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Tips for Creating Awesome Double Exposures In-Camera

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 06:00

The post Tips for Creating Awesome Double Exposures In-Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

Techniques for creating double exposures have been around since the beginning of film photography. While the days of being able to expose the same frame of film multiple times are mostly gone, a great many digital cameras do offer that functionality. While the technique can be unpredictable and hard to get right, that’s part of the charm of it (in my opinion) and what makes it so fun. This article provides you with a few tips to help you create double exposures in-camera.

What about Photoshop?

Photoshop (and alternatives) offer an infinite number of ways to blend exposures, but doing it in-camera can lead to spontaneous and unpredictable results.

Of course, you don’t need to do it in-camera. The almighty powers of Photoshop absolutely give you a great deal of control over blending images. You didn’t need to do it in-camera in the film days either as you could sandwich negatives together in the darkroom before putting them in the enlarger. So yes, by all means, use Photoshop to your heart’s content, but if you want to inject a bit of unpredictability and spontaneity to the process, do think about trying to create a few in the camera.

Understand the functionality in your camera

This first step may seem obvious, but every camera that I’ve run across handles the settings for double exposures in different ways. Taking the time to learn and understand how to set up your camera for multiple exposures ensures that when you get out to start creating the images, you know exactly what’s going on. For example, unless I turn on the right setting, my camera will take a single sequence of images and then revert back to normal settings. This can be (and has been) frustrating when I’m lining up a second exposure of a moving subject and find that I’m back to taking a single image.

This is probably just a matter of reading your manual and then putting it into practice a few times in your backyard or somewhere where the results don’t matter.

Start simple

While getting to grips with the technique, you can start simple with just a few moving elements to help you understand the process better.

When getting started with a technique like multiple exposures, it is easy to start snapping away without putting too much thought into it. The results can be less than inspiring and may even make you second guess the technique.

Try to keep it simple in the beginning. Instead of many exposures layered together, try to keep it to a simple double exposure until you figure out how the exposures work with one another. Of course, the results are almost always going to be unpredictable, but once you start to take a lot, you will quickly learn how to judge what two frames might look like on top of one another.

Look for bold shapes and textures

Mixing silhouettes and textures is an effective way of creating bold double exposure images.

One of the easiest ways to get results with double exposures is to overlay a texture onto a recognizable shape. Silhouettes of people work great for this. If you start your sequence with a  silhouette, you can then take a photo of something with a lot of texture and the shadows of the silhouette will reveal that texture in the final image.

Another simple one for you to try is to layer your main image on a background of clouds. The whole concept is simple and done a lot, but it is still effective. If you start with these simple processes, you will quickly start to see how you can use the technique for more complicated images.

Think in terms of design

Finding things that match up together to make a cohesive image can be tricky, but when it happens, the results speak for themselves.

Because you are layering your images, it can help if they work together with a theme or if the final image helps to convey a message. Keeping the various elements in your images (whether that be the subjects, colors, lighting, etc) in line with your intended end result can help for better images. It also helps to start with your final composition in mind. How will the various elements line up? How will they react and line up with one another? Is there a particular sort of framing that would help tie the whole thing together? Asking yourself these questions before your camera is even out of the bag can help your final images be the best they possibly can.

Go abstract

The double-exposure effect can be weird and sometimes it’s best to embrace that weirdness.

Now, your images don’t have to be of anything at all. Don’t be afraid to go for the abstract (or non-objective if you prefer). You can layer a bunch of modern buildings (or the same building) together for some interesting effects where there is no real focal point.

You can do the same with multiple textures. Just roll with it and see what happens. You might find you have a bunch of images that don’t work, but you might also find that one that really, really does. Try looking for things with lines or shapes, without too much texture, that can overlap one another.

Block your lens

To manage your backgrounds while creating a double exposure in the studio, cover a portion of your lens with a black card to avoid the background being exposed twice. In the top middle of the frame, you can see where that has happened.

Block your lens if you want to photograph the same subject, human or inanimate, multiple times in one frame. You can use this trick for photographing fireworks to help control your exposure. When you’re lining up your first exposure, cover your lens with a piece of black card so that you are blocking the part of the frame that will contain the subject of your second exposure. In a double exposure, this will stop the background being exposed twice. Your backgrounds will be darker, but your subject will also be clearer where it appears in the frame.

Use grids

Turning on guides and grids in your camera can help you line up subjects between the multiple frames.

If your camera has the option for a grid overlay (rule of thirds) in the viewfinder, turning it on can help you to line up various elements throughout the multiple exposures.

It’s okay to post-process

Not everything is going to go right all the time. If something doesn’t line up, like Tower Bridge in this image, don’t be afraid to use Photoshop to help you get the results you were after.

Although this article is about creating double exposures in-camera, there is nothing wrong with taking your results and fine-tuning them afterward.

Did you overlay a silhouette with a texture but you don’t want the texture elsewhere in the frame? Photoshop can help. If it helps you to create what you had in your head, by all means, go for it.

That’s it

Creating double exposures in-camera is a finicky technique, but sometimes the results can be incredible. More important, it’s a technique that’s a lot of fun. I encourage you to go out and give it a try for yourself, and hopefully, some of these tips will make your results a bit more predictable.

Please share your results with us in the comments section – we’d love to see them!


The post Tips for Creating Awesome Double Exposures In-Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

Top Tips for Photographing the Best a City has to Offer in 48-hours

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 08:30

The post Top Tips for Photographing the Best a City has to Offer in 48-hours appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.

Always be on the lookout for interesting scenes in cities. I saw this view in Taipei from a metro train and went back at dusk.

You have two days and two nights to photograph a city you’ve never been to before. How will you make the most of this opportunity and come away with amazing photos?

You could just turn up without much advance thought and deliver a stunning set of images that fits the brief perfectly. Leaving things to chance is not always the best plan, though. You will be better prepared and more confident if you research and plan your trip in advance.

Whether you’re working for a client, an editor, or taking photos for your own portfolio, these tips will help you make the most of your trip. Here is a guide to photographing a city and the best it has to offer in 48 hours.

Find what is unique about your destination and capture it.

What’s unique about the city?

The first question you need to ask is what makes the city unique? Does it have stunning architecture? An incredible food scene? Unique modes of transport? Vibrant markets? Make sure you keep this in mind as you plan your trip.

What types and styles of images are you being asked to deliver?

What type of shots are you, your client, or your editor expecting? Find out what their expectations are in as much detail as possible. Is there a particular style or theme you need to shoot for? Will your images be used to accompany a story on a particular subject, for advertising, or as a standalone photo essay?

Think of the final use of your photos. Will you need to capture landscape or portrait orientation photos? Do you need to shoot images with negative space to allow for text to be overlaid?

Image style is an important consideration. Is your client looking for bright, colorful photos? Images showing well-known landmarks? Hidden gems? Photos with a shallow depth of field? Moody black and white images? Photos of people experiencing the city? It’s important to get agreement on this too.

Create a mood board

Visualizing your shots before you go can help the planning process. One way you can achieve this is by creating a mood board for the trip, showing the types and the style of photos you will aim to produce. The good news is, it’s easy to do with a tool such as Pinterest.

A mood board can also be handy if you don’t have a formal brief. If you create one for yourself or your client showing the type and style of images you propose to take, this can stimulate further discussion. It might be exactly what they’re after, or it could prompt them to get involved in the process and suggest changes.

On my list of shots for Taronga Zoo was an iconic view of the Sydney with animals – thankfully, this giraffe helped me out!

Weather and climate

The next thing to research is the expected weather and climate at your destination. Bear in mind, some destinations, such as London and Melbourne, are notorious for variable conditions all year round. Getting a sense of what to expect will help with your daily planning and can guide your choices for clothing and equipment.

For example, if you’re heading to Asia during the wet season, you’ll need to think about taking clothing and camera gear that is water-resistant, whereas if you’re on a trip to somewhere hot and dry, such as Dubai or Death Valley, you may need to consider a hat and sunscreen.

Next, look at the sunrise and sunset times for the city when you will be there and plan your day accordingly. Make a note of them and think of the most important shots you need to capture at those times. These times will also indicate the number of daylight hours you have on location.

Autumn in Sydney was a good opportunity to capture golden leaves.

Online planning resources

Two resources that can help you are the Photographers Ephemeris and PhotoPills. These handy guides for photographers also give you information like how long the blue hour and golden hour last for, the direction of the sun at sunrise and sunset, and much more. This can be very helpful, though, remember, in built-up environments, you’ll never truly know how the light falls on your scene until you’re there.

Background city research

Researching your destination is one of the most important things to do before you leave. Learn as much as you can. Potential sources of information include travel magazines, travel blogs, official tourism websites, and YouTube videos. It’s also worthwhile downloading guidebooks from companies such as Lonely Planet, or if you’re on a tight budget, you could borrow them from a friend or your local library.

As you’re doing this research, make a note of previous coverage the destination has had in published articles or photo essays. If you plan to use the same or similar angle, aim to capture the destination in a unique or better way.

Image research

Pay close attention to the types of images used to illustrate and promote this city. What style are they? Do they fall into a particular genre? What kind of lenses do you think the photographer used? This is all useful information.

Then turn to more visual references. What kind of images show up for your destination using a Google image search? Is there a famous view of the city you’d like to capture? Next, search on Instagram. Look at images used by the official city or country accounts, popular hashtags for your destination and even geolocation image searches.

Take a look at recent Instagram posts, carefully reading the description. Was the image taken in the last few days? If it was, this might help you understand the weather or lighting conditions at your destination. If there is no context to when the image was taken, it could’ve been from last month or last year.

Another key place for researching your destination is stock photography sites. What images are the best sellers for the city? Keep these in mind when you’re shooting. As well as your main client, think of other markets where you could sell your images such as stock libraries.

Always look for detail shots at your destination that show the way of life.

Create your shot list

I love travel photography as it includes so many other genres. On a single assignment, you can include landscapes, cityscapes, street scenes, portraits, food shots, detail shots, architecture, and documentary-style images. Remember this as you create your shot list.

First, lock in the locations you need to be for sunrise and sunset and have a rough plan for the rest of the day. Plot these locations on a map and make sure you’re leaving yourself enough time to look around and photograph unexpected sights. Sometimes the best shots at a destination are not the things you expect to see, but things you didn’t expect to see.

Then list the next most important shots for you or your client. Make these a priority.

Try to capture well-known landmarks in a new or interesting way. This could be through the frame of a doorway or window, a reflection, or a completely different angle or viewpoint not used before.

Jot down a reminder to get a good variety of images at each location you visit – landscape orientation, portrait orientation, images with negative space, and images that crop well for Instagram. Also, think back to why this city is unique or exotic and make a note to get images of the food, people, clothing – anything that’s different.

Booking your hotel

Now you’ve created your shot list, look at the key locations on your map, and book a hotel nearby. It can be tempting to save money by staying at a hotel further away, but being close to your proposed photography locations is a huge advantage. Not only will it cut down on travel time, but you will also have the advantage of popping back to your room whenever you like throughout the day.

Quite often when I’m photographing a city, I head back to my hotel for a break. You can have a quick rest, grab a hot or cold drink, back up your images, and review the progress you’ve made ready for the next round of photos. You may even need time to warm up or cool down depending on the weather.

With your hotel search, always be on the lookout for historic or beautiful hotels that could provide additional photographic opportunities for you. Also, remember to choose a hotel where you feel like your gear will be safe when you’re not there.

Carry a travel tripod so you can capture scenes with a slow shutter speed.

Packing your kit

Versatility is the key when packing your kit. Fast zoom lenses are generally the travel photographer’s best friend. Also, look at the notes you made during your research. What type of lenses do you think the photographers used? Does your client expect any images with a very shallow depth of field? Do they want images taken with long telephoto lenses or ultra-wide angle lenses?

Plan your kit, taking into account these considerations along with the expected weather conditions. For a two-day trip, I would typically take the following:

  • Two camera bodies that use the same batteries and lenses, at least one of which is weather resistant.
  • Two zooms covering a wide focal range, at least one of which is weather resistant.
  • One or two small fast prime lenses – these are very handy for low light conditions and shallow depth of field shots.
  • As many reliable high-quality SD cards as you have. Make sure you format them before your trip.
  • As many batteries as you have for your camera system.
  • A small travel tripod and some neutral density filters.

You can see more about the travel kit I take in my article, The Best Fujifilm X-Series Kits for Travel Photography

Sydney Opera House sails with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.

Traveling to your destination

As your trip approaches, keep an eye on the weather and current events for the city you’re heading to. Will this present any issues or challenges? Is there other gear you may need to bring? As I write this, I am preparing for a few days in Hong Kong, where there are currently protests taking place. I don’t think these protests will affect my trip or what I plan to photograph, but it’s good to always good to stay up-to-date with what’s going on.

Before I arrive at my destination, I always sort out some way to use my iPhone when I get there. This can mean either having a SIM card for the country I’m visiting or setting up international roaming before I go.

On the way from the airport or train station to my hotel, I look for interesting things to photograph. I have my phone at the ready with maps loaded up tracking the journey I’m taking. If I see something interesting, I screenshot the map, so I have the exact location on my phone for future reference.

Children playing in the Faroe Islands photographed on a telephoto lens.

Once you’ve arrived

You’ve arrived at your hotel, dumped your bag and are now ready to hit the streets and tick off that shot list. Before you go, make sure you have everything you need and leave anything you won’t need at the hotel. Remember to go easy on the air conditioning or heating – extreme temperature changes can fog up your camera lenses.

Take a few minutes to double-check your camera (especially your ISO and image quality settings), make sure you have fully-charged batteries and formatted memory cards. Then synchronize the clocks on your cameras at local time.

Regardless of the time I arrive, I always try to hit the streets as soon as I can to get a feel for the place. In tropical locations, shooting conditions are not always ideal during the middle of the day when it’s very bright with the sun overhead. It’s still possible, however, to look for opportunities to keep shooting. On a recent trip to Indonesia, I found the most beautiful light in a semi-covered market place in Borobudur. I took some of my favorite shots of the trip at that market.

Borobudur Market.

After the sun is well and truly below the horizon, you may think it’s time to head back to the hotel, but always see if there are opportunities to photograph food vendors or night markets. You’ll need either a fast prime or zoom lens in conjunction with using a higher ISO to capture handheld shots or a tripod for longer exposures.


When you’re finished shooting for the day, it’s time to head back to your hotel and backup your images.

For each trip, I create a new Lightroom catalog on my laptop. I then import the images into Lightroom, specifying that the images should be copied from my SD cards to an SSD hard drive plugged into my MacBook.

After the import, I copy these folders and the Lightroom catalog to a second SSD drive. I always keep these SSD hard drives in separate locations – one with me in my camera bag, and one in my luggage. As I review my shots in Lightroom, if there are any that I think are perfect for my needs or my client, I make another backup of those select images to DropBox. When I get home, I transfer the folders and Lightroom catalog from my laptop straight to my desktop computer.

Final thoughts

I hope these tips will help you think about what you need to plan and research when you’re in a city for the first time on assignment.

Always remember, though, despite the amount of research and planning you do, things are often out of your hands. If you can’t get that iconic shot due to weather conditions, street closures, scaffolding or who knows what else, don’t beat yourself up too much about it. Instead, concentrate on other opportunities that you can capture while you’re there to make the most of your time.

Do you have any other tips you’d like to share on photographing a city in 48 hours? Share with us in the comments!


The post Top Tips for Photographing the Best a City has to Offer in 48-hours appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.

Back to Basics: Understanding the “Sunny 16 Rule” in Photography

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 06:00

The post Back to Basics: Understanding the “Sunny 16 Rule” in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

In life, we are sometimes met with certain inalienable truths; water will always flow downhill, there will always be an unhappy baby on your flight, and the milkshake machine at your favorite fast food place will always be broken when you need it the most. There are also some self-evident truths that we must accept when it comes to photography; one being, one day, you will need to set your own exposure manually. If you’ve been shooting exclusively in Auto Mode or Aperture and Shutter Priority Modes, this can be an enormous challenge.

Take heart! I’m about to show you one of the easiest and most long-standing methods for calculating exposures. Using it will help you almost always get a usable baseline exposure when shooting your camera in full manual mode. Yes, really.

It’s called the Sunny 16 Rule, and it’s going to be your best friend.

You may very well have heard of it before but never fully understood how simple it truly is to implement (and modify) this handy little formula to fit the situation in which you find yourself shooting.

Getting to know the Sunny 16 Rule

Understanding the Sunny 16 Rule couldn’t be more simple. It’s all based around the relationships between our three key elements of exposure: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.

Sunny 16 had its roots in film photography when it was used to help photographers figure out their exposure when a light meter wasn’t available. However, it works perfectly well with digital photography too. In fact, since we have the added convenience of on-the-fly ISO adjustments with our digital cameras, the Sunny 16 Rule becomes even more universally useful.

As you might have guessed, the concept of the Sunny 16 Rule begins with bright sunlight and setting our aperture to…*drum roll*…f/16. Bright sunlight refers to unobstructed sunlight on a cloudless day; think noon with a clear sky, and its brightness is virtually constant.

After we’ve got our aperture set to f/16, we can now dial in our shutter speed based on the ISO we happen to be shooting. To calculate your shutter speed based on Sunny 16, all we have to do is put “1” over our ISO. This will be your shutter speed.

Keep in mind that some cameras measure exposure in full, half or third stops and your shutter speed might not be exactly the same as your ISO. For example, in half-stop increments, if you are shooting ISO 400 then your exposure would be (for slight underexposure) f/16 at 1/500th of a second. At ISO 100 your settings would be f/16 at 1/125th of a second. For ISO 800 it would be 1/1000th of a second and so forth.

As far as ISO settings are concerned, it is a good practice to “set it and forget it.” There’s not much need to adjust the ISO as we can vary our exposure using our aperture settings – unless the scene dictates otherwise…more on this in just a bit.

Why the Sunny 16 Rule is so useful

The reason the Sunny 16 Rule is such a fantastic concept is due to the fact it gives us a usable exposure setting based on what will likely be the brightest light you will encounter – the sun. 

Once you know what your shutter speed will be at a given ISO and f/16 in bright sunlight, you can essentially estimate any exposures for darker environments. The reason for this is that ISO, aperture, and shutter speed are all connected. You can adjust each relative to the another so that you can control your exposures based on the needs of a particular scene. If you’d like to learn a little more about how ISO, aperture and shutter speed relate to one another, have a look at this great article on understanding the exposure triangle.

Perhaps one of the best things about working with the Sunny 16 rule is that it’s a great way to teach yourself to read light and adjust your exposure based around the creative requirements for your photo. Let’s look at some considerations to take into account when you need a little more control over your photographs when basing your exposures around the Sunny 16 concept.

How to modify the Sunny 16 Rule

Years ago, when I first heard of the Sunny 16 Rule, my first thought was “That’s great, but what if I don’t want to shoot at f/16?”

Indeed, a great question.

What happens when you need a more shallow depth of field than f/16 can produce? Alternatively, what if the indicated ISO-based shutter speed just isn’t fast enough or slow enough for your subject? Furthermore, you definitely won’t always photograph in blazingly bright sunlight (ironically not ideal for most photography).

The good news is that the Sunny 16 Rule is incredibly flexible.

Remember, the Sunny 16 Rule does nothing more than eliminate variables in your exposure to produce a baseline camera setting which you can then manipulate given your particular needs.

Virtually identical exposures in direct sunlight based on the Sunny 16 Rule with constant f/16 apertures and ISO-dependent shutter speeds.

For example, let’s say you’re shooting a subject that requires a more shallow depth of field, like a portrait or still life that is in bright sunlight. At ISO 100, your resulting Sunny 16 exposure would be f/16 at 1/125. For reference, here’s a sample photo I shot at those settings in direct afternoon sunlight.

Needless to say that if I open up my aperture to f/2.8 (five full stops wider) in order to better blur the background, the resulting image will be completely overexposed, and looks something like this:

Yes…there is a photo there.

So, how to remedy this problem? Since we are working from the Sunny 16 Rule, all we have to do is apply some basic photographic principles (remember the exposure triangle?) to normalize our exposure based on our new, wider aperture.

Seeing as we opened up our aperture by five stops, we simply need to increase our shutter speed by five stops to compensate.

So if my initial shutter speed were 1/125th at f/16, my new adjusted shutter speed setting at f/2.8 would be 1/4000th. Here is the resulting exposure:

Blurred background and a normalized exposure based on the Sunny 16 Rule.

The same is true in the case of fast-moving subjects. If you’re experiencing unwanted subject motion at, say, 1/125th of a second at f/16, and you want to try a faster shutter speed of 1/500th of a second to help arrest the motion, you need to compensate for the faster shutter speed with a corresponding wider aperture setting to allow more light to come into the camera. In this case, 1/500th of a second – two full stops faster than 1/125th – so we would open our aperture by two stops from f/16 to f/8.

Some adjusted Sunny 16 baseline exposures

If you’re wondering about lighting situations other than bright sun, here’s a quick (but by no means definitive) list of baseline aperture adjustments derived from the Sunny 16 Rule. I’ve listed Sunny 16 at the top as a baseline exposure at ISO 100 and 1/125th of a second. To adjust your exposures for varying degrees of brightness, all you need to do is change your aperture.

  • Direct bright sunlight with harsh shadows: f/16 at 1/125th of a second and ISO 100
  • Indirect bright sun with soft shadows (shade/cloudy): f/11 at 1/125th and ISO 100
  • Overcast skies with little to no shadows: f/8 at 1/125th and ISO 100
  • Dusk/morning light: f/4 at 1/125 and ISO 100

I also want to point out the elephant in the room which is holding a big neon-yellow sign that reads, “Why not just bump up the ISO?”

In short, you can adjust your ISO settings to compensate for more or less light in the scene. Modern cameras are becoming better and better at reducing high ISO digital noise. The Sunny 16 Rule was based on the fact that most film cameras are limited to the ISO of the film used. In these cases, the ability to read and understand light becomes paramount.

The concept of Sunny 16 gives us digital shooters a way to nail exposures (or come close) every time in-camera without constantly checking our images after each shot.

Final thoughts on the Sunny 16 Rule

Of course, as with most things, the Sunny 16 Rule isn’t a true “rule” in the sense that you must follow it to the letter. Instead, it is a rule in the way that gives something to relate one thing to another; in our case it allows us to relate the luminance of available light to our camera settings to achieve predictable and reproducible results.

Sunny 16 is also a great learning tool to help us understand the nature and measurement of light. Going further, it is a guide that is extremely versatile once you understand just a few basic principles of exposure. I, for one, feel as if I don’t use Sunny 16 enough in my work. I think that is about to change.

Do you practice the Sunny 16 Rule? How has it affected your shooting? Let us know in the comments below!


The post Back to Basics: Understanding the “Sunny 16 Rule” in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens?

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 08:30

The post Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

I’ve evaluated and reviewed quite a few lenses over the years – twenty-three to be exact. Throughout those reviews, I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter many that were good, a few that were great, and an oh-so limited few that were absolutely magic. Yet, I can honestly say that I have never experienced the overwhelmingly universal praise and excited electricity surrounding a freshly released lens as I have witnessed with the new Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Di USD (for Canon, Nikon). This is the prime lens that is currently wowing the masses with its mind-bending sharpness and wide-open f/1.4 speed.

Ironically enough, this little beauty marks the 40th Anniversary of Tamron’s “Superior Performance” line of lenses. Tamron has specifically geared all of the glass in SP line towards meeting the needs of discerning professional photographers.

So, needless to say, whenever I get the chance to review any new SP lens from Tamron, I always feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Would the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 live up to the hype? Could it? I was incredibly curious to find out, and, of course, I want you to come along for the ride.

Out of the box

First things first; this is a gorgeous lens. It possesses a clean and simplistic style which in my experience has been the hallmark of virtually all of the modern SP line. The lens itself is a velvety deep satin black with white lettering and, of course, that signature metallic-colored ring finishes off the minimalist design.

There isn’t a lot to see here aside from the focusing ring (which is nicely rubberized), and the AF/MF switch. Oddly enough, the SP 35mm F/1.4 lacks the Vibration Control functionality which leaves quite a bit of open real estate on the lens body.

I say the absence of Tamron’s proprietary VC image stabilization is odd not because it will necessarily be missed on a lens of this focal length, but instead because it is present on the close cousin of this lens – Tamron’s 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Canon, Nikon, Sony). The exclusion of VC on this 35mm could very well be a weight-saving measure to avoid making an already robust lens heavier. More on this in just a bit.

This lens includes generous moisture sealing throughout, which if you’ve read any of my other reviews of Tamron glass, you’ll know that I absolutely love. There’s just something extremely comforting about the physical presence of that rubber gasket at the rear of the lens.

Image courtesy of Tamron

It also comes with a very nice storage bag.

Overall, it’s safe to say that the look of the new SP 35mm lens impressed me right out of the gate.

Here’s the list of specifications for the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD courtesy of Tamron:

As you can see, this is not a feather-weight prime lens. The 35mm F/1.4 with the lens hood comes in weighing just shy of 2lbs(907g) on my home scales. That makes for a hearty setup when mounted on larger DSLR cameras.

With that said, the overall balance of the lens, when mated to a Canon 5D MK III, is remarkably pleasant. It’s not light, but it’s not overly bulky either. Take into account the fact that the lens houses 14 elements, and you become somewhat surprised that it doesn’t weigh more.

That lens hood though…

“But Adam…it’s only a lens hood. Do you really think it’s worth its own section?”

Yes, yes, I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand how trivial this may very well be, and it’s most certainly only my highly subjective…borderline neurotic…opinion.

Tamron has recently introduced a locking mechanism to some of its new lenses. This is the second time I’ve encounter this hooded curiosity from Tamron with the first being the 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon, Nikon).

In short, I’m conflicted. Of course, the goal of this feature is to keep your lens hood from accidentally popping off your camera. The issue I see with this is that such a static locking mechanism could possibly lead to a broken lens hood, or worse, breakage of the front mount of the lens barrel. Instead of the lens hood simply popping off, there could ultimately be a situation where “something’s gotta give” should a substantial impact occur. What’s more, the need to depress a button to remove the hood is just a little tedious. Then again, I must say the locking mechanism is finely executed and works quite well for its purpose. It’s a feature that I could come to enjoy, but for the time being, not so much.

Relax. I’m finished talking about the lens hood.

A fresh take on Autofocus

Newly introduced with the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 is a revamped mechanism that supposedly aids in more speedy and less noisy autofocusing. It’s called the Dynamic Rolling-Cam System.

Image courtesy of Tamron

Not only is that a pretty cool name but the Dynamic Rolling-cam System assists Tamron’s already capable Ultrasonic Silent Drive AF with moving that large f/1.4 focusing unit and is reported to make the entire AF experience of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 much more reliable. I tested the AF with my Canon 5D MK III and my trusty Canon 7D Mk1. In both cases, the AF of the lens was quite snappy and accurate, even in low contrasted scenes. This lens also features a full-time manual focus override so that you can easily tweak focus manually while still in AF mode.

Performance and image quality

If you’ve heard anything about this lens already then you probably know it’s reported to be sharp – I mean scary sharp – with beautifully creamy bokeh and superb contrast. Well, it’s all true. So if you want to take my word for it, feel free to skip down to the sample images. If not, keep reading.


Yep. The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 is exquisitely sharp even wide-open at f/1.4. The center is tack sharp with only a minuscule softening at the corners. At smaller apertures beyond f/2, this lens absolutely shines with virtually no vignetting past that aperture mark as well – virtually zero distortion. Also of note is that as you move toward f/16, there are majestically pronounced starbursts at point sources of light.

Color and Contrast

Colors pop wonderfully with this 35mm lens. Equally, the contrast is great, and I noticed no chromatic aberrations even at f/1.4. I wasn’t as overly impressed with this area of the lens as some have been, but it truly does produce some beautifully contrasted photos with perfectly adequate color separation. Tamron has also introduced the second generation of their BBAR element coating which is purported to reduce ghosting and flare greatly.

Here are a few sample images for your inspection. There have been no adjustments to sharpness, color (except WB) or contrast.




























I’ve also put together a full-length video review of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 if you would like to dig a little deeper into the characteristics of this lens.


Final Thoughts on the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4…

What else can I say about the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 lens? Fortunately enough for both of us, the results from this lens happily speak for themselves. I’ll admit that going into this review I had already been bombarded with tales of its sharpness and high contrast, so the bar was set alarmingly high. So high in fact, that I was concerned that I would be let down by the performance of this lens once I actually used it. Banish all such thoughts!

The SP 35mm f/1.4 Di USD from Tamron is a perfectly executed fast prime. It combines all the best attributes of fine glass and bundles them into a sleek looking package that performs fantastically. It’s a fast focusing beauty that would be right at home in the field or on the street.

The best part? It will set you back considerably less than some other lenses in its class. At the time of this review, the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 sells for $899US.

Have you used the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 lens? Do you have any other “go-to” prime lenses that you absolutely love keeping in your bag? Let us know in the comments!


The post Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 Lens Review – A Perfectly Executed Prime Lens? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

5 Photo Editing Mistakes Every Beginner Must Avoid

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 06:00

The post 5 Photo Editing Mistakes Every Beginner Must Avoid appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

We are fortunate enough to be able to capture photos in digital format and edit them later using multiple software. You can adjust exposure, white balance and replace the background with only a few clicks. Being able to edit our photos as per our requirement is a great power – but we must not overuse it. In this article, I share 5 photo editing mistakes which I have made in my initial days as a photographer. I hope that some of you photography enthusiasts will benefit from my learning over the years.

1. Selective coloring

The image on the left looks more professional and is an ideal portrait, while the image in the right looks very unprofessional.

Sometimes we get so obsessed with a particular element in our frame that we desperately want to highlight it. One of the options that you might opt for is selective coloring, and it can easily go wrong. This is a technique where you keep a selective part of the image colored, making the remainder of the image black and white.

As a beginner, you might be super excited while working on your first few selective-colored images. And you should be.

However, if you wish to step up your photography game and make your images look more professional, avoid using selective coloring.

I would suggest you work on your perspective and composition if you wish to highlight a particular object or color in the frame. Try to frame that highlighting subject in a manner that it stands out in the frame.

If not, you can selectively boost the exposure or saturation in editing without applying the selective coloring method.

2. Overuse of HDR technique

Of the 5 photo editing mistakes I list, if there is an award for the most overused editing technique, it must go to the HDR effect. I must admit that during the first two years, I used to click multiple exposures of almost everything. Then later, I used to merge those exposures to get the HDR effect, thinking I was such a cool photographer.

You must understand the actual meaning of HDR, which is High Dynamic Range. Use it only when you feel that the camera is not able to capture the dynamic range of the scene the way you see it with your eyes. All you have to do is capture 3, 6, or 9 frames of different exposures and later merge them using apps such as Adobe Lightroom.

This is an over-processed HDR image.

There are few apps which allow you to get the HDR effect using a single photo, but that is simply a gimmick which you must use carefully.

3. Over-saturation

We all come across photos with vibrant and attractive colors, especially on photo-sharing apps such as Instagram. Trying to gain similar results, you might be boosting the saturation level way too far. Over-saturation in your photos can make a well-composed frame look average because you boosted the colors way too much.

The image on the right has way too much saturation, as can be clearly seen on the face.

While editing a photo for 3-5 minutes or more, it’s difficult to tell if the photo is well-saturated or over-saturated. Here is a quick tip that I follow that may help you as well: After your final edit is complete, take a 2-minute break from the screen. Now come back to your device and see if the saturation level works or is too much. Trust me; this practice is going to help you a lot if you edit a single photo for more than 4-5 minutes.

4. Converting to ‘Black & White’ when not required

Simply taking the saturation slider all the way to ‘-100’ does not make any image look good in monochrome. If I am converting any image black and white in editing, I check if the frame has contrast in it. If not, I try and avoid converting that image to monochrome.

The colors in the image on the left are much more appealing as compared to the monochrome image on the right.

Even if a scene has good contrast, check if any prominent colors might complement the colored image. Your frame might have a beautiful and colorful sunset, but because you are used to converting any image into monochrome, you might make a wrong decision.

Be patient and analyze the image. If you feel the colors are not that appealing or the image has high contrast, go ahead and convert it to black and white.

5. Overuse of vignetting effect

The use of the vignetting effect in editing is a personal preference. I have seen many beginners use strong vignetting effects, especially in portraits. I love using a vignetting effect in photos where I want emphasis on a particular subject – but not in every image.

Try and avoid using this effect on photos such as landscapes, or try to keep it subtle so that the overall beauty of the frame does not get destroyed.

The image on the right does not look good because of the overuse of the vignetting effect.

Have you been making any of these 5 photo editing mistakes? Or if you wish to add any editing mistake to the list, feel free to comment below.


The post 5 Photo Editing Mistakes Every Beginner Must Avoid appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

How to Sell a Travel Story to a Magazine and Help Fund Your Travels

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 08:30

The post How to Sell a Travel Story to a Magazine and Help Fund Your Travels appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kav Dadfar.

There is nothing quite like when you sell a travel story to a magazine. Seeing all your hard work in print gives you a great sense of satisfaction. Editorial work has changed a lot over the past few years, and you must prepare yourself for some rejection. However, if you follow this simple process of selling a story, and don’t give up, you will reap the rewards.

Also note, once you have built up a few relationships with editors, things get simpler. Once editors know and trust you, they will be far more receptive to your pitch for a story.

Publication research

Once you have an article idea, it’s always a good idea to research the type of magazines that may be interested in printing your story. Magazines differ significantly from one another. To give your story the best possible chance of publication, aim to pitch it to the right place.

For example, if your story is about walking, then pitch it to magazines that specialize in hiking or outdoor activities. Go to your local shop and flick through the magazine you intend to pitch to and see if it would be the right fit.

Also, research their submission process. Many publications have clear guidelines on how to submit work.

An example of a travel article in 360ºMagazine by Jennifer Bell.

Find a fresh angle

When you have your list of possible publications, ensure your story is fresh and unique. You don’t want to pitch ideas that are the same or similar to articles already recently published.

Most publications publish their articles on their website too, so check that what you are pitching is different. Also, remember to check upcoming articles as well. It may be that your article idea is set to feature in the next few issues.

The publication’s media pack is usually a good place to search for this sort of thing.

Destination research

Now that you have your angle and a list of preferred publications, it is time to research your topic. Researching your topic is one of the most important aspects of any shoot, and one rarely mentioned when discussing selling a story to a magazine. Many photographers will have you believe everything just comes together out in the field. But the reality is very different.

If your story is on the best museums in a certain city, then make sure you have a list of the museums you plan to visit. Write down everything from the best times to be there to the most important exhibits. If your angle is about hiking, then plan your walk to factor in the best times at viewpoints for photography.

The more you research, the better your shoot will be.

Prepare for rejection

If you want to be successful in any industry, you have to accept rejection along the way. Even as a pro with years of experience behind you, not every pitch will be successful. If only it was…

The key is not to take rejection personally. Don’t let it discourage you from pitching a different story to the same publication. If you are lucky and the editor gives you some feedback, take note of their suggestions, and work on these areas. Never get angry or burn your bridges with anyone as you will have an impossible task to win them round again.

Shoot plan

Once you’ve got your angle and completed your research, its time to start putting a shoot plan together. Your shoot plan should be more than just a list of locations – think of your shoot plan like an encyclopedia of your shoot. Include anything relevant like opening times, best times to shoot (sunset/sunrise), and logistics of getting to your required shoot locations.

Make a note of other potential locations you can visit. It’s also worth putting together some contingency ideas in the case of bad weather or unforeseen closures. The key to a good shoot plan is to make it as easy as possible to capture the shots you want to take.

The last thing that you want to be doing is rushing around, wasting valuable shooting time.

Image variation

The reason that a shot list is so important is it ensures you cover the shots that you need to capture, and will also give you variety. Your images should include a range of details, people, buildings, landscapes, cityscapes, food, and anything else that would be relevant to your story.

The more variation and options you can provide an editor, the more chance you will have of selling your story.

Tell a story

The big difference between a story and just documenting a place is the story you are trying to tell. You want to try to make sure your piece isn’t just a photographic list of places. The key is to take the viewer on a journey with you. It is also important to take notes of all the necessary information that accompanies your story. People’s names, places, names of food dishes – you never know what might be needed.

The final piece should be a coherent story that has a variety in the shots.

The pitch

Some people prefer to pitch their idea before embarking on their journey. While this is a safe option in regards to knowing you wouldn’t be wasting money unnecessarily unless you already have a relationship with an editor, it can be difficult. Even if an editor does like your idea, it is very unlikely they will offer you a commission straightaway. Any agreement will usually be on a speculative basis so they will not be under any obligation to buy your article afterward.

I personally believe you are best to pitch a finished piece that’s ready to go to press. Whatever approach you decide to take, the pitch is the most crucial part of the process. You’ve put in all that hard work and investment, so it’s important to get your pitch just right so you make a great first impression.

Your email should be direct and well thought out, showing off your knowledge of your subject. It should be backed up with the credibility required to give the editor confidence in you and your work. Take your time composing your pitch email and run it by friends and family for feedback. It’s okay to send a follow-up email a couple of weeks later but don’t keep pestering the editor. If you haven’t heard back after a couple of emails, assume it hasn’t been successful.


If you do get that great bit of news that your story has been accepted, make sure to follow all submission guidelines. Otherwise, your piece will more than likely be rejected. Your text should be proofread to avoid any spelling or grammatical mistakes. Even if you are just providing images, typos make you look unprofessional.

The majority of publications will also have strict guidelines for images, so be sure to follow these. It’s a good idea to read these before you start your edit as there will usually be guidelines on color space, sharpening and even cropping. Many publications prefer to do this in-house.

What next?

So you’ve sent your pitch and nothing even after the follow-up. You can either try another publication or go back to the drawing board with a different story. However, even if your story has been successful, be sure to go back with other ideas. Even if it takes time, going back to the same editor might be a little easier now that they have seen your work.

Publications have limited space for freelance photographers to pitch stories. Inevitably there is also a huge amount of competition for any available space. The best way to give yourself a chance is to really research the publication and pitch something that would be too good for them to turn down.

Do you have any other tips about how to sell a travel story to a magazine? If so, share with us in the comments below!


The post How to Sell a Travel Story to a Magazine and Help Fund Your Travels appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kav Dadfar.

5 Top Tips for Marketing Your Photography Business Successfully

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 06:00

The post 5 Top Tips for Marketing Your Photography Business Successfully appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Marketing is something that often falls by the wayside for photographers. We push it aside when we’re busy, only to find the clients aren’t there when things slow down.

The best marketing efforts are those that are organic and purposeful. There is no quick fix. Promoting your work is not as simple as “build a website and they will come.” It takes consistency and effort to keep your name out there, no matter how long you’ve been in the business.

Here are my five top tips for marketing your photography business the right way.

1. Curate your online portfolio

As a professional photographer, you need an attractive, well-curated website to highlight your work.

Your website will brand you as either a professional or an amateur. It will serve as the first impression of you and your work. You need to pay attention to every detail, from the template you choose, to how your images flow together to create a cohesive narrative of who you are as an artist.

Put only your best work in your online portfolio, but try to approach your images as a potential photo buyer might. It’s easy to get emotionally attached to certain photographs, but sometimes your favorites are not the ones that are going to resonate with your target market. Create galleries that organize your photos into a grouping that make sense. Pay attention to the colors, shapes, and lighting that flow well together. Create an experience for the viewer as they move through your body of work.

If you feel you can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes curating your work, hire a photo consultant who can give you an unbiased and expert opinion.

Starting an online portfolio from scratch? You might want to choose a web builder made for photographers, such as Photoshelter or Format, as they also offer various tools to help sell and distribute images.

Squarespace is popular with a lot of photographers because of their beautiful, minimalist and modern templates. Wix is also another site that has improved in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. It is highly customizable and unlike some of the other options, offers tons of different templates to choose from.

2. Print your work

The demand for digital imagery is huge, however, print is not dead.

If you’re a commercial photographer, having a print portfolio is essential for meeting with clients. Showing up at an agency meeting with an iPad to show your work will make you look like an amateur.

In the commercial and advertising world, agencies want to see how your images hold up in print because any flaws become much more obvious. It’s important for them to see how your work translates into print before they hire you.

Creating a top-notch portfolio can be very expensive, but there are several sites like Artifact Uprising and Blurb where you can have good quality photo books printed at a reasonable price.

If you’re looking for commercial work and want to work with ad agencies, design firms, or magazines, you’ll also need to send out printed promos to your target market three or four times a year.

It’s said that it takes an average of seven contacts with someone before they buy from you, so this tactic may not pay off immediately.  However, never underestimate the silent watchers.

If you work on the retail level, such as in wedding photography or portraiture, it’s still useful to have printed work to show prospective clients. People love to see something tangible, something they can hold in their hands that will help them experience your work in a more direct way. The photographers who make a lot of money in these niches print out their photographs to show to clients in-person, which drives sales exponentially.

3. Create a quarterly email campaign

Do you have a ‘subscribe to email list’ on your website? If not, you should. Nothing converts like email. An engaged list is far more important than any form of social media. The changing algorithms and whims of companies like Instagram and Facebook can leave your business incredibly vulnerable if you depend on them.

By sending out a regular newsletter or a PDF mailer to your past clients and other relevant business contacts, you appear busy and relevant. Fresh content helps you connect to your audience.

Research whom you want to work with, and regularly make contact with them. Keep track of these contacts via a spreadsheet or CRM (customer relationship management), so you know who has received your previous mailing.

Hire a designer that can create a template for you. This will allow you to swap out pictures every time you do a new campaign with new work. Include your logo on the front and a short bio inside, along with your contact information. Alternately you can create a promo “newspaper” or magazine through a company like Blurb or Newspaper Club. 

Your email promo should look as professional as possible. The email campaigns should go out to your target clients every quarter to keep you top of mind when they’re looking for a photographer.

Even if you send out printed promotions, you should also send out email campaigns.

Printed promotions are expensive, which means you can only send them out to a select group of people – your most ideal clients. But with email, you can send out a promotion such as a PDF mailer to hundreds or prospective clients.

4. Use social media strategically

Everyone is complaining about their love/hate relationship with social media, but if you’re using it for business, it’s non-negotiable. The keys to success are your perspective and using social media the right way.

It’s best to pick one or two social media channels and concentrate on bringing up your visibility there. Start by asking yourself what you want to achieve?

Do you want to:

  • Drive traffic to your site?
  • Connect with agencies and brands?
  • Connect with potential brides or portrait clients?

Put aside time every day to post and engage with your target market by leaving thoughtful comments. 

Know that the path from a “like” to any “purchase” is a really big leap. Social media should be part of a wider strategy of creating visibility and engaging with a community. It’s great to follow other photographers and support one another, but most of them won’t be your potential clients. Avoid the big time suck of social media and focus on the people that are likely to hire you.

5. Write a WordPress blog

I’m always going on about writing a blog. I think most photographers should have a blog.

One reason is that if you have a WordPress blog connected to your site, you can get a massive boost to your SEO. Updating the blog regularly will get you a higher ranking in search results.

Writing a blog will also help you connect with your audience and build trust. Your clients will feel like they have come to know you.

If writing is not your strong suit, you don’t need to write a lot. In fact, your posts should have lots of images instead. You can share about a family or personal branding session. You can share shots and a short narrative about the latest wedding you shot or write about how you recommend clients dress for their personal branding session.

However you decide to approach it, make sure that your content adds value for the people reading it.


To sum up

Marketing gets a bad rap. As an artist, you may feel like a used car salesman when you’re trying to sell your services. However, think of marketing as a way of putting yourself in front of people and letting them know you’re there.

The most successful photographers are those that demonstrate that they can add value and solve a specific problem.

By taking a more curated, thoughtful approach to promoting yourself, you’ll be able to build a business that stays strong in the face of trends and stands out amongst your competitors.

Do you have any other Tips for Marketing Your Photography Business? Share with us in the comments!


The post 5 Top Tips for Marketing Your Photography Business Successfully appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Great Reasons to put a Carabiner in your Photo Kit

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 08:30

The post Great Reasons to put a Carabiner in your Photo Kit appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

The carabiner is a device most closely associated with mountain climbing, but now it finds application in so many other things.  In this article, we’ll explore a few ways you can make good use of a carabiner as a photographer.

Interestingly, the carabiner was not initially invented for climbers.  The history of the device is interesting with an inventor nicknamed “Rambo.” It’s not a story I’ll detail here, but worth a read.  The carabiner is essentially a loop with an easily opened “gate.” It allows quick clipping onto objects and then which closes by means of a spring.  Some carabiners also have a locking mechanism which prevents the gate from inadvertently opening.

Inexpensive carabiners are great for many of the applications we’ll discuss here. However, note, they are clearly marked “NOT FOR CLIMBING.”

Not for climbing

Carabiners come in a multitude of sizes and designs.  Those specifically made for climbers are carefully designed, tested, rated for strength, and marked with their load-bearing capabilities.  At the other end of the spectrum are the lightweight versions often sold for just a few dollars in hardware stores and the like.  These are often marked “Not for Climbing” as they are not built with the same care or performance capabilities of the climbing-specific types.

The huge almost 8-inch carabiner on the left might have some good photo applications like carrying multiple items or hanging an extension cord, but it’s not for climbing. The other three are climbing-rated carabiners. The one at the far right is a locking type.

For the purposes described in this article, we will cover possible uses by photographers. For those applications, the lighter weight, non-climbing versions may work fine.

As a disclaimer, I know very little about climbing. I am not a climber and certainly would not begin to suggest you take anything in this article as instruction on how to use carabiners for climbing. If that’s is your intention, go find an expert – someone you trust with your life.

In the climbing world, that really is the purpose a carabiner may serve.

Security and convenience

Carabiners serve two main purposes for climbers:

Safety – Carabiners are used as quick attachment devices to clip into climbing ropes. Those ropes act as safety devices so should the climber fall, the rope and the carabiner restrain the climber and save them from disaster.

Convenience – On the side of a mountain, it’s just you. Fumble and drop something, and it’s gone. Unable to carry a heavy load, you need a strong, lightweight device that provides security as well as easy access to your equipment (sometimes with just one hand). That’s just the job for which the carabiner is well-suited.

Safety and convenient use of carabiners by photographers is what we’ll address.


When fragile things fall onto hard surfaces, bad things happen.  That is why climbers use ropes and carabiners – as safety devices.  If you’ve ever dropped a camera, lens, or other valuable photo gear, you learned this lesson the hard way.  So, what if we could come up with a few tricks using carabiners to provide some safety for your photo equipment so you aren’t punished by the law of gravity?

A simple DIY camera-to-tripod safety tether as outlined here. The top knot is a clove hitch, the bottom one a cats-paw knot.

Camera-to-tripod tether

I do a lot of landscape photography and like to mount my camera to my tripod with a Swiss-Arca compatible L-bracket. The bracket clips into the lever lock mount at the top of my tripod. I prefer the lever clamp to twist knobs. It’s quicker to work, easier to see if it’s locked, and unlike a twist knob, doesn’t require periodic checking. After taking a few shots, when moving to a new location, I put the tripod over my shoulder and walk to the new spot with the camera and lens still mounted to the end of the tripod.

Now, I know I’m not the only one to do this – I remember watching Art Wolfe’s “Travels to the Edge,” where he’d routinely carry his camera like this. I like to be cool like Art – silhouetted against the sun with my tripod and camera over my shoulder. Never did I see his camera fall off the tripod and I’ve never had mine fall off…yet.

I’m afraid that one day I’ll be walking, carrying the camera this way, and suddenly feel the tripod get lighter and hear a crash behind me. I know my blood would run cold. A clamp failure or unplanned release could spell disaster and certainly, make a grown man cry. Rather than have that happen, I came up with this idea.

Get two carabiners and tie each to opposite ends of a short length of rope. Paracord works well for this as it’s light and strong. Don’t over-engineer this. You want to pick carabiners and cord with a load strength of maybe 50-lbs or greater to be on the safe side, but not so large as to be cumbersome. What is important is to tie the cord to the carabiners with the proper knot. If the rope comes loose from the carabiner when the need arises…yup…that would be bad.

Go online and find a good video showing how to tie a rope to a carabiner. I like the catspaw knot for this purpose. The clove hitch is good too.

Walking with your camera on the tripod over your shoulder like in the inset image, if the clamp released your camera would be saved like in the large shot IF tethered. Otherwise…     = :-O

The length of the cord shouldn’t be much longer than the distance to reach from your tripod head to the camera. Usually, 6-8″ (15-20cm) will be about right. Get a split ring, the kind often used for keyrings, and mount that to the lug on the side of the camera made for a regular camera strap.

Now, clip one carabiner through the ring and the other one just under the mount on your ball head. (See the photo). Most ball heads will accommodate this. However, if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to find an alternate place on the tripod to clip the lower carabiner. Now head down the trail confident that if the clamp releases your camera, the tether will save it.

Yes, it might occasionally get in the way or prevent your ball head from completely free motion while photographing, but if so, unclip the carabiners while you work. The peace of mind I get as I walk the trail with my camera on my tripod over my shoulder is well worth a slight inconvenience.

Other uses for a safety tether

A similar DIY device, two carabiners connected by a length of cord, may find other applications in your photo work as a safety tether. The size and weight of the device you need to protect will dictate the strength of your carabiners and connecting cord, rope, or cable. People in lighting or theatrical work are likely familiar with such safety tethers. Having a heavy light fall onto the talent below would be bad, very bad.

Even if your photography doesn’t involve talent under lighting or other equipment, having expensive photo gear fall off a mount and crash to the ground is also bad. Consider devising ways you can create safety tethers for some of your other equipment with a little creative DIY engineering.

A sling-style camera strap attached to the bottom tripod hole of a camera with a locking carabiner-style clip.

Camera Straps

I get it, no one likes a strap around their neck, and most camera straps are a bothersome hassle. But like wearing your seat belt in the car, perhaps you need to consider the risk versus the inconvenience. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen photographers – even pros – holding their camera and taking a shot with the strap dangling down in front of them rather than around their neck. I see them shooting out the tour bus window, over the side of the boat, over a cliff edge or at the zoo with crocodiles below.

Also, I wish I had all the money wasted when cameras and lenses which could have saved with a strap instead were fumbled, dropped, and destroyed. I use an Op/Tech sling strap (Black Rapid is a similar well-known sling-strap designer). It is more comfortable, keeps the camera on my hip rather than my chest, an is still ready for quick action.

My work camera uses a different connection method. It uses a mount into the tripod screw hole and a snap-clip which is much like a carabiner. Before that, I modified my OEM strap and used a similar hardware store snap-clip.

I guess there are people who “free-climb” mountains with no safety devices, people who drive without their seat belts and, yes, people who don’t like camera straps. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Me? Camera straps, carabiners, and safety tethers are my friends.

Photographing near the edge

On a trip to Canyonlands National Park in Utah, we had a photo buddy in our group with less acrophobia than I. (We nicknamed him “Spiderman”). While photographing the canyon at Deadhorse State Park, he was uncomfortably close to the edge. I tried not to look and concentrated on my photography. Then I did look around…and he had disappeared! His tripod and camera were still there, but not him.


I feared the worst and cautiously peered over the edge…


A few minutes later, with a big grin, he stepped out from behind some bushes.

For our next trip, I’m considering rigging him with a safety tether.

That next step is a doozy! My photo buddy “Spiderman” on a trip to Deadhorse State Park in Utah.

I tell that story to suggest this, using a carabiner and length of rope to allow you to make those “edgy shots” safely. The shots where you extend your camera and tripod over the edge, out the window, over the side of the boat, cliff, above the crocodile pit (Crikey!). All of those places where if you fumble or your clamp releases you won’t be getting your gear back. At least not in one piece. There’s also the potential danger to those below to consider.

I’m suggesting attaching your camera/tripod to a tether.  A good device if you do a lot of hand-holding of your camera with a wrist strap.  There are various commercial designs, or you can fashion a strap with a velcro fastening to go around your wrist and a carabiner to clip to a ring on your camera.  Fumble the camera and the safety tether to your wrist saves it.

While working near precipitous edges, it may also be a good idea to have a tether on yourself. However, if you decide to do so, you enter the realm of “climbing.” As I said, don’t look to me or this article for guidance on that subject.

If you do tether your equipment, secure the other end of the rope to something secure, perhaps not yourself. You don’t want a falling camera and tripod dragging you over the edge too. Got all that Spiderman?

Often the hook at the bottom of a tripod column just isn’t large enough to accommodate a camera bag handle. A carabiner makes it work. Use this arrangement when you want extra weight and stability for your tripod or to keep your camera bag off the dirty or wet ground.

Convenience – What, where, and when you need it

Having what you need, where you need it, when you need it, and available for quick access and return to its storage location is essential to a mountain climber hanging on the side of a cliff. It’s also handy for a photographer who has hands busy operating the camera. Or doesn’t have the time to root through a backpack looking for something while the light is fleeting. Carabiner to the rescue! Putting easy access to equipment within reach is a hallmark of this little wonder.

Zip-tie and gaff tape a carabiner to a tripod leg and you have a “third-hand” hook. Keep a filter or other accessory bag right at hand while you work.

Creative photographers will come up with many uses for a carabiner, whether in the field or the studio. Others marketing all manner of other goodies and gizmos have also incorporated carabiners into their equipment designs to make them more useful.

Let’s look at some photos that show both some DIY uses as well as product designs that leverage the wonders of a carabiner.

Many products incorporate carabiners int their design. Here are just a few of possible interest to photographers. Urban Gear knife, TempaBright light/thermometer, Coghlan’s waterproof capsule container, Coghlan’s large carabiner carry handle, small carabiner keychains, Nite Ize S-biner, Nite Ize DoohicKey, LuxPro focusable flashlight, LifeLine weather-resistant First Aid Kit, and don’t forget the zip-ties.

Team these with a carabiner

You’ve seen some great uses for carabiners for a photographer, and hopefully, I’ve introduced you to something you can use. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest some other devices to throw into your pack to increase the versatility of carabiners even more.

My LowePro ProTactic 450AW backpack has MOLLE webbing on the outside giving many places to clip in carabiners and goodies.


Originally developed as the suspension lines used on parachutes, this strong and lightweight nylon cord is a great accessory to have in your pack.  It’s available in many thicknesses and strengths, a rainbow of colors, is easily cut when you need a shorter length and you can seal the ends with a match.  It’s great stuff and a perfect partner to a carabiner.

Need to tighten a loose line? Clip on a carabiner, twist the carabiner until the line is tight, then clip the carabiner back onto the now tightened line.

Binder clips

Yes, the kind used in the office.  They come in a variety of sizes so you can suit the size to the need.  A perfect photographic application is hanging a backdrop.  Put a few binder clips along the top edge of the backdrop, clip carabiners through the loops of each clip and you can hang the backdrop from a paracord line or rod.

Hang a backdrop with some carabiners used like curtain hooks on a line or rod. Binder clips work well for this, but these ProGrip TarpSharks were too cute not to buy a couple.

Zip ties –  (aka cable ties)

Zip ties are very lightweight, strong, and able to be pulled very tight and locked there. These are wonder devices.  When you can’t attach your carabiner directly to an object, try attaching a zip tie to it and before tightening, a carabiner as well.  The example above of attaching a water bottle to a carabiner is a good one.  You’ll think of dozens of other uses.  Zip ties can also save the day when straps or other things in your photo kit break and you need an emergency fix.

Gaffer tape

People in the film and theatrical professions know and love this stuff and no photographer ought to be without a small roll in their pack.  Don’t confuse this with duct tape, it will only make a sticky, hard-to-remove mess of your equipment.  Get real gaff tape and then go nuts with the many ways you’ll be able to use it.

In the studio, an easy way to keep two joined extension cords from becoming unplugged.

Not a lock, but at least a way to use a carabiner on your backpack zippers to discourage a potential thief from a quick grab of your gear.

The DIY photographer

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a real DIY nut! If I can figure out a cheaper, better, innovative way to do something, including my photography work, I’m all over it.

Carabiners certainly fall into the list of useful parts in the “goodies” bag I keep in my photo backpack.  I hope you picked up a useful tip here. If there’s something I missed that you’d like to share with the worldwide photographic community here on DPS, please include it and maybe a photo too in the comments section below.

Now go forth and photograph!


The post Great Reasons to put a Carabiner in your Photo Kit appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

3 Tips for Capturing your Holiday with the Nikkor 60mm Micro Lens

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 06:00

The post 3 Tips for Capturing your Holiday with the Nikkor 60mm Micro Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

Going on holiday is so exciting for me. It’s a chance to unwind and take it easy. The one thing I don’t want to do on holidays is carry heavy equipment for my photography. I do that already as my day job and heavy cameras paired with heavier lenses are a drag. When on holiday, I usually take one camera body and one small prime lens with me. That’s it!

This article is about capturing your holiday photos with the simplest of gear: a camera and lens. I used my Nikon D750 full-frame camera and a Nikkor 60mm micro prime lens for all the photos featured in this article. The combination is small in size and light in weight. Just a note though, as the D750 has a full-frame sensor, the 60mm viewed through it is a 60mm. If you use a cropped-sensor camera, this 60mm becomes a 90mm when viewed through the smaller sensor. Therefore it’s not something I recommend as a holiday combo. If you only have a cropped-sensor camera, then you are better off going with a 35mm fixed lens.

Why Nikkor 60mm?

You may ask why 60mm, not 50mm, not 35mm? That’s a valid question. I used to take the 50mm as that focal length is most versatile and I love it’s lightness too. I have previously written an article here on the 50mm and its versatility. But I have swapped this for my 60mm as my go-to holiday lens recently.

1. The 60mm medium focal range is versatile Landscape

If you have enough space to back off from the subject, you can take a good landscape photo without distortions (like cropping out too many tourists for example) and without it being too unnecessarily wide. Landscape in wide-open areas is easy. You can do more “considered” compositions because of the viewpoint the focal length allows. You can also “crop” in-camera just by moving forward or backward to include or exclude areas within the frame.


A portrait, by strict definition, is usually a view from the shoulders to the head. However, you can loosen it up a bit by going half body or even full-body! It’s not close-up nor too wide. The Nikkor 60mm Micro is the perfect focal length for a portrait. Because it’s an f/2.8 lens, you can still get shallow depth of field and achieve a pleasing background compression for a flattering image. This is especially so when I want to accentuate the subject and blur the background.


Because the Nikkor 60mm Micro has a micro/macro lens capability, I can capture close-ups (including extreme close-ups) with it too. The photos below are of a wall covering at Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. We were passing through the darkly lit rooms (no flashes allowed) in a tour group so there was no stopping for a long time. It’s quite literally aim, shoot and go! I wanted to capture the intricate embroidery on these fabric wall coverings and a patch of the design. The Nikkor 60mm Micro gives fairly heavy vignetting, especially when shooting close-ups in low light. Close-range photography usually requires more light which wasn’t available here. However, the vignetting created works for me because I wanted to focus on the central areas of the patterns.

All in all, the Nikkor 60mm Micro is light and nifty and has macro capabilities. With it, you can shoot really close-up details, through to much wider views, as shown in the photo below.

2. Shoot to tell a story

I have recently written an article, 3 tips in photographing details in a scene, where I talked about shooting to tell a story. This is essentially utilizing the elements of story-telling as you visually capture scenes. So, you can tell the beginning, middle and end of a story effectively just by using photos.

Varied angles

You can make a story more interesting by employing a variety of angles. Think of a film being shot. You often have several cameras with various lenses coming in from different angles: wide, medium, high, low and close-up. These viewpoints offer new and different insights into the scene at hand.


Capturing moments that carry emotions is a surefire way of immortalizing memories in our minds. Action photos often help with these. The photos below of my daughter blowing soapy suds will remind her of her delight upon seeing a fountain overflowing with foamy white stuff! It was a marathon day when we visited Tallinn, Estonia. Crossing roads was tricky with all the runners zooming past too. A nice smile at the camera when we got on a train, and a much-needed rest from miles and miles of walking while sightseeing. All precious memories.


A series of shots showing a progression or a beginning, middle and end can also be a fun and interesting way of telling a story of a moment. It doesn’t have to be a complicated moment. A snapshot of something that catches your eye will do, like the little scene below. Including a couple of other shots of the same material but from a different perspective will bring new interest.

3. Don’t forget the details

Details help us remember and set memories firmly in our minds so we can chat about it for years to come. I make annual family albums which my kids love to pore over and talk about regularly. They give us a lot of laughter as we recall the fun events of our holidays and reminisce the special moments. Still life, scenery, close-ups…they all play a part in helping us capture details more effectively to tell stories of our lives.

I hope you found this little article on how to capture your holiday photos with just one lens, such as the Nikkor 60mm Micro helpful. Do share more tips in the comments below.


The post 3 Tips for Capturing your Holiday with the Nikkor 60mm Micro Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

How To Achieve Better High-Key Photographs

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 08:30

The post How To Achieve Better High-Key Photographs appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Lighting influences the atmosphere of a photograph. High-key photographs are associated with upbeat, positive feelings.

Using one main key light and avoiding contrast can help you produce photographs that convey a happy mood. This technique is popular with wedding and portrait photographers. It’s also often used in classy advertising campaigns.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

What is your key light?

Your main light source is your key light. It can be light from any source. The sun on a cloudy day is the best natural key light. Artificial light from a portable flash, studio strobes or a continuous light source can also be used. To infuse the right mood, you are best to diffuse the light.

Diffusing your light source scatters the light rays. This reduces the amount of shadow in your pictures. When you have a strong, softened key light, the shadows it casts will be minimal. You can use additional lights or reflectors to lessen the effect of the shadows even more.

To maximize the good-feeling effect, you need to produce photographs with a narrow tone range. The difference between the darkest and lightest areas in your composition should only be a few stops. You must work with the light sources to balance the light ratio.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

What’s wrong with shadows?

There’s nothing wrong with shadows, but they can imply a heavier mood.

Deep shadows in a photograph are often associated with more somber feelings. Shadows are often used with great effect to convey drama, mystery, and suspense.

Hard edges and high contrast restrict what a viewer can clearly see in a photograph. This lighting technique is often used by photographers and moviemakers to evoke feelings of doubt and mistrust.

Control the light and contrast levels using one diffused key light on your main subject. This produces a nice feeling.

Using one strong, undiffused light produces hard shadows on your subject. This often results in a darker overall feeling.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Use high-key light with the right subject

It’s always best to consider and control the light you use to fit best with your subject.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

During the portrait session I had with this young woman, we wanted to create two different moods. One light and happy, the other more serious.

For the high key photo, I used a large softbox on my main studio light and a smaller softbox on my secondary light. This produced a soft, bright wrap around light with little shadow. I also lit the background with two strong lights to add to the happy atmosphere. Obviously, her radiant smile completed the tone of this photograph.

During the same session, I changed the lighting. I used only one light and did not diffuse it. I also turned off the background lights and she turned off her smile.

Had I kept the lighting the same as she posed with the two different expressions, the mood would not have been conveyed so well.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

How does the background affect high-key photography?

I think the lighter the background is the more upbeat the feeling of a photo can be. But light-colored backgrounds do not have to be used exclusively.

In a photo session with a ceramic artist who wanted really get in touch with her medium, we produced a series of different photos. Some were high-key with a light background. Others we made with a dark background. Some of them I used high-key lighting. In others, I used one undiffused light.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

This was one of the first photos in the series before things got dirty. The high-key lighting combined with the light background and another lovely smile produced a light, happy portrait.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Dropping in a dark background and keeping the key light the same. After applying some mud, it resulted in a fun, rather unusual portrait. The mood is certainly different from the dark background. The lighting was basically the same.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Wanting to create a different mood, I then used a single, undiffused light with a more gloomy, contemplative pose.

Pay attention to the shadows

Your key light source will determine the amount and strength of the shadows in your photos. You must pay careful attention to the shadows and ensure they are not too dark. Eliminating or lessening the shadow areas will enhance the effectiveness of your high-key photos.

Using a large, soft light source produces the least amount of shadow. This can be a large softbox on a studio strobe, as I have used in the examples above. You can also make use of sunlight for making high-key photographs.

On cloudy days or when your subject is in the shade, the shadows will tone down more. In full, bright sunshine, the shadows can be problematic. They will be darker and have hard edges. This high contrast will not add to the mood you want to create.

Finding an outdoor location where you can backlight your subject with the sunlight can help produce high-key photos. In situations like this, you’ll need a fill light, which will act as your key light. Even though the sun is brighter, the light you add will be the main light you must take your meter reading from.

Young Clown

Setting your exposure by this light, as I have in the photo above, will result in an overexposed background. I was able to achieve this look because of the white-painted structures close by. They were reflecting light back into her face.


As in all styles of photography, working with the light to create the photos you want is an integral part of the process. The better your lighting is, the better your photos will be.

Experiment and try different light sources to achieve a high-key effect. There are no hard-and-fast rules, and you must work with what you have. Whether you’re in a studio or outdoors, you will face challenges.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

In a studio, you may not have enough room, lights or diffusers. Be creative, think outside the box a little and innovate when you want to make high-key photos.

Do the same outdoors with natural light. Try introducing diffused flash to help balance the light ratio and reduce the shadows. Make use of reflected light bouncing off a wall or building. Carrying a fold-out reflector is also another practical way to help subdue the shadows.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Give some thought as to how you can create some high-key photos using what you have available to you. You don’t have to photograph people. Food, still life and other subjects can be presented well using high key lighting too.

I’d love to see some in the comments below with a description of how you made them!

The post How To Achieve Better High-Key Photographs appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

An Introduction to Amazing Abstract Automotive Photography

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 06:00

The post An Introduction to Amazing Abstract Automotive Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Some photographs document an event or show a person, place or thing. These are photos of record accurately capturing an image that represents what we see. Other times we want to take a more artistic approach, making a photograph more about a feeling than solely about the subject itself. Sometimes the two mix, for instance in advertising photography, where we might want to accurately show a product but do it in an artistic way that invites the viewer to also feel a certain way about the product.

The beautiful lines of a Porsche and the curves of a twisting road. Put the two together to create a story.

When leaning toward the artistic and sometimes abstract interpretations of photo subjects, I like to remember the words of famous photographer Minor White:

“One should not only photograph things for what they are but for what else they are.”

You don’t need to show the whole car to tell the story. The colors and lines contribute to the image of this American legend.

Applying this to the subject of abstract automotive photography, my intent here is not to teach you everything there is to know about making abstract automotive photos, but to simply get your creative juices flowing. You’ll note that none of the photos here show a complete automobile, but instead depict details, pieces, and parts.

The focus here is the artistic concepts of form, shape, line, tone, color, pattern, light, and shadow.

The shot is blurry by design. I wanted to create a feeling of motion here.

You can also get creative with interior images. The zoom-blur effect was added later in editing.

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? The patterns and holes in wheels can look like faces – a phenomenon known as Pareidolia.

Automobiles may be a mode of transportation, but they are also art objects – the work of designers who pay much attention to form as well as function. Know that an automotive artist purposely and artistically designed every detail of every car. We, as photographers, can explore that art, find the beauty, note how light plays across the curves and surfaces of an automobile, and use it to craft beautiful photos.

You can make a shot like this on a car lot. It’s all about repeating shapes, lines, and patterns.

What and where

Finding cars to photograph and places to photograph them will depend on what’s available to you. I work part-time at a Ford dealership, photographing new cars for posting on the internet. These are not art photos. They serve the purpose I spoke of earlier: accurately representing the vehicles to interested buyers. The purpose, time, and volume don’t permit spending much time on each photo. However, when time does permit, the light is especially nice, or a particularly interesting car is available, I will get a little more creative.

Find an angle that works and you can use it over and over. Can you tell I like this composition when photographing Mustangs?

Why restrict yourself to the exterior components of a car? When I saw this transmission torn apart on the workbench, I asked the mechanic if I could take some shots.

You might not work at a car dealership, but you could probably talk a local dealer into letting you take photos of their cars particularly if you’d share some of your images with them.

Alternatively, perhaps you or a friend have a nice car you could start with. Begin making and showing some good work and, before long, you’ll have people asking if you can photograph their cars.

Car shows can be a great place for auto art photography. They often have a diversity of makes and models from different eras.

Car shows

Most areas have occasional car shows, where owners polish their vehicles to a mirror-like finish and proudly show them. Often there will be a nice variety of vehicles, sometimes exotics, hotrods, older classics, and antiques. Because the public is typically invited to these events, and they are held in public spaces, photography is generally not a problem.

In fact, the owners practically expect people to ogle and photograph their cars. One thing they will not appreciate (and will likely get you run off in a big hurry) is touching their beauties. Always be respectful and ask if there’s any doubt about whether you can photograph the vehicles.

And, above all, never touch the cars.

Raindrops on red Jags…These are a few of my favorite things. The color, the diagonal lines, the iconic symbols, and the interest added by the raindrops on a freshly-waxed hood all combine to make this image work.

One problem is that there will typically be lots of people around. Because cars are covered with highly reflective surfaces, getting shots without people’s reflections can sometimes be a problem.

I have no real solution for this, other than to make two suggestions:

  1. When making tight shots of particular pieces of a car, the chances of getting a reflection in your shot is much less than if you were photographing the entire car.
  2. Learn to be patient. Frame up your shot, be ready, wait for the person in the shot to move on, and then quickly make your photo.

It can be hard to keep bystanders, or even yourself, out of the reflections in glass, chrome, and shiny paint.

Fins up! How cool is this beauty, found at a local car show?

Sometimes monochrome is the best way to show the old classics, much like they might have appeared in an old film of the era. Sunstars are courtesy of the noon sun, a highly polished surface, and an f/22 aperture.


High-end automotive photography can involve as much care in lighting as any product or model session. There are studios specially designed to drive a car inside to photograph. I know a local guy who has such a studio. It has full hard cyclorama walls, a glossy white floor, and a lighting system that includes the largest softbox I’ve ever seen. The softbox has to be at least 30 feet long, maybe more!

Hood ornaments are art objects unto themselves. Then add a sunstar with a specular highlight and a small aperture. Both images were made in full noon sun.

The hood emblem of an old Ford F-100 pickup reminded me of the symbol used by the superhero the Flash.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the shots in this article. They are all made outside with just daylight, no flash, sometimes on a tripod, but many times handheld. Often they were made in the bright noonday sun. Sometimes the bright sun is nice, such as when the specular highlights on chrome, combined with a small aperture, create sunstars.

The point is that you don’t need anything fancy to try this kind of photography. A creative eye, some imagination, and the ability to properly control focus, depth of field, and exposure are all you need.

The door handle is the only touch of reality in this otherwise purely abstract image.

Gettin’ funky in the junkyard

Even the nicest cars will wind up here one day – the junkyard.

One might think it a strange place to make photos. However, for some reason (perhaps nostalgia?), many of us are fascinated by old things. In the auto junkyard, you’ll often find old classics quietly rusting in peace. The once-shiny paint fades to all kinds of interesting colors and patinas. And the layers of peeling paint and rust make an incredible canvas for abstract art.

On the right, an old tour bus used by country star Gene Autry is now parked in Palouse, Washington. On the left, a tight shot of the abstract art to be found if you explore the rust patterns on the old band bus.

Corruption of Power

A word of caution about junkyard photography: Always ask the owner if you can take pictures on their property.

Yes, oftentimes auto junkyard owners will puzzle over why anyone would want to make photos of a bunch of old beat-up and rusting cars. Ask nicely. Convince the owner you’re only there to make photos and you won’t be taking any spare parts home with you. You’ll often get the go-ahead.

Now, you’ll be working in an environment of sharp rusty metal, broken glass, spilled oil, gas, and other automotive fluids, so caution is important. (It might be a good idea to have your tetanus shot up-to-date and carry a first aid kit just in case.)

Whatever you do, just don’t head onto the property without permission, even if the area seems abandoned. You don’t want to meet the infamous junkyard dog or his angry owner.

You can likely still tell this is the hood of an old car. Even so, it’s really about the patterns, textures, lines, and colors.

Getting really abstract

It could be argued that the previous photos in this article really aren’t “abstract” images.

So let’s take a deep dive into really abstract automotive photography – the kind not everyone will appreciate. You’re almost guaranteed to have viewers ask, “What’s that??!!”

No matter. Abstract art is an acquired taste. But once the bug bites you, you’ll find an auto junkyard is practically a gallery of images all begging for your attention.

I took a photo workshop by noted photographer Art Wolfe earlier this year called “Photography as Art,” and he really opened my eyes to this kind of imagery. After the workshop, the auto junkyard became a whole new experience. It was suddenly a place where abstract imagery abounded and peeling paint, broken glass, rust, and decay were the stuff of great photos.

It’s still an old car, but now we’ve entered the world of pure abstract art. Unlike photographing iconic landmarks, where your photo is pretty much what everyone gets, making these kinds of images guarantees your photo will be one of a kind.

I have to wonder if this vehicle was painted numerous times over in its life, or if this is just how the paint ages.

I’ve seen abstract art like this selling for big money and displayed on the walls of corporate offices. I hope to someday figure out just how to tap into that market.

Go do it

I invite you to look at the shots here, look at other abstract automotive photography online, and get inspired. Then just go do it.

Make it a point to not photograph the entire car. Instead look at the shapes, lines, tone, color, and all the other artistic elements of the vehicle. Isolate these to make your shot.

If getting truly abstract images interests you, find some old cars in a junkyard and get in tight. Use the textures, colors, and patterns to make your shot. Be less concerned about what the subject is and more concerned about how the image feels.

Have fun and, if you get some good abstract automotive photography, share them in the comment section below. Best wishes!


The post An Introduction to Amazing Abstract Automotive Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

How to Make a Cool Double Exposure Effect Using Photoshop [video]

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 06:00

The post How to Make a Cool Double Exposure Effect Using Photoshop [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video from tutvid, you’ll learn to make a cool double exposure effect using photoshop.


Some of the things that you will learn while going through this double exposure effect in Photoshop tutorial include:

  • How to isolate an image from its background using the magic wand tool and the Select and Mask Tool.
  • Fine-tuning your selection in the Select and Mask Window using the paintbrush.
  • How to output your mask selection to a new Photoshop layer – so that you save your original image.
  • Making a new Layer and fill it with a solid color.
  • Using the pen tool to create a path you can then make a selection from.
  • Making your image Monochromatic.
  • Using the Channel Mixer, Curves and Levels to fine-tune your monochrome image.
  • Turning your image Monochrome using the Black and White Adjustment Layer.
  • Working with contrast.
  • Merging multiple Layers.
  • How to choose images that will work together.
  • Adding your second image to your original as a new layer.
  • Using Photoshop Blend Modes.
  • Saving and loading selections.
  • Dragging Layer Masks to new Layers to create your double exposure.
  • Fine-tuning your double exposure by painting out parts of your layer mask.
  • Using the High Pass Filter to add more detail to your image.
  • Using Camera Raw to fine-tune your image.
  • Working with Gradient Maps.

Try this out for yourself, and share your creations with us in the comments section below!

The post How to Make a Cool Double Exposure Effect Using Photoshop [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Suburbia

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 15:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is SUBURBIA!

Gustavo Zambelli

The suburbs can be a photography wonderland, with fantastic old and new houses and kids playing in the yard. Then there are the day-to-day things about the suburbs, like the washing line, cars parked in driveways, bikes and toys strewn across lawns, letterboxes and picket fences, and street signs.

So go out and capture anything that represents the suburbs to you. They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. Just so long as they are suburban! You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Sophie Dale

Michael Tuszynski

Rodolfo Mari

Robert Gramner

Check out some of the articles below that give you tips on this week’s challenge. While some apply to cities, you can apply the principles to photographing in suburbia.

Tips for Shooting SUBURBIA

8 Tips – How to do Storytelling With Your Images

The Ultimate Guide to Street Photography

7 Street Photography Tips and Exercises to Try This Season

5 Tips for Photographing Houses

How to do Great Photography Even When Your Surroundings are Boring

5 Tips for Thinking Out of the Box to Inspire Your Photography at Home

Photograph Close to Home to Improve Your Photography

Weekly Photography Challenge – SUBURBIA

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 #DPSsuburbia 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 – Suburbia appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Nikon Announces D6 in the Making, Plus Rumored D6 Specs

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 08:30

The post Nikon Announces D6 in the Making, Plus Rumored D6 Specs appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Well, it’s official:

The Nikon D6 is under development, as announced by Nikon earlier this week.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because the Nikon D6 has been whispered about for months, including a lengthy list of rumored specifications.

But it’s nice to know the D6 is on its way.

Unfortunately, Nikon’s announcement includes no details on the D6, except that it will be the company’s “most advanced DSLR to date.” This may be a reference to the D6’s autofocus system, which is rumored to be better than even the Nikon D5’s incredible system.

Note that the Nikon D5 is famed for its autofocus capabilities. The D5 AF system featured 153 focus points, including 99 cross-type points. Better autofocus capabilities would be an exciting upgrade for action photographers, especially if it includes some form of Live View autofocus to rival Canon’s Dual Pixel system.

The announcement also indicated that the D6 will be a DSLR rather than a mirrorless camera. This puts to rest any speculation about Nikon’s flagship system moving to mirrorless, though rumors suggest the D6 will have several mirrorless-style features.

For instance, the D6 will likely include in-body image stabilization, which Nikon included in its full-frame mirrorless bodies, the Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7. The camera may also have a high-performing silent shooting mode, which will be appreciated by photographers who need to remain discrete at events.

Now, the Nikon D6 is a professional’s camera, competing primarily with the Canon 1DX Mark II (and its likely successor, the Canon 1DX Mark III). The Nikon D6 line is primarily designed with professional sports photographers in mind, hence the incredible autofocus capabilities. It will undoubtedly feature a rugged body and lightning-fast continuous shooting speed, as well.

The Nikon D6 will likely begin shipping in early 2020, which will give professional sports photographers plenty of time to get used to its capabilities before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

So if you’re a professional sports photographer, don’t worry:

The D6 is in the works, and it’s guaranteed to impress.

Are you a Nikon user? Will you be getting the Nikon D6 or are you switching over to mirrorless? Let us know in the comments!

The post Nikon Announces D6 in the Making, Plus Rumored D6 Specs appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Which Way? When to Photograph in Portrait or Landscape Orientation

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 06:00

The post Which Way? When to Photograph in Portrait or Landscape Orientation appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

The standard camera sensor is rectangular in shape – a configuration that allows for both portrait and landscape orientations.

But is landscape orientation crucial to the execution of a landscape photograph? Must portraiture always be photographed in portrait orientation?

Plus, what if you’re photographing a subject that’s neither a portrait nor a landscape? What orientation works best?

In this article, we’ll have a look at how to choose between a portrait or landscape orientation in photography.

A bit of history Landscape orientation

Portrait and landscape designations likely stem from the orientations of canvasses used in art.

The dimensions of a horizontal rectangle best accommodate the wide vistas depicted by landscape artists. This earned the format its landscape title.

However, the landscape orientation is not restricted to landscape photos. Yes, landscape masterpieces by Vincent Van Gogh, Hokusai, and Monet have been in a landscape format. But artists like Sandro Botticelli and Wassily Kandinsky have created non-landscape art using landscape orientation. Frans Lanting, Andreas Gursky, and Gregory Crewdson all depict photographic subjects with the landscape orientation.

It’s the same for portrait photography. Photographers such as Robert Frank and Annie Lebovitz have approached portraiture in a landscape format.

The landscape orientation of this image of a leaf conveys a more relaxed viewing approach

Portrait orientation

A canvas taller than it is wide has become known as portrait orientation.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring are famous examples of portraits depicted in the traditional format. And Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother and Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl are well-known examples of portrait photography executed in a portrait format.

But portrait orientation isn’t limited to depicting people. Painters like Rachel Ruysch and Claude Monet worked in a portrait format to accommodate non-human subject matter.

And Edward Henry Weston used a portrait format to lend a formal quality to his investigations of organic materials, while the Bechers made hundreds of portrait-oriented images of urban landmarks.

The portrait orientation of this leaf abstract lends a more formal quality to the image.

Should you use portrait or landscape orientation? Fitting the subject

One of the deciding factors in choosing between a portrait or landscape orientation is the dimensions of the subject itself.

In terms of framing the face and body of a human, a portrait format can be ideal. The vertical nature of the human body works well with a portrait orientation.

Vertical subjects like tall buildings, trees, and waterfalls may also require a portrait orientation to be captured in their entirety.

Subjects made up of horizontal elements (like aircraft and landscapes) can fit better in landscape orientation.

Landscape orientation can also provide more room for incorporating additional elements into a photograph.

This is particularly useful in genres of photography like environmental portraiture, where the setting of the photograph is as important as the subject.

Because of the dimensions of aircraft, aviation photography is often carried out in a landscape orientation


The orientation of an image contributes significantly to visual emphasis.

A portrait orientation exaggerates the upright extension of subjects in a photograph. But a portrait orientation also speaks to our associations with tall subjects, emphasizing a sense of independence, wonder, modernity, and even superiority or unease.

In contrast, a landscape orientation places extra emphasis on space, illustrating ease and immersion.

In the simple example below you can see the different emphasis being placed on the floral silhouettes.

The portrait example emphasizes the energetic, upright quality of the flower. The landscape orientation creates a more relaxed perspective.


Every photographic situation is different and sometimes an element in a potential image is less than ideal.

If there are elements present within a photo that you would rather omit, switching camera orientations might help achieve a more polished image, either in-camera or in post-processing.

Cropping out excess information with a portrait orientation will simplify an image and minimize distractions.

Switching from a portrait to landscape orientation will decrease image height, prioritizing the horizontal flow in a photograph instead.

Formality vs relaxation

Over time, our historic use of image orientation has associated specific visual qualities with both portrait and landscape formats.

Portrait orientation is associated with the formality of historic portraiture. It is also associated with being upright, which is attached to wakefulness, sociability, and energy.

A landscape format, on the other hand, can lend a more relaxed, organic impression to a photograph. So a horizontal orientation is associated with laying down, lending a more tranquil quality to an image.


Choosing between a portrait or landscape orientation isn’t easy. There are many aspects to consider, and the orientation of an image depends heavily on the situation.

But if you understand the benefits and drawbacks of different orientations, you’ll be in a good position to decide which orientation to use!

Do you lean towards portrait or landscape orientation? Share with us in the comments!


The post Which Way? When to Photograph in Portrait or Landscape Orientation appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

Canon Announces Two New RF Lenses: The 15-35mm and the 24-70mm

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 08:00

The post Canon Announces Two New RF Lenses: The 15-35mm and the 24-70mm appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Canon has just announced two more lenses for their RF lineup: the RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS and the RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS.

Note that the RF line is designed for Canon’s full-frame mirrorless bodies, which currently includes the Canon EOS R and the Canon EOS RP. This is excellent news for Canon mirrorless users, who have previously had to contend with Canon’s relatively weak mirrorless lens lineup.

So if you’re a Canon mirrorless fan, this is for you.

These two lenses were unveiled by Canon back in February. But we now have specifications, prices, and release dates to share.

The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS

If you’re a landscape photographer, you’ll undoubtedly appreciate a high-quality wide zoom such as the Canon 15-35mm f/2.8L IS.

The focal length is perfect for a mix of wide and ultra-wide landscapes, and the image stabilization makes it possible to handhold photos, even with a deep depth of field.

Plus, the image quality is bound to be stellar.

This lens could easily become a landscape photography workhorse. It could also make its way into the bags of wedding photographers who are looking for a high-performing wide zoom.

The Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS will be sold for $2,299 USD starting at the end of September. While the price isn’t cheap, serious landscape photographers will appreciate the focal length, the optical quality, and the image stabilization.

The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM

Compared to the 15-35mm, the 24-70mm is more of an all-around option and one that’ll hold its own with the best in the field.

First, the wide maximum aperture and standard zoom focal length make this lens a good choice for portraits. The 9-bladed aperture is also bound to produce some gorgeous bokeh. So for portrait photographers, this is a lens worth looking at.

Event photographers will also appreciate the fast aperture, while the 5-stop image stabilization will make handholding in low light easy to pull off.

Even landscape photographers should consider the 24-70mm f/2.8. For landscape photographers who like a tighter look, the 24-70mm focal length range is exactly what is needed.

The Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM will start shipping at the end of September for $2,299 USD.


If you’re a mirrorless landscape photographer, then this is a good day, because you’ve got two amazing new RF lenses to look forward to.

Same goes for portrait and event photographers, who should appreciate the image stabilization and fast apertures these two lenses bring to the table.

If this is a sign of things to come, then the future is bright.

What do you think about these new lenses? Will you purchase them when the come out? Share in the comments!

The post Canon Announces Two New RF Lenses: The 15-35mm and the 24-70mm appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

5 Essential Tools for Wedding Photography That Aren’t Gear-Related

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 06:00

The post 5 Essential Tools for Wedding Photography That Aren’t Gear-Related appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Weddings are fast-paced with long hours. So to get you through the wedding day, we’re listing five essential tools for wedding photography that are going to make any wedding day go much smoother for you. These aren’t gear-related. They’re the things that you may have never thought of but will make all the difference during those long wedding days.

1. Bring comfortable, durable shoes

Bringing comfortable and durable shoes is almost as important as bringing your favorite lens. Shoes can keep you from falling or tripping, and they can stop your feet from hurting after several hours on the job.

Shoes that have thick soles are what you’re looking for; they must be able to withstand hours upon hours of wear. It’s also important that they’re comfortable on the inside.

Unfortunately, flats and dress shoes don’t really fit into this category, since neither are very durable or can withstand long hours of use without giving you major discomfort. Shoes that aren’t made for long hours can fall apart or rip.

Most importantly, flats and dress shoes provide no actual support for you as you photograph the main events of the wedding. Durable and comfortable shoes that are high quality and can be worn for long hours will keep your feet safe, comfortable, and will give you the back support you need.

If the wedding you’re photographing is mostly on pavement, you’ll be glad you looked for comfortable shoes, because those hot pavement and cement sidewalks are terrible on thin-soled shoes.

You can also get shoe inserts that help support and cushion the inside of the shoe to better withstand long hours. While this is a fast and convenient fix, it’s best if you find a shoe that provides this from the get-go, and then you can add the insert for extra support.

2. Hire an assistant

If you have the budget (maybe factor this into your wedding package) hire an assistant. This is not to be confused with a second shooter who helps you to photograph a wedding. No, an assistant is there to help you carry your things and be an extra pair of hands.

Assistants can be responsible for equipment, lens changes, battery changes, helping fluff out the bride’s dress, keeping you on track with the timeline, and lining up the family during group portraits. Assistants are great because they help you with things that don’t need your full attention.

They can also be quicker at getting a forgotten bouquet or holding your flash at a certain angle. Plus, the extra pair of hands will keep your gear close, so that you can focus on making the shots and not worrying about whether you forgot your tripod at the ceremony.

Have assistants be a part of your team. It’s good to highlight this before you cover the wedding. Outline the responsibilities, show them your equipment and what you’ll need, along with any details specific to the event you’re photographing.

3. Bring snacks

Snacks are crucial for long wedding days or even short ones. Weddings take a lot of energy out of you both mentally and physically with the posing, styling, photographing, directing, customer service, and being in charge of your team, so it’s really great to have easy and light snacks on hand.

Best snacks for wedding days include small packets of trail mix with nuts and chocolate to get your energy up, energy bars or protein bars, small reusable water bottles, fruits like an apple, and granola bars.

Keep snacks small. That way, they won’t add weight to your bags, are easy to carry, and won’t make a mess. You can also keep a small lunch bag with you and have your assistant carry it during, particularly long wedding days.

Having your own snacks will keep your energy up and keep you feeling great all throughout the event. No one likes a grumpy, hungry photographer!

4. Bring a small hand towel

Due to the fact that weddings are long, they tend to have a lot of sun. This means that, while your clients might be in the shade, you may find yourself in harsh sunlight.

A small hand towel can keep sweat off your face and your camera during those really hot summer days. This will keep you looking fresh and stop you from having to ask the guests or venue for something to wipe off your sweat with.

The hand towel can also be useful for other things: You can use it to shine wedding rings or to wipe a table you want to use in the background.

5. Bring command hooks and other styling items

Command hooks are super versatile, and getting a couple can really help you when it comes to styling certain wedding details. For example, because the strip can be taken off walls without doing damage, you can use a command hook to hang the wedding dress anywhere you want.

Examples of really elegant command hooks that are removable.

These hooks come in different styles and finishes, and it’s good to stock up on a few so that you won’t be without one come the wedding day. Make sure to get hooks with an adhesive that can be taken off without harming walls.


Not all wedding day prep is about gear. These tools will help keep you at 100 percent while photographing one-of-a-kind moments for your clients.

Do you have any essential tools for wedding photography to make the day run smoothly? Share them in the comments!


The post 5 Essential Tools for Wedding Photography That Aren’t Gear-Related appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Your Comprehensive Guide to Photography Post-Processing Software

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 08:30

The post Your Comprehensive Guide to Photography Post-Processing Software appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

My recent article, 3 Alternative Post-Processing Applications that Challenge the Adobe Throne, presented just three of the many post-processing software packages available (both free and paid) that provide excellent post-processing capabilities. In this article, I’ll give you a much longer list of post-processing software. To be impartial, I’ll list the titles in alphabetical order.

DXO Photolab 2

A few of the titles added by readers in the Comments section of the “3 Alternatives” article impressed me with their power and innovative design. I’ve been editing digital images with every software package available since late 1986, and I thought I’d seen most of them. However, it seems that the list of capable editing software grows weekly.

As you will notice, I do not mention ALL the software available for download or online use. Those that made the cut will be actual production titles with a minimum set of well-designed editing functions.

To be honest, I’ve looked at a significant number of offerings that are little more than public domain routines. They are not fully implemented or even adequately defined. These were considered but not listed.

Listed below is a wide variety of packages on both mobile and laptop/desktop platforms; a true variety pack that covers the field from hobbyist to professional users. No matter what your preference, you’ll find something here to tickle your fancy and meet your demands.

ACDSee Photo Studio Professional

As was welcomed in my first article, additional post-processing software titles should be added to this list by readers who have discovered (and used) them.

It is important to recognize all such products in a desire for fairness and sharing information. Because this list includes many more titles, I will not mention individual features of these titles, only a brief mention of the product’s most notable features.

This is where you can really contribute…

I’ll rely on you to describe your favorite features and benefits of your favorite titles. Let’s make this a very collaborative group effort BUT with one important request: please be brief and succinct with your comments. Limit your comments to one or two of the features that make your favorite app stand out from all others. That way, we learn from each other without monopolizing the mutual pulpit.

Skylum Luminar 3

List of photography post-processing software ACDSee Photo Studio

Publisher: ACDSee Systems International


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $60 Mac/Win/Mobile

Afterlight 2

Publisher: Afterlight Collective

Android Website:

Apple Website: 

Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $60 Mac/Win/Mobile

Affinity Photo

Publisher: Serif


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $50 Mac/Win/iPad

Capture One

Publisher: Phase One


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $299 or $20/month Mac/Win



Price: Free

Exposure X4.5

Publisher: Alien Skin


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $119 Mac/Win Computer


Publisher: Fotor

Android Website:

Apple Website:

Price: Free


Publisher: Gimp


Price: Free Mac/Win Computers

Google Photos

Publisher: Google


Price: Free online

Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic

Publisher: Adobe Systems


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $10/mo Mac/Win

Adobe Lightroom Tablet/Computer/Mobile

Online Photo Editor

Publisher: PicMonkey


Trial: Free/7 days

Price: Starts at $7.99/month

Photo RAW

Publisher: ON1


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $80

PhotoLab 2

Publisher: DxO


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $129 Mac/Win Mobile/Computer

Paint Shop Pro X9

Publisher: Corel


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $80 Mac/Win

Anthropics Portrait Pro 2

Photoshop/Camera RAW

Publisher: Adobe Systems


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $10/mo Mac/Win

Photoshop Elements

Publisher: Adobe Systems


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $59.99 Mac/Win

Photoshop Express

Publisher: Adobe Systems

Android Website:

Apple Website:

Price: Free


Publisher: NCH Software


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $40


Publisher: PicsArt

Android Website:

Apple Website:

Price: Free

Pixlr Editor

Publisher: Pixlr

Android Website:

Apple Website:

Price: Free online

Pixlr Mobile Android/IOS

PortraitPro 18

Publisher: Anthropics


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $45 Mac/Win

RAW Therapee

Publisher: Softpedia


Price: Free (but only offered on Windows)

Skylum Luminar 3

Publisher: Skylum


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $70 Mac/Win Computer

Smart Photo Editor

Publisher: Anthropics


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $30 Wind/Mac


Publisher: Google

Android Website:

Apple Website:

Price: Free

Sumo Paint

Publisher: Sumo


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: Free version, but Sumo Pro is $4/month

Topaz Studio 2

Publisher: Topaz Labs


Trial: Free/30 days

Price: $100 Mac/Win

Anthropics Smart Photo Editor


Some titles didn’t make this list’s cut simply because they are only marginally useful. Needless to say, in today’s market, there is an innumerable slew of entertainment-level phone/tablet-based image “editing” apps also available. There are way too many even to mention, let alone keep current information on.

Many of these apps are made for the amusement of the younger social media crowd who appreciate more unicorns and stickers than serious editing power. Not to sound judgmental, there is an app for everything and everyone, but this listing is “focused” on actual photo editing capabilities more than the social media aspect.


The post Your Comprehensive Guide to Photography Post-Processing Software appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

Thoughts and a Field Test: The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 06:00

The post Thoughts and a Field Test: The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Sony lenses are notoriously expensive, so it’s a welcome relief that third-party manufacturers have been making solid E-Mount lenses. The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 is one such lens. It is the highly anticipated follow-up to the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, which was announced in 2018 and is almost always on backorder due to its popularity. After testing the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8, I have no doubt that this lens will be equally popular.

Read on to find out why.

The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 tech specs

First off, 17-28mm is indeed a niche and unique focal length. No other manufacturer makes a lens with this range. The closest comparison is the 16-35mm f/2.8, a focal length made by Sony, Canon, and Nikon.

If you’re disappointed about having less reach with the Tamron, consider that if you use this lens with a Sony full-frame, you can always shoot in APS-C mode, which gives you more range. This is one of the most useful features on my Sony a7R III.

Why Tamron went for this slightly more limited focal length is puzzling, but it likely explains how they kept the lens to such a small size. In the comparison photo below, you’ll see that the 17-28mm is essentially the same size as the original Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 and the Sony 24-70mm f/4. Weight-wise, the Tamron is the lightest, coming in at 420 g (0.93 lbs). That is quite a bit lighter than Sony’s own 16-35mm f/2.8, which weighs a whopping 680 g (1.5 lbs).

Since we’re on the subject of comparisons, let’s talk price. Sony charges $2,200 USD for their 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. While their lens offers more solid construction and a more flexible focal range, this is still a chunk of change. On the other hand, the Tamron 17-28mm is priced at $899 USD, which is quite reasonable for an f/2.8 lens.

Size comparison of the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 (left), the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 (center), and the Sony 24-70mm f/4 (right).

Image stabilization

The Tamron 17-28mm lens does not have optical image stabilization (OIS). However, it’s so lightweight that it’s still pretty easy to shoot stable photos and videos handheld. In fact, its size goes well with the Sony a7R III and the Sony a7 III.


The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 is equipped with a smooth and quiet autofocus (AF) system. It pairs well with modern Sony mirrorless cameras, and all AF modes are available, including Eye AF. In practice, I found Eye AF to be a bit sluggish and hit or miss. But then again, I don’t consider 17-28mm to be my ideal focal range for portraits anyway, and I would rather reach for a midrange zoom or a standard 50mm lens.

Best uses for the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8

A wide-angle lens like the 17-28mm is ideal for capturing landscapes, interiors, and real estate. Those are the types of photography I focused on while testing this lens. The portraiture I did was minimal, and it was mainly for the purpose of shooting at an aperture other than f/11 to see how the bokeh performed (it did very well).

A handheld shot taken from a doors-off helicopter ride.

Image quality

For my first test shooting with the 17-28mm, I took it on a doors-off helicopter ride. If you’ve ever been on one of these, you know how incredibly windy it can be in the main cabin and how difficult it is to get any shots in focus. This is very much a “spray and pray” kind of photography scenario. To my surprise, the 17-28mm did incredibly well.

From the moment I started shooting with the Tamron 17-28mm, I almost immediately forgot it was a third-party lens. Autofocus was snappy (I wasn’t using Eye AF), there was zero lag or miscommunication between the lens and the camera, and the image quality was stunning. Photos were tack sharp, there was no distortion, and the colors even seemed to pop a little more than usual.

Physical construction

Since this lens is so compact and lightweight, don’t expect all-metal or polycarbonate materials like Sony uses in their GM lenses. However, the build quality of the Tamron 17-28mm still feels very solid in the hands, and I think it would hold up well over time.

Tamron says the 17-28mm is equipped with “moisture-resistant construction” and a hydrophobic fluorine coating to repel dirt and fingerprints. Not much else is said about weather sealing, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable subjecting this lens to extreme weather conditions.

6-year Tamron warranty

One of the biggest benefits of buying a Tamron lens is their generous 6-year warranty. Effective for six years from the date of purchase (in the USA only), Tamron lenses are “warranted against defective materials or workmanship.” Meanwhile, Sony provides 1 year of warranty on their lenses.

A match made in photographer heaven

Based purely on specs, this lens pairs beautifully with the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. In fact, Tamron claims the combined weight of both of those lenses equates to less than 1 kg (2.2 lbs), which is incredibly light for two f/2.8 lenses. Both lenses also take the same filter size of 67mm, making it easy to swap polarizers and ND filters. This feature alone makes it very compelling to invest in both lenses.


During the reigning days of DSLRs, many photographers scoffed at third-party lenses, saying that “you get what you pay for.” Perhaps back then they had a point.

But today, third-party lenses have really stepped up their game, and the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 is one of the best examples of superior third-party glass. If you’re in the market for a wide-angle lens for your Sony body, you can’t go wrong with this lens.

For more information on the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 lens for Sony, check out this video I filmed, along with some additional sample photos below:



The post Thoughts and a Field Test: The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving the Perfect Starburst Effect

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 08:30

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving the Perfect Starburst Effect appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Adding a starburst effect to your images is a great way to spice things up and really grab the attention of your viewers.

Seeing rays of light slice through your photo is one of the most enjoyable tricks to pull off, especially if you haven’t really done this sort of thing before. While some software programs let you do this on your computer, the real magic comes when you do it by knowing how to use your camera.

Step 1: Find a light source

Creating the starburst effect isn’t difficult. But it does require a bit of training and practice to pull off. You’ll need a few basics to get started:

First, you’ll need a bright source of light, such as the sun. A street lamp or really powerful flashlight will work too, but the sun is nice because it’s always available and doesn’t cost money to use.

If you don’t mind shooting pictures at night, you can get a starburst effect quite easily with a street lamp or other source of light. However, night photos might not look as interesting or visually compelling as shots of the sun.

Ironically, you also need something to block most of the sun. This is because the sun itself is too large and bright to give you good starburst shots; just a sliver of its light is all you need. Buildings and trees work great, but whatever you use can’t be too far away. If the thing blocking the sun is separated from you by too great a distance, you won’t get the starburst effect.

The effect isn’t as pronounced in this image, but it’s definitely there. Using a structure to block most of the sun is a great way to help you achieve a good starburst.

Step 2: Choose a small aperture

As far as your camera goes, the one setting that really matters is your aperture.

To get a good starburst, your aperture should be small, such as f/11 or f/16. This means you will need a camera with aperture control, such as a DSLR or mirrorless system. Nearly all mobile phones use wide apertures and very few of them allow you to have any control over the aperture at all.

So if you want to pull off a cool starburst effect in-camera, you’re going to need a dedicated camera and not just a phone.

Step 3: Set up for your starburst shot

The basic setup for a starburst effect photo is also fairly simple and works best when the sun is lower on the horizon during the morning or late afternoon. You can do it at other times of day, but it’s a little more difficult to find objects that obscure the sun when it’s directly overhead.

To achieve the starburst effect, position yourself so that the sun is off in the distance and the object obscuring it is not too close and not too far. Then set your aperture to f/11, point your camera in the direction of the light, and take a picture.

Take care to not point your camera directly at the full sun, as it could damage your sensor or your eyes. Just a sliver of the sun and a small aperture is all you need.

Step 4: Experiment with different setups

If the object you use to block most of the sun is too far away, the starburst effect will be much more difficult to achieve. In the shot below, you can just barely see the points of light emanating from where the sun is peeking over the clouds. It’s subtle and can work if it suits your compositional goals for the image, but I don’t find shots like this to be nearly as fun as other starburst images.

There’s a lot of creative things you can do when you start experimenting with starbursts. In the picture below, the sun was obscured just a bit too much by the tree branch. The cicada exoskeleton looks fine, but the photo lacks something in the way of a visual spark.

I adjusted the position of my camera by mere millimeters so as to get the tiniest bit of the sun poking out below the branch. The result is a much more compelling photo:

The addition of a starburst adds a whole new dimension to the photograph and elevates it to a whole new level.

Note: How aperture alters the starburst effect

To see why a small aperture is important, look at the following photos, which were taken just a few seconds apart. The first used a large f/1.8 aperture, and as a result, the sun is a large yellow blob in the sky and not all that interesting. This is similar to the type of picture you could take on a mobile phone since most of those have large apertures ranging from f/1.8 to f/2.8.

I took this photo with an f/1.8 aperture at 50mm.

Stopping down to f/11 changes the image dramatically. Not only is the foreground and background in focus, but the sun is now a brilliant star pattern. This is a direct result of the smaller aperture.

I took this photo with an f/11 aperture at 50mm.

A similar effect is seen in the two photos below. Taken at different locations, they illustrate the effect quite clearly. The first shows a row of lights fading into the distance, and because I shot it at f/1.8, they appear as blurry orbs. This isn’t a bad thing, as my intent was for the viewer to focus on the light in the foreground.

I took this photo with an f/1.8 aperture at 50mm.

The next image shows a similar row of street lights, but the small aperture I used caused every point of light in the image to appear as a starburst.

I took this photo with an f/13 aperture at 50mm.

Even the green traffic lights far in the distance are starbursts. You can see how this dramatically alters the overall effect of the picture. If I had used a larger aperture, it would be an entirely different image.


My favorite part of shooting starburst photos is how easy it is once you get the hang of it. It’s also rather gratifying to know you can do it just by manipulating your camera.

Have you tried using the starburst effect in your images? What tips or tricks do you have for the DPS community, or for others who might not have done this type of photography before? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!


The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving the Perfect Starburst Effect appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.