Back to Top


Corel AfterShot 2


Expert Tips & Techniques

Subscribe to Expert Tips & Techniques feed Expert Tips & Techniques
Digital Photography Tips and Tutorials
Updated: 1 hour 55 min ago

GoPro Hero 7 Black Review – 5 Things I Love and Dislike About this Camera

Sun, 02/10/2019 - 08:00

The post GoPro Hero 7 Black Review – 5 Things I Love and Dislike About this Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

The GoPro Hero 7 Black is hands down the best action camera on the market right now. With meaningful updates such as incredible stabilization, improved built-in sound, and better app integration, GoPro makes a compelling case for even its most loyal user base to upgrade to the latest model. If you’re on the market for an action camera, read on to find out 5 big reasons why the GoPro Hero 7 Black is the best one for you.

Specs

GoPro released three new action cameras in September 2018: the Hero 7 Black, White, and Silver. The Hero 7 Black is their most premium model at US$399, with the other two being stripped down versions. GoPro’s mid-tier camera is the Hero 7 Silver. Priced at US$299, the Silver has most of the features of the Hero 7 Black minus Hypersmooth; it’s also capped at taking 10-megapixel photos compared to the Hero 7 Black’s 12 megapixels. GoPro’s new entry-level camera is the Hero 7 White. At US$199, you get the same 10-megapixel sensor as the Hero 7 Silver. Most features are retained except for the ability to shoot in 4K video.

Besides the price difference, the Hero 7 Black is also the only model to receive three new key features: HyperSmooth, live streaming, and TimeWarp video. More on all of these features below.

Look and feel

The Hero 7 Black retains the same rubberized design that was first introduced with the Hero 5 Black. Side-by-side, it looks almost identical to the Hero 6 Black. Both cameras have the same 2-inch touchscreen, button placement, and the same ports (USB-C and micro HDMI). They even use the same replaceable batteries.

Before you gripe about GoPro retaining the same camera design, consider this: reusing old designs means you can keep using the same GoPro accessories. This is key as GoPro, and many third-party manufacturers such as Joby have created some truly helpful accessories to get more use out of the camera. So if you have mounts, cages, or adapters for the Hero 5 or 6, rest assured that you can use them all with the Hero 7 Black as well.

5 things I love about the GoPro Hero 7 Black 1. Hypersmooth

Hands down the best feature about the GoPro Hero 7 Black is Hypersmooth. GoPro claims it is the very best in-camera video stabilization on the market, adding gimbal-like stabilization to video footage. After profuse testing, it’s hard to argue. Shooting with Hypersmooth enabled does indeed produce ultra-smooth footage akin to what you would get if you used a gimbal. In turn, this seems to kill the GoPro Karma Grip gimbal as it seems the Hero 7 Black can record video just fine without it.

You can shoot in Hypersmooth even when shooting at 4K 60fps at full resolution. Just be mindful that Hypersmooth can’t be enabled when shooting in 4:3 aspect ratio, and also when shooting in Full HD at 240fps and 120fps.

2. TimeWarp

Also new on the Hero 7 Black is a feature called TimeWarp. In a nutshell, this is timelapse video with HyperSmooth applied. The resulting effect is being able to capture timelapse videos that are ultra stable. This is key for time-lapsing anything with movement, such as driving, hiking, walking, running, or biking. When using TimeWarp, you have the option to record at several different speeds including 2x, 5x, 10x, 15x, and 30x.

3. Same form factor as Hero 5 and 6

On the outside, GoPro made almost no change to the Hero 7. It looks exactly the same as the Hero 5 and 6, and even uses the same batteries. This is actually a good thing. If you’ve invested in GoPro cages or batteries before, you can reuse them with the Hero 7. Also, many third-party companies have created accessories for the Hero 5 and 6. You can use these just fine with the Hero 7.

One design change I’d love to see in future GoPros: a camera that comes with its own mount and doesn’t need to be put in a cage.

4. Touchscreen with revamped UI

While GoPros have had touchscreens for several models now, the user interface has been revamped in the Hero 7 Black. Key information such as resolution and framerate are condensed at the bottom of the screen, while battery life and remaining memory card space are in the upper portion of the screen. Portrait mode has also been added, allowing you to shoot vertical photos and videos for platforms such as Instagram Stories or IGTV.

Speaking of social media, the Hero 7 Black now allows for live streaming. Using WiFi or cellular service, you can conduct a 720p live stream on Facebook. At this time, live streaming to other platforms (ie. YouTube) isn’t yet enabled.

5. Seamless smartphone integration

One of my biggest gripes about modern cameras is how terribly unreliable their smartphone integrations are. While most cameras offer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for remote control via smartphones and easily transferring images, it’s always hit or miss whether or not these features will work. With the GoPro, connectivity is the most responsive and reliable I’ve ever seen on a camera. This makes it very easy to use your smartphone to control the GoPro and review photos and videos immediately after capture. Well done, GoPro.

5 things I dislike about the GoPro Hero 7 Black

For all of the things that GoPro improved in the Hero 7 Black, there is still room for improvement. Here are 5 features in particular that I would like to see refined and improved in future generations.

1. Unresponsive screen

While the Hero 7 Black’s touchscreen is largely improved, it has one major shortcoming: it’s not very responsive! This problem also extends to GoPro’s other two buttons. In general, it’s hit or miss whether the GoPro will react to buttons being pushed or the touchscreen being swiped. This can be very frustrating, especially when trying to shoot spontaneously.

2. Voice commands are unreliable

Another feature that is hit or miss is voice control. New on the Hero 7 Black are two voice commands that can control the GoPro: “GoPro capture,” and “GoPro Stop capture.” While useful in theory, these voice controls seem to work about half of the time.

3. No mic jack

In the past, GoPro was notorious for having awful built-in microphones. All of that changed with the Hero 7 Black, which offers remarkably improved in-camera sound. However, there are still instances that require enhanced sound capture via a lavalier (lapel) microphone or shotgun mic. Unfortunately, GoPro has withheld the mic jack from the Hero 7 Black, opting instead to give us USB-C and micro HDMI ports. GoPro does offer a solution in the form of a mic jack adapter. However, it is bulky and expensive, and you must use GoPro’s adapter (other brands will not work).

4. Battery life

Of all the things GoPro improved in the Hero 7 Black, one thing that remains unchanged is battery life. It’s hard to give an estimated battery life as it depends on how you are using the camera. But in general, one battery lasts about an hour when shooting in 4K. Luckily, all three Hero 7 models come with a USB-C port to allow for charging via a wall socket or external battery. However, it is still a wise idea to carry several spare batteries with you.

5. Low light performance

All three Hero 7 models have an f/2.8 aperture. This means they are decent at shooting in low light, but the video and photo quality still leaves room for improvement. In the case of the Hero 7 Black, it also seems that HyperSmooth is automatically disabled in low light conditions, further worsening the low light performance. In general, you’ll get the best photo and video performance out of your Hero 7 if you use it in daylight or good lighting conditions.

In Conclusion

Despite some shortcomings, the GoPro Hero 7 Black is easily the best action camera on the market right now. GoPro made significant and actually useful improvements on this camera and it is worth using not only for action scenarios but everyday use as well. Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below!

 

You may also like these reviews from Suzi:

Moment Smartphone Lens Review for Photography and Videography

Fujifilm X-T3 versus Fujifilm X-H1: The Best Mirrorless Camera for You?

Essential Tools for Making Videos on Your Mirrorless Camera

Gear Review: Lensbaby Sol 45 Field Test

Equipment List for Making Better Smartphone Videos

The post GoPro Hero 7 Black Review – 5 Things I Love and Dislike About this Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Photographing Small Things – A Personal Voyage

Sat, 02/09/2019 - 13:00

The post Photographing Small Things – A Personal Voyage appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mark C Hughes.

Souvenir Mask

When you photograph an item for a marketing campaign, or to record its physical condition, it’s called product photography. This is a very specialized type of photography. While you may never be commissioned to photograph a commercial product, some of the techniques used in product photography may have relevance to your personal life.

Perhaps these techniques offer a solution to a problem many people don’t recognize – hanging on to reminders of people, places or events from the past.

Ostrich Egg on a pedestal

A collection of small things

My wife’s uncle Larry recently passed away. Larry was an incredible guy and was a man of good taste. For a period of about 10 years during his late 60’s and 70’s, he traveled to many far-flung parts of this blue orb we call home. During his travels, he acquired an extensive collection of items that I reluctantly call souvenirs.

To Larry, these items represented mementos, memories and valued objects from his travels. Now that he has passed, any monetary value of these objects is unknown. The stories of their origin, that ultimately made them of personal value to Larry, have been lost. It is left to us to figure out what to do with his extensive collection. There are boxes and boxes of these things, most of which are unlabeled.

Going beyond Larry’s collection, when I look around my house, I see pieces of furniture that remind me of my long passed parents. Most of these are not functional, nor do they match my personal taste. I keep them around because they evoke memories. My wife came up with a novel idea that seemed to resonate with everyone: create a photographic series to preserve the memories that the collection of material objects represents. Perhaps more correctly, for me to create this collection. This digital photographic record would certainly occupy less space than the physical objects.

Small figure on a black background

Combining approaches to product photography and archival photography

For this project, I am combining the approaches to product photography and archival photography. I am photographing the objects as though I am going to sell them, and recording the images from many perspectives so that the record of their existence is complete. We may also be able to use the resulting images to figure out if the objects have any value outside of our family. From there, we can decide what to sell, what to give away, and what to keep for ourselves and other family members.

African Mask, a larger piece on a black background

To give you an idea of the project scale, I have 15 boxes containing between 10 and 20 objects each. So we are talking about 200 – 300 objects. Although I have made a dent in the collection, at the time of writing, I still have a long way to go. However, my workflow and objective are solidifying.

In doing product or archival photography, you need good, controlled light with limited shadows. Shadows are great for portraits and drama, but they detract from an image captured for archival purposes where you want to capture the object’s details. You also need to control reflections and ensure that the light appears to come from everywhere.

This glass bowl with gold leaf gilding was highly reflective

Equipment

I considered using a studio strobe setup. It’s a great way to light things, but it can get complicated when dealing with smaller objects. It also takes up a great deal of space. It’s generally intended for bigger objects in larger spaces. I needed a more compact footprint that would allow me to do the photographs in my home when it was convenient for me.

A small 24-inch lightbox for product photography

The collection I’m photographing contains objects ranging from 1 cubic inch to large, skinny objects that are almost 18-inches long. I decided it was worth investing in a small portable lighting cube designed for product photography. The 24-inch portable cube has reflective walls, LED lights, and a selection of backgrounds. It packs up into a skinny portfolio sized carrying case and provides flexibility to accommodate all of the objects in a relatively confined space.

I use the cube in conjunction with a small card table and my tripod. There are many brands of this type of set up, but for my purposes, I used the Promaster Still Life Studio 2.0.

Lightbox interior with a black background and small box to elevate objects

Right from the start, a few challenges presented themselves. Some objects don’t stand well on their own, and some objects really benefit from sitting off the background to make them stand out more. Finding interesting supports or display blocks all of a sudden seemed important.

White balance

In addition, I discovered that I needed to get a baseline for white balance. When you use Auto white balance in this kind of environment, even if you are using a white background, color management becomes problematic. By establishing a baseline white balance, you can color correct all the images in post-production (provided you shoot RAW files) or in camera if you use and set a custom white balance.

Be careful when you use custom white balance settings on a camera that you use for other purposes. If you’re like me, you may forget that the white balance has changed which only creates problems with the other work.

Some objects have their own stands

The portable studio has a set of LED lights at the top of the cube, a diffusion panel underneath the lights to make a bigger light, highly reflective side panels, and a set of backgrounds in white, black, grey, and light blue/grey. When you take a photograph there is a small hole (either in the front or the top) where you insert your lens, so the lighting is fairly even all around. It works pretty well. Most items are lit well right out of the gate.

Choice of colors for backgrounds

Depth of field and exposure

Once you’ve set your white balance (either by using a grey card or a custom white balance), you need to consider the depth of field and exposure. The cubes are very well lit, so there’s plenty of light. This light dominates, and you don’t have to worry much about ambient light interfering with your white balance or exposure.

Because many of the objects I’m shooting in my project are small, I need to be close but not quite at a macro scale. Due to this factor, the depth of field becomes a big issue. If I shoot wide open, part of the object is out of focus. Shallow depth of field is necessary when you need to create separation from the background. In this project, the background is akin to seamless paper, which means I don’t need to create that separation. Instead, I can choose a wider depth of field to ensure that the entirety of the smaller object is in focus.

To get a complete record of an object you need to see it from all sides

I come from a background in forensic engineering investigations. Here, I photographically documented objects to ensure the preservation of as much visual information as possible.

To capture your items, reasonable depth of field (maybe around f/8) should give the right amount of depth of field without diffraction effects. Of course, this depends on the size of the camera sensor.

Because I set the portable studio on a small card table, I can elevate all items I am photographing. When shooting stationary objects, use a tripod to set up the shots, and move the object relative to your camera. Due to the items being three dimensional and digital images are flat (2D), you need more than one image to capture each object adequately.

To be thorough, it is a good idea to capture around ten images. One from the front, back, two sides, four corners, top, and bottom. Depending upon the nature of the item or how complex it is, sometimes it’s fine to take fewer images. In this case, it works best to keep the camera in a great position, set for white balance, depth of field and exposure, and then to turn the item around.

The depth of field helps show the incredible details of the objects

Labeling the items

In the next step, I labeled my items. You don’t want to photograph an item, only to never be able to find it again! My items were bubble wrapped, so I labeled the boxes with a letter and gave each bubble wrapped item a number. To keep track of all the items and their associated numbers, photograph the letter/number then photograph the item, labeling it with the number when finished with it. By putting an identifier at the beginning of the series of images for that item, you can easily see the name of the images plus the images together.  I have used this technique frequently for event photography as well.

Once I had all my images, I corrected the white balance and then ran the images through a batch process droplet to get the images the way I like them.

In the end, I have a great collection of images, and you can too. You can use either a website or a proofing gallery to look and share all the images. It makes it easier to manage all the images for all of the items.

Lots of detail in this mask

Conclusion

Taking this approach to photographing meaningful objects from life seems like a way to preserve the memories of meaningful objects without retaining the physical objects. Sometimes I hang onto things because they mean something to me or remind me of people or happier times. However, I don’t have space or need the items, and I don’t want them in my life other than to remind me of others.

For instance, I have a small french provincial style buffet that I have had for as long as I can remember. It was important to my parents and reminds me of them. They passed away many years ago. Through objects like this, I connect to my past when they were here. As a consequence, while it is a meaningful object that connects me to my parents, it’s of a style that doesn’t fit into my house, and it’s large and impractical.

In the end, maybe just a photographic record of the furniture, without keeping it, is all I need. I just need to make sure that the images of all the items both large and small are reasonably accessible for those moments I want to remember my parents or uncle Larry.

Feel free to share your comments below.

The post Photographing Small Things – A Personal Voyage appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mark C Hughes.

How To Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 2: Compiling Photomontage Photos

Sat, 02/09/2019 - 08:00

The post How To Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 2: Compiling Photomontage Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

In Part One of this three-part series on How to Make Amazing Photomontages, you learned how to approach and take your photos for your montage. Here in Part Two, you’ll learn about compiling photomontage photos. To compile your Photomontage images using the following steps, you require Photoshop or other imaging software that has the ability to create layers.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Part 2: Compiling your photos 1. Get organized

Managing your photos well can save you getting in a mess further along in this process.

Import all your images into one folder. Go through and pick out your strongest images – ones that stand out to you.

Naturally, you’ll have lots of photos that won’t be worth looking at on their own, but among them should be some key images. Put these into a separate folder and label it ‘Group 1’ or something useful to you.

Next, you need to choose the bulk of the photos you want to use. Think about the images you want to go around the edges. Which ones are for the main body of your photomontage? These are likely the first photos you took. Place these into another folder and label it ‘Group 2’ or something useful to you.

Drop the remaining images into a third folder and label it.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

2. Save as and resize all your images

Save all your photos as jpeg files with a resolution of 300ppi. At this resolution, they are a little large but will be the same size when you get them printed later.

What dimensions do you want your finished photomontage to be? Think about how many photos you made along the horizontal axis. Calculate how wide each one should be, so they fit within the finished size you want your montage.

If you want a montage one meter wide (3.3 feet) and have taken seven photos across the horizontal, make each photo 14 centimeters wide (5.5 inches.) This gives you a starting point. As you start laying the photos out, this can change entirely so you may have to resize the images again later.

Run a batch command to resize them all. Save them to new folders because it is helpful if you need to resize the originals again later.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

3. Prepare a clear canvas

In Photoshop or your preferred software, make a new canvas. Make the ppi resolution 300 to match your image files. Make the size a little larger than you want your finished Photomontage to be.

4. Import your photos

Photoshop allows you to import a series of images to a single working file, so they retain their original file names. To do this, go to the top menu and choose File->Scripts->Load Files To Stack. These open into a new canvas. Select them all and drag and drop them onto your montage canvas.

Do this with the three folders of resized images you’ve made. Arrange them in the layers panel so they are in three groups to make your workflow easier.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

5. Lay out your photos

Right now you probably have all the layers stacked so you can only see the top photo. Turn off the visibility of the Group 1 and Group 3 folders.

Select all the layers in the Group 2 folder and drag all the photos to one corner of your canvas.

Now select only the top layer and drag and drop it roughly in the position you want it. Do the same with each layer. Don’t worry at all about positioning anything precisely at this stage. Everything from here is likely to be shuffled around a number of times.

Once you’ve added all the photos in Group 2 and have them laid out, repeat this process with images in Group 1. Then from Group 3, but only if you really need them.

Drag photos up and down in the layers panel hierarchy to place them above or below other photos on the canvas.

As you add more photos, you should start noticing the relationship between the images. Keep nudging and tweaking all the layers until you are satisfied they’re all in the best position.

When I am working with large numbers of layers, I color code them to help me keep track of them. You might like to make the layers with the images on the left, middle and right of your montage all separate colors.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

6. Turn unused layers off

You may now have many layers visible with lots of overlapping. Begin to turn layers off for images you may not want to include in your finished montage. Don’t delete them at this stage, just turn their visibility off.

Now you’ll see fewer photos on your canvas, and it’ll be easier to arrange the images you have visible.

At this stage, you may be seeing some gaps in your montage. This is where the images in Group 3 may be useful if you haven’t added them already. You can always duplicate similar layers and drag the copied layer to fill the space. If this does not work, you may need to go back and take some more photos.

Once you are happy with the way your montage looks, go ahead and delete all the layers you have turned off.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

7. Go back and take more photos (optional)

Having big gaps in your photomontage may look okay. Alternatively, you may have completely covered the whole area and edges, and have ample images. If not, you’ll need to have another session and make some more images.

Use the same camera and lens, at the same focal length. Make your new photos at about the same time of day and ensure you have similar lighting. If the light’s not right, you’ll have a hard time making the new set of photos match.

A few additional layout tips

There’s no right or wrong way of laying out your Photomontages, but you’ll be more pleased with some layouts than others.

If you get stuck and can’t get the photos arranged so they look good, start again. Duplicate the whole file. Keep the original one and re-work the new file. Move the images around differently and change their positions in the layers hierarchy. Experiment until you are content.

Aim to build cohesion in your composition. Too much fragmentation can make your montage difficult for people to view. Follow strong lines in your montage to help keep the flow. In my montage of the taxi trucks in Chiang Mai, following the lines of the vehicles was vital.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Don’t worry about ragged edges. I don’t often make montages that fit a regular shape. However the edges of your montage are formed, make sure they enhance the overall image.

Tweaking individual photos may sometimes improve the overall look of your montage. When you have the images laid out, take a step back and consider your composition. Are there individual images which are too dark or too bright? Do some contain colors that don’t fit well? How would the whole montage look in black and white?

Be prepared to go with the flow of new ideas you’ll have during the process. As I said, there’s no right or wrong way to make these. It’s up to your creative process. Starting with some idea of how you want it to look is important. However, you don’t need to stick to it strictly when you feel fresh ideas emerging.

Conclusion

Take your time. The process of compiling a montage until you are satisfied can take a long time.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Often I have been on the verge of giving up because I just can’t get a montage looking right. I had started my Tuk Tuk montage then it sat on my hard drive for months without being touched. Finally, I got back to it with some fresh inspiration, and it came together well.

Experiment with the placement of your photos on the canvas. Look at how each one relates to the images around it. Zoom out and sit back often to keep an eye on how the overall montage is taking shape.

Let’s see what you are working on and your thought process in the comments below.

In the next article in this series, I outline how to compile a print version of your Photomontage.

 

https://digital-photography-school.com/

The post How To Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 2: Compiling Photomontage Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Solitude

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 13:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is SOLITUDE!

Marc Zimmer

Your photos can include anything has a feeling of solitude. It could be a lone cabin in the woods, a lone animal, a bird in an open sky or sitting on a wire, a lone person, a lone kayak or boat out in the ocean, or a tree in a landscape. They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. You get the picture. Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Some Inst-piration from some Instagrammers:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Chiara (@chiarik22) on Jan 24, 2019 at 10:28am PST

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ocean (@theocean) on Jan 23, 2019 at 8:30am PST

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Jay Vulture (@vulture_labs) on Sep 9, 2018 at 9:42am PDT

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Outlook Traveller (@outlooktraveller) on Nov 5, 2018 at 2:56am PST

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mark Medcalf Photography (@markmedcalfphotography) on Jan 22, 2019 at 9:35am PST

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Rudy Dewatine (@rudy.dew) on Dec 22, 2018 at 12:08pm PST

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

Tips for Shooting SOLITUDE

Finding Your Strength in Isolation – 3 Methods to Make Your Subject Pop!

 

How to Create Silky Split Toned Black and White Photos Using Luminosity Masks

Black and White in the Outdoors: Learning to see in Monochrome

How to Achieve Background Blur or Bokeh

A Guide to Photographing Birds and Wildlife in a Wetland Area

Tips for Shooting Landscapes With a Telephoto Lens

10 Surefire Tips for Photographing Birds in Flight

 

Weekly Photography Challenge – SOLITUDE

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 #DPSsolitude 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 – Solitude appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

How to Shoot Long Exposure Seascape Photography [video]

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Shoot Long Exposure Seascape Photography [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video by Landscape Photography IQ, Tom Mackie shares some great tips on how to shoot long exposure seascape photography.

?

Firstly, seaspray and salt cover everything! So bring optical wipes or spray to clean your lenses and filters.

Things to consider:
  • Think about your composition. Are there leading lines that you can use?
  • What direction is the wind going, and how is that affecting the movement of the clouds?
  • What are the tides like?
  • How quickly is the light changing?
Camera settings:
  • You may need to use a polarizer, with a graduated ND filter over the sky.
  • Put ISO at the lowest setting (64 or 100 ISO).
  • Stop down to your aperture to around f/14 max (depending on the amount of foreground and background you want in focus). Further than that softens the image through diffraction.
  • Play with different exposure times for varied effects. Try 30seconds or 60seconds.
You may also find the following articles helpful:

Step-by-step Guide to Long Exposure Photography

Recommended Gear for Doing Long Exposure Photography at Twilight and Dusk

How to Avoid Blurry Long Exposure Images with Proper Tripod Setup

How to Choose the Correct ND Filter for Your Desired Long Exposure Photography Effects

Long Exposure Photography 101 – How to Create the Shot

Long Exposure Photography 201 – How to Edit a Long Exposure Seascape

A Guide to Shooting Long Exposure Landscape Photos

The post How to Shoot Long Exposure Seascape Photography [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

How to Light, Shoot, and Edit for High-Key Photography

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 13:00

The post How to Light, Shoot, and Edit for High-Key Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

High-key lighting originated in the early film and television days. Early cameras and film with limited dynamic range, forced lighting techniques to reduce contrast intentionally. Today, with its use of bright light and an emphasis on whites which give an almost ethereal feel to a photo, the high-key look has become the desired style for some photographers. Let’s explore when you might want to choose the high-key photography style and how you can achieve it both when shooting and in editing.

Emulating the look of early television was the goal for this photo and a high-key monochrome was a great way to do it.

As with all art, individual interpretation plays a big part in what photographers consider a “high-key” image and how the technique should be used.

A few things that typify a high-key photo:
  • Bright lighting that greatly reduces and sometimes eliminates shadows
  • A dynamic range that is predominately toward the right side of a histogram.
  • Images where the “mood” is typically upbeat, light-hearted, ethereal, “airy” or beautiful.
  • Typical uses are in high-fashion, product, or studio-produced images. Lesser so, but not totally non-existent, are high-key outdoor and landscape photographs.
  • Lighting where the ratio between the key and fill light is very close, thus the root of the term “high-key.”
  • Distracting elements in the background get eliminated, and typically high-key images contain only the main subject. High-key images are often Minimalist. Many times, the background is entirely white.
  • Monochrome high-key is more prevalent, and when there is color used, it is typically subdued or used as an accent.

Images of babies and children often benefit from the bright, happy feel of high key.

Two basic approaches to creating high-key images:

1) Light, expose and shoot the photo with high-key in mind from the beginning, or
2) Rework a photograph in editing so that it takes on the attributes of the high-key style.

Often the final image, even if initially shot with high-key in mind, may still require some post-processing to achieve the best result. So let’s first look at how to light and create a high-key image.

Creating the high-key look in the studio

I use the term “studio” here to reference the use of artificial lights in an indoor environment where you can control lighting. This may be but is not restricted to a traditional studio. For smaller still-life subjects, the kitchen counter works just fine. How you light the subject is what creates the high-key look.

The background

The first objective is to light the background in such a way that it is entirely white with no detail. The choice of background material is up to you. If you are shooting a model full-length in a studio, you might traditionally use something like a large piece of seamless paper. A plain white wall can work too. In fact, you can use most light-colored backgrounds if you can put enough light on it to bring the levels up to a “255” totally white level. The lighting diagram below shows how you can set up for a high-key shot in the studio.

Two lights to light the background and two softboxes or other modified lights to light the subject is how high key portrait lighting might be traditionally used in a studio

Once you have your lights set up, make a shot and adjust your exposure so that the background goes as close to all white as you can make it. Sometimes, depending on the lighting equipment you have available, you may not be able to get even lighting across the background. Getting it right in-camera is, of course, optimal; however, you can clean things up in post-processing.

Professionals who make many high-key shots during a studio session may take the time, and have the equipment, to light the background evenly, thus avoiding extensive editing of each shot later. If you are a beginner though, lack of more expensive lighting equipment should not prevent you from giving high-key lighting a try.

Lighting the subject

Lighting the subject is done in the same kind of standard style you might use when doing portrait photography with a key and fill light. You’ll see from the diagram above the key and fill lights have been placed on opposing sides of the subject. For traditional portrait or studio still-life shots, the fill light is typically slightly dimmer than the key light. This allows some shadows to create modeling and depth to the image. (The difference in intensity between lights is called the “lighting ratio.”) In the high-key lighting style, the key and fill lights are usually closer in intensity with the objective being to lessen shadows and give a “flatter” look, minimizing contrast.

In the first diagram above, the background is front-lit with light shining on the background. An alternative is to back-light the background, placing whatever lighting device you’re using, (studio strobe, continuous light, flash or whatever) behind a translucent background so the light shines through and illuminates it. As before, you should light this to be even, and bring its brightness as close to full white as you can get. Take a look at the diagram below to see this alternative lighting method.

Another often used variation of this style is to use a large softbox behind the subject and pointed at the camera.

Here is an alternative that uses just one light. The light source is placed behind the subject and diffused through something translucent. I used a white shower curtain here. Reflectors are used for key and fill.

 

This lighting style brings in another option of how you light your subject. Because the light used to illuminate the background is pointed at the camera, it might be possible to substitute reflectors for the key and fill lights, bouncing that backlight back onto the subject. This technique can work well for smaller subjects where the distances between the background, subject, and reflectors can be smaller and less light is required.

It may be possible to create the entire effect using just one light source. The photo below was done using this technique.

 

Using window light

Understanding the concepts above can help you create high-key images using window light and a reflector or fill-flash. Portrait and wedding photographers often take advantage of this style of creating high-key shots with a minimum of lighting equipment. The same principals apply – overexpose the background and light the subject with fill lighting.

An easy way to make a high-key shot at a wedding is to put your subject in window light, overexpose the light coming in the window and fill the subject with your Speedlight.

This was done using the same technique with the backlit shower curtain, but a Speedlight was used to fill the subject.

High-key in landscape photography

High-key images are relatively easy in an environment where you have full control of the lighting. Being able to make high-key shots outdoors with only the available light is more of a challenge. You have to work with the light that is available, have an eye for subjects that lend themselves to the high-key look, and then use your camera settings to get the best in-camera shot you can. Also know that almost always, you need to do some extra work in editing to achieve a good high-key look with your landscape images.

This bitter cold day in Yellowstone National Park had a high-key look already, and minimal editing was needed. High-key needn’t always be monochrome.

The look that typifies high-key photography

Consider the look that typifies high-key photography and what subjects and conditions in landscapes might lend themselves to that look:

  • Bright, white backgrounds – Snow and bright sand often work well, as do flat cloudy skies
  • Low contrast lighting – Cloudy, foggy, flat-light days are a good time to consider making high-key shots
  • Back-lit subjects where you can overexpose the background and fill in the subject with fill-flash or reflected light
  • Consider spot or center-weighted metering of the subject, allowing good exposure of the subject but a blown-out background.
  • Using the Live-view feature of your DSLR or mirrorless cameras can be your friend as you can see your exposure and lighting effect before you make the shot.

Snowscapes Can take you most of the way to a high key image right out of the camera.

Editing high-key images

While it’s always a goal to get images that are perfect Straight-Out-Of-Camera (SOOC), editing can be used to fine tune an image. Even when you shoot in the high-key style, additional editing can be used to clean up problem areas, lighten up and even out the background, and enhance the look and feel you are striving for. Take a look at the image below.

Straight out of the camera, this shot needed to be white balanced and there were portions not evenly lit.

 

Turning on the Highlight Clipping feature in Lightroom allowed painting in more brightness with the Adjustment Brush and Auto Mask turned on. It was an easy way to get a completely white background when the lighting wasn’t even enough

Sometimes you might have an image that you did not consider making a high-key photo when you shot it. However, while editing, you may decide the mood you are seeking would is best suited to a high-key look. Such was the case with the “Angels Dance” image below.

The music and mood of the dance when I captured the shot of these ballet dancers was free, light, and airy. It created a mental image of angels dancing for me. So later, I used the tools in Lightroom to get the look I was after. Following the method used may give you insight into how you can create high-key images in post-processing.

This shot was going to need some work to give it the high-key mood desired.

Post-production technique

The Raw color image out of the camera was underexposed, and the stage lighting had introduced some unusual color. This did not start out looking like a high-key candidate, but here are the steps taken in Lightroom to produce the final result:

  • There were two dancers in the shot with good form, but two others who needed to be cropped out.
  • I used a basic editing workflow – Exposure brought up to +1.00, Highlights brought down to -100, Shadows opened up to +100, the Whites brought up to +44, the Blacks brought down to -56.
  • To deal with the color problem, and also be more compatible with the high-key look, I converted the image to Black & White. Next, I opened the Black & White Mix dropdown and used the Targeted Adjustment Tool. Here, I sampled different spots in the image and brought up the luminance of those colors. Further manual tweaking of the sliders helped bring up the brightness of each color.
  • Then I readjusted the Exposure to +1.46, the Contrast to +38, brought the White down slightly to +38, the Clarity to -7 and Dehaze down to -9.
  • To make the background full white, and also lose some distracting elements, I used the Adjustment Brush tool. The Exposure was turned all the way up to +4, checked the Automask checkbox, and carefully used the brush to “white out” the background.
  • To further give the “heavenly effect” I used a brush with -50 Dehaze to brush in some light “clouds.”

This high key version much better captures the mood of the dance.

Conclusion

The numbers and precise steps used for this image are a guide rather than an exact “recipe.” They are intended to show you the general idea for creating the high-key photography look with Lightroom and the tweaks and tools to get there. The main point is, even if you have an image that does not immediately look like a candidate for the high-key look, some knowledge of what constitutes that look, and how to use your editing tools to get you there, can create some magic.

It’s okay to have some darker tones in your high key photos.

Good photographs communicate to the viewer, tell a story, convey an emotion, or take the viewer to a time and place. Using the technique of high key is one more way to use your images to speak to your viewer. Learn the techniques both to shoot and edit a high-key shot, and you can not only grow your lighting, camera, and editing skills but add a new means of communicating with your images to your bag of photo tricks.

Please try this technique out and share with us in the comments below.

The post How to Light, Shoot, and Edit for High-Key Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

How to Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 1: Taking Your Photos

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 1: Taking Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

This is the first article in a series of three on how to make amazing Photomontages.

Most photographs are created in a fraction of a second from one point of view. Imagine an image made from multiple positions and spread out over time. This is the nature of the cubist style Photomontages I make.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

David Hockney, the famous English painter, made many of these in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He called them “photo joiners.” This is where I gained my initial inspiration to experiment with time and space photographically.

What’s involved in making a Photomontage?

Joining together a series of photographs is not a new idea. My great grandfather, Frederick Cooper, was doing it back in 1889. He made this panorama of the Tasman Glacier and Mt. Cook range with five 8X10 inch images. He made them on the first expedition to photograph the mountain.

What’s different about Photomontages is they are not supposed to represent a single perspective in a single instant. By changing your camera position and spreading out the process of making the photos, a cubist style becomes possible.

Here’s a series of steps I take to produce my Photomontages. This has developed over time since I was first introduced to the concept in 1984. There are no rules. If you want to try something new, follow these steps as guidelines to create your own cubist-styled photography.

1. Choose your subject carefully

Have a raw concept in mind. What is your photomontage going to be about? It’s more than just the subject you choose.

When you are starting out, it is easier to use static subjects. Any movement in the scene adds complexity and difficulty.

Can you re-visit and photograph you subject again if you need to? Getting all the photos you need does not always happen in one session. It is convenient if you can return to your subject and fill in any gaps.

Try to find a subject you can move around and photograph from different angles. Nothing too small. Small subjects can be very challenging.

For my Photomontage of the old Iron Bridge in Chiang Mai, I photographed it from the left side, in the middle, and then from the right side.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

2. Decide how big you want your Photomontage to be

My example above is made up of only seven individual photos. You can make a montage with just a few photos or with hundreds or thousands. There is no limit.

Looking at your scene, choose a focal length to use. I generally keep to one. Zooming or changing lenses can bring about confusing results.

Avoid using a wide-angle lens. Distortion at the edges of the photos can make it harder to compile them well.

Base your lens choice on the dimensions you want your finished montage to be. This can be tricky when you are first starting out, but it’s helpful to consider at this stage of the process.

Having a baseline of six or seven photos with a height of five photos, you end up with around 40-50 photos in your final montage. Choose a focal length that gives you the number of photos across the horizontal axis that you want.

Having too many or too few photos to work with can be quite complicated. The Iron Bridge montage took me ages to compile to make it look right because I was working with so few images.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

3. Create a base series of photographs

Take more than you think you need. This is most important. Don’t go crazy taking loads of images that are all very similar. Change each composition slightly.

I am always working in manual mode, so my exposure remains constant unless I choose to adjust it.

You can use this first set of photos as the base of your Photomontage. It’s good to have a foundation of images to reference once you start compiling your montage. For these first photos, try to build a selection of images that, when put together, make a fairly normal looking representation of your subject.

Aim to have some overlap in every photo. About 30% is the minimal amount. Being methodical as you make the photos can help to ensure you capture everything you need.

Follow a grid pattern. Start at the bottom left corner and make a series of overlapping images as you move your camera across to where you want the bottom right corner to be. Count the number of photos you are taking.

Point your camera a little higher, including some of the last photos you made. Now work your way back across to the left, taking roughly the same number of photos. Follow this pattern as you continue to cover the whole area you want to include in your Photomontage.

Look for strong lines running through your montage. These help make a more cohesive image when you are putting it all together.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

4. Begin adding alternative perspectives

Now that you have a fairly standard collection of photos change your perspective. Move to your left or right. Crouch down or get up higher. You may be surprised at how much a slight change in your perspective alters the look of your montage once you start to compile it.

Move a few times, each time photographing the whole scene again or just the most significant parts of it.

When working with movement in your subject, it may be best to stay in one position to make all your photos. You can rely on the changes in your subject for a cubist effect.

Photographing the tricycle taxi rider, I did not move much. As he moved, I photographed him in different positions. I compiled the photos to convey this movement and contrast it with the image of him sitting.

Keep looking for the strong lines as you or your subject moves.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

5. Take more photos

Once you think you have taken enough photos, take some more. There’s nothing more frustrating when you’re compiling your montage than finding gaps you have no photos to fill.

Don’t be in a rush. Take a careful look over the area of your composition and take more photos around the edges and the most important parts of your main subject. These are the two areas you can have the most significant problems with.

When you’re working with subjects you have some control over, think about adding them into your composition more than once. I have done this with some of the people in my tuk-tuk montage.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Conclusion

Taking the photos for a montage is typically the shortest part of the process. Imagining how your compiled montage looks help guide you when taking the photos.

Be careful not to make your first Photomontage too big or too small. If you do discover you have photographed a space too wide or too high, you can alter it when you start positioning the photos in the next step.

Here’s a short video where I share a little more of my montage making experience and an introduction to the videos I make of these Photomontages.

?

I’d love to read your comments and feedback below. Please share your photomontages and your thoughts on making them.

The next article in this series I will explain the steps taken to compile your photos so they won’t end up looking like a dog’s breakfast.

 

The post How to Make Amazing Photomontages. Part 1: Taking Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How Your Childhood Inspired the Future of Your Photography

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 13:00

The post How Your Childhood Inspired the Future of Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

If you’ve had a camera in your hand since you were a child, stop and consider how that camera helped to shape your future. How did it bring you to where you are today?

There are a few ways that your childhood love of photography may have inspired the future of your photography.

My obsession with photography began when I was just ten years old. I was in Niagara Falls the moment I realized I must get a camera!

Exploration

As a child, you were a natural explorer. There is a lot to explore in this world, and there is a good chance that whatever you loved to explore as a child still inspires you today. Some kids grab a camera and sneak a bunch of candid photos. Others go to where the action is or discover the macro world that is usually invisible to the eye.

You explore, then study your photos, then explore some more. A photograph anchors you in the experience you had as a child and keeps calling you back to continue the adventure.

There was a lot to hold us back as kids. But the joy of growing up is the ability to step out the door and explore the world around us.

As a child, it may not have been that you brought your camera on adventures, but that it was your camera bringing you on an adventure!

As a child, I would photograph anything that grabbed my attention and made me look. Dinosaurs were one of those things!

Seeing

Along with exploration is the ability to see. Seeing doesn’t just mean looking. Seeing means piercing deeper than the surface level scene in front of you. It’s noticing patterns and humor and beauty.

With a camera in your hand, you look at the world in a different way. That deeper ability to see shaped you as you grew up. No doubt, your friends and people you work with are fascinated by the unusual things that you notice.

You don’t just see, you imagine. You bring your imagination to life for all to see through the images (photographs) you make.

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange

When I really started to learn about photography I had to be very conscious about getting clean backgrounds. Notice how this dino is framed by the objects around it rather than overlapping with them.

The scariest part of a dinosaur is its teeth. I used a wide angle to bring the viewer right into the jaws!

I share the love of Niagara Falls with my kids. We couldn’t help but imagine the chaos of the dinosaurs coming to life. While riding the Ferris Wheel, I timed this shot to be able to see the T Rex in the background. In black and white who’s to say it isn’t real?

Your own form of magic

Think about this medium that you discovered as a kid. You explore and bring your imagination to life. Through print or a digital medium, you get to show everyone else what you saw. You can make a portrait of your father and pass it on for countless generations. It doesn’t have to be a standard portrait either, but your father as you saw him and knew him.

Through photography, you transfer the image in your mind into the minds of people you may never meet.

When I was a kid, I visited air shows with my dad. The planes always appeared as little specks in my photos. I look back at those photos and remember how inspired I was by those planes. Now that I’m a dad, I share that love with my kids.

I would never have noticed the potential beauty of light and texture as a kid.

Savoring the moment

The heightened attention that you learned as a child makes life meaningful today. Not only did you learn to see but you learned to capture that on film (or pixels). You could sneak into any situation and come away with a little slice of the moment to carry with you.

Even when you don’t have your camera, you can look at a scene and know this is a moment worth capturing. You can stay in the moment, recognizing something special, knowing this is a moment to be savored.

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” Marc Riboud

I loved to take pictures of concerts as a kid. Back then I had no appreciation for angle, backlight or decisive moments. Now, I roam around the audience and time moments for gesture and dramatic backlight.

Recall to adventure

If I could write a letter to my childhood self, I’d thank the little guy for pressing on with photography even when nothing really worked out for him.

Have you lost your sense of exploration and adventure? Is your life consumed with work and monotonous routine? Think back to when you were a kid. What adventure would that camera take you on today? What experience is there around the corner to savor?

Charge your batteries, clean your lenses and fall in love with photography all over again.

Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” Diane Arbus

The post How Your Childhood Inspired the Future of Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

8 Great Reasons to Enter a Photo Contest

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 08:00

The post 8 Great Reasons to Enter a Photo Contest appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

Do you want to take your photography to the next level? Are you look for a focus to your work? There are many ways to achieve those aims in photography. One of the best ways is to enter a photo contest. That competitive edge is a really good way of driving your photography on by that extra few percent. In this article, you’ll discover some great reasons to enter a contest. Then you’ll find out some great contests to enter, and some of the potential pitfalls that some contests present.

1. A photo contest gives you direction

A decent level of creativity and a well-executed photo are two things needed to win a contest.

There are times as a photographer that you’ll drift a little bit. Whether that means you photograph less, or when you do photograph there’s not too much cohesion to it depends on you as a photographer. Even those with clear ideas about their photography benefit from a clear direction to head in, and a photo contest is one great way to achieve this. Not all, but many photo contests have themes, and it’s this theme you concentrate your mind on as you look to compose the best photo.

2. Pushes you out of your comfort zone

In the same way that a themed contest can give you direction, it can also push you out of your comfort zone. Of course, if the contest is too far out of your comfort zone, you might choose not to enter for a variety of reasons. However, with enough time before the final entry date, contests provide the perfect opportunity to hone your skill in another area of photography. Contests also allow you to adapt the way you take photos to fit the theme of the contest. Do you enjoy landscape photography? A contest theme set to crystal ball photography could be the perfect chance to learn this new photographic technique while applying what you already know about landscape work.

This photo ranked number 1 for the daily interesting contest on flickr.

3. Focuses your mind on being perfect

Do you always photograph all your photos at the correct aperture? Was the ISO left too high, from the last time you photographed indoors? While you’ll almost certainly get those camera settings correct when you’re out photographing when it comes to a contest you definitely will. The smallest advantages you can gain by perfecting your technique can all stack up, and you’ll need every advantage you can get to win a contest.

4. Is a great way to gain exposure

There are several ways you can gain exposure through a photo contest. However, there is no doubt your photo needs to stand out because most contests gain thousands of entries. It’s in the interests of a contest to engage its audience though, so how can that benefit you? Those contests that run for a couple of months may well have a weekly top ten. Photos from this ten may not end up winning the prize, but it can put eyeballs on your photo if you make the ten. In addition to this, typically photo contests have a winner, as well as a raft of commended photos. Once again, this gives you a significant chance of more exposure, should your photo be commended.

This photo won a contest in South Korea a few years ago.

5. There’s the potential to win a great prize!

The bigger the contest, the bigger the prize! Of course, it is incredibly difficult to win the grand prize of any contest, and that’s certainly the case with photography. Those that win often gain a photographic opportunity that is a once in a lifetime chance. The national geographic contests often have prizes that involve traveling to exotic locations, and the chance to learn from established photographers.

6. See other peoples entries, and be inspired

There are plenty of places you can see other photographers work. More or less, any form of social media allows for this. Photo contests are the place people place their very best. Seeing how other people have interpreted a contest theme can lead to inspiration in your own work. Of course, plagiarism isn’t a good idea, but looking at style, technique and execution might lead to an adaption in the way you take photos yourself. Adapting other peoples ideas, and incorporating them into your work is a great way to improve.

Photo contest sites like Pixoto are a great way to see how well your photography level is progressing.

7. Doing well validates you

All that exposure and a potential prize is not the only benefit you get from a photo contest. Having a winning entry, be that the overall winner or a top ten photo gives your photography validation. There is nothing that beats this when it comes to things like growing your photography business. The ability to call yourself a prize-winning photographer can go a long way. Does the size of the contest matter? From the perspective of calling yourself a prize-winning photographer, entering a smaller contest where there is a greater chance to win might be the way to go.

8. Gain feedback

If you’re lucky, you might get direct feedback from the person judging the contest. Those contests that allow comments may also lead to fellow contestants commenting on your work. Getting feedback on what you do is a great way to grow as a photographer. Contests are one platform where you may be able to receive some of this vital information.

The really big contest to win is National Geographic’s. It’s of course incredibly difficult to do so.

Photo contests to be wary of

There are, as you may have read, a great many good reasons to enter a photo contest. That said, there are a few contest types to be wary of.

Large entry fee

The majority of photo contests are free or have a nominal entry fee. Some contests charge large entry fees though. It’s up to you, but sometimes these contests are best avoided. There is no justification for a large entry fee. A good contest has many contestants, so they should only need to charge a nominal entry per person to cover their costs.

Loss of photograph rights

It’s always worth reading the terms and conditions of a photography contest carefully. That’s because some contests claim rights to your photo when you enter it in the contest, even if your photo is not one of the winning entries. Contests like this are essentially looking to use your work for their commercial advertising. Instead of paying for a stock image, they’ll instead run a photo contest to get their advertising material that way. This is why you’ll lose rights to your photo by entering this type of contest.

The Photocrowd website offers two prizes: A Judges Award, and a Peoples Award.

Which photo contest is for you?

The rise in the number of photographers has also led to a rise in photo contests. There are now many choices. You could choose a local contest, contests that run weekly, or perhaps you’ll go for one of the big yearly ones. Those looking to try their luck with a weekly contest should look no further than digital photography school, which runs a great themed weekly challenge to get you out with your camera (though it is not a contest, just a challenge). Sony and National Geographic run two of the biggest yearly photo contests, though search the web and you’ll find more. Finally, there are now websites dedicated to photo contests throughout the year. You can look to Photocrowd or Gurushots for these types of website.

Improve your chance of winning

Of course, improving your photography, and going to the best locations to take photos, are great things that can improve your chances. An excellent tip is to find out who the judges are. Do your research on these people, and visit their websites. See what kind of photos they enjoy taking, and channel your own work through the prism of the judges work. It’s not certain you’ll win, but it’s likely to improve your chances.

Go out and win the prize!

Do you enjoy entering photo contests? Are you new to this, and keen to dip your toe in the water? Have you got prize-winning photos, which you’d like to share with the digital photography community in the comments section? We’d love to hear from you, and having read this article we hope you’ll want to join a photo contest yourself! So pick a contest you like the sound of, and start planning how you’re going to take the winning photo!

The post 8 Great Reasons to Enter a Photo Contest appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

How to Move from Auto to Manual Modes Using Camera Semi-Automatic Modes

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 13:00

The post How to Move from Auto to Manual Modes Using Camera Semi-Automatic Modes appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Are you tired of the auto mode of your camera but don’t feel confident enough to go full manual? In this tutorial, you’ll learn how exposure works and how to use your camera semi-automatic modes to make the transition easy and smooth.

William Bayreuther

 

The Exposure Triangle

The first thing you need to know is that you control exposure by three factors: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. They are all interconnected, meaning when you move one of them, you have to adjust the others to compensate. This connection is known as the exposure triangle.

So, if the correct exposure can be achieved with many different values, as long as it’s compensated, what’s the problem with letting the camera choose those values? Because they control more than just the exposure. Let me show you with a visual explanation. Below is the same photo shot with different settings:

This photo was shot in Auto Mode meaning the camera decided what shutter speed to use, what aperture and what ISO. I had no control whatsoever about which would take priority:

Here I decided the shutter speed so I could control how long the light would come into the camera, which translates into freezing moving objects or capturing movement. The aperture and ISO were then automatically decided by the camera.

Left image – SHUTTER PRIORITY:1/250, f/3.5, ISO 800 = Freeze Subject. Right image – SHUTTER PRIORITY:1/30, f/10, ISO 800 = Motion Blur.

In this case, I chose the aperture because this controls how much of your photo is in focus. This technique is called Depth of Field. Shutter speed and ISO were then automatically decided by the camera.

Left image – APERTURE PRIORITY:1/200, f/2.8, ISO 800 = Shallow depth of field. Right image – APERTURE PRIORITY:1/6, f/22, ISO 800 = Deep depth of field.

In this last one, I changed the ISO, and the result gets reflected in the amount of noise you find in your photo, especially in the darkest areas. I’ll show you a zoomed in comparison for you.

Left image – AUTO ISO:1/200, f/16, ISO 6400 = Much noise. Right image – AUTO ISO:30, f/2.8, ISO 200 = No noise.

Now, if you go from Auto Mode into Manual Mode, suddenly you’re changing from no control into full control, and that can be difficult at first. Especially if you’re shooting scenes where you might lose the perfect shot if you take a long time figuring out the correct exposure. Fortunately, camera manufacturers know this, and they’ve created different semi-automatic programs for you to choose from.

Aperture Priority Mode

Aperture Priority Mode is marked as A or Av. It’s the same thing, but it changes according to the brand. With this setting, you can manually choose your ISO and your aperture number, which leaves the shutter speed up to the camera. This setting is handy when you are photographing still objects or landscapes. Just make sure to use a tripod if there’s low light because with a low shutter speed even your own movement can be recorded. However, if you don’t have a tripod, you can increase the ISO. But be mindful that the higher the number, the more noise you’ll have. Why would you want to control the aperture? Because it controls the depth of field.

Left image – APERTURE PRIORITY:1/60, f/2.8, ISO 200. Right image – APERTURE PRIORITY:1/50, f/22, ISO 4000.

The smaller the aperture number is, the wider the plane of focus becomes. However, most lenses have a sweet spot around f/8 that gives you the sharpest image of all. You can use this Aperture Priority Mode to experiment with your lens.

Shutter Speed Priority Mode

Shutter Speed Priority Mode can be marked as S or Tv, again depending on the brand. You control the shutter speed and ISO, while the camera takes care of the aperture. You’ll want to use this setting when there’s movement involved in your shoot, such as sports photography. In this case, you need a high-speed value if you want to freeze the moving object, or a slower speed if you want the moving object to leave a trail. Another situation in which this is useful is night or dark scenes, and you don’t have a tripod. In this case, you need to make sure to put your shutter speed fast enough so that the natural movement of your body doesn’t register with the camera.

Top image – SHUTTER PRIORITY:1/8, f/2.8, ISO 200. Lower image – SHUTTER PRIORITY:1/30, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Auto ISO

Finally, automatize the third factor of the exposure triangle, Auto ISO. There’s no program mode on the mode dial as such, but there is a setting. While being in Manual Mode, adjust your ISO sensitivity to AUTO so that you can decide the other two factors (aperture and shutter speed). However, you can also pair Auto ISO with any of the semi-automatic modes listed before, and then you only have to think about one factor. What you have to consider in this case is that the higher the ISO, the more noise you’ll have in your photo.

*A couple of extra considerations:

-Always check the results as your camera may misread the scene, especially in scenes with high contrast.

-When using the priority modes, the settings values start to flash if you’re out of reach (if it doesn’t have a way to compensate what you’re adjusting.) In this case, depending on what your shoot requires, you may have to solve it by adding a flash, raising the ISO or adding a filter.

Have fun using the semi-automated modes and remember to switch to full manual once you feel more comfortable with the entire exposure triangle. That way you’ll always keep learning!

The post How to Move from Auto to Manual Modes Using Camera Semi-Automatic Modes appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Understanding and Unlocking the Power of the Lightoom Vignette Tool

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 08:00

The post Understanding and Unlocking the Power of the Lightoom Vignette Tool appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

The Lightroom vignette tool is like adding a bit of spice to your favorite meal. Without a bit (but not too much) garlic, basil, thyme, or other even salt, your food might taste bland. Add too much, and it can ruin the whole thing. In a way, the vignette effect does the same job. It adds a bit of spice, flavor, and panache, to give your photos that little extra push over the cliff. It turns them from mediocre to magnificent. If you want to unlock its full potential, it’s important to understand what it does and see how, when applied to different pictures, it can dramatically affect the final output.

You and the Lightroom Vignette effect: A match made in heaven.

About Vignettes

Vignette effects are nothing new to photography. The word itself has French origins. It refers to the wavy lines that would appear like vines (or in French, Vignes) drawn around page edges marking the beginning or end of a book chapter. Over time the word was adopted by artists and photographers to refer to the gradual fade or darkening of an image near its edges.

While vignettes can be distracting if implemented poorly, they can result in a pleasing artistic effect when applied like spices when cooking. The outcome is akin to laying a reverse darkened oval across an image so that the corners and edges of the picture are a little darker. This method also serves to draw the viewer’s attention to the center. You’re basically trying to achieve the Goldilocks balance where it’s not too much and not too little, but just right.

Understanding the Vignette Options

The first step in using Vignette is simply locating it. You’ll find it in the Effects panel on the right-hand side of the Lightroom Develop module. You’re presented with an option to choose a particular style along with five sliders that help you fine-tune the vignette to taste. All of this happens after your image cropping has been applied, so if you use a vignette and then re-crop your image the vignette changes to suit your new crop.

There are three options for the Style of vignette:

  • Highlight Priority – Ensures that the bright areas of the image blend more smoothly with the darker areas. The downside here is it can make areas of the image with a lot of colors appear a little strange.
  • Color Priority – The opposite of Highlight Priority, this style makes sure that color is preserved across the vignette. However, it can make the bright areas have some jarring shifts.
  • Paint Overlay – This is a blunt instrument. It just darkens the image where the vignette is applied, with no attention paid to highlights or colors.

If you’re not sure which of these to use, I recommend sticking with Highlight Priority. Both that and Color Priority produce similar results which are not unlike the Burn option in Photoshop (which itself mimics the process of selectively over-exposing parts of an image when developing film in a darkroom). These two also let you use the Highlights slider at the bottom which helps you recover some of the brighter portions of the image that are darkened with a vignette, whereas Paint Overlay disables the Highlights slider entirely.

Additional options:

In addition to the style of vignette, you have additional options that allow you to precisely control how the effect is implemented.

  • Amount – How much vignette is applied. Moving this to the left adds a dark vignette while sliding it to the right adds a white vignette.
  • Midpoint – The degree to which the vignette reaches the middle of the image. All the way to the left results in much more of the vignette reaching the center, whereas all the way to the right keeps the vignette at the most extreme edges and corners. If you’re not sure what to do, just leave this in the middle.
  • Roundness – All the way to the left makes the vignette into more of a rectangle. Leave it in the middle for an oval-shaped vignette. Slide it all the way to the right to make your vignette a circle.
  • Feather – How smoothly the dark areas blend with the light areas. All the way to the left results in a harsh edge and all the way to the right gives you a nice smooth blend.

If you don’t want to over-complicate things you can leave all these sliders at their default values and you’ll be fine. However, they are fun to experiment with over time to get just the right look you are going for.

Visual explanations

This tool is easy to explore on your own but looking at how it affects a black and white grid may give you a better understanding of what is happening. I used the Paint Overlay instead of Highlight or Color Priority because in a simple black-and-white grid Paint Overlay gives the clearest visual representation of how the vignette is applied. The left side of each is the original un-edited grid while the right side is the same image with a vignette applied. The settings used for each one are described in the caption.

Amount -50, Midpoint +50, Roundness 0, Feather +50

Notice how the vignette gradually fades from dark to light, with the center portion of the image on the right being the exact same brightness as the grid on the left with no vignette applied.

Amount -50, Midpoint 0, Roundness 0, Feather +50

With the midpoint set all the way to 0, the unaffected portion of the vignette is concentrated in the middle with the edges and corners being uniformly dark. This highlights the center portion alone but there is very little fade-out between that and the vignette.

Amount -50, Midpoint 0, Roundness 0, Feather +100

The midpoint here remains the same but there is now a more gradual fade-out to the darkened portions thanks to an increase in feathering.

Amount -50, Midpoint 0, Roundness 0, Feather 0

Reducing the feathering to 0 makes the vignette clearly visible with virtually no gradation in how it is applied. I would never use this on an actual photo, but it is useful to understand how the vignette function operates.

Amount -40, Midpoint +25, Roundness +100, Feather +30

Setting the roundness to +100 gives you a vignette that is a perfect circle instead of a more oval shape. It’s important to remember that vignettes are applied after cropping, so if you start with a square image then you will have a circular vignette even with the roundness value set to its default value of +50.

Hopefully, these graphics give you a better understanding of how the vignette effect works. However, to really see it in action, it helps to look at what happens when it’s applied to actual photographs instead of just a blank grid.

Vignette examples

Almost any photo-editing app will let you apply a vignette, but with the extensive tools available in Lightroom you can customize your vignette to do precisely what you want and shape your viewers’ perception of an image in a very specific way. If you control parameters like midpoint and feathering, in addition to the amount, you can create vignettes that impart certain overtones and even emotions and transform your humble images in to works of art.

No vignette applied.

The above image looks fine on its own, and the viewer’s attention is meant to be drawn to the droplet of water right in the middle, but there are other portions of the image competing for attention. Adding a vignette completely changes the mood of the scene and makes the viewer feel like they are in a much more intimate setting. Notice how, with the darkened corners, your eye gets immediately drawn to the center and not to the edges at all.

Highlight Priority. Amount -30, Midpoint +50, Roundness +20, Feather +40

Vignettes can be used to eliminate distractions in the edges of the frame as well, and in doing so draw the viewer’s attention to the subject in the center. In this image below, there is a fence on the top-right and a black climbing rope on the top-left. They don’t really add much substance to the image and instead can take your attention away from the rabbit in the middle.

One way to solve this is by adding a vignette. Through some tweaking of the parameters, the end result is an image that still contains the fence and the rope but makes them far less prominent while focusing your attention squarely on the bunny.

Highlight Priority. Amount -42, Midpoint +50, Roundness 0, Feather +70

I do a lot of family pictures for clients in my city, and one of the final touches I’ll add to most of my pictures is a simple vignette. It’s often very subtle, usually only -10 or -15, but depending on the Style (Highlight or Color Priority), I might need to add more and then tweak it with the sliders. Below is an image with no vignette applied. While it’s fine on its own, the subjects are competing with the bright edges and corners for your attention.

A Color Priority vignette helps maintain the integrity of the colors while darkening them a little, and then I brought back some of the highlights particularly in the top-right corner by adjusting the Highlights slider to 10.

Color Priority. Amount -53, Midpoint +55, Roundness 0, Feather +45, Highlights +10.

Positive values

One thing I didn’t mention in this article is positive Amount values, which make the edges of the frame brighter instead of darker. In my years as a photographer, I can’t think of a single instance in which I have used this option, and I don’t know anyone else who uses it on a regular basis either (editor’s note: it may be used it in high-key photography). You may find instances in which you want to make the outer portions of your image brighter instead of darker and, if so, then positive Amount values would do the trick. Just know that it’s easy to overdo it and the results can sometimes come across as a little cheesy and forced.

Conclusion

These examples and explanations are designed to give you a better understanding of what the vignette effect does and how it impacts an image. I encourage you to try it out for yourself. Use the different sliders and style options and notice how they affect the vignette which, in turn, can have a profound impact on your image as a whole. Just remember the cooking analogy: you don’t want too much vignette, nor do you want too little. Strive to get it just right, and your pictures could take on a whole new life.

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.

The post Understanding and Unlocking the Power of the Lightoom Vignette Tool appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 13:00

The post 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Many photographers experience anxiety when they think about using flash. It’s a big unknown, difficult to control and to predict what the results might look like.

Knowing when you need to use flash to improve a photograph is just another choice you need to make. A little like deciding what lens to use to take a particular photo. Obtaining the right amount of light from your flash to compliment your picture is key to effective fill flash photography.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

In this article, I share some thoughts on when and why you might choose to add fill flash. I’ll also walk through seven situations where using fill flash helps enhance a picture.

Using fill flash – what, when and why

Fill flash is typically used to balance with the ambient light to provide the main subject with a more pleasing exposure. So you are filling in some additional light to obtain a better or more interesting exposure. Balance is key. When light from a flash overpowers the ambient light, this is not fill flash.

You can make use of fill flash not only at night or in dark locations, but also when there is plenty of light. Fill flash can be used to effectively decrease or eliminate unwanted shadows when the ambient light is very bright.

1. Fill flash and bright sun

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The bright sun casts a hard-edged, dark shadow. When there’s no other light source or reflected light, contrast can cause problems.

Photographing people in bright sunshine they will often have dark shadows under their eyes, nose, and chin. Adding some fill can help to fill in these shadows.

Adding just the right amount of light from your flash is important so it’s balanced with the sunlight. In this photo of a mannequin I saw on the roadside one morning, I have added fill flash. I directed my flash at the smiling figure. I set the output so she was well lit, but her shadow, from the sunlight, is still clear.

2. Electric light source and fill flash

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

When you have any light source which causes your main subject to be poorly lit, adding fill flash can help.

The large magnifying glass in this photo has a light behind it to illuminate the electronic board. Had I not added any fill flash, the electronic board would be well exposed, but the white surround of the magnifying glass would be underexposed.

Fill flash can even out the light when it’s important to have everything in your photo well exposed.

3. Using ambient light as backlight

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photographing your subject with the main light source behind it is known as backlighting. This situation again can create problems when you want evenly exposed photos.

Adding fill flash to a subject which is backlit, you can bring a balance of light and obtain an even exposure.

In this photo of the young woman drinking, I wanted to include the train in the background. The light behind her was quite strong so I balanced it by adding in a burst of flash from my right.

By controlling the flash power to output slightly less light from the ambient light, I was able to leave a soft shadow on her face. Had I not included the flash, the shadow would be too dark and not help convey that it was a hot day so well.

4. Fill flash with a bright background

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Bright backgrounds, even on cloudy days, can sometimes cause you to underexpose your subject if you’re not careful. Adding some flash helps.

The bright background behind my model in this photo was not super bright, as it was an overcast day. I wanted her to be a little brighter than the background, so I placed the flash to my left. I also had a small softbox for the flash so it was diffused to match the feeling of the ambient light.

5. Light your subject at sunset or sunrise

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

At either end of a day, when the sun is low in the sky or just below the horizon, fill flash can be helpful. Sunrise and sunset can produce beautifully colored skies, but they are often going to be brighter than your subject.

If you set your exposure for the sky, your subject will be underexposed. If you set your exposure for your subject, your sky overexposes and you lose the effect of the color in your photo.

Adding a little flash to your subject, so it’s balanced with the light in the sky, will light your subject and allow the color in the sky to be captured also.

6. Fill flash and fire

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

This example is a little different but has the same principle. In this case, part of the main subject is the light source.

I photographed this inside. The workshop was fairly dark so the flames were throwing shadows over the dark metal.

Had I not included any flash in this scene, the crucible, tongs, and surrounds would have been too dark. I wanted more detail to be visible in these areas.

7. Slow shutter and fill flash

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Any time you have movement in a scene you can use a slow shutter speed to create motion blur in your photos. Using some fill flash can add a whole other dynamic, particularly if you set camera and flash to synchronize well.

Many cameras allow you to set the synchronization to fire the flash just before the second, or rear curtain of the shutter closes. This causes a partial ‘freezing’ of the motion in a more attractive manner.

Again, balancing your flash output is important to achieve the best effect. For this technique, I generally set my flash output to be slightly brighter than the ambient light. If the output is the same or less you will not see the effect much or at all.

How to use your flash well

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

You do not need to have your flash mounted on your camera’s hot shoe pointing directly at your subject.

Diffusing your flash, or bouncing it off a reflector or other surface, will soften the light. Placing your flash off to one side, above or below, will often produce more interesting, pleasing results.

Controlling the output of your flash is always vital. Too much or too little light from your flash causes an imbalance. You need to decide how much light your photo requires and make the correct adjustments to your flash.

Through the lens (TTL) metering is often the easiest setting. You can also use the Auto mode. Sometimes, with either of these settings, you may need to dial in compensation so the light will be a little stronger or weaker.

Using the Manual setting on your flash requires a little more thought and experimentation. It can often produce a more reliable output from the flash when you are taking a series of photos. This is particularly useful when there are variables in light or camera/subject/background distances.

Conclusion

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Adding fill flash can make a positive difference to your photos in many situations. When you are not content with the ambient light alone, consider adding a little light from your flash. Even if the only flash you have is the pop up one on your camera.

You may not get the right result the first few times you try this method. Practice. Study your results. Compare photos where you did not use the flash with ones where you did. In time, you will develop a sense for when adding some fill flash will enhance your photographs.

Share some photos in the comments section below and tell us of your experience with using fill flash, whether you were successful or not.

The post 7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How to Turn a Photography Technique into a Series

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Turn a Photography Technique into a Series appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

Photography is a truly diverse art form. There are so many ways you can express yourself through a photograph. The photos you take are often a reflection of your personality, and it’s your personality which leads you towards your photographic style. There are a number of photography techniques you can learn to express this style. In this article, you’ll learn how to go beyond a few photos using a particular technique, and find out how you can turn this into a series of photos. So read on and find out how you can boost your creativity, by using one technique to create a photographic series.

Look to take as many interesting photos as you can, with your chosen photo technique.

Choose the photography technique for your series

With so many photography techniques to choose from, it can be tricky to home in on just one. Perhaps you already have some go-to techniques you regularly employ? If so, it’s a good idea to choose one of these. On the other hand, perhaps there is a new technique you’d like to try, and you have a raft of creative ideas to go with it. If you need a little help, below are some ideas that lend themselves to making a series.

  • Light painting – A genre with a massive amount of potential, and creativity is almost endless. Will you try your hand at kinetic light painting? How about using a programmable LED light stick?
  • Crystal ball photography – Explore the world through a glass ball, and discover that your lens is not the only optic you can use in your photography.
  • Minimalism – Photography is the art of subtraction, and the appeal of minimalism is always there. Why not turn this into a series?
  • Silhouettes – An easy photography technique to master is silhouettes. Get down low to the ground, and photograph against the light! You’ll need a strong compelling shape to aim at though.
  • Low-key light – A series of portrait photos always looks nice, and using low-key light is a great photography technique to produce them. Why stop at portraits though? There is a whole world of still life to work with.
  • Shadows – Like silhouettes, shadows can be an interesting subject matter. Look to photograph early morning, or late evening when the length of shadow is long.
  • Headshots – A series of portrait photos is a great idea, and if you travel it’s a great chance to show the diversity of the world. In this case, the overall theme is the composition of a headshot, but within that, there is huge potential to be creative.

Creating a story through a sequence of photos works well. In this case, the concepts of water, earth, and fire are displayed.

Have a narrative

Having a photograph technique that is consistent throughout your series is great. However, thinking of an overall narrative to describe your work makes it that much stronger. Think about how you can describe your technique. If your technique is on light painting, you could be exploring dynamism, the future, or energy flows. The crystal ball might allow you to explore themes like dreams, the world in a globe or environmentalism. Those themes can be used to form a title for your body of work. Now you’re not just working to a photography technique, but also to a creative concept. It’s this creative concept that can push you to produce more work in the photography genre you’re exploring.

In this photo, a portrait photo has been taken, but within the ball is a landscape image.

Combine techniques

Now, of course, there is no reason you shouldn’t combine techniques. It’s a great way to expand your series of work. You can use many of the techniques listed earlier in this article in combination. In fact, there are lots of techniques not listed here that you could also incorporate, such as contrast. The crystal ball is just one example of a technique that you can combine with others. Below you can see a few ideas for how you can combine techniques with a crystal ball.

  • Light painting – Light paint around the crystal ball gives it a more mystical feel.
  • Headshot – Use the crystal ball as a prop for your portrait photography.
  • Minimalism – Use the ball as a focal point in your image, and make the rest of the image as minimal as possible.

This photo displays both refraction photography and light painting.

Look to themes

A popular type of photography is to photograph the same scene but at different times of the year. In this way, you can use the seasons as your theme, and repeat the composition and technique you’re using. That means you’ll get four great photos, and you’ll have a mini-series within your overall set of photos. There are lots of ways you can apply this. Below are a few ideas that you may use to expand your work.

  • The seasons – Look to produce images that show spring, summer, autumn, and winter. They don’t have to be taken from the same location, but repetition does create a stronger feel to the set.
  • Elements – Can you use your technique to portray earth, fire, water, and air? Using these elements as a starting point can be a great creative exercise to make you think about how you’ll photograph your idea.
  • The senses – Once again, another popular mini-project could be portraying touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound. Will you also look to portray the sixth sense?

This set of images uses the same technique to display the 5 senses.

Take a mixture of photos

One of the keys to producing a successful series of photos is to mix things up. If your photos all look virtually the same, you’ll eventually run out of room to create. Ahead of changing the way you apply a photography technique you should maximize a particular way of photographing. You could well return to a particular concept and composition, especially if you travel somewhere new. That said, there are some simple, and effective ways of adding variety to your work, without the need to travel.

  • Composition – A change in how you compose your photo can give your photography technique a new twist.
  • Portraits – Using a technique like light painting or silhouettes? Think about how you can add some portraits to the set.
  • Landscapes – Are you doing low-key portraits? Is there a way to incorporate a landscape into the portrait photo? Crystal ball photography is a technique that lends itself very well to landscapes.
  • Macro – Get some closeup macro photos, and change the perspective of the viewer entirely.

With crystal ball photography, adding another ball can add to the variety.

Collaborate

Finally, you could look to collaborate with other photographers who are working in a similar area to your work. This can take the form of a joint project, where at the end you pool your work together. You could do a project where you make a title for the photo, and each person goes and interprets the concept in their own way. It’s also possible that by sharing work with each other, you’ll get ideas to progress your photography technique and concept even further.

Using alternative compositions adds an extra dimension to the crystal ball photography.

Turn your photography technique into a series!

Have you turned a particular photography technique into a series? What was your experience of this, and what did you do with your series once you produced it?

Are you thinking of creating a set of images focusing in on one particular technique to do this? What technique do you plan to use for your project? Hopefully, this article helps focus your mind on some of the things you can do to create a series of images.

As always, at Digital Photography School, we’d love to hear your thoughts, and see your images in the comments section! So please share your photographic series, either old or new.

 

 

The post How to Turn a Photography Technique into a Series appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

Newborn Photography Basics and the Equipment to Use

Sun, 02/03/2019 - 13:00

The post Newborn Photography Basics and the Equipment to Use appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

Many newborn photographers, especially those who specialize in purely newborn photos, have their own studio.

Parents come to them with their newborns, and their studios are fully kitted-out with lights (unless they are a natural light only photographer), backdrops and props. Some newborn photographers also travel to clients’ home and bring with them their own portable studio.

When I started photography, I did all sorts under the sun. Weddings, families, children, events, birthdays, newborns, maternity…Cake-smash is the only obvious thing I can think of that I haven’t done.

Over time, I cut down on the others and focused on weddings. Now don’t get me wrong, I still do these photography genres, but reserve them for past and annual clients and referrals.

What I’ll share with you is my way of doing newborns, my preferences and the equipment I use. There are other ways and styles, so please don’t take this as gospel and the only way to do newborns. It’s just the style that I prefer. Instead, take this as some advice (if there’s any you find helpful), and as a choice out of the many styles out there.

Before we dive in, let me first say that I didn’t go into newborn photography without reading up on it and learning about safety. Safety is critical. You can’t wing it. Instead, you have to understand risks and take necessary precautions with your equipment, process, and workflow. Baby safety is of utmost importance, over and beyond poses, props and style.

Choose a style

Your style dictates your equipment. If you want very natural looking photos, no poses, or plenty of candid captures, then you probably won’t need much equipment such as stands, backdrops, or softboxes. All you need are the basics – a camera, the correct lenses (24-70 or 50mm and a macro for close-ups like a 60mm), memory cards, batteries, reflector, speedlight (if using as a back-up).

If you like props, then it’s the opposite. You may need to use everything but your kitchen sink – baskets, bowls, wraps, flowers, textured rugs, fabrics, or toys. These are on top of all other photography equipment.

My preference is going to clients’ homes. I’ve done newborn shoots in my studio, but I prefer setting up in baby’s own home. I take my time and make sure everyone is comfortable and happy, especially the baby. Also, allowing for feeds and soothing. I know most specialist studios have the workflow scheduled to a T, taking an hour maximum and moving on to the next baby. That is fine too and makes good business sense.

1. Props

My style is simple and classic with a few props – namely blankets and wraps, sheepskin, and a basket. That’s it. I use soft fabrics to wrap the babies, so they feel secure. Sometimes I might add something extra depending on the situation, like these newborn twins, where I thought angel wings and a crown would look sweet, or a little flower hairband. Just don’t go over the top. Less is more when it comes to photographing newborns.

I also put them on a sheepskin or blanket to add texture. Usually, the sheepskin or blanket sits on top of a basket, so the babies are shaped curled up. I place the baby curled in there to represent the womb shape. The basket either sits on a beanbag on the floor or on the bed, which must be big, depending on the setup.

I like to keep props to a minimum and focus on the baby’s face, expressions, hands and feet, hair and the lighting.

2. Poses

Never force a pose on a baby. I do 2-3 poses maximum. If the baby is not comfortable with a pose or not wanting to cooperate, I drop it (the pose not the baby!) and move on to an alternative. I like the bottom up pose, fetal position with baby curled up in a basket, mother and baby/father and baby poses.

3. Lighting

There are many lighting setups. However, I take a softbox with me, speedlights, transmitters, a stand for the softbox, and a reflector. My set-up is simple. I prefer everything on the floor, so that’s where I place the beanbag. A rectangular softbox on a stand sits at a 45-degree angle to the bean bag. Opposite the softbox is a reflector. I use a speedlight in the softbox rather than a strobe for portability. Don’t forget the adaptor for the speedlight to sit on. That’s it. Simple. This way, you can shoot whether there is natural light available or not, whether there is a window in the room , or it’s pitch black!

4. Backdrop

A basic portable backdrop stand kit, with two stands and a bar across to clamp on some fabric, has served me well. Choose material that doesn’t crease! Once I used a black cotton fabric which was so wrinkled I spent ages photoshopping the creases out and painting over the fabric. Luckily it was black and was possible in Photoshop. I sometimes use the backdrop on the beanbag with the baby on top to get a seamless fading background. I prefer a darker background to light colored ones.

5. Other special items

I like to do the shoot as a story, so I always include other shots of the baby’s nursery. This story may include special newborn greetings cards, booties, or the most special toy gift for the baby. I check with the parents as to what they want capturing. These unique items are also why I prefer to shoot newborns in their homes – the shots become so personal to them and therefore more special.

6. Candids

I often end the session with natural, unposed shots of the family especially if there’s a sibling. That way, they have some memories together of their first few days as a family.

7. Editing

Unfortunately, in my experience, newborn editing takes up much time. Perhaps that’s because I like a more artsy look and there’s a lot of softening to do on the background to match the softness of the newborn skin. Not to mention cleaning up the newborn skin, which is often wrinkly and spotty with milk spots, or very red too. I aim to give the family a variety of images, so they have a good bunch of memories of those first days.

Conclusion

I hope this has given you a snippet of what newborn photography could look like for some. It’s different for others, but this is what I do. I’ve evolved from brightly lit newborn photos to moody, dark tones. Yours can be different. Just make sure it is something you love. Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

The post Newborn Photography Basics and the Equipment to Use appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

Godox XPro TTL Flash Trigger Review with Phil Steele [video]

Sun, 02/03/2019 - 08:00

The post Godox XPro TTL Flash Trigger Review with Phil Steele [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video, photography educator Phil Steele reviews the Godox XPro TTL Flash Trigger. While reviewing the Godox unit, he also makes a comparison to other flash triggers he uses; the Yongnuo YN622 and the Phottix Odin. The unit is available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Fuji, and Pentax.

So, if you are looking to do more flash photography, you should watch this handy review. You may be surprised at the features this unit packs, especially the cross-brand compatibility. Find out more in the video.

 

You may also find the following articles helpful:

How to Trigger an Off-Camera Flash with the Pop-up Flash

8 On-Camera Flash Tips: How To Get Better Lighting From Your On-Camera Flash

Bounce Flash Secrets – Bouncing Your Way to Better Photography

DIY Lighting Hacks for Digital Photographers

How to Understand the Difference Between TTL Versus Manual Flash Modes

How to Make Beautiful Portraits Using Flash and High-Speed Sync

 

If you want to learn more from Phil, check out some of his video courses covering topics like event photography, Lightroom, headshots and more on steeletraining.com.

The post Godox XPro TTL Flash Trigger Review with Phil Steele [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

What is a Tech Scout and Why You Need to Do One

Sat, 02/02/2019 - 13:00

The post What is a Tech Scout and Why You Need to Do One appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

When talking about photography, a Tech Scout is a term borrowed from the film industry. It refers to finding a location that will match the setting or scene of a story.

LIke filmmakers, photographers need to do tech scouting (also referred to as a location scouting or a location recce).

The importance of a tech scout is often underestimated. Sure, you may find the most amazing location to photograph a newly engaged couple, but if you’ve overlooked some potential problems, it can end up ruining shoot day.

Why you need to do a tech scout

As a photographer, a big part of your job is making sure you’re prepared. Cameras stop working, software crashes, and you realize that you forgot to charge the batteries for your Speedlites.

Unfortunately, technical difficulties are a part-and-parcel of the job. However, many various other issues can crop up when you’re on location. That location can even be a studio that you’ve never worked at before.

It’s part of your job as a photographer to ensure that the environment you’ll be shooting in is conducive to getting the desired results for you and your clients.

For example, as a photographer who shoots food, I always make sure that there is a kitchen in any studio I rent out for my jobs. Doing so narrows down the available studios that I can shoot in quite a lot. Food stylists work in all sort of conditions and can sometimes make do with a hot plate. However, why not rent a studio with a kitchen if it’s as easy as renting one without it?

Whenever I have to shoot on location, such as in a restaurant, I do a tech scout too. I visit the restaurant beforehand to find out where I’ll be able to shoot as unobtrusively as possible. I also want to see if there is enough natural light coming in from some windows. If not, I plan to bring in a strobe or a speedlight.

Becoming familiar with the environment you’ll be shooting in will help you not only plan your lighting accordingly but also anticipate potential snafus that can prevent your shoot from going as smoothly as expected.

Working with clients on a tech scout

If you shoot retail photography, for example, families or couples, you don’t necessarily need to share details or images of the chosen location or locations beforehand. Perhaps your client may be familiar with the setting or has suggested it themselves.

For commercial clients, however, you may be responsible for scouting several locations and presenting them to the client for their decision.

The client will approach you with a creative brief or some ideas of what they are looking for, but it’s up to you to find the ideal location. Your job is to present at least two or three locations based on the brief or mood board or other consultation from the client. It may mean coming up with a list of possible options before narrowing it down to the ones you will actually go check out and photograph.

How to do a tech scout

To do a successful tech scout, you need to define the scope of the project.

Be clear on the following:

* who and or what are you shooting?
* how many images are required?
* how and where are they to be used?
* what is the budget to shoot these images?
* what does the client intend to achieve?

You may have some locations in mind, or you might have to start with a virtual scout, a search using Google Maps and street view. You can use Google to search for iconic buildings, structures or other important locations.

Once you have feedback from the client, visit each location with your camera and take some pictures. If possible, do your scout at the same time of time you’d be shooting the final images. An app like Sun Seeker or Sun Surveyor can help you determine where the sun will be at that time, which may be a big factor in your decision-making process.

Send the client a gallery of some of the best images with a color treatment that somewhat reflects the desired results.

Potential pitfalls

There are some potential problems that can get in the way of your shoot. Some may be disastrous for you if you haven’t thought ahead, especially on a commercial production where the budget is high.

One such pitfall is permits and licenses. People take images in public all the time, but as soon as you put a tripod down, or have a crew with you, you’ll likely be asked to move along if you can’t provide the proper permits.

Make sure you have the required equipment to shoot in the conditions you’ll be working. This can mean having the right accessories to protect you and your gear from the rain, and even having a large enough vehicle to transport bulky equipment like c-stands.

Parking is another issue you should determine ahead of time. Are you and your crew or the client going to be able to access the location easily, or you will have to walk a bit. If so, how are you going to transport your gear?

Lastly, if you’re shooting outside all day, what are you going to do about bathroom breaks? It may sound funny, but you won’t be able to leave thousands of dollars of equipment and the talent sitting around while you search out a loo. This is a scenario where having an assistant is a must.

Bathroom breaks and meals/snacks are something that needs pre-planning.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, you’ve learned more about how useful it is to do a tech scout and the best way to approach one.

Proper planning can make or break a photo shoot. No matter how small your shoot or who you’re shooting for (even if it’s for yourself), checking locations out beforehand can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

 

The post What is a Tech Scout and Why You Need to Do One appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

8 Lightroom Controls for Aurora Editing

Sat, 02/02/2019 - 08:00

The post 8 Lightroom Controls for Aurora Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ian Johnson.

One of the most amazing phenomena of the night sky is the Aurora Borealis (or, “the Northern Lights”). For as long as humans have existed the dancing, brilliant curtains of light have dazzled the viewers below. For some, the opportunity to see the Aurora is a bucket list item, and the opportunity to view and photograph the Northern Lights draws thousands of people to polar regions every year.

In the images above, I minimally edited the Aurora and was sure not to over-enhance it. Understanding how the Lightroom slider controls impact your Aurora shots can help you achieve natural and beautiful edits of the Aurora Borealis.

Advancement of digital cameras and photo editing software has created an incredible opportunity to edit your shots after a night out under the stars and Lights. The advent of post-processing technology has, in my opinion, resulted in many Aurora photographs which are over-processed to bring out rich saturation and contrast that did not exist in the original scene. Because many of the middle tones (colors) of the Aurora are so pure and contrast so highly with the sky, it is easy to eject the equivalence of pixel-steroids into your image giving them a false look.

It is my goal when editing Aurora shots to enhance but not over-enhance. Understanding how each of the basic Lightroom editing tools impacts an Aurora image can help you tell the story of your night out by making your image look like they did when you saw them.

Lightroom basic sliders

To illustrate how the Lightroom basic sliders (contrast, clarity, dehaze, tint, saturation, vibrance, shadows, highlights) affect an Aurora image it is easiest to look at how extreme values for each setting impact the image. For each slider type, I will walk you through how the slider impacts any image (i.e., the definition of the slider). I will apply it at extremes to the same Aurora image to show a before (no edits) and after (extreme applied) comparison.

1. Contrast

Contrast is a very useful slider and a fundamental one for editing. By definition, the contrast tool darkens the darkest mid-tones in the image and lightens the lightest mid-tones. In an Aurora image, many of your mid-tones are going to be in the Aurora itself. So, you can see as you slide the contrast to 100% that the colors in the Aurora darken giving the image a more saturated look.

Extending the contrast to +100 increased the saturation in the Aurora and the foreground shadows became much deeper. Boosting contrast and adding saturation or vibrancy can have a compounding effect and lead to an image that appears over-processed.

2. Clarity

The clarity slide adds contrast in the mid-tones without adding much noise. The tool is often used to bring out texture and details. Again, Aurora colors fall into the mid-tones of your image, so a clarity boost impacts them strongly. Boosting clarity to +100 creates definition in the banding of this Aurora shot because there are vertical dark lines of the sky in the Aurora. You may like the clarity slider for Aurora shots because it doesn’t add as much contrast as the contrast slider does and can make stars in the image pop and seem crisper.

Adding +100 clarity increases the banding in the Aurora and you can see the stars stand out more. It did not add any saturation or other artifacts to the image.

3. Dehazing

Similar to clarity, the Dehaze slider increases midrange contrast and shadows giving the images a slightly dark and more saturated look. However, the Dehaze slider was built to remove fog from a scene. When you apply its technology to an Aurora shot, it adds a lot of contrast and saturation to the image. This is a slider to use gently (if at all) for Aurora image editing.

In comparison to Clarity, the Dehaze slider adds a lot of contrast and saturation to the Aurora image if it is boosted to +100. The Dehaze slider can be useful but use it sparingly (if at all) for editing your Aurora images.

4. Saturation

The saturation slider globally (for the whole image) deepens, intensifies, and brightens the color. In an Aurora image, you will find it is very, very easy to overdo the Saturation of an image. So, use Saturation sparingly. When slid to +100, it turns the Aurora to an almost neon appearance. At -100, it strips all color from the image. There are times when bringing the saturation out of your Aurora image by -5 or -10 can help improve the appearance of the image and make it easier for the eye to comprehend.

Bringing all of the saturation out of an image renders it to black and white

Over-saturating your Aurora image gives it a fake, neon look

5. Vibrance

Vibrance is the “less aggressive” form of saturation. It’s a smart tool that increases saturation and tones in more muted colors. In Aurora shots, the Vibrancy slider focuses on the Aurora and provides a more realistic enhancement of the colors. You can see in the examples below there is still danger in over-using it. A vibrancy value of +100 creates neon colors similar to overusing saturation. However, at -100 you can see there is a distinct difference from -100 Saturation. The -100 Vibrance does not remove all color from the Aurora.  You may find it a powerful technique to decrease your saturation slightly before increasing vibrance.

You may find Vibrance to be the most useful for natural Aurora image editing. However, boosting it too much will still result in a highly over-processed image

In contrast to Saturation, you can remove all of the vibrancy and still have some color left in the image

6. Shadows

The Shadow slider increases luminosity in the darkest parts of the image. With a picture of the Aurora, you have a distinct advantage in that the Lightroom program interprets almost any part of the image that is not Aurora to be a shadow. So, you have the power to lift or darken your foreground very easily. You can see in the +100 shadow example below, details were brought out of the shadows in the silhouettes of the trees.

There is a very clear definition in an Aurora image between the highlights and the shadows. Increasing the Shadows will raise the luminosity of any part of the image not covered in Aurora

7. Highlights

The Highlights slider increases luminosity of the brightest parts of the image. As I describe above, Lightroom interprets any part of the image with the Aurora to be a highlight. That means an increase in the highlights to +100 effectively increases the exposure of the Aurora. If you over-expose an Aurora image in the field, decreasing the highlights can help you reclaim lost detail.

There is a very clear delineation between shadows and highlights in an Aurora image. Increasing the highlights to +100 only impacts the brightness of the Aurora. In this image, it gives the Aurora an overexposed feeling

8. Tint

The Tint slider is a meant to be used for color correction in correspondence with the temperature slider. You can use the tint slider to neutralize the snow which tends to turn green during intense Aurora outbursts. Use a Graduated Filter, coupled with increased pink tints and decreased saturation, to return your snow closer to white. Often, this helps your eye focus on the Aurora and can restore balance to the shot.

Using tint to do color control on an Aurora image is a bit more advanced, but you will find that you can control the color of the snow by combining the Tint and Saturation slider controls

Putting it all together for a final edit

Now that you know how each slider impacts your overall image, its time to combine each in moderation to achieve a final edit. In the edit below I wanted to make sure the banding in the Aurora was enhanced along with the purples of the “sun-kissed” Aurora. My final edit brings out features of the image without over-enhancing it.

Using the controls described in this article, I edited the Aurora image to give it a natural look and enhance the features I liked most about it such as the purple colors and banding

I want you to experiment with editing aurora images. Please feel free to download and edit this high resolution image of the Northern Lights. If you can, share your edit so I can see! Like I always say, “Pixels are cheap” so I hope you make lots of pixels making Aurora images and have fun editing them!

The post 8 Lightroom Controls for Aurora Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ian Johnson.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Rain

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 13:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is RAIN!

Nikolay Zakharov

Your photos can include anything that has rain. It can be storms, lightning, after the rain, cities soaked from rain, forests, people in the rain. Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Some Inst-piration from some Instagrammers:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ronan Setias (@setias11) on Feb 18, 2018 at 4:49pm PST

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by mojtaba_sarmadi (@mojtaba_sarmadi) on Dec 28, 2018 at 2:05pm PST

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Cristiano Provini (@ph4mkr) on Aug 19, 2016 at 6:04am PDT

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Will Eades ? Australia (@willeadesphotography) on May 18, 2018 at 1:54am PDT

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sarah ? (@bitsnbobs19) on Jan 13, 2019 at 2:00am PST

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by R?MIRO (@desdigital) on Jan 3, 2019 at 4:40pm PST

 

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

Tips for Shooting RAIN

Tips for How to Make the Most of Rainy Days as a Photographer

A Portrait Lighting Project for a Rainy Day

7 Ideas for Rainy Day Photographic Activities at Home

7 Things I’ve Learned from Photographing Storms

Video Tips: How to Photograph Lightning

5 Incredible Storm Photographers and Their Best Images

 

Weekly Photography Challenge – RAIN

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 #DPSRain 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 – Rain appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Challenge Yourself by Photographing One Object [video]

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 08:00

The post Challenge Yourself by Photographing One Object [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this great video from COOPH, they ask you to challenge yourself by photographing one object!

Will you do the challenge? If so, show us your results in the comments below!

?

Look for a versatile object that allows you to photograph it in different ways.

Take your object and try the following techniques:

Techniques 1. Get texture

Go close-up or use a macro lens to create different effects

2. Play with Colors

Add color using crayons, pencils or textas. Elevate your object to create bokeh with the colored background.
Experiment with color gels. Make contrast with color.

 

3. Experiment with Black and White

Use dramatic lighting.

4. Shoot Silhouettes

Cut some wire and attach to your object. Shoot in front of a bright light source. Bounce your side light with a mirror to create a glowing silhouette.

5. Cut and Peel it

Cut it into shapes. Use a whiteboard to reflect and a translucent surface to place your object on. Place your object on the translucent board, and backlight it.

6. Shape it

Make some creative cuts. Find interesting patterns that match and place your object onto it.

 

You may also find the following helpful:

How to Use Colored Gels for Creative Off-Camera Flash Photography

Tips for Fast and Effective Studio Product Photography

Reflections on Product Photography

How to Make Funky Colorful Images of Ordinary Plastic Objects Using a Polarizing Filter

Add Interest to your Background with Colored Gels

How to Backlight Translucent Objects for Dramatic Effect

10 Amazing Photography Tricks You Can Do at Home with Everyday Objects

How to Use Backlight to Create Incredible Images

 

The post Challenge Yourself by Photographing One Object [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

How to Find the Perfect Photography Assistant

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 13:00

The post How to Find the Perfect Photography Assistant appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a passionate amateur, I insist that you need a photography assistant.

You may think that you can lug around your own gear and do a great job on your own, but no matter how good you are, a photography assistant will make you better.

It’s not just about carrying your gear around. Your photography assistant takes on the tasks that clutter your mind and smother your creativity. When your assistant carries the load of the little things, your mind has room to roam and allow creativity to flow.

Your assistant frees your working memory to be creative. While you’re spitting out ideas, they’re taking note and making sure everything happens right. Meanwhile, you’re paying attention to nothing but your subject and the creative ideas coming together in your mind. They’re your second brain and second set of hands that you wish you were born with.

The practical implications of having an assistant

If you love street photography but are too shy to approach people for portraits, you can bring a chatty friend to be your assistant. They can strike up conversations with people and then say, “can my photographer friend take your picture?”

Your assistant can document your process through candid photos of you at work as a photographer. This is perfect for your blog and other publications.

During a wedding day, they’re organizing people for photos and handing you lenses as you need them. Your mind is free to focus on creative ideas and details that normally escape you.

Even when you’re photographing a landscape they can become your model when you wish there was a person in the scene.

Together, you and your assistant are an incredible partnership.

On the other hand, an assistant can ruin your work when they become a liability.

Here is how to find the perfect assistant who won’t let you down.

While I’m taking photos, my assistant is checking my list and adding to it as we have new ideas.

The traits of a great assistant 1. Loves to learn

The first thing to look for in an assistant is somebody who is obsessed with learning. They will love working with you and soak up the entire experience. They are eager to help with everything. Somebody who loves to learn and explore, and who can’t wait to work with you through new experiences.

2. Agreeable

When you find somebody obsessed with learning, they also need to have an agreeable personality. An assistant must be willing to do whatever you ask them without objecting to your ideas. Some people simply can’t handle being a helper – insisting on being in charge. You don’t want that sort of person because you’ll always be bumping up against them in conflict.

3. Polite

Your assistant must be capable of being extremely polite. Don’t risk jeopardizing your shoot with somebody who is rude toward your clients. They should also be enthusiastic and not shy about strangers.

4. Hardworking

The perfect assistant is hardworking and willing to be on their feet. They will be willing to run around without rest all day if necessary. They must be orderly and know where everything goes, and keep everything in place and ready for you.

If you work in high pressure situations, then your assistant must be capable of embracing stress without crumbling.

Look for assistants wherever you can find them. Sometimes an older sibling can help you make the infants laugh! My actual assistant is crouched behind the seat making sure the infant doesn’t fall.

Where can you find an assistant?

Your assistant doesn’t need to be an actual photographer. This may sound crazy, but it really doesn’t matter if they understand photography as long as they can assist you in the way you need them to. In fact, a non-photographer may offer insights that a fellow photographer would overlook.

Maybe your assistant should be a painter, musician or engineer. Each one will help you overcome different challenges in their unique way.

But if you are looking for someone who is a photographer to assist you, perhaps you could begin at a photo club. Many people at photo clubs are not working professionals, but they may be incredible photographers nevertheless.

You could bring a professional photographer to assist you. If that’s the case, I suggest a photographer who is the opposite of you.

I assist a local photographer from time to time and we love working with each other because we are exact opposites. He is orderly, precise, in tune with the details, and works with strobe lighting. In contrast, I prefer chaos, haphazard camera work, tuning into the big picture and using terribly challenging ambient light. It is a thrill to bring such opposites together!

I often let kids use my camera during family photo sessions. This candid photo was captured by my assistant.

When to fire your assistant

Don’t hire an assistant unless you are strong enough to fire them some day.

Fire them if they hinder your work and won’t change their ways.

But even when you have an amazing assistant with perfect chemistry, fire them as soon as they’re ready to have their own assistant. Don’t hold them back. Push them out so that they can grow too.

In the meantime, enjoy having the perfect assistant who frees your mind to let your creativity loose.

 

Feature image by: Greg Gelsinger

The post How to Find the Perfect Photography Assistant appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

Pages