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Updated: 3 hours 9 min ago

Moment Smartphone Lens Review for Photography and Videography

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 13:00

The post Moment Smartphone Lens Review for Photography and Videography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

It’s no secret that smartphone cameras are getting increasingly better with every new release. But did you know that you can enhance your smartphone photography even further with lenses? There are several smartphone lens manufacturers out there, but one of the most popular and premium choices out there comes from Moment. This Seattle-based company offers four lenses that can take your smartphone photography to the next level. I’ve long been curious about these lenses and was delighted to finally have a chance to try them out.


Currently, Moment has four smartphone lenses on hand: the Superfish (fisheye), Wide, Macro, and Tele Portrait. Each lens ranges in price from US$89.99 to US$99.99. The lenses are attached via a custom Moment smartphone Photo Case, so you’ll need one of them too. Presently, there are Photo Cases for Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, and iPhone. Each case varies in design and price depending on your smartphone brand, but they’re in the US$30 or less range. This test and all resulting images were done with a Samsung Galaxy S8.

Build quality

Physically, each lens varies in presentation, which helps tell them apart at a quick glance. All lenses are made of metal and glass and have some nice heft to them. They also come with rubber lens caps that protect the front element. While there are no end caps to protect the back elements, at least they are small and relatively easy to keep clean and protected if using the included velvet lens drawstring bags.

Attaching the lens to your Smartphone

Lenses attach to your phone via the bayonet-style mount on Moment’s custom phone cases. You simply match up the lens mount to the phone case and twist the lens to lock it into place. It’s relatively easy to do with no added tools required. However, the lens mount is so small that it can take some trial and error to get it mounted. Once locked in place, these lenses are solidly attached to your phone case and it would take significant force for them to accidentally fall off.

Wide lens

Moment’s wide lens is equivalent to 18mm, which is significantly wider than my Samsung Galaxy S8’s 26mm (35mm equivalent) focal length. It’s a rather large lens with a curved, fisheye-like lens. However, there are zero fisheye effects in the resulting images. In fact, there’s no distortion, vignetting, or blurring around the edges.

Superfish lens

This 170-degree Superfish lens offers the widest field of view out of all Moment lenses. It’s rather compact with a flat front-facing lens. However, the resulting image generally takes on a fisheye appearance.

Macro lens

Moment’s macro lens is arguably the best-designed lens of the bunch. It’s also the flattest and most compact lens. Offering 10x magnification, the Moment macro lens comes with a plastic diffuser hood. This hood is very important for helping you determine how close the lens needs to be to a subject (hint: it’s VERY close), but the hood can also be removed. Design-wise, I love how detailed this lens is, particularly on the front element of the lens.

Telephoto lens

While I didn’t get to test the Moment telephoto lens, here’s a brief overview. This 60mm equivalent lens offers roughly double the focal length of most smartphones. Best of all, this lens gives you a telephoto effect without having to use your smartphone camera’s digital zoom, which often degrades the quality of your images.

If you can only buy one lens…

These lenses aren’t cheap, so it makes sense to invest in one or two initially, and then build up your collection from there. Personally, I found the Macro lens to be the most fun. It offers a unique perspective on just about anything and can be great entertainment for all ages. I’d pick the Superfish lens as my next favorite as it also offers a fun and different way to capture your surroundings.

Moment lens accessories

Straight out of the box, each Moment lens comes with a velvet drawstring bag. It’s a thin lens case that is better than having no protection at all, but it doesn’t offer the best padding. As a result, I highly recommend investing in the Moment Lens Pouch. This pocket-sized zippered pouch is nicely padded and has enough room to store two Moment lenses. If you need a bigger carrying case, the Moment Travel Case is a larger version of the Lens Pouch with room for 4 Moment lenses and extra accessories.

Bottom line

If you’re on the hunt for premium lenses to extend the capability of your smartphone camera, Moment offers the very best. Not only do their lenses look and feel professional, but the resulting images are noticeably sharper. Sure, there are much cheaper smartphone lenses out there, but they often compromise on physical quality. You won’t find any compromises if you go with Moment. The only catch is that you have to use one of the high-end smartphones that Moment makes a phone case for.

Moment lens sample photo gallery

Moment Lens Superfish Lens

Moment Lens Superfish Lens

Moment Lens Wide Angle Lens

Moment Lens Wide Angle Lens

Camera phone – before the next Macro lens shot.

Moment Lens Macro Lens – Seashell

Moment Lens Macro Lens – Coffee Beans

Moment Lens Macro Lens – Back of my hand.



The post Moment Smartphone Lens Review for Photography and Videography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

How to Replace Colors in Your Images Using Photoshop

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Replace Colors in Your Images Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

Have you ever taken a photograph and wondered what it would look like in a different color? Or perhaps you find a particular color distracting and want to swap it for a more subtle tone? Maybe you want to ramp up the impact, using more vibrant colors to make your image pop?

With the help of Photoshop, swapping the colors of different elements in a photograph is quick and easy. Here are two ways to switch the colors in your image to make them more dynamic.

Method one – Using the Replace Color Panel

The Replace Color panel is a simple tool designed to tweak color selections. When you select a specific color in the image, the Replace Color function grabs similar colors, allowing you to change them within the same action.

Step 1 – Preparing your image

First, open your image in Photoshop. To edit non-destructively we need to duplicate the layer. That way, we can go back to the original image at any time. Select your image in the Layers Pallet, then go to Layer -> Duplicate Layer. Alternatively, you can right-click on your image in the layers panel and click Duplicate Layer or drag your layer onto the New Layer icon.

Step 2 – Selecting a Color to Replace

With your duplicate layer selected in the Layers Pallet go to Image -> Adjustments -> Replace Color and the Replace Color panel will pop up. Check the Localized Color Clusters and Preview options. The cursor will automatically be converted to an eyedropper icon, so click on the color in the image that you want to replace. This highlights the color in white in the preview thumbnail, so you can see how much of the color is selected.

Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Replace Color to open the Replace Color panel


Click on the color in the image that you want to replace. This highlights the selection in white in the preview thumbnail

Step 3 – Adjusting the range

The next step is to add further shades of your chosen color to the selection so it looks more natural. With the Replace Color panel still open, hold down the shift key and click on more shades of your selected color in the image. This adds new shades of your selected color to the preview thumbnail.

If you accidentally select an area, hold down the alt key and click the area again to deselect the selection. You can adjust the edges of the selection with the Fuzziness slider, this dictates the sharpness of the edges in the selection.

Step 4 – Swapping the color

In the Replace Color panel, use the Replacement Hue slider to adjust the color of your selection. Once you’re happy with the color, use the Saturation slider to increase or decrease the intensity of the replacement color. You can also adjust the Lightness slider which tweaks the shade of the replacement color.

Use the Replacement Hue slider to adjust the color of your selection

To make sure the edges of the selection have adequate coverage, you may need to readjust the Fuzziness slider.

Once you’re happy with your results, click OK. Your adjustments will be applied to your image and you’re good to go!

Method two – Using the Color Replacement Tool

The Color Replacement Tool is an alternative to using the Replace Color panel. With the Color Replacement Tool, you can apply a replacement color to a more targeted area in the image.

Step 1- Preparing Your Image

Just like in the first method, we need to duplicate the original layer so we can return to the original image if required. Select your image in the Layers Palette then go to Layer -> Duplicate Layer or right click on the layer in the Layers Pallet and click Duplicate Layer.

Step 2 – Selecting the Color Replacement Tool

Accessing the Color Replacement Tool is a little tricky. Click and hold the cursor over the Brush Tool on the left toolbar and several brush options will appear. Select the Color Replacement Tool.

Step 3 – Setting your foreground color

With the Color Replacement Tool selected, set your foreground color to the color you want to replace your current color with. So if you want to change a red subject to blue, select blue as your foreground color.

Set your foreground color to the color you want to replace your current color with

Step 4 – Applying color with the Color Replacement Tool

With the Color Replacement Tool selected, brush over the area of color you want to replace. You can adjust the settings of the brush (size, shape, tolerance) in the top menu bar.

With the Color Replacement Tool selected, brush over the area of color you want to replace


Color is a wonderful and versatile element of composition. But sometimes the right color scheme is elusive. That’s where the Color Replacement tools come in handy. Now you’ve read the guide, why not give it a go? Post your results in the comments below!

The post How to Replace Colors in Your Images Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

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

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 13:00

The post Finding Your Strength in Isolation – 3 Methods to Make Your Subject Pop! appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Including extraneous details in your photographs dilutes attention. Or they distract the viewer’s attention away from your main subject.

Fill the frame! This was the only composition rule I had drummed into me when I started work in the newspaper photography department. Do not include anything that does not help tell the story better. If it’s irrelevant, remove it.

In this article, I share three of my favorite methods for isolating subjects.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The balance of light

Finding a dark background is always pleasing. When your subject has more light on them than the background, you can often expose carefully so the background is very dark or even black. This was a great technique for newspaper photos when we were publishing in black and white. It often works particularly well for portraits.

Train your eye to look for the right situations where you can use this technique. Once you are aware of what to look for you will do it instinctively.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Look for large areas of shade where no light is turned on, and no sunlight affects the area directly. In this portrait of the fish vendor at the market, her open storefront is perfect. The room behind her has no windows and only one or two low-powered lights. The light on her is sunshine reflecting off the building opposite her shop. It is diffused and soft and does not affect the interior of her room.

Setting my camera to expose her face correctly means the interior of the room behind her is underexposed. Use a spot meter setting to only read the light from your main subject and not the darker background. If your camera’s meter is set to take a reading from the whole frame and average it, you won’t get a satisfactory result.

The key to this method is the balance of light and shade. If you take your exposure reading from the whole scene, the camera includes all the dark area and wants that to be exposed well too. The resulting image will have an overexposed subject and visible detail in the shadows.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

You can also use this same method with a background brighter than your subject. Doing this is often more complicated if the light is too strong or coming directly into your lens. The same principle applies when you have more light in the background than you do on your main subject. Make your exposure reading from your subject only, excluding light from the background. Your subject will be well exposed, and your background will be overexposed.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

I have developed an outdoor daylight portrait studio which incorporates this technique. In this studio, I have good control of the light and the background. Here, I use black and white fabric backdrops which mean I have an even exposure on the background creating a great contrast to my subject.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The control of Focus and Depth-of-Field

The most popular methods used to isolate subjects is carefully controlled focus and a shallow depth-of-field. My very first lens was a 50mm f/1.4. So, naturally, I grew to love using the wide aperture capability to help me knock my backgrounds out of focus.

Using a wide aperture setting is central to this method. However, there is more to it than choosing your lowest f-stop number.

Relative distances have a significant impact on how much your background blurs. The closer you are to your subject, with any lens, the more the background will blur. Likewise, the further your subject is from the background, the softer the background appears.

Lens choice influences depth-of-field too. Using a telephoto lens, you can blur a background more with any aperture setting than if you use a wide-angle-lens.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Learn to control what you focus on, as well as the other settings that affect depth-of-field. Doing this well means you can include sufficient detail without compromising attention on your main subject. In this portrait of the tricycle taxi rider, I focused on him. I chose to have enough detail in the background, without it being sharp, because the background is relevant to this photo.

Compositional choices to isolate your subject

Point-of-view (the angle you choose to take your photo from), affects what you include and exclude from your frame. Often even just a small change in your camera position can have a significant impact on what’s in your frame and what’s left out.

Move around your subject and watch what happens with the background. Having a tree looking like it’s growing out of someone’s head is going to be distracting. Changing your angle of view a little your left or right eliminates this distraction. Selecting a higher or lower position helps if there’s a strong horizontal line in the background which dissects your subject.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Take your time. Pay attention to the background, not just your subject, when you are making your composition. After taking your initial photo, review it on your monitor. Study what’s in the background. Often this reveals distractions. Move around a little. One side or the other, up and down. Concentrate on the relationship between your subject and elements in the background.


Other methods of isolating your subject are many and varied. You can use contrasting colors, interrupted patterns, selective cropping and other techniques to help your chosen subject stand out.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photographs are often stronger when your subject is clearly defined over everything else in the frame.

Experimenting with the methods I have outlined helps you build stronger compositions. Try them out. Try others. Find a few you like and this will help build up your individual photographic style as you begin to use them consistently.

The post Finding Your Strength in Isolation – 3 Methods to Make Your Subject Pop! appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Why You Should Always Have a Client Pre-Consultation

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 08:00

The post Why You Should Always Have a Client Pre-Consultation appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Mimi Thian

Any time you have a client paying you for a certain type of photography, it is essential to get all of the details laid out before any real planning or photography happens. Getting all of this squared away beforehand can make the whole process go quicker. Everyone stays satisfied, and all involved know what to expect for the final result.

What is a client pre-consultation?

A client pre-consultation is where you and your client meet to talk about the details of the session or project. You can meet at your studio, a coffee shop, or the client’s home or place of business.

Whether it’s a portrait client, a model, a commercial project, or a personal project that involves more people, a pre-consultation is important because you’re able to settle lots of questions and details that will make the session go smoothly.

A client pre-consultation can also take place via a video conference service like Skype or Facetime. The point is to get in front of your client and talk about your project or session.

Choose a location or method where you can give your undivided attention to your client. Having distractions or being in a place that isn’t suitable for a meeting can often keep you from staying focused on the details.

For example, a coffee shop may seem like the best choice, however, choose a spot within the place that is secluded and quiet. Choosing a very popular or loud location can make it difficult to talk or hear each other.

Be prepared for each type of pre-consultation

Even though you need a pre-consultation for all photography sessions or projects, preparing yourself for each with the right questions and information can help you to have a more focused pre-consultation.

Wedding pre-consultation

Even though the process of weddings tends to be the same, each wedding is unique. That is why pre-consultations are really important, especially if the pre-consultation happens before the couple books you for the event.

Meeting with the couple before the wedding can help them to determine the days’ timeline in terms of photography.

Prepare your contract with a cover sheet that you can fill in with all the important details. For example, names of the couple, date of the event, details of the ceremony and reception location, number of bridesmaids, start times for important events, and any other notes that relate to the event.

Have another sheet or notebook prepared for essential notes during the meeting. As much as we’d love to have photographic memories, the truth is, when we meet people for the first time, we can get lost in conversations and forget small but imperative details. So a meetings sheet can help you write down anything you think is important without having to write it on the contract.

Write down anything. From the color scheme, types of flowers they are having, first dance song, how they met, through to the more important details like the photography style they like and if they want a second photographer.

All of these details are equally important to the bride and groom, and so they should be important to you as well. For example, it can help you on the day of the event to remember that the flowers they chose are in remembrance of a passed grandmother.

Leave time for the couple to ask you any questions that they may have. It doesn’t matter if their questions or concerns are a bit unrealistic. Settling any doubt in a friendly way can mean the difference between them choosing you or another potential photographer they may be meeting.

Also be prepared to showcase your work with your clients at the time of the meeting. Take a portfolio, albums, prints, a laptop with your website and galleries open. Sometimes, clients contact photographers by referral without really checking out their work. So, this meeting is a great way to have them fall in love with your work. Taking albums can also open the door to upsell and add products to the wedding coverage.

These are items you should bring with you to every pre-wedding consultation:
  • Portfolio, laptop, slideshow to show your clients
  • Albums and products you wish to upsell your clients
  • Contract and info sheet
  • Meetings sheet or notebook to write down extra information about the wedding
  • Copy of your collections pricing as well as a product price sheet
  • The contract for clients to view terms and conditions

Remember that you are the professional and the couple is coming to you not only to meet you but to get as much information about photography, the wedding process, and any additional advice that could benefit them. Your expertise will always be appreciated, and your friendly attitude can get the wedding on your calendar.

Portrait sessions of any kind

For portrait sessions, you may think that a pre-consultation is a bit much. However, once you do have a pre-consultation you will be happy you did. Each portrait session, be it a family session, senior session, or individual are all unique and important.

Here a face-to-face meeting may not be as necessary and can sometimes be done through email or messages. However, it might become a long drawn out process if you do it that way. If possible, have a face-to-face meeting with your client – whether physically face-to-face or via a video conference service.

Things to go over during the meeting:

  • Location and ideal time for the session
  • Wardrobe ideas and what would fit the concept of the session
  • How many people are attending the session
  • If children are present, their ages so you can prepare ahead of time
  • The style of photography they like, candid, posed, a mixture

During the client pre-consultation, it’s also important to have a portrait contract and a list of prices for your packages. That way, you can go over the pricing and what each package includes from the start.

Doing this gives your client the opportunity to ask any questions regarding the session beforehand avoiding any miscommunication or misunderstandings after the session has been completed.

Commercial or editorial projects

Commercial/editorial projects usually require quick execution and only allow a limited amount of time for you to photograph the concept. Depending on what your client is hoping to have as a result, you may have to have more than one pre-consultation especially if it is a new client.

Meeting with the whole team can also help the project go off with fewer setbacks. Everyone will be on the same page as far as concept, lighting, location, and all of the essential details of the project.

A pre-consultation is also a great time to go over the payment details of the project. The pricing and payment schedule is vastly different from portraits or weddings. Here, the circulation count should get discussed. Circulation covers how often the client runs your photographs in their marketing, advertising, or promotional material.

Also, discuss copyright and licensing during the meeting. You may want to be able to showcase the photographs in your portfolio, or sometimes, the client wants exclusive rights. Go over model releases and contracts during this time as well.

For these types of projects, the more questions you ask to get a clearly defined idea of the project can help you to get a better estimate for your work. The more information you get, the better.

In Conclusion

Pre-consultations are very important in all types of photography projects where you are dealing with a client who is paying you for your services. These meetings help you get a clear idea of what your client is looking for and what they are expecting to receive as their final product.

It can eliminate any doubts, answer questions, and help your client with your advice and expertise so that the project happens without any setbacks.

The post Why You Should Always Have a Client Pre-Consultation appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Tips on How to Take Better Instagram Photos

Sun, 01/13/2019 - 13:00

The post Tips on How to Take Better Instagram Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

Instagram is a visual platform with millions of images vying for your attention. Styling with Instagram in mind is key! But first, know what your purpose is.

Know your purpose

You may be reading this because you have an interest in photography. You probably know that there is an array of lenses you can use but each lens has a specialty or a purpose. For example, the 85mm is great for portraits, the 14mm or 24mm for landscapes, macro/micro lenses for extreme close-ups, fast lenses for sports etc. In the same way, think of a style as your specific lens for a particular purpose, the purpose being your chosen genre on Instagram.


Before I offer tips, let’s look at a few genres: Portraits, Wedding, Interiors, Products, Flat-lays, Landscapes. But, as in business, the more niche you are, the stronger your account will look. So don’t just stop at these genres, niche deeper. For example, Black and White Portraits, Beach Weddings, Handmade Ceramics, Moody Landscapes.

If you like, you can go further: Black and White Wedding Photography, Fine Art Newborn Portraits, Beach Elopement Weddings, Handmade Ceramic Tableware, Moody Forest Landscapes, Dark Maximalist Eclectic Interiors…

Instagram followers tend to like consistency in what they see on your squares so be sure to leverage that. The more consistent your work is, the more you appear as an expert in what you are showing. Instagram gurus say that you can post 10% of other things. Particularly, those things that pertain to your personal life, which your followers may find interesting. However, keep the 90% consistent with the purpose of your account.

With that preamble out of the way, here are my tips on how to take better photos on Instagram for your chosen genre/niche. These are all my opinions so take what you find useful and leave the rest.

1. Interiors

I have found, from running an interiors page myself layered.home with a daily growing following, that photos which are taken further back at wide angles do well. The interiors audience is generally more interested in seeing a wider view of an entire room.

Not only that, wider views shot from a slightly angular position do better than those taken from a straight-on frontal view. Be mindful of your lighting too. Light coming from a window or one side is more appealing to the eye compared to bright, flat lighting where everything is evenly illuminated. So whenever you take photos, just remember side lighting.

If the side opposite the light source is too dark, you may want to add a reflector or a piece of white card to take the edge off the darkness. Of course, this will work easily with smaller spaces or objects but for entire rooms would it be more difficult. You would need to add an extra light if using artificial light or open more windows.

So they can take pictures at any time of day, some interior accounts use daylight-balanced continuous lighting. You just need to position them so that they look natural like window light. Turn off all lights and use only one type of light source, preferably natural light (this is where a tripod comes in handy) in order to avoid mixed lighting.

But this isn’t to say you can’t break the rules!

2. Portraits

It is better, as mentioned above, to stick to one type or style of portrait. For example, if you are after a brightly lit image with a very airy feel to it with a dreamy backdrop, try and keep that feel going in all your images. Don’t go bright one post and dark and moody the next.

If you photograph headshots, make sure your squares show a lot of headshots rather than a mixture of full body, super-close-up, half-length etc. Again you can have this variation but keep it to a minimum.

With one look at your nine squares, a follower should be able to already have an idea of your style and what type of photography your page is about. This goes with styling clothes too. You could go with a vintage touch for example, or a color palette kept to a minimum (usually up to four colors work). Unless your feed is all about rainbow colors or candy colors and in which case make that your purpose.

It is also important that your editing is consistent like your color treatment and tones. Stick to color and the same type of editing. From time to time, you could sneak in a black and white or a series. But again, only at a minimum.

3. Product

When it comes to product photography, you want to show the products close-up so the viewer can see the features and benefits of the product. There are tools you can use such as a small white lightbox (also known as a light tent) to illuminate your product evenly.

This is essential if you are after a white seamless background enveloping your product. Or you can go for naturally lit dramatic lighting by using side window light only from a 45-degree angle and creating more dramatic light and dark tone going on. You can also use a dark backdrop with window lighting from the front to direct total focus on your product.

4. Flatlays

This birds-eye-view style has become very popular especially when using intentionally-styled products within a context or a story. Technically, this is somewhat tricky because you lose the angles afforded by other points of view. To counteract this loss, add contrast to make your product stand out.

You need the flat lay image to grab attention. A symmetrical composition usually works here, where the product is in the middle (as shown in the photo above – taken with an iPhone) rather than using the Rule of Thirds. You can always use other minor elements around your main product to strengthen your composition with some asymmetrical touches without stealing the limelight.

A couple of very important general tips!

The photos above were taken with an iPhone

On editing: Please, please do NOT over edit

I often see this on some Instagram accounts and, to be honest, it makes me cringe. Over-edited images have a way of looking unnatural.

Look closely at the four photos above. The first photo is straight out of the phone camera. The second has very gentle editing applied. The blacks have been slightly enhanced to look richer, and the highlights have been reduced to balance the image. It may not be dramatic, but it is a real depiction of the space and the items within it.

The third photo has blown-out whites, so you can’t see any details. Half of the wallpaper is over-exposed and the sheepskin is bereft of details. You can’t even see the fairy lights on it. The third image is over-edited. Technically speaking, what was an okay image to start with has become a bad image.

The blacks are the ‘clipped’ on the 4th photo, which is also too dark. Clipping is a photography term that means the intensity falls out of the minimum or maximum range. You do not see any details. In this instance, the blacks reach a point where the shadows of the plant blend into the wall. The cushion also blends into the skin it’s sitting on, and the whites of the framed prints have become blue.

The key word in editing is “enhance,” not “kill.” Use just enough contrast or blacks otherwise your photos may look entirely out of this world, and that in the negative sense of the word. Be gentle when moving those contrast, structure, shadows and blacks sliders as they affect the dark areas. Avoid using the saturation slider. It is better to add warmth and vibrancy rather than touching that saturation slider which can make your colors join the neon spectrum.

Be careful when using filters. Don’t apply the filters at 100% strength. Play around with the sliders to see how the photo looks. Start at 50% and go from there on both ends. Filters should generally be used at about 35% to make your photos pop. This approximation is assuming the picture is an okay photo from the start.

White balance

Be mindful of color cast in your image. A color cast is a strong shift in the overall color of the image that usually comes from artificial light such as tungsten, which leaves a very yellow or orange cast. Similarly, fluorescent lighting which gives off a green cast especially on the areas of the photo that are meant to be white.

Looking at the photos above, which one do you think has good white balance? Where is the white still white and the fairy lights have a warm glow?

You want a white balance that looks natural. That is, where the whites look white, not yellow, pink, magenta or green. Neutral white with added warmth is good. It doesn’t need to be perfectly white – especially for Instagram posts – but at least it still looks white without unnatural color tints.


Take advantage of the carousel where you can post more images. Use it to hide what you want to post and show but do not want to be the front cover of your post. Doing so still makes your squares look consistently strong. However, you can deviate from your style and purpose behind the front image using this feature. For example, with interiors, you can add close-ups of the space or photos of products featured within the space.

With portraits, you can add other angles and viewpoints. You can use the “before and after” concept where your front page is the after and the carousel holds all the before or work-in-progress pictures. This feature is great for adding more content and value to your page without weakening your Instagram brand.

Instagram is a powerful visual social media platform. However, with millions of images competing against yours, it is vital that you use strong images to stop people on their scrolling tracks!

I hope you found some of these tips helpful to grow your Instagram account!

The post Tips on How to Take Better Instagram Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

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

Sun, 01/13/2019 - 08:00

The post Fujifilm X-T3 versus Fujifilm X-H1: The Best Mirrorless Camera for You? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Fujifilm was on a roll this year releasing a slew of gear including two very popular mirrorless cameras: the Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujifilm X-T3. Released a mere 7 months apart, these two cameras have amateurs and professionals alike wondering which is better suited for their needs.

Key Specs

Fujifilm X-T3

One of Fujifilm’s most popular cameras to date has been the X-T2, so it’s no surprise that many loyalists to the X-T line were awaiting the third generation. The Fujifilm X-T3 is the newest Fuji camera to date, using a brand new sensor and processor. As a result, it has quite a few advantages over all other Fujifilm cameras, including boosted battery life. It continues to enhance photography features with its larger sensor resolution (8% more pixels), 100 more focus points, faster continuous shooting (6 fps faster), and the inclusion of a flash sync port. Fujifilm also added a slew of video features such as 4K60p, higher bit rate (400mbps), and a headphone port. All in all, the X-T3 is made to entice today’s hybrid photo and video shooters.

  • Announced: September 2018
  • Fujifilm X-Mount
  • Comes in black or silver
  • 26MP – APS-C BSI-CMOS Sensor
  • No Anti-aliasing (AA) filter
  • ISO 160 – 12800
  • 3.2 Tilting Screen
  • 3690k dot Electronic viewfinder
  • 20.0 fps continuous shooting
  • 4096 x 2160 video resolution
  • Built-in Wireless
  • 539g. 133 x 93 x 59 mm
  • Weather Sealed Body

Fujifilm X-H1

Brand new to the Fujifilm X-Series lineup is the X-H1. It is the first X-Series camera to have in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which is essential for shooting more stable handheld video and lowlight photos. This is the main advantage that the X-H1 has over the X-T3.

  • Announced in February 2018
  • Fujifilm X-Mount
  • 24MP – APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • No Anti-aliasing (AA) filter
  • ISO 200 – 12800
  • Sensor-shift Image Stabilization
  • 3 Tilting Screen
  • 3690k dot Electronic viewfinder
  • 14.0 fps continuous shooting
  • 4096 x 2160 video resolution
  • Built-in Wireless
  • 673g. 140 x 97 x 86 mm
  • Weather Sealed Body
3 reasons to pick the X-H1 over the X-T3 1. Built-In Image Stabilization (IBIS)

As mentioned above, the X-H1 is the only Fujifilm camera to offer in-body stabilization. This means that even your lenses without Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) will be stabilized by the camera. With that said, if you use an OIS lens on the X-T3, you can still get a degree of stabilization even without IBIS.

2. Top LCD

The X-H1 physically resembles DSLRs in several ways, namely via its top LCD. This can be helpful for viewing and changing settings in the dark, and also for seeing your battery levels without turning the camera on.

3. Larger overall footprint.

Overall, the X-H1 is physically larger than the X-T3 and is closer in looks to the Fujifilm GFX camera line. The X-H1 is about 134 grams heavier and has a noticeably larger right-hand grip. While many people purchase mirrorless cameras with the idea of having a smaller, more compact camera, you may prefer the X-H1’s larger size if you have big hands or tend to use Fujifilm’s large red badge lenses.

4 reasons to pick the X-T3 over the X-H1 1. Enhanced Autofocus

Fujifilm made significant autofocus improvements to the X-T3, now offering 425 hybrid autofocus points. That’s 100 more autofocus points than both the X-T2 and the X-H1. Additionally, both face and eye detect have been enhanced and they are much more responsive and accurate on the X-T3 than on previous Fujifilm cameras. I will say, however, that Sony still leads the pack in terms of face and eye detect in particular.

2. Faster continuous shooting

The X-T3 also ups the ante in continuous shooting. Now able to shoot 11 frames-per-second (fps) with the mechanical shutter, 20 fps with the electronic shutter, and 30 fps in 1.25x crop mode with the electronic shutter. In comparison, the X-H1 also shoots 11 fps mechanical, but only 14 fps with electronic. If frames per second and continuous shooting are of importance to you, the X-T3 is your best bet.

3. Higher quality video settings

Despite the X-H1 being intended as Fujifilm’s video-oriented mirrorless camera, the X-T3 doesn’t skimp on video features. In fact, the X-T3 outperforms the X-H1 when it comes to bitrate (400mbps vs 200mbps), and its ability to shoot at 4K60p (compared to the X-H1’s 4K30p). Also, the X-T3 has a headphone jack to monitor audio–this is a feature you can only get on the X-H1 if you use the accompanying battery grip.

4. Lower price point

In addition to a new processor and sensor, the Fujifilm X-T3 also boasts a lower price point of $1499 versus $1899 for the camera body only. That’s a $400 difference that could be put towards a new lens or camera accessory.

Common ground – X-H1 and X-T3

Both the Fujifilm X-H1 and X-T3 have many features to make them viable competitors in today’s hot mirrorless camera market. Here’s what they have in common:

  • Wireless and Bluetooth connection
  • Smartphone camera control via an app
  • Articulating rear touchscreen LCD screens (but no selfie flip out screen)
  • Timelapse recording
  • 2 SD card slots
  • Ability to shoot in RAW and JPG (for stills) and f-log (for video)
  • Fujifilm’s famous film simulations, including the newest Eterna
  • Firmware updates that are actually helpful — Fujifilm is known for listening to its customer base and releasing significant firmware updates for cameras and lenses.
In Conclusion

As a newer camera with more photography and video features AND a lower price point, the Fujifilm X-T3 will probably be the camera of choice for most people. Even Fujifilm seems to have realized this as the X-H1 has dropped in price to be very competitive with the X-T3. However, if you’re a serious videographer who isn’t in a hurry to get a new camera, it is probably worth waiting to see what Fujifilm does with the next generation of the X-H1: the X-H2. Although nothing official about the X-H2 has been announced yet, Fujifilm is famous for taking customer feedback seriously and many Fuji enthusiasts believe the X-H2 will be the ultimate video camera. We’ll wait and see!

Video with sample images and footage

Most comparisons were done in video form, so please check out the video below to see X-H1 and X-T3 sample video and photos.


The post Fujifilm X-T3 versus Fujifilm X-H1: The Best Mirrorless Camera for You? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

How to Photograph Children Under Five with Little to No Meltdowns

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 13:00

The post How to Photograph Children Under Five with Little to No Meltdowns appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Photographing children under five can be really challenging. However, the most effective photographers are the ones who know how to avoid meltdowns that lead to children shutting down or simply, not wanting to participate at all. Read on to learn tips on how to photograph children without meltdowns!

Pose children with parents closeby can give them comfort and confidence during the session.

Choose the best time for the children

The best way to avoid a meltdown with children from newborn to five years of age is to choose the best time during the day that works best for them. That’s right, we’re working on the child’s schedule rather than the parents or even your photography calendar. This is because some children may be more alert after a good nap and others may be in a better mood after breakfast.

Catering to the child’s already existing schedule avoids any disruptions or over-tiredness. Having the session as part of the day’s activities also gets them excited to explore and play.

Bring snacks and toys

There is nothing more cranky than a hungry child. This goes for any child age 6-months and older. Kids need a snack or drink of some kind often. If your session is going to last from 45 minutes to more than an hour, it’s a good idea to have snacks and drinks on hand. Allowing children to have a snack during the session can also serve to give them a boost in energy and get them back into the session.

Ask the parents to bring the kids favorite snack and drink to the session as well as a snack that could be considered a reward or treat. These rewards/treats can help use bribery in order to get some smiles or to avoid a meltdown in the middle of the session.

Having parents interact and play with children can help relax them enough to get smiles.

Take breaks often to give the children a chance to snack and drink some water or juice. Take advantage that they are occupied to focus on the older children or on the parents.

Toys are a great way to keep children entertained and you can get a lot of real and authentic expressions out of the child when they are playing with their favorite toy. Sometimes, toys can bring comfort to children and help them to feel more relaxed around new strangers. Also, toys offer a distraction when you are photographing other members of the family all while keeping the smaller children from a tantrum or getting too bored.

Advise parents to avoid saying “no”

This is probably the one tip that will raise a few eyebrows among your clients, but it is really important to keep in mind. Children hear the word “no” over a hundred times a day, and sometimes this can bring about defiant behavior. Avoiding saying no can really help the child to feel more relaxed during the session.

Letting children play and have fun can make the session run smoother.

Not using the word “no” also gives them the freedom to explore, jump, play, run, and yes, even get dirty during the session. Giving children who are under 5 a great experience is really important. They will remember how much fun they had with you and your camera. The next time they see you for another portrait session, they won’t be so afraid or shy.

Let them get it all out of their system and have fun. The more they see this as a fun activity, the more willing they’ll be to cooperate. Of course, all within reason! If something is dangerous then a proper no is okay. For everything else, it’s a banned word for the whole session time.

This also gives you the opportunity to dictate how to say no without actually saying the word. For example, instead of having the parents say “no, don’t climb the tree” where the child will see this as their parents nagging again, you now have the lead to say instead, “hey bud, let’s go over here and see if we can find some sticks, that tree looks like it could have some ants on it.”

This makes you seem like the friend and keeps the parents from using a negative tone during the session. All together giving the child the impression that they are there to have fun and play. Giving you better expressions and eventually, they will listen when you ask them to look at the camera and smile.

Try posing other than smiling at the camera

Most children under five don’t have the patience to stand still for very long and smile at the camera. The most you’ll get from children of this age group is 30 minutes, with bribes! The best way to get them to participate longer is to capture them doing what children do best: play.

Children in this age group are learning so quickly and love to apply what they’ve learned or can identify all the time. This means that if they are at a park, they’ll want to pick up a stick and play. Show their parents and then jump around poking the dirt.

Which means, posed photos may not be what you expect with children so young. In order to capture the whole family together, for instance, is to pose all other members of the family in a way that when you join the smaller children, they are in direct contact with mom or dad. Either in their arms, next to one or the other, or on their laps. Laughing and telling jokes can help them to stay in place long enough for some good photos.

Having the family walk holding hands is also a great way to get the children more involved. You want them to play and explore but you also want them to participate in the more posed family photos as well.

Don’t be afraid to reschedule if necessary

Sometimes, you will get a child who isn’t willing and has multiple meltdowns that were simply unavoidable. If this does occur, offer the family to reschedule the session for another date and time that best suits the child’s schedule and mood.

This is the great thing about portrait sessions as they can be re-done in order to best suit the child who perhaps wasn’t in the mood for photos that day. Reassure your client that rescheduling is the best option and that it is completely okay and happens with children.

Sometimes you won’t get smiles out of children but it’s important to try and get a good solid portrait of them anyway.

Make sure that you exhaust all of the options before deciding that a reschedule is necessary. Sometimes, a child might just need a quick snack break or a break in general. Focus on taking photos of the parents or the other siblings to give them a rest. If all else fails, rescheduling could be the best solution.

Sometimes children open up toward the end of the session. Like this little girl. On the left was at the beginning and on the right, she was smiling toward the end of the session.

If you can’t reschedule, try and get as much as you can from the child before they completely shut down. Work quickly and let the child know that you know they are tired, hungry, or don’t like photos but if they do well they can get a prize. Here, allow the parents to say whichever prize they want to offer. This can sometimes get a few last smiles and give you enough photos.

In conclusion

Children under five years of age aren’t always easy going and willing to take portraits, however, using these tips can help get the most out of them before they burn out. Try and follow their lead and make sure that they have a fun time at the session. This will help them to feel more comfortable the next time they are in front of your camera.

The post How to Photograph Children Under Five with Little to No Meltdowns appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Create Powerful Black and White Photos with the Photoshop Gradient Map

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 08:00

The post Create Powerful Black and White Photos with the Photoshop Gradient Map appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

In this article, you will learn how to use the Photoshop Gradient Map tool to transform your “meh” color images into incredible black and whites that go “WOW.”

When you think about it, a black and white photograph doesn’t make sense. No, really. At it’s most basic level, black and white photography presents us with a version of our world that we know is not accurate. The colors we normally see get shown to us in values of white, black and gray. We know a black and white photo isn’t true-to-life and yet a strong black and white photograph can transcend the sum of its parts. It can transport us to visual spaces which provoke emotions that even the brightest color photograph cannot achieve.

Even though a black and white picture is called “black and white” seldom are they merely tones of gray. A strong black and white image often present subtle color tones in the shadows, highlights, mid-tones or sometimes all three. Moreover, when it comes to concocting a black and white photo from a digital color image file, the way in which you approach your conversions can make or break the entire photograph.

However, not all methods are created equal. I’m about to show you one of the best ways I know to effectively convert and tone a photo to black and white. We’ll do this using a quiet little tool in Photoshop called the Gradient Map. When it comes to taking a digital black and white photograph from “meh” to “WOW” the Photoshop Gradient Map will be your best friend.

What is the Gradient Map?

The Photoshop Gradient Map is essentially just what it sounds like; a way for you to map out and control the color tones of different luminance values within your photo.

Toning with the gradient map can be shockingly simple (as with this lesson) or as delightfully complex as you choose to make your adjustments. Ok, enough talk, let’s get started. Let’s take a RAW color photo and begin the process of converting it to black and white, followed by toning it with the gradient map in Photoshop.

Begin with basics

To begin, I highly recommend you use a RAW image file. Doing so offers you the greatest amount of wiggle room to adjust the values within the photo after you convert it to black and white.

I’ve started with a photo opened in Lightroom to complete some basic edits. However, you can complete the entire process right inside of Photoshop. Preferably, converting the image to black and white and toning with the gradient map should be one of the last steps in the process. Of course, editing can take on a life of its own, so don’t hesitate to dynamically adjust your photo at any stage. Here we have the RAW file after some core edits in Lightroom.

You may be asking “why not just convert to black and white right now?” I don’t recommend converting the photograph to black and white before opening it in Photoshop. The reason for this is because it completely robs you of the vital color information that allows adjustments of the individual color luminance values.

Next, I’ll kick the image over to Photoshop….

Now the real fun begins! Come on…it really is fun.

Conversion and Toning with the Gradient Map

After you open your image in Photoshop, convert it to black and white. To achieve this, add a black and white adjustment layer.

Although it’s not necessary to do so, feel free to name this layer something specific. At this point, you can adjust the individual color luminance values to your liking. See, I told you there was a reason to hold off on converting until this step.

Now that you have a nicely converted black and white photograph you can jump into the toning process by adding a Gradient Map adjustment layer. Click on the Gradient Map icon just as we did with the black and white adjustment layer.

Doesn’t that look magical!


There are a couple of things we need to do after we select the Gradient Map. Depending on your default Photoshop settings, your view could appear slightly different than mine. Don’t worry, though, the steps are the same.

To select your gradient, click on the gradient drop down:

Then click the Settings Wheel to open up your toning options and make sure that Photographic Toning is selected.

You’ll be prompted to confirm you want to change to a new gradient. Click OK because you absolutely do.

Each of those little boxes represents a color gradient scheme you can select to tone your image. Think of these as gradient presets. For this photo, I’m going with an old favorite of mine, Platinum.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the flavor that you like for your photo. Remember, everything here is non-destructive so simply click the “undo” button at the bottom of the gradient map window to start over.

At this point, we are nearly finished with the bulk of our toning using the gradient map! Yes, it is that easy. However, before we go, I want to show you how to customize the gradient should you choose to do so. A gradient map adds color across the tonal values of your image. You can control just how it applies this by clicking the gradient (and even create new ones). Doing so opens up the gradient adjustment panel.

From this panel, we can adjust the individual values of the gradient to change color density and contrast. There are limitless combinations and color schemes available. So again, allow yourself to tinker, tweak, test and otherwise go completely wild with your gradients to see how they affect your photo. I’m not joking; the possibilities are endless. Didn’t I tell you this was fun?

Last but not least, you can also adjust the layer blend mode and opacity of the gradient layer in the Layers Panel. Play with the percentage levels until you get the effect right.

Now you can further adjust your photo right here in Photoshop, or back in Lightroom. Or, if you are finished, you can save and export.

Final thoughts on Gradient Maps and Black and White

With just a few simple layers in Photoshop, we went from this…

to this…

to finally this…

Black and white photos are more than…well, just black and white. Think of some of your favorite black and white images. Are they merely two colors or are they something more? Whether it be film or digital, most “black and white” images that move us possess color tones that create a sense of mode or aesthetic comfort that touches us on a creative and emotional level. Using the Photoshop Gradient Map to tone your black and white photos is one of the easiest and most effective ways to create advanced black and white’s that stand out. Once you begin making use of the Photoshop Gradient Map, you may wonder how you ever managed without it in the first place!

Do you use the Photoshop Gradient Map? Share with us some of your images below.


The post Create Powerful Black and White Photos with the Photoshop Gradient Map appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Light Trails

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 13:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is light trails!

Tree Top Circus © Caz Nowaczyk

Your photos can include light trails from vehicles, light painting, or any other moving light source. Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Some Inst-piration from some Instagrammers:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Johan Weesie (@jowie_pictures) on Jan 3, 2019 at 4:34pm PST


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Carlos Bolivar (@photo_charles) on Dec 30, 2018 at 6:00pm PST


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Om Prakash Sethia (@om_prakash_sethia) on Dec 15, 2018 at 6:03am PST


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by RECYCLED PHOTOS (@recycleartz) on Nov 6, 2018 at 10:03pm PST


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Phutter Blog (@phutterblog) on Nov 7, 2018 at 10:19pm PST


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

Tips for Shooting Light Trails

How to do Long Exposure Photography and Light Trails at Night

Stacking Light Trails for Night Photography Special Effects

How to Create Dynamic Photos of Car Light Trails

How to Photograph Light Trails from the Back Seat of a Car

7 Tips for Shooting and Processing Star Trails

How to do Light Painting and Illuminate Your Photography

Long Exposure Photography 101 – How to Create the Shot


Weekly Photography Challenge – Light Trails

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 #DPSLighttrails 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.


Feature Photo by Alen Rojnic on Unsplash

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

How to Use 5 Different Lighting Scenarios to Create Expert Studio Portraits [video]

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Use 5 Different Lighting Scenarios to Create Expert Studio Portraits [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this week’s video from COOPH Master Chrissie White, you’ll learn how to use five lighting scenarios to create expert studio portraits.

Here are the 5 tips: 1. Natural Light and Reflector

Place your model next to window and place reflector on the opposite side of the face to create balanced light. For even light, shoot when the light isn’t coming directly through the window.

2. Side lighting

Side lighting creates a moody atmosphere for your image.

Place one light on to one side of the model and black card on the opposite side. This casts a shadow on one side of your models face so the light is split down the middle. if you don’t want it too moody, place a white card on the opposite side instead. That way the models face won’t be in complete shadow.

3. Butterfly lighting

Butterfly Lighting is commonly used for beauty lighting. It is an even light on the model. Place the light in front of the model and above them. You can also use a reflector underneath their face to even out the light.

4. Split lighting

This lighting is dramatic and flashy. Great for shooting athletes and fashion models. Place 2 lights approx 45 degrees behind the model. To soften and make less dramatic, add a butterfly light to the front of the model.

5. Backlighting

Place your light source behind the model to create a hair or rim light. Place another light in front of model or a white card to add some fill to remove the shadow from the face.

Add colored gels to the light to add color and drama. Use cellophane or gels. Be careful of hot lights though.

TIP: Look in the eyes of models for ‘catch-lights’ to see what type of lighting a photographer used.


You may also find these articles helpful:

One Speedlight Portrait Lighting Tutorial

6 Portrait Lighting Patterns Evey Photographer Should Know

10 Ways to take Stunning Portraits

How to Pose and Angle the Body for Better Portraits

Create Beautiful Indoor Portraits Without Flash

How to Create Awesome Portrait Lighting with a Paper Bag an Elastic Band and a Chocolate Donut



The post How to Use 5 Different Lighting Scenarios to Create Expert Studio Portraits [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

9 Pioneering Women Who Shaped Photographic History

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 13:00

The post 9 Pioneering Women Who Shaped Photographic History appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

The history of women photographers dates back to the beginnings of photography itself. Yet while names like Ansel Adams and Man Ray have floated to the top of the photographic vernacular, the contribution of women in photography has been diluted or erased from history altogether. In this, photography is no less guilty than other forms of art. Yet there is no doubt that the omission of women, both unintentionally and intentionally, leaves a gaping hole in the narrative of photography.

In this article, I turn the spotlight on women who shaped photographic history. These 9 women (and many more) asserted their presence through both technical and artistic ingenuity. Here is a brief recount of their stories.

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879)

A portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron. Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Julia Margaret Cameron received her first camera as a gift from her daughter in 1863. Cameron threw herself into photography, crafting portraits and staged scenes inspired by literature, mythology, and religion.

Cameron rejected the meticulous photo-reality sought after by her contemporaries. Instead, she favored a dreamlike softness saying “…when focusing and coming to something which, to my eye, was very beautiful, I stopped there instead of screwing on the lens to the more definite focus which all other photographers insist upon.”

The revolving door of luminaries in Cameron’s home provided her with ample opportunity to produce piercing character studies of some of the most famous people of the period. Her portraits represented some of the earliest examples of art meeting formal practice.

Cameron was a prolific photographer. Over 16 years, Cameron created more than 1,200 images – a staggering amount considering the laborious process involved to create each finished piece.

Mary Steen (1856 – 1939)

Mary Steen excelled at indoor photography. Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Mary Steen was a photographer and feminist from Denmark, Scandinavia. She excelled at indoor photography, a particularly difficult field due to the lack of electrically powered light sources available at the time.

In 1888, Stern became Denmark’s first female court photographer, a role that involved photographing both Danish and British royals. In 1891, she became the first woman on the board of the Danish Photographic Society.

Steen was also a member of the Board of Directors for the Danish Women’s Society. Together with Julie Laurberg, she photographed leading figures in the Danish women’s movement. In 1896, Steen started working as a photographer to Alexandra, Princess of Wales, the later Queen of England.

Steen encouraged other women to take up photography. She campaigned for better conditions at work, including eight day’s holiday and a half day off on Sundays. Leading by example, she treated her staff well, paying them fair wages.

Imogen Cunningham (1883 – 1976)

“Succulent” by Imogen Cunningham. Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Known for her botanical, nude and industrial photography, Imogen Cunningham was one of America’s first professional female photographers.

After studying photographic chemistry at university, Cunningham opened a studio in Seattle. Cunningham drew acclaim for her portraiture and pictorial work. Subsequently, she invited other women to join her, publishing an article in 1913 called “Photography as a Profession for Women.”

Cunningham never confined herself to a single genre or style of photography. In 1915 Cunningham’s then-husband, Roi Partridge posed for a series of nude photographs. The nudes achieved critical appraise, despite being a taboo subject for a female artist at the time.

A two-year study of botanical subjects resulted in Cunningham’s opulently lit magnolia flower. She also turned her lens toward industry and fashion.

It was Cunningham who said “which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”

Gertrude Fehr (1895 – 1996)

An example of solarization, a darkroom technique used by the New Photography movement in Paris that can now be emulated in Photoshop

After studying at the Bavarian School of Photography, Gertrude Fehr apprenticed with Edward Wasow. In 1918, Fehr opened a studio for portraiture and theater photography.

During 1933, the political climate forced Fehr to leave Germany with Jules Fehr. Settling in Paris, the couple opened the Publi-phot school of photography. The school specialized in advertising photography, a pioneering program at the time.

Fehr participated in the New Photography movement in Paris. Exhibiting artists alongside Man Ray, Fehr explored the artistic boundaries of photography, producing photograms, photomontages, and solarized prints.

During the 1930s, Gertrude and Jules Fehr moved to Switzerland. There, they opened a photography school in Lausanne, now known as the Ecole Photographique de la Suisse Romande.

Fehr gave classes in portrait, fashion, advertising and journalistic photography at the school until 1960 when she dedicated herself to freelance portraiture. Both her teaching and photography paved the way for contemporary photographic art.

Trude Fleischmann (1895 – 1990)

Trude Fleischmann with her work. Image courtesy of Wikimedia

After studying art in Paris and Vienna, Trude Fleishmann apprenticed with Dora Kallmus and Hermann Schieberth.

Fleischmann opened a studio when she was 25. Working with glass plates and artificial light, Fleishmann created deftly diffused portraits of celebrities. Her studio quickly became a hub for Viennese cultural life.

In 1925, Fleishmann took a nude series of dancer Claire Bauroff. Displayed at a theater in Berlin, the images were confiscated by police, winning Fleischmann international fame.

The Anschluss forced Fleischmann to leave the country in 1938. After settling in New York in 1940, she established a new studio where she resumed photographing celebrities, dancers and intellectuals including Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt. Her introspective and atmospheric portraiture is viewed as art suffused with technical prowess.

Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1965)

Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother”. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Known for her work documenting the depression, American photographer Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” became a symbol of hardship and resilience in the face of economic collapse.

The majority of Lange’s early studio work centered around portraits of the social elite of San Francisco. With the commencement of the Great Depression, however, Lange transitioned from the studio to the streets.

Applying techniques she had developed for photographing portraits of wealthy clientele, Lange’s unapologetic studies led to her employment with the Farm Security Administration. There, she continued to document the suffering of victims of the depression. Soon, her powerful images became an icon of the era.

Described in her own words, Lange used the camera as “…an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera”. Her unflinching study of the human condition in the 20th century shaped photojournalism in a way that continues to resonate today.

Grete Stern (1904 – 1999)

A self-portrait by Grete Stern. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Originally a graphic designer, Grete Stern studied under Walter Peterhans in Berlin where she and Ellen Auerbach opened a well-regarded studio, ringl+pit.

Emigrating to England in 1933, Stern then traveled to Argentina with her husband, Horacio Coppola. They opened an exhibition literary magazine Sur hailed as “the first serious exhibition of photographic art in Buenos Aires.”

By the mid-1940s, Stern was well established in Buenos Aires. She worked with women’s magazine Idilio, illustrating reader-submitted dreams through photomontage. Stern incorporated feminist critiques into her pieces which became popular with readers.

In 1964, Stern traveled Northeast Argentina, producing over 800 photos of Aboriginals in the region. The body of work is considered to be the most significant Argentinian record of its time.

“Photography has given me great happiness,” said Stern in 1992. “I learned a lot and [said] things I wanted to say and show”.

Ylla (1911 – 1955)

Ylla photographing a toucan. Image courtesy of Wikipedia – ©Pryor Dodge at the English Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (]

Animal photographer, Ylla (Camilla Koffler) originally studied sculpture under Petar Palavicini at the Belgrade Academy of Fine Arts, moving to Paris to continue her studies in 1931.

Working as an assistant to photographer Ergy Landau, Ylla began photographing animals on holiday. Encouraged by Landau, Ylla started exhibiting, opening a studio dedicated to pet photography shortly after.

Ylla’s first major book, Petits et Grands was published in 1938. That same year she collaborated with British evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley for his book Animal Language.

During 1941 Ylla immigrated to the United States. She opened a new studio in New York, photographing a miscellany of animals from lions and tigers to birds and mice.

In 1955, Ylla fell from a jeep while photographing a bullock cart race in India. She was fatally wounded. Her New York Times obituary read that Ylla “…was generally considered the most proficient animal photographer in the world.”

Olive Cotton (1911 – 2003)

“Teacup Ballet” by Olive Cotton. Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Describing her process as “drawing with light”, Olive Cotton’s Teacup Ballet has become synonymous with her artful command over light and shadow.

After studying English and Mathematics at university, Cotton pursued photography by joining childhood-friend Max Dupain at his studio in Sydney.

Besides assisting Dupain, Cotton also perused her own work. Cotton and Dupain were married briefly and she ran the studio in his absence during the war. She was one of the few professional women photographers in Australia at the time.

In 1944, Cotton married Ross McInerney, moving to a property near Cowra, NSW. Cotton gave up work as a professional photographer until 1964 when she opened a small photographic studio.

In the early 1980s, Cotton reprinted negatives she had taken over the past forty years or more. The resulting retrospective exhibition in Sydney in 1985 earned her recognition as a key figure in the development of Australian photography.


It’s impossible to cover the sheer number of women that have embodied the tenacity and creativity of a photographer’s spirit in a single article. With this piece, however, I hope to have encapsulated some of the resolves of the generations of women who have shaped photographic history. And although we aren’t all the way to achieving equality yet, thanks to the female photographers of the past and present, we’re a lot closer than we used to be.


The post 9 Pioneering Women Who Shaped Photographic History appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

How to Customize Your Lightroom Workspace for Better Workflow

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Customize Your Lightroom Workspace for Better Workflow appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Although it is sometimes overshadowed by its powerful cousin Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom is a robust post-processing program in its own right.

Lightroom is designed with simplicity in mind, however, it still offers a lot of options and can be confusing to new users.

This article assumes you have a basic familiarity with the appearance of the various panels in the Lightroom, and gives you some tips on how to customize your Lightroom workspace for better workflow and productivity.

The Lightroom Workspace in Grid View


Lightroom is organized into seven Modules: Library, Develop, Map, Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web.

You can find these modules in the uppermost right-hand corner of your screen. This panel or bar is called the Module Picker.

Each of these modules contains a set of tools that work specifically within that module.

For example, if you want to design and print contact sheets of select images from a shoot, you would navigate to the Print module, where you would find the required tools to do that.

You will find, however, that there are some modules that you rarely (or even never) use.

Most users of Lightroom spend the majority of their time in the Library and Develop Modules. Therefore, Lightroom gives you the option to hide these modules from view if you wish.

To set up which modules you would like to remain visible, right click on the module panel to bring up a pop-up menu:

The panels that are visible are noted with a checkmark. To make the module invisible, simply click on it to uncheck it in the menu.

For example, I never use the Book and Slideshow modules, so I have those checked off in my own Lightroom workspace.

The missing modules are still available under the Window menu; you can use keyboard shortcuts to open them.

Keep in mind that if you do this, Lightroom will automatically add the missing module back to the Module Picker.


In the above image, the following are noted:

A. Library Filter bar
B. Image Display area
C. Identity Plate area
D. Panels displaying photos
E. Filmstrip
F. Module Picker
G. Panels for working with metadata, keywords, adjustments
H. Toolbar

There are four panels in each of the Lightroom Modules. Only two panels – the Module panel and Filmstrip panel – appear in all of the different modules in Lightroom.

For example, the Library module has a top Module Panel, the Navigation panel is located on the left-hand side. The right-side panel is mostly for Metadata, while the bottom panel is where the Filmstrip appears.

Develop Module has Develop and Preset panels instead of Navigation and Metadata.

Tabs are small panels inside of panels.

Below are the various tabs in the Develop panel in the Develop Module in Lightroom:

You can customize your workspace to display only the panels you want.

  • To open or close all the panels in a group, hit -> Command-click (Mac) or Ctrl-click(Windows).
  • To open or close one panel at a time, simply Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (Windows) on the panel header.
  • To show or hide both side panel groups choose Window ->Panel -> Toggle Side Panels, or press the Tab key.
  • To hide all of the panels, including the side panels, the Module Picker and the Filmstrip, choose Window -> Panels -> Toggle All Panels, or press Shift-Tab.

If you don’t use a panel often, you can hide it form view: Control-Click (Mac) or Right-Click (Windows) on any panel header in the group and choose the panel name.

Change the Screen Mode

You can also change the screen display to hide the title bar, menus, and panels.

Choose -> Window -> Screen Mode, and choose an option from the drop-down menu.

When in Normal, Full Screen with Menubar, or Full Screen Mode, press the F key to cycle through them.

If you’re on a Mac OS, note that Full Screen mode and Full Screen and Hide Panels mode both hide the Dock. If you don’t see the Minimize, Maximize, or Close buttons for the application, press the F key once or twice until they appear.

Press Shift-Tab and then the F key to display the panels and menu bar.

  • Command+Option+F (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+F (Windows) to switch to Normal screen mode from Full Screen with Menubar or Full Screen Mode.
  • Shift+Command+F (Mac) or Shift-Ctrl+F (Windows) hides the title bar, menus, and panels.

To dim or hide the Lightroom Classic CC workspace, choose -> Window then -> Lights Out, then choose an option. Press the F key to cycle through the options.

Identity Plate

You can brand your Lightroom with the logo of your photography business through the Identity Plate Setup.

It’s not going to impact your workflow in any way, but this is a cool customization you can make to appear more professional when working with clients and utilizing tethered capture.

To access the Identity Plate Setup click on a Mac -> Lightroom and choose -> Identity Plate Setup from the drop-down menu. For Windows, go to -> Edit and choose -> Identity Plate Setup.

Under Identity Plate, choose -> Personalized and Custom.

Click on -> Use a Graphical Identity Plate and then -> Locate File to navigate to wherever you have your logo saved on your computer.

However, if you don’t have a logo, you can still customize the text that appears in Identity Plate by changing the font, size of the font, and the color of the module names.

To sum up

A customized workspace can help you improve your workflow and therefore efficiency when working in Lightroom.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you navigate Lightroom a bit more easily and has given you some ideas on setting up the interface in the way that works for you.

The post How to Customize Your Lightroom Workspace for Better Workflow appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 13:00

The post Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

During travel photography workshops, we teach participants who often carry big, heavy camera bags. A lot of the time people do not use very much of what they are lugging around with them.

In this article, I want to encourage you to think about carrying less camera gear and how it can help you improve your photography.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Restrictions of weight

Walking around with less weight on your shoulder or back makes a huge difference to photography sessions. It’s no problem if you’re working in a studio or are going to be mostly in one location, but otherwise, it can wear you out quickly.

Going on a photo walk, or even when you go on location, carrying less weight in camera gear frees you up and gives you more energy. You can enjoy your photography for longer periods of time. This becomes more noticeable as you get older.

Well-designed camera bags make a difference with good weight distribution. Mostly though, bags designed to carry a lot of camera gear are backpack-style and I do not find these easy to use. They are either strapped on and secure, with a belt to help support the weight on your hips, or your gear is easily accessible but the weight is not so well distributed.

Carrying a heavy bag of equipment hanging off your shoulder is tiring. It can also lead to back problems if you frequently do it for long periods.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The hassle of bulk

Bulky bags make moving around more difficult. Again, this is more pronounced as you get older. Getting down on the ground to capture a low angle view becomes difficult with a bulky backpack on. If you do not have the bulk and weight on you are far more likely to get down and potentially make a more interesting photo.

Markets and other busy locations are far easier to navigate if you are carrying less camera gear.

With less of a mass of gear, you are also more inconspicuous. This can be a great advantage and help you obtain more natural, candid photos.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Thinking differently about how you compose

I think the biggest advantage of carrying less camera equipment with you is that you are forced to be more alternative in your approach to composition.

You will need to be more imaginative if you have only one or two lenses with you. Zooming with your feet becomes more necessary. It does not take long to get used to.

Seeing in new ways that still allow you to take interesting photos becomes second nature if you practice often enough. You have to think more about taking photos with the lens you have on your camera. If you have limited options you have to focus on your composition rather than relying on the perspective a different lens gives you.

Of course, this all means you need to plan more in advance. Packing the right gear for a particular situation is important. Before you head out with minimal gear, carefully consider the demands you are facing and which lenses will be most appropriate. If you are like me and prefer not to use zoom lenses, your options are more limited and carrying less gear is more challenging.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

What gear should I pack?

Ask yourself how much of your gear you really use each time to go out. When you stop to think about it you will probably find that you use certain lenses and other equipment more often and other gear hardly at all.

Check your metadata in Lightroom to see which lenses you use the most. Open a catalog of the favorite photos you’ve taken over the last twelve months or so. In Grid View in Lightroom click on the Metadata option in the top bar. Now you will see lists of cameras and lenses you have used. Analyzing your best photos based on lens and focal length may help you decide which lenses you use the most to take the photos you are most satisfied with.

Maybe you will choose to take one or two lenses with you more often, based on this information. Don’t always pack the lens you use the most. Push yourself by sometimes only packing a lens you tend not to use so much. This helps you become more comfortable using these lenses and to master them.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan


You may need to buy a new bag, or consider not taking a camera bag with you. If you are only taking one or two lenses out you may not even need to take a camera bag at all.

Don’t aim to travel too light when you have to produce a set of photos for a customer or specific purpose. Limiting yourself in terms of gear options can be detrimental in these situations. If you have a job to do, you need to be sure to do it well.

Challenge yourself to use minimal camera equipment for a month or two. Create a new body of work. When you reach the set period of time you have made yourself, look back over your photos and think about the difference this exercise has made to your photography.

Do you limit your photography gear? Let us know in the comments below.

The post Why Carrying Less Camera Gear Will Make You a Better Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

5 Tips for Photographing Festivals

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 08:00

The post 5 Tips for Photographing Festivals appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Goroka Show, Papa New Guinea. © Jeremy Flint

The performance, color and wonderful crowds that are the signature features of festivals make them an excellent subject for photography. Festivals are great organized events worth attending and can occur anywhere at any time.

A festival is defined as ‘a day or time of the year when people have a holiday from work and celebrate some special event.’ Festivals could be a day or period set aside for celebration to commemorate an anniversary or other significant events. A festival may also occur for feasting, such as religious events or for performances of music, theatre, and dance.

These special events are usually held periodically and are designed to entertain, providing a fantastic opportunity to capture some interesting images.

Consider if there is a festival or event you have always wanted to attend? Whether it’s at home or abroad, it will be sure to offer an array of colorful and compelling subjects and scenes.

Here are five 5 tips for photographing festivals:

1. Shoot local festivals

© Jeremy Flint

You don’t have to travel long distances to visit festivals. Find an event that is going on near you and head out with your camera to capture it. Often festivals are seasonal, so time your visit to a festival that takes place during your favorite time of the year such as summer or winter. Arrive early for the chance to get your bearings and find a suitable place to see and photograph the event.

Remember festivals in towns and cities can cause built up traffic, and road closures may restrict access. Allow extra time to get to the event and be observant to ensure your gear stays safe in crowded situations.

© Jeremy Flint

2. Shoot festivals around the world

If you are traveling abroad, consider visiting a festival during your vacation. Some incredible festivals are celebrated around the world including the Holi festival in India, the Rio Carnival, the Goroka and Mount Hagen shows of Papa New Guinea and Oktoberfest in Germany. They offer the chance to see a unique and varied side to the people of the place you’re visiting.

Goroka Show, Papa New Guinea © Jeremy Flint

There is generally a great atmosphere during these events, and the costume-clad festival participants are dressed to impress and hopefully won’t mind having their photograph taken.

Festivals involving cultures, such as those in Papa New Guinea and parts of Asia, brilliantly combine local culture with exciting tribal traditions. I photographed this image at the Goroka show in Papa New Guinea where local groups demonstrate their unique song and dance.

Goroka Show, Papa New Guinea © Jeremy Flint

Try and get a bit closer to the action and capture the variety of activities taking place. Alternatively, if you are with friends and family and prefer to remain in one place, wait for the action to come to you.

3. Add color

Festivals such as carnivals, street parties, and fetes create endless opportunities for lively, colorful images. Since everyone taking part in the celebrations are enjoying the occasion, they are happier than usual to have their picture taken. You can take advantage of this by capturing interesting poses and joyous people.

Be sure to look out for vibrant individuals in which to point your lens. Take portraits of cheerful revelers and capture the participants in their colorful clothing.

© Jeremy Flint

4. Capture action

© Jeremy Flint

At festivals, things happen fast. With parades and processions, attendees move quickly, so be ready to capture the action. With this in mind, I recommend you use a fast shutter speed to capture any aspects you find interesting. Try experimenting with different shutter speeds of 1/100th of a second and above.

A guy falling off a horse, Llanthony Show, Brecon Beacons, Wales © Jeremy Flint

5. Relax and enjoy it

Don’t get hung up on getting the perfect shot. Take time out from the photography, and you can enjoy it more. Spend time soaking up the atmosphere and see the activities with your own eyes. Similarly, immerse yourself in the event and enjoy the spirit of the festivities and the kaleidoscope of color.

Join in the festivities and dance or walk with the participants if they are marching.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the event, you will have a much more memorable experience.


In summary, festivals offer a wonderful chance to create pictures with color, impact, and action. Most importantly, relax, enjoy it and don’t get too engrossed in taking the perfect shot. When photographing festivals remember these tips to help you improve your images. Therefore, get out there and capture a festival near you and share your photos below!


The post 5 Tips for Photographing Festivals appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Secret Camera Settings that Supercharge your JPEG Photos

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 13:00

The post Secret Camera Settings that Supercharge your JPEG Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Shooting pictures in RAW definitely has its advantages, but there are plenty of good reasons you might want to shoot using the JPEG format as well. It really comes down to personal preference, and both types of file formats have their pros and cons.

One of the biggest assets of the RAW format is that you can adjust your images as much as you want in programs like Lightroom or Luminar. Whereas the lossy compression algorithms used to create JPEG files leave much less room for post-processing flexibility. For this reason, to get the most out of your JPEG files, there are some important settings in your camera you should learn and customize to get your photos looking their best.

When you use RAW, you have access to the full data readout from your camera’s sensor. None of the data used to create your image was tossed out by your camera to compress the image and save memory card space. When shooting JPEG, your camera makes a series of determinations on the fly. It calculates what it thinks are the best values for various settings to get a pleasing photo almost like following a recipe to bake a cake. You can tweak that recipe to get the final output to be more customized to your taste. Doing so can be extremely helpful in many different photography settings.

White Balance

White balance is perhaps the most critical setting for JPEG shooters to understand. Getting this right can have a massive impact on how your images look. If you notice your images looking slightly yellow or blue, it’s likely due to the white balance not being calibrated correctly. Most people only use the Auto White Balance option which leaves the heavy lifting up to the digital brain inside your camera.

However, it’s straightforward to set the white balance by yourself and get much better results, particularly in tricky lighting situations. Especially indoors.

Setting the white balance at this cat show was really tricky due to the old fluorescent lights at the venue. Several of my auto white balance shots had a yellow tint, so I set the proper white balance in my camera and was able to achieve much better results.

It only takes a few seconds to set the white balance when shooting JPG and it can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. All DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, as well as most point-and-shoots, come with a variety of white balance settings. You can specify these if you know a little bit about the lighting conditions in which you are shooting. Many cameras have options such as Sunlight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Shade, even different types of fluorescent lighting. These can be selected to help make your photos look as good as possible.

The Overcast white balance setting gave me just the right look I was aiming for in this shot.

In my experience, the Auto white balance setting works great outdoors. However, when shooting inside, even the latest cameras can get tripped up by the many different types of artificial light. If you’re at a school, office, sporting event or another indoor setting with fluorescent lights, just choosing that option in your White Balance menu can make a huge difference to how your photos turn out. Try different settings and see what you like. Chances are, one of the pre-selected settings can help a great deal if you notice your photos looking a little blue or orange.

The picture I wanted to take was not what I ended up with. I missed a good opportunity largely due to improper white balance settings. A richer, more natural tone was what I wanted, but the image came out much cooler than I intended because I did not take a few seconds to set a proper white balance.

Finally, you can go all out and set a white balance of your own, which isn’t as big of a deal as it might sound. Every camera has its way of doing this. As long as you have a mostly white surface to point your camera at you should be all set (ideally it works if the surface is just slightly gray). Once again, the actual procedure is going to be different on every camera, and if you’re unsure do an internet search of your camera model and “custom white balance.” You should find the information you need.


While you adjust White Balance for various photography situations, Sharpening is a setting that you fine-tune to your taste and leave as-is. Of course, each photographer is different, but I’ve found I like a certain level of sharpening on all my JPG photos. This is because I have a particular type of look that I’m trying to achieve. Sharpening can’t fix an out-of-focus image. However, it can give your photos a certain level of pizzazz or clarity that you might have seen in other pictures but aren’t quite sure how to achieve on your own.

I ramped up the in-camera sharpening to get a clean, crisp image of these crayons. The foreground and background are just slightly out of focus due to shallow depth of field, but the middle is tack sharp.

Be careful not to set the sharpening too high though. Over-sharpening can lead to images that look fake and over-processed. However, you might find that with a few tweaks to the sharpening setting you can get your images to look much better.


Adjusting the contrast slider can make dull images come to life and punch-up an otherwise boring image. Either you or your camera, depending on your shooting mode, makes decisions about how bright or dark your images are based on the exposure settings. The contrast becomes the overall difference between the brightest and darkest portions of your pictures. Dialing up the contrast makes bright parts brighter and dark parts darker, whereas lowering the value will have the opposite effect.

Adjusting the contrast value helped me get the shot I was aiming for.

Contrast may seem like such a simple thing and, for the most part, it is. But it’s something that often gets overlooked by casual photographers. They may want to have nice JPEG shots straight out of their cameras and not worry about fussing with all the technical details. You might find that you prefer your photos to have a little contrast lending an interesting dynamic element to them. Or, perhaps you want your images to be a bit more subdued. Try adjusting the contrast slider, and you might realize that it does the sort of thing you have always been trying to achieve but never quite knew how to get.


If you have ever played around with filters on apps like Instagram you probably noticed that some of them make your colors pop and stand out while others have more subdued, muted tones. This effect is due in large (but not exclusive) part to saturation adjustments. You can fine-tune this on your camera to customize the look of your images. Some photographers prefer an over-saturated look – especially when taking nature or landscape pictures. It also works well for certain types of portraits too.

Adjusting your saturation after you take a picture can work, but it’s best to get it right in camera if possible.

Some photographers like a softer touch and prefer their JPEG files to be less saturated for a calm, timeless look. It’s all based on personal preference of the photographer. It can be useful and time-saving to change the saturation in-camera instead of in an image editing program. Adjusting the saturation is as simple as increasing or decreasing the value in your camera. You may find, after several test shots, that you prefer your images to be somewhat over or under-saturated. Either way, it’s worth giving it a try to see what you end up liking.

Other settings

Most cameras have additional custom settings you can change in addition to the basic ones covered so far. They can include things like film simulations, grain effects, highlight/shadow adjustments, and noise reduction, which can be very handy when shooting at higher ISO levels. If you have never explored these settings before, it’s a good idea to dive into your camera menus and do some experimenting.

If you dig into your camera menus you will find many other settings you can change to get just the right look you are going for.

Change some numbers, take some test shots, and see how the results compare to your normal shooting mode. It’s a good bet that you’ll end up with some appealing results. At the very least, you may learn more about your camera than you did before.

Custom Banks

A feature offered by many cameras is the ability to save banks of custom settings you can activate at will. Even my old Nikon D200, which came out in 2006, had this ability. The same is also true for every camera I own today. You can save specific values of most of your image adjustments such as Saturation and Contrast to a bank that you can recall at will. Using these custom settings means you don’t have to change individual values every time you want to shoot with a specific style.

This Fuji X100F has seven custom banks where you can save a huge variety of settings. You can switch between each bank with the touch of a button.

Think of this method as creating custom presets in Lightroom that you can apply to your camera with the touch of a button. If you’re shooting outdoors, you may have an in-camera preset with greater saturation and contrast. Perhaps you find yourself shooting school basketball games, so you create a preset with custom white balance and sharpening levels. If your camera does offer this feature, you can find it in the menus, or you can search online for your camera as well as the phrase “custom setting bank.”

Wrap up

I know not everyone shoots in JPEG, but if you do, some of these custom settings can come in handy and save you a lot of time. However, be aware that it’s difficult to undo them afterward. Unlike RAW, your JPEG files contain much less wiggle room and if you crank up the saturation and contrast in your camera, it’s challenging to undo these changes on your computer. Still, if you pay attention to what you are doing and make your adjustments carefully, you might be surprised at how useful these settings can be.

The post Secret Camera Settings that Supercharge your JPEG Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

10 Tips to Make Lightroom Classic CC Run Faster

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 08:00

The post 10 Tips to Make Lightroom Classic CC Run Faster appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Lightroom is an excellent program editing and managing your image files. When it comes to organizing and developing your photos, Lightroom can’t be beaten. However, there are times when it slows down; like when it renders previews. To address this, here are ten tips that will make Lightroom Classic CC run faster.

Update Lightroom regularly

Let’s start with the simplest tip: update Lightroom regularly.

Word is that Adobe has been working diligently behind the scenes on improving the performance of Lightroom, so it’s important to keep it updated.

To check for updates, click on -> Help in the top menu bar in Lightroom and then click on -> Updates to install them.

Optimize your Catalog

Lightroom continually updates the catalog file, but eventually, the data structure can become less optimal.

Lightroom has an “optimize catalog” option you can enable to improve performance.

To access this option, go to Lightroom -> Preferences and click on -> Performance.

Then click on -> Optimize Performance.

Set up Lightroom to back up on a regular schedule, and set it to optimize the catalog following the backup.

You can backup as often as you like. Ensure you always have the latest backup in case your Lightroom catalog becomes corrupt.

Be sure to discard previous backups to keep them from slowing down your computer.

More on this in a bit.


Store your Lightroom Catalog and Previews on your main hard drive

Lightroom stores your catalog and preview files on your main hard drive by default.

To check where the catalog and previews files are stored, go to Lightroom -> Catalog Setting (Mac) or -> Edit -> Catalog Settings (PC).

The Catalog name is an .lrcat file and its location can be found under the -> General tab.

The preview file is an .lrdata file and it is stored in the same location.

Check your hard drive space

If your computer’s main hard drive is running low on space, Lightroom will slow down, as will any other programs that you’re running simultaneously, like Photoshop.

Your main hard drive needs at least 20% free space for Lightroom to run optimally.

Keep in mind that Lightroom can actually be one of the reasons you’re running low on space!

If you have Lightroom set to back up your catalog every day or every time you close it down, that can result in a lot of space being taken up by backup files.

Delete all of these backup files except the last couple of backups you have made.

It’s important to have the latest backup in case your Lightroom catalog becomes corrupt, but that is all you really need.

Convert your images to DNG when importing into Lightroom

DNG is short for Digital Negative. It’s a RAW file format created by Adobe.

When you convert a file into DNG, Lightroom ads Fast Load Data to the file, which results in a partially processed preview that allows Lightroom to render faster previews in the Develop module.

Adobe claims that a DNG file with Fast Load Data can load up to eight times faster.

Another benefit of converting to DNG files is that they are smaller files than other RAW formats and take up 20% less space on your hard drive.

You must enable this Fast Load Data under your Lightroom Preferences tab.

Go to -> File Handling and check off Embed Fast Load Data. Make sure you have DNG selected as the file extension.

Edit your images using Adobe’s recommended Adjustment Steps

The panels in the Develop module are organized according to a suggested workflow.

Adobe also recommends that adjustments in Lightroom follow a certain order to maximize performance. They are as follows:

  1. Spot Healing
  2. Lens Correction
  3. Transformations
  4. Global Adjustments
  5. Local Adjustments
  6. Sharpening
  7. Noise Reduction

Whenever you make an edit, Lightroom applies it and calculates the previous adjustments that have been made. The more adjustments you apply, the more Lightroom slows down.

This helps keep track of your edits but slows down your system because Lightroom is calculating adjustments as you edit.

I personally stick to this order, except that I start by adjusting my white balance.

I also leave detailed edits for Photoshop. For example, as using the spot healing brush repeatedly can slow Lightroom down significantly. You are better off using this tool in Photoshop, which is also more precise.

Also, editing your images in the order they appear in your Lightroom filmstrip can have an impact on speed.

Lightroom caches images for faster performance in the Develop module.

It will automatically load the next and previous images in the filmstrip below your photos in the memory.

In the screenshot below, the active image is highlighted with a lighter grey background. The images on either side have also been loaded into memory for quick access.

Build standard  previews on Import

Lightroom offers several preview settings for your images.

Although there are differing opinions as to which is the optimal preview setting, I suggest building standard previews on import.

This will slow down the import process, but it will make the Library module more responsive when you review the imported images. Lightroom renders the previews from your SSD, rather than building them from the RAW files.

Make sure your previews are set close to the width of your screen.

For example, I work on a 27-inch iMac with a 5120 x 2880 built-in retina display. This means my display should be set at 5120 pixels.

To make this adjustment, go to the -> Catalog Settings and choose -> File Handling.

Choose the previews size under -> Standard Preview Size.

Make your Camera RAW cache larger

Lightroom has a Preview Cache, which is stored with your Catalog file and used in the Library view.

It also has a Camera RAW cache, which loads the image date when you’re in the Develop module.

The default size for this is 1GB, which slows down performance due to Lightroom swapping images in and out of its cache while you’re editing.

I suggest setting the Camera RAW cache to 20 or 30GB.

To set this option go to your Lightroom -> Preferences and click -> Performance.

Set your desired maximum size RAW cache Settings.


Disable XMP Writing

Lightroom keeps track of the edits you make in the Develop module in its catalog. If something happens to this catalog, you can lose all your data.

Lightroom can be configured to write the develop setting data into an XMP file. This a small file that contains the edit information and is written to your computer’s hard drive in the same place as your original RAW file.

The problem is that writing changes into this file can really slow your computer down.

I suggest disabling this feature and make sure that you always have a current backup instead.


Pause Address and Face Lookup features

Lightroom allows you to look up image address based on the GPS data, or the ability to search for faces.

However, allowing these options to run in the background can slow Lightroom down. So it’s best to pause them while you’re actually editing your photos.

You can start them up again if they’re relevant to your editing process.

For example, as a food photographer, I don’t use these features so I have mine set permanently on “pause”.

To access these features, go to where your name appears in the top left-hand corner of the Lightroom interface and click on the arrow beside it to access the drop-down menu. Choose -> Pause.

In Conclusion

When it comes to archiving, organizing and all-around management of your photos, Lightroom is an amazing program.

Hopefully, these tips help you get the most out of the program and speed up its performance so you can spend less time editing and more time shooting!


The post 10 Tips to Make Lightroom Classic CC Run Faster appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Expand Your Creativity by Taking Self-Portraits

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 13:00

The post Expand Your Creativity by Taking Self-Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Stacey Hill.

If someone asked me “what is the ONE thing you have done that improved your photography the most?” my answer would be Self Portraiture. No, not your average cell phone social media shot, but a fully-conceptualized project. One that is planned and executed down to the last detail, and then shot by the photographer who is also in front of the camera.

I don’t shoot people because they can be awkward and self-conscious in front of the camera. Often they have no idea how to pose, don’t listen and take direction, and can be impatient with the process. They can also be easily distracted, and you have to spend a lot of energy to keep them happy and engaged. For those who make a living shooting people/portraits, I salute you because it is hard work.

However, for those of us who don’t like to photograph other people, we are then left with a dilemma. Having a human in the shot helps us tell a more involved story, gives the viewer something to relate to, and helps us engage with the image. Therefore, using ourselves in the picture becomes a choice. Which leads us to the challenge; how do we plan out an entire image and shoot it, while being IN it at the same time?

Not only do we have to design and plan the whole shoot, which is enough of a challenge anyway, but we also have to put our self in front of the camera at the same time.

So we take something that is hard to do and make it even harder. Why would we do that? What are the benefits?

I had to come back and do this shoot a second time because all my first set of shots were not 100% in focus. I marked my focus point with a white stone this time

Creative Freedom

Using yourself as the model gives you enormous creative freedom. It allows you to try creative directions a paying client may not want to do.  You can be adventurous and take more risk with the shot style.

Some themes you could play with include:

  • 50’s pinup style shoots or burlesque or lingerie
  • Cosplay with lots of armor and weapons
  • Western-themed with a horse and a lasso
  • Fairytale redo of Cinderella or Red Riding Hood
  • A fantasy wedding theme
  • Pirates
  • Sport
  • 1920’s speakeasy
  • Zombie horror
  • Elaborate composited scenes not possible in reality like levitation and flying furniture and people


Sticky fake blood looks effective for this zombie-themed shot. It tells a story with just the hand and arm.

Thinking outside the box

There are so many more ways to create a self-portrait. You can use your whole body or only a part of it. Using the hands alone can tell stories in so many ways. Many people do not like having their face in the frame, and showing complex extreme emotion is a challenging concept for a lot of people.

Why are our portraits often of people smiling and being happy? Do we not also feel sadness, grief, anger, confusion, depression, anxiety, despair?  How can we explore the full human condition?

What are the other stories we can tell using the full range of emotions available to us? How else can we create powerful emotive imagery? What stories can we tell that encompass our vision and experiences?

Are there things we personally find challenging or interesting? What fascinates and drives us? Are there demons dwelling in our psyche to be uncovered and exposed in front of a lens? What is our story? Do we want to share a reality or instead craft an alternate fantasy world instead?

My mantra is “I want my images to evoke a response.” Any response is fine. Just so long as my images are SEEN, not just scrolled past on the phone. How can they stand out from the crowd of the millions of other images uploaded every minute online? I also want them to be uniquely mine by permitting myself to create what is necessary to get a specific shot.

My question to you is “how do you get someone to stop scrolling and see YOUR image, or to like or comment on it?” How do you innovate with your imagery to make it different, noticeable or more engaging?

Learn to take risks

For the record, there is nothing wrong with the traditional style of portrait/self-portrait images, but there are those of us who strive for something more. We strive for something different, something extreme or extraordinary. In which case, starting with yourself is an excellent way to experiment in a safe, controlled environment. An environment where it is okay if you make a mistake and take twice as long to do something because you are only using your time. Somewhere everything you try is a learning experience and often a valuable one.

However, putting yourself as the subject in a shot is a risk. Everyone suffers the same doubts. “Will I look OK?”
“Will people like this image of me?”
“I hate how my face looks when I smile” and so on.

Underneath we are all the same fragile creatures, so putting yourself front and center takes a lot of courage.

If you are choosing to do something more creative, then the risk may feel greater.
“Will I look like an idiot dressed as a pirate?”
“I’m afraid of doing a nude or lingerie shot.”

It is easy to worry about what people think.
It can also be hard to overcome the ingrained societal concepts of good or expected behavior. Society expects us to be smiling and happy in a portrait shot. Many people do not cope well when presented with your screaming face covered in blood!

You may feel concerned about going outside to shoot where other people can see you.
“What is this person in a strange costume doing making weird poses in front of the camera?”
Yes, that is a real thing.

My response to that is first of all, who cares what other people think? Second, if we want the shot of a particular place to tell a story, then we do what is necessary to get the shot. Are we risking embarrassment by doing this? Maybe, but I am also comfortable with the idea that no one has died of embarrassment.

Breaking through my comfort zones and pushing my boundaries is one of the most valuable things I have done to improve my photography. Self-portraiture has been a big part of that journey because it gave me the freedom to take risks and try something new. Because I am using myself as the model, if it doesn’t work, I can try again. I can try something different, or refine my process in a better way.

Think about how you could tell new or different stories if you had the time and made the opportunities to craft self-portrait images that tell your story!

Self-portrait secret weapons
  1. A Wireless Remote
  2. Shooting Tethered (either cabled or wireless with a trigger)
A wireless remote

Having a wireless remote is faster and more efficient. You can get yourself into position and shoot a whole range of different poses without having to dash back and forward between the camera and your position.

Shooting tethered

If you are in a studio or working close enough to the camera, shooting tethered makes the process even better. You can make sure your pose is within the frame, can see any issues and adjust them quickly. Shooting tethered allows you to fine tune everything while you are shooting the scene. You save time too, in case you cut your head off accidentally and need to reposition again and again.

Being able to see how the final image looks on a bigger screen is also very helpful for creative direction. Several of my shots I would not have conceptualized without the opportunity to see the potential of them on the laptop screen. Sometimes merely adjusting the tilt of the head or the angle of the chin completely changes the tone or feel of an image.

Slightly out of focus while I was trying out shooting tethered for the first time. Helped to position the fan in exactly the right place

Give yourself time to play

When you are the only set of hands and have to be in two places at once, it takes time to set the shot up. Give yourself plenty of time to shoot, so there is no rushing. That way you can deal with any issues and be relaxed about your time frame.

Also, allow yourself time to play and experiment while in front of the camera. By having time to play, you can spark up new concepts and ideas you didn’t initially have. Ideas that can turn out to be valuable. I have specifically scheduled time in my studio with a few props to experiment with a concept. With no specific intention for a shoot, just time to create visually in an unstructured manner. I can take small risks, try new things, move on to the next idea and experiment.

This exercise has taught me a great deal about posing, and how to move the body to get the best visual outcome. This exercise is invaluable for talking to portrait clients later, as you can empathize with how odd it feels, but explain why it matters too.

Planning a self-portrait image

Many elements go into creating an image. For example, subject, light, story, and mood. With a self-portrait image, you have to start from the beginning and build the entire picture. You must integrate all the necessary elements in such a way that allows you to create both behind the camera and in front of it simultaneously.

1. What

What is the concept or idea behind your image?

2. How

How are you going to execute it? What constraints or limitations are there? What are the technical or physical challenges and what lighting is needed?

3. Where

Where do you shoot it? Do you shoot inside or outside, or in a specific place? Is the background composited in later?

4. Theme

What styling or theme do you want the shot to have? Be as creative as you like or can afford.

5. Pose

How will you be posed? Is it a pose you can hold and adjust easily for a range of options? Is the pose comfortable and safe?

6. Props

What props are needed to tell the story? Do you require hair, makeup, clothing, or other accessories to tell the story?

7. Extras

Some other things you may need to consider are: site permissions, shooting fees, access, public audience, personal safety, weather conditions, and travel distance/time.

Other considerations

These are all the things you may need to account for if doing a shoot with a client or a model. You can go the safe route and do classic headshots, or outdoor portraits in a garden. It is a safe option when dealing with a client who may not want a more challenging style of image, may not have the time or budget to get dressed up in costume or isn’t interested.

Figuring out how to do this by yourself (assuming you don’t have any assistance) can take some practice. If you have an elaborate, complicated costume, can you get dressed in it by yourself? Can you do it in the back of your car if there isn’t anywhere else you can get changed? Can you wear it and drive at the same time?

How much gear are you carrying? Can you take it in one trip to the session site? Are you and your gear safe while working outside?

Everything becomes much more complicated. You need to take a normal approach to things and make it even simpler. Then you repeat until every stage is possible for one person to achieve.

The final edit from the original shot seen above


Using people in images helps tell an engaging visual story. However, not all photographers have the luxury of friends/family to pose for them or can afford a model. Some photographers may prefer not to deal with a stranger due to the complexity of the shoot, and the time required. So putting yourself in the frame may be the only option.

Putting yourself front and center can be intimidating. Some of us prefer to be behind the camera. However, we can dress in costume, wear wigs, elaborate makeup, masks or shoot in such a way that our identity is not apparent.

Masking your identity also forces you to be more creative with how you think about staging and shooting your image. It can be a challenge because everything takes longer and the complexity increases with the need to be both in front of the camera and composing the shot.

There are so many learning opportunities and experiences to be had by taking the time to play. When it is just you and a camera, there is great freedom involved to try random concepts and ideas. Things you may not have ever considered before.

Pinterest and Instagram are great places to find inspirational ideas. Start making yourself a board, gather props, take a deep breath and put yourself in the frame.

It will be tough going initially, but it is worth it. Even just for the learning experiences, you gain from making mistakes. However, don’t let that stop you. Go forth and create!

Share with us some of your images below.


The post Expand Your Creativity by Taking Self-Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Stacey Hill.

Senior Photo Tips for Better Senior Photography

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 08:00

The post Senior Photo Tips for Better Senior Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Photographing teens who are about to embark on a new phase of life is an honor as a photographer. However, it can be tricky to photograph teens who are both very self-aware and yet not a full adult yet. Read the following tips to get the most out of a senior photography session.

1. Pre-Consultation with both the teen and parent

It’s essential to schedule a pre-consultation with both the teen and the parent. This way, you can interview the teen and get a better idea of what they envision for their session. Senior portraits that include the input and ideas of the teen tend to go smoother as the teen is more excited to participate.

Having the parent at the pre-consultation can also help to get an idea of what he or she is looking for as far as wall prints, invitations, graduation announcements, etc. As they are the one paying, they can also choose which options best suit their needs and budget.

Include the teen in the process of choosing wardrobe and locations.

Sit down in a casual and comfortable setting so that you can develop a natural conversation with the teen. Bring samples to show them so that they can see and touch the products.

Giving them printed pricing sheets printed to take home. Doing so helps them to keep in mind the products they may want after they view the photos. In turn, helping you make a more significant sale after the session is complete.

Make and print out a small questionnaire for both the teen and parent to fill out. Ask questions like, ‘what background do you envision for your session: natural, urban, mixture?’ Or, ‘do you play any sports? If so, would you like to be photographed in your uniform?’

These questions help you to get a better understanding of what the senior photos represent for the family. Being able to see their likes, dislikes and hobbies narrows down the location, time of day, type of lighting, and even posing.

Some seniors may already have a clear idea as to what they are looking for as far as their photo session goes, making things easier. However, you may encounter many teens that don’t have a clue. This is where you can guide them. Show the teens previous senior sessions that you’ve photographed in different locations and styles. You’ll probably get an excellent idea as to what they don’t like, helping narrow down what they do want.

2. Play music during the session

Music can help the teen relax and feel less nervous during the session. Have them choose a playlist of music they like before or during the session.

Music can also fill in gaps while you are photographing them and can’t focus on a conversation.

Music can be a small detail that can easily get overlooked. However, music can be a game changer when you have a particularly shy teen who isn’t talkative. It can set the tone for the session and motivate the senior to pose a certain way and make particular expressions.

The client experience is what drives word of mouth and referrals from current clients. When you give the teen some control of their senior session, they feel heard and seen. A small decision in choosing which music to listen to can make the whole experience positive.

3. Props and accessories

Props can be a big help during sessions with a senior. There are many props you can use, however, the following are the most popular and specific to senior portraits:

  • Musical instruments
  • Sports props like balls, uniforms, backgrounds
  • The teen’s car
  • Their hobbies, like a camera for photography, art supplies or an easel for painting
  • A prop that is descriptive of the teen’s personality
  • The cap and gown for their school
  • Ballons with the graduation year
  • A sign

Adding props can add more variety and add a more personal touch to the photos.

Props also help the teen to be more relaxed posing with something that they like. It also gives the session a fun, playful feel while providing the senior with a better overall experience. For example, if the senior loves to ride horses, you can go where they keep their horse and take a few photos.

Or if a teen is really into djing, they can bring their favorite vinyl records to the shoot. Props help to give the session a little more personality.

4. Posing

Posing can be tricky with senior photography. You have to keep poses teenage appropriate while also being mindful that they are young adults on the verge of entering the real world.

Choose poses that offer variety. For girls, this can mean crossing their feet as they stand with their arms at their hips or interlocked hanging freely. For boys, have them stand against a column or wall and prop up a leg or keep it casual with both feet relaxed.

Sitting on steps also creates nice solid portraits. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different lenses to get different looks during the session.

For example, a lens at 35mm may be an interesting shot in an urban area, giving the portrait more space around the senior. A more compressed, longer lens can give beautiful bokeh and isolate the teen’s face for a beautiful mid-length portrait.

Playing with props and giving their hands an action to do can help calm nerves. Be mindful of idol hands because they can look out of place within the portrait if they are hanging at the sides.

Use their hands to hold jackets, give the elbow a bit of bend to create more shape, put them in pockets, play with hair or props, have them fix their shirt or dress. Giving their hands something to do can also help relax the teen while they are in front of the camera.

Stairs are a great place to sit seniors and take both full-length and close-up photos.

Check out some inspirational photos and save them to your phone. Sometimes a little inspiration can help you create something different when the session feels a bit stagnant.

The great thing about teen and senior photography is that they are perfect opportunities for you to experiment. After you’ve achieved the sure photographs that both they and their parents will love, offer to do something more experimental. Go for different lighting if that is something you’ve wanted to try. Doing this can help you offer a different feel to the session and final images.

5. Inviting more seniors to the session

Having the opportunity to photograph more than one senior at the same session can be a fun experience for all involved. If this is the case, ensure you are charging per person, or you have given the main client a group quote. Also, determine how many seniors you can photograph effectively in the amount of time you have for the session.

Photograph the group together in three to four setups. Then take turns taking 5 or more solid portraits of each senior. If they are all members of the same sports team or club, ask them to bring props. Props could include their uniform or other items that represent the activity in which they participate.

Give each teen time to change out of the group photo wardrobe so that they can also experience their own time with you. This makes them feel like they have their own mini-session within the big group photos. The more photos you include of each teen, the more opportunities you have to sell prints and products as well.

Try and take candid photos of the group too. Getting natural reactions while they are just hanging out and talking can also be as meaningful as the posed photos.

In conclusion

Senior photography is much more than the classic graduation portrait that parents used to look for. They are about inclusion and having the teen actively participate in order to capture their true personality before embarking on their next adventure in life.

Keeping it light and fun, as well as experimenting with different lighting and poses, can help make the senior session much more interactive and exciting.

The post Senior Photo Tips for Better Senior Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

20 Ways to Improve Your Photography by Improving Yourself

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 13:00

The post 20 Ways to Improve Your Photography by Improving Yourself appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

Photo: Guillermo Sánchez

Sometimes what holds us back in photography is not a lack of “know how” or new gear, but not growing anymore as people. Before you try to improve your photography with a new camera or lens, try working on some weak part of your personality. Once you’ve improved yourself as a person, you’ll make much better use of that new camera or lens!

Whether you’re an amateur or professional, here are 20 personality problems to tackle that can help you grow as a photographer.

Imagine if adults kept growing at the rate toddlers do. One day they’re watching the big kids play, and then suddenly they’ve figured it out for themselves.

1. Stop being lazy – accomplish something big

If you always have a nagging feeling that you should be accomplishing more, then now is the time to do it. Instead of letting half-baked ideas and almost-finished projects pile up, get something completed.

It’s so easy to be lazy. That’s the danger. Accomplishing great things takes work, but being lazy doesn’t.

You can spend hours scrolling through photos that other photographers have taken, always lusting over their projects. Or, you can get off the couch to finish one of your own projects.

Before long, you’ll look back and see a trail of finished work.

2. Don’t work so hard

Maybe you’re the opposite of lazy. Maybe you can’t stop working. Suppose you run a photography business and feel a lot of guilt about missing so much family time. You must stop working a bit and pay attention to the other important things in your life.

When you make more time for friends and family and a little bit of downtime, you’ll grow in your creativity and do greater things when you get back to work.

Expand your relationships and life experiences and you’ll bring a much deeper version of yourself to your work.

Cut back on the hours you work by eliminating tasks that are not essential to your projects or business.

Workaholics could schedule some time into their week to relax with a book. Expand yourself with a thrilling novel or good “how to” book.

3. Get organized

Begin to de-clutter and simplify your life. For example, do you just dump all your photos onto a hard drive or leave them floating around the cloud? You need to get those photos organized.

Get all your photos into one place and get them sorted out.

If you’re a project photographer, them sort them by year and by the project.

If you take a lot of photos every day or every week, I highly recommend sorting them by date.

The system I use is simple.

  • All photos go into a monthly folder
  • The monthly folders go into a yearly folder
  • All yearly folders go into one main folder labeled Photos

When your photos are organized you can begin to sift through them, print them, and enjoy them.

When your photos are in one place it is easy to back them up and know they’re safe.

4. Embrace a little chaos

Perhaps you are so orderly in life that you can’t stand any chaos.

Maybe you’re a photographer who can’t stand dealing with toddlers or people with strong personalities. You need to get out of your comfort zone and embrace a little chaos. Let the toddlers run wild a bit, maybe you’ll notice some great candid moments when you’re not asserting so much control.

Instead of meticulously planning every detail of your life, leave some things to chance. Allow for surprising spontaneity and see where it takes you.

Those white pants were so clean when we left the house! Toddlers are agents of chaos. But they’re exploring their world and learning so much.

5. Be more kind

Does your mouth lack a filter? Do you boast that you don’t care about people’s feelings? Are you always annoyed with your clients and don’t mind telling them so?

I recommend you work on being more polite. It’s going to be difficult, but try biting your tongue once in a while.

Don’t be a troll, leaving nasty comments on photography websites. When you say things kindly, your words might help somebody to improve themselves.

Practice saying one thing to every client or photographer in your life that would build them up. When you learn to help others grow, you grow deeply too.

6. Don’t let people walk all over you

Don’t misunderstand the nature of kindness by letting people take advantage of you.

If you’re a photographer in business, you must make people respect your talent, time and prices. Your work is worth something (perhaps more than you think).

Sure, you’ve got a heart of gold. But wake up and see that letting people take advantage of you does nothing to help them.

When the kids get sick it always throws a wrench into our plans. But sometimes those sick days are gateways to something new. We discover something more of their personality or spend the day reading books or listening to stories together. Sometimes, when something ruins our plans it leads to something better.

7. Volunteer

If you know that compassion is a weak point for you, then you should volunteer your photography skills. Go out and work for free, blessing a family or charity who would be thrilled by your offer to help. You might even enjoy the experience!

8. Compassion has some limits

Many photographers suffer burnout in their photography business. One of the main reasons is that they charge too little for their services. When you charge too little, you have to work too much to make a decent living. You will burn out.

Charge a price that is fair to you and your client, not just fair for them. Don’t feel like you have to give everyone discounts. And don’t listen to those few people who will tell you your prices are too high.

Balance good business and your own photography pursuits with some compassion for those who are truly in need.

Toddlers always put their shoes on the wrong feet!

9. Learn to accept stress without snapping

Do you find yourself constantly snapping in anger or wanting to cry about stress?

You need to learn to accept difficult things more gracefully. It might not be easy. When everything in you wants to snap, restraint takes strength.

Begin by understanding that not everything is worth freaking out over, even though you may feel like it. Often, your initial feelings tell you how to act, and snapping has become a habit.

When you feel volatile feelings rising up, stop and think about them. Is this the best response?

Walk away from dramatic situations and wait to respond when you are at peace.

You’ll find it much easier to deal with criticism of your photography, difficult clients and unruly subjects.

10. Recognize that sometimes your emotions deceive you

Do you feel like crying or throwing up when you think a client has ripped you off or somebody says they hate their photos?

It’s tough to get bad news. But what if you could receive that news without the flood of overwhelming negative emotions? You can make peace with those clients more easily when your emotions are not raging. Sometimes the situation isn’t even half as bad as your emotions are telling you.

Make yourself calm down before you talk with clients or people who upset you. You can overcome overwhelming emotions.

Drawn to the camera in a game of peekaboo.

11. Go out and meet people

Being introverted is not a bad thing, but being very withdrawn is. Spending time on your own is fine, but hating to be around people isn’t a good thing.

You can’t make the most of life on your own. You’ll grow as a photographer when you spend more time with people.

If you’re awkward around people, try acting like an extrovert. Just pretend you love people. Strike up conversations and take an interest in those around you. Before you know it, you’ll be more confident and less withdrawn.

Even if you’re a landscape or wildlife photographer, you’ll benefit from friendships and relationships with other photographers. You can even expand your photography by including people in your landscape and wildlife photos.

12. Most people are not thinking bad things about you

If you’re always worried about what people think about you, you should know this; they’re not thinking about you!

Most people don’t think bad things about you and most people don’t spend much time thinking of you at all.

Resist whatever thoughts you have that scare you about people.

If street photography is your thing, don’t be afraid to actually approach people on the street for a portrait. You’ll be nervous, but your imagination is probably playing tricks on you.

13. Be more assertive

If you’re too afraid to take control of your portrait sessions then you need to grow in your assertiveness. Perhaps you love waiting for candid moments, but maybe you’re more afraid to step in and tell people what to do.

People like a certain amount of assertiveness. Most people prefer that you take some control.

14. Don’t be a control freak

Being assertive is a great quality unless you overdo it! You can be so assertive that you don’t let other people be themselves. Your portrait clients like knowing that you’re confident and in control, but they don’t like it when you won’t listen to them and work with their ideas.

He thinks he’s so funny stealing my seat every time I get up!

15. Cheer up!

You will go through periods when you just don’t feel the love toward photography that you used to. That’s okay. But the best way to get out of that slump is to act like you love it. Go through the motions of loving it. Don’t act like your photography work is drudgery.

16. Don’t jump on every opportunity!

You can be way too enthusiastic about photography, jumping on every opportunity that comes along.

You can buy every piece of gear, accept every job, and take on every project. But committing to everything will be committing to too much.

Slow down and only commit to what you’re best at or what you want to learn about most.

Dropping fistfuls of sand on himself, he hasn’t got a care in the world.

17. Go explore

Do you feel so insecure about things that you avoid new situations? If you haven’t experienced anything new in a while, you need to go and explore.

Find new landscapes. Meet new people. Try a different art form.

18. Reflect on what you’ve explored

If you’re constantly exploring and discovering new things it might be time that you stop and do some reflecting. What are you discovering through all this exploration? What are you learning about yourself, other people and the world around you? How has your photography improved? How might you improve more?

19. Read a book about a photographer

Maybe you know everything about every photography technique out there, but nothing about the heart of photography. Maybe you know little about the deeply human part of photography.

Go to the library and grab a biography of some photographer to read. Learn about the life experiences that led to their work and techniques.

20. Flesh out your ideas in a photo

If you love ideas and are constantly reading, try bringing some of those ideas to life through photos.

Sometimes I’m not just capturing moments. I’m trying to capture moments that express something about my subject. What’s the nature of a toddler? What are the ideas about toddler-hood that could be captured in a photo?

Choose 2-3 ways to improve yourself as a photographer

You’ve just read 20 ways to improve yourself that will also help you grow as a photographer. Choose 1 of these things to work on over the next few weeks or 2-3 things that you can work on over the year. As you grow as a person, you’ll grow as a photographer too.

The post 20 Ways to Improve Your Photography by Improving Yourself appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

Gear: Leica C-Lux Camera Review

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 08:00

The post Gear: Leica C-Lux Camera Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

One of the latest offerings by Leica is the C-Lux compact camera which features 20-Megapixel, 1-inch CMOS sensor. With the focal length range of 8.8-132mm (24-320mm as per 35mm format), this is a multi-purpose camera. You can shoot photos of multiple genres like street, portraits, landscape, wildlife, and events using the 15x zoom range on this camera by Leica.

Talking about a few key highlighting features, the Leica C-Lux allows you to shoot 4K video, shoot images at 10fps burst rate and has a sensitivity range up to ISO 25600.

Build quality and ergonomics

The moment you hold the Leica C-Lux in your hand, you get mesmerized by its looks and ergonomics. This camera looks and feels premium from the very first second you use it.

The grip on this camera allows you to use it for hours without sweat or pain in your fingers. The thumb support at the back of the camera allowed me to make a strong grip while clicking both photos and videos.

I like how Leica has made this compact camera ‘compact’ – making sure it is fully-loaded with the latest features. While the built quality feels sturdy, the camera weight is not very heavy.

Physical features

My favorite physical feature on this camera has to be the customizable ring on the lens. By default, the role of the ring is to adjust the focal length of the lens. However, you can customize it to control either the manual focus or aperture value. So if you frequently focus manually or shoot in aperture priority, you are going to love this feature. I shoot in aperture priority in most situations, and the ring helped me save time and effort switching between aperture values.

On the back side of the C-Lux camera sits the 3.0“ TFT LCD touchscreen and 0.21“ LCD viewfinder with diopter adjustment from -4 to +3 diopters. The touchscreen is responsive and you can touch-and-focus while shooting photos and videos. However, the viewfinder is something that did not impress me. It felt like there was light leakage from the sides which distracted my view.

There is a pop-up flash hidden on the top center of the camera, which can be used by merely sliding a physical key. The back panel also features three custom function buttons which can be used as per the user convenience.

Image quality

While this camera has a focal length range from 24mm to 360mm, you may want to know its performance at both ends. I found the images to be sharp and crisp between 24mm and 200mm, and it gets a bit soft beyond 200mm focal length. Nevertheless, while shooting in daylight, it gives incredible results even at 360mm. However, as the light reduces, the crispness becomes a bit average.

If you are someone who shoots more in daylight and you want a longer focal length range in your compact camera, this could be a great choice for you. The optics in this camera lens enables you to capture images with good color reproduction.

Low-light performance

The real test of a camera is when it gets used in low light conditions. I took this camera for a run at night and clicked some street photos. The ISO performance up to 1600 ISO is excellent considering it features a 1-inch sensor. But beyond 1600 ISO you will start noticing grain in your images.

I was shocked to see this camera perform brilliantly in low light conditions while shooting video. I expected high grain at ISO 800, but this camera worked like a charm even at ISO 1600. This camera is equipped to shoot 4K video at 30fps and 1080p video at 60 fps.

Monochrome mode

Leica is known to have one of the best sensors for monochrome photography. But is it any good in this, one of the most affordable cameras? I fell in love with monochrome photography the day I started using this camera. The monochrome images felt entirely different coming out of this camera; perhaps because it is my first Leica camera. This camera captures amazing contrast and dynamic range, as you can see in the image below.

Autofocus performance

Most of the time I used the touch-to-focus feature, and there is a reason behind that. Ideally, I use manual focus point selection, but after a few shots I could trust the C-Lux touch focus accuracy. The focus speed also feels quite fast without much focus hunting, even in low-light conditions. But when you are beyond 200-250mm in low light conditions, the focusing becomes slower, and the focus hunting begins.


There are some useful features in this camera including Focus Stacking and Exposure Stacking modes. One of the benefits of using a small sensor camera is that you get to use some fantastic features. These two modes allow you to capture multiple photos and give you a final image using either the focus point of your choice to focus stack or combine multiple exposures to achieve a high dynamic range (HDR) image.

Moreover, if you are social media enthusiast, the C-Lux camera allows you to instantly transfer images and videos via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth with the help of the ‘Leica C-Lux’ app.

Final thoughts

Amidst so many options, why would you choose the US$1050, 20 Megapixel, 1-inch sensor Leica C-Lux compact camera? If you are a frequent traveler and wish to carry a camera that does most of the job for you, this may be an ideal choice. Also, if you want the ‘Leica’ branding and love clicking in monochrome, you may fall for this little camera. With features including 4k photos at 30fps, focus and exposure stacking, 4k video and that smooth custom ring, I would recommend this Leica camera.

What are your views about this compact camera from Leica? Would you go for it?

The post Gear: Leica C-Lux Camera Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.