide to Shooting Long Exposure Landscape Photos

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 10:00

Here’s a 21-minute photography guide from Gordon Laing that looks at the long exposure technique. This is where you increase the shutter speed of your camera, letting in light to the sensor over a longer duration to create unique effects.

Long exposure photography

Long exposures are often used for smoothing out moving water, or smudging clouds as they drift past in the wind. Whatever the reason, long exposures can produce dreamy and magical results, and they are a key weapon in any landscape photographer’s arsenal.

“It’s also very forgiving in bad weather,” says Laing. “It allows you to grab moody-looking images on overcast days, or even in the pouring rain.”

Laing also points out that all of the normal compositional rules of landscape photography apply to your long exposure images. A long exposure is most-often used to enhance a particular scene, rather than create something that varies so drastically that the composition is different.

There is no set duration, either. You could shoot anything from a couple of seconds to multiple minutes (such as by using the LEE Filters 15-stop Super Stopper).

A longer duration will bring out more movement in the image, but you may find that the effect is too strong or that camera shake is introduced by something as simple as the wind buffeting your tripod.

Check out the full video above for a great guide to long exposure landscape photography from Laing. If you want more check out these dPS articles on the topic:

The post A Guide to Shooting Long Exposure Landscape Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Using HDR Photography to Your Advantage

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 15:00

Over the years, HDR Photography has become synonymous with over-saturated, over-processed, and unrealistic images. Some hear the term HDR and never give it a second thought because of their perception of what it is. Add to that, all the camera dynamic range improvements and many say that HDR has lost its place for good.

So how exactly can HDR photography still be beneficial to you? How can you use it to your advantage?

The oversaturated look that has become synonymous with HDR photography. 

What exactly is HDR Photography?

HDR or high dynamic range refers to the difference between extremes – the brightest and darkest areas of your image. In reality, your eyes can adjust for shadows and highlights in the same scene, but a camera cannot (again this has come a long way over the years).

A more realistic looking HDR image.

Have you ever witnessed a scene that took your breath away, but were unable to capture it as is because you had to choose what your camera captured?

Exposing for the highlights left some of your image too dark or exposing for the shadows left your highlights too light. Or maybe you tried for somewhere in between and ended up with both dark shadows and light highlights?

Well when you want to capture the dynamic range of an area, you sometimes need to take more than one photo. To do that, you need to use bracketing, which is taking multiple images of the same scene at different exposures.

Most cameras now come with auto bracketing modes (AEB) , but you always have the choice to manually adjust your exposures between shots.

HDR Photography usually involves several bracketed images with a minimum of three images to capture the dynamic range. One image is exposed for the darker areas in your scene, another for the mid-tones and the third for the highlights. When you merge these images, you create an HDR image which reveals more detail than a single shot.

Fun Fact: Did you know that HDR photography has existed since the days of film?

How does this work to your advantage?

If you are not interested in creating mind-bending images with HDR, what’s the point? Well, the main benefit is capturing/revealing any lost details and doing so in a realistic way.

Think of it as extending the tonal range of what your camera reproduces to mimic what your eyes see, as opposed to the graphic style that HDR has become synonymous with.

Subtle HDR also helps reveal textures in an image.

Steps for a Realistic HDR Photo

Truthfully the steps for making a realistic HDR are not drastically different from one that looks overly processed. The key is to know when to stop processing.

1. Selecting a scene

So what kind of shots are right for HDR photography?

Typically these include scenes that have a lot of contrast, for example, landscape and architectural photography. HDR is not recommended for scenes with a moving subject, or for shooting portraits (as it has a reputation for aging faces).

It is fun to experiment with bending the rules though and seeing the results.

2. Capturing your images

To eliminate or minimize movement between your shots, a tripod is an essential tool. This also ensures that each image in your sequence has the same composition.

An HDR image is usually composed of between three to seven bracketed images. Three exposures are sufficient for a more photo-realistic HDR, at two stops (EV) apart. If done manually, this means that your first shot will be metered for the mid-tones of the image (0EV), followed by dialing down your exposure to -2 for your second shot, and lastly where your meter is at +2 for your third shot.

Bracketed image underexposed (exposure -2).

Overexposed (exposure +2).

Bracketed image mid-tones (exposure metered at 0).

Use the HDR or Auto Bracketing (AEB) feature of your camera to accomplish this automatically.

Note: If you are shooting into the sun, you may need to do five exposures at one or two stops apart.

3. Processing your images

Processing HDR photography is essentially combining your images and adjusting your tonal mapping for detail. When it comes to processing, you have a choice of software: Photoshop, Photomatix, Lightroom and Aurora HDR to name a few.

Processed bracketed images – reveals more details (warmth boosted).

Again, processing is the place where you can push your HDR too far or end up with a nice photorealistic image.

Usually, HDR software comes with presets that give you a range of looks. If you want your image to be more on the realistic side, you need to take control of the settings. Some of the settings you want to control include; reducing noise, fixing chromatic aberrations and dialing back your tonal adjustments.


The main benefit of HDR photography is recovering detail in your images. Landscape and architectural photographers often use HDR realistically to portray high contrast scenes.

HDR photography is often associated with overcooked images, but when it’s not overdone it can balance out a scene and makes it more appealing to your viewer. Your objective is to post-process just enough to maintain a natural look.

The post Using HDR Photography to Your Advantage appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Organize Your Photos by Location in Lightroom

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 10:00

You likely know Adobe Lightroom as a powerful piece of photo-editing software. It’s known as the industry standard for photography post-production, especially when paired with Photoshop. You may also know that its photo management features are pretty impressive. If you so choose, you can use this one piece of software to upload, rename, keyword, review, edit, export and organize your photos.

How you use Lightroom is entirely up to you, and it’s unlikely that two photographers will use it the same. The way you organize your catalog will depend on many factors, including which genre of photography you choose, who you’re shooting for, and how you have your computer hardware arranged. There is no right or wrong way to organize things, and it will likely change over time.

If you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, you might choose to organize your catalog around sessions or dates. As a landscape and travel photographer, it makes sense for me to organize my photos based on locations. Whether a location is a city, country, or even a continent, it helps me to keep things organized so I can always find what I’m looking for without wasting time searching through thousands of photos.

There are a few different ways to find photos based on location in Lightroom, but they only work if you take a few simple steps when you import them.


Whenever you import photos into Lightroom, try to follow the same steps.

It’s a good idea to create some templates for the Develop and Metadata settings. This makes it easy to apply some standard settings and metadata to every one of your photos. You should at least apply your copyright information to your photos with a metadata preset.


The single most important thing you can do to simplify the process of finding photos is keywording. You don’t need to add a long list of keywords, just a few relevant ones that will help you later on when you search.

When organizing by location, I always add the name of the country, region, and specific place name. I’ll also add any other relevant keywords that I may want to search for, such as aerial or long-exposure.

When renaming my images during import I always include the location in the name. Something like “noosa-beach-qld-australia” works well. The words in your filenames become searchable keywords themselves (make sure to use a dash between words). I don’t use dates in my file names, but it’s up to you whether you want to or not.


Using a good folder structure will make your life far easier, especially when you have tens of thousands of images.

To organize your folders by location, you can create a new folder for each specific location or one for each city or country. I have one folder for each country I visit and just keep adding to it. Even if I visit that country again years later, I’ll still keep using that same folder. It makes it far simpler and I know where I can find a photo from anywhere on earth.

It also makes it simpler to find image files on my computer as the folder structure I set up is identical both inside and outside Lightroom. Organizing folders by date or some other number-based system would never work for me.


Collections are another one of Lightroom’s great features that can help you keep everything organized by location. Where Folders contain every photo from a given location, Collections contain only the photos you choose. Again, I’ll create a new Collection for each country, but I only put the keepers in there.

In the past, I’ve done this manually, but I now create a Smart Collection for each location. I only need to add two rules to each Smart Collection: Flag and Keyword. Based on these settings, any photo that I flag that has that keyword is automatically added to the collection.


As a travel photographer, my favorite Lightroom tool for finding photos based on location is the Map module. One of the first things I’ll do after I’ve finished importing new photos into Lightroom is to add GPS coordinates. There are a couple of ways you can do this.

If you know the coordinates you can add them manually in the Metadata panel. The easiest way is to select all your images (Cmd/Ctrl+A) then go into the Map module, search for the location in the search bar above the map, then drag all your photos onto the right location on the map.

Depending on your camera, your photos may already have GPS coordinates embedded in the file. This is often the case with drone photos or any other GPS-connected camera or device. If not, you can record the GPS coordinates by taking a photo with your phone then grabbing them from that photo’s metadata.

Searching for Photos

Now that you’ve imported your photos with location-based keywords and filenames, organized them into location-based Folders and Collections, and geotagged them with GPS coordinates, finding them later is simple.

I use a different approach depending on whether I’m looking for a specific image or a group of images from a specific location.

If it’s a specific image you want, and you know you flagged it, select the Collection associated with that location. If you’re not sure if it’s flagged, select the folder. Then search inside the collection or folder using the Library Filter.

Click on Text, select Any Searchable Field in the first drop-down menu, then Contains All in the next menu, then type your keywords in the search field. The more keywords you add, the more specific the search becomes.

If I’m looking for an image or group of images from a specific location, I like to use the Map module. Select All Photographs in the Catalog panel on the left then go to the Map module and type the location name into the search bar. Any geotagged images in that area will show up on the map.

You can zoom in or out on the map to make your search location more or less specific. Images in the specified location will appear along the filmstrip below the map.


A little forethought and organization when importing your images are worth the effort. It doesn’t take much time to apply these settings but can save you a lot down the road.

If you’re anything like me and have tens of thousands of photos in your catalog, you’ll be doing yourself a favor, and future you will thank you for your efforts.

The post How to Organize Your Photos by Location in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School.