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Updated: 10 hours 38 min ago

5 Scenarios Where You Should Use Luminosity Masks

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 15:00

The post 5 Scenarios Where You Should Use Luminosity Masks appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Christian Hoiberg.

The world of post-processing is a big world with endless possibilities. Every photographer applies photo editing tools in their own way, and we all have different purposes of what we want to convey through our photography. For me, post-processing is a way to overcome certain limitations found within the camera and to better represent what I experienced in the field. For this purpose, I use both Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.

I used Luminosity Masks to selectively process this image

While I do most of the work in Lightroom, there are several techniques I apply that can only be done in Photoshop. Some of these techniques are quite popular, while other techniques are the result of spending too many hours playing around and trying various things. The one thing I often notice when viewing images from aspiring photographers, or when talking post-processing with my workshop clients, is that every effect is applied globally. I believe that is a BIG mistake.

Certain effects should only be applied to specific parts of an image. That’s where Layers and Masks in Photoshop come in handy. However, I like to make my selections more accurate than just painting with a black/white brush on a Layer Mask, which is why Luminosity Masks have become an important part of my workflow. I’m not going to get into what they are and how to create them in this article. If you don’t know how to create them, I suggest you read this article first so that what I discuss in this article makes sense to you. I will be covering 5 scenarios where you should use Luminosity Masks.

1. Use Luminosity Masks to apply contrast

Let’s step out of Photoshop and into the Lightroom RAW editor for a moment to take a look at what happens when you increase the contrast slider:

Pulling Lightroom’s Contrast slider to the right brightens the brights and darken the darks, without taking into consideration how dark the darks are and how bright the brights are. That will quite often result in shadows becoming pure black and the brightest highlights becoming pure white. Yes, you can avoid this by adjusting the slider more gently or playing with the Highlights/Shadows sliders (which I often do in addition). However, there’s another way that’s even better: apply contrast using a Luminosity Mask.

I’ve already applied contrast and made basic raw adjustments when opening this file in Photoshop. So when I now keep working with the contrast, I don’t want to affect the brightest highlights or the darkest shadows. That means that I only want to apply contrast to the midtones. This is easily achieved in Photoshop by creating a Midtones Luminosity Mask (I often go for Midtones 2, but make sure to create the other masks as well) and applying it to the Curves Layer Mask (you can also use a Levels or Contrast Adjustment Layer):

The Midtones 2 Luminosity Mask applied to the Curves Layer Mask

Looking at the mask above, we can see that we’re not affecting the darker parts of the image when adjusting the contrast. The effect will also be less visible in the brightest parts. If you’re not quite sure what you’re looking at above, remember this phrase when talking about Layer Masks: White Reveals, Black Conceals.

2. Selectively work on color balance

The second adjustment that should be done through a Luminosity Mask is Color Balance. Globally working with color will often result in strong color casts.

Let’s say that you want to cool down the shadows of an image by using a Color Balance Adjustment Layer. The common method would be to set the color balance tone to Shadows and pull the cyan slider to the left and the blue slider to the right, such as this:

Doing this simple adjustment has given a nice cold color cast to the shadows but, unfortunately, it’s affected more than just the darker parts of the image. Also, less dark areas (areas which are not considered bright), have been affected more than I wanted. Even the highlights seem slightly faded.

If I make this exact same adjustment through a Darks 3 Luminosity Mask, the result is quite different:

Notice that the colder color cast has been applied to the darkest parts of the image, which is what I initially aimed for. The midtones and highlights are entirely left alone and remain the same as they did before applying the adjustment.

3. Darken a bright sky with Luminosity Masks

Another good use of Luminosity Masks is to darken a too bright sky (in this scenario, it’s important that there’s still information to be pulled out of the bright parts). A quick look at the RAW file below shows us that the left side sky is slightly too bright. I still want it to be brighter than the right since the sun sits just left of the frame. However, I want to get some of the details back from the overly bright areas.

Using a Curves Layer Adjustment without a mask will affect other parts of the image too. So, again, let’s do it through a Luminosity Mask. The Brights 4 mask seemed best for this particular image:

Remember, only the white parts of the mask will be affected by the adjustment. As you see above, that means that the majority of the image won’t be affected whatsoever.

With the Brights 4 Luminosity Mask selected, create a Curves Adjustment Layer and darken by pulling the middle part of the line downwards. We’ve now successfully darkened the bright sky:

4. Blend multiple images using Luminosity Masks

Digital cameras have had a great boost in improvement in a short time, but there’s still one thing that they struggle to do: capture the full dynamic range when working with bright skies and dark foregrounds. This certainly is something camera manufacturers are working on. I’m blown away by how far its come, but it’s still not good enough for many of the scenarios landscape photographers work in.

The workaround is to capture multiple exposures of the same frame with different shutter speeds. Typically, you capture one dark, one base, and one bright image. You then blend these images in post-processing where both the foreground and sky is correctly exposed.

There are a million ways to do this, but one of the most accurate is to use Luminosity Masks in Photoshop. It might sound advanced, but let me show you just how easy it is.

Let’s say we want to blend these two images to get back the lost information in the blown out sky. (To keep this simple, I only blend two exposures here. But, I strongly recommend the 3rd exposure as well to use in the brightest part):

I prefer to have the bright layer on the top and paint in the darker exposure, but either way is perfectly fine. If you prefer having the dark exposure on the top, just do the opposite of what I explain in the next few steps.

Here’s how you easily blend the images using Luminosity Masks:

  1. Place the bright exposure on the top
  2. Align the layers to avoid ghosting (select both layers and go to Edit -> Auto-Align Layers)
  3. Add a white Layer Mask to the top layer
  4. Create a Brights Luminosity Mask (the exact mask depends on the image. I used Brights 3 for this example)
  5. Use a black brush at 0% hardness and 50% opacity and brush repeatedly on the areas where you want to reveal the darker exposure. Repeat until you’ve got a smooth blend.

That’s it! Not to hard right? In a matter of minutes I was able to blend the two images above into this:

As mentioned, this image still needs one darker exposure to be painted back into the brightest area close to the suns’ position. This is quite easy, and all you need to do is have another darker layer at the bottom and use a more restricted Brights mask on the middle layer to reveal it.

5. To apply Glow Effects

The final adjustment I strongly recommend doing selectively rather than globally is any glow effect. There’s no need to add a strong Orton Effect to the shadows of a picture, right?

There are two “guidelines” that I follow when creating a glow effect:

  1. Never apply it to the closest foreground (keep the foreground sharp)
  2. Avoid adding too much to the shadows

Since there might be highlights in the foreground, I’m going to combine a Luminosity Mask and free painting on the mask in this scenario. Again, this is quite easy and you can achieve it by following a few quick steps:

  1. Create a glow effect on a new layer
  2. Create a wide Brights mask and apply it onto the layer
  3. Grab a soft black brush at a medium opacity and remove the adjustment from the immediate foreground by painting directly onto the layer mask

By following these simple steps we have added a nice soft glow to the highlights of the image.

The point of adding a glow effect, in my opinion, is not to make the entire image look soft and hazy but to add a little extra depth and atmosphere. I have achieved this by selectively applying it.

What next?

These are just a few adjustments that I recommend applying through a Luminosity Mask. They have become an essential part of my processing workflow during the past several years. I use them in one or another way for the majority of my images. Sometimes I apply to sharpen through them, other times contrast. There really are endless opportunities.

 

The post 5 Scenarios Where You Should Use Luminosity Masks appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Christian Hoiberg.

Tips for Creating Better Documentary Travel Photos

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 10:00

The post Tips for Creating Better Documentary Travel Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Good documentaries tell a story, often with the help of a narrator. To add interest to your travel photos you can employ the same techniques.

Showing your family and friends endless pictures of your recent adventures may seem exciting to you. You were there. You had the experience. They didn’t. If you want them to sit through your latest travel slideshow, you need to make it interesting.

I had a lovely conversation with this man. He and his wife come to sell vegetables at their market stall each day. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Here are some tips on how to add more interest to your photos and create better documentary travel photos.

Tell a story with your photographs

Planning your trip took time and effort. Deciding where you wanted to go, what you wanted to see and how long you would stay. Why not include your photography in the planning stage as well?

Think about why you’re going and what you’ll be doing. How can you turn this into a story? Think about adding a connecting thread of what interests and attracts you most to each location you’ll visit.

Make a list of some themes you can follow. Each day you are traveling, check your list and make sure to include some of the items in your photos.

You might want to photograph:

  • specific architectural aspects
  • local artists working
  • old people’s faces
  • coffee shops
  • street signs
  • advertising hoardings.

Consider what’s most relevant to the places you’ll go. Which of these interest you the most and will make the best photo opportunities. Plan to spend more time at these locations.

Many tourists choose to rent bicycles for sightseeing in Chiang Mai because the city is mostly flat. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Get the whole picture

One trick I learned when starting out in video production was to always capture wide, medium and close-up angles. This allows for more flexibility to build up the whole picture when editing. The same works when creating documentary travel photography.

I often encourage our travel photography workshop participant to imagine they are working for a magazine. They need to produce a series of images for their editor to show the essence of each place they visit.

Only capturing wide or close-up details is not going to build a complete picture.

Close up of large red chilies. The larger the chilly, the milder it is. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

You need to get in close. Show the texture and patterns.

Muang Mai Market in Chiang Mai is the biggest and busiest food market in northern Thailand. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

You need to stand back to encompass the whole scene.

Owners of small shops, restaurants, and household shoppers all come to buy produce at Muang Mai market. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

You need to come in tighter and capture what’s happening at that place.

Include your travel companions

Traveling with other photographers usually makes life easier. You can take your time rather than being hurried along by someone taking snapshots with their phone.

One way to make the most of your time with non-photographer travel companions is to include them in your photos. Make them part of your story.

I don’t mean for you to just take cheesy social-media-styled pictures of your partner. Put them in the story. Show what you’re doing and the interesting aspects of the places you visit. Having the people you’re traveling with in some of your photos makes them more personal.

Including them in some activity helps tell the story. Photograph them ordering meals or coffee. Take pictures of them boarding the boat or rickshaw. Make photos about what you are doing together, not only of what you are looking at.

My wife and I enjoyed meeting the locals at Pompee village when we traveled to Myanmar. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Take time out

If including your travel companions is not possible, take time out for photography. Arrange time each day to spend time with your camera with no other objective.

Rushing from place to place without taking the time to engage in your photography story is frustrating. Give yourself permission to enjoy using your camera.

This may mean having to wake up earlier than others you’re traveling with. It might be ducking out of the restaurant while you’re waiting for your lunch or dinner to be prepared. You will find it’s worth it because you will get better photographs when you can take your time.

This ornate temple complex on the outskirts of Chiang Mai includes examples of Lanna and Shan temple architecture. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Book a photography workshop

Many popular travel destinations offer opportunities for travel photography workshops or photo tours.

Investing in either of these will undoubtedly mean you will come away with better photos. You’ll be experiencing the location with a photographer who knows it more intimately. They will be able to take you to the most interesting places at the best times for photos.

Taking a photography workshop you’ll also learn some new skills. Being on vacation is a great time to learn because you can put into practice what you learn immediately.

A good travel photography workshop will incorporate teaching camera and photography skills. You’ll also learn local cultural information which will improve your photography experience.

Kevin Landwer-Johan teaching a photography workshop in Chiang Mai, Thailand. © Pansa Landwer-Johan

Take more photos and edit them

Take more photos than you think you need to. Then choose the best.

Don’t go crazy and make snapshots of everything you see. A good subject does not make a good photograph. You don’t want to return home with hundreds of photos you could have made with your phone.

When you find something interesting to photograph, look at it from different angles. Consider how it will look from different points of view. Walk around and make a series of photos. Wide, medium and close up of the same subject.

Taking time to do this will mean you have more to work with to help tell your story. If you’re not taking enough photos, you may regret it later when you see gaps in your narrative.

Weeding out the rubbish photos and only showing the best ones is important. No one will want to look through all the photos you take. Be discerning and be selective about which ones you choose to share. This will help you in taking better photos next time you travel too.

Tuk-tuks are an iconic part of Chiang Mai’s public transport. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Caption your photographs

Captioning your photographs is like adding a narrative to your story.

Include details of the location and maybe the time of day when it’s relevant. Think about how you can add information which will enhance your photograph. Don’t always include the obvious. You don’t need to describe what can already be seen.

A caption may be a few words or several sentences. Your caption should be succinct and informative. Don’t waffle or include irrelevant information. Use your captions to support your photos and enhance your story.

I found an alternative point of view to take this photo of a tuk-tuk. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Conclusion

Vacation travel is usually exciting. You see and experience new and interesting things more frequently than when you’re at home. This trends for more interesting photographs.

You want to put together a documentary travel photography story that will not put your family and friends to sleep. Tell your story well and you’ll inspire them to travel too.

 

The post Tips for Creating Better Documentary Travel Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

6 Ways to Make Your Photography Stand Out

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 15:00

The post 6 Ways to Make Your Photography Stand Out appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

When was the last time you googled your city and your genre photographer? I tried this the other day, and I used ‘Chicago lifestyle’ and ‘travel photographer.’ The search results returned 18.5K results. Yes, that is ‘K’ as in thousands.

Photography is an extremely competitive field and it can be difficult to make your photography stand out. Low cost of entry in terms of gear, free online tutorials and a pool of clients who want everything for ‘free’ or ‘low budget’ means there is work for anyone who wants to get into the field. Sure, some genres are harder to get into than others, perhaps. But the reality is that if you want to get paid to take photos for someone else, chances are you will be able to do that relatively easily.

Now, I am not against any of this. We all start somewhere, and I had also done the ‘free’ photoshoot when I was starting to get my feet wet. I understand all that is needed to become a photographer.

But I quickly learned that the $50 or $100 photoshoots are not worth my time, effort, and talent. As a photographer, there are many expenses such as:

  • gear insurance
  • business registration
  • taxes
  • administrative overheads including website domain name and hosting
  • travel costs etc.,

I was effectively paying people to let me take their photo.

That math did not add up and made no sense what so ever.

If you want to make it long term in the photography industry, there are several things you need to do to get yourself on the right track and stand out from the rest of the crowd when it comes to your skill, your business practices and your presence – on and offline!

1. Consistency

Don’t be a one-hit wonder. Consistently create and produce new work. Even if that work is just for you, personal projects or collaborative projects.

If you have to do ‘free’ or ‘low budget’ shoots, have a plan on when, how, and what you are going to get and give from these shoots. Spending 6 months providing free shoots or low-cost shoots to build up your portfolio is okay, but taking 2 years to do so is a bit much.

Also, realize that free/low-cost shoots tend to look very different from clients who are willing to spend $1000 or more on a family photo shoot. So be practical with your goals.

It took me years of practice to find a style that I liked and that worked with my personal asthetic – a clean, bright style of imagery.

2. Authenticity

A lot of photographers offer styled photo shoots and portfolio-building photoshoots. This is where a bunch of photographers walk through a styled setup and create work that they can showcase on their portfolio. There is nothing wrong with this but only if you use this as a way to build your skill.

For example, you are editing clients of different skin tones, learning how to photograph in challenging light or how to pose and interact with clients. Don’t use these images as ‘your’ work. You are better off indicating images from a styled shoot as such than you are in showcasing work/styling that isnt your own.

I love 1:1 styled shoot because they give me creative freedom and a chance to create unique images.

Instead of consistently looking for styled shoots for building a portfolio, invest in one of your own. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy. Loop in a few vendors and see if you can set something up that can fit your brand and theirs. This is a win-win for all involved. That way, you create unique images and also make friends in the industry.

3. Play well with others in this space

This relates to number 2. Make friends in the industry. I belong to many FB groups and Whatsapp groups for creatives and photographers. We meet, chat, connect over business issues as well as offer advice and help as needed. I also am a part of a group with many different kinds of entrepreneurs to build a community of like-minded people and professionals. I have gotten a lot of business from these groups but have also made some life long friends and mentors. People who are always there for me because I am always there for them.

A collaborative photoshoot with a fellow photographer to create portfolio and editorial photos. The image is a triple exposure on film.

No matter what level of business you are at or even if you are just a hobbyist, there are always people who are just like you and are looking for the same things as you – friendship, love for photography and camaraderie. Give out as much as you can, be helpful and uplift others who are on this journey with you. The more you put out there, the more you will receive from the universe.

4. Patience is key

Photography is a very competitive industry. At any given point in time, there are bound to be people who can do something better than you. And that is totally okay. Know where your strengths lie and use those to your advantage. Aim to be in it for the long haul and not just the short term gigs that are one and done deals. Build relationships with your clients so that they will refer you and come back time and time again for quality results.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. Be consistent and be patient, and things will happen in their own time.

5. Success your way

Whether you choose to be in business or not, be true to your art. Get inspiration from other photographers and daily life. There are many amazing things around us at any given point in time. Just because no-one else photographs it, does not make it boring. Similarly, think outside the box. Just because everyone photographs something a certain way, does not mean you have to follow the pack.

When you are starting out, don’t obsess over clients, getting work, and making money. Yes, they are absolutely important but take the time to perfect your art (to the point where you are confident charging money for your photography). Then, money and fame will follow.

6. Have a 360 approach to your career

When I used to work in Corporate America many many years ago, one of the companies I worked for had a 360-degree approach to annual performance evaluation. My performance was judged by how effective I was in four areas: my peers in my team and across teams, my managers, and those who worked for me. Apply this approach to your photography. No matter where you are committed to helping those just starting out, collaborate with your peers, learn from those who are where you want to be. This can be in terms of meetups, workshops, and conferences or even just meeting for a cup of coffee to connect with others.

I started teaching technique at conferences and love meeting and connecting with other photographers who have become good friends.

Your photography career and mindset around your work and your art will grow in leaps and bounds when you have a mindset of abundance instead of scarcity.

Conclusion

If you have read through this article in its entirety, you would have noticed that I talked nothing about camera brands, lens, lighting, models, posing etc.

In my opinion, the tips for making your photography stand out from the crowd focus on things that are more important. Your attitude towards yourself and others, your mindset, your willingness to get help and help others, and your long term vision for where you want to be, are far more important than your skill with the camera. After all, almost anyone can take a picture – simply point and shoot. It takes a lot more to become a successful photographer who consistently creates art.

 

The post 6 Ways to Make Your Photography Stand Out appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

The 7 Nature Photography Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 10:00

The post The 7 Nature Photography Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you like to do nature photography?

Then you might be making these 7 mistakes.

And here’s the thing:

These nature photography mistakes are the kind that you don’t even know you’re making. They’re the type of mistakes that are easy to miss, but they’re absolutely critical to your photography.

To discover these mistakes (and to ensure you never make them again!), read on!

1. Shooting under bad lighting

I’m going to start with the single most critical, most common mistake I see nature photographers making:

Shooting in poor lighting conditions.

Because good light is absolutely essential to good nature photography.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that without good light, you cannot get a good photo. It’s so easy to have the perfect setup, the perfect composition, and the perfect settings…

…only to ruin the shot with bad light.

So what counts as bad light?

Two main situations.

First, shooting under the harsh, midday sun will pretty much always ruin your shots. The midday sun just isn’t good for nature photography!

And second, shooting in low light, at any time of the day. Unless you’re shooting with a tripod, your shots will end up grainy or blurry, which you definitely don’t want.

Which begs the question:

What is good light?

I recommend that you do nature photography at two main times.

First, you can capture some great nature photography under cloudy skies. Cloudy light is especially great for photography that involves color because the clouds diffuse the light and saturate the colors.

Second, you can always rely on the golden hours, which are the two hours after sunrise and before sunset. Golden-hour light is warm, wonderful and, well, golden. It’s perfect for capturing that stunning, once-in-a-lifetime shot.

In fact, most of the best nature photography you’ve seen was probably taken during golden hour. It’s just that amazing!

2. Shooting your subject from a standing height

Here’s another common nature photography mistake:

Not paying attention to your angle!

(More specifically, photographing from a standing height, so that you’re shooting down toward your subject.)

This is especially problematic in wildlife and macro photography, where shooting downward conveys a sense of dominance and separation.

Instead of shooting downward, try to get on a level with your subject. That way, the viewer will feel much more connected, like they’re in the same world as your subject.

And don’t just shoot from a single angle. Try to experiment with different possibilities, and take note of the way a different angle results in a different nature photo.

This is a great way to get out of a creative rut: Force yourself to shoot a subject from an angle you’ve never used before. Get on the ground and shoot upward!

3. Using a (slightly) messy background

In nature photography, the background is absolutely essential.

If you don’t include the perfect background, then your photos just won’t stun the viewer.

And one of the easiest mistakes to make is using a messy background.

You’ve got to do everything you can to avoid the mess. You must avoid chaos. Instead, you need to produce a background that’s as simple as possible:

  • Uniform in color
  • No additional subjects
  • No lines or shapes

Your goal is to make your subject stand out. And to do that, you have to eliminate everything that’s unnecessary in the background. Only include the essentials.

4. Photographing low-quality subjects

Once you’ve found a subject…

…do you check to make sure that it’s not damaged, dirty, or poor quality?

It’s so easy to forget this step. And yet it’s critical to capturing a stunning nature photo.

I recommend you always do a quick evaluation of your subject.

If it’s a flower, then you’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Are there any blemishes or holes?
  • Are there any spots of dirt or mud?
  • Are there any insects in the center of the flower?

If it’s a landscape, then think about:

  • Whether there’s any litter or human-made items
  • Whether your foreground subject is damaged

Your evaluation doesn’t need to be in-depth. You should just spend enough time to be certain your subject is in good shape.

5. Not including a point of focus in your compositions

This is another quick way to ruin a great nature photo.

Because basically, every composition must have a point of focus.

By this, I mean that you must include a subject. Something that viewers can latch onto. The subject can be whatever you like (as long as it’s there!).

If you’re shooting landscapes, then try to include a subject in both the foreground and the background. Ideally, the foreground subject will lead the eye to the background.

If you’re shooting wildlife, then your subject is pretty much guaranteed. Just make sure that you emphasize the wildlife in your photo!

And if you’re shooting macro photos, then make sure that an aspect of your subject is tack-sharp, so that your viewer’s eyes go straight to it.

6. Shooting low-contrast scenes

This mistake is a bit more advanced, but still important to keep in mind.

When you’re doing nature photography, you should strive to avoid ultra-low contrast scenes.

By ‘low-contrast scenes,’ I’m referring to those with very little variation in tone (that is, lights and darks) and color.

A low-contrast scene might be almost entirely white.

Or it might be entirely red, or blue, or black.

What’s the problem with low-contrast scenes?

The lack of contrast makes every element blend in. So no single element stands out, and the photo becomes boring.

Which is exactly what you want to avoid.

Instead, look for scenes where the subject pops off the background. And look for scenes where you have some nice shadows and nice highlights.

I should note: It is possible to use low-contrast scenes for an artistic effect. But you have to do it deliberately, and it’s extremely easy to mess it up.

So I recommend you stick to high-contrast scenes. That’s how you’ll avoid low-contrast issues!

7. Not post-processing your nature photos

There are three fundamental aspects of every nature photo. They are:

  1. Light
  2. Composition
  3. Post-Processing

If you can nail all three of these things, then you’re set. Your photos will be stunning. And we’ve already talked about light, and how you should shoot during the golden hours. We’ve already talked about composition, and how you must include a point of focus.

But we haven’t talked about post-processing. And here’s the thing:

Without post-processing, your nature photos just won’t stand out. Because editing is what adds that finishing touch, that last bit of shine, to your nature photography.

Now, you don’t have to do much editing. But there are a few things I recommend you do to every photo:

  1. Check the exposure. It’s especially common to let your photos remain underexposed. So make sure that the shadows in your photo still look nice and detailed.
  2. Check the contrast. In general, I recommend boosting the contrast of your nature photos. This gives an extra bit of punch and will help your images stand out.
  3. Check the saturation. While it’s easy to overdo this step, a little bit of saturation goes a long way. You want your colors to look deep, but natural.

If you can just follow these three steps, then your nature photography will look so much better.

Nature photography mistakes: conclusion

Now you should know all about these seven deadly nature photography mistakes.

And you’re prepared to avoid them!

The key is to just keep a lookout. Maybe even create a checklist.

Then, when you’re shooting in the field, you’ll make sure that none of these happens, and your photography will turn out better than ever.

Have any nature photography mistakes that I didn’t discuss? Share them in the comments!

 

The post The 7 Nature Photography Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Nikon Releasing 900 Dollar Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera?

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 15:00

The post Nikon Releasing 900 Dollar Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

According to Nikkei, Nikon plans to release a mirrorless camera before the 2019 fiscal year is out.

And it’ll likely be a budget option, one that comes in at about half the price of the Nikon Z6.

Here’s the direct (translated) quote from Nikkei:

Nikon will introduce a new mid-price mirrorless camera product in fiscal 2019. The same interchangeable lens can be used in the product that corresponds to a sister model such as the high-end model “Z7” launched by the company in the autumn of [2018]. It is expected that the price will be in the 100,000 yen range, which is easier for the general consumer to pick up than the leading 200,000 to 400,000 yen model. The aim is to develop the demand of users other than existing enthusiasts.

Regarding price: 100,000 yen falls around 900 dollars, which would be a dramatic reduction in price compared to the Z7 and even the Z6, Nikon’s two current full-frame mirrorless models.

A 900 dollar full-frame mirrorless option would likely be welcomed by those DSLR shooters who just can’t afford the current Nikon mirrorless prices, but are looking for something lighter than their current DSLR setup.

But we also have to ask:

What Z-level features will Nikon leave behind in order to cut costs?

First of all, we can’t be sure the new mirrorless option is full frame. The original report doesn’t say this outright. But the claim that the new product “corresponds to a sister model such as the high-end model ‘Z7′” suggests the new camera won’t be fundamentally different. And an APS-C Z mirrorless body would be fundamentally different.

But even if the camera is full frame, other important features might be dropped.

For instance, might we see the loss of an EVF? Personally, I would see this as deeply frustrating. Mirrorless EVFs are one of the strengths of mirrorless systems. I wouldn’t like to see it go.

What do you think? What will this new mirrorless camera be like?

And would you be interested in purchasing it?

The post Nikon Releasing 900 Dollar Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Make Easy Panoramic Images with Microsoft ICE

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 10:00

The post Make Easy Panoramic Images with Microsoft ICE appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Vista at Dead Horse State Park, Utah. Fourteen images stitched in Microsoft ICE.

You’ve no doubt seen panoramic images and perhaps even know how to make them. Whether using the tools built into programs like Lightroom and Photoshop, or perhaps another dedicated panoramic creation program, or even the sweep-panoramic capability of many cellphone cameras, you’ve used this technique to make images larger than you could make them in a single shot.

In the past, the choice was not as great, and the main stitching programs not as diversified in their capabilities. The programs that did exist to create panoramas were complex, sometimes expensive, and didn’t always work well.

When the first version of Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor), a program from the Microsoft Research Division of the software giant came out, it had all the things I sought in software utilities. It was simple, it worked well, and it was free – bingo! Although other options have come along for photo stitching, I still find ICE, (now at version 2.0.3.0), a favorite.

Panorama images are not new nor a product of the digital age. This image was made from Rincon Point in San Francisco in 1851 using multiple photo plates seamed together.

Image stitching – What is it?

When working with panoramic programs you will read the term “image stitching.” It is an apt phrase for the process by which a series of photos are composited together to make a larger image, much like scraps of fabric stitched together to make a quilt. The mark of a good photo-stitching program is how well it can piece the separate images together without showing the “seams.” Check another box for Microsoft ICE – it does that job extremely well.

The Mars Rover uses robotic cameras and panoramic stitching techniques to make high-resolution images.  NASA Photo

Considerations when photographing a panorama

The quality of a finished product is usually dependent on the raw materials that go into it. The same is true of creating a panorama photo. The better your technique in making the individual images, the better your finished panorama will be.  I will not be doing a deep-dive into panorama photography techniques, as that is a whole subject itself, but instead, I’ll list some of those things you’ll want to consider when making your shots.

One real benefit of ICE is that even with less than perfectly created images, it will still do a respectable job in creating a panorama. Of course, with better images, the result will be better too.

Here are some techniques to help you when shooting your images for a panorama:

Camera settings

As you sweep across your scene, making multiple shots, there will be variations in the light. If you leave your camera in an automatic mode, each frame will be slightly different too. ICE has what is called Exposure Blending and uses an advanced algorithm to compensate for this. Thus, it smooths the seams between individual images. However, if you give it better images to work with the result will be better too.

The best practice is to put your camera in full manual mode, find and set an exposure that is a good average for the scene, and lock that in.  Try to pick an aperture for maximum depth of field as well.

The same goes for focus. Find a point where as much of the image will be in focus, (the “hyperfocal distance,” typically a third of the way into the scene), focus there and turn off autofocus.

Lens selection

There is no “just right” lens focal length to use when making panoramic images. The field of view that represented in your stitched image will be dictated by how many photos you make and the sweep of your pan, not the lens focal length.

One might think a wide-angle lens would be a good choice, as fewer shots would be required. But that’s not necessarily true. The best choice is a lens with the least distortion as any lens distortion will be magnified as you stitch images together. Thus, a good, basic 50mm prime lens could be a great choice.

Sometimes, depending on the scene you want to capture, a longer telephoto might work well. Lens quality and minimal distortion trump wide focal lengths here.

A panoramic tripod head allows you to mount the camera so that the lens nodal point is centered over the pivot point of the pan. Thus, minimizing parallax errors.

Nodal point and parallax issues

Wazzat!!?? Yes, you can get complex very quickly and encounter cryptic terms if you want to when making panoramic photos.  Attention to detail results in higher quality panoramas. And, if you decide to pursue this technique, you will want to learn about these things in time.

Very briefly, the nodal point is the spot within a lens where the light rays converge.  Setting up your camera such that the pivot point of your pan is at that spot will produce an image with the least distortion.  This is most important in images where objects in the shot are both close and far in your scene.

Parallax is the difference in the apparent position of an object when viewed along two different lines of sight.

To see a quick example, hold your hand out at arm’s length with your thumb up.  Close one eye and put your thumb over a distant object.  Now close that eye and open the other. You will see your thumb “jump” off the object to a different position.  This is parallax.

When setting up your camera, pivoting around the nodal point will reduce or even eliminate this. And serious panorama photographers will purchase special panorama tripod heads to get this exact spot for any given lens they might use.

Highly serious gigapixel panorama photographers making images with hundreds of composite images might even use motorized computer-controlled heads like the Gigapan to make their shots.

Check out some of the Gigapan images like this made from some 12,000 individual shots. Alternatively, look at this taken from a similar setup on the Mars Rover.

Bringing it back down to Earth, you need not get nearly that sophisticated if you don’t want to.  There are less expensive heads for panoramic photography if you choose to try that and many Youtube videos and instructional articles on setting nodal points.

For starters, you needn’t even worry about all of that to give panoramic photography a try. The beauty of ICE is that even with something as simple as handheld images shot with a cellphone camera, it does a very nice job of assembling a panorama image.

Step-by-Step

Here are some things to do when making your images for use in a panorama:

  • Consider your composition – Good composition is just as important in making a panorama image as any other photo.  If your cellphone supports the sweep panorama feature, you can sometimes make a shot with it to help pre-visualize what you want to do with your DSLR.
  • Level the tripod – You will know your tripod wasn’t level if you get an “arched” looking composite panorama.
  • Mount your camera in a vertical (portrait) orientation – You will get a taller aspect ratio in your final shot and an image less “ribbon-like” when you assemble your panorama.
  • Hand-marker – Shoot a photo of your hand in front of the camera as the first and last in your panorama sequence. This will make it much easier to determine which images belong to a panorama “group.”
  • Camera Settings – Use full manual exposure and focus for the reasons outlined above.
  • Overlap – As you pan making each shot, overlap each image about a third so ICE will more easily find the match points when making the composite.

This is the screen you will see when first opening Microsoft ICE.

Bringing it into ICE

Bringing your images into ICE and letting it assemble your panorama is the easiest part and a big reason to like this program. ICE accepts most Raw photos, .jpg of course, and even layered Photoshop files.  You will need to know this is a Windows-only program and won’t work on your Mac. However, there are plenty of iOS alternatives. One which is also free and well-regarded is Hugin.  I can’t say I have any personal experience with it, however, being a PC guy.

Here’s where you will find the download for ICE. Be sure you get the proper version, 32 or 64-bit for your particular PC. The program will work in Windows 10, 8, 7 or even Vista SP2. There is a lot of good information as well as an interesting overview video on the page.  The installation usually goes quite smoothly.

After you have the program installed, there are various ways to bring your images in for compositing into a panorama:

  • Running ICE as a stand-alone – ICE can be run just fine as a stand-alone program and you can bring your images in from wherever you have them stored. You can do this either by opening ICE and clicking New Panorama from Images or by opening another window in File Explorer and dragging and dropping the images into ICE.
  • Launching ICE from a Folder – Typically, once you install ICE, if you select all the images you want in your pano from a folder and then right-click, you will see an option to Stitch using Image Composite Editor.  Select that, then ICE will launch with your selected images brought in.
  • Using ICE as an External Editor from Lightroom – You can set-up Adobe Lightroom to use ICE as an External Editor.  This is my preferred way as I often do some basic pre-editing to my shots in LR before bringing them into ICE.  Once you have set-up ICE as an External Editor, select all the images in the pano group you will be using. Then, in the Lightroom menu, click Photo -> Edit In -> Microsoft ICE.  You will have the option to Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments.  Pick that, click Edit, and ICE launches with the images ready for compositing.

There are four basic steps in ICE; Import, (the images have been imported here), Stitch, Crop, and Export.

Four basic steps in ICE 1. Import

If you’ve used one of the three methods above, you’re likely already seeing your images in ICE ready for Stitching. If you are running ICE in stand-alone mode and have not already imported your images, you will see three Options across the top of the screen:  New Panorama from Images, New Panorama from Video, and Open Existing Panorama. Choose the first option, navigate in Windows Explorer to where your images are located, select those that make up the panorama group, and click Open.  Remember, ICE opens Raw files, Tif, Jpg, PSD, and perhaps some other image file types.

You will find that in most cases, the default setting for ICE works well. If you are confused about some of the terms and menu options, you can click Next (at the top right of the screen), and ICE proceeds to the next step using the defaults.

If you choose to try some other things, here are a few options:

Rather than use Auto-detect in Camera Motion, you may wish to use Rotating Motion. It will give you more options for adjustment later. I have not found the Planar Motion options to be useful, (and to be honest, don’t really understand them. Such will be the case with ICE for most people – there are options and terms that will take more knowledge of the process. And, while they might have applications, most times will not be necessary.  Keep things simple, and you’ll most often be pleased with the result.)

This is the Stitch step. Ice has composited individual images.  Don’t be overwhelmed by the Projection options. ICE will almost always choose the correct one by default. If you wish to try the others, go ahead and see what you like best.

2. Stitch

Click Next or select option 2 – Stitch from the menu. The screen will show Aligning and then Compositing Images with progress bars as the work is done.  Depending on the size, number, and complexity of your images, this could go quick or could take several minutes.  Once done, your stitched image will appear.

Depending on the camera motion type chosen, you may have another set of options under Projection with terms like Cylindrical, Mercator, and a collection of other types you may not understand. I suggest trying the different options and seeing which makes your panorama look best and the least distorted. You can also zoom into your image with the slider or by using your mouse scroll wheel. Clicking and dragging above or below the panorama will allow you to adjust the shape further. Try various things – whatever helps to make your panorama look best.

3. Crop

Click Next, or Crop to move on. Here you can crop the image to choose what to include in the finished panorama. Usually, you will have some rough edges, depending on how you shot the images and composited them. If you click Auto-Crop, the program will crop to the largest points where it can make a rectangular image. You can also manually drag the sides of the crop.

Auto-Complete works like the content-aware fill in Photoshop and will try to fill in missing pieces in the image. Sometimes, especially with things like the sky, it works amazingly well. Other times with more complex patterns, not so much.

Give it a try and see if you like the result. You can always turn it off if you don’t like it.

The Crop Step. You can crop manually, Auto crop, and use the Auto Complete feature if you like.

Note how the Auto Complete feature has filled in missing parts of the image at top and bottom.

4. Export

Once complete, you will want to save your resulting panorama.

Because you have stitched together what are often high-resolution images to start with, your panorama file can be huge. That’s great if you need to print a wall-sized poster. If you don’t need something that big, consider turning down the Scale by inputting a smaller number. If you know what size (in pixels) you want the finished image to be, you can also enter that number in the Width or Height boxes, and the other will adjust to maintain the aspect ratio.

For example, to print a 12 x 48-inch poster at 300 dpi, you would need an image 3600 x 14,400 pixels.

If your panorama at 100% is over 20,000 pixels wide, that’s overkill and may result in a much larger file than you need.

Or, if you’ll be displaying your panorama on the web where you may only need a file 2400 pixels wide, why make a monster file?

You can also input numbers into the width or height, and the image will adjust the other setting to maintain the aspect ratio. Your use for the panorama will dictate how large you need to output it.

The Export Step. If you were to export this image at 100% scale as a .tif image it would be 19772 x 5833 pixels and be 149MB. For use on the web, you could drop to something like 2400 x 708 (scale just 12.14%) as a .jpg at 75% quality and it would be just 372k. Export your images according to how you will use them.

You also have the option to choose the file format. ICE can output as .jpg, .psd, .tif, .png, or .bmp. Again consider how you plan to use the image. A .tif file will be much larger than a jpg. If you choose jpg, you can also choose the compression level with the Quality settings.

When you’ve made your selections, click Export to Disk and ICE will give you the option of where to save the file. If you came from Lightroom, you will still need to specify the output location. ICE does not automatically put the resulting panorama back into the Lightroom folder where you started.

One option not immediately evident is the ability to save a panorama project. Before exiting the program, look in the top left corner of the screen for the icons there. The last two, which look like disks if hovered, will say Save Panorama and Save Panorama As. These allow you to save your project as an .spj file. This is an ICE file type which can be loaded back in using Open Existing Panorama from the main menu. This could be useful if you intend to make various output sizes or file types from your original images.

32 images shot in two rows to get more of the sky.

ICE does a great job stitching even more complex images.

The final result of the previous multi-row stitch.

Set your camera in continuous mode and shoot, panning with your subject. Bring the images into ICE and stitch as usual. You can get a sequence like this very easily.

Same technique with continuous mode.

The final result.

Nifty tricks – Video, Tiny Planets, VR, and more

There are a few other things ICE will do beyond simply making panoramas.  It is beyond the scope of this article to outline the specific steps to do these things, but I simply wanted to make you aware of them so you can explore further if you like.

This is a 360-degree pano shot as video and imported into ICE. The video will not be as high resolution. 360-degree panos, however, open VR possibilities.

Video Input

First, your input file can, instead of being a group of still photos, be a video file. Video is lower resolution than images taken with most still cameras, but there may be other reasons you want to use it as an input format.  One of those is multi-image action. (See the sample photos). You can do this with multiple images shot as stills or using a video. Capture the action, input the video into ICE, choose the portion of the video you like and then select the action points you want in the finished pano.

Give this a try, and doing it will make the steps clearer.

ICE can also be used to create “tiny planets.”

Virtual Reality

Use ICE to make a 360-degree pano from still images or a video.  Then create an image that can be viewed as an interactive pano and be rotated by the viewer.  Post it to Facebook or view it on a VR device.  There are numerous online tutorials teaching how to do this.  Drone footage can make for an especially interesting VR image.

Conclusion

Microsoft ICE is powerful, can produce high-quality panorama images, and is very easy to use. It also does a good job when accepting the default choices. ICE can use simple images made handheld from a cellphone or hundreds of images on a Gigapan robotic system with a DSLR. There are also fun things like multi-image motion images, tiny planet creation, and virtual reality possibilities.

Oh yeah…and it’s free!  What’s not to like?

Go download it, give it a try, have fun, and share your images with us in the comments below.

 

The post Make Easy Panoramic Images with Microsoft ICE appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Spontaneous Photos Versus Staged Photos

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 15:00

The post Spontaneous Photos Versus Staged Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

This is a subject that runs to the very heart of what makes photography special for many people. The convulsions that many had when Steve McCurry decided he was in fact a visual storyteller show just how passionate people are about this subject.

Indeed, a more recent example of this occurred when a photography contest winner was found to have submitted an allegedly staged photo. To a certain degree, we’ve allowed photography to be romanticized by believing amazing photos are all about the moment of capture. That’s certainly an idea many travel or photography magazines have encouraged. In this article, you’ll learn about staged photos, spontaneous photos, and why learning both approaches will improve your work.

A shard of light was used to light this man’s face.

Spontaneous photos

Getting the moment of capture is often what makes or breaks a photo. Landscape photography isn’t always about this, but a lone hiker in your landscape photo can add narrative. Of course, street photography is almost always about moment of capture. So what can you do that will improve your chances of adding that x-factor to your frame?

Visit places with lots of action

If you want to exercise your body, you go to a gym, visit the swimming pool or perhaps go for a run. If you want to get good at taking spontaneous photos, you need to visit places that have lots of decisive moments. These places will train your eye to be razor sharp and alive to the potential of a decisive moment before it happens. This is the opposite of a staged photo.

You’ll want to visit the following places:

  • The local market – Find out where your local market is, and when it’s going to be busiest. Some markets are night markets, while your local fish market will be busiest at the crack of dawn. Vendors preparing their stock, street food being prepared, and interaction with customers all have great potential for a decisive moment.
  • An event – Events are also great places to practice. These can be sports events, festivals, or parties. Again interaction between people caught at the decisive moment. You’ll often need a lens with a longer focal length to be effective in this setting.
  • A busy street – Of course, street photography is what many will think of when you look to take photos with a decisive moment. Get your 50mm prime lens on the camera, and hit the streets looking for interesting characters. It’s often a good idea to choose a location and stop there for a while. Look for those moments of capture to come to you – perhaps against the backdrop of an interesting wall.

An event such as the balloon festival is a chance to capture moments.

Experiment with focal distance

The majority of decisive moment photos you’ll take will be street photos. These will be on the street, or perhaps within a street market. The general rule here is to use a 50mm prime lens, though experimenting with other focal lengths can also give you good results. Using a longer focal length means you can stand in a less noticeable location, allowing the action in front of you to unfold naturally. You’ll also feel more comfortable at a distance, and can anticipate your moments of capture and build your skill for anticipation. Once you have a knack for this anticipation, use wider angles and see how your results turn out. Of course, as mentioned before, sports and often event photography require longer focal lengths to capture the action.

In this photo, a longer focal length of 135mm was used. Markets are great for interactions between people.

Wait for the moment to come to you

This is a little like staged photos, except it’s a natural moment. It could be argued that this is the very opposite of spontaneous, but it is nevertheless a moment of capture. When you take this type of photo you will have a pre-composed frame, and you’re waiting for a person to walk into the right position within your photo. You will need a lot of patience, as you could well be waiting for at least an hour.

  • A frame – Set up your photo and wait for a person to walk into the frame within your photo. This will immediately give your photo a greater narrative. If possible, wait for more than one person to walk into that frame, so you can choose the most interesting subject.
  • A shard of light – A great technique to practice a decisive moment is to wait for people to walk into a shard of light. This gives you a defined condition when you need to press the shutter, so you will need to be fast. Look for an indoor location, and a gap in the roof to let the light through. Then expose at around -2 or -3EV for the background, and normal or slightly underexposed for the sunlit area.

In this photo, the scene was pre-composed. I then needed to wait for people to walk down the path.

Be quick on the draw

Of course, there are times you’re just going to have to be lightning fast. You’ll need to have eyes everywhere, constantly alert to possibilities, and seeing things to the side of you as well. Having your camera setting already setup is essential in this scenario. A more forgiving aperture of say f/8 rather than f/1.8 will also help with quick focus.

In some cases, you will have to use a larger aperture according to the light levels you are photographing in.

If you’ve been practicing in the market where there are many chances to capture a decisive moment, you will get quicker at bringing the camera to your eye and getting the shot immediately – the same skill you’ll have used to capture people walking into a shard of light.

There are times you need to be aware and very fast. These monks crossing the street is a split second moment.

Staged photos

The opposite of spontaneous photos is staged photos. This style of photography will be what you practice regularly if you work with models, or perhaps take pre-wedding photos for people. Of course, the recent controversy surrounding these is centered on travel photography, which is all meant to be natural moments. If you want the most striking photo possible, though, the ability to control all aspects of the photo will give you maximum creativity. So what goes into a successful photo of this type?

Going on a photo-shoot with other members of a photography club can be a great learning experience.

Solo vs the group

The photographer who recently ran into trouble with their winning image allegedly used a staged photo from a group photography event.

Of course, it’s quite possible to make a staged photo look natural, and for it to carry a strong message. In fact, if it doesn’t, you need to go back to the drawing board.

The question is, however, when you’re photographing with a group of other photographers, how much are you in control of the creative process? How much is that photo really yours because you pressed the shutter?

Learning with the group is a great way to improve your work. However, to really allow your own creativity to come to the fore, it needs to be you (and only you) who controls how the photos are staged.

Organizing a photo session with a friend or model where you work one-to-one gives you much more control.

The narrative

Control the narrative, and you’ll get the photo. To be a good visual storyteller, you need your photo to have that strong story as you guide your viewer’s eye through the frame. So you no longer need to capture the decisive moment. Instead, you’re going to create it.

To do that you’ll need to think of the following:

  • Design elements –You can choose your location to perfectly match the photo you want to take. Use frames, or perhaps even create your own frame. Leading lines such as paths or tunnels make for good photos. Good composition skills and a composition that harmonizes with the story you’re going to tell are things you are looking for.
  • The story –This could involve your subject looking off into the distance, cooking some food, or perhaps talking with a friend. The aim is to make these moments look as natural as possible, even though they’re staged.
  • The background – Lastly, the background should look after itself if you have applied the points made for design elements. Nevertheless, keep an eye on the background. Unless you’re in a studio, people can walk into the background of your photo, affecting the narrative of your photo.

This photo has been staged. An off-camera strobe is placed left of the camera to light the ladies face, and the smoke from the cigar.

Micromanage

The management of the photo can go beyond what’s list above. You will want to really micromanage your photo. That means controlling all aspects of it from lighting to what people are wearing in the photo.

  • The time of day – The position of the sun is going to dominate your photo. With staged photos, there is absolutely no excuse for getting this aspect of the photo wrong. The same goes for spontaneous photos as well. You should only be attempting these with the sun in the right position.
  • Lighting – You’ll need to decide whether you want to use natural light only. If if you only use natural light, you still have the potential to use reflective surfaces to bounce light where you want it to be. Beyond this, you can use strobes, and give your outdoor photo a studio look.
  • Clothes – Ahead of the photo shoot organizing with your model what they’ll wear is another aspect that can be controlled. Spend the time liaising with them so that the clothes match the location you have in mind.
  • Location – Where you choose to photograph can be controlled for any type of photo, whether it’s spontaneous or not. You’ll need to think about how this location will play off against the model and narrative you hope to acheive. Do you want the area busy with other people, or would it be better to choose a quieter time of the day?

In this photo, the framing was created by sticking together pieces of rice paper using tape. The chef is making fresh spring rolls, using rice paper.

Creative techniques

Unlike spontaneous photos, you can use creative techniques with your staged photos. In most cases, creative techniques take time to set up – time you only have when you stage the photo. There are many ways to be creative in your work. You don’t always need to use techniques like these. So take the following as some ideas you could use:

  • Light painting – You’ll need to photograph at night, but light painting is a great way of adding interest to your image. You’ll also need a model who can stand or sit very still. Think about the pose position. Some poses are much easier to be statuesque than others.
  • Refraction – Photography using prisms, fractal filters or lens balls can give your photo another twist. Your results with such techniques will be better if you stage the photo.
  • Flour – Throwing flour in the air is a great way to add a more dynamic feel to your photo. You’ll need to combine this with off-camera flash. The flash needs to be directed so it correctly lights up the flour while it’s mid-air.

In this image, light painting has been used to highlight two monks who are standing still for the photo.

The commercial aspect

With staged photos, you are almost certainly aiming at the commercial market. You’ll be photographing with a model who it’s very likely you’ll pay. If you’re new to this type of photography, you might consider building a relationship with your model, where you both give each other time rather than money to build each other’s portfolios.

  • Contests – Contests will ask for the model release of the person in a photo. So, to a certain extent, this rather says a commercial element to the photo is okay.
  • Publishing – It’s always nice to see your work published. Look at the photography type you have produced, and see if you can match that to a magazines style. You may well need to produce a set of images, and even write the article that goes with it.
  • Stock – As long as you can’t tell the photo is staged, staged photos work very well for stock photos. They’ll be model released, so you’re really ready to go. That extra passive income never hurts, and can pay for your next photo shoot.
Why you need to learn both

There is a temptation to say “I’m going to be a street photographer,” and not look to other types of photography. There is merit in becoming the master of your field and not diversifying. However, a model can transition to photography. They have the advantage of knowing what’s going on in front of the camera. Taking the time to take staged photos will allow you to see the potential for spontaneous photos in a different way as well.

Having staged the photo using off-camera flash, and seeing where things should be positioned in your frame is a skill that can be brought across to the more organic environment of street photography. That is to say; you should be a fashion photographer for a day, learn those ideas, and see what you can bring from that across to your street photography.

Conclusion

The desire for that perfect photo is always there. The purist is likely to want to achieve this organically, using honed photographer instincts to get that moment of capture. There is a lot to be said for learning the other side of the coin and getting in touch with your inner visual storyteller.

Which style of photography do you prefer and why? Would you consider photographing in a different way, even for a day? Here at digital photography school, we’d love to see your example photos.

Please let us know if you took them spontaneously, or if you staged the photo. You can even post an image, and see if the community can guess whether you staged the photo or not.

 

The post Spontaneous Photos Versus Staged Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Bond.

Managing Your Photography Process From Shooting to Editing

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 10:00

The post Managing Your Photography Process From Shooting to Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

You spend a lot of time learning about your gear and how to use it to produce great images.  You also invest time and money into learning to improve your technique for capturing and processing your work. It is therefore fair to say that developing a consistent workflow in handling your images after (and sometimes before) they are captured is also of importance. Here are a few steps you should be taking to help you manage your photography work.

Before you shoot 1. Make a plan

What are you going to shoot today? Is it an event in a dimly lit place or is it in the middle of a sunny day and outdoors? What will be your source(s) of light? What gear will you need?

Prepare by planning for your subject and thinking through your shoot. That way you can think of possible outcomes and pack accordingly (and in some cases avoid overpacking). Weather conditions, time on your feet, length of your trek/journey and environmental constraints will also help you determine if you need to scale down your gear to the essentials or rethink how/what you pack.

2. Set up your camera

If you are used to shooting the same genre of images, you may have your settings already dialed in. This takes into consideration the creation of presets to handle different scenarios that you face. Keep a reminder to adjust your white balance for the type of light you will be shooting in. Will you need a flash or supplemental lighting and what settings will you need when you add those?

Do you want to shoot your images in RAW or JPEG? Both have their advantages and disadvantages and you need to choose what works well for your planned shoot and expected outcome.

After you shoot 1. Moving images from your card as soon as possible

A good practice is moving the images from your memory card to your computer as soon as possible. A card reader transfers images faster than using a direct connection from your camera to your computer. While recent computer card slots are comparable to card readers in speed, there is still a preference to the latter.  One school of thought is that a good quality card reader is built to minimize the chance of corrupting your memory cards.

While the objective is to move the images, it is advisable to copy the images across (as opposed to move). After you copy, compare the number of files on the memory card (and size) to what was copied. This is especially important if there was an interruption during the copy process.

Note: If you choose to move instead of copy, this comparison will not be possible. More importantly, there is a higher probability of loss or corrupted files, if there is an interruption during the move process.

2. Making a backup

Prepare for the failure of your devices. Having more than one copy of your image gives you some peace of mind that it is safe somewhere. There are many backup combinations you can use, but the most basic is to have two copies of your images. You can have a copy on your laptop/computer and one on an external drive. You can save on more than one external drive or even go with an external drive/cloud combination. An ideal backup strategy involves two copies where you have one offsite (off premises/cloud).

An essential part of having a backup is testing it from time to time to ensure that it works and can restore your images when needed.

Backup processes can be revised as your workflow progresses. For example, after a shoot, you can copy all of your images to a secondary place. After you have culled your final selection, you can replace those images with your selection. When you edit and find your best images, you can add this to your library later. Whatever system you choose to work with, they all require a level of organization.

3. Clearing your memory cards

A good rule to adopt is to clear your memory cards after you have backed up your files to two locations. In each instance, copy from the memory cards directly. After your copy, compare what was copied to the number of files (and size) of those on the memory card. This is especially important if there was an interruption during the copy process.

4. Using management software to browse your images/cull your images

A digital asset management software system is a great way to browse, preview, locate and rate your images and mark them for processing. Two of the most used asset management systems are Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Bridge. There are a few others that work similar to these, with a primary focus on browsing and rating images.

Most people do not take advantage of the rating ability of asset management software, but it is quite a useful tool to cull your work. When you browse your images, you give the highest ratings to your best images – those to keep, review or edit. The next rating is for those with potential and worth a second look. You award the lowest rating or no rating to images that do not make the cut. These would include blurry images, those that are not salvageable or ones you will never review/edit. These can be marked for discarding at a later time (when space becomes an issue) or immediately (if that is how you streamline your work).

5. Post-processing images

Many times post-processing immediately follows shooting and nothing is wrong with that. Once you develop a workflow that suits you, then there are no rules as to when to do what. Whenever you post-process, remember that your edited images need to be saved in several locations (especially if they are for a client). Saving your final images with a descriptive name/date in a sub-folder will help you easily find them later on.

Note: Post-processing also can be broken down into its own workflow, which includes processing multiple images at a time (batch processing).

Conclusion

Your images are worth protecting, thus developing a habitual photography workflow is important. Find a way that works for you, keeping in mind that you will be thankful for spending the time on a proper backup strategy.

Finally, create with the assurance that your work is organized and managed from capture to delivery.

Do you have any other tips to add here? Please share in the comments below.

 

The post Managing Your Photography Process From Shooting to Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

5 Product Photography Tips to Improve Your Images

Sun, 06/16/2019 - 15:00

The post 5 Product Photography Tips to Improve Your Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

Product photography: you’ve probably heard that it’s hard and very specialist. But your friend who runs their own business asks you if you’ll just shoot a few product pictures for them to use on their website or social media. Or perhaps you have your own business that regularly needs new product photography. Of course, you’re happy to have a go. It could help you improve your photographic skills too by giving you some new challenges. But how do you approach this highly specialist field of photography that you have very little experience with?

When many photographers think of “product photography” they think of a certain style that often involves complicated lighting, setup, and retouching. Sometimes blending dozens of shots in post-processing, using specialized lenses or lighting equipment, or shooting on perfect white backgrounds.

These styles of photography do have their place in the world of marketing and advertising. And you may even decide that it’s the right look for the products that you’re shooting. But in recent years a more natural feeling product photography has been creeping into advertising via social media influences. This style can be easier to dabble with because it requires less equipment and specialist knowledge – although it is still incredibly tricky to master!

The most important thing in product photography is to match the look and feel of the images to the product and the brand. A shot of an exclusive fountain pen aimed at CEO’s will be photographed very differently to a vegan surf-wax aimed at Californian surfers!

Whichever style you decide to try out when you have a go at product photography for the first time, there are some simple things to keep in mind when you’re shooting. If you keep these guidelines in mind, then you should be able to shoot images that show off a product to its advantage.

1. Get your camera on a tripod

It cannot be said often enough in still life photography how great tripods are. Firstly, they protect against camera shake. If you can get your camera (or phone) on a tripod, then your shutter speed can be as long as you like without risking any blur from camera shake. A nice, crisp image is essential to product photography.

If people cannot see what they are purchasing clearly, then they will most likely move on and choose a different supplier!

Blurry pictures are never desirable for product photography. You need to make sure they are clear and crisp.

If you can’t stretch to a tripod then make sure that you use a relatively fast shutter speed to compensate for any slight movements you might make while holding the camera. You may find that you have to compromise and raise your ISO in order to get a clear, bright picture.

The other advantage of tripods is that they hold your camera in one place while you work on your composition. If you are styling your images for social media (rather than shooting flat e-commerce images), then it might take a couple of attempts to get it right.

Keeping the camera in one place leaves you free to work on the styling and composition.

There are a huge variety of tripods available, all with different features and at different price points. If you can stretch to it, then a tripod with an arm that bends over at ninety degrees is an excellent investment that will make the popular flatlay (top-down) shots for Instagram easier.

2. Use good lighting

Let’s bust a myth – good lighting doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Yes, there are certain kinds of product photographers who spend hours or even days lighting a single product and getting it perfect. Of course, many high-volume photographers prefer to work with studio lights in a closed studio. That way, they can replicate lighting time and time again when doing repeat jobs for the same client.

But you can light a product with just natural window light, or even take it outside, and still get great results. You don’t have to have expensive studio gear or even a whole room dedicated to photography. Many people photograph products quite successfully on a table pulled up to a bright window. With the right backgrounds and props, it certainly doesn’t have to look like it was shot in your living room!

Lighting can also help to make your object look three dimensional on a flat screen. Shadows and highlights help viewers to interpret the image and understand it correctly.

The crucial thing is to match the lighting style to the product and brand. For something sleek and high-tech, you might want a more artificial feel to your light. Whereas, a more natural artisan product would probably benefit from just simple window light.

3. Shoot multiple angles

If people are buying online, then they can’t pick up and touch the product. That means you have to try and convey all the small details to a potential purchaser. The best way to do this is by making sure that you capture a variety of angles of each item. Also, get in close to show the details if it’s relevant.

This is especially important if the item is handmade. Getting in close can show off the care and consideration that an artisan puts into their work. The details are what often sets handmade products aside from their mass-manufactured counterparts. So be sure to show them off!

Shooting multiple angles is also an easy way to generate lots more content for social media accounts. Many business owners struggle to find enough content to post regularly on social media, so it can really help them out.

4. Find out the platform specifications

It’s important to shoot product photographs with the final use of the image in mind. Different online platforms will have different specifications for how photographs look best on their sites.

For instance, if you are shooting for someone with an Etsy store, you’d need to consider that portrait photos look best on the product page, but the search thumbnails are landscape. That means a clever photographer would shoot images that look good when cropped to both portrait and landscape. It might mean that you need to leave extra space around products when you shoot them and crop in later in post-processing.

Instagram can be a particularly tough platform to shoot for if people are looking for images that look good on social media. Images should ideally be posted in a ratio of 5:4 to take up as much space as possible and be more eye-catching when scrolling down the feed.

However, on a users profile grid, they automatically crop to a 1:1 square format. That means you lose details in the top and bottom of the image in the thumbnails. On top of that, the “stories” feature uses images that are in a 16:9 ratio – much taller and skinnier than the news feed! When shooting specifically for Instagram, I tend to set my camera to shoot in a 16:9 ratio. Then I know I can almost always crop other ratios out of that base image.

Also, research the pixel size that each online platform uses. If you produce images that are too small, then they’re likely to look pixellated or blurry when uploaded.

5. Don’t forget the packaging

More and more people are shopping online, so the packaging of a product contributes heavily to the first impression of a brand.

Artisan companies and small businesses often spend lots of time considering their packaging and branding. So it’s undoubtedly worthwhile to shoot the packaging as well as the product.

As well as demonstrating brand values, you can also show the buyer that it’s going to help their purchase get to them safely. This is especially important if it’s a product that is breakable or if it’s likely to be given as a gift. It helps instill confidence in the brand!

Plus, on platforms like Etsy that give you multiple slots to upload images of your product, having packaging photographs can be an excellent way to show off the product styled in a new way.

Always remember…

Keep your product photographs well exposed and in focus.

As long as you’re getting these two things correct, then you’re already on the right track. All that’s left to do is practice, practice, practice until you’re shooting products like a pro.

Remember to comment below and show us the pictures you’ve been shooting using what you’ve learned!

 

The post 5 Product Photography Tips to Improve Your Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

6 Ways to Save Money on Camera Gear

Sun, 06/16/2019 - 10:00

The post 6 Ways to Save Money on Camera Gear appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

It’s no secret that camera gear is expensive, but there are several very easy ways to save money on gear. So before you buy your next camera body or lens, read up on these money-saving tips.

1. Look for discounts or deals

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but always be on the lookout for sales or discounts. Follow photography blogs or websites such as Canon Rumors or Nikon Rumors (or whichever Rumors sites corresponds to your camera brand of choice). They will often alert you of upcoming deals on camera gear and accessories. Another tip is to wait for holidays such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day. These are holidays that almost always result in massive gear discounts.

2. Study camera product cycles and buy just before or after a new release.

Most camera manufacturers have a fairly regular product release cycle. For example, the Fujifilm X-T series releases every 2 years, the Canon 5D series every 4 years, and GoPro Hero every year. Purchasing a camera right after release to the public won’t save you money. However, you could look at buying the previous model since there are likely to be many camera owners selling theirs, or camera stores looking to empty their stock.

Depending on how well a new camera sells, you could wait six months to a year after its release and start to see deals come up. Not only will the camera price likely drop, but camera stores are also likely to add product bundles that throw in extra goodies such as Adobe Photoshop subscriptions, memory cards, camera bags, and more.

3. Consider third-party options

This tip applies mostly to camera lenses and accessories since there aren’t many “third-party” camera body brands out there. For a long time, third-party lens options were looked down upon as inferior products. However, companies such as Sigma and Tamron have really upped their game and are producing high-quality lenses that are starting to rival the price and quality of those made by original camera companies. So the next time you’re looking for a new piece of glass for your camera, definitely consider any third-party options out there to save some money.

4. Buy used or refurbished

Cameras and lenses are made to last. As long as they have been cared for, they hold their value and can sell easily.

If you’re on the market for camera gear, definitely consider buying a used or refurbished product. This process can seem intimidating, and there are several ways to go about it with varying degrees of risk.

One option is to buy locally via an online marketplace such as Facebook or Craigslist. This is the riskiest option since you will have to evaluate the product in person and there’s often little chance of a refund if the product is defective. However, this method also gives you the most wiggle room for negotiating a lower price.

Another way to buy used or refurbished is to do so via an official online store. Nearly all major online camera stores such as B&H Photo, Adorama, and Amazon have a Used section with discounted gear. There are also websites such as Keh.com that specialize in only buying and selling used gear.

The benefit of using a site like this is security. In most cases, your purchase is covered by the store, and you have some reassurance in terms of returning the item in case of a defect. However, there’s no room for negotiation, so the price you see is what you’ll have to pay.

5. Rent gear

Before you buy your next piece of camera gear, ask yourself, “do I really need to own that?”

If the answer is no, it could be more worth your while to rent the gear temporarily.

This is especially true for specialty lenses such as super telephoto zooms that retail for upwards of $10,000 to own.

Look around for your local camera store and see if they offer gear rental services. Or there is also Borrow Lenses, a website that specializes in renting out camera gear in addition to selling used gear.

6. Use credit card rewards

If you’re diligent about paying off your credit card each month, consider getting a credit card with a good rewards system. There are camera-specific credit cards such as B&H’s Payboo that reimburses you for sales tax. Or there are more general credit cards that allow you to get points or money back on a wider variety of purchases.

Personally, I’m a fan of the Amazon Prime Store card that gives you 5% back on all purchases, plus the option to finance big purchases (ie. cameras!).

Either way, do your research to find a card that suits you and be sure to pay it off, otherwise, it’s no longer a money-saver.

Over to You

There you have it! Six ways to save some money on camera gear and accessories. Do you have any tips to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

 

The post 6 Ways to Save Money on Camera Gear appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

What to Do When Your Images Get Stolen

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 15:00

The post What to Do When Your Images Get Stolen appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

If any of your images live online in any shape or form, it is inevitable that they will get stolen.

With the Internet, copyright infringement has become rampant and is a worldwide phenomenon.

Some individuals don’t understand copyright and think that because an image appears online that it’s theirs for the taking.

However, there are a lot of companies that steal images and use them for commercial purposes – to sell their own products!

How do you know if your image has been stolen?

You can do random image searches on your images in Google. This is a cool feature, but rather tedious and incredibly time-consuming. If you have an extensive library of images, this could take more time than you’d want to spend.

A better alternative is sites like Copytrack, Pixray or Pixsy, which are image tracking services that not only find your stolen images but also will file a copyright infringement claim and sue for damages on your behalf.

This is a great way to seek restitution for stolen photos without the hassle of having to do everything yourself. Not to mention, there is no way you could scan millions of images on the Internet, looking for your work. The technology these services offer does it all for you.

Utilizing an image tracking service is something every photographer should consider. It’s a sad reality that so many photographers today are struggling, while thieves are profiting from our hard work.

An image tracking service can save you a ton of legwork. Most of the time, it’s as simple as uploading your photos. If you get notified that some of your photographs are appearing without permission or licensing, you can file a DMCA takedown notice or a legal claim through the service.

The image search function is free – to a point. It depends on how many images you upload. If you file a legal claim, the service will take a commission.

One caveat to using an image tracking site is that if you do stock photography, it can be hard to ascertain where your image has legitimately appeared.

Stock agencies don’t usually disclose to you who licensed your image. Also, many have partnered up with other stock agencies to sell your work, making your images even more difficult to track.

 

How an image tracking service works

According to the image tracking site Copytrack, 3 billion images are shared online every day. 85% of them get stolen.
Licensing images is about more than just tracking down infringements. Once you discover an infringement, you need to make a decision as to what you’ll do about it.

Both Copytrack and Pixsy can handle the legal side in the fight for fair payment for your work.

You simply upload your images while their Reverse Image Search functions in the background. They will notify you of your matches by email.

Once you confirm the stolen images, they take steps to enforce your copyright.

You don’t need to do anything.

What are scraper sites?

One of the worst types of offenders in the realm of stolen images and copyright infringement online are scraper sites.
Scraper sites steal your content for their own sites or blogs. Some will just scrape content, but most use automated software that takes your images and posts content on their own site.

These sites take images from Pinterest, Google, and your own website and host them illegally.

Not only does your website host the images for them but also they take up your bandwidth!

If you write a blog in addition to post photos, you may find your content appearing on these sites.

What are your options if your image gets stolen?

If your image gets stolen, your first option is to do nothing, which is exactly what many photographers do. The hassle can make it seem not worth it sometimes.

However, if the company that has stolen your image is a large one, you can hire a copyright attorney to take them to court, as this type of claim may be worth thousands of dollars to you.

In most cases, the best option is to use a company like Pixsy and either have them file a DMC Takedown Notice, or file a claim on your behalf.

A DMC Takedown Notice is a request to remove content from a website at the request of the owner of the copyright of the content.



How to file a DMC takedown

DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. To get your stolen content removed from a website you need to file a DMCA takedown notice.

To file a DMC takedown, you can either hire a service or do it yourself.

You need to find out who owns the website. You can use a Who Is lookup tool.

The problem is that it can be difficult to find out who the website owner is in order to send them the notice, as a lot of these sites hide this info. For example, they use Cloudflare to hide their real IP address.

Luckily, there are DMC takedown services that can help you with this. DMCA charges $10 USD a month for their protection services and charges $199 USD for a full takedown.

How to register your copyright

As a photographer, you automatically own the copyright as soon as you create the image. This means that you do not necessarily have to file copyright for all your photos.

In most countries, you do not need to file copyright papers to prove you own the content or copyright. Government Registered Copyright is NOT necessary in order to get your content removed, however, suing for damages IS easier if you have registered your copyright.

To register your copyright, search online with keywords such as “register copyright Canada/US/Australia” etc., to find the Intellectual Property Office in your country.

In Conclusion

If you have had your images stolen, it’s up to you to decide if you want to pursue restitution.

Small transgressions may not seem worth the time and energy, however, if someone is making money off your work, you may want to consider seeking compensation. Not only for the money but also the principle.

Have you had any of your images stolen? Share with us in the comments below.

 

The post What to Do When Your Images Get Stolen appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

How to Make an Animated GIF in Photoshop

Sat, 06/15/2019 - 10:00

The post How to Make an Animated GIF in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Don’t you love GIFs? I do. They are fun, creative, and a great way to grab attention. In a world full of images (animated and otherwise), you need to create original quality work to stand out. Stop following trends and make your own using Photoshop in just a few simple steps.

A GIF is a file format that supports animated images in the smallest size, which makes it very appealing for any online platform. The famous acronym stands for Graphic Interchange Format, and it became trendy for Internet humor, but now it’s a powerful tool.

Five reasons to do your own GIF
  • Showcase your product/brand in action or being used.
  • Do a call to action on your website.
  • Show a step by step example of any instruction.
  • Enhance your visibility.
  • Grow your social media audience.
What you need

You can make GIFs from words, video snippets, or a sequence of photographs. This last one is the technique I’ll show you. While technically you could use any series of images, a coherent set of photographs result in a more engaging GIF.

To achieve this, plan your photo shoot to maintain either the same light or the same framing, and use it to tell a story. If you need some inspiration, check out “8 tips – How to do storytelling with your images.”

If you are doing any post processing on your images like changing the size or format, you can save a lot of time by doing it in a batch. You can learn how to do this in the article How to Batch Resize Your Images Quickly Using Photoshop (https://digital-photography-school.com/batch-resize-images-using-photoshop/). If instead, you are making more complex adjustments I recommend you create an action and then apply it to all of them. If you don’t know how to do this read How to play Photoshop Actions on Multiple Images with Batch Editing.

Now that you have all your images ready to go, open Photoshop and go to Menu -> File -> Scripts -> Load Files Into Stack. On the pop-up window, choose the files you want to import and click OK. This opens all your images as layers within the same file.

Once the images are open, you need to animate them. If you usually work with still images, you may need to go to Menu -> Window -> Timeline to make the Timeline panel visible. It will appear at the bottom of your screen, and it will show a thumbnail of the top layer.

Open the drop-down Menu from the right of the panel and click on Make Frames from Layers. Now you should see the thumbnail of all the files you imported as layers.

If you need to change the order, drag and drop them to correct. Once everything is as you want it, it’s time to determine the animation settings.

First set the time each one will show before changing into the next one. You’ll see a number on the bottom of each frame and an arrow next to it. If you click on the arrow, you’ll open the drop-down Menu to set the time. Do this for each one, as they can be different from each other. You can see a preview by clicking on the play button.

As the last step, you can choose how many times the animation repeats. Under the frames, you can find a menu where you can set this. GIFs usually run on a loop so I will put ‘Forever.’ But you can decide to do it differently.

As I mentioned at the beginning, GIF is a file format; therefore it is something you determine at the moment of saving. When saving a photograph, you would normally choose .jpg or .tiff. However, this time you need to choose .gif. You can find this option under Save for Web. Here, you can choose the amount of color, whether you want it dithered, and if you want a lossy compression. All of these choices determine the file size. You can move them around to choose the best combination of size and quality.

If you now open your saved file in Photoshop, it will be a layered image that you can continue to work on. If you want to see it animated just click and drag it into your browser.

I hope you enjoyed the article.

Please share your GIFs with me in the comment section.

If you are feeling inspired and want to keep exploring animated images, you can experiment with time-lapse and stop motion. Check these articles to get you started:

 

The post How to Make an Animated GIF in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Iconic

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 15:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is ICONIC!

Martin Jernberg

Go out and iconic buildings, subjects, products, or places. Just be sure they are iconic! They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Jack Bassingthwaighte

Holger Link

 

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

Tips for Shooting anything ICONIC

5 Ways to Photograph Travel Icons

Tell A Different Story Of A Timeless Icon

Travel Photography Subjects: Icons

9 Creative Architecture Photography Techniques for Amazing Photos!

How to Tell Stories with Architecture Photography

Tips for Different Approaches to Architecture Photography

 

Weekly Photography Challenge – ICONIC

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 #DPSiconic 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 – Iconic appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

3 Lenses Every Beginner Photographer Needs [video]

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 10:00

The post 3 Lenses Every Beginner Photographer Needs [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video by MiketheMathMan, he outlines what he believes to be three lenses that every beginner photographer needs.

3 lenses every beginner photographer needs

In the video he lists the following:

1. Wide-Angle Lens

The “see everything lens” because of their ability to capture a wide field of view. These lenses are handy for shooting landscapes, interiors, cityscapes and anything where you need to capture a wide field of view.

2. Telephoto Zoom

They are great for capturing details from a distance for better detail.

3. Fast Prime Lens

A fast prime lens has a wide aperture. These are great for use in low-light and for creating beautiful bokeh with shallow depth of field. Prime lenses are fixed focal lengths, for example, 35mm, 50mm or 85mm. They are great for portraits/headshots, milky way photography/astophotography.

What lenses would you add to this list? Share with us in the comments below.

You may also find the following helpful

 

The post 3 Lenses Every Beginner Photographer Needs [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Capture One Pro – Should You Make the Switch?

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 15:00

The post Capture One Pro – Should You Make the Switch? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

This may be a familiar scenario? You’re on a shoot, and you’ve tethered your camera to Lightroom. Everything is going well, but you still have many shots to do. The clock is ticking, and you can feel the time crunch. Out of the blue, Lightroom crashes, and you have to unplug everything and restart your computer. All while your client is tapping their foot and breathing impatiently down your neck.

Welcome to the reality of tethering in Lightroom.

Now don’t get me wrong, Adobe Lightroom is a great program.

I have used it for years. It’s a powerful database for your image files. Lightroom has excellent color management tools and other features, such as noise reduction and spot removal, that make it the only program that many photographers use. In fact, the speed and stability of tethering in Lightroom is one thing that has improved by leaps and bounds in 2019.

But if you shoot a genre of photography that requires tethering, like food or still life, or if you’re a portrait photographer, you still may want to consider moving over to Capture One Pro (COP).

For years, I personally resisted making this change. I didn’t want to learn yet another program or complicate my workflow. But when Lightroom kept crashing and freezing on a career-changing shoot with a big ad client, I decided to make the switch. As a still-life shooter, I find that COP is unbeatable.

If you’re a pro-shooter, or semi-pro, I would say Capture One Pro is a must. If you’re a hobbyist, you still might find learning this image processor worth your while.

This article is not meant to be a tutorial. Rather, I want to walk you through the features and benefits of using Capture One Pro. There are tons of resources online if you want to learn how to use the program, many of them found in Capture One Pro when you log onto the interface.

What is Capture One?

Capture One Pro is a RAW file editor and management system. It’s been around for about 20 years and is made by Phase One, a Danish manufacturer of open platform-based medium format cameras.

The software supports Phase One’s own cameras of course, as well as over 400 DSLR’s, such as those made by Canon, Nikon, and Sony.

In fact, COP has entered into a relationship with Sony. If you’re a Sony user, Capture One Express is a free imaging editor that comes with your camera that includes some of the essential editing and workflow features found in Capture One Pro.

Getting started with Capture One

The first thing to know when getting started with this software is that the interface is nothing like Lightroom. For those used to using Lightroom, Capture One Pro will be confusing to you.

This is often what frustrates Lightroom users in the beginning, causing them to give up before they get started.

There are many differences between the programs. What has become intuitive for you to do in Lightroom, may not work in COP.

COP has the library features of Lightroom with the advantages of Photoshop to work in layers.

It’s an all-in-one solution for many photographers.

Advantages of using Capture One

So why is Capture One worth a new learning curve? Let’s take a look:

Superior tethering

As you may have gleaned from the introduction, tethered shooting is incredibly stable in COP, whereas Lightroom is known to be super-glitchy.

Another advantage is that COP has a built-in Live View function.

If you’ve used the Live View function on your camera, you may have noticed that you can only use it in natural light, or when you’re using a constant light source like an LED or the modeling lamp on a monohead.

However, Capture One offers a Live View function within the program itself.

If you’re a food, product or still life photographer, this feature will drive your productivity through the roof. You and your stylists can make the incremental tweaks necessary in still life photography, all while viewing the components within the frame on a computer or laptop monitor.

In addition, it has an Overlay feature. It allows you to upload cover art, such as a product packaging layout or a magazine cover, so you can make sure that your subject fits into the parameters required by the project.

Sessions versus Catalogs

Both Lightroom and Capture One Pro double as RAW photo editors and organization software for your image files. However, their organizational structures are not the same.

Lightroom can open one Catalog at a time. These Catalogs can be divided into multiple Collections and Collection Sets.

In COP, photos are organized into Sessions. These are ideal for separating single client sessions, and various collections. For example, stock photography or personal photos. This is a better approach to large sets of images.


Similarly to Lightroom’s Collections, you can create Session Albums and move your images from several folders on your hard drive to a Favorite Session folder without physically moving them.

COP creates an automatic folder structure within the Session. It creates four default folders every time you start a new session: Capture, Selects, Output, Trash.

The Capture Folder contains all the images that were shot tethered or imported from your SD card. Once you make a selection of your favorite images, they will automatically be moved to the Selects Folder. If you want to delete specific images, they will be moved to the Trash folder by default. However, they are not permanently erased – you can move them back.

The Output Folder is the folder where your exported images will be sent unless you choose a different folder.

The power of Layers

Capture One Pro offers the functionality of the Lightroom Library interface, with the power of Photoshop Layers.

Both Lightroom and COP provide global adjustments that alter the entire image, as well as a set of tools for local adjustments you can apply to smaller portions of the image.

However, COP includes the option to create local adjustments on multiple layers. Lightroom users have to switch from Lightroom to Photoshop to access multiple layer adjustments.

COP’s layers options are less powerful than those in Photoshop but more powerful than Lightroom’s single layer tools.

Sure, you can do some masking type of adjustments with Lightroom with the adjustment brush and other tools. After all, the adjustment tools in Lightroom have improved with every upgrade.

But if you’ve made several adjustments and need to go back a few steps, remembering which adjustment you made can be confusing.

With COP, you have a clear overview over of all the adjustments that you applied to the image.

You can create radial masks and linear masks, and you can fill masks over the whole layer and erase parts of the mask. Also, you can create masks by luminosity, applying adjustments to only the highlights or shadows in your photo.

Last but not least, you can change the opacity of these masks.

For example, if you’ve have created a color treatment you had in mind, but the colors are too saturated and bold, you can turn down the opacity to reduce the strength of those colors. All while keeping your color treatment intact.



Better color management

There is so much flexibility when it comes to color management and color grading in COP.

First of all, Capture One has individual color profiles for every camera. So, when you import the image files, you get something similar to the preview on the back of your LCD screen.

Lightroom files, however, have a more neutral starting point. This is great for photographers who favor more muted palettes.

Conversely, in COP, the colors look brighter and more vibrant before you make any adjustments. The adjustment options in both programs will give you similar results, but the starting point will be slightly different.

The color tools in COP are also incredibly powerful and versatile.

While Lightroom has the HSL (Hue-Saturation-Luminance) panel with sliders and RGB curves adjustments, COP offers a few more ways to work with color.

You can use the Levels Tool, Tone Curve, Color Editor, or the Advanced Color Editor.

The color options include shadow, mid-tone, and highlight adjustments for Color Balance and a channel dedicated just to adjusting skin tones. COP also has a luminance curves adjustment option.

Some disadvantages to using Capture One

One caveat to using Capture One is that as a less-popular image processor, there are far fewer options when it comes to supporting third-party products like presets and plug-ins.

However, COP has a feature called Recipes, which are similar to presets.

The other major disadvantage is cost.

For US$10 a month, you can have both Lightroom and Photoshop.

COP is US$20 USD a month if you choose the subscription option. It’s $180 USD if you pay for an entire year at once.

Unlike Adobe, however, Capture One also offers the option to buy the latest version of the software outright for $299. Adobe now offers a subscription-based service only – much to the ire of many photographers.

Take Capture Pro for a test run

The best way to get started with Capture One Pro is to download the 30-day free trial and import some of your images from your hard drive.

Set aside some time to go through the tutorials and really get to know the program. Think about how you might set up a workflow were you to make the switch from another RAW editor such as Lightroom.

To sum up

Like any program, there are advantages and disadvantages and there. There is no perfect program.

The bottom line is that you want to make an informed choice. Hopefully this introduction to Capture one Pro has helped you understand some of its benefits.

Do you use Capture One Pro or considering making the switch? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

 

The post Capture One Pro – Should You Make the Switch? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

10 Questions to Ask a Tour Operator Before Signing up for a Photography Tour

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 10:00

The post 10 Questions to Ask a Tour Operator Before Signing up for a Photography Tour appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

The company has an entrancing website and bedazzling photos. The itinerary looks all-encompassing and the testimonials seem positive. You’re excited and have your credit card ready for the deposit.

Slow down, partner.

Before you hand over your money, it’s a good idea to ask a number of questions of the photography tour operator.

Asking questions before paying for a photography tour is all about setting expectations – both yours and the operators. It’s also a chance to learn about the professionalism of the person or company you are signing up with.

Here then are 10 key questions to help you with your tour choice.

1. Do they have insurance? And what will it cover?

Protecting yourself is important with any tour, and it’s important to know what your tour operator has in place before you sign up. With the proliferation of photographers jumping to offering tours, it’s possible not all have put serious thought into insurance matters.

At the least, your operator should have insurance covering accidents during the trip – both ones they cause and ones out of their control.

The reason operators may skimp on insurance is simple – it’s expensive. And that cuts into profits. It’s also often the reason two operators who offer roughly the same itinerary will differ in price by 10-20%. Make sure you are covered before paying your deposit.

2. What is their guest to instructor ratio?

Everyone has their own ideal when it comes to instructor-to-guest ratios. Some enjoy one-on-one instruction all the time, and others prefer a small group of maybe five or six. Still, others may love the anonymity of a large 15-person group so they can do their own thing without interference.

I prefer groups no larger than six guests per instructor. This allows for some hands-on, one-on-one time. It also ensures the instructor is not being asked 5,000 questions while you wait for your chance.

Also, realize that an instructor may have a low ratio, but the over-group size might be larger, meaning they may bring in other instructors to help out. This is usually not a problem, but if you are hoping to hear directly from the lead instructor who attracted you to the tour, be aware you might not get the amount of facetime you’re expecting.

3. Is this a tour or workshop?

What’s the difference between a workshop and a photo tour? Susan Portnoy has a good comparison on her site, The Insatiable Traveler.

A tour is a chance to be guided through an area typically rich in photographic content. There is less direct hands-on instruction, moment to moment, and the subject matter can cover a large spectrum.

A workshop, by contrast, is usually more hands-on and directed to a specific goal. An example of this is a one day workshop on street photography. Your instructor will be close at hand to make all those small course corrections and critiques needed for improvement.

4. Do they have any other assignments during this trip or is this their only gig?

I’ve run across this myself while taking a tour. The instructors brought us to a scenic overlook and then POOF! Gone.

It turned out they had an assignment in that area. While they only headed off five minutes away, it was rather disconcerting to think I, and the other guests, were less important for that hour of ‘other work.’

It’s important to also realize that having other work isn’t necessarily horrible for you. However, it’s important to know about it up front, and then you can decide if it is acceptable. Most of us are okay with some deviation if we know about it in advance.

5. Will there be daily opportunities to review work?

Some people love to have constant feedback and need that on their tour. While others could not care less because their art is a personal endeavor.

If you want regular feedback, ask about it. Again, it’s about setting expectations, so you’re not disappointed when your needs aren’t being met.

Sometimes the reviews are just back-of-camera check-ins to see what you’re seeing and offer correction or encouragement. Or maybe you want an hour of the instructor’s time every three nights in front of a laptop so you can get more in-depth critiques. Either way, know before you go.

6. Why do they run tours to this location?

This is a big question that should be easy for any operator to answer. I believe the best answer is, “Because I love the area/region/country!” Often, the answer in the background is, “Because it is highly profitable or super popular.”

There’s nothing wrong with making a profit or leading tours to popular spots, but I feel it is important to know why the operator is running the tours they run. If it’s for the love of an area, you’re more likely to get hard-to-acquire information, background details, and unique locations. Experience certainly matters in the photography tour business for access to hidden experiences.

7. What is their cancelation policy?

This item is pretty straightforward. You should ask this for tours, workshops or any time you are plopping down a large sum of cash for a service. Do they offer full refunds? What is the deadline for canceling without a fee? Do they offer to reschedule if extenuating circumstances or family health are involved?

What about the operator canceling a tour? Will they try to rebook you with another, similar operator? How quickly will they offer a return of all funds?

8. What is a typical day like?

The advertisements and website you researched looked incredible! Beautiful images and exotic locations abound in that slick presentation.

But what will it really be like when you’re on the tour? Sure, no two days will be the same if you’re traveling all around. However, it is important to understand if you’ll be on a bus for five hours each day or if dinner is planned without thought to sunset timing each night. It’s often the difference between a photo tour and a regular tour.

In my mind, a photo tour should be a balance of exposure to opportunities with time to reflect and take a break. Food is also very important to keep energy up for shooting all day. If you’re always on the move, you won’t have time for photos. If your itinerary covers too much ground, you’ll see a lot of things through car or bus windows without many opportunities.

Pacing can be essential during a week or two-week long tour. If every day is packed with 18 hours of photography and instruction, you’re going to be exhausted by Day 3. Flexibility is also important so that one event taking extra time doesn’t make the rest of the day’s itinerary crumble.

9. How much instruction can you expect?

This question is also a chance to make your expectations known. If you want hand-holding the whole time, and have barely touched a camera, let the operator know so they can decide if the trip will be a good fit.

Perhaps you have a particular skill set you want to develop. Letting the operator know early will help them prepare, and both of you can work on a simple plan to help you improve during the tour. Everyone on your trip will have different aspects of photography they want to improve. Expressing your desires will help all involved.

10. Do they handle all logistics or work with local operators?

This is another question that has no right or wrong answer, but it’s important to know in setting your expectations. Some operators, to increase profits or because they desire more control, will want to book all the hotels, events, admissions, etc., themselves. This can also lead to a lower cost for guests. But it can also lead to the operator taking more time away from instructing.

On the other hand, an operator who hires a local guide or tour company should have more time for instructing. It can also help to have a local when things go sideways, and a deep understanding of local customs and protocol is essential. It allows for a division of labor; the local guide can go ahead and check the group into a hotel and have rooms ready while the group continues to soak up a particularly beautiful sunset.

Conclusion

Many of the questions I posed here have no right or wrong answer. However, I feel they are all important to ask in setting expectations before investing time and money in a tour. Asking them can also help expose a guide who is not organized or ready to take a group on a trip due to lack of diligence.

Can you think of other important questions to ask? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below.

 

The post 10 Questions to Ask a Tour Operator Before Signing up for a Photography Tour appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

5 Reasons to Consider Aperture Priority Over Manual Mode

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 15:00

The post 5 Reasons to Consider Aperture Priority Over Manual Mode appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

Choosing aperture priority mode in difficult lighting situations can free your mind up to deal with the things that matter most to the photo, like timing, rather than messing around with the dials to get the same result.

There’s a lot to be said for the manual exposure mode on your camera. When you’re starting out, learning how to shoot in manual will help you to learn the relationship between shutter speed and aperture. This ensures that you learn what the camera is doing every time you make an exposure. It also builds the basis for you to take what you learn about exposure and correct for the camera’s inability to cope with extreme exposure situations as well as to make creative choices for your images.

After you’ve learned the ins and outs of manual mode, however, there are a few reasons why you might want to forego your hard-learned manual skills for Aperture Priority mode. This article outlines five of these reasons and details what Aperture Priority mode might offer you and your photography in some situations.

1. Aperture priority does the same job as manual mode

In manual mode, the meter in your camera is taking a reading based on your set ISO (provided you’re not using auto ISO). The chances are likely that you’ve picked a deliberate aperture setting before you even lifted the camera up. To get your exposure, you now have to alter the shutter speed so that the indicator on your camera lines up with what the meter dictates is a correct exposure.

Aperture priority does the exact same thing, except that the camera sets up the shutter speed for you.

In instances where you are trusting your camera’s light meter (let’s be honest, that’s most of the time), this will result in the same exposure every single time whether you are shooting in manual mode or aperture priority mode.

What aperture priority mode does is remove the need for you to set the shutter speed yourself. It frees you to concentrate on things like composition without having to constantly keep an eye on the meter.

Exposing for the meter in manual mode resulted in an exposure of f/11 at 1/50th of a second.

Exposing the scene in aperture priority mode just a second later resulted in the exact same exposure. f/11 at 1/50th of a second.

In situations where you need to compensate for dark or light subjects, aperture priority mode still gives you full manual control of the exposure through exposure compensation. Are you taking photos of a dark subject like a black dog? Dial in -1 stop of exposure compensation just one time and keep shooting without having to constantly adjust your settings to get to the same result. Are you taking photos of a fluffy white dog? Same again. This time, add +1 stop of exposure compensation and away you go.

Dark subjects will require you to underexpose them. In Aperture priority mode, this is easily done with exposure compensation. Once you dial in exposure compensation, you are set to go until it has to be changed again. With light-toned subjects, you will have to overexpose them to maintain the correct exposure.

High contrast subjects, like this sheep’s white face lit directly by the setting sun, will also have to be underexposed by at least a few stops.

The only difference between aperture priority mode and manual mode in these circumstances is that you will be spending more time focusing on the creation of the photos than you will be on the dials on your camera.

To be clear, I am not advocating for not learning how to use manual mode. For the best results, it is important for you to understand how your camera works in relation to exposure. Using manual mode is the best and fastest way to do that. So, please, don’t skip over manual altogether. However, once you have it down, using other modes alongside your knowledge of exposure and how it works will help you and your photos in the long run.

2. Speed

The backlighting in this image created an extremely high contrast situation. By dialing in -3 stops of exposure compensation, I was able to ensure that the issues were dealt with in a series of images with one turn of the dial.

As mentioned, using aperture priority reduces the amount of time you have to spend watching the camera’s meter. Because the camera is now setting the shutter speed for you, the only thing you have to worry about in most situations is exposure compensation. Once you set your camera to aperture priority mode, it takes only one finger (on all modern cameras that I’ve used) to adjust the exposure compensation settings.

Need to underexpose by a stop? Just turn the one (relevant) dial three clicks. Done.

The only other thing you might have to worry about is if you have the need, or want, to change your ISO. But that is going to be more uncommon.

3. Aperture priority still gives full manual control

At the risk of repeating myself, but I feel this point really needs to be driven home. Aperture priority mode gives you full manual control over your exposure. It is not automatic, or an auto mode, in any way more than it allows the camera to set the shutter speed based on the meter you are already using.  At any time while in aperture priority mode, you will still have full manual input on what exposure the camera is recording. You just have less physical steps to go through before you get there.

4. Helps to create a constant exposure in changing lighting conditions

One scenario in which aperture priority mode really shines is in changing lighting conditions. For example, if you’re out on a windy and cloudy day, the light levels can constantly shift. In aperture priority mode, your camera changes the shutter speed for correct exposure (already taking into account any exposure compensation that you might have set). Thus, helping you to achieve a consistent look for all of the images in a sequence. This is most useful in terms of shooting a sequence of images to later stitch into a panorama.

When creating a sequence of images for a panorama, aperture priority can help to ensure a consistent exposure throughout the frames.

If you were shooting this sequence in manual mode, it would require you to be constantly looking at the meter and changing your shutter speed settings as required. This isn’t a big deal, but using aperture priority mode allows you to get the same results without constant fetter over the settings.

At sunset, the light rapidly changes. Add a moving subject to that high contrast scene and you have an exposure nightmare. Aperture priority can help to maintain a fairly consistent exposure between frames.

This isn’t perfect, and extreme shifts in lighting can have drastic effects on your images and your exposure. You will still have to pay attention to the details to ensure nothing is going wrong. On normal days, however, it will work just fine.

5. TTL and HSS enabled flashes

Using aperture priority with TTL and HSS enabled flashes might just be the perfect match.

When you are using a flash with TTL (through the lens metering) and HSS (High-Speed Sync) enabled, the chances are that you are going to be working with a fixed aperture anyway.

Remember, shutter speed does not affect flash exposure, only ambient exposure. Aperture priority mode will give you the freedom to set your desired aperture and then let the camera do what it needs to match the meter.

Not only will you still have full control over the exposure compensation for the ambient, but you will also have full control over exposure compensation with the flash unit.

Again, this allows you to get the exposure where you want it one time, and then you are free to concentrate on the actual photos.

That’s it

Aperture priority can be a fantastic tool for any photographer. At the end of the day, it does the exact same thing that manual mode does. It just takes away some physical steps that you have to go through in manual mode to set the exposure.

That said, like just about everything else in photography, it is not perfect, and it won’t always be a solution.

If you take only one thing away from this article, let it be this: shooting only in manual mode does not make you a better photographer. Aperture priority and shutter priority modes do the exact same thing, just in a different way. Use whichever works for the situation you’re in.

Do you use Aperture or Shutter Priority? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.

 

The post 5 Reasons to Consider Aperture Priority Over Manual Mode appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

How to Create a Documentary Photography Project

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 10:00

The post How to Create a Documentary Photography Project appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

We all love a good story. A tale that captures your attention and draws you in to discover more. Creating a documentary photography project can be a great way to develop your photography. It can also help hold the attention of your audience for longer.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Random collections of unrelated images tend to be glanced over. This is especially so when most of your photography is viewed on social media platforms. Making your photography stick in people’s minds is a constant challenge.

Developing a photography project and working on it over a period of time, be it weeks, months or even years, can help you stand out from the crowd. Your personal skills and style will evolve in a more meaningful direction. The deeper commitment you have to a documentary photography project the more you will benefit.

Have a plan and a purpose for your photography project

Charging into a project on a whim will sometimes work, but not often. Without purpose and a plan, you are more likely to lose interest. You’ll struggle to keep momentum and find it too challenging to come up with fresh ideas to keep your project alive.

Start a list. Write down ideas as they come to you. What would most like to photograph? As you start, don’t restrict yourself. Jot down whatever comes to mind, giving no thought to whether or not it’s practical. Let your list grow over a week and then review it.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Give yourself some space alone with your list. Edit it down to what’s practical. What can you photograph every day, or every week? If anything on your list is not accessible to you, remove it. Add it to a list for future projects.

Concentrate on what excites you. What’s on your list that you’d most like to commit to photographing regularly? Having a passion for your theme or concept will keep you motivated. Don’t choose ideas you think will be easy. Being challenged is good for you.

Narrow your list down to two or three ideas. Mull these over before deciding on one of them. Even make a start on more than one. You can begin work on more than one project, then, if it’s too much of a commitment, pick the one you’re enjoying the most.

Now write another list of what you will do with the photos you’ll create for your documentary project. Stories are for sharing. Who will be interested in the tale you are telling? What’s the best medium or platform for you to display your images?

You might want to make a physical scrapbook with prints of your favorite photos. Instagram or Pinterest may be an ideal outlet for you, or your own website. Photo sharing sites like 500px or Flickr are also options. You could email a small selection of your project photos to one or two photographer friends each week for their feedback. Consider what you most want to achieve by sharing your photos.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Know your subject better than anyone

Research. Dig into your chosen project idea like it’s brand new. Even if you already know a lot about it, find out more. Telling a story built on thin information will not hold people’s attention for very long.

The more of an expert you become on your subject, the better the story you will tell. You might even want to plan a narrative. What will be the beginning, middle, and end? The greater your knowledge about it, the more interesting detail you’ll be able to include. You want other experts on your topic to be surprised at what you are showing them in your photos.

Look into the history of the project idea. Talk to people who know about your topic. Don’t only rely on the internet. To touch the heart of the thing will require experience – yours and other people’s.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Take lots of photographs

While it’s important to plan, don’t be held back by it. Make a start as soon as you have decided on what your documentary photography project will be. You might start slowly and change direction a few times, but that’s okay.

Procrastinating will not help you achieve your goals. Once you begin, you will see your story develop, and you can steer it in any direction you feel is right.

The topic for your project may dictate how frequently you can take photos. Hopefully, this will be regular, especially if you are embarking on your first documentary photo project.

Vary the images you are making. You may decide to use one prime lens. If so, push yourself to create a diverse selection of compositions with it. Or use your widest and your longest lens with the same subject on the same day for variety.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Use a mixture of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings to also help build an interesting series of photos. If there’s movement, let it blur out using a slow shutter speed. If you would normally photography a subject with a wide aperture, close it down and get as much in focus as possible. Stretch your technique beyond what you would typically use.

Photograph in a mixture of lighting situations. Take some photos in the morning and others in the afternoon or at night. Aiming for variety will give you a more interesting body of work to edit down from for the images you will share.

As you build up a body of work, you will begin to see your strengths and weaknesses. You will see the photos you like the most. Organize these into a separate folder, or series of folders so that you can compare them often.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Cultivate a relationship with your project

Photographing a project will involve some amount of repetition. You’ll visit the same locations. Photograph the same things. Meet the same people. Experience weather and seasonal changes.

Be aware of your feelings each time you are working on your project. Make photographs that are in tune with your mood and how you are experiencing what you are doing. This will make your story more personal and interesting.

Your view of the world is unique, and your photographs should portray this. The concept may seem a little abstract, but as you are mindful of it and practice over time, you will find your photos become more expressive of who you are.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Interacting with people who are part of your project, if there are any, will help develop the character in your photo story. You might prefer to only take candid photos of people, but the way you do this will also reflect in your pictures. Using a long lens, or a wide one, will result in very different candid images.

Engaging with people throughout your project is very interesting. At the start, people may be uncertain of what you’re doing or why. As you revisit and photograph them, your relationship with them will change. People will become accustomed to you and will be more relaxed in your presence. Others may become irritated or bored. The nature of the photos you make of them will change.

Observe the differences. What’s changed since the last time you worked on your project? Look for subtitles you may not have picked up on if you’d only photographed in that place once. Over time you will start to see things you did not pick up on before. These details can add a depth of interest to your documentary project.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Review your photos and seek feedback

What do you think of your photos? Are others enjoying your visual storytelling?

Working on a project allows you to see your own photography developing. Because you’re photographing the same theme or concept over a period of time, you will reproduce similar types of photos. Compare them. Can you see growth in your skills and style?

Separate the top 10 or 20 percent of your photos after each session you have working on your project. This will give you a clearer idea of your progress. From time to time, review these photos and look for gaps in your story. What’s missing? What are you photographing too much?

Having a photographer friend or mentor look over your photos and share their critique on them will help you see things from another perspective. They may point out things or ask questions you have not thought of. Healthy feedback can lead to a deeper, richer story being told.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Let your documentary photography project grow organically

Go with the flow. Don’t stick to your plan too closely if you feel a more exciting story is emerging from your project. Let it develop organically. This will help you keep interested in what you are doing. You may stretch your project out for longer than you had planned.

Start today. Begin writing your list of ideas. Don’t rush it, but don’t let the idea stagnate. Once you begin, keep thinking about your project and adding to it. Right from when you start your list, through to the taking of photos and sharing them.

Have you ever given yourself the challenge of a documentary photography project? You may find you love the more in-depth storytelling aspect of working on a body of work.

Do you already have a project which has stalled a little and needs a kickstart? Design a story for it and plan to share it. This can help you get back on track.

 

The post How to Create a Documentary Photography Project appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Why You Need a Digital Photo Frame

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 15:00

The post Why You Need a Digital Photo Frame appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

One of the unsung heroes of modern photography is the tried-and-true digital photo frame. These simple devices have been around for years, and yet they are rarely discussed in photography circles. With huge televisions adorning our walls, and smartphones stuffed into our pockets, one might wonder why there is any reason to own a digital photo frame. In the past few years, I have grown to greatly appreciate these devices, and I have realized how valuable, useful, and downright practical they are. If you or someone you know needs a good solution to viewing photos, a digital frame might be just what you’re looking for.

When digital frames first came on the market back in the mid-2000s, they were a great idea severely hampered by bad technology. Bezels were huge, the screens were small, and the images were dim and blurry. Setting up frames required toiling through a myriad of menus with nonsensical buttons and on-screen context clues.

Adding images to a digital frame was an exercise in frustration and required many steps on the part of the user. Plus, transitions between pictures were garish and often unbecoming of the memories on display.

It’s no wonder most people have stopped thinking about digital frames!

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.

I was in the same boat until recently. However, the more I investigated what modern technology offers, the more impressed I became. In contrast to their counterparts from a decade ago, today’s digital frames have bright displays, show large high-resolution photos, are thin and sleek, and cost less than you might think. They often have cloud-based interfaces, offer companion smartphone apps, and can even show video clips.

The Nixplay Seed Wave has a large screen and wi-fi connectivity.

One-Trick Pony

One of the best reasons to get a digital frame isn’t because of what they can do, but what they can’t do. It seems silly to have yet another device in a world where screens already surround us, but the digital frames eschew the traditional idea of a computer screen by turning it on its head. They follow the adage of doing one thing and doing it well.

Most digital frames don’t let you do anything but view pictures. And this is precisely what makes them so great. They don’t run thousands of apps, let you surf social networks, or make video calls. They don’t play games, won’t let you binge-watch Netflix or YouTube, and don’t bombard you with notifications.

Digital frames sit there, passively doing only one thing: showing your pictures.

The Aura Digital Photo Frame has facial-recognition built into its companion app and a touchscreen for navigating options.

In an era where every device and gadget continually begs for our attention, digital frames are like an oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s downright refreshing to see a bright digital frame sitting on a shelf, knowing you can’t do anything with it other than look at pictures.

You don’t have to worry about software updates, and your viewing experience isn’t cluttered with dozens of icons and bubbles vying for your attention. In a media-saturated world, digital frames are a great way to slow down and enjoy, appreciate, and reflect on your pictures without distraction.

Some smart appliances like the Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub act as photo frames, but I prefer the simplicity and focus of a dedicated frame. Other devices like that are nice, but the features they offer can often distract you from just enjoying your photos.

Advanced frames like the Google Nest Hub Max do lots of things, but I prefer simpler frames that don’t have built-in cameras, digital assistants, or alert bubbles begging for your attention.

To print or not to print

Like many people, my wife and I have struggled for years with the question of what to do about getting prints made of our pictures. We’ve made yearbooks that adorn our end tables, mounted framed snapshots on dressers, and festooned our walls with large prints and canvases. These are great, and we enjoy them a great deal, but every one of them eventually grows old over time.

When that inevitably happens, we have to consider what to do next. Do we keep the old prints around? Do we put up new images in place of what was once there? There are also practical concerns, like where to get prints made, what size to make them, and what happens when our favorite photo book publisher goes out of business?

We enjoy seeing prints as much as anyone, but the logistical hassles have added layers of stress and indecision onto what should be an enjoyable process.

The Pix-Star 15-inch frame lets you see your photos without printing them.

A digital frame solves almost all of these problems. Our 8×10″ Nixplay Seed sits in our living room showing a massive assortment of images without any effort from us. In the course of a single day, we see photos of family vacations, our kids when they were infants, and old slides that we scanned from negatives. We don’t have to think about switching photos out, spend entire evenings trying to decide which images are worth printing, or wonder whether a particular photo is worthy of being displayed for all to see.

Of course, there are still plenty of reasons to get pictures printed. But if you want a simple way to enjoy your pictures without the hassle of making physical copies, a digital frame might be right for you.

As is the case with most digital gadgets these days, storage space is not the same constraint as it used to be. Many frames have internal storage of at least 8GB, which is enough for almost 10,000 images. If that’s not enough, you can look for one with a removable memory card slot to add even more space.

Modern digital frames have more than enough storage space for your pictures. Unlike your walls and bookshelves, which can quickly fill up with physical prints.

Image quality

If you think that displaying your images on a digital frame means sacrificing overall quality, think again. This might have been true in 2005, but now, frames are leaps and bounds beyond where they used to be. As recently as a few years ago, many frames had resolutions of about 72 or 96dpi – similar to that of older computers.

This resolution is fine if you’re viewing your images from a distance, as often is the case when using frames in a household setting. However, frames today often have much higher pixel densities or anywhere between 150-300dpi that put them on par with most laptop screens and even that of some mobile phones.

This means that your images, even when viewed up close, are as crisp and sharp as you would see if you got them printed and you’ll be able to make out every detail from wisps of hair to blades of grass.

Aura makes a 9.7-inch frame with 2048×1536 resolution, which shows your memories in crisp, clear detail.

Most modern digital frames use bright screens that are now viewable from any angle, unlike older versions which required you to stand in the right spot to see your images. Your pictures appear bright and colorful, and some digital frames even let you show video clips alongside your images.

Worry-free sharing

With all the recent problems regarding data privacy on social network sites like Instagram and Facebook, it’s no wonder so many people are deleting their accounts! If you, or your friends and family, are limiting your social media usage but still want to see pictures of the important things in your life, a digital frame is just the answer. To illustrate this, I’m going to use my in-laws as an example.

My wife’s parents aren’t on any social media at all, and they prefer to spend their time reading, gardening, walking the dogs, and going out with friends. This means they don’t get to see any pictures of their grandchildren unless we send them physical prints, which they have to find a spot to display. A few months ago, my wife and I bought them a digital photo frame and have since populated it with well over a thousand images of us and our kids.

Do you have friends or family members who aren’t on social media? Get them a digital frame and fill it with photos for them to enjoy.

We shared their frame information with other family members who have also sent pictures to the frame. My wife’s parents love it! The frame sits in their living room, showing photos of the people they love without any effort on their part. And, they didn’t have to join a social network or share any personal data.

If you have people in your life who are concerned about data-mining and privacy, consider a digital frame as a happy medium. It allows you to share pictures on a more limited and intentional basis than sites like Instagram or Flickr. But the tradeoff is, you are in full control of the images, and none of your personal information is sold to third-parties for advertising.

This simple Tenker 7-inch frame, and others like it, won’t send your photos off to be analyzed for advertising.

Tips

Here’s a few more tips that might help you with digital frames.

  • Set your display to change pictures less often. Every hour or less is much better than every 30 seconds. It will seem slow at first, but you’ll get a lot more enjoyment in the long term. You won’t feel like you’re seeing the same images over and over.
  • Export your photos to the resolution of your frame to save on storage space. Sending a 24-megapixel image to a 3-megapixel frame won’t do you any good at all.
  • Set your friends and family up with sharing permissions so they can send you photos. Then make sure to return the favor and send photos to their frames too.
  • You can build your own photo frame with a cheap Android tablet and some software, but I recommend getting an off-the-shelf model. It’s just easier and will probably make your life a lot simpler in the long run.
  • Most modern frames have built-in memory but also sync with cloud storage options like Dropbox and Google Drive. You might have to configure a few settings, but it can make the already-easy process of sending pictures even simpler.

Do you use a digital photo frame? Or, are there reasons why you don’t? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.

 

 

The post Why You Need a Digital Photo Frame appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Catalog Photos Like a Pro: ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019 Review

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 10:00

The post Catalog Photos Like a Pro: ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019 Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

ACDSee software has been around since the earliest days of digital photography. For 20 years, it’s been competing with Adobe Photoshop. Today, with Adobe offering its top image-editing programs by subscription only, there’s more room than ever for alternatives. ACDSee offers a compelling subscription model of its own, but it also maintains a full suite of standalone products. Photo Studio Standard 2019 is among them, and I’ll review it here.

The default layout in Manage mode of ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019. You can move things around as you wish and close any panes you don’t need.

Aimed at keen photographers with growing photo collections, ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019 is ideal for sorting, finding, and viewing photos. It also has a set of editing tools that will quickly make your pictures look good for the web or printing. We’ll look at all this in detail. To avoid wasting anyone’s time, this program recognizes and opens raw files but it’s not a raw editor or metadata editor – it’s a pixel editor. You have no control over how raw files are processed and can only save 8-bit files.

Preview of a DNG file. You can embed ACDSee metadata into DNG files, unlike other raw formats.

This review of ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019 will include the following:

  • Starting up
  • Manage mode
  • Photos mode
  • View mode
  • Edit mode
  • Other features
  • Conclusion
Starting up

One thing that struck me immediately about ACDSee software was how quickly it opened. Sometimes I wait 2-3 minutes for Photoshop CC to start. There are technical reasons for that, like the plug-ins I have loaded into it and its sheer girth. Perhaps it connects to my Adobe account, too. Whatever. Photo Studio Standard 2019 opens in around 15-20 seconds every time.

Manage mode

Digital asset management (DAM) is the great strength of ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019. In Manage mode, the software offers all you need for sorting and locating your images. Like many people, you may already have your folders arranged chronologically. This is handy for sifting through them using the folder pane of ACDSee, but the software gives you lots of other ways to find pictures.

Here, I’m using the folder pane in Manage mode to browse photos. I’m not the best organizer, but I do have most folders labeled chronologically.

Calendar pane

I latched onto the Calendar pane within minutes of opening ACDSee. Even if you have your folders arranged by date, it’s so quick to rifle through your photos month by month using the calendar. You can widen the search by choosing multiple months or use single days to narrow it. I used this feature straight away to dig out a few files I might’ve overlooked as potential stock photos.

Catalog pane

The ACDSee Catalog pane gives you several ways to find what you’re looking for: color labels, keywords, ratings, saved searches, categories, and auto categories. Of course, you have to add most of this info yourself to the images, but that’s easy using the software. Auto categories come from EXIF data, so you can filter results by the lens or aperture used, for instance.

There are various ways to filter photos in the Catalog pane, some of which rely on you having rated, keyworded, labeled, tagged, or categorized your photos already. In this screenshot, I’m looking at photos taken with a particular lens.[/

Map pane

ACDSee includes a Map pane. Drag your photo(s) onto the place where they were taken, hit Save, and the GPS coordinates are automatically embedded into the EXIF data. Cool! That wasn’t a feature I expected at this price point (Lightroom has it), but it does show how thorough this software is in what it does.

Dragging a photo or several photos onto a spot on the map and hitting “Save” embeds GPS coordinates into the metadata.

Shortcuts pane

The Shortcuts pane offers a way of bookmarking files you know you’ll often need. It makes it that little bit quicker to find any special photos – perhaps a collection of your best-ever shots.

Image Basket

Another neat feature of Photo Studio Standard 2019 is the Image Basket. Normally, when I’m preparing a gallery for the web, I create a new folder on my desktop to work from. The Image Basket is a way of gathering original files together without having to copy them elsewhere.

Keywording in ACDSee

Keywords are an invaluable way of quickly finding what you’re looking for, but they can be time-consuming to add. ACDSee is ahead of Adobe in this respect. It’ll import any keywords you’ve added elsewhere to the IPTC data, but it has excellent keywording capability of its own.

The ability to create large keyword sets of up to 250 is enough to satisfy any lexicologist. I wouldn’t normally need that many, but 40 or 50 isn’t uncommon. Adobe software is restrictive in this respect.

A welcome feature of the new ACDSee ‘Quick Keyword’ tool is the ability to use 25 rows by 10 columns of words (i.e., up to 250 keywords). In Lightroom, you can only have 9 keywords max per set – a source of frustration for many users. ACDSee has its own metadata field that is stored in the database rather than embedded in the file, but you can embed it into suitable file formats.

Photos mode

In Photos mode, ACDSee catalogs all images from the location(s) of your choice and puts them on display so you can scroll through them. Like the Calendar pane, it’s an easy way for you to search visually and find pictures. Hovering the cursor over a thumbnail brings up a larger preview with vital info such as image dimensions, file size, and folder location.

Photos mode on the daily setting. You can scroll through your whole database, but it’s still divided by daily, monthly or yearly headings.

View mode

Double-click on a photo in Manage or Photos mode and you’ll bring up a large view of the image in ACDSee’s View mode. Various viewing options are available as well as useful editing tools like Auto Light EQ and Auto Lens. You can rapidly scroll through files in this mode and tag images or add ratings, labels, keywords, and categories. It’s an extension of Manage mode if you want it to be. Clicking on Edit mode from here takes the open picture into editing.

View mode is the place to be if you want to browse large previews of your pictures. Double-clicking on any picture in Manage or Photos mode brings you here, too. You can also perform a few basic edits in this space or categorize photos.

Edit Mode

ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019 has plenty to offer in terms of editing but something has to be sacrificed at this price point, and that’s parametric (non-destructive) editing. Photo Studio Standard is a pixel editor only, so you make physical changes to rendered images. You can still leave the original file untouched, but as soon as you finish editing and save a file, there’s no going back and tweaking your adjustments. This is more important if you’re in the habit of reworking pictures or if you edit extensively and want your work to be reversible.

Repair

There are a couple of tools under the “Repair” heading. The red-eye reduction tool is something I’d probably never have a need for, but I tested this with a public domain image. Works well – easy to use.

With this close-up view, I found myself wishing the size of the adjustment would go slightly larger, as it barely covered the dilated pupil. But still, the red-eye has gone. Most portraits won’t be as near to the subject. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

One of the few glitches I encountered in ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019 was a malfunction among the repair tools. I can get the Heal tool to work, and it does a nice job of blending the sampled pixels into a new area. But the Clone tool hasn’t worked for me even after a reinstall. I just get a blacked-out image. This appears to be a bug in the program, as it works flawlessly in other ACDSee software I have on my PC.

Add

Under the “Add” heading you can insert text into your photos or a watermark (the Watermark feature is new in 2019). The default watermark is the ACDSee camera logo, but you can use your own graphic if you want. There are also borders, vignetting, special effects and tilt-shift choices here.

The Tilt-Shift tool makes Manhattan look miniaturized.

Personally, I’d be most likely to use vignetting out of these, as it helps direct the viewer’s eye and is a useful photographic tool. It can be fun to add borders to your photos, too, which you can customize in this case with a wide selection of textures or any color you choose.

I counted 54 special effects in ACDSee’s collection, and each is modifiable in some way. Even the ones that don’t instantly appeal might work for you with some adjustment, so there’s a lot to go at. Among my favorites are Collage, Lomo, and Orton. The latter is great for creating a dreamy look.

This is the Orton special effect, making a peaceful scene even dreamier.

Geometry

Under “Geometry”, ACDSee provides rotate, flip, crop, and resize tools. There are some thoughtful touches among these tools, like the ability to control darkness outside the crop area. The Rotate tool also has a cropping feature, so you can level the picture up if necessary and correct wonky horizons.

When resizing, the default algorithm is Lanczos, but it’s worth experimenting, depending on what you do with your photos. Lanczos gives a sharp result when downsizing, for instance, but if you want to back off that a little and achieve smoother edges, try Bicubic.

Exposure/Lighting

ACDSee offers some powerful tools under “Exposure/Lighting,” not least its excellent Light EQ technology alongside traditional tools like levels and curves. Light EQ is similar to curves, only better in some respects since it treats highlights, mid-tones, and shadows separately. That’s only possible to a degree using curves without layers.

Here, I’m using ACDSee Light EQ to adjust the tone of the image. By having the Exposure Warning switched on, I can ensure a good tonal range without losing detail in the shadows or highlights. As soon as pixels appear in red or green, I back off the adjustment slightly. I have the histogram showing the blue channel, as that’s the nearest to clipping at both ends.

The auto buttons in these exposure/lighting controls are also worth a hit every now and again. Personally, I find the auto setting in Light EQ tends to make things too bright, but it might provide a better starting point.

You can set your black and white points using eyedroppers in levels and also define the clipping limits under “tolerance.” (Don’t worry if this means nothing to you – it’s only one of several options.

I should mention, too, that ACDSee provides an Edit Brush and gradients with many of these controls, so you can apply edits to selected parts of the image.

Color

Under “Color,” you’ll find White Balance, Color Balance, Convert to Black and White, and Color LUTs. The White Balance tool is excellent, though, like all white balance tools, it relies on neutral tones in the image to use as reference points.

You could also correct color using the Color Balance tool, especially in conjunction with the floating histogram. A good thing about the ACDSee histogram is you can stretch it out as far as you like for a detailed look at tonal distribution. There’s a hue/saturation tool alongside color balance.

You can make the floating histogram as compact or elongated as you wish.

“Convert to Black and White” is new to ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019. Based on the colors you know are in the image (e.g. blue sky), you can adjust their brightness to alter the contrast of the final result. This also lets you emphasize different areas of the photo. Good stuff! Contrast is also affected by the RGB percentages, which must always add up to 100. A high proportion of red usually creates more contrast in cloudy blue skies, for instance. Colorized monochrome images are possible, too, under Convert to Black and White.

Using the new “Convert to Black and white” feature, I’ve increased the brightness of cyan a fair bit to make the fire-escape steps stand out more. Then I’ve colorized the picture with sepia-like brown tones.

One of the best things in ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019 Edit mode has to be Color LUTs. These let you alter the look of your photos (often drastically) via numerical color shifts. They’re like photo filters on steroids. ACDSee LUTs are good, but you can also download LUTs from the web and load them into the program.

The lower half of this picture has the ACDSee “Turin” Color LUT applied to it. Look closely and you’ll see it’s darker with deeper blue windows and yet has a more cyan sky. You can use the Edit Brush or gradients on many edits.

Detail

Sharpen, blur, noise, and clarity all lie under the “Detail” heading. These are all pretty standard. The sharpen tool is like unsharp mask with amount, radius and threshold settings. Typically, you use a low radius for high-frequency photos with a lot of fine detail or a higher radius to bring out coarse detail across a wide area. A sharpening mask slider would be a nice bonus here if I were compiling a wants list. That would be quicker than selective sharpening with a brush.

Other Features

In case all the above isn’t enough, there’s more. For instance, the external editor feature in Manage mode lets you swiftly open images in other programs. Perhaps that will be Photoshop or it could be ACDSee Photo Editor 10, which would complement Photo Studio Standard well.

ACDSee also has a dashboard that gives you stats on equipment used, database size, and photo counts that show you how prolific you’ve been at various times.

The ACDSee Dashboard, indicating prolific use of a Sony RX100 in my case. There are numerous other stats available.

You can create PDFs, PowerPoint files, slideshow files, zip archives, contact sheets, and HTML albums straight out of ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019, too. There really isn’t a lot you can’t do.

More new stuff

ACDSee also introduced AutoSave and Auto Advance features in 2019. AutoSave does away with the “do you want to save changes?” dialog when you move onto another image. Auto Advance is good for rating, labeling, or categorizing photos, as it moves onto the next image automatically once you’ve clicked.

Also new in 2019 are customizable keyboard shortcuts, support for HEIF files (used on later iPhones), and print improvements that let you adjust for differences between what you see on screen and what your printer produces.

Conclusion

As much as I understand the benefits of SaaS and subscription software models, I think there will always be a market for standalone products that consumers can update when they want.

ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019 is, first and foremost, a great photo organizer. I’ve never seen better. It’s quick as a browser – doesn’t hold you up – and it gives you workflow choices. There are lots of nice touches to make tasks easier. It’s not especially advanced as a photo editor, but you can achieve a lot without layers, 3rd-party plugins, and even Adobe’s unassailable repair tools.

If like me, you prefer taking photos to organizing them, ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019 is the ideal way to get your collection under control. It drills into your database from several directions and helps you find any picture. Many people will want to supplement the editing capabilities with other programs, but you won’t find much better than this for photo management.

Disclaimer: ACDSee is a paid partner of dPS

The post Catalog Photos Like a Pro: ACDSee Photo Studio Standard 2019 Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

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