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Updated: 2 hours 43 min ago

How to Achieve Color Accuracy in your Photos

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Achieve Color Accuracy in your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

Ricardo Gomez Angel

Next to light, color accuracy is another important element in photography. Color temperature is annoying enough to deal with in terms of camera settings and editing. You spend all this time and effort on editing your photos and making sure they match your photography style. But sometimes the final product can be off if viewed on an uncalibrated screen. While having an accurately calibrated screen is ideal, there are still some things you can do to ensure that the colors are as close to the real deal as possible.

1. Photographing in raw

Completely overexposed sunset in the Grand Cayman. I love the little sailboat in the distance and tried to correct the image in post.

The sun is still overexposed and not perfect, but because I photograph in Raw 100% of the time, I could put down the exposure, highlights, contrast and my other normal editing steps. I was able to get some of the details back.

This really is key and I am a huge proponent of photographing in RAW 100% of the time. The colors can be adjusted easily on raw files in editing software like Lightroom, Photoshop, and others. But with jpegs, they’re already baked in. It is not impossible just harder to achieve the exact match.

In Raw files, all the original image data is preserved. In fact, when RAW files are opened in post-production software like Lightroom, a virtual copy is made and used. Edits are made in a non-destructive format so the original RAW file is always available for changes at a later stage. This is very useful when you want to edit images in different ways at different times in your photographic career.

Since a JPEG image is essentially a RAW image compressed in-camera, the camera’s computer makes decisions on what data to retain and which to toss out when compressing the file. JPEG files tend to have a smaller dynamic range of information that is stored and this often means less ability to preserve both highlights and shadow details in the image.

2. Use Kelvin WB mode on your camera

If photographing RAW is not something you can do, or don’t have space for on your flash drives (RAW files tend to be really huge), try photographing using Kelvin White Balance mode instead of Auto White Balance. Not all cameras may have this function, so check your camera manual to figure out the exact menu option and also how to adjust the value. Kelvin lets you adjust the white balance in camera rather than in post. In general, in your camera manual are the ranges of Kelvin values for the various lighting setups. You will have to tweak the values depending on your style and how you want the final image to look.

3. Use a good display screen/monitor

Cheaper screens have smaller color ranges, so the better your screen, the more colors that can be displayed. This is where you’ll be looking at the photos, so you don’t want your image to be limited in that way. At the very minimum, if you’re editing photos, you need a 99% sRGB screen. 100% Adobe RGB capable screens (which is generally better) are also relatively affordable now. That said, most media on the web generally uses sRGB format, so sRGB is perfectly adequate. People generally recommend editing in that color space anyway. In general, for built-in displays like laptops, most modern Mac screens have really good color accuracy and distribution.

This outdoor space was very hazy when we visited because of many forest fires in the area. That haze and overall air quality and temperature gave a very pink glow to all my images, one that I missed the first time I edited my images on my computer. But then I went back and edited to a more accurate representation of what the scene actually looked like.

4. Calibrate your monitor

Not enough people realize how big a difference calibrating your monitor makes. If your entire computer screen is shifted to be purple, when you look at your final images in a color-calibrated medium, it’s going to end up green. There are several in the market that do a good job like Datacolor Spyder 5 or X-Rite ColorMunki. At the end of the day, they all essentially have the same functionality. Plug in the color sensor, put it against your screen, run the software, and it will automatically install the color profile for you.

5. Edit in a color neutral workspace

Where you sit and work can also make a difference to how you edit. As funny as it may sound, it is true. If you have bright warm sunlight flooding your computer screen, you will likely edit cooler. The eye is automatically going to compensate for the warmth by gravitating towards cooler tones. If you have cool indoor lighting flooding your editing room, that might not work either. Believe it or not, the ideal editing environment is actually a totally dark room, so you don’t pollute any of the colors. I know I cannot edit in a dark room because starting at the screen for too long in that space gives me a headache. If you must edit somewhere with another light source, do your color calibration in that room. The Spyder and ColorMunki can both accommodate the ambient light in your environment.

The image was shot and edited in the same room with side lighting. Had I not seen this in another room and on another computer, I would have missed the uneven lighting and tonality from the left to the right side of the image, giving it a look of almost photographing with a flash, which was not my intention.

6. Use multiple devices to spot check color

If you are really doubting your color tones and edits, double check them on another device. Most people have iPhones these days, and iPhones are surprisingly well-calibrated. Unfortunately, you can’t use the calibrators on most phones, to the best of my knowledge, so just send your photos over to your phone, and you should get an idea of how most people are seeing your images.

The blueish tone in the image here would have been completely missed had I not seen the image on an iPad and an iPhone prior to sending out to a client. I prefer true to form white backgrounds when working with stock photos.

Unfortunately, most people, including myself, don’t pay too much attention to color accuracy in their photos. Most of the color matching stops at editing. Sometimes we even call it ‘photography style’ and leave it at that. But if you really want to understand color and how images can actually look versus relying on a specific style or edit, try one or all these steps. It is actually fairly simple once it clicks.

What techniques do you use for maintaining your color? Share with us in the comments below.

The post How to Achieve Color Accuracy in your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

11 Influential Portrait Photographers you Need to Know

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 13:00

The post 11 Influential Portrait Photographers you Need to Know appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

There are some fantastic portrait photographers out there capturing cutting-edge, unique portraits. These photographers have been influential and you can explore and learn something from each of them. They are in no particular order.

Here are 11 influential portrait photographers you need to know: 1. Sue Bryce

Sue Bryce is a fine art portrait photographer with a classic portraiture style, while still looking quite modern. Her lighting techniques are soft and beautiful.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sue Bryce (@suebrycephotographer) on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:56am PDT


2. Lindsay Adler

Based in New York City, Lindsay Adler, is a fashion portrait photographer with works appearing in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and Marie Claire.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lindsay Adler (@lindsayadler_photo) on Dec 24, 2018 at 7:37am PST


3. Lee Jeffries

UK photographer, Lee Jeffries, is well-known for his “Homeless project.” In this project, Jeffries captures close-up portraits of homeless people living on the streets. His extreme close-ups that reveal all on his subjects faces are emotive and spectacular.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lee Jeffries (@lee_jeffries) on Nov 17, 2018 at 8:31am PST


4. Derrick Freske

Based in Los Angeles, California, Derrick Freske does fashion portraiture. He uses interesting lighting techniques, including the use of colored gels, and light reflections.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Derrick Freske (@dfreske) on Aug 5, 2018 at 8:34pm PDT


5. Mark Seliger

Mark Seliger has photographed celebrity portraits for Rolling Stone, GQ, Vogue and Vanity Fair. He has photographed the likes of Kurt Cobain, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron, and Nicole Kidman, to name a few.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mark Seliger (@markseliger) on Dec 14, 2018 at 6:44am PST


6. Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is a celebrity portrait photographer that has been photographing famous types for decades. Making the transition from film to digital, Leibovitz has continued to inspire photographers around the world. Her photographs have been published in Rolling Stone and the New York Times. She has photographed celebrities including Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Brad Pitt. She also photographed Beatles singer and songwriter, John Lennon, on the day he was murdered (wikipedia).


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A post shared by annie leibovitz (@_annieleibovitz) on May 8, 2016 at 12:36am PDT


7. Flora Borsi

Hungarian photographer, Flora Borsi is well known for her fine-art portraiture series, “Animeyed.” In this series, Borsi uses animal eyes to replace one eye of her human subject. You may recognize Borsi’s work on the Adobe Creative Cloud package.


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A post shared by Flóra Borsi (@floraborsiofficial) on Sep 23, 2016 at 5:06am PDT


8. Tina Eisen

Based in London, UK, Tina Eisen is a fashion/beauty photographer who has made portraits for some big commercial brands.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Tina Eisen (@tina_eisen) on Dec 2, 2018 at 5:23am PST


9. Patrick DeMarchelier

Patrick DeMarchelier is a fashion/beauty portrait photographer whose works have been in Vanity Fair and Harpers Bazaar.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Patrick Demarchelier (@patrickdemarchelier) on Dec 11, 2017 at 2:25pm PST


10. Marco Grob

Switzerland born, Marco Grob, is based in New York. Moving from fine art still life photography, into portraiture, he has photographed celebrities including George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Sir Elton John, and Justin Beiber. He has also worked with Marvel Studios, Warner Bros and Netflix.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Marco Grob (@marcogrob) on Mar 6, 2018 at 4:14pm PST


11. Tatiana Lumiere

Tatiana Lumiere is a fine art and beauty portrait photographer based in Pennsylvania, USA. She specializes in “glamour portraiture with a dreamy, elegant and sensual twist.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Tatiana Lumiere (@tatiana_lumiere) on Jan 13, 2019 at 8:57am PST


Feature image: © Kevin Landwer-Johan

The post 11 Influential Portrait Photographers you Need to Know appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Explorations in Natural Light for Photography

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 08:00

The post Explorations in Natural Light for Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

Can you guess one of the most important elements in photography? No, it is not gear, or subject or even location. Yes, all of those are important, but not critical. The most important element in photography is light. And light can quite literally make or break an image. It took me a long time to understand this concept. I used to always think that light can be either good or bad. Have you ever tried to photograph indoors in that horrible florescent light? Or at high noon where you place your subjects in the light, and everyone is getting really mad at you because they are squinting in the sun.

Well, let’s just say we all learn from experience. Once I understood that there really is no such thing as bad light, life as a photographer just became a little easier. Light is different and understanding all the different qualities of light is what can help you photograph at any time of day and get the results you want.

For the sake of this article, we will focus only on natural light. Natural light is one of the main sources I use for most of my photography.

There are several reasons why natural light photography is so popular:

  • It is readily available and free
  • It provides a range of light variations
  • It is a super large light source a.k.a the sun
  • It changes constantly
  • It can be challenging to master and who doesn’t like a good challenge, right?

Let’s dig right in and understand all the complexes of natural light!

1. Light changes through time

The fascinating thing about natural light is that it changes constantly. Depending on the time of day, the season, or even the direction your window faces – light fluctuates minute to minute.

Just before the sun dipped into the horizon.

And 10-15 minutes after sunset when the sky just exploded with sun-pretty colors.

2. Light travels in a straight line but also has direction

Where is the light coming from? What angle is it coming from? I personally love the very one-directional, low-angle light that gives deep shadows that leads to a moody look. The best way to understand light direction is to look at a scene and see if it is coming from one plane, backlit, front lit etc.

By facing the subjects directly into the light streaming through the window, we almost can create a spotlight effect.

3. Light has intensity

How intense is the light? On a sunny day the light can be quite intense, but on a cloudy day the clouds act as a natural huge diffuser, and the light not only takes on a softer quality but also has less intensity.

4. Light has color

Is it a warmer light, such as in direct sunlight, or a cool light, such as at dusk? The color in the light affects the color and white balance of the scene and hence your photograph.

At sunset, the light is warm – exactly what I wanted for this editorial shoot.

5. Light reflects off of surfaces

This is particularly important because you have to be aware of your surroundings. This is also commonly known as a color cast in photos. Look at what’s around your scene including yourself. Your own clothing can reflect off the subject and cast unwanted color in the scene. This quality of light also allows us to try to modify light by adding a reflector to fill shadows, or a black surface to discourage any further reflections.

6. Character of light

Light can be harsh or soft or even a combination of the two which is known as dappled light. The best way to see dappled light is to stand under a tree in full sun. You will see spots of shade and sun on the ground or even on your clothes. This is dappled light. And if done right, is actually quite pretty in photos.

I love photographing food in this uneven, dappled light…the play of light, shadows, and patterns are what make this image work for me…instead of a boring white backdrop.

7. Proximity of light

This one is a little difficult to grasp because the sun is so far away. But the closer we are to the light, the more power it has. Try this out for yourself and sit closer to the window. Is the light more intense? Now move further away from the window and see if the light feels less intense?

One of my absolute favorite images of all times and almost no editing involved. Side lighting and diffused window make the dancer stand out and everything else fades away.

8. Relativity of light

This is a powerful aspect of light in that the way light hits various subjects is relative. If you have light hitting the primary object without hitting the background, the background will fade into shadows no matter if it’s white/black. You can achieve a black backdrop even with a white backdrop. Our eyes have incredible dynamic range and can see everything, but by selectively lighting objects, we can take photos that let objects fade into oblivion.


One of the best ways to create a mental checklist of all these properties of light is to do a small exercise. Walk around your area, be it your house or office space, look at the light in a scene and categorize it. Where is it coming from, what is the quality of light, and how can you use it? The more you look and analyze, the more you add to your light repertoire and pull it out when you need it for shoots.

The post Explorations in Natural Light for Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

5 Secret Tips to Take Sharp Photos Using Any Camera

Tue, 01/29/2019 - 13:00

The post 5 Secret Tips to Take Sharp Photos Using Any Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

How to take sharp photos is one of the most common issues a beginner photographer faces. In order to suggest a few important tips, I went back a few years and recalled the issues I used to come across.

Here are five tips I learned over the years to ensure I always take sharp photos using any camera.

1. Select Maximum AF Points

Every digital camera has a certain number of focus points, which are used by the camera to lock focus. By default, you can either allow the camera to use all the focus points or reduce them to a specific number such as 11, 9 or even one point.

I make sure that I am making use of all the focus points, to minimize the use of ‘focus and recompose.’ Keeping all the focus points active ensures that you get to use the entire focusing area on the sensor. Whereas, reducing the active focus points makes you focus and recompose the frame, resulting in soft focus.

2. 1-point AF

In the majority of situations, using single-point autofocus can help you nail the focus. Because if you allow the camera to lock focus as per its functionality automatically, there are chances that the focus might go off.

Assume you are taking a portrait, and in order to achieve crisp focus, you wish to focus on the eye of the subject. While using autofocus point selection, chances are, the camera might focus on the nose or the lips. The reason this happens is the camera does not know that you want to want to focus on the eye specifically.

Now by using the single-point autofocus feature, you can manually select the point where your eye is in the frame. Doing so, allows you to get the accurate focus on the eye, without any hit and trial method.

3. Back Button focus technique

There are some situations when you try to focus on a subject and the camera takes some time before you can fully press the shutter release button. Alternatively, when you want to take photos in Burst Mode the camera misses focussing on a few shots. You can eliminate these issues and achieve accurate focus by using the back button focus method.

The Back Button focus technique allows you to assign a button placed on the rear side of your camera to focus, and the shutter release button when pressed fully, captures the image.

While using this technique, you will realize that on pressing the shutter release button halfway, nothing happens. This is because another button using your thumb is now controlling the focusing.

4. Use of Shutter Priority

If you are a wildlife, action or sports photographer, there might have been instances where you were not able to freeze the motion of your subject. Moreover, if you shoot in low-lighting conditions, you might have encountered shake in your photos.

In any of the above situations, I make sure that I am using my camera on Shutter Priority mode. The basic rule that I start with is using the shutter speed 1/2x of the focal length. For example, while shooting at 50mm, I ensure that I start shooting by using 1/100 sec (1/2×50 = 1/100). In the worst situations, I reduce the shutter speed by 1-2 stops if my lens supports Image Stabilization.

Using the Shutter Priority mode ensures that your camera is using a specific shutter speed that results in no or minimum shake in the image. If you wish to freeze the motion of a moving subject, you can dial a fast shutter speed like 1/2000 sec and let the camera do the remaining math.

5. Take backup shots

The last important tip to get sharp photos would be to take a few backup shots during your shoot. Imagine if you are doing a commercial shoot and when you return to your editing desk you realize that the subject is out of focus or the image is not sharp.

Make sure that after clicking the desired photo, you take a few extra photos of the same frame. These backup photos reduce the risk and increase the possibility of getting sharp photos.

In the past 8-9 years, these five tips have helped me to nail focus in almost any situation and deliver quality work to my clients.

Do you have other tips? Do share your views in the comment below.

The post 5 Secret Tips to Take Sharp Photos Using Any Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

How to Add a Toy Camera Effect to Your Digital Images Using Photoshop

Tue, 01/29/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Add a Toy Camera Effect to Your Digital Images Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

They may look cute, but toy cameras aren’t actually toys at all. The name refers to inexpensive film cameras made predominantly of plastic and paired with a simplistic lens.

From around the 1990s, toy cameras garnered popularity for their distinctive aesthetic. Cameras like the Diana and Holga are embraced, light leaks and all, for their wonderfully unpredictable results.

With their vignetting, blurry focus and lens distortion, photographers armed with toy cameras relinquish control over the definitive outcome of the image, adding a palpable sense of serendipity to the photographic process.

Applying a toy camera effect to a digital photograph isn’t the same as using a toy camera itself, I know. But it’s a fun way to add a unique retro feel to a photograph while making use of the control that a digital camera affords.

Here’s how to add a toy camera effect to a digital photograph using Photoshop.

1. Cropping your image

Open up your image in Photoshop. Here’s my starting image.

The original image

Toy cameras work within a square format, so you’ll need to crop your photograph accordingly. Select the Crop Tool from the left toolbar. In the top toolbar, click on the dropdown menu that regulates the crop ratio. Select 1×1 (Square).

A square demonstrating the crop parameters will appear over your image. Adjust the parameters until you are happy and press enter.

2. Applying a vignette

With your layer selected in the Layers palette, go to Layer -> Duplicate Layer. A dialogue box will pop up. In the input field next to “As:” type “Layer 1” and click OK. This duplicates your current layer so you can work non-destructively.

Next, right click on Layer 1 and select Convert to Smart Object.

Select Filter -> Lens Correction and a dialog box will open. Click on the Custom tab. In the Vignette section of the Custom tab, adjust the Amount slider and the Midpoint slider until you have a nice, dark vignette (for this image I set the amount to -100 and the midpoint to +10). Repeat this step if you want a darker vignette.

Use the Lens Correction function to apply a vignette to your image

3. Adding blur

As I mentioned before, a lot of photographs taken with a toy camera are unfocused or blurry. To emulate this, make sure Layer 1 is selected and go to Filter->Blur->Gaussian Blur. In the Gaussian Blur window set the Radius from 5 to 10 pixels depending on your image and click OK.

In the Gaussian Blur window set the Radius from 5 to 10 pixels depending on your image and click OK

4. Adjusting colors

Toy cameras often lend a distinctive color-cast to photographs. In the layers panel, click on the Create a new fill or adjustment layer button and select Curves. In the Curves adjustment palette click on the RGB menu, select the red channel and create a shallow ‘S’ bend. Select the green channel and apply the same shallow ‘S’ shape. Now select the blue channel and create an inverted ‘S’.

Use the curves function to emulate the distinctive color-cast often encountered in photos taken with a toy camera

5. Creating light leaks

One fun characteristic of toy cameras are light leaks. A light leak is caused by a hole or gap in the body of the camera, allowing light to “leak” into the film chamber. This exposes the film to excess light. The result is whimsical fields of color that add character to a photograph and illustrate the photographic process.

To emulate light leaks you first need to create a new layer. Click on the Create a new layer button at the bottom of the layers panel and rename the layer “Light leaks”.

Select your brush tool and set the brush size to around 2000 and your hardness to 0%. Set the foreground color to your preferred color – usually red, yellow or blue. With the “Light leaks” layer selected, dot or streak one or two patches of color over your image.

Once you are done painting the light leaks, change the Blending Mode of the layer by clicking on the Blending Modes dropdown menu and selecting Color. You can change the opacity of the light leaks by toggling the Opacity slider on the layers panel too.


And there you have it. Now that you know how to add a toy camera aesthetic to your photograph, the possibilities are endless. This is a great opportunity to make use of unfocused, spotty or noisy digital images. It’s the next best thing to using a real toy camera yourself!

Here are a couple of my own creations below, post yours in the comments!


The post How to Add a Toy Camera Effect to Your Digital Images Using Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Photographing Wildlife

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 13:00

The post 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Photographing Wildlife appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Wildlife photography can be a great way to secure yourself a series of images of animals that you are proud of. However, it can be extremely challenging to capture good wildlife images because photographers often make errors resulting in missed opportunities.

© Jeremy Flint

When you have been waiting for a while and are suddenly faced with photographing a wildlife encounter of a rare species, it is easy to get carried away with the excitement. You may forget the essentials and make mistakes, consequently missing out on the perfect shot.

To help you improve your chances of capturing a great wildlife image, avoid making these common mistakes:

1. Not doing your research

Knowing a bit about your subject, such as where and when you can see them, is an essential part of capturing a memorable wildlife shot. Turning up to a place and hoping for the best will likely result in disappointment. Your best bet is to do your homework and be as prepared as you can.

2. Motion blur

Leopard, Wilpattu national park, Sri Lanka © Jeremy Flint

Generally, animals move quickly, and if you aren’t careful when taking your pictures, they can often result in motion blur. Sometimes adding intentional motion to your wildlife pictures can be effective and is a great way to add dynamism to your images through techniques such as panning. However, if you want to achieve sharper and more static images, which I would recommend for the majority of wildlife photographs, you need to take care that your shutter speed is not too slow.

3. Using too low an ISO

Murlough Bay, Antrim Coast, Northern Ireland © Jeremy Flint

One way to ensure a faster shutter speed is to increase the ISO. Many photographers make the mistake of keeping the ISO low when photographing wildlife. This is usually to maintain maximum image quality. However, with a higher ISO, sharper shots will be achievable as the shutter speed increases.

4. Not being prepared

Deer, Rondon Ridge Hotel, Mount Hagen, Papa New Guinea © Jeremy Flint

One of the biggest mistakes photographers tend to make when photographing wildlife is not being prepared. If you are not ready for the shot before it happens, you will miss it. Being unprepared could be something as simple as your battery going flat when you are taking photos or running out of space on your memory card.

Having prepared my camera the night before by charging my batteries and making sure my memory card had sufficient room to accommodate several images, I was able to take this shot of a deer as it appeared between the trees.

5. Out-of-focus pictures

Green bea eater, Udawalawe national park, Sri Lanka © Jeremy Flint

Have you ever returned home from photographing wildlife images only to discover that your images are not sharp? This is one of the biggest pitfalls of recording good wildlife photos. It is likely that it may have been a case of not focusing on the subject properly. Therefore, be sure to aim and focus the camera on the part of the image you want sharp.

6. Your subject is too small in the frame

© Jeremy Flint

Wild animals are easily spooked when approached by humans which means getting close to them is usually a challenging undertaking. As a result, you may find that your wildlife shots tend to have more of the surroundings in your shot, with your subject looking insignificant and lost in the background. Sometimes shooting an environment portrait of an animal can work well, but most of the time you will want to fill the frame with your animal shots. So if you aim to try and capture more of your subject, zoom in a bit closer.

7. The composition isn’t great

Hornbill in flight, Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka © Jeremy Flint

Taking pictures of fast moving animals can often result in poor compositional shots. For example, a fleeting moment of a bird in flight or landing happens so fast that just getting a shot usually occurs to the sacrifice of the composition. Pictures can be spoilt by flapping wings, clipped parts of the body (such as the wings or tail), and not giving your subject enough space.


Common mistakes that you are likely to make when photographing wildlife include not being prepared or doing your research, motion blur, using too low an ISO, out-of-focus pictures, poor composition and including too small a main subject in the frame.

Now that you are aware of what not to do when photographing wildlife, turn these mistakes around to enhance your chances of capturing an image you can be proud of.

Now it’s your turn to venture out with your camera to photograph wildlife and share your images with us in the comments below.

The post 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Photographing Wildlife appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

7 Pros and 5 Cons of Volunteering Your Photography

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 08:00

The post 7 Pros and 5 Cons of Volunteering Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

Some experiences are worth more than money. Volunteering your skills as a photographer may be worth more to you than some of your highest paying jobs.

You want to do good and help others. Offering your photography as a gift is a wonderful way to do this. But you need to volunteer properly, otherwise, it’s a meaningless transaction.

Let’s work through the pros and cons of volunteering your photography so that you can volunteer in a way that builds up you and the person you’re volunteering for.

A big rig delivering an excavator to a Habitat for Humanity build site.

Pros of volunteering your photography

There are good reasons to volunteer your photography beyond just saying yes because you feel guilty.

1. Your photography is a gift

Volunteering shouldn’t just be about working for free. Think of yourself as giving a gift rather than merely volunteering or working for free.

When you consider your photography a gift you won’t feel as though anybody owes you anything and your motives will be pure.

2. Grow as a person

You might consider sharing your gift of photography in order to grow as a person, especially if you don’t consider yourself to be compassionate.

Practicing acts of compassion through your photography is a perfect way to become more compassionate.

3. Develop empathy

Empathy is related to compassion. If you live an easy life, you might not notice how much suffering there is around you. Photographing people living through cancer, poverty, or natural disasters can help you become more empathetic.

My wife is called out during all hours of the day or night to photograph families who have had a miscarriage or infant death. We were a year into this volunteer work when we too experienced a miscarriage.

4. When it’s something you just can’t resist

You should jump at opportunities to volunteer when it involves something you just can’t resist. If you love cute animals then volunteer at an animal shelter. Gifting my photography to Habitat for Humanity allowed me to get up close to heavy machinery. Photographing things that excite you is good for your soul – and even better when it’s a gift.

I allowed for a hint of motion blur to capture the movement of the spinning drum on the cement truck.

5. Explore something new

Some volunteer opportunities will allow you to explore something new. Take it a step further by documenting your journey with a photo blog.

Explore an aspect of life that you know nothing about and see what you can learn as you volunteer your photography skills.

6. Make it a project

Volunteering your photography may be a good way to work on a project. For longer-term projects, you could explore a theme over the course of a month or even a year. Or maybe you bring only one camera and one lens to see what you can accomplish with a constraint.

7. Do it as an artist

Giving your photography as a gift allows you to think beyond merely working for free. So does thinking like an artist. Whatever the volunteer opportunity is, do it as an artist. Make a beautiful set of photos as if it’s an art project.

Volunteer your photography skills alongside other people gifting their skills too.

Reasons NOT To volunteer your photography

Don’t volunteer if your work is going to be shallow or self-serving.

1. For exposure

New photographers often fall for the lure of exposure. You’ll often be approached with volunteer opportunities that promise amazing exposure for you. And you’ll almost always be let down.

On what grounds will it be good exposure? Is the event filled with your ideal client? Will you be promoted in a meaningful way (social media mentions often don’t lead to real exposure)?

Offering to volunteer your photography in order to gain experience rather than exposure is a great idea. Experience builds and lasts, but exposure fades quickly.

2. For your portfolio

You might be told that the volunteer opportunity will be good for your portfolio. But is this the sort of subject that you would like in your portfolio?

It’s easy for enthusiastic people looking for a volunteer photographer to promise exposure and rare portfolio opportunities, but you need to be the judge of that. They likely know nothing about what is good for you and your portfolio.

Rather than hoping to build your portfolio, you should take it as an opportunity to explore. Be grateful if you happen to create an image that you will use in your portfolio.

I gave up on trying to produce portfolio images based on my home build photos. But surprisingly, those gritty construction photos have led to headshot work. They enjoyed the wide variety of photos I take and trusted that I would be a good creative photographer for them.

3. It might lead to paid work

Your volunteer work will probably lead to something paid, but maybe not anytime soon and maybe not the work you’re really after.

There are better ways to pursue paid work:

  • Improve your website
  • Make cold calls
  • Promote yourself publicly in creative ways

If you’re really after paid work, maybe you would be better off making cold calls for 10 hours. 10 hours of sales pitches is almost guaranteed to get you paid jobs. But 10 hours of volunteer work might not lead to anything paid.

Volunteer as a gift and that will be payoff enough.

4. Just because you can’t say no

You always say yes to everything because you don’t have the assertiveness to say no. When you volunteer just because you can’t say no, you’re letting somebody take advantage of your weakness. They might actually be disappointed to find out you said yes but meant no.

5. When there is too much risk

It’s wonderful to experience a new type of photography through volunteer work. It can even help you improve your craft.

But you shouldn’t volunteer for important photography jobs that you are not confident doing.

For example, if you’re strictly a landscape photographer who is uncomfortable photographing people then you should not photograph a person’s wedding for free. You will likely mess up their once in a lifetime photos.

When the home is finally completed the work becomes a gift from a whole community to the new family.

6. If you’re being run down instead of lifting each other up

Your volunteer work shouldn’t be burning you out. You and the person you’re volunteering for should both be built up in the process. This might be a sign that you’re saying yes when you mean no, or you are being taken advantage of. The point of charity and volunteer work is to build something good, not burn out those who want to be compassionate.

Volunteer for yourself too

If you’re a working photographer it can be easy to neglect your own photography projects. Those projects might not bring you any money, but you should pursue them for the same reasons you would volunteer your time for somebody else. You need to volunteer your time to yourself just as much to other people!

The pile of shoes is a sign of family and friendship gathered in the new home.

Motivation and side benefits

You could volunteer merely for the sake of exposure, portfolio building, or the hope of paid work. Or simply because you just can’t say no. But these are not good reasons to volunteer. They are risky and might lead quickly to burn out.

But when you think of volunteering as a gift, then you and your community will experience growth in empathy and compassion. Your gift becomes an opportunity for exploration and may grow into a beautiful art project.

Exposure, portfolio building, and paid work become a side benefit rather than a primary motivation.

I’d love to hear about your volunteer experiences down in the comments!

The post 7 Pros and 5 Cons of Volunteering Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

The Importance of Connecting With Your Photography Subject

Sun, 01/27/2019 - 13:00

The post The Importance of Connecting With Your Photography Subject appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Photography is more about connecting with your subject than the connection you have with your camera. If you love photography, hopefully, you will love your camera. Connecting with it will not be a problem for you.

Paying more attention to your camera than to your subject is a mistake I see so many photographers make.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Technical settings are important. But making well-focused and exposed photos is just the first step.

Making photos which communicate more than what something looks like takes practice. Express your experience. Your relationship with and connection to your subject.

Your connection with the world is unique

Nobody else sees the world in exactly the same way you see it. This is what can make your photography special.

Communicating not only what you see, but how you feel about your subject produces more interesting photographs. Anybody can pick up a camera and take technically correct photos. Do they always have appeal? No. Do they always communicate meaning in a manner that’s attractive? No.

Telling the story of how you see the world must be an intentional pursuit. Be mindful of your message before you pick your camera up. Without doing this you will only be taking photos that anyone else with a camera can make.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

What are you connecting with?

Are you connecting with a person, a landscape, your dog, or a concept? Whatever you choose as your subject, the more fascinated with it you are, the more this will be expressed in the photographs you make of it.

Photograph what you love, what you enjoy. Show your experience of your subject in your photos. To successfully communicate this you must connect outside yourself for others to really be able to appreciate your photos.

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”

This is a famous quote from Robert Capa. He’s best known as a war photographer, but I think this advice has a far greater reach than with just conflict photography. I think it also has a deeper meaning than just physical closeness.

Getting closer to your subject in relational ways will make your pictures better.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Study your subject. Get to know it, or them. The better understanding you have of something the more dynamic your photographs of it will be.

Getting close takes time and commitment. Sometimes you’ll have years to build a relationship with your subject. Other subjects you may just have a few moments to make a connection. Getting close must be intentional.

We often visit the same locations in the photography workshops we teach. Over the years we have come to know the feel and flow of life in these locations. We have built a relationship with a lot of the people. Sometimes this can lead to tardiness in the way you approach photography.

Keeping a freshness of mind, thinking relationally, not just visually, keeps you motivated. Doing this, you’ll be able to continue making creative photos in places you visit often. By proxy, the people who join our workshops also reap some benefits from the relationships we have worked hard to build.

How do you get close enough?

Attach a wider angle lens to your camera. Standing back with a long lens will mean you are physically and relationally more removed from what you are photographing.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Be bold and step closer. Being in close proximity to your subject will make connecting more intimate. This requires you to present yourself well to your subject, especially when you are photographing people.

Be open and friendly. Approach a stranger with a smile and a warm greeting in their own language. Most people will reflect your warmth back to you. Making eye contact with people in most cultures will deepen your relationship instantly. Don’t be overbearing or too demonstrative, as this may put people off.

Take a little time to observe a situation and consider how you can best make a connection. This takes practice.

In big cities, this can be more challenging as people are typically more personally guarded. In smaller towns and rural locations, people can be more comfortable with being photographed.

Give something back

When you’re photographing people, show them the photos you’ve made. I love this about digital photography, that it’s so easy to share.

Be ready to take some more photos to capture their response. This is one reason I love making portraits with a 35mm lens. I can show my subject the pictures and be close enough to turn the camera back around and quickly take a few more of their reaction. With telephoto lenses, this is not possible because you have to be further away.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Ask for their email address or Facebook profile. Tell them you’ll send them a few pictures. If you photograph close to where you live, get prints made and take them back. People love this as it’s so rare these days to see a printed photograph of yourself.

Connecting with places and things

Photographing your favorite beach or city street can become more personal with mindfulness. Concentrate on why you like being there. Think about how you feel when you go to these places. Try to convey this in your pictures.

If you love photographing your car or pet, bring your experience into your expression. You’ve probably photographed these things many times already, so fresh concepts can be hard to come up with. Instead of looking for a new visual angle, seek one that reveals more about how you feel.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Time of day, quality of light, colors and other factors will influence feeling in your photos. Consider how the visual elements you include in your compositions reflect the way you feel about your subjects.


Practice your camera technique. Know your settings well. Give your brain more room to concentrate on what you want to convey about your subject.

Think what your photographs are about, not just what they are of.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Some of these ideas may be challenging or seem rather abstract. Build a habit of connecting with your subjects. Over time you will see your photographic style develop. You will become more creative and your photographs become more appealing.

The post The Importance of Connecting With Your Photography Subject appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

3 Top Cell Phone Photography Apps (Android or iOS)

Sun, 01/27/2019 - 08:00

The post 3 Top Cell Phone Photography Apps (Android or iOS) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

One of the nice things about photography is that you don’t need an expensive camera or exotic lenses to produce good photos. Although such gear ensures the best image quality, to some degree that need has been nullified by the way today’s photos are shared. When viewed on a high-res smartphone or tablet, the technical imperfections of a phone image all but vanish. Cell phone photography is as legitimate as any other form of photography. Or is it?

In recent years, as the Internet has grown in power and influence, cell phone photography has become widely accepted by picture libraries and agencies. A huge market exists for web pictures, and it doesn’t always take DSLRs or even compact cameras to supply it. After inheriting an iPhone a few months back, and acquainting myself with various apps, I began sending phone photos to picture libraries.

When it comes to cellphone photos, libraries are surprisingly open-minded about the use of filters and effects. A conservative approach to editing is not necessary and may even be unhelpful. This article looks at three of the apps I use most for preparing images: MIX, PS Express, and Snapseed. Any of these three allows basic manual adjustments of color and tone. So instead of attempting repetitive in-depth reviews of all three, I aim to show you some of their individual features.

The opening screens of MIX by Camera360, Adobe PS Express and Snapseed by Google. All three are available for iOS or Android phones.

MIX by Camera360

MIX is filter-oriented with 100+ free filters and some in-app purchases. Of course, it also lets you make straight edits to your pictures (e.g. brightness, saturation, contrast, sharpness, spot removal). I’ve always liked presets and filters. If other photographers know exactly what they’re going to do with every photo, I’m not one of them. Sometimes it’s fun to try out different stuff and hit a few buttons.

Cine Filters

When you want to apply a color cast to an image, the Cine filters in MIX work well. They have various effects, including warm-up, cooling, and a classic orange & teal combo for movie-style color contrast (try Googling “orange and teal photography” to discover more). Using these filters is a bit like tuning the temp and tint sliders in Lightroom. They affect the white balance of the image.

This orange (warm-up) and teal look is similar to an effect used in modern movies and comes from one of several Cine filters in MIX.

Slide Film Filters

As my photography predates the digital age, filters that imitate last-generation slide films appeal to me. I can’t testify as to their accuracy, but if I want a deep blue sky or just a bit more punch in color and contrast, MIX gives me an easy solution.

These deep-blue skies were achieved with the Fuji Velvia Slide Film filters in MIX and are true to the effect often seen in Velvia transparencies.

Holiday Sky Filters

Being an old-school slide shooter (or old at any rate), I struggle with the idea of grafting new skies onto photos, but then photography rarely tells the whole truth. MIX offers a range of Holiday Sky filters that might just rescue disappointing photos. To make artificial skies seem realistic, you must take notice of how the light falls in your photo and make sure it doesn’t blatantly conflict with the new background. There’s also a MIX “Magic Sky” filter series for more dramatic effects.

Sky grafting might be anathema for some, but Holiday Sky filters in MIX make it easy to replace a dull sky.

Adobe PS Express

As a long-time user of Photoshop, I tried PS Express hoping for a level of familiarity. I wasn’t disappointed. You can adjust photos using the same editing sliders found in other Adobe products: much of the toolbox seems intact.


If you shoot architectural photos, one of the best things about PS Express is its ability to easily correct the verticals and/or horizontals of a building. This avoids the “falling over” effect you get when pointing a camera at architecture. It helps if you leave space around the building when photographing it, otherwise, the transform tool will slice the edges off it.

The verticals in this photo of Florence were corrected with the Transform tool in PS Express.


PS Express has a decent selection of filters. I’m fond of the ones that apply a vignette, such as Basic/Autumn or B&W/pinhole. These give photos a sense of drama, and like all vignettes focus attention on the middle of the photo. You can give your photos a lot of mood with these filters.

The PS Express B&W Pinhole filter focuses attention on the face of this effigy in Rouen Cathedral.


Adding text to photos can seem a complicated process in some apps and programs, but PS Express makes it easy. You can easily create website graphics, greetings cards or memes and have plenty of control over fonts and opacity. As well, you can send your creations as layered PSD files to Photoshop CC on a computer.

Adding text with different fonts, opacity and colors is easy in PS Express.

Snapseed by Google

Developed by Google, Snapseed is an intuitive app that offers single-click “Looks” (filters by another name) and “Tools” for adjustable edits. It’s capable of great results with as little or as much input as you want. Among the tools, you’ll find anything from regular brightness, contrast or saturation sliders to more adventurous edits like “Double Exposure” or “Grunge”.

Looks: Fine Art

For black and white conversions, I find the “Fine Art” filter in Snapseed particularly pleasing. There is always a full range of tones to pack plenty of punch without much loss of shadow or highlight detail. The pictures are also very clean—no mid-tone noise in skies like there is with some B&W edits.

The Snapseed Fine Art filter gives a well-balanced B&W conversion with a pleasing range of tones. I use it as my B&W cell phone default.

Tools: Drama

The Drama tool can easily produce overcooked results if you’re not careful, but it’s useful for bringing out the detail in clouds and/or lifting an otherwise dull photo taken on an overcast day. You can adjust the filter’s contrast effect as well as saturation to fine-tune the result.

The Drama tool emphasizes mid-tone contrast and bleaches saturation on its default setting, often resulting in more dramatic skies.

Tools: Lens Blur

Snapseed’s Lens Blur tool lets you emphasize a particular area of a photo by controlling background blur and vignetting. The “Transition” slider lets you control the feathering area between the main subject and background, enabling natural-looking results.

The Snapseed Lens Blur tool emphasizes the face of this wooden sculpture of Christ in Venice.


The apps in this article will not be new to seasoned smartphone photographers, but I hope I’ve inspired others to use their cell phone cameras creatively. Phones have their limitations for some genres of photography, but that’s true of any camera and lens combo. They offer unrivaled portability. And while cell phones aren’t often seen in pro photography, they don’t rule out the chance of publication. Smartphones and their apps let you express yourself in countless ways.

The post 3 Top Cell Phone Photography Apps (Android or iOS) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

7 Lessons You Can Learn about Photography from Legendary Photographer, Diane Arbus

Sat, 01/26/2019 - 13:00

The post 7 Lessons You Can Learn about Photography from Legendary Photographer, Diane Arbus appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anthony Epes.

I discovered the extraordinary photography of Diane Arbus early on in my career and was blown away by the candid portraits she created. They seemed to have a strong feeling of intimacy coming from the subject (apparent in photos like “Family on their lawn one Sunday.”)

Arbus (1923 – 1971), was an American photographer whose most famous subjects were often outsiders in society.

Journalist Arthur Lubow said of her work: “She was fascinated by people who were visibly creating their own identities—cross-dressers, nudists, sideshow performers, tattooed men, the nouveau riche, the movie-star fans—and by those who were trapped in a uniform that no longer provided any security or comfort.”

I was impressed with her photos. To capture the feelings and reveal aspects of the lives and personalities of her subjects is both challenging to do as a photographer, and rare.

So many photographers are concerned with the ‘surface’ of their subject’s appearance. However, to spend time delving into our subject’s persona gives us an incredible insight into the multiple human experiences of that person’s life.

In this article, I take an in-depth look at Arbus’s photographic approach and draw out simple but powerful lessons to help you develop your photography.

What I most admire about Arbus’s approach is that she spent a lot of time connecting with her subjects. They felt comfortable with her and were able to relax and reveal aspects of themselves and their lives.

I think this connection is what leads to such a feeling of intimacy within her photos. It’s almost as if you are right there with her, and with that person (her photo of the boy with the toy hand grenade is brilliantly evocative of kids.)

Arbus died in the 1970s, but her photographic legacy is still profound. After her death, her daughter collaborated with the artist Marvin Israel to produce a short documentary about her work, Masters of Photography: Diane Arbus, in which her words get spoken over her images.


It’s a fascinating view of her approach, and many of the quotes I’ve used in this article come from that film. I encourage you to look up her work and see for yourself.

From my observations of her work and reading about her life, here are some of the lessons I’ve drawn from her photography. Included are my own photos.

1. We shoot what we are

“What moves me about…what’s called technique…is that it comes from some mysterious deep place. I mean it can have something to do with the paper and the developer and all that stuff, but it comes mostly from some very deep choices somebody has made that take a long time and keep haunting them.” Diane Arbus

I love the photographic kit, and I love cameras, and I am a bit of a tech nerd. Never met a camera manual I didn’t enjoy reading!

Moreover, I am an advocate of learning to use your camera, learning to shoot on manual and having an excellent understanding of all your kit. That way, you are so familiar with it that you can completely forget about it and concentrate entirely on getting into a deep creative flow state.

I will say, creating interesting, compelling and unique images has very little to do with your camera, and everything to do with who you are as a human being.

I have seen too many technically perfect, but entirely boring photos, to know how true this is.

We are all different as human beings, and so our photographs must reflect who we are. Reflect what we’ve experienced in life, what we love and dislike, what excites us and ignites our imagination, and what totally and completely fascinates us.

When we take photos, we are drawing from this massive well of life experience and our unique personalities. That is why I love the quote (above) from Arbus. It shows that there is so much more to photography other than the camera you have and how well you can use it. It is meaningful, but still a small part of the photographic process.

When people look at my photographs, they often say – “oh, you like to photograph cities or people or pretty nature?”

I say, “no – I only have one subject, and that is light.”

My photographic obsession is intriguing and beautiful light. Almost everything I choose to photograph has somehow been transformed by light, and it bewitches me.

I have distinct memories, of being a small child laying under a tree in a Greek garden, seeing and feeling the dappled light falling over my face. Moreover, many of my memories of growing up in California are also of light. Of being out in nature all day, and climbing trees in the hot, yellow sunshine.

I love the way that everything is affected by light. How the same thing – a tree, for example – looks and feels one way when the light is flat and grey, and entirely another way when it’s bathed in the light yellow sunshine of a spring morning.

Light is something that moves me on a subliminal, subconscious level. I didn’t even realize that light was my obsession for many years. That’s because, as Arbus says, “our photographs are a reflection of our deeper selves.”

When you examine your photos what do you see about yourself? What do you notice about the innate aspects of your personality? Does it tell you about what you love and what captures your attention?

Where can these deep passions take you in your photography?

2. Find the perfect angle

“I work from awkwardness. By that I mean I don’t like to arrange things. If I stand in front of something, instead of arranging it, I arrange myself.” Diane Arbus

I often see people’s photos of fascinating subjects, but the photos themselves are boring. They missed the chance to create a dynamic photo, often because of where they positioned themselves.

It may sound obvious, but your job as a photographer is not to wait for the subject to come to you, nor is it to wait for the subject to become perfectly aligned with your camera.

Your job is to find the very best angle. The very best place to stand and arrange yourself so that you place your subject at its very best situation in your frame.

There is always one angle that is the best for your subject. You have to find that. It may sound obvious but it’s not something I see a lot of amateur photographers do.

Ask yourself: if the subject and my composition isn’t perfect, where can I move to try different angles and compositions? Can I move up, down, or around?

Am I able to climb on a chair or walk up that hill? Do I need to lie on the ground or reposition myself so that the light falls on their face? Can I catch a reflection in the glass?

You should always be thinking to yourself: What happens to the subject when I go over here…?

Once you’ve got that great shot, explore further and search for other good angles. See if you can go one better.

3. Photography is your license to be curious (even when it scares you)

“If I were just curious, it would be very hard to say to someone, ‘want to come to your house and have you talk to me and tell me the story of your life.’ I mean people are going to say, ‘You’re crazy.’ Plus they’re going to keep mighty guarded. But the camera is a kind of license. For a lot of people, they want to be paid that much attention and that’s a reasonable kind of attention to be paid.” Diane Arbus

Many photographers are scared to shoot strangers but would love to do it anyway. However, shooting people you don’t know can be a very confronting experience.

Often there is a big fear about what the person might do when they see a camera focused upon them, or when you pluck up the courage to ask their permission to shoot.

The most important thing to know here, and this comes from my own experience as well as from other photographers like Arbus, is that most people enjoy some attention.

Most people are happy to have you shoot them – or they don’t mind. Photographing someone is saying to them – I find you very interesting – and most people see that as a compliment.

Now we are in a different age to Arbus. When she was taking photographs, very few people had cameras. Whereas, now with our smartphones, cameras are everywhere.

What I love about Arbus is that she holds strong reverence for her subjects. The process of connecting and working with them was all about them and not about her feelings.

She talked at length about the fear and anxiety she felt about approaching subjects or going to their houses to photograph them.

It is inspiring to hear that she was always pushing herself to do more and not allowing her fear to hold her back. Although, on occasion, it did hold her back. However, she’d start over the following day or at the next opportunity.

We all experience fear, and it’s okay. Go with it and don’t let it stop you.

There’s another piece of advice I’d like to offer when photographing strangers, and this is what Diane Arbus also did, and excelled.

It all comes down to your attitude. Your potential subjects pick up on a sense of your energy when you point a camera at them.

Think about whether you are friendly and considerate. Do you smile and relax? Are you trying to connect with the person? Alternatively, are you shoving a camera in their face and being aggressive or are you only looking for a quick shot?

The biggest asset I have when photographing people all over the world, and where I don’t speak the language, is my smile. I often smile and lift my camera as if to say, “may I?”

People sometimes nod, or don’t respond but just stand still. If they say no or walk away, then I’ve got my answer.

If I am photographing people without them knowing and they see me, usually they walk away. However, if they want to connect, then I’ll show them the photo, smile and have a chat.

I work on projecting confidence in myself, and friendliness to my subject. The very worst that can happen is that someone wants me to delete the photo. How easy is this nowadays with digital cameras?

In fact, this has probably only happened once in the thirty years I’ve been taking photos. What typically happens is that they ask for a copy of the picture, which I gladly email.

Photography is also a license to connect with people. I have had so many interesting conversations, been taken to lunch and shown around new cities when people see that I am a photographer.

I tell people about my work, my books, and my projects, and people are curious. For them, it’s often an excellent opportunity to get to talk to someone new.

When my wife was pregnant and after our kids were born, she said the whole process changed her experience of London. Suddenly, instead of being ignored, she was stopped in the street, talked to in cafes and chatted to all over the city.

4. How to get to the reality of people

“There is a point where there is what you want people to know about you and what you can’t help people knowing about you.” Diane Arbus

Everyone has a mask that they show to the world. It’s so embedded in us that we don’t realize we are projecting it.

To show our true selves often makes us feel vulnerable. We don’t want to expose our worries, or what we believe to be our character flaws.

So we show the world an edited version of ourselves and an identity that we are happy to project (or not. Some people project anxiety or melancholy.)

We can always photograph a person on a surface level, posed in the way they’d prefer. But the fascination is to dive beneath the surface and find the place that tells us more truthfully about that person, and who they are.

As photographers, we want to get a sense of what it is like to be our subject and how they feel in that space and time. This is where I think Diane Arbus excelled – like in her photo “A young man with curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C.”

She had such a strong awareness of what people wanted to show, versus what their life really was, that she was able to get people to show their true selves.

So as photographers, it is awesome that we get the opportunities to explore and probe the masks that people put on. When we are patient enough, the mask drops and we can see the true human experience.

Getting your subject to show behind their mask can be simple. When shooting a portrait, have your subject hold the same pose for an extended period. After a while, they become bored of the pose or forget about it because they start thinking about something else, Suddenly, a real emotion or feeling comes pouring through.

It’s harder to do with some people than others. Some people used to being photographed, or who have a stronger attachment to their mask or ‘identity,’ try not to allow their true thoughts and feelings to come out.

This is where your patience comes into play.

Keep going. Stay with your subject and talk to them. Ask questions, move them around a bit, and see what develops.

Arbus had a fascination with her subjects and their ‘beingness.’ She didn’t try to manipulate them or change them but gave them space to be themselves.

She talked about how nice she was to people. She was warm and ingratiating, and that led to people relaxing and being themselves. Consequently, Arbus captured the clear, unvarnished experience of life.

Another big key for me, when shooting strangers, is to be respectful. It is their lives, their selves, that we are revealing to the world.

When Arbus said, “You see someone on the street and what you notice about them is the flaw,” it is about what is speaking to you about this person’s true humanity. Because humanity can be messy and difficult. We are complex beings. Discovering what makes each person who they are is a wonderful journey to take as a photographer.

Revealing the flaws, characters, and difficulties are often what connects us to each other in the first place. We all connect to the challenges of the human experience – and working to capture this in your photography is a very enriching process.

5. Don’t worry about your camera

“I get a great sense that they are different from me. I don’t feel that total identity with the machine. I mean, I can work it fine, although I’m not so great actually. Sometimes when I am winding it, it’ll get stuck, or something will go wrong and I just start clicking everything and then suddenly everything is alright again. That’s my feeling about machines, if you sort of look the other way they’ll get fixed. Except for certain ones.” Diane Arbus

As I mentioned above, I love my kit, and I love working out new cameras. However, I also recognize a camera is just a tool that enables me to capture my vision.

I have a pretty good smartphone and I take some brilliant photos with that. There are a lot of photographers, like Diane Arbus, who have focused on the subject over technical skill, and they have done just fine!

If learning technique to a very deep level isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Learn what you need to learn and just keep pushing yourself creatively.

6. Allow your fascination for your subject to blossom

“I would never choose a subject for what it means to me. I choose a subject and then what I feel about it, what it means, begins to unfold.” Diane Arbus

This quote is such an unusual piece of advice for me because it’s the exact opposite of how I photograph. Regardless, it’s also brilliant for me because I don’t believe just one photographer or teacher can teach you everything you need to know about your personal journey as a photographer.

My advice is to find the subjects that fascinate you the most. Find the places, people and things that you are in total awe of, and then use those feelings to create emotive, captivating images.

Still, I can see Arbus’s point about finding a subject and allowing your ideas and interest in the subject to unfold from there. Anything can be your subject given the right circumstances, and for me, you guessed it, that involves interesting light!

Perhaps you should take this lesson as more of a way to train yourself into finding something of fascination in whatever subject you come across.

It can also be a truly revolutionary approach to your photography if you have become entirely immune to a scene or find it difficult to see exciting things to photograph in your day-to-day life.

If you find yourself numb to the world around you, concentrating on a subject and working to open your awareness to finding a compelling aspect to your subject, will do wonders for your ability to see incredible images wherever you go.
Diane Arbus said, “The Chinese have a theory that you pass through boredom into fascination and I think it’s true.”

So there you go! Don’t worry about getting bored because it can lead to fascination, given enough time and perseverance.

7. Photography should make you an adventurer

“Once you become an adventurer, you’re geared to adventure, you seek out further adventures.” Marvin Israel

This is not a quote by Arbus, but the artist Marvin Israel who was very significant in Arbus’s life. He talked about how “Each photograph for Diane was an event.”

Israel talks about how moved she was by the experiences she had taking the photographs. That it wasn’t about the end photo at all, but everything that led up to taking the photo.

Arbus commented, “For me, the subject of the picture is always more important than the picture. I do have a feeling for the print, but I don’t have a holy feeling.”

For her, it was just being with her subjects, talking and connecting, the dialogue, the waiting, and the anticipation.

This is what is so tremendously exciting about the medium of photography. You are not alone in a room with your thoughts, creating. It’s not a passive experience. You are engaging with the world, you are creating connections, and you are diving into life.

This isn’t about traveling to far-flung places. It’s not even about doing big, crazy things. It’s about enjoying all aspects of taking the photo. It is an adventure in itself.

Moreover, it’s about taking yourself on an incredible learning journey and seeing where your passions take you.

I would love to know what you think of these ideas. Do any of these connect with you and get you thinking in new ways about your photography?

The post 7 Lessons You Can Learn about Photography from Legendary Photographer, Diane Arbus appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anthony Epes.

How to Take Floating Photos – Levitation Photography [video]

Sat, 01/26/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Take Floating Photos – Levitation Photography [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this great video from, Dunna Did It, you will learn how to create Levitation photography. That’s right, you’ll learn how to take floating photos!


What you need:
  1. Camera to shoot with
  2. Tripod
  3. Photo Editing software
How to create levitation photography:
  • Set up your object that you are photographing.
  • Put your camera’s settings to the required settings based on your lighting and room.
  • The trick is to take one photo holding it with your left hand, and then one holding it with your right hand.
  • Be sure to turn on you turn Grids ON in your camera.
  • Line up your camera in the same spot for each shot using your grid.
  • Use manual focus for each shot because you want the focus to be exactly the same for each photo.
  • Hold your camera with one hand and line it up to your grid, focus and take the photo.
  • While still holding it, reach with your other hand and grab the opposite side (keeping the camera in the same position). Let go with the other hand, and take the 2nd photo. Try this as many times as you need to.
  • Choose and edit your best photos in Lightroom (or the editing program of your choice).
  • Once you have the two you want to combine, jump to Photoshop (press cmd+E mac, ctrl+E win) and choose Edit in Photoshop.
  • Go to the image held with the left hand and double-click the layer in the Layer Palette to make it an editable layer.
  • Then choose Cmd+A to select all, then Cmd+C to copy.
  • Jump to the other image, double click the layer in the Layers Palette to make the layer editable.
  • Then choose Cmd+V to paste the other image you copied into the new image.
  • Lower the opacity of the top layer to about 36% so you can see how well you can line them up.
  • Move the top layer until it is lined up.
  • Next, we want to take the top layer and delete to parts we don’t want.
  • Put a layer mask onto the top layer and select your Brush Tool (use a soft brush by turning down the hardness).
  • Change your foreground color in your toolbar to black to paint out areas of the layer mask.
  • Paint out the areas you don’t want. To fine-tune, make your brush smaller and continue to paint out areas you don’t need.
  • Check all your lines around your image to ensure they line up.
  • Do any further edits you want and you are done!
You may also find the following articles helpful:

How to do Digital Blending in Photoshop to Create a Composite Photo

How to Create A Simple Composite: Photoshop Creative

How to Make a Composite Wine Bottle Image using Photoshop Layers

Preparing your Model and Background for a Successful Composite

How to Shoot and Create a Composite Image for a Product Advertisement

A Guide to Create Eye-Catching Composite Images


The post How to Take Floating Photos – Levitation Photography [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Reflections

Fri, 01/25/2019 - 13:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is REFLECTIONS!

Marc-Olivier Jodoin


Your photos can include anything that have reflections. It can be reflections in water, puddles, windows, glass, steel, or anything that is reflective. They can be color, black and white, long exposures, night, day etc. 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 tristyn (@awaitingxadventure) on Jan 10, 2019 at 10:34pm PST


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by J u l i e ? (@julie_delaere) on Jan 10, 2019 at 10:19pm PST


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Joey ?? (@joeymeoww) on Jan 10, 2019 at 10:00pm PST


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Edward Cox (@edward.jax) on Jan 10, 2019 at 10:33am PST


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Alper Eskinazi (@alpereskinazi) on Jul 14, 2018 at 6:08am PDT


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Blips (@blipslens) on Jan 9, 2019 at 10:10am PST



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

Tips for Shooting REFLECTIONS

Tips for Photographing Reflections to Create Stunning Images

How to Improve Your Night Photos – Add Reflections

9 Tips for Photographing Mountain Lake Reflections

Using Rain Puddles to Create Unique Reflection Photos

How to Create Amazing Reflection Photos using Puddles

How to Add a Reflection in Photoshop

23 Remarkable Mirror Images of Reflections


Weekly Photography Challenge – REFLECTIONS

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 #DPSReflections to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.

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

Tips for Portrait Photography in Overcast Weather [video]

Fri, 01/25/2019 - 08:00

The post Tips for Portrait Photography in Overcast Weather [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video by Julia Trotti, you’ll learn tips for portrait photography in overcast weather that can give you more even, soft light on your models.

Overcast weather can be a great time to do portrait photography because the light is soft and doesn’t create as many of the harsh shadows that bright midday sunlight creates.

If you are doing a shoot with a model and the weather is overcast, keep in mind the following tips:

1. Make the most of it by using locations you normally wouldn’t

Keep in mind, depending on the type of overcast weather it is, you may still get some shadows if it is a bright overcast day.

If you find there is not quite enough light getting to your model’s eyes, ask them to bring their chin up a little to capture the light on their eyes.

Bear in mind that the direction your model is facing also has an effect on the light and contrast to the background.

Shoot in a few directions at the start as test shots to decide which is the best angle for light.

When photographing on overcast days, you may want to find a location that has a pop of color so that your images are not flat. Green locations such as gardens and forests work well. If in a location that is not as vibrant in color, consider dressing your model in colorful clothes.

2. Be mindful of including the sky in your photos

When the sky is dark and overcast, it can add great drama. However, if it is a bright overcast day, the sky can look blown out. In this case, use varied composition and camera angles to eliminate distracting over-blown white sky (unless your purpose is to have high contrast between your model and background).

3. Keep an eye on your camera settings

When overcast, your scene may be quite a bit darker, and your camera settings need to reflect that. Also, depending on your location, you may need to tweak your camera settings too.

If you want to capture sharp hair in windy conditions, use a faster shutter speed to avoid motion blur on your models’ hair. If you want to show the effect of some slight motion, use a slower shutter speed.

You may also find the following articles helpful:

6 Portrait Lighting Patterns Every Photographer Should Know

13 Tips for Improving Outdoor Portraits

10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits

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

How to Pose and Angle the Body for Better Portraits

The post Tips for Portrait Photography in Overcast Weather [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Photo Editing: When Does it Get to be too Much?

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 08:00

The post Photo Editing: When Does it Get to be too Much? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

Editing photographs in itself is an art. It is what has made so many great photographers legendary. The ability to take the limits of a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional world, exact it onto a type of film or digital sensor, then, and only then, to craft the image into one’s liking.

Indeed, it is an art, which raises the question – where is the line drawn for too much editing?

Like art and how to define it, that answer is not straightforward. We each have our interpretation, but let’s take a look at some parameters. There are three questions you may want to ask yourself the next time you dive in to edit your images.

What is my intent?

In the days of film, you had to have intent. Even if your intention was “to mess around and learn some things,” you realized there was a direct cost to that learning. That cost was film, paper, chemical solutions and time — moreover, money.

Now, experimenting is so dang easy, any kid with an iPhone can do it. I think that’s a good thing. Experimenting is a vital part of artistic expression and is especially true with photo editing.

Having intent is important when coupled with experimenting if you hope to learn, grow and progress.

Intent lets you know when your experimentation goes too far, and your edits are too much. The intent is a wonderful guide, with plenty of latitude if you bestow it.

My suggestion here is to have intent with your editing experimentation. Know what you hope to gain from experimenting and have a general direction.

Have I stayed true to my vision?

Vision is where your intent takes you. Having artistic vision helps place boundaries on your work that is often needed, lest everything turns to chaos.

Maybe a portrait photographer’s vision is to portray each subject in a subdued manner with soft lighting and harsh details. They want to show that side of each subject, and that leads to their intent, over and over again. It is repeatable.

This is one edit the author now admits was too much editing, even if it was fun at the time.

Alternatively, perhaps you’re a landscape photographer who envisions your work being a truthful depiction of what you experienced, not some fanciful ‘perfect world.’ You put effort into recreating the scene when back at your computer and employ tools to your end vision.

Without having a vision of what you want to produce, it’s easy to be swayed by the siren song of really cool editing tools that pull you toward the rocks of editing ruin.

Is this sustainable?

I don’t mean to say all art, all forms of editing you choose, need to last forever. We all go through phases. This struck me most profoundly on a trip to Barcelona recently and a review of Goya’s work through the decades he painted.

Firstly, there were Goya’s early career phases where he exacted reproduction in a French and Italian style. These were the most important. Beautiful portraits!

Then, later, he had a more simplistic style. Filled with easy colors and a looser interpretation of the world around him with all its players.

In one of the last room were exhibits of Goya’s “Black period.” Charcoal and dark tones, and dire scenes of hardship. Nothing like what he had been producing before.

Most of us move through periods. That does not instantly disqualify any one of them as art (in an editing sense), but it does give us a good mirror.

We are our own harshest critic, and we alone can look back at work we did one, five, or twenty years ago and deem it art or not. If we see a style, a thread that runs through all our works, it’s easy to say we have crafted art. However, if we find through the benefit of time and distance, that something we thought was the bee’s knees is now, to our more experienced eyes, rubbish, we can cast it aside.

The HDR craze as an example

Some years ago, as digital photography was catching on with the masses, came the HDR craze. It was a time when anyone could use a particular technique to achieve what is known as High Dynamic Range (HDR) images.

For some, it was a fun departure from their normal routine. Others saw it as a chance to show everything in a scene; maybe not the same as their eyes saw, but better than the alternative.

Some of us had our stomachs turn every time we saw one of those photos.

It was new, and it was novel. Moreover, it didn’t fit into many photographers’ visions. Today, it’s hard to find any examples of those early attempts still being reproduced. It wasn’t sustainable.

Although, it was fun for a while. Particularly for those who enjoyed the departure from reality.

I would profess that it was a case of too much editing and that it met its likely demise because of it.


While deciding what dictates too much editing is subjective to the viewer and their experience, I hope the questions I posed above help guide you in future endeavors.

I’m not here to judge your work or to say you might be wrong. That voice, and what your art means to you, needs to come from inside you.

Develop your vision. Stay true to it. Focus your intent toward it. Then you will scarcely have to worry if you’ve gone too far in your editing work.

The post Photo Editing: When Does it Get to be too Much? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

Writing Exercises to Improve Your Photography

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 08:00

The post Writing Exercises to Improve Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

You might think that an image is worth a thousand words. Perhaps you may consider yourself more visual than eloquent? Moreover, you may merely think that writing and photography have nothing to do with each other? However, they are more related than you think. Whether it is to unblock your creativity or to propel your career, writing exercises can improve your photography.

Some writing exercises that can help improve your photography 1. Unblock your creativity

Are you feeling out of ideas for your photographic projects or stuck on the same photo-cliches? This is very common amongst photographers both amateur and professional. Often everyday life clutters our brain, leaving little room for creative thoughts.

Something you can do to open the way to more productive and original thinking is to write first thing in the morning. Write as much as you can without thinking about it. I don’t want to set a limit because we all have different needs, problems and time constraints. What I do advise is that you start writing whatever comes into your head. Don’t filter it. Keep going until it feels difficult because that’s when the clutter ends and the creativity begins.

2. Define your style

Let’s face it, being a photographer is appealing and so people want to know more. Often when you introduce yourself as a photographer, you get asked what type of photography do you do. The question I ask you is: do you know how to reply? Any great photographer has a clear trajectory and a recognizable style. Therefore you need to define yours to become ‘great.’

Defining your style is easier to do it if you have been doing photography for a while. However, you can also do it as an aspirational exercise. Go through your images and find the best ones. Also, find the ones that you enjoyed making the most and see what connects them.

Now try writing an Artist Statement. Even if you don’t do art photography write a piece of text that explains who you are. Put your vision and what separates you from any other photographer into words. This text can be a concept, your approach to a particular topic or an aesthetic style. Having it written down in a concise paragraph helps you understand who you are and you build up from there.

3. When, where and why

If you’ve been in the photography business for a while, you might have noticed that the traditional CV is challenging to apply to your trajectory. This doesn’t mean that you can’t or don’t need to put your work experience down in writing. One way of doing this is to write a biographic text that both helps you find jobs within your field, and understand your strengths.

You can try starting with a regular CV, which will most likely be kilometers long! As photographers, we have many different clients. Sometimes you do different types of photography according to the jobs you can get rather than your specialty. You may have dipped into survival jobs that are only vaguely related to photography but write them all down. Now start putting them into groups. For example, if you were hired to do your cousin’s wedding and the birthday party of your neighbor’s kid put them under Event Photography. If you photograph events of the bar next door for their Facebook page, put them under Social Networks Content, and so on.

From bullet points, turn this into a more in-depth text. Once you have that, it gets easier to tell a story – your story. Like any narrative, it has to be coherent, so make sure everything you put in there has a reason to be there. Leave out any day jobs you did to pay the bills that don’t fit into this career path. Finally, try to show evolution. How you’ve grown professionally and what you’ve learned from it.

Last thoughts

I hope you find these exercises as useful as I have. It’s not easy to evaluate yourself, and your work. Feel free to ask for someone else’s opinion regarding what you think is your style, as they might have seen something in your work that you missed. On the other hand, I recommend you don’t show the morning writings to anybody. If you know people will see them, you will start to curate and maybe even censor them. So, for that one just let go and enjoy!

The post Writing Exercises to Improve Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

6 Ways to Photograph People While Traveling

Wed, 01/23/2019 - 13:00

The post 6 Ways to Photograph People While Traveling appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

People are one of the most popular subjects for photography. Perhaps this is because they mean so much on a personal level. People can provide a positive experience to your travels and make engaging subjects for pictures. There are many different approaches for photographing people from formal portraits to more candid shots. Here are six ways you can photograph people when traveling:

Monks on their morning alms round, Luang Prabang, Laos © Jeremy Flint


1. People in action

Capturing action is an area in which photography excels above all other art forms. The camera’s ability to freeze dynamic movement is second-to-none. Fast shutter speeds bring successful action photography within easy reach of anyone. You can set the shutter speed according to your subject and its speed of motion.

Fisherman, Jaffna peninsula, Sri Lanka © Jeremy Flint

When people are busy doing an activity, they aren’t inhibited about being photographed because they are so involved with what they are doing. Shoot rapidly to capture people in action and be sure to set a faster shutter speed if shooting in low light.

2. Candid snaps

Cyclist, Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil, Jaffna, Sri Lanka © Jeremy Flint

You can define candid photography as ‘taking photos of people who are unaware that a photo has been taken of them.’ The main principle of candid photography is to capture people acting naturally. Whoever is the focus of your photograph while on your travels will be going about their day without interruption. They are not posed for the camera or performing with your notable presence.

© Jeremy Flint

The art of candid photography is similar to street photography where you are trying to take photos without being noticed by your subject. It is enjoyable to do while traveling when everything appears new and exciting.

You can capture people spontaneously from all backgrounds and different walks of life during your travels.

3. Using dramatic lighting

© Jeremy Flint

Lighting in people photography can be used to create different effects. Being adventurous with lighting when shooting a portrait can be very rewarding. A little work with positioning and framing is all that is required. Try lighting your subject from different angles and see which you prefer. Vary the poses and seek out different positions. Get in closer for more intimate and emphasized lighting.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with lighting. Use available light to help define your images and use a flash to lighten areas in darker conditions.

4. Characters in a scene

Kalmadu fishing village, Passekudah, Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka © Jeremy Flint

Many individuals find photographing people to be a daunting prospect at first. However, once you overcome your initial fears, it can be hugely rewarding. Outdoor spaces provide interesting places to capture informal shots of people. You can photograph people enjoying themselves or going about their business.

A long-lens with a zoom is a great way to hone in on characters in a scene if you are uncomfortable shooting from nearby. Capturing images from afar doesn’t distract the people in the picture or make them feel self-conscious about being in your photo.

5. Capturing the celebration

Naga Pooshani Amman Kovil temple, Nainativu, Jaffna, Sri Lanka © Jeremy Flint

The celebration of an event, the spirit of a festival or the jovial atmosphere of a party are relatively straight forward and captivating subjects to photograph. Most participants are likely to be involved in the company of their respective groups and are relaxed about having their picture taken.

Drummers at the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy, Sri Lanka © Jeremy Flint

Find a vantage point to capture the participants at an event and concentrate on capturing an unposed scene from an observers perspective. If you are photographing a party, enjoy the spectacle and photograph the people getting into the fun of it all.

6. Character-driven portraits

Portrait of Tea picker, St Clairs Falls, Nuwara Eliya District, Sri Lanka © Jeremy Flint

A person’s character is usually all that is needed to make a photograph striking or memorable. Whether this is a person’s face or distinct clothing, both present key elements that make up an individual’s appearance. Character-driven portraits provide an opportunity to capture features that are unique to the person.

Naga Pooshani Amman Kovil temple, Nainativu, Jaffna, Sri Lanka © Jeremy Flint

Often when you are traveling, you come across people you want to photograph. You may find some people are so full of character that you just have to photograph them. To overcome a person feeling awkward about having their picture taken, keep a distance, so they don’t look too tense or nervous.


Photographing people can be a hugely enjoyable experience. Capturing people through action, candid shots, interesting lighting, character-driven portraits, celebrations, and character-filled scenes will help improve your images. Get out there and take pictures of people during your travels using these tips and share your results with us below.

The post 6 Ways to Photograph People While Traveling appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Our Two Tamron Contest Winners Announced

Wed, 01/23/2019 - 08:00

The post Our Two Tamron Contest Winners Announced appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

The Winners of the Tamron 100-400mm (model A035), and a Tamron 45mm (model F013) lenses are…

A HUGE Thank You to everyone who entered our recent contest from our friends at Tamron. Again, this was not actually a photography competition, but so many of you shared your beautiful photographs. We encourage you all to go back and scroll the comments section for some wonderful photos and links to reader pages and sites.

Yet again, the response was AMAZING with thousands of shares and over 100 entries!

But now, onto the winners! Drum roll please…and the winners are:

Grand Prize

Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

The grand prize winner is: Andi S.

Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD Ultra Telephoto Zoom Lens – Value $799.
Winner’s choice of Canon or Nikon mount.

Second Prize

Tamron SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD

Second Prize Winner is: Shannan F.

Tamron SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD with Hi-Resolution and image stabilization – Value $599.
Winner’s choice of Canon, Nikon or Sony-A mount.


We were all thrilled with the entries. You tugged at our heartstrings, made us laugh, made us smile, but most importantly, you made us keep wanting to do more of what we are doing; providing you quality information and guidance to become a better photographer. We were so pleased to see that you came from every part of the world, young adults to grandparents, and everyone in between. Thank you all for your entries!

The winning entries

Here are the posts from the winners of the Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD, and Tamron SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD, respectively.

Andi – The zoom is EXACTLY what I need right now. My daughter, who has cerebral palsy, has been a swimmer since she was 7. I have always been able to get decent action shots indoors in dim lighting using either a 50mm or 85mm prime lens, but,,, She has been in development camp with US Paralympics coaches and decided this year to commit to swim because she wants to make the US Paralympic Team (and she has a shot – she became the first paraswimmer in state history to compete in breaststroke two weeks ago in our state’s high school swimming championships and will swim in the Canadian-American Paraswimming Championships and probably the World Para-swimming World Series in 2019). Because she is now swimming in much larger venues, I need a lens with better reach than the primes I’ve used in the past, but these venues also have better lighting so I can get away with an f4.5-6.3 and still get decent action shots.

Shannan – It would be DREAMY to win either of these fantastic lenses! A decade ago I learned about an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. My daughter had been given a fatal diagnosis and NILMDTS sent a photographer to the hospital to take photos of our sweet baby as she died. I cherish those photos and am so grateful to have them. I have been working toward volunteering as a photographer for NILMDTS and the 45mm F013 would be a go-to lens to give these families the photos that they will cherish as much as I do. Hospital rooms are tight, between the equipment, staff and families and I don’t have the space for a tripod. Tamron’s fantastic VC will help me offer tack sharp images of these sweet babies and the Ultrasonic Silent Drive will help me melt into the background so I don’t disturb the event.

Both lenses would be a great addition to my backpack as well! I love shooting nature and backpacking off trail on rugged terrain to capture the fog rolling in or a babbling brook. I have been putting off buying a telephoto lens for a while because every once counts when you are backpacking! But Tamron has made it accessible without losing quality. The VC and the moisture resistant construction are also a must. I sometimes leave the tripod at camp if I have to climb to a vista. The VC on the 100-400mm A035 is amazing and would allow me to leave that tripod back with more confidence. And, like I said, the moisture resistant construction will let me focus on the shot instead of bagging up!

Thank you for making quality glass and giving me the opportunity to get my hands on some!

Honorable Mentions

We had so many wonderful entries, we have chosen ten people to receive an “Honorable Mention” prize of the Living Landscapes eBook, by dPS. The ten winners are listed below:

* Marianne R.
* Jimmy D.
* Julianne H.
* Todd M.
* F. Tyler B.
* JoJo R.
* Paul B.
* Matt C.
* Chris
* Bill A.

We simply had to share this haiku comment, written by Pete M. Thank you. It made us smile.

Lovely lens; this Prize…
Tamron ZOOM best once again!
(Great Honor to win.)
– my 1st attempt at Haiku… that was fun.

Special offer for dPS readers

Now, for those of you that didn’t win, Tamron has invited ALL dPS readers to download their eBooks. You can find them here.

The winners will be emailed with details of how to collect their prizes.

Please make sure to look for our email. Thank you again for all the wonderful submissions and to Tamron for sponsoring this competition.

Tamron Rebates

For all of you residing in the USA, when you do purchase your next Tamron Lens, make sure to take advantage of the rebates* up to $100 off through March 2, 2019. Find additional information HERE!

*Current rebate offers end March 2, 2018. US RESIDENTS ONLY.

About Tamron

Disclaimer: Tamron is a paid partner of dPS.

The post Our Two Tamron Contest Winners Announced appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Review: Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5 – 6.3 DG OS HSM for Wildlife Photography

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 13:00

The post Review: Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5 – 6.3 DG OS HSM for Wildlife Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ian Johnson.

Out of the box I was impressed with the build quality and features (particularly the Arca Swiss foot) of this lens.

In 2019, Sigma is bringing a new lens to their line up. The 60-600mm f/4.5 – 6.3 DG OS HSM (available for Nikon and Canon) offers flexibility and quality as a portrait and super telephoto lens. The lens, optimized for DLSR cameras (DG), features optical stabilization (OS) and Sigma’s Hyper Sonic Motor technology (HSM). This review focuses on the applications, strengths, and weaknesses for wildlife photography. In short, I found the image sharpness, build quality, and versatility of the lens to be good. The lens may not be suitable for a full professional looking for amazing bokeh of an f/4 or f/2.8, but many will find its flexibility and image quality to be more than satisfactory. For the nitty-gritty details read the rest of this article and view my final rating below.

First impressions

Out of the box, this lens has a great feel. At a little under 6 pounds (2.7kg), the weight lets you know the majority of its construction is from metal. The only pieces of plastic were the hood and lens cover. The weight is not surprising considering they have to pack in the elements to give you a 60-600mm focal length. I was surprised at how short the total length of the lens was considering its impressive ability to have a 10x optical zoom.

Here, the lens is mounted to a Nikon D810, which I used to test the lens

Build quality

There are some features out of the box that I noticed and appreciated immediately. Aside from the plastic pinch-style lens cap, the lens came with a padded Velcro hood cover. It was a quick way to protect the camera’s front element and provide some padding while in the case. The foot of the lens had Arca Swiss mounts built in removing the need to purchase a 3rd party plate if you use Arca Swiss tripod mounts. The hood mounted to the camera with a sturdy set screw rather than a twisting-lock design like many lenses have. Last, all mounts were metal, and the front element was large with very nice looking glass.

The rear element of the camera has all metal mounts

The front element of the lens has very nice looking glass

Image Quality In the lab

To examine the sharpness of the lens I took a series of images at 60, 220, and 600 mm and throughout the range of apertures (wide open to closed) at each of the focal lengths. All images were taken from a tripod and in natural lighting. The images below are entirely unedited, and I have provided samples of a 2:1 crop at approximately the center edge of each image to examine sharpness. The captions of each image dive into my observations at each particular setting, but the trend was the same throughout the tests. Edges of images were soft up to about four f-stops over wide open. The lens had a predictable sweet spot between f/10 – f/16 where edge sharpness was excellent. Sharpness tapered off from f/16 to the maximum aperture.

At 60mm and wide open (f/4.5) there was noticeable softness in the edge of the image.

The sweet spot of the lens was at f/14 which provided sharp edges at 60mm.

When set at the smallest aperture there was some softness in the edge, but not nearly as much as shooting wide-open.

Set at wide open (f/5.6) and 220mm there was noticeable softness in the edges.

At 220mm, f/14 the edges were very sharp

While set at 220 mm and the smallest aperture (f/29) the edges were slightly soft, but not as soft as wide open.

At 600mm f/6.3 there was noticeable softness in the edges.

While at 600 mm the lens was sharpest at f/16

There was some softness in the image at 600mm and the smallest aperture (f/32)

I brought the lens into the field to make wildlife images and test out some of its qualities. I shot all of these photos and found them to be sharp and well stabilized. Sharpness would only improve with the use of a tripod. I will use the images to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the lens.

I began to appreciate the incredible versatility of the broad focal range in this lens while in the field. Zooming out to 60mm allowed me to shoot contextual shots and wildlife portraits without moving my feet. The images of these swans were taken back to back – one at 60mm and the other at 600mm. The group of swans was about 40yards (~40m) away. These images are uncropped and unedited and show how the lens is capable of contextual and portrait scenes.

This image of a Trumpeter Swan was captured at 600mm. I was able to isolate it from the group thanks to the super-telephoto lens.

This image of a group of Trumpeter Swans was taken at 60mm and are about 40 yards away. You can see the sleeping swan on the left side of the ice that I zoomed in on for the image above. This image really shows off how much range you have between 60 and 600mm!

I was surprised by how close I was able to focus on a subject. At 600mm I was able to focus on subjects about 6 feet away. This was a huge, huge benefit for getting near-to full frame shots of small birds. The minimum focusing distance was noticeably shorter than other telephotos I have shot. The image of this small Black-capped Chickadee I shot at 500mm at a distance of about 7 feet. It is uncropped.

This Black-Capped Chickadee was perched about 7 feet away, and I was impressed that I was able to focus on it being that close.

As expected with a larger minimum f-stop (f/6.3 at 600mm) it was more difficult to get amazing bokeh and subject separation. To achieve the lens sweet spot it was necessary to shoot at an aperture between f/8 – f/14. Shooting at the sweet spot resulted in background elements being more noticeable. Even at 600mm and f/6.3, it was challenging to get subject separation. When photographing small birds, this often meant distracting sticks were left relatively in focus in the shot. Although I did not shoot in twilight conditions, it would be difficult to stop moving wildlife because of slow shutter speeds related to the minimum aperture.

This image was taken with the lens at 600mm, f/6.3. The relatively large minimum aperture left sticks in the background of the image.

600mm is a great reach, but what if you want to go even further? I used the internal 2x (DX) crop of my Nikon D810 to double the focal length for some shots. Even though I was effectively shooting at 1,200mm handheld, the optical stabilization (OS) system in the lens allowed me to shoot clean and sharp shots. I did not test this lens with any telephoto converters.

This timid Trumpeter Swan was shot using the DX crop built into my camera at an effective focal length of 1,200 mm. I was happy with the OS of the lens.

Focus, accuracy, speed

You may have noticed by now I was shooting in winter conditions while testing this lens. Even though temperatures were between 15-30F (-9 to -1degrees), the autofocus remained fast and quiet thanks to the HSM technology. I was impressed with the speed of the autofocus system in capturing moving birds.

I relied on the fast autofocus of the lens to lock onto this passing flock of Trumpeter Swans. This image was taken at 280mm and is uncropped.

Shots from the field

Here are a series of shots that I made with the Sigma 60-600 during my trials. Although I’m not using these to illustrate a specific point, I think the portfolio below can help you make your own deductions on what this lens can achieve and whether it is a good fit for you.

A Trumpeter Swan swims in an open lead of water during a bright sunset.

Two White-tailed Deer observe their surroundings before moving through a tallgrass prairie.

A White-tailed Deer walked through tall prairie grass in a native prairie restoration project.

A Trumpeter Swan stands on the ice after preening itself.

A White-breasted Nuthatch shows off its neck geometry.

A wild Turkey struts across a field of snow.

A Downy Woodpecker extracts a sunflower seed from a drooping head.

Pros and Cons Pros:
  • Good OS for shooting handheld
  • Incredible versatility from 60-600mm
  • Can replace a couple lenses in your kit for traveling efficiency
  • Excellent build quality and Arca Swiss plate as a default
  • Sacrifice bokeh due to relatively large minimum f-stops
  • Edge sharpness is pretty soft at open apertures
  • It is heavy for its size and relative to comparable lenses
The bottom line, final rating and product value

Overall I was impressed with this lens for its versatility. I think there is a lot of appeal in having one lens that can “do it all”. However, fully professional photographers may shy away from the lens because of its minimum aperture and resulting depth of field. This lens sells for US$1,999 dollars. This value delivers a very nice lens with good capability. My overall rating: 8.5 out of 10.

The post Review: Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5 – 6.3 DG OS HSM for Wildlife Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ian Johnson.

13 Inspiring Street Photography Images

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 08:00

The post 13 Inspiring Street Photography Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Street Photography is a great way to see what goes on around us day-to-day.

Check out these inspiring street photography images from some fantastic instagram photographers.



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A post shared by Manuel Pena (@manolobrown) on Dec 14, 2018 at 3:55am PST


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A post shared by Julia Coddington (@juliacoddington) on Dec 3, 2018 at 2:15am PST


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A post shared by J?SE (@jaseography) on Dec 22, 2018 at 10:50am PST


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A post shared by Jeremy Perez-Cruz (@sleepingplanes) on Jan 6, 2019 at 8:18am PST


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A post shared by Pedro Cantizani (@pedrocantizani) on Dec 26, 2018 at 6:52am PST


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A post shared by Michelle Viljoen (@mich_viljoen) on Jan 6, 2019 at 10:32am PST


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A post shared by Ken Walton (@kenwalton) on Dec 3, 2018 at 9:42am PST


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A post shared by B??????|Setty McIntosh (@blacren) on Jan 12, 2019 at 11:47am PST


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A post shared by Vicki Windman (@vbarn106) on Dec 31, 2018 at 9:12pm PST


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A post shared by Sigit Zero (@sigitzero) on Sep 19, 2018 at 8:11pm PDT


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A post shared by Eduardo Otuc (@eduardowl_) on Dec 26, 2018 at 6:21pm PST


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A post shared by M. naqsa (@naqsa16) on Jan 11, 2019 at 4:31am PST


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A post shared by Sigit Zero (@sigitzero) on Jul 18, 2018 at 11:25pm PDT

Feature image: Guilherme Romano

The post 13 Inspiring Street Photography Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Go With The Flow – Using Slow Shutter Speed to Create Motion Blur

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 13:00

The post Go With The Flow – Using Slow Shutter Speed to Create Motion Blur appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Starting out as a photography assistant in a daily newspaper, I had one thing drummed into me. Make sure it’s sharp. This was the cardinal rule. It was appropriate for the situation.

Any kind of unintentional fuzziness, especially when it renders the subject indistinct, looks awful when printed on newsprint.

Adding motion blur, or any other form of blur, in a photograph can work extremely well when circumstances are right.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 8 seconds

Two main techniques for creating motion blur in a photo are subject movement and camera movement.

Times when adding motion blur is the right choice

Deciding to add motion blur is best when:

  • Some parts of the composition remain sharp
  • The light is favorable
  • You find the shutter speed sweet spot
  • You have a means of stabilizing your camera

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/20th of a second.

Adding some flash can at times truly enhance a photo made with a slow shutter speed. I find this works best when you sync your flash with the rear shutter closing.

Keeping some of it sharp

Using a slow shutter speed to create motion blur, I find it’s best to ensure that some parts of your composition remain sharp. Whether you are moving your camera or your subject is in motion, your results will be stronger when not all the composition is blurred.

Using a slow shutter speed and moving your camera in relation to a moving subject, is known as panning. This will keep your subject sharp and the background will blur. Getting a perfectly sharp subject while panning is challenging because it requires the camera to be moving in sync with how fast the subject is.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/25th of a second.

Having your camera locked down while your subject or the background move you will have a better chance to render your subject sharp.

Getting the exposure when the light is right

Bright sunny days make it challenging to capture motion blur in a photograph. You need to use a slow shutter speed for the effect to happen. Setting your aperture to the smallest opening and your ISO as low is it can go will not always allow you to use a slow enough shutter speed.

Using a neutral density filter in bright sunshine will make a slower shutter speed possible. At times I have coupled a neutral density filter with a polarizing filter to cut the light entering the lens even more.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/4th of a second.

In this photo I had my friend stand very still to achieve motion blur in the people walking behind her. Being such a bright sunny day meant that even with my aperture set to the minimum opening of f/11. My ISO was set at one hundred and still did not allow me to use a slow enough shutter speed. I attached a four-stop neutral density filter and a polarizing filter so I could set my shutter speed to 1/4th of a second to capture the motion blur.

At night and in other low light situations achieving a slow enough shutter speed is simple.

Finding the sweet spot for optimal blur

Choosing a shutter speed setting appropriate to the pace of movement in your composition is important. Having too much or not enough motion blur will give you a poor result. This varies greatly depending on your subject and the style of photograph you are creating.

Photographing waterfalls, people walking or traffic at night, all require different shutter speeds for best results. Generally, slower moving elements in your composition need slower shutter speeds. Things moving more quickly need faster shutter speed or there will be too much motion blur. It also depends on how much definition you want to retain in whatever is moving.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 20 seconds.

Flowing water, like in this waterfall, can be completely blurred. In fact, waterfall photos usually look best when a shutter speed of more than two seconds is used. I used a twenty-second exposure for this photo and there’s absolutely no definition in the water. It is still obvious what it is though.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/10th of a second.

Keeping the motion blur balanced is more important with some subjects. For this photo of people on a sidewalk in Bangkok, I chose a shutter speed of 1/10th of a second. A slower shutter speed would mean more blur and less definition. A fast speed would show less blur and may just look like it was a mistake. I was happy to capture an image where the people walking are blurred yet their feet are reasonably sharp. The young woman modeling for me was very patient as it took quite a while to make a composition with the right number of pedestrians in my frame.

Experimentation is key to finding the sweet spot with your shutter speed. You need to decide how clear or how blurred you want your subject and other elements in your composition.

Camera stability is important

You can use a slow shutter speed even if you do not have a tripod. Learn to hold your camera well and be in control of it. I do not often carry a tripod so am forced to use alternative means of preventing unwanted camera movement. Unintentional camera movement creates ghosting which introduces extra fuzziness to photos.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/20th of a second.

Hand holding a camera while panning can be preferable for some more than using a tripod. Keeping a steady movement along with your subject is what’s most important. If you are panning with a passing vehicle you do not want to be jiggling your camera up and down as you track your subject.

Finding a firm surface to place your camera can be a good substitute when you don’t have a tripod. You may need to place something under the lens so your angle of view is level. I find my mobile phone or wallet often come in handy for this.

Using a tripod does make things more straightforward when using a slow shutter speed. With a tripod, you have more stability and often more control of your angle of view.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1/4th of a second.

Introducing rear curtain synchronized flash

Many cameras give you an option to synchronize the flash so it fires just before the shutter closes. Doing this combined with a slow shutter speed and movement produces interesting effects.

As the flash is triggered near the end of the exposure it looks like the movement is partially frozen. Using a very slow shutter speed when there’s fast movement your subject may appear semi-transparent.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 4 seconds.

I used a four-second exposure for this photo of a tricycle taxi in Chiang Mai. You can see the ghosted image of two people just above the handlebars of the cycle. They were riding past on a motorbike just at the end of the exposure as my flash fired.


Photographing movement using long exposures it pays to give yourself plenty of time to experiment and take lots of photos. Varying your shutter speed. Choose a faster or slower speed with the same subject. This can create vastly different looking photos.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan. Shutter speed: 1.6 seconds.

If you’ve never often used a slow shutter speed, begin to explore the possibilities. If you’ve had some experience, try some new angle or subject. Please share your photos and comments below.

The post Go With The Flow – Using Slow Shutter Speed to Create Motion Blur appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.