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Updated: 16 hours 28 min ago

Canon May Produce an Unprecedented 50-80mm f/1.1 Lens

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 08:30

The post Canon May Produce an Unprecedented 50-80mm f/1.1 Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Are you a Canon user?

If so, you’ll be happy to know that Canon continues to push the boundaries of camera gear innovation.

Because earlier this month, a Canon patent was published, one that detailed plans for a new lens: a 50-80mm f/1.1 zoom.

Yes, you read that right.

According to the Canon patent, the lens would have a fixed maximum aperture across its entire focal length range, maintaining its f/1.1 maximum aperture from 50mm to 80mm.

A fixed-aperture f/1.1 Canon lens would certainly make waves. None of Canon’s recent lenses have an f/1.1 aperture. The closest lens is the Canon 50mm f/1.2. So this lens will certainly appeal to those who enjoy unique equipment.

The f/1.1 aperture would be ideal for portrait photographers. The wide aperture would allow for stunning background bokeh. And it would also allow for photography in low light, which is perfect for those who shoot indoors or at night.

Plus, the 50-80mm focal length is great for portrait photography of any kind. At 50mm, portrait photographers can get some standard shots. At 80mm, you can go in for a tighter image.

Street photographers will also be a fan of 50-80mm, given how 50mm is often considered the fundamental street photography focal length.

A zoom lens such as this one would likely exist as part of Canon’s RF lineup, which is rumored to expand over the course of the next year.

Note that some patents never actually amount to anything. In other words, just because Canon patents the designs doesn’t mean that they will send the product to market. But it’s interesting to see Canon thinking about such incredible new equipment.

So keep your eyes peeled, Canon users.

And even if the Canon 50-80mm f/1.1 lens is never produced, it’s certainly piqued consumers’ imaginations!

Would you be interested in a lens like this one? What do you like and dislike about it? What would you use it for? Let me know in the comments!

The post Canon May Produce an Unprecedented 50-80mm f/1.1 Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 06:00

The post Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anthony Epes.

Successful photographs usually have one thing in common – an obvious point of focus or a subject that is the dominating element.

One of the main reasons a photograph falls flat is because there is no central or main feature to draw in the viewer’s attention.

One very easy way to combat boring, flat photos is to practice the simple idea of filling the frame.

Of course, you might say – I always fill the frame; it’s impossible not to!

With this idea, though, you are working on being a lot more intentional about how you compose.

When we “fill the frame,” we are attempting to make a photo’s intention completely clear. The viewer should have no doubt as to what the photograph is about.

Instead of getting fixated on your subject, and focusing your attention almost totally on that (something I see people doing all the time on my workshops), we are considering every single part of the frame.

We are looking at the corners. This is probably the most common thing many of my students don’t do – look at what’s in their corners.

Often there are things that don’t need to be there which you only realize afterward when studying your images.

We are considering what is running alongside the edges. What’s poking in that shouldn’t be there? It’s amazing how a stray branch or a bit of litter can make its way into your image without you noticing.

We become aware of every part of the frame to make sure that every single element is working to complement our subject.

Now, this is key. Every single thing in your frame needs to be working with, or complementing your subject.

If it’s not, you need to move around and try to work the subject and surrounding elements into a better composition.

Sometimes a photographer will react too quickly. They make a photo from where they are standing instead of thinking about the most favorable position to be in and how it can greatly improve the image.

I mention position here because I believe it is the first option when it comes to filling the frame with a subject.

Usually, what happens when we do not fill the frame with our subject is we end up creating a lot of space in the photograph. This is all fine if you are using this space with intent. However, if you are not, then it just looks vast and empty, and your subject is competing with the “bad space.”

Changing your position and getting closer to your subject is your best first choice. Remove that unwanted space by physically moving closer or zoom in if you must. (I will always prefer moving to zooming).

Have a look at the photos of mine that I’ve included in this article. They are all images where everything in the frame is 100% relevant. Even with a complex image like this, I have considered every part of it:

5 Simple but Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos 1. Always think about your position

In general, bad photographs have way too much wasted space. You can easily remedy this by thinking about your position relative to your subject.

Do you need to get closer to reduce wasted space around your subject? This also has the added benefit of making a photo more intimate when you get closer.

2. If moving is not an option, then consider switching lenses

If changing position is not possible, then now would be a good time to switch lenses. This method is not as good (I think) as changing your physical position, but it can allow you to fill the frame, drawing interest to your subject.

3. Check the edges of the frame

This is a very common mistake for beginner-photographers.

Some do not put enough effort into looking at the entire frame and what lies on the edges of it. When you shoot this way, you find yourself cropping a lot more to remove those things you overlooked when shooting.

It is better to learn to see the whole frame than to get good at cropping because you didn’t see it in-camera.

4. Photography is a process of reduction

Let’s say you moved in closer to fill that frame. Now is a good time to ask yourself – is there anything else that does not need to be in the frame?

You can find the answer to this by asking if it is helping or hurting your subject. If you decide the element does not need to be there then take it out.

This usually requires a change of position or some movement from you!

5. Don’t fixate on your subject

If you are really dedicated to filling your frame and making better images, then my one ultimate piece of advice is to NOT fixate on your subject.

This is the #1 reason photographers are dissatisfied with their images later.

Sure, be in awe and wonder of what you are shooting, that’s part of the joy of doing photography. However, don’t lose yourself to the point your composition is not it’s very best.


Remember to always shoot with intent.

I would love to know what you think of my tips and ideas about ways to improve your photos. Please let me know in the comments below.

Is this an idea you practice? Alternatively, is this new and you think you might use this in the future?

Thanks for reading.


The post Filling the Frame: 5 Simple Yet Powerful Ways to Improve Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anthony Epes.

How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 08:30

The post How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

Your camera is capable of capturing intense, true color that is almost everywhere you look. So how hard could it be? Answer: It is actually quite easy to capture color. However, you need to practice a little more awareness when it comes to creating images with that extra “oomph.” Here are a few tips to help you capture vibrant colors in photography.

1. Keep it simple/details

As with other types of photography, simplicity is an art on its own. While details are can be essential too, sometimes scaling back on the amount of details is required. Thus, when working with vibrant colors in photography, your story may have more impact when you include only the key elements as opposed to having too much going on.

You can achieve simplicity in different ways. The first is by minimizing the number of colors in the frame. Yes, there are instances when many colors work well together in an image, but at other times it gets confusing. You need to direct your viewer’s eyes. Another way to keep it simple is to avoid too many details in your composition. It has the same effect as too many colors. When working with vibrant colors, simple works better.

2. Experiment with color combinations

Starting small is usually better with bolder colors. You can focus on one main color and build from there. When you start adding other colors in, determine if they work well together. Fortunately, you do not have to reinvent the color wheel and have tried-and-true color harmonies to use to your advantage.

Color harmony is a combination that is visually appealing to the eyes. Some of the options include complementary colors (those directly opposite each other on the wheel) and analogous color (those next to each other).

Both of these harmonies exist in the natural world. A sunset of oranges and blues is an example of complementary colors. Whereas a green tree against the midday blue sky is more along the lines of analogous color. When you are working with color combinations, spend the time to make the final image pleasing to the eyes.

3. Make colors stand out/playoff

Your scene may be full of color, vibrant and busy. If this is what you want to portray, then all is well. On the other hand, what if there is a subject in that chaos that you want to isolate? You can use color to make that happen. To do so, one of your options is to desaturate/tone down the colors that are not contributing to your subject’s story.

Another is putting a bright color against a dull one to help it to stand out more. Also, adjusting the hue and lightness of the colors next to your main color can help it pop.

Here are a few easy ways for you to help your colors play off each other:

White Balance

Pay attention to your use of white balance when working with bold and strong colors. Your camera has several white balance options to deal with different lighting situations (Shade, Cloudy, Fluorescent, etc.). Each of these affects the overall color of your image. They either move your color to the warmer side (by adding yellow) or to the cooler side (by adding blue). Thus, white balance can enhance your colors or change the hue altogether.

Note: If you do not want your colors to end up looking too blue or yellow, you have the option of manually adjusting your white balance color temperature.


By default, Saturation is used to enhance the color intensity of every color in an image. However, you can use editing software and use Saturation selectively. When trying to make colors play off each other, you can increase the intensity of one color while desaturating other colors in the scene.

Vibrance vs Saturation (the same level applied)


When you change the Vibrance in an image, it is a little more specific than Saturation. Vibrance only adjusts the intensity of the duller colors in your image. When playing off colors, this tool can be very effective.


When working with vibrant colors, be aware of your palette. Keep your compositions simple by minimizing the number of colors and details in your image. Work with the color wheel and learn about the various harmonies that exist. When you pay attention to all the colors in your image, you get a better sense of how they work together. You also understand the way each color affects and plays off the other. Most of all, have fun experimenting while you learn about color!

Do you have other tips for using vibrant colors in photography? Share with us in the comments section!


The post How to Use Vibrant Colors in Photography with Great Success appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

Street Photographer Attacked on Social Media for Taking Photos in Public

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 06:00

The post Street Photographer Attacked on Social Media for Taking Photos in Public appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Joshua Rosenthal’s Instagram feed.

Are you a street photographer?

Have you considered what might go wrong in your line of work?

Most street photographers don’t.

But maybe they should.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Josh Rosenthal (@two_stops_ahead) on Aug 9, 2019 at 8:33am PDT

Joshua Rosenthal is your average street photographer. He goes out with his camera, photographs people in public places, and posts the photos on his website and Instagram. He does no harm, and nobody is bothered.

Until this past week, when Rosenthal’s actions attracted a lot of attention – and not in a good way.

Rosenthal journeyed to the Ventura County Fair in California. He walked around, taking photos of fairgoers. People noticed, became suspicious, and the police questioned Rosenthal. But doing photography in a public place is not a crime, and so nothing came of it.

According to the police department:

“The subject was contacted by police officers at the Fair on that date and has been contacted again today for questioning. No crime occurred during this incident.”

Rosenthal probably thought that being questioned at the county fair was the end of things; after all, he hadn’t broken the law.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Josh Rosenthal (@two_stops_ahead) on Aug 12, 2019 at 6:32pm PDT


So it was most likely a huge surprise when he awoke the next morning to find his name plastered all over social media alongside accusations of pedophilia and of predatory behavior.

As it turned out, a number of fairgoers took videos and photos of Rosenthal at the fair, which depicted Rosenthal snapping images of a young girl. These videos and photos were promptly distributed on social media, capturing intense attention.

One poster writes “Hey moms and dads, beware of this P.O.S. at the fair. He’s going around taking pictures of…little girls, in dresses.”

Another poster compared Rosenthal’s actions to child traffickers, while a third wondered whether he is a “perv.”

Rosenthal was questioned once again by the police but was not arrested. We can be confident that no legal action will be taken against Rosenthal.

Rosenthal has plans, however. He will be reaching out to the ACLU, which deals with civil liberty cases. He explains, “This is more about the First Amendment and doxing than it is about me.” He also apologized to the parents of the girl he was seen photographing.

For all the street photographers out there:

How would you handle this scenario? And how do you handle taking photos of children?

One way to prevent this kind of thing is to ask permission before photographing children. The parents might refuse, and that’s okay; there are plenty of people to photograph in the world!

Another way to protect yourself is to avoid photographing children entirely. As Rosenthal found out, parents are often extremely uncomfortable with their children being photographed, and for good reason. While there are plenty of harmless photographers out there, dedicated street photographers aren’t the only people taking photos of children.

What do you think? Do you have any tips for avoiding these difficult situations? Do you feel comfortable photographing children?

Leave a comment below!

The post Street Photographer Attacked on Social Media for Taking Photos in Public appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 08:30

The post What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

If you spend any length of time within one photography genre, you come to the point when you wonder, what would take me to the next level?

Deepening your creativity often means making connections between unlikely things.

If you want to deepen your photography, one option is to take what you learn from one genre and apply it to another. Could you find something used in portrait photography and apply it to landscapes? How about taking an approach from birth photography and applying it to real estate photography?

Let’s explore the idea of combining approaches from different photography genres.

I had been out taking some landscape photos when I saw these canoes. A photo of the canoes on their own wasn’t working out for me. But when I saw this child come walking by it gave me an idea. I thought of all the street photos I had seen of people walking past interesting objects or backgrounds. For the fun of it, I adopted that concept here. I love the way the boots echo the yellow canoe.

What Portraiture can teach us about Landscape or Nature Photography

I’m a portrait photographer. What I love about portraiture is exploring the way people express their hidden selves through their body. You can see expression and gesture in feet, hands, and faces.

If you love to photograph nature and landscapes, you can take this concept of gesture (something we normally look for in people or animals) and apply it to your nature photography.

The more I focus on gesture in people, the more I see it in nature as well. Consider what Jay Maisel has to say in his book, Light, Gesture, and Color:

“Gesture is the expression that is at the very heart of everything we shoot. It’s not just the determined look on a face; it’s not just the grace of a dancer or athlete. It is not only the brutalized visage of the bloodied boxer. Neither is it only limited to age, or youth, or people, or animals. It exists in a leaf, a tree, and a forest. It reveals the complicated veins of the leaf, the delta-like branches of the tree, and when seen from the air, the beautiful texture of the forest.”

I believe something like gesture is what we’re after when playing with lines in a photo or even slow shutter speeds. Look at nature through the lens of gesture, and you’ll be more creative in your nature photography.

When I looked up at this tree, it was the gesture of the branches that drew me in. It takes decades for those branches to get there. Though they’re holding perfectly still, there is the feeling of gesture because of their shape.

I love to play with light. While photographing these flowers, a little lens flare struck my view. It’s very subtle, but on the right side of the photo, you can see a faint burst of warm light. It’s as if the flowers are reaching for the light.

What Wedding Photography can teach us about Food Photography

I’m not a food photographer, but if I photograph a wedding or event, I try to include a photograph of the dinner. Couples pay a lot for their meal, so why not add a photo? The problem is a stark white dinner plate full of food looks lifeless and uninspiring among all the other wedding moments. There was a disconnect between my candid event photography and my attempt at food photography.

Weddings are about writing a new story; joining families and sharing life. But I discovered that there is just as much of a story in the food as there is in the rest of the wedding. When I was able to chat with a chef as she prepared food for the guests, I came to learn how much she loves her craft. There is as much heart in the preparation as there is in the sharing of the meal.

So I began to photograph the meal just like I did the rest of the wedding. I took the heart of what I had been pursuing in all those candid wedding photos and applied it to photographing the food.

What Birth Photography and Real Estate Photography can teach us about each other

I can’t imagine two genres more opposed than birth photography and real estate photography.

If I tell a friend that I photographed a house for a real estate agent, they don’t care. They assume it’s just something boring I do for money. But when my wife tells people she photographs births, their jaws hit the floor and a passionate discussion ensues.

For most people, maybe photographers too, real estate photography is a boring necessity while birth photography is an exciting adventure. After all, one of those life experiences is about drama, emotion, and new beginnings, while the other is a series of appointments and paperwork until the ordeal is over.

Yes, but which experience is which?

Have you ever bought or sold a house? Then you know there is plenty of drama and emotion involved. Have you ever had a baby? Then you know there are plenty of appointments and paperwork. Both experiences – home-buying and having babies – are filled with the potential for adventure and emotion.

Try taking the obvious emotional excitement of birth photography and applying it to real estate photography. When you force yourself to flip everything on its head, you might see something quite different.

Many families have a negative birth experience. They’re treated like a commodity by their doctors and the hospital staff. A birth photographer knows that even if a laboring woman is given a bad experience by hospital staff, the photos still have to portray the unique beauty of the experience.

Even though real estate photography may often feel like a commodity, it can be a beautiful part of the story. First-time homebuyers are on an amazing life journey. Perhaps there can be more spontaneity and emotion in real estate photography than we first think – even if it’s hard to represent in typical real estate photos.

My wife, Naomi, made these birth photos. I love to see the range of emotion and depth of personality in her photos. But they certainly make my real estate photos look dull.


I know that my real estate photos are part of a larger story and every once in a while I have the chance to photograph that story. Sometimes that comes by being able to photograph the move-in day.


What Street Photography can teach us about Newborn Photography

If you’re tired of posing newborn photos, street photographers can be your guide. They are masters of spontaneity – taking whatever moments the situation gives to them. Street photographers are explorers of society. As a newborn photographer, you can be an explorer of human nature in newborns.

Wait and see what that baby will do. Take what the newborn gives you rather than forcing your vision and poses on them. There is nothing wrong with posing, but it can be exciting to explore other moments that happen naturally.

Do you know all those adorable photos of newborns wrapped in beautiful fabrics and placed in baskets? Well, this is the reality; a screaming newborn and bewildered older brother. Take the moments that come to you.

Think beyond your genre of photography

When you want to deepen your creativity as a photographer, begin with the principles of the genre of photography you’re working within. When you’re ready to go even deeper, go beyond the principles of your genre and consider what different photography genres might teach you.


The post What You Can Learn From Entirely Different Photography Genres appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 06:00

The post How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Silky water effects, streaked clouds, motion-smoothed with an ethereal look; long exposure photography seems to be in vogue as photographers discover the looks that can be created. There are multiple ways to achieve this. The most basic is to buy a standard neutral-density photography filter which cuts the light, allowing you to use long shutter speeds without overexposing your shot. You can achieve exposures minutes long, especially when using 10-stop ND filters like the Lee Big Stopper or even the 15-stop Super Stopper.

I recently did an article on an alternative way to make long exposure photos, “Try this DIY Neutral Density Filter for Long Exposure Photos.” I encourage you to read the piece and learn how a piece of welding glass can be a budget substitute for more expensive photographic ND filters.

This is the same location I used for some of the other shots in this article but taken when the river was much higher and faster. The biggest difference is that I used DIY welding glass ND filter to achieve this shot. See my other article for this technique.

This article teaches you a third method of making long-exposure images with no filter at all. Unlike the welding glass trick which pretty much requires your final image to be monochrome so as not to have to fight the heavy color cast, this works great in full color, with no filter at all, and no color cast present. It’s a great method to simulate long exposure.

The technique uses a stack of multiple images of the same scene then processed with a Photoshop process called Image Averaging. It’s really quite simple and has some advantages over traditional methods with ND filters.

Advantages over the traditional ND filter method

When doing traditional long exposure photography with an ND filter you will be making long exposures.  (Duh!)  There are a few challenges with this:

  • If during the long exposure you bump the camera or things move in the shot you don’t want to be blurred, you will need to re-do the shot.
  • Long exposures can often be several minutes in length. Double the time if you also enable in-camera noise reduction. If it takes 2-minutes to expose and another 2-minutes for the noise reduction to work, you will only be making a shot every 4-minutes. This can really slow down your work, and if the light changes during that time, you could miss it.
  • With very dark ND filters, you won’t be able to see anything through the lens once the filter is in place. You will have to compose your shot, pre-focus, then mount the ND filter and make the image.
  • Determining exposure will take some calculation. You’ll check exposure without the filter then use a calculation tool to determine the new shutter speed the ND filter requires. Often this will need some tweaking after you see your shot and…yup, another re-do will be needed.
  • If back in editing you see the shots and wish you’d gone for longer or shorter shutter speeds to change the look, too bad. You’d have to go back and reshoot – if that is even possible.

In fairly bright sunlight, even with the ISO at 50 and aperture at f/22, 1/5th of a second was as slow a shutter speed attainable while maintaining proper exposure. This was with no filter.

 The advantages of the Image Averaging method

The advantages of using the image stacking method are essentially the opposite of those things just stated above:

  • You’ll be making multiple images rather than one long one. If one of the images in the group has a problem, you may be able to eliminate it and use the rest to still successfully create the effect.
  • You can see what you’re doing! Not shooting with a dark filter means you’ll still be able to see, compose, use auto-focus, auto-exposure, and even image stabilization if you shoot handheld.
  • No calculation! Without the addition of a dark filter, you eliminate this step.
  • Adjust the length of your “simulated slow shutter” later in post-production. Want more or less blur? You can change your mind later.
  • Are conditions too bright for a standard long exposure shot? Maybe you only own a 6-stop ND filter, and daytime conditions are too bright to let you get the length of exposure you’d like. You can combine both methods to simulate a longer exposure than possible with the ND filter alone.
  • Are people in the shot you’d like to remove? Because they are likely to move during the multiple shots, when the averaging process takes place, they will vanish!

Make people disappear! Notice on the inset the people walking in the river, but on the completed shot, 15 images, each 1/5th of a second = 4 seconds simulated. They are gone.

Making the shots

Setting up and shooting the images you need for your image-averaged creation is much the same as any photography. Here are the factors and steps to keep in mind:

Composition still counts!

Because you introduce a long exposure blurred effect does not mean that you will have automatically created a good photo. Still consider how to carefully compose your image. Take into consideration that moving objects in the shot will blur and look simplified with less detail. Good long exposure shots often emphasize the contrast between static, non-moving objects (buildings, rocks, trees, etc.), and moving objects like clouds and water. Include both in your shot.

Shoot on a tripod

I mentioned you could do this handheld and, well…maybe you could. However, even with this technique, you will still want to shoot at the slowest shutter speed possible. That way, you won’t have to make too many shots for combining. Once you get much slower than 1/30th of a second (and faster than that if if you’ve just had coffee), handholding your camera is probably going to ruin your shots.

All Images ISO 50, f/22 . Top left – No filter – 20 images each 1/5 second = simulated total = 4 seconds. Top right – No filter – 35 images each 1/5 second = simulated total = 7 seconds. Bottom – 6-Stop ND filter – 15 images each 20 seconds = simulated total = 5 minutes.

How many shots?

This technique simulates long exposure by combining multiple shots.  The simple formula is:

(# Shots) x (Shutter Speed of each shot) = Total simulated shutter speed effect (in seconds)

Let’s plug some numbers into that and see the result.  Set your camera for the lowest ISO possible.  I can get my Canon 6D down to ISO 50.  Some cameras will have ISO 100 as the lowest.  Use whatever you can.  Set your aperture to the smallest aperture possible.  Meter with those settings and see how long you can make each individual shot and have it properly exposed.  Say we were able to do this in the shade: 1/4 second, f/22, ISO 50.  To get a simulated shutter speed of one minute (60 seconds), we’d need to make 240 shots.

240 shots x 1/4 second (.25) = 60 seconds

That’s a little unwieldy, and stacking 240 shots in Photoshop may cause your computer to choke. So what to do? Perhaps you don’t have an ND filter in your bag, but you do have a circular polarizer. It will help reduce the light. You mount it and now find you’ve lost 2-stops. So your exposure can be 1 second, f/22, ISO 50. Plug that into the formula, and you get:

60 shots  x 1 second = 60 seconds

If you’re shooting in lower light conditions, you may be able to get a slower shutter speed to start with. That will mean you can take fewer shots.

To make your job easier (and the computers as well), always try to get the slowest shutter speed you can for your shots. That will mean you can create the simulated long exposure with fewer shots.

Say you did have a 6-stop ND filter in your kit. You mount that, and now your settings are 16 seconds, f/22, ISO 50. Now, to get that simulated 1-minute exposure, you’d just need about four shots. Why not make 10 while you’re at it and you can simulate a 2.6 minute (160 seconds) exposure?

Had you done this traditionally, and had a 10-stop ND filter, you could take the unfiltered exposure down from 1/4 second, f/22, ISO 50 to 256 seconds (4.2 minutes), f/22, ISO 50. So, to get the same effect with a 6-stop ND filter as you could with a 10-stop by using image averaging, take 16 shots.

16 shots x 16 seconds each = 256 seconds (4.2 minutes)

35 images each 1/6 second combine to simulate a 6-second exposure. Shooting into the sun, it would probably be impossible to make a 6-second exposure without a filter.

Forget the math, make the shots!

If all that math made your head hurt (it did mine), here’s the simple way to get what you need so Photoshop can do its magic:

  • Use a tripod.  You don’t want to do all this and get shaky shots.  That will waste all your work.
  • Do what’s necessary to shoot with the slowest shutter speed you can get with the equipment you have.  In the camera, that will usually mean setting the lowest ISO and smallest aperture.
  • If you have a polarizer or ND filter, use those to get the shutter speed even slower if you can.
  • Make lots of shots for each stacked image you will create.  Depending on how slow you were able to get your shutter speed, a few dozen isn’t too many.  You don’t have to use them all when you get into editing, but having more will allow a longer simulated effect.
Putting it all together

This recipe assumes you will be using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop in combination. You don’t have to use Lightroom. You can get your individual images into a stack in Photoshop another way if you need to (though using LR is much easier). Using Photoshop, however, is mandatory. Also, to use the Smart Objects function described, you will need a version of Photoshop that is Version 14.2 or higher. Older versions of Photoshop won’t have this.

There are ways to do this with older versions in a more manual process. If you have an older version, you will need to do a little online research to learn that technique. I used the latest version of Photoshop at this writing (Photoshop CC 20.0.4).

Let’s look at this step-by-step process visually…

1. From Lightroom, select the sequence of images you will use.  Edit the first one in the sequence to your liking.  Then select all of them and use the Sync function so all have the same settings as the first.

2. With all selected, send the images from Lightroom to Photoshop by going to Photo->Edit In->Open as Layers in Photoshop. (Photoshop will open, and the images will appear as layers in a stack). If you have a lot of images to be opened and stacked, this can take a while. Let it work.

3. With all the layers selected, in the menu select Layer->Smart Object->Convert to Smart Object. This can take a while to do its work. Be patient.

4. With the Smart Object layer selected, from the menu select Layer->Smart Objects->Stack Mode->Mean. This can also take a bit to work.

Wait for it…wait for it…and…

Presto!  You will have a simulated long-exposure image made from your stack of shorter exposures.  20 images each at 3.2 seconds, f/22, ISO 50.  No filter used.  Simulated long exposure of 64 seconds.

The water in this section of the river was pretty calm anyway, but look at the before and after areas pointed out by the arrow where the original shots were 3.2 seconds vs the combined 20 shots x 3.2 seconds = a simulated 64 seconds.

5. To finish up, go to Layer->Flatten Image.  Then File->Save As and save the finished image where you like.  If you want to give the completed image some additional tweaking, you can do that with Photoshop or Lightroom as you would with any other image.


That’s the magic!  Here are a few things to remember for best results:

  • Consider your composition.  Look for a scene where you will have a combination of static objects that won’t move during the sequence and those that will.  An image with both will be more compelling.
  • Use a tripod.  You can do this handheld if you must, but know that any camera movement will be translated as a blur in the final result.
  • Do what you can to get as long a shutter speed with each image in the sequence as possible.  Drop your ISO to the lowest setting, use a small aperture, and use polarizing filters or whatever ND filters you have.  Longer exposures for each shot mean fewer images are needed to create a simulated long exposure.
  • Overshoot.  You don’t need to use all the images in a sequence if you decide you don’t want as much blur. However, if you don’t shoot enough, you might later wish you had them.
  • As you work through the steps, some things can take a long time.  Be patient and let your computer work.  If the process crashes, it could be you don’t have enough computer resources and will have to settle for a smaller stack.

5 images, each 6 seconds = a simulated exposure of 30 seconds. No filter used.

10 images, each 1/4 second combine to give a 2.5-second simulated exposure. This can be a great technique to use for getting silky water effects when you don’t have an ND filter and only need a longer exposure of a few seconds.

Final thoughts

Is this a better method than using an actual ND filter? Like so many photographic things, the answer is probably…it depends. Maybe you don’t have a filter or have one with you. Perhaps you don’t need a really long exposure, but just one a little longer than you can get with a low ISO/small aperture combination such as when seeking blur on a waterfall. Maybe you need to vanish people and don’t want to make a single multi-minute shot for various reasons. Alternatively, perhaps you have an ND filter but need an even longer exposure than it can give you.

There are lots of reasons to add this How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging Technique to your bag of tricks. Give it a try, and I’m sure you’ll have fun. Share your images with us in the comments!


The post How to Simulate Long Exposure using Stacked Image Averaging appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Sony 35mm 1.8 FE Lens Review [video]

Sat, 08/17/2019 - 06:00

The post Sony 35mm 1.8 FE Lens Review [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video, Chris Turner reviews the Sony 35mm 1.8 FE lens.


Sony 35mm 1.8 FE

This is what Chris thinks of the lens:

Build quality
  • While the build quality is quite good, it feels a step behind the 55mm 1.8 Zeiss lens. It’s about the same as the 85mm 1.8. It doesn’t feel high-end.
  • Has the function button on the lens which you can use to focus hold or eye focus. You can program it to a heap of different stuff.
  • It also has the AF/MF switch to change from auto to manual focus easily.
  • It is small – just slightly smaller than the 55mm 1.8 – with about the same thickness. It’s compact for travel unit.
  • Focus is speedy and performs flawlessly. It also works well in low-light and backlight situations. The video focus is also fast and accurate.
  • The lens isn’t weather sealed.
Image quality
  • The Sony 35mm 1.8 takes high-quality images. While the 55mm 1.8 has some really weird flaring in certain situations, the flaring in the 35mm is well controlled with a nice glow. If you’re backlighting an image, it’s going to look really nice with this lens.
  • Chromatic aberration is definitely present. It’s not great in terms of aberration control. It’s quite bad at f/1.8
  • The lens is incredibly sharp. It is easily sharper than the 35mm 1.4 zeiss, especially wide open. If you stop it down, it just gets better and better. If you are putting something in the edge of the frame, it still is quite sharp.
  • The colors are very nice and have plenty of contrast.

Overall, the 35mm 1.8 is an impressive lens.

Chris says while the 35mm is a great lens, it won’t replace his favorite lens, the 24mm G-master.


You may also like:


The post Sony 35mm 1.8 FE Lens Review [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Wires

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 15:00

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Wires appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

This week’s photography challenge topic is WIRES!

Fré Sonneveld

Go out and capture absolutely anything that includes wires. It could be wires hanging off the side of a building, electricity wires, electronics, phone wires, washing lines, cable cars, chairlifts, wire fences etc. They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. Just so long as they include wires! You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Stella Caraman

Florian Wehde

Martin Fennema

Check out some of the articles below that give you tips on this week’s challenge.

Tips for Shooting WIRES

7 Steps to Create Street Photography Silhouettes

How to Create Powerful Silhouettes by Telling a Story

Photographing Buildings [Composition Tips]

5 Tips for Developing an Eye for Details in Your Photography

8 Quick Tips to Improve Your Photos of Architectural Details

The Ultimate Guide to Street Photography

The Ultimate Guide to Zone Focusing for Candid Street Photography


Weekly Photography Challenge – WIRES

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.

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.

If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites – tag them as #DPSwires to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Wires appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it’s Important

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 08:30

The post How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it’s Important appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Getting started in wedding photography takes more than your camera gear. In order to really get an idea of what photographing a wedding is truly like, becoming a second shooter can be the perfect way to get you started.

Why it’s important to be a second shooter?

Getting started in weddings means that you should have a high level of photographic experience not only technically, like how to use your camera, but also what goes into photographing a wedding.

Second shooting allows you to shadow a photographer, photograph the entire wedding, and get real hands-on experience without having all the pressure fall on you to get every photo right.

A second shooter can get creative with angles, perspective, and photograph key guests at weddings.

Being a second photographer can also give you insight into the customer service aspects of weddings like keeping to a timeline, knowing what to expect if something goes wrong, and seeing how each photographer you second for handles the pressure.

As a second shooter, you can also determine if weddings and events are something you’d even like to pursue. You also don’t have the pressure of booking a wedding client and then not knowing what or how to go about photographing it or if you’ll even like it.

Working alongside an experienced wedding photographer can also let you in on industry tips and tricks that they’ve learned throughout the years. You can also ask questions and observe how they work at a wedding. This will help you when you start photographing events as the primary photographer.

Difference between second photographer and assisting

Although it may seem like there isn’t a difference between assisting and second shooting, there is. Assistants are just that. They assist the main photographer with anything from carrying bags and equipment, to helping with veils, styling, or running to grab something for a photo. An assistant is an extra pair of hands.

Assistants generally don’t help photograph a wedding. However, depending on the terms that the main photographer has set up for the position, sometimes you may.

A second photographer is someone who helps photograph a wedding in tandem with the main photographer. As a second shooter, you are usually responsible for photographing the in-between moments and get a different, more creative angle on photos.

Reach out to photographers

The first step in getting a second shooting gig is to reach out to photographers that inspire you, are looking for help on wedding days, or people you know who wouldn’t mind having an extra photographer at the wedding.

Your email can be simple and concise like:


My name is ____________. Firstly, I love your work and it’s an inspiration to me as a new wedding photographer. I was wondering if you needed a second photographer at events, as I would love to learn the ropes before jumping into wedding photography full time. I have the following gear: __________. You can see my portfolio at

Thank you so much for your time!

Your name.

Emailing a busy photographer a short and to-the-point email is best. They may say no, which is okay. You should respond with a thank you email along with the message that if they ever need anyone in the future, you are available. They can then keep your information on file should they need a second photographer in the future.

Also, there are many social media groups where you can look for second shooting jobs in your local area. Many photographers can hire on the spot just by looking at your website and gear.

Make sure to sign a contract

Second shooting with a contract is highly recommended. Not all photographers do this. However, you can draft one up for them just in case they don’t have one ready.

Include the details of the event, how long you’ll be second shooting, what you’re expected to cover, and finally, the delivery of the photos and payment.

Many photographers will want you to use your own equipment and will ask you what you photograph with. If this is the case, make sure to put this in the contract as well.

Just as an important note as well, when you second shoot, the images that you take may not be under your copyright. Most contracts will state that copyright belongs to the main photographer since their photography business is the one who was hired by the couple.

Often, second shooters get the candid photos during a wedding event, like this one above.

This means that you’re a subcontractor. Therefore any images you produce are copyright and property of the main photographer – even if you photograph the event with your equipment. Check your contract for copyright and usage rights, if any exist.


Some photographers want you to use their memory cards or even their gear. That way, they don’t have to worry about syncing times, converting raw files into the same format, or image delivery delays to the client.

Try and get a different angle than the main photographer so you can add variety, like these two images of the first dance.

Take your gear with you. Doing so gives the main photographer the choice to let you use your gear or their gear, or a mixture of both.

When you email the photographers, make sure you list all the gear that you know how to use at 100 percent. In the event you don’t know how to you use your flash in manual mode, for example, then put down “flash only in TTL mode.” This can help the main photographer know your photography experience and may even help you learn manual mode or another photography tip!

Be all-in

Being a second shooter means that you are there to help the photographer with photography. While some second shooters take this approach very seriously, I believe that second photographers should also be at the disposal of the main photographer – within reason, of course.

This means that you help fluff up the dress, put on the boutonniere, help with getting flowers to the bridesmaids, and yes, maybe handing the main photographer a lens or battery.

You’re a team, and it’s important to be all-in when you second. The main photographer is helping you gain experience and learn. It’s best that you also help as much as you can.

While the main photographer focuses on the couple, you can use your eye to focus on other key moments during the wedding!

Each photographer works differently, however. Showing initiative and being accommodating can also help you get more second shooting gigs in the future with the same photographer.

Take what works for you

Second shooting is really helpful because you get lots of experience with different photographers and get to observe all the different ways that each one works a wedding.

Perhaps you vibe best with one photographer and not so much with another. That is okay. Make sure to thank the photographer for having you along. Then, in the future, only go with photographers you have a good rapport with and like to be around.

Also, you’ll be able to take away tips and tricks that you feel work for you. If one photographer was excellent at customer service, take away what they said or did, and apply it to your business. Another photographer may have created a really interesting image during the reception that you can try at the next wedding event you have.

Take what works for you, your style, and your business and leave the rest. That’s one great thing about being the second photographer – you can observe all and still have fun photographing a wedding.


When you are highly experienced in photography and can create quality images every single time, you may get paid anywhere between $25-$50 or more per hour for second shooting. Some photographers also offer a flat rate for a set of hours.

If you’re just starting out, you might not get paid, but the experience is completely worth it. Getting your feet wet in the wedding photography industry is more important because you’ll find that weddings are a high-pressured, fast-moving, and a once-in-a-lifetime type of photography.

You don’t get do-overs, so second shooting is the best way to get experience without paying the price for unhappy clients.

That being said, definitely ask the main photographer before signing a contract what the payment will be. Then you can choose whether the pay is acceptable or not. You do have the choice to take on second shooting gigs for free if you wish or ask for a set rate.

Some experienced photographers help other photographers out and so their pay rate is higher. While others do it to flex their skills, practice, or just fill up their calendar in between jobs.

In conclusion

Becoming a second shooter is a lot easier than you would think. Reach out to photographers that you admire and spend time observing how they work. When you’re ready, you can then start to photograph your own weddings if you don’t already do!

Do you have any other second shooter tips? Share them in the comments below!


The post How be a Second Shooter at Weddings and Why it’s Important appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 06:00

The post 6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

I have finally started to change camera brands. I’ve been shooting Canon since my first ever SLR I got back when I was 16. I wanted to stay with Canon, but their current bodies do nothing for me. Also, the lens prices of the new R-mount system are insane. After spending a lot of time researching, as well as some hands-on time with the cameras I was considering (Sony, Panasonic & Fuji), I ended up moving towards Fuji.

I’ve purchased a Fuji XT3 with the kit lens and a 35mm f2. It has been a decision that I made on several factors, and so far I am really enjoying the images I am getting out of the Fuji. I haven’t sold off my Canon gear yet (nor will I likely do so in the immediate future) but I can definitely see me moving a lot of my kit in Fuji’s direction.

However, the move has thrown up a few surprises, which I wanted to share with you in this article. So without further ado, here are six things to consider before you change camera brands.

1. Know why

The question you must ask yourself is, what are you trying to achieve by moving camera brand? Changing brands is a long, sometimes painful experience that can be as frustrating as it is fun. It is also certainly going to be expensive. However, if you are considering a full-blown brand swap, there has never been a better time. The big two (Nikon & Canon) have changed mounts. This means, even staying with your current brand, you will eventually be changing your whole kit. So for many people, if you are going to move, the time is now.

Why did I move towards Fuji? Three reasons; the weight, the size, and the video functions.

I shoot weddings, and the appeal of lighter gear hanging off me all day is huge. Secondly, as I shoot in a documentary style, the size of the Fuji means the camera is not as intimidating as my 5DMkIV when in close situations. I have noticed in my son already that he is much more himself with the small Fuji camera, as opposed to my DSLR. This is what I see on paid shoots too. When shooting with the Fuji up close on a recent engagement shoot, the couple seemed to relax more. It is hard to put into words, but there is definitely something about the smaller form factor.

Lastly; video. Canon is purposefully, it seems, not putting the video features into its DSLR’s that Sony, Fuji & Panasonic are. I want to shoot more video and am starting to offer it to clients. Fuji beats Canon hands down here and was the deciding factor.

That’s not to say that other things such as Eye AF, a flip-out screen and 100% coverage with AF points are not things I want, they are, but they alone were not enough for me to make the switch.

You will find yourself shooting more to test your new gear out. Here I am testing the bokeh of the 35mm f2, whilst teaching my son to play chess. The smaller size means he acts more natural than when I point my DSLR at him.

2. Be prepared to start again

Unless you are willing to sell off all of your gear to fund your new purchase, you will no doubt (like me) dip your toe in the water first. As a professional, I simply cannot just go all-in on a new system. So it will be a switch over time. The lack of kit is in some ways quite refreshing. It is also making me think about what kit I will need as I begin to build up my new system. However, sometimes I do find myself reaching for my Canon as it has the lens option I want.

A change of system will be expensive and, in the interim at least, you will probably have less gear than you previously had. Remember, it is more than cameras and lenses – you will need to change things like flashes and flash triggers as well.

Little side note here. Pixapro (rebadged UK version of Godox) triggers for Fuji & Canon look identical. The method I’ve used to differentiate them is to color the little quality control sticker red on the Fuji trigger. A quick, simple way to overcome an annoying little problem.

Changing brands and starting again can definitely have a positive impact. As you begin to build a new system, you will think more about what gear you don’t use as well as what you find yourself missing. This means you can save some money in the switching process and lighten the load of your gear bag at the same time.

This was my new kit for 3 weeks. No high-end primes, no myriad of lens options. Just a kit lens. Frustrating, but it did make me think about photography in a way I hadn’t in some time.

3. Retraining the muscle memory

There is nothing worse than the downright dread of coming to grips with a new menu system. Trying to remember which button is the one you mapped for changing autofocus is somewhat frustrating. The remapping of your brain to work with your new camera system is one of those things that is initially fun and exciting.

However, that initial joy soon gives way to frustration. It is surprising how difficult it can be to move systems and retrain your brain to work with the new menu system. It gets easier quite quickly, but you will initially miss shots you would have got, simply because you forgot which button you needed to press.

This has been my workhorse for years. I can operate it in the dark without thinking. I will get there with the Fuji, but it will take time.

4. The cost of switching

It is easy to get carried away in thinking that if you sell off your gear, you will be able to switch systems without a huge outlay. Unfortunately, that isn’t usually the case. Moving camera system will come with a financial cost, and it will probably be more than you think. To move system and a new body and a set of lenses (24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, and a fast prime) you will be looking in the ballpark of £1000-£4000. You can reduce the costs of this by buying secondhand glass. However, with the new mirrorless systems by both Nikon & Canon, the price of secondhand glass is still incredibly high and hard to find.

To give an example, I own the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS I lens. I could look to get around £700 for this secondhand at current value. To move to the new Sony G Master of the same focal length, I would need an extra £1700. To pick up a secondhand copy, I would still need £1000, and that is simply for one lens.

When you look at the numbers like that you have to ask yourself, will a change of system for this function be worth £3000? Is eye autofocus, in-body stabilization, and 100% AF points coverage really worth that much? For you, it may be, but do not think there will not be a cost involved in getting the features you need.

Many of you (like me) will be considering a move to a mirrorless-based system. Even changing to the same brand is now going to come with considerable costs as both Canon & Nikon have new lens mounts. I know that you can adapt existing glass for both these systems, but it will not work as well as the new glass designed specifically for the new mounts.

In both cases, the lenses for these systems are commanding top prices. Over time, these will drop, and there will be a larger secondhand market. But at the moment, switching to a Canon or Nikon mirrorless system, complete with native lenses for the system, is no cheaper than a complete change of brand.

I think the mirrorless camera revolution will see many people taking the plunge with different brands. Switching from a 5D Mk IV to an EOS-R is, in reality, the same kind of investment you will make moving to Sony or Nikon.

Again, most brands now have good quality adapters to use glass from other systems, so it does help you take those baby steps. However, the native glass will always give the best performance. Unless you have a great relationship with your bank manager (and/or partner), you may need to transition slowly to cushion the financial impact.

This was meant to be shot on my Fuji. However, the battery died and I had no spares. Luckily, my trusty Canon (and 4 spare batteries) to the rescue.

5. Will the grass be greener?

There is the honeymoon phase in any relationship. I am currently in it with my Fuji. No matter what the sensible part of your brain says, having new gear makes you get out and use it. The more photos you take, the more your photography improves. So, therefore, changing camera gear will make things better right? Well, maybe. If you changed for a specific reason and your new gear addresses it, then, yes, it may be better.

What is more likely, though, is that after the honeymoon phase, your camera will get used no more than your current kit. Your photography will not improve simply because of your choice to change systems. You will again find things that you don’t like about your new system and things you miss about your old one. This is simply because there is no perfect camera.

6. Could you spend money more wisely to advance your photography?

The biggest reason to pause and think about changing systems is whether you could make a different investment that will improve your photography more than a change of brand. It is well documented that lenses are a wiser investment than a new camera body. I have seen countless photographers move towards a full-frame camera, rather than invest in lenses, which is definitely a mistake. Lenses hold their value, will instantly give you better results and will last you way longer than a new camera body.

If you look at a minimum of £1000 to change camera brands, then think of what else you could invest that money in to improve your photography. Portrait photographers, that could buy you a great off-camera flash system with modifiers that will take your portraits to a new level. You could invest in new lenses for your current camera that helps you shoot better in low light, or give you more reach as a wildlife photographer.

However, look beyond gear. What could £1000 worth of education do for your photography? How about spending £1000 on a trip to locations that you have always wanted to photograph? In many cases, changing your camera system is possibly the least likely thing to advance your photography.

For most of us, we simply got caught in the hype and Facebook chatter about a new camera. We think it will be a magic bullet that makes us take more photos or better photos. But in reality, it won’t. You will have a shiny new toy that you love, until the Mark 2 comes out and you will convince yourself again that you need to upgrade.

There are lots of legitimate reasons to change systems. There is also absolutely nothing wrong with switching to a new camera system simply because you want to. Just beware of the hype that it will make your photos better because it won’t.

The Fuji will make me money. Will I make more money than if I had kept my Canon? No. My back, however, will thank me for the lighter weight.

I’m not trying to convince you either way (you probably wouldn’t listen if I did). I am just giving you some things to think about if you are looking to move from your current camera system. Happy shopping.

Have you made the switch to a new camera system or considering it? Share with us in the comments section below!


The post 6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Your Canon DSLR Might Be Hacked; Here’s What You Should Do

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 08:30

The post Your Canon DSLR Might Be Hacked; Here’s What You Should Do appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you use a Canon DSLR?

If so, watch out. Because hackers can exploit your camera and hold your images hostage.


Let me explain:

Ransomware is malicious software that hackers can use to infect your camera. Once the ransomware gains access to your camera, it encrypts your images, making them completely inaccessible to you.

That’s when the hacker makes a demand:

If you ever want to see your photos again, you must pay a sum of money. In return, the hacker will give you an encryption key, which allows you to break the encryption and access your images.

In other words:

The hacker holds your images hostage. And if you want them back, you have to pay the ransom.

For some, ransomware might not be news. Ransomware attacks have been going on for decades.

Except it was only this year that a company called CheckPoint demonstrated the hackability of Canon cameras. CheckPoint realized that Canon’s Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) could be easily exploited by hackers through a USB connection or, more disturbingly, over Wi-Fi.

Then CheckPoint carried out a ransomware attack on a Canon 80D, and they did it over the camera’s Wi-Fi connection. The attack required absolutely no interaction with the camera owner.

CheckPoint shared their findings with Canon, prompting the company to produce a security advisory that warns consumers of the dangers of a “third-party attack.” Read the full security advisory on the Canon website.

Canon is now working hard on a patch for this vulnerability and has already produced a firmware update for the Canon 80D.

Meanwhile, Canon has released recommendations for other camera users:

  • Ensure the suitability of security-related settings of the devices connected to the camera, such as the PC, mobile device, and router being used.
  • Do not connect the camera to a PC or mobile device that is being used in an unsecure network, such as in a free Wi-Fi environment.
  • Do not connect the camera to a PC or mobile device that is potentially exposed to virus infections.
  • Disable the camera’s network functions when they are not being used.
  • Download the official firmware from Canon’s website when performing a camera firmware update.

So for owners of the Canon 80D, I suggest you update your camera. You don’t want to remain vulnerable.

And for anyone else with a Canon camera, keep an eye out for Canon firmware updates. This is especially critical if your camera features a Wi-Fi connection, which can be exploited much more easily than a USB connection.

Do you own a Canon with a wif-fi connection? Will you be updating your firmware?

The post Your Canon DSLR Might Be Hacked; Here’s What You Should Do appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How to Avoid Them)

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 06:00

The post Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How to Avoid Them) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

We all want to make the highest quality photographs we possibly can, right? Hopefully, you just gave a very slow yet very serious head nod in agreement to that statement.

There are a host of factors that play into the final quality of your digital images. Even the phrase “image quality” seems to be the best way to sum up all the pieces that have to come together for us to consider our photographs to be of high quality. Sharpness, composition, color balance and contrast are a few variables that jump to mind along with a multitude of others that we can and cannot control.

In this article, we’re going to look at three mistakes that you could very well be making with your photography right now which could be sabotaging your image quality before they ever leave your camera. Luckily, all of these mistakes are easily remedied once you realize they exist. Let’s get started.

Shooting “wide open” all the time

Make no mistake, from a lens standpoint, we live in an extraordinary time. Lens manufacturers have evolved to the point where we currently see extremely well-constructed optics with beautiful sharpness capable of shooting with relatively enormous apertures.

Not even a decade ago, you virtually could not find a “fast zoom” lens with a maximum aperture wider than F/4 for less than a $1,000US – at I least I never did.

Now, it has become blissfully common to acquire an outstanding F/2.8 or wider lens without taking out a second mortgage on your home.

This new age of lens evolution comes with a few caveats, though. Just because your lens is a low-light beast capable of shooting at F/1.4, doesn’t mean that is an ideal aperture for every situation. You see, lenses have certain “optimum apertures” which provide the sharpest results for that particular lens.

In most cases, the widest aperture of your lens, while providing the best light gathering and arguably the best bokeh, is usually the worst optical setting for your lens. The widest aperture setting of your lens often makes nasty little image problems more apparent. Chromatic aberrations, edge softening, and vignetting all become more pronounced when you shoot wide open.

The solution:

Stop down your lens, even if it’s only by a stop or two. You’ll lose some light, but you will also likely see a markedly visible increase in image sharpness and overall quality. While it’s true that not all lenses are created equal (some show shockingly fantastic performance even at their widest apertures), the outcome will probably only become better if you stop down.

A good F/1.4 lens will be great at F/2.8 and likely outstanding at F/4. If you’re worried about losing that “creamy” bokeh, you may be surprised to see how little background blur you lose with a couple of stops on the wide end of your aperture. It depends on the relative distance of objects in the scene as much as it does on the aperture.

So if you’re suffering from a lack of sharpness and heavy vignetting try stopping down that lens and observe your results.

Poor body mechanics

No matter your gear, conditions or subject matter, if your camera is moving unintentionally, then your images will likely never be as technically qualitative as they could be. Camera shake robs sharpness and can make an otherwise strong image unusable.

Some of us can naturally hold our cameras more steady than others. In-camera or in-lens image stabilization can help, and of course, a trusty tripod is always a good shooting companion.

All of those things aside, simply being conscious of your body mechanics can go a long way to improve the quality of your photographs. At the same time, a bad grip on the camera and poor bodily positioning can cost you a photo.

The solution:

Whenever you’re shooting handheld, be mindful of how your hands grip the camera and the position of your arms and legs. Keep a flat-footed stance with your legs about shoulder-width apart. If you’re using a DSLR or other interchangeable lens camera, grip the camera body firmly with your right hand with your left supporting the lens. Also apply slight opposing pressure (push with the right, pull with the left). Tuck your arms in close to your body for maximum stability.

This will work to help steady your shot. Along those same lines, gently press the shutter button instead of sharply pushing down, which can lead to the camera jerking.

Elbows tucked, solid grip and lens support.

Bonus tip:

Be mindful of a handy little formula called the “Reciprocal Rule.” This rule will help you approximate the slowest shutter speed based on your focal length to avoid moderate camera shake. The Reciprocal Rule is incredibly simple:

So, if you’re shooting with a 50mm lens, the slowest shutter speed you should use would be 1/50th of a second. Shooting at 100mm? Your slowest shutter speed should be 1/100th of a second and so on and so forth. This is not an ironclad rule but it is a highly practical one.

For more ways to obtain sharper images be sure to check out my other article 4 Simple Ways to Get Sharper Photos

Neglecting your settings

As simple as it sounds, not being cognizant of your camera’s settings is one of the most frustratingly preventable image quality killers that you will ever encounter. Consistently out of focus images? Check that your viewfinder diopter is adjusted to your eyesight – especially if you wear corrective lenses. Are your photos suddenly pixelated at high magnification? Make sure you haven’t accidentally changed your camera’s resolution (happens more than you might think) to a lesser megapixel count.

These are just a couple of points to consider, but there are many more. The bottom line is that if you aren’t continuously aware of what your gear is doing, not only are being a sloppy photographer, but you are also limiting yourself and your work for virtually no reason at all.

The solution:

Brace yourself for a huge surprise! Just kidding.

The easiest way to fix a neglectful mindset towards your shooting is to force yourself to remain vigilant. This means constant checks of your deep camera settings such as image and video resolution/format, camera firmware, and micro AF lens adjustments. Sure, keeping track of all these things isn’t an immersively fun experience, but neither are bad photographs.

Do yourself and your photos a favor and never fall into the trap of complacency when it comes to your camera’s settings.

Summing up…

We all could be better at doing the things we love. Each one of us, no matter how experienced or accomplished, will always make mistakes with our photography. The only way we can prevent those image quality mistakes from constantly occurring, and improve the quality of our photos is to make sure we are aware that anything is wrong in the first place. If you do not see the quality of images you would like, the first step towards finding out the problem is realizing that there is one. From there it’s just a matter of working the problem until you resolve it or significantly mediate it.

Put the tips we’ve listed here to work, and you’ll see your image quality improving immediately.

Oh and remember, we’re all in this together! Feel free to share any other tips for image sharpness, or if you have a sticky little issue with your picture quality, feel free to let us know in the comment section, and hopefully, the community can help!

The post Three Mistakes That Kill Image Quality (and How to Avoid Them) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Tips for Aviation Photography with a Canon EF 24-105 f/4L Lens

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 08:30

The post Tips for Aviation Photography with a Canon EF 24-105 f/4L Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM (and its upgraded version the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM) are great lenses. Like many photographers, the versatility of the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM makes it my go-to lens.

But while its reach is generous, the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM doesn’t quite cut it where a dedicated telephoto configuration is considered the norm. In aviation photography, for example, a long telephoto lens is the accepted approach to capturing airborne aircraft.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways to make up for the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM’s lack of ultra-telephoto capabilities. Here are some tips for aviation photography with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

Amazing airshows

My first recommendation for anyone looking to get into aviation photography is to head to your nearest airshow. Airshows have an amazing array of interesting aircraft on display. In the air, airshow pilots operate nearer to the crowd with photogenic low n’ slow passes. This allows for closer, more comprehensive photography with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

On the ground, taxing aircraft are a good subject for panning shots. Static displays allow photographers to get up close and personal with flying machines. They provide opportunities for the unique detail and environmental shots with which the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM excels.

Hang out at airports

Airports are another great option for aviation photographers. I have fond memories of wandering around airport hangars with my Dad as a kid. Unfortunately, those days are gone, with heavy security and fencing lining the perimeters of most airports nowadays.

However, the good news is that many airports do have designated plane spotting areas that can be located with the help of Google, Facebook or airport websites. Depending on the airport and conditions, you may even be able to position yourself under the path of aircraft landing or taking off. This is ideal for closing the gap between airborne aircraft and the maximum reach of the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. As long as you stay outside fenced-off areas, photographing under the flight path is perfectly legal.

While planning your shoot, check airport arrival/departure times and apps like Flightradar24 to track aircraft movements. Some airports accommodate mainly GA (general aviation) aircraft which may fly low enough for the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM to capture. Other, larger airports see hundreds of aircraft from mid-sized Dash 8’s to enormous A380’s coming and going within operational hours.

The Flightradar24 app is free and simple to use to track aviation traffic

If you are going to photograph at an airport, familiarize yourself with security precautions. Don’t use flash. Have your ID with you. Don’t enter into restricted areas and never operate drones in the vicinity of aircraft. If police or security do approach you, they usually just want to make sure of your intentions. Be polite and comply with any instructions they may give.

In addition, keep an eye out for specific airport open days, which can often include flyovers and static displays.

Fun with flyovers

Flyovers are aviation events conducted for occasions like memorials and anniversaries. Operating over landmarks of significance, the public is usually notified about upcoming flyovers through social media and relevant websites. Depending on the aircraft, flyovers are usually conducted at a reduced speed and a low altitude. They are a spectacular opportunity to get close-up shots of aircraft with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

Flypast announcements usually specify the route that participating aircraft will take. If you get the heads up about a flyover, plan to be as close to the aircraft as you can. Many aviation photographers position themselves on nearby hills to be as near to the action as possible.

Look for larger aircraft

Depending on the airshow, airport or flyover, small airborne aircraft like the Cessna 172 can be difficult to photograph with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. If you can’t get close enough to a smaller aircraft to photograph it adequately, try focusing on larger aircraft instead.

At airshows and flyovers, aircraft like the C-17 (seen in the image below) demonstrate their vast abilities in impossibly slow passes – a perfect subject for the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

For civilian aircraft, regional airliners frequent airports globally. If you get a good position at an airport (especially under the flight path), Dash 8, ATR 72 and Saab 340-sized aircraft and up will prove large enough to fit the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM’s capabilities.

A Bombardier Dash 8 on finals

Get in formation

Another way to fill the camera frame is to photograph several aircraft in formation. Here in Australia, a fleet of RAAF aircraft called the Roulettes make appearances at occasions all across the country. They perform precision maneuvers in hair-raising tight formations which make for great photography. Equivalent display teams around the world are sought after by aviation photographers because they photograph so well. If you’re shooting with an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, these teams are fantastic subjects.

Remember composition

Aircraft may be the main subject in aviation photography, but composition is key to creating an engaging photograph. For example, leading lines can be expressed through smoke trails, aircraft design, and the horizon. You can apply the rule of thirds to offset the key components of an image, creating dynamic momentum in a photograph. Color sets the tone of an image and texture illuminates the tactility of aircraft construction.

Aviation photography (and all photography really) is comprised of infinite combinations of the principals and elements of art and design. Composition brings order to these combinations, creating a comprehensive narrative. The EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM may not have as greater reach as a dedicated telephoto, but conscientiously applying composition techniques can make up for the lens’ shortcomings considerably.

A panned shot of a Mustang taxiing to the main runway of an airshow

Take a minimalist approach

If you’re looking to photograph an aircraft at a distance with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, you can always take the minimalist approach. By photographing an airborne aircraft in an environment made up of minimal detail, the subject of interest is emphasized. In the example below, the minimal nature of the background accentuates the focal point of the image.

Move around

When everything is unfolding before you at an airshow or an airport, its easy to get into the habit of staying in one position. However, moving around is a vital aspect of aviation photography. By adjusting your perspective, you have a much greater chance of capturing something unique.

At airshows, there are plenty of interesting vantage points to make use of. Away from the main runway, taxiways and static aircraft provide great opportunities for interesting perspectives. Crouching, or holding the camera above your head to take a shot can also provide a viewer with an engaging point in which to enter a photograph.

At airports, change perspective as much as possible, altering your point of view under the flight path or positioning yourself at different spots around the airport perimeter. Make use of dedicated plane spotting facilities, but don’t be afraid to experiment a little.

Go abstract

Artistic renderings of aviation are well within the capabilities of the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. Abstract photography is a field of photography that removes the literal aspects of a photograph. Instead, abstract photographers rely on composition elements such as form and texture to create intriguing imagery. For many people, aviation is viewed from afar. Taking an abstract approach to aviation photography can create a fascinating insight into the artistic geometry of aircraft.

Capture the environment

Incorporating environmental elements such as the landscape, sun or clouds into your aviation photography adds drama and separates aircraft from a standard blue backdrop. In addition, including man-made features such as fence lines, hangars, runways and approach array into your images provides context, scale, and interest.

Golden and blue hour photography emphasizes shape and form and reiterates the ever-changing nature of the atmosphere in which aircraft operate. If you’re at an airshow, be sure to stay the whole day so you can take advantage of lighting conditions into the evening. If you’re at an airport, try a session around golden and blue hour to capture the effect of the setting sun.

A Bombardier Challenger during golden hour

Join the club

Joining a plane spotters group on Facebook is a great way to keep updated with interesting aviation movements around a particular area. The groups are also full of valuable information on how to get the best (and closest) shots possible. There are heaps of Facebook groups for thousands of different airports around the world. Those with info can update aviation-enthused photographers on flight movements. Plus, everyone is free to contribute their photographs to the group for discussion and advice.


There’s no doubt that the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM (and it’s big brother the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM) are assets to any photographer’s kit. While aviation photography tends to center around the intimate shots that a dedicated telephoto lens affords, a little research and creativity mean that the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is a great tool for capturing the unique spirit of aviation.

We’d love you to use some of these tips for aviation photography, and share your images with us in the comments!


The post Tips for Aviation Photography with a Canon EF 24-105 f/4L Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 06:00

The post How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

One of the common complaints about Lightroom Classic is that it’s just not as fast as some photographers expect. When I get back from a session with hundreds of RAW files to process, the thought of going through each of them one-by-one is enough to give me a headache. The few seconds it takes Lightroom to load each photo for flagging or cropping can be enough to make you want to quit photography altogether! Fortunately, if you subscribe to Creative Cloud you have options. In this article, you’ll learn how to use Lightroom Mobile to dramatically increase the speed of your workflow.

One of my favorite aspects of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription is how you can take advantage of many of the features of Lightroom Mobile even if you don’t store your primary images in the cloud. You can store bite-size previews of your images from Lightroom Classic in your Creative Cloud account, which you can then load on a mobile device for editing.

After you finish editing on your mobile device, all the changes will be automatically synced back to Lightroom Classic on your computer. I use this technique all the time now, especially for culling and cropping after a long photoshoot. I think you might find it incredibly useful as well.

Sync with Lightroom

The first thing you need to do is enable syncing between Lightroom Classic and your Creative Cloud account. Click on your name in the top-left of the Lightroom Library module and choose “Start” under “Sync with Lightroom.”

This will then enable you to start syncing your edits. One thing to note is that if you have a basic 20GB Photography plan, the photos you sync will not count against your storage quota. That is only for images you upload directly to Lightroom Mobile or Lightroom CC, as well as any documents you have stored in your Creative Cloud Files.

After Sync is enabled, you can selectively sync any individual collection by clicking the arrow icon just to the left of its name.

This will start uploading previews of each image to your Creative Cloud account. While this is happening you can see the upload status by looking above your name in the top-left corner.

Completing the initial synchronization will take a few minutes or more depending on the speed of your internet connection. The individual preview files being uploaded are quite small, but if you sync an album with a few thousand images it might take longer than you expect.

One thing to note is that you can only sync collections that have been created manually by you. Smart albums, which are created dynamically according to rules you specify, are not possible to sync with Lightroom Mobile.

Edit on Lightroom Mobile

When the sync operation is complete, load Lightroom Mobile on a phone or tablet and the collections you synced will show up in your Albums list.

If you have never used Lightroom Mobile before you’re going to be amazed at how quickly you can perform operations like moving from one photo to the next, flagging/rejecting, cropping, or pretty much anything else you might do in Lightroom Classic.

Upon loading your images into Lightroom Mobile, you can quickly swipe between them to check for focus and composition. Simple gestures like swipe up on the left to assign a star rating and swipe up/down on the right to mark a picture as Pick or Rejected make the editing process much faster than Lightroom Classic. A few taps will let you quickly crop, rotate, and make basic exposure adjustments.

As far as individual features go, the two programs are almost the same. However, the mobile version has an interface designed around touch instead of a mouse/keyboard combo. This means some things don’t behave quite how you might expect, but once you get the hang of things, it’s not bad at all.

Lightroom on an iPad, even a basic version and not an iPad Pro, is extremely fast, fluid, and easy.

Since the images synced between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom Mobile are small previews and not full-resolution originals I would recommend against using the latter to check for accurate focus or do highly detailed adjustments. I find Lightroom Mobile most useful for just the basics like flagging and cropping, but your own usage might vary.

Lightroom on a mobile device lets you access almost all of the editing options on the desktop version, but I prefer to use it for just a few basics.

Sync back to Lightroom Classic

The beauty of this entire process is that as soon as your edits are applied to a photo, you don’t have to manually re-sync anything. Any edits you make automatically copy back to your original Lightroom files on your desktop. All you have to do is load up that program, wait for automatic sync to finish, and your pictures are ready for further edits.

Ever since I started using this Desktop->Mobile->Desktop workflow for my initial culling and cropping, I have found myself enjoying the whole process. I’ll sit back on my sofa or relax with a drink at the kitchen table while rapidly flipping through pictures on my iPad for the first round of edits. I’ll then return to my desktop, and the rest of the editing is much less stressful.

Finding the best photos out of a batch of 600 is much, much faster when using Lightroom Mobile.

This may seem a bit overwhelming at first. However, once you try this process, you will be surprised at how easy it is.

What about you? Do you have any other tips for speeding up your Lightroom workflow? Share them in the comments below!


The post How to Use Lightroom Mobile to Speed Up Your Workflow appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

10 Tips to Create Emotive Portraits

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 08:30

The post 10 Tips to Create Emotive Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

Portraiture is as vast a genre of photography as it is rewarding. There are a lot of ways to go about creating portraits with a lot of visual interest, but one of the most satisfying ways to do this (to me anyway) is to create emotive portraits. Being able to capture your subjects showing emotion (whether that be positive or negative) not only allows you to show your viewer a more human aspect of your subject, but it can also help create compelling and arresting imagery. This article provides you ten tips to help you with your create emotive portraits. Some of these tips are technical, but most of them, perhaps unsurprisingly, focus on how you interact with your subjects.

1. Concentrate on the gesture

When you’re photographing emotion, it will be helpful to consider what information you need in your frame. If your subject is smiling, crop in close on the head and leave all other information out. The space in your frame is valuable, and you want to ensure that you get your message across clearly. Unneeded information (such as things in the background or body parts that are not involved in the gesture) serve only to detract from the focus of the image.

By cropping in closer, the emphasis of the composition is placed on the gesture of the expression, leaving nothing to distract from it.

That said, pay attention to your subject’s body language. If they are gesticulating with their arms as part of the expression, be sure to include that in your frame as it will help to complete the expression.

2. Keep the lighting simple

Basic lighting techniques work well when trying to capture emotion. A lot of the time, you don’t need more than one light and a reflector.

Just like in a lot of other walks of life, less can definitely be more in emotive portraiture. By keeping your lighting simple, you are controlling how much information is in the frame. Just like the first tip, this is about ensuring that your viewer’s attention is placed squarely where you want it to be.

The lighting pattern that you choose will likely depend on what emotion you are trying to convey. For bright, happy emotions, you may opt for something like butterfly lighting. You also might choose to use a lot of fill light. For darker emotions, like sadness, more dramatic light such as that provided by short lighting is a fantastic tool that provides many shadows and can add tons of mood to your images.

3. Communicate clearly

Before you even start a shoot, explain to your subject as clearly as possible what you want from them. If you need to, show them examples.

Assuming you are staging your portrait session rather than taking candids, you will want to very clearly communicate with your subject exactly what it is that you are trying to achieve. Be specific and avoid vagueness. If you tell someone to be happy, you might get that generic smile that everybody gives a camera. Instead of happy, try saying something along the lines of: “I’m looking for genuine expressions of joy. I want you to imagine that you’ve just got a new puppy.” You’ll find this kind of thing works well very often as you almost always evoke genuine emotion from someone.

If the puppy doesn’t work, feel free to substitute it with anything that might. Kitten, baby, chinchilla, motorcycle; it doesn’t matter as long as it works.

4. Genuine rapport

Having a good rapport with your subject will often give you more subtle and genuine expressions.

To get the very best and most authentic expressions out of your subjects, you will want to build a genuine rapport with them. Be nice, be polite, let them talk about themselves, show them the back of the camera, joke around (appropriately) and develop a light-hearted banter (if warranted, not everyone appreciates it).

Also, try to keep the session relaxed and stress-free. You, as the photographer, might be worried about the lighting and all of the technical things, but I think it’s vital for you to worry about your role in your head and keep your subject’s focus on their role.

5. Make your subject an actor

Instructing your subjects to act out various scenarios can give you a range of images from which to choose the most natural and evocative images.

An approach that can help to elicit good expressions is to tell your subject to act rather than to pose. Still images and video are very different things, and people change their behavior accordingly. If you suggest that they should treat the session and the scenarios you give them as if you were filming, or as if they were acting on stage, you can get much more natural expressions. Better yet; book an actor if you want the very best results, and it suits your project.

6. Look away from the camera

One of the easiest ways to get emotion into your photos is to have your subject look away from the camera.

One of the simplest ways to help convey real expression is to make sure your subject isn’t looking directly at the camera. Instead, pick a point for them to look at and direct them to do so. Where you pick isn’t important as long as you can capture and clearly convey the emotion that you are after.

This is very useful for the more somber emotions. Sadness, longing, and thoughtfulness can all be more easily portrayed with your subject looking off into the distance. This isn’t a rule, so please don’t shoot every single shot this way unless the situation calls for it.

7. Give permission to be ridiculous

Tell your subjects they can be as ridiculous as they want. It can help to loosen them up and act more natural later. Sure, there will be unusable frames, but you might just hit gold.

Many people (including those with much experience) tend to go rigid in front of a camera. Let them know that they can act ridiculous. Moreover, encourage them to act as ridiculous and exaggerated as possible. This will help them to loosen up, and it will also help to lighten the mood of the session. Having your subject’s pull funny faces is a good way of cutting through the seriousness of a photoshoot.

Another trick that I sometimes use (it doesn’t work on everyone) is to get someone to fill their cheeks with air and then blow out as hard as possible.

If they’re open to it, it almost always results in fits of laughter.

8. Have a set of techniques that provoke reactions

Blurting out random words and photographing the reactions can lead to fantastic results.

There are a lot of tips on how to provoke reactions from people. My favorite is to blurt out random words and photograph the reactions. To do this, just say a different word in-between frames. It could go something like alpaca, cheeseburger, dunce cap, or giant mushroom. Feel free to adjust your words based on the person you are working with.

Again, it doesn’t work on everyone, and you may have to switch to another technique.

If you know your subject well enough, you could always show them some funny pictures or memes on your phone. Just be sure that whatever you show them matches their sense of humor or you might ruin the rest of your shoot.

9. Give food for thought

Try giving your subject a specific scenario to think about for a few frames. This works well across the board, no matter how happy or sad you want them to act.

Instead of strings of random words, you can give your subject a specific thing to think about. This works well for all manner of emotions, whether that be happy or sad. I recently worked with an actor, and she introduced me to the sentence, “Imagine a badger eating spaghetti.” For laughter, I don’t think I’ve come across anything that works better.

For sadder emotions, I suggest (from experience) avoiding being too specific. If you say something along the lines “Imagine the loss of a pet” and they recently lost a pet, it’s really not going to go down well.

Instead, ask them to imagine feeling a loss and let them think about whatever it is that comes to mind. Remember, when trying to capture negative emotions, you will generally have no idea what’s going on in your subject’s life. While you want to capture an emotion, it’s not usually a good idea to put your subject through unnecessary emotional turmoil. Please try to be respectful of that and the people you work with.

I know of a lot of wonderful photo projects that exist to document the rawest emotions in people (Sam Taylor Wood’s “Crying Men” is easily the best photography exhibit I have ever seen). I am not saying “don’t do that” if that’s your goal. However, do be explicit with your intentions to your subjects, and do ask them if there’s anything they would rather you not touch on.

10. Outtakes

Don’t forget to take a look at your outtakes from any given shoot. They are usually the most spontaneous and natural shots of all.

During a normal portrait session, outtakes can often be seen as a fun extra. However, when you’re creating emotive portraits, it’s the outtakes where you might find the most genuine expressions. Don’t forget to give them a look through once you have the photos on the computer. You may find that a spontaneous outtake has given you exactly what you were after.

Seriously, the world needs more outtakes.

That’s it

Sometimes getting your subjects to react the way you want and then to convey those emotions well in your photographs can be a challenge. With these ten tips, you hopefully have a few more tools in your belt to make that process easier. These are just a handful of things that can help; however, and there are plenty of other techniques out there.

If you have tried and tested methods, or things that you say to subjects to provoke expression, please add it to the comments below.


The post 10 Tips to Create Emotive Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 06:00

The post Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Flash can be a confusing addition for many new photographers. But there’s really only one way to gain experience. Learning to use your flash well takes practice.

Using your flash without modifying its output often produces unsatisfactory results. These can be very discouraging. With little modification, you can achieve more acceptable results pretty easily. Controlling the output of your flash based on the style of light you want for your photos is not hard to do.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Your unmodified flash is a small light source

The smaller your light source is in relation to your subject, the harder the light will be. An unmodified flash produces strong light and high contrast for most subjects. This creates a hard-edged shadow which is often undesirable. The only difference is with macro photography because the light source will be larger than the subject.

Modifying the output of your flash by using a diffuser softens the light which falls on your subject.

Using a diffuser does a couple of things. It subdues the output, so less light hits your subject. It also spreads the light, effectively making the active light source larger. The light falling on your subject will be softer. So will the shadows they create.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The benefits of using modified flash

Diffusing the light from your flash will produce more flattering results when taking portraits. Soft light falling on the skin reduces the appearance of texture and gives it a more even tone. There are a number of techniques and accessories you can employ to diffuse the light from your flash. I will discuss some of these in the next section.

Hard light from an unmodified flash is more likely to show up skin blemishes. It also produces unsightly hot spots.

These bright patches occur with all but the most light absorbent surfaces when using an undiffused light. The more reflective the surface, the more light from a small light source will reflect.

Using some method of scattering the light from your flash will help end these problems.

Another option to modify your flash is to do the opposite of spreading the light. Narrowing the dispersion of the light produces a completely different look. You can better control what area of your composition the light from your flash will affect. This is usually achieved by the use of a snoot or honeycomb grid.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

How to control your flash using modifiers

The most simple way to alter the light from your flash is to turn your flash head so it’s not pointing where your lens is focused. Indoors you can point it up to the ceiling. The light will reflect off the ceiling and scatter. You can alternatively point your flash towards a wall beside or behind you.

Ceilings are often white or light neutral colors, so your photo is not likely to be affected by an odd toning. Bouncing your flash off a colored wall or other surfaces can cause that color to affect the light.

Depending on how close your flash is to the surface you’re bouncing it off will determine how much it is diffused. The closer you are to the surface, the less diffusion there will be.

When you turn your flash head to bounce it off another surface, the light and shadows it creates will be softer. Shadows may still be evident. You need to be careful of shadows under people’s chins and around their eyes when you bounce your flash off a ceiling.

Using a piece of whiteboard, plastic or a fold-out reflector to bounce your flash off will give you more control. You can move your reflector further away or closer and determine the best position for it.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Clip-on hard diffuser

Most flash units come with a clip-on hard plastic diffuser. This is a small attachment that fits over the front of the flash head. It scatters and softens the light when the flash is fired.

Because this attachment is small, about the same size as your flash lens, it will not do a lot to soften the light. It is often better than nothing if you have not other option and it is small and convenient.

Flash with a clip-on diffuser © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Bounce cards and other compact modifiers

A white piece of cardboard about 20cm (8 in) square with a tab on one edge and a couple of good strong elastic bands. This was a standard kit for photographers when I worked in newspapers. It was back before the proliferation of flash modifiers were available to buy.

Adding a bounce card to a flash pointed at a ceiling or wall spreads and softens the light even more. This will help further reduce the strength of the shadows.

Nowadays there are so many types of bounce cards and other diffusers available. They’re all designed to modify your flash in slightly different ways. Kits of modifiers can include:

Flash with a bounce card © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Snoots and grids

Most accessories which modify flash output are designed to soften the light. Snoots and honeycomb grids are two pieces of kit which can help you control the direction of the light.

Each works to narrow the spread of light from your flash. This allows you to control which part of your composition is most affected.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Gobos and colored gels

Two more accessories which modify flash output are gobos and gels.

A gobo is a stencil or template placed in front of your flash head to create a shadow of a shape or pattern.

Any color gel can be used to affect the color of light which emits from your flash. This can be used for creative effect or to balance your flash with the ambient light.

Electric light sources often emit a colored light that is not as white as the light from your flash. Tungsten light is a warm tone. Fluorescent is often quite cool. Using the correct color gel can produce the right color to balance with an existing light source.

Small flash softbox

Small Softbox © Kevin Landwer-Johan

My favorite flash modifier is a small softbox. It’s not the smallest or most convenient, but it produces a soft, pleasant light.

Mine’s about 60cm (2 ft) square and has a bracket to mount the flash at the back. The biggest drawback in using it is that you need to place it on a stand or have someone hold it for you.

I find I like the results best when using it as a fill light.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Controlling the amount of light

Whichever method you use to you modify the light from your flash there will always be a reduced output. You must compensate for this.

Using the TTL setting your camera and flash should calculate the correct amount of light. This should also be true with the auto settings.

In some circumstances, you may notice not enough light from your flash is illuminating your subject. At these times, you must adjust your compensation. This can be done by opening your aperture more or increasing your ISO.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan


Unmodified flash is not often the best light source. Modification allows you to control its output to suit the style of photograph you are making.

Experimentation and practice are required to master the type of lighting you want.

A practical exercise to help you understand and see what you can achieve is worth spending some time with. Set up a still life composition or find a willing model to work with. In the same setting, take a series of photos using various modifiers so you can compare the way the light looks with each one.


The post Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How to Use Multi-flash to Capture Compelling Action Photos

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 08:30

The post How to Use Multi-flash to Capture Compelling Action Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Have you ever been to a disco, performance, or another place where they used a strobe light? If so, you saw the interesting effect the rapid flashing creates. Smooth movement gets broken into a series of frozen-stepped motion, not unlike the frames of an old-time movie. Now, what if you could do that with your still camera? Create a series of images all within one frame? If you have a portable flash or studio strobe capable of generating the stroboscopic effect, there’s a good chance you can do this. You can create images that are a great way of analyzing and showing motion. This article will show you how.

How many times did the flash fire during this sequence? Count the number of steps.

Different flash manufacturers may use different names for this capability.

Canon, GoDox, and Yongnuo call it the Multi-Mode, while Nikon calls it the Repeating Flash Function. Whatever you call it, it’s the capability to have multiple, rapid-fire flashes during one camera exposure.

The best way to see if your flash is capable of this effect is to read your flash manual. If it has the capability, a photo illustration will often accompany it, showing the kind of images possible.

If your flash unit supports it, there will be three constants you can control regardless of the make or model of your flash unit. They are:

1. Power output

This controls the intensity of the light output.  Typically, output runs from 1/1 – (Full power), down in fractions of that, often like 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64, 1/128.  The smaller the fraction, the less intense the flash output.

There are two other things to remember about the flash output:

  1. The higher the output, the more battery power used and the longer it will take to recycle the flash before its ready for another burst.
  2. The duration of the flash is shorter as the output power gets lower.  As a result, lower power/shorter durations have more “stopping power” when it comes to freezing motion.

The chart below shows approximate flash durations for various power settings on a Canon 580EX Speedlight.

Flash Output Setting Flash Duration 1/1 1/250 of a second 1/2 1/919 of a second 1/4 1/2,066 of a second 1/8 1/3,759 of a second 1/16 1/6,024 of a second 1/32 1/9,470 of a second 1/64 1/14,000 of a second 1/128 1/20,000 of a second 2. Number of flashes

This one is easy and is exactly what it says – the number of times the flash will fire during the exposure.

Set it for however many times you want the flash to fire in your image. That’s how many “steps” of the moving object you will see.

3. Frequency

This one can sometimes throw the new user as it uses a term not always familiar to everyone – Hertz. In very simple terms, hertz refers to the number of cycles in one second. So, 1Hz = 1 flash per second, 10 Hz = 10 flashes per second, etc.

The three settings you can control are – Power Output, Number of Flashes, Frequency (Flashes per second or Hertz). This is a Canon 550EX Flash.

The Formula

Here’s how you put it all together.

Figure out how much power output you need and set that. Your distance from the flash to the subject will help you determine that. So will how fast and how many flashes you expect to fire and how much “freezing action” you need.

Then think about the speed of the action you intend to capture and its duration. Finally, determine how many steps you want to see freezing the action.

The formula looks like this: # Flashes/Hz = Shutter Speed

Let’s use an example. You want to take a strobed shot of a hammer swinging down and striking a nail. You can put the flash close to the action and so 1/32 power might be enough. If you use a slow swing, you can complete the action in one second. You’d like 6 steps of action in the shot.

Plug those numbers into the formula:

6 Flashes/6 Hz (6 flashes-per-second) = 1 Second

Now say you want to capture something faster like a club hitting a golf ball off a tee. You can still get the flash close enough to use 1/32 power. You want 15 steps in your sequence and guess the action will take just 1/30th of a second to complete.

Here’s how the formula looks for that:

15 Flashes/199Hz = ~1/15th Second

The formula is right, but perhaps the Speedlight you’re using, (in my case a Canon 550EX), is only capable of 199Hz maximum. Even at that, the shutter speed would have to be about 1/15th of a second, not the 1/30th you wanted. Could you live with just 8 steps in your shot?

8 Flashes/150Hz = ~1/20th Second.

Closer. If you slow down your swing, it just might work.

You will find that at the higher hertz rates the flash strobes so fast that it seems like just one burst. However, when you check your shot, a fast-moving subject done with a high flash-per-second (hertz) rate should show the individual steps.

A bright object on a dark background will help a lot when using this technique.

Adjusting Exposure

You’ve used the formula to determine what numbers you want to enter into the flash, and that’s determined your minimum shutter speed. Here, however, the flash is firing within the scope of the shutter duration, and shutter speed isn’t really a factor in setting exposure.

Here’s what is:

Ambient light

You want the flash doing the work here. Also, you will typically be shooting at longer shutter speeds to capture the duration of the action.

Ambient light is not your friend here as it will begin to force settings you may not want. You will also want to eliminate distractions in the shot as the steps of the object in motion will create a busy enough image already. Your best bet is to work in a darkened room and use a black or very dark background.

Do your setup with a work light on and then before making the shot, switch it off, so the flash is the only source of illumination.

That leaves a few things you can do to adjust exposure:


ISO adjustment can be helpful here as it allows you to have the aperture and shutter speed where you want them and adjust this third leg of the exposure triangle to get the exposure where you need it.  As always, to limit noise try to keep ISO as low as possible, but also remember modern cameras have become far less noisy in recent times.  Know what your camera can do and at what point you will get too much noise.


You will want to adjust your aperture as much as anything by the depth of field you need for your particular shot. Also, keep in mind that most lens “sweet spots” where they perform best are between f/8 and f/16 so try to be in that range if you can. After that, adjust your aperture for exposure if you need to. However, use ISO first and this next setting next:

Flash Power

Remember, this is one of the settings you enter into the flash. The flash output will very much control your exposure. The best rule of thumb here is to only use as much as you need.

We spoke earlier about these, but to recap, these are the advantages of lower flash power settings:

  • Uses fewer battery resources  – (If you have an external power source for your flash, use it.  Stroboscopic flash work drains batteries fast.)
  • Flash will recycle faster
  • Lower power = shorter flash duration = more “motion-stopping capability”

Increase the flash output if you need to, but also consider an ISO increase.

You may also find the flash will limit what you can input, especially with higher power settings. To allow sufficient time to recycle between flashes, and also to prevent the flash from overheating, it may not allow many flashes or a higher hertz setting at higher power settings.

For example, my Canon 550EX can shoot 70 continuous flashes at 10Hz if the power is turned down to 1/128 power. However, it can only shoot 2 consecutive flashes at that same 10Hz rate if the flash power is turned up to 1/4 power.

The Multi-Mode on this Canon flash will not work at all if the flash power is set at anything higher than 1/4 power. Full or 1/2 power in Multi-Mode on the 500EX? No can do.

The flash manual has a chart showing how many sequential flashes are possible at various power and hertz settings. Also, the flash programming will not allow settings to be input that exceeds the flashes capabilities.

Canon also warns:

To prevent overheating and deterioration of the flash head, do not use stroboscopic flash for more than 10 frames in rapid succession. After 10 frames, allow the 550EX to cool for at least 10 minutes.

So, whether using a Canon Speedlight or another make/model, know that stroboscopic flash works your unit hard and be aware of its limitations.

One more thing

Here’s one more thing to think about when inputting the three parameters into the flash and calculating the shutter speed. When you click the shutter, the flash will immediately begin it’s strobed sequence.

If you input, say, 1/32 power, 6 flashes at 6hz, per the formula, it will take 1 second for the flash to complete the programmed cycle.  However, there’s no reason that the shutter speed couldn’t be longer, especially since in low ambient light conditions little if any additional light will add to the exposure once the flash cycle completes.

So to amend the formula just slightly:

# Flashes/Hz = Minimum Shutter Speed

With no additional flashes after the sequence completes, further action is not likely to be seen in the shot. So, overestimating the shutter speed is usually not a problem. Underestimating the shutter speed, however, won’t allow the flash sequence to complete before the shutter closes.

These are the settings for the golf club shots below. Count the steps in the photo and you’ll see it corresponds to the setting here – 12 flashes. At 80hz, the flash was firing 80-times-per second or another way to put it, every 1/80th of a second.

Determining the exposure

We’ve covered how to determine shutter speed, but how about aperture, ISO and flash output power?  There’s a couple of ways to approach this:

  • Use an external light meter.  Fire the flash and take a reading as you normally would with an external meter. Use that to determine your camera setting at the predetermined shutter speed.  Adjust ISO, aperture, and/or flash output power to get proper exposure.  If you are familiar with using an external flash meter, you will know how to do this.  But maybe you don’t have an external light meter.  If not you could try…
  • Looking up the Guide Number of your flash, determine the distance to your subject and, using the formulas in your flash manual, calculate your settings.  Uh, yeah, that can work. But if math is not your forte, you could always try Option Three…
  • The “Trial and Error Chimping Method.” Okay, that’s my name for it. But it simply involves starting at say an ISO of 100, an f/stop of about f/8, and flash output power of 1/32nd power. Set the number of flashes and Frequency (Hertz) where you think best. Shoot, “chimp” the shot, (that means take a look at the LCD playback), and if the image is too dark, increase the flash power or open the aperture. Test, chimp, and repeat as needed until you get it dialed in. Digital film is cheap, and once you figure out your settings, unless you change the flash-to-subject distance, you should be set for the session.
Other considerations Colors/brightness of objects

You will very quickly find that because each step of the sequence in a shot only gets a portion of the total light during the entire exposure, darker objects in motion may not show up well during the exposure. Also, because static objects in the shot will get the full sum of the light, they will be brighter.

You can learn from your mistakes, but why not learn from mine instead?

A patterned background too close to the subject and a golf club with a black shaft and head made this less than it could have been.

In the shot above, I used a dark, patterned photographers popup background. I should have used a solid black background. Also, the background was too close to the subject. Finally, the golf club used had a dark head and shaft, and so while the white ball, golf tee, and reflective chrome parts of the club showed up reasonably well, other parts of the club disappeared. Finally, the patterned background got too much light such that the pattern interfered with the shot.

Here’s the lesson you can learn:

  • Use a black, plain background and place it as far from the subject as you can such that little if any light illuminates it.
  • Pick bright objects to use so that even while in motion, they reflect the light as much as possible so the steps in your sequence show up well.

Above, the bright orange color of the bell pepper and a dark black background worked much better.

A re-do of the golf shot incorporating those principals resulted in a much better shot.

Adding some reflective tape to the shaft of the golf club helped it show up better.

Remote trigger

Unless you have an assistant (or maybe three hands), trying to control the camera, perform whatever action you’re trying to capture, and then get the timing right is perhaps not impossible, but adds an additional degree of difficulty. A remote trigger allowing you to fire the camera as you start the action sequence can be a huge help. If you are mounting your flash off-camera, a means of triggering the flash will also be necessary. Use either a wired connection, wireless radio trigger, or infrared camera/flash system.

Another level of sophistication, if you want to add it, would be a flash trigger, perhaps activated by sound, breaking a laser beam or other activation method.

I have used the MIOPS Smart Trigger on other photo projects with success. A real advantage it adds is precision and repeatability of a shot – something that you will otherwise leave up to luck and timing.

In a dark environment, use bulb mode. Open the shutter, and when the action activates the flash trigger, (i.e., breaking the laser beam or creating a sound) the flash fires its strobe sequence.

Good flash triggers aren’t cheap. However, if you do a lot of this kind of work, they significantly speed up the work and the permit repeatability of a shot saving a lot of time and effort.

Practice makes perfect

Like any photography, practice will improve your results with stroboscopic flash work. You will better learn how the three flash settings; Flash Power, Number of Flashes, and Flashes-per-Second (Hertz) work together to craft a shot.

You will also learn what kinds of action sequences make good shots and how to tune your composition, camera settings, and finally edit your photo for the best results. You will also find that making lots of shots, checking your work, fine-tuning and repeating is key to getting that one really great keeper.

I hope you will take the time to try and learn this new flash trick and then share your results in the comments. If you have questions or other comments, please share those too.

I’m excited to hear how it went and see some of your images. Best wishes!


You may also find the following helpful:


The post How to Use Multi-flash to Capture Compelling Action Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 06:00

The post Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

I don’t know about you…but I like getting creative with my photography. Anything that helps make my work stand out against the myriad of photographers in the world (let alone in my very saturated city) is a must-have. However, what I enjoy the least is having to let my imagination soar solely in the editing room. If there is a practical way to do something unique, I’ll take that method.

Luckily, there is a company called Lensbaby that understands this on a deeper level. Home to some of the most unique lenses in the world (fondly called “art” lenses), Lensbaby pride themselves on developing equipment that gives you a slew of unusual in-camera effects.

Their lenses range from distortions like the ‘Burnside’ that swirls your bokeh and darkens the edges, to the more subtle ‘Velvet’ lens that simply softens the edge of the frame. Unfortunately, this comes at the price of relinquishing autofocus in their built-in-effects lens product arsenal.

But now, instead of having to rely on purchasing new lenses, Lensbaby has launched a product to help you turn the glass that you currently own into an effects lens. Best part? No more dealing with manual focus! Say hello to the OMNI Creative Filter System.

So… What is the OMNI Creative Filter System really? 

Shoot through crystals and other objects specifically engineered by Lensbaby to create professional and compelling in-camera effects. Designed to work with your existing lenses, OMNI offers control and repeatability without having to change your gear. The system comes with unique Effect Wands that attach magnetically and distort the light as it enters the lens – creating a myriad of magical in-camera effects.” writes Lensbaby. 

The Omni Creative Filter System is a ring that holds various effect wands in front of the glass to produce an effect. These effect wands come in the form of crystals, panels, and other doohickeys that open a world of possibility when used. The awesome thing about this product is that you can sort-of ‘make a Lensbaby’ out of any existing lens that you own.

The Pain Pack

The main filter system comes with the filter ring and various step up and step down rings, three Effect Wands, a long arm to hold the Effect Wand, a short arm to hold the Effect Wand, two magnetic mounts (each mount holds up to two Effect Wands), and a small carrying case to tie it all together. OMNI is available in Small and Large versions and includes step-up and step-down rings to fit a range of filter thread sizes.

The three effects wands are known as the “Crystal Seahorse,” “Stretch Glass,” and “Rainbow Film.”

Crystal Seahorse uses its edge scallops to aid in producing complex flares, light redirection, and radiant reflections.

The Stretch Glass can mimic a light flare by creating streaks and reflections.

The Rainbow Film, one of my personal favorites in the set, is a diffraction panel that creates beaming reflective rainbows offset from any bright light source.

The Expansion Pack

If those three wands aren’t already enough, Lensbaby has an expansion pack that adds three more crystals to the mix. The new additions are titled “Crystal Spear,” “Triangular Prism,” and the “Scalloped Window.” 

The Crystal Spear reminds me of a kaleidoscope and can create dream-like flares similar to such. The Triangular Prism mimics what some creative photographers are currently doing when holding up prisms to their glass (except, in this case, you don’t have to sacrifice a hand to hold it up!). The Scalloped Window is similar to the Seahorse of the main pack, but with a larger surface area that allows you to shoot directly through the center.

How to use the OMNI System 

Whether or not you care to look at the instruction manual, the filter system is pretty self-explanatory in terms of use. There is a large-ringed, donut-shaped disc that holds the magnetic arms that in turn hold the effects wands. This disc, depending on your lens filter thread, can either be screwed on directly or use a step-down/step-up ring to attach to your lenses’ glass element.

It is key to note that when using the 82mm step-down ring, vignetting will occur at focal lengths wider than 50mm. I personally like vignetting, but some do not.

I was actually able to attach the OMNI Creative Filter System on to both my variable ND filter from Tiffen (to see if I could) as well as any old regular glass filter you may have in place to protect the glass. So for the record, filter stacking is totally possible here (but as to whether or not it’s recommended…that’s at your discretion).

The OMNI Creative Filter System is designed to fit most prime and zoom lenses on the market. But in my usage experience, the wider view lenses bring about the most prominent effect. That said, my 85mm lens did some really cool stuff with a few of the wands.

Build quality? 

Sturdy, sturdy, sturdy – and did I mention sturdy? Nothing about this system feels flimsy. For the price point, it definitely needs to feel solid and inspire confidence. All of which it definitely does. 

How much weight and size does it add to the lens? 

My immediate first worry was how much weight and size the system would add to my equipment. I hold my gear for very significant amounts of time. Many of the types of shoots I do run well into the 6-hour range without much pause. As well as this, some of my shooting conditions tend to be tumultuous and take place in tight spaces. As such, the amount of bulk or discomfort something may add to my current kit is a pretty big deal.

Lucky for me (and for us all, I’d say), the OMNI isn’t such a nuisance. The system is lightweight, and I very seldom noticed a difference with the filter on my lens than with it off. The only lens I felt a difference on was my $100 cheap 50mm much-around-lens whose weight is equivalent to that of a feather (metaphorically speaking, of course), but on all of my L glass and G-Master lenses, a difference in weight was difficult to notice.

The system does add minor bulk and thickness to the front lens element, as the disc does protrude a wee bit, but it wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t impede my workday or any of the photo sessions!

The effect wands do stick out. However, in situations where I needed a flatter system (such as a live concert setting), I simply pushed the wands down.

But is it comfortable? 

Drumroll, please…


I found the system very comfortable to use. Depending on how dextrous your fingers are, I was actually able to consistently shift the effect wands and their magnetic arms into position without ever taking my hand off of the lens itself.

Once you get a grasp on the actual distance between the front of the lens and the filter, you can easily make necessary adjustments without needing to take your eyes off of the viewfinder.

Though the magnets are very sturdy and keep the wands from flying off, the metal balls are still easy to spin and maneuver around. So much so, that just the use of one finger was honestly fine for me.

Review in practical use

“That looks a bit like a steampunk contraption,” said one of my clients when I first attached the OMNI to my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. On the first impression, all those individuals that I began using the creative filter system on were very intrigued. Client intrigue can open fun and useful dialogue – an unintentional benefit.

Attaching the system is quick and simple, and takes very little time. I enjoyed the fact that it didn’t look like I was fumbling or struggling in front of a client. That’s always a good sign. If anything, the more wands I pulled out, the more interested I noticed my subjects were.

It did take me a few minutes of finagling and experimenting to get the most out of each wand. So I would suggest everyone who purchases the system take a day to become very familiar with each effect. Even then, I still find myself discovering new uses for each wand with every photoshoot I use them on! A very exciting thing, indeed.

There is a very significant difference between using the effect wands in a controlled indoor situation and using them outdoors. When paired with studio lighting inside, most of the wands brought out very bright and striking results. They often pulled colors I didn’t even know were present! When used outside in natural light, the effects became a bit more muted and more natural in nature.

This is a great difference depending on the look you are going for.

You should really experiment with this equipment to see what works best for you. However, I found that the trick to getting the most out of the system is to shoot at a wider millimeter lens and a wider aperture.

The wide frame allows the effect to really bleed into the image while the shallow depth of field produced by the wide aperture helps blend the effect.

I took my OMNI kit to both easy-peasy, no-fuss photoshoots and chaotic and intense situations. The simple sessions were flawless, as expected, but the spontaneous and more chaotic shoots were where the real test was.

When taking the system on tour with me working with a band, I did run into the issue of the system not being sturdy enough in a live concert setting. Granted, if the venue has a photo pit and the band does not encourage crowd-surfing, the system can work brilliantly. However, in my situation, I was shooting in dive bars with no photograph barricade, and the music definitely brought about more than one crowd surfer. Alas, this system was a no-go on that front.

However, this is a very specific and niche issue to have, so I don’t fault the system whatsoever on that front!

The Omni is very much a “what you see, is what you get” product. In practical use, this is simple and easy. Just the way we like it.  


  • Turn any lens into a practical-effects system! Step-down rings are included.
  • Well-built and lightweight.
  • Very simple to customize.
  • Easy to use, ready right out of the box.
  • A good variety of effect wands to create all sorts of interesting looks.
  • The ability to create repeatable and consistent effects.
  • Comes with a carry case that helps keep everything very neatly organized.

  • You need to disassemble and reassemble for most camera cases and packing situations.
  • There may be some vignetting with the step-down rings.



Yes, it is possible to achieve similar effects by simply holding up a prism or other such geometric crystal to your lens, but that can be a nuisance. Instead, why not have something that simply attaches and holds firm?

As such, the OMNI Creative Filter System is a worthwhile and lasting product. It helps give the equipment you currently have an extra edge (without any permanent modification).

Have you tried the OMNI Creative Filter System? Let me know your thoughts (or any questions) in the comments!


The post Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

6 Scenarios to Try for More Interesting Beach Photography

Sun, 08/11/2019 - 08:30

The post 6 Scenarios to Try for More Interesting Beach Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Coastal adventures are a spectacular way to explore with your camera and to soak in the sea views and fresh sea air. There are so many amazing beaches and miles upon miles of coastline around the world or closer to home to entice photographers to the sea. Beautiful seascapes can vary from wide open clifftop vistas to picturesque harbors, tranquil ocean views, secluded coves, and even fishing villages. Here are 6 scenarios to try for more interesting beach photography:

1. Monumental views

Sailing boat at sea

Firstly, take in the bigger picture when capturing your seascapes.

Seek out and find those great sweeping ocean views that cover a wide expanse of sea. Be sure to use a wide-angle lens to photograph the scene too. By photographing the sea and sky, you can add another element to the scene to improve your photos.

An interesting sky also adds texture and atmosphere to the sea view and creates interesting beach photography.

2. Interesting patterns

Cornwall, England

During your adventures at the coast, look for interesting patterns and textures to photograph. You will find many details such as shells, patterns in the sand, and interesting rocks. Rockpools can be great subjects to focus your camera on to make dramatic beach photos.

Consider how your image may be affected by the tide and decide what you most want to achieve with the look of your photos. Shooting at high tide or low tide can alter the appearance of your image. At high tide, for example, some attractive rocks may look even better with the swell of the ocean circling them as opposed to when the tide is out, and the rocks separate from the sea. Try to time your visit to coincide with your photo objective. Alternatively, visit a location and plan a return visit when the tide levels are suitable.

3. Secluded coves

Cornwall, England

Finding and photographing a secluded cove is a great way to spend your adventures capturing coastal scenes.

When photographing these wonderful locations, find a suitable vantage point from higher up, such as on a ledge or from beach level. Take care when photographing the sea and be careful when standing near cliff edges or moving over slippery rocks – they can be treacherous.

Another thing to be aware of is the tide times, which are very important for your own safety. If you can coincide your visit when the tides are receding this is usually a favorable time to prevent being trapped by the incoming seas or being caught out by a rogue wave.

4. Find hidden gems

Cornwall, England

Think beyond the familiar landmarks when photographing the coast. There are endless opportunities and locations for you to discover.

One of the best ways to find new places is to explore the coast on foot. Instead of heading for the nearest beach, venture out for a long walk along the coastal paths. You never know what you might see. Behind every turn and headland, there are often hidden gems to discover. These may include secret beaches that have seen few visitors. Perhaps you will find sea caves lying beneath the clifftops which have been formed by the sea eroding the land over time.

5. Coastal shores

Cornwall, England

Coastal shores can offer some of the most dramatic and best photo opportunities for seascapes. Crashing waves and moody skies after a storm can be great for your coastal photos.

How you capture your coastal adventures depends on the type of image and mood you want to evoke.

The coast can look very different throughout the day. You could either go there in the late afternoon to capture the suns rays striking the cliffs or visit during the day when the beach is busier and more active with people.

Visiting at different times of the day will give you the chance to capture a wide variety of shots to include in your collection.

6. Sunsets

Land’s End, Cornwall, England

Photographing Sunsets by the sea are one of the most popular things to capture – and for a good reason. The coastline often looks its best at this time of day when the colorful glow is spectacular. Views of the sea get transformed into wonderful vistas with great light. Sand dunes and rock ledges can look great with the sunset light shining on them.

Shooting into the sun is another great way to capture the sunset during your coastal adventures.


Use these tips to capture more interesting beach photography and seascape images. Next time you are visiting the coast remember to look out for great ocean views, interesting details, secluded coves, hidden beaches, coastal vistas, and dramatic sunsets and share your images with us below.

What do you enjoy about beach photography?


The post 6 Scenarios to Try for More Interesting Beach Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds

Sun, 08/11/2019 - 06:00

The post 5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you ever feel like your nature photos are just a bit…bleh? Like they could use something more?

It’s a common problem. Because while you can be a master of light, composition, and camera settings, there’s still one thing you need for amazing nature photography:


You see, editing is how you make your nature photos shine. It’s how you add a final touch to your images. It’s how you take a slightly bland image, and make it into something truly stunning.

In this article, I’m going to share with you nature photography editing tips so you know exactly how you can create amazing nature photography edits.

And you’ll come away with the ability to enhance every single one of your nature photos.

Sound good?

Let’s get started.

1. Straighten and crop to emphasize your main subject

First things first:

If your nature photo is crooked…

…then it just won’t work. No matter how amazing the content.

(This is especially a problem for landscape photos, where crooked horizons are extremely obvious.)

You see, a crooked photo is just disorienting. It causes the viewer to get caught up in being imbalanced and makes them forget all about the subject.

So the first thing you should do to enhance your nature photos:

Check to make sure your photo is straight. And if it isn’t, straighten it! Pretty much every photo editing program offers straightening tools, so make use of them.

I handheld this swan photo, and so it required a bit of straightening:

Once you’ve straightened your photo, it’s time to think about cropping.

Now, if you’ve composed carefully in-camera, you won’t necessarily need to crop. But it’s easy to miss something small while looking through the viewfinder. Maybe there are some leaves dangling in the corner of the frame!

In which case:


By removing distractions, you’ll make your photo stronger overall. You should also crop to improve your composition. For instance, you might crop slightly to place your main subject on a rule of thirds gridline.

Or you might crop to place a symmetrical subject smack-dab in the middle of the frame, like this:

Basically, just think of cropping as a second, more measured chance at composing.

Use it to nail the perfect final composition. But don’t think that you need to crop each time a photo comes up. And try to get the composition right in-camera.

After all, crops automatically reduce resolution!

2. Drop the blacks and up the whites to add interest

If you think that your nature photos are looking a little flat, then you might be suffering from a common problem:

Low contrast.

Low-contrast photos generally lack interest. There’s not a clear difference between the subject and the background, so the whole shot just seems to blend together.

Fortunately, this can be fixed pretty easily with a bit of post-processing!

First, basically, every photo editing program offers a contrast slider. For a quick-and-dirty edit, go ahead and boost up this slider.

However, I’d go for something a bit more controlled.

In Lightroom, for instance, I like to use the adjustment sliders to drop the blacks and increase the whites, like I did for this photo:

You can also use the tone curve function to create a nice s-shape, which will give you the same effect.

If my image is fairly low contrast to start with, I’ll add a touch of contrast and then leave things be.

But if my image already has a lot of light and dark tones, I like to push the contrast further. This is especially the case if I’m taking photos in black and white.

Therefore, I’ll add to the blacks until the deepest shadows are close to losing detail. And I’ll increase the whites until the brightest parts of the photo are almost clipped.

3. Clean up your subject with a bit of Healing or Cloning

Now it’s time for some careful adjustments.

You see, many subjects in nature photography could use a bit of cleaning up. Because they tend to have dirt or blemishes that interfere with the overall look of the photo.

For instance, I often clean up my flower photos. Insects chew holes in the petals, or the tips of the flowers start to wither. And if I were to leave these elements in, they would simply distract from the overall shot.

If you’re a bird photographer, think about cleaning up the bird’s surroundings. There are often stray branches in photos of woodland birds. There is often dirty sand and distracting shells in photos of shorebirds.

On the other hand, I would not advocate making extensive modifications to your subject. I like to portray nature as close to reality as possible. And that means holding myself back from altering my subject in any deep way.

I generally use Lightroom’s excellent healing tool to remove these blemishes. But any clone tool will do the job. It’ll just require a bit more work.

4. Simplify the palette with Color Adjustments

In nature photography, I advocate simplicity:

Simpler shots are generally best.

But that doesn’t just go for composition. It’s also true for color.

In other words, for a stunning photo, you should try to limit the number of colors you include. One color works just fine. Two is nice. Three is good. Four is reaching the upper edge.

After that, the colors contribute a sense of chaos to the scene, which is exactly what you don’t want.

Fortunately, you can work on simplifying your color palette after you’ve taken your shots.

All you have to do is use the color adjustment sliders. In Lightroom, these are the hue, saturation, and luminance (HSL) adjustments.

Here’s a couple of ways you can simplify your colors:

First, you can desaturate any colors that you want to deemphasize, and saturate any colors you’d like to bring out.

Second, you can change the hues of several colors to look more similar. For instance, you might make greens slightly bluer and blues slightly greener, so that everything leans toward a balanced middle color.

Third, you can darken any problematic spots of color. If you have a splash of orange in the background that you just don’t like, you can dial it back by simply darkening the oranges.

Unfortunately, there’s no set formula for working with color adjustments. But I always recommend you keep a final goal for the photo in mind: simplicity.

And I should note: It’s easy to overdo color adjustments so that you end up with a garish, oversaturated scene. I suggest that you always check your color edits the day after you’ve finished, and make sure that the edits still seem to make sense.

That way, you can be sure that you haven’t taken things overboard.

5. Use a subtle Split Tone to give a polished look

Here’s your final piece of advice for nature photography post-processing:

Use (subtle) split toning!

Now, split toning is a bit complex:

It allows you to choose a color to add to the shadows of the image, and a color to add to the highlights of your image.

For instance, you can add a yellow to the highlights, and make the whites of the image look very warm:

Then you can add a blue to the shadows, and make the dark parts of the image look very cold:

In fact, yellow/blue split toning is extremely common in cinema, because the warm/cold contrast makes the visuals more compelling.

Now, in nature photography, you don’t want to split tone to the extent they do in cinema. The point of a nature photography split-tone is to subtly enhance the colors.

So here’s what you should do:

Once you’ve finished your main editing, head over to the split-toning options in your editing software. This isn’t an edit offered by every post-processing package, so check to see if it’s something you can do.

Then simply play around with the split toning options. Be careful to keep things pretty minimal. You don’t want to grossly alter the colors of the photo. You want something subtle.

The yellow-highlights, blue-shadows split-tone is one that works pretty consistently, so it’s something that I suggest you try.

But feel free to experiment with many split-tone options.

And pick the one you like best for a wonderful finishing touch!

5 nature photography editing tips to create stunning images in seconds: next steps

Nature photography editing is just the thing you need to add a bit of punch to your photos.

So I suggest you have a consistent post-processing workflow, one which allows you to take your pictures to their full potential.

That’s how you’ll really create a polished nature photography portfolio.

Which nature photography editing step do you think is most useful? Let me know in the comments right now!


The post 5 Nature Photography Editing Tips to Create Stunning Images in Seconds appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.