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100 Things to Photograph When You’re Out of Ideas

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 08:00

The post 100 Things to Photograph When You’re Out of Ideas appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

Sooner or later we all run out of things to photograph. Or we think we have. In reality, there are countless things right in front of you worth photographing. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut photographing the same thing over and over, eventually leaving your camera in the bag for weeks at a time.

To help you figure out what to photograph when your mind is blank, I’ve compiled a list of more than 100 ideas. You can even combine items on this list to create hundreds of combinations of things to photograph.

There are several categories to choose from and I recommend trying a category you don’t have much experience with.

I normally just walk right by windows. But the light, frost and paper crane caught my eye.

Nature

There is a whole world waiting to be explored by you and your camera. And it’s not just what your eyes can see but what is hidden underneath and behind or inside.

You walk right over the surface of the earth every day, but everything you see has it’s own surface to be explored. Pull out your macro lens and inspect the surfaces of the natural world.

  • Flowers
  • Trees, branches, bark
  • Vines
  • Leaves
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Driftwood
  • Tall grass

Consider photographing places such as:

  • Fields
  • Orchard (in bloom or full of fruit)
  • Pumpkin patch
  • Sunflower field

When I first got my camera, I would take pictures of flowers. I was never happy with the photos but didn’t understand why. One evening I photographed this garden and loved the way this photo looked. Once I learned about light, I realized why I love this photo. It’s incredibly soft light produced by the last 5 minutes of light before the sunset.

If you choose to photograph flowers, don’t just go for the typical flower shot. Focus on the petals, leaves, stems, and even dig down to the roots. Light is essential to plant life. Photograph them in harsh noon light, golden hour, and play with backlight to make silhouettes. Crack open seeds and nuts to explore their inner world. Don’t forget to photograph them after it rains.

Then keep exploring water.

  • Water (sprinkler, hose)
  • Rain
  • Creek, pond, lake, ocean
  • Waves
  • Ice
  • Snow
  • Steam

There is no need to limit nature photography to daylight hours. When the moon is bright it is a wonderful light source. This is especially true when the landscape is covered in snow because it reflects the light.

Even “the ground” is a worthy subject.

  • Rocks
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Soil

If you’re more of a people photographer than a nature photographer, consider bringing people along with you to have in the photos. Especially when it comes to:

  • Pathways
  • Trails
  • Dirt roads

People

There are many ways to photograph people. Yes, they could be posing. But you can also capture candid moments. Don’t pressure yourself to try something as big as portrait, street, or wedding photography. Just find somebody you can take pictures of. You don’t have to know what you’re doing, just do it and something interesting will emerge.

Families (yours or a friends):
  • Newborn
  • Toddler
  • Child
  • Teen
  • Siblings
  • Twins, triplets
  • A whole family
  • 3+ generations

If you’re going out with friends to a park bring your camera along and tune into candid moments.

Kids:

One single child could provide you with an infinite number of possible photos:

  • Playing with bubbles
  • At a playground
  • Riding bikes
  • Playing sports
  • Swimming
  • Balancing

Photograph your friends with:
  • An interesting job
  • Hobby
  • Music
  • Farm
  • Sports
  • Artist
  • Chef
  • Tools
  • Business

You could expand your skills or even produce an entire portfolio just by committing to photograph a few people over the course of a month or two.

Animals
  • Pets
  • Friend’s animals
  • A farm
  • A vet
  • A shelter
  • Pet store (offer them social media photos)
  • Zoo
  • Aquarium
  • Bugs
  • Birds
  • Fish, water creatures

Remember to turn off your flash when photographing through glass so that it doesn’t create a reflection.

Events

When it comes to events you’re automatically combining people, places, food, animals and interesting activities. You can find plenty of events listed on your city’s website.

  • Sports
  • Public event/festival
  • Street photography
  • Parade
  • Contact a media network to see what photos they need
  • Local charity event
  • Animal shelter
  • Farmer’s Market
  • Fishers/Boaters/Marina
  • Air show
  • Car show
  • Dance
  • Concert

Stroll around with your camera at public events and photograph little details. This was at a car show.

Photography contests

Contests are a great way of generating ideas of things to photograph. Let somebody else think of the subject matter and then take up the challenge to photograph it in the most interesting way possible.

Search for contests in:

  • Your city website
  • Local paper
  • Photography magazine
  • Online
  • DPS challenges

Look around your home town or city and pay attention to icons that you normally just pass by. Or flip through tourist pamphlets and then photograph icons in new ways.

Architecture
  • Old buildings
  • Ruins
  • Modern buildings
  • Glass buildings
  • Interiors
  • Exteriors
  • Barns

I’m not normally one to photograph architecture, but I had been watching this house as it dilapidated over the years. I wanted to create a picture that captures the way it feels when I drive by.

Meaningful objects
  • Products for a small business
  • Crafts for friends Etsy store
  • Family heirlooms
  • Museum artifacts
  • Junkyard (rusty, textured items)
  • Food

Look for texture in the objects that you photograph.

Seasons and time of day

Don’t just photograph something and then move on. Consider what photos you might make of nature, people, animals, and events in each unique season.

  • Winter
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall

I played baseball as a kid and feel nostalgic about it every autumn. One year I took a beat up old ball out to an abandoned ball diamond and photographed it. It allowed me to play with golden hour light for the first time and practice bringing my vision to life.

Remember that every season brings variety with each new day.

  • Sunrise
  • Midday
  • Sunset
  • Night
  • Moonlight
  • Cloudy day
  • Stormy day

This scene caught my attention because of the time of day. The golden sunrise reminds me of when I started work at sunrise for my first job out of high school.

Technique

In addition to all the possibilities mentioned above, consider what technique you might use to capture your images.

  • Black and white
  • Silhouettes
  • Close up, macro
  • Shadows
  • Reflections

Also, consider the unique possibilities when you focus on:

  • Angles
  • Background
  • Light

I knew when I took this photo of footprints in tire treads that it would be a black and white photo. The texture made me think black and white.

Choose something you always look at but never see.

Right now, there are likely 100 things in front of you just waiting to be photographed. Choose one thing to practice with.

Please, add to this list in the comment section below.

 

The post 100 Things to Photograph When You’re Out of Ideas appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

5 Portrait Photography Rules You Should Probably Ignore

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 13:00

The post 5 Portrait Photography Rules You Should Probably Ignore appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

Think back to the time when you first got interested in photography. From the moment you first pick up a camera, you are bombarded with a constant onslaught of dos and don’ts. You have to do this. You can’t do that. Rules, rules, rules, some more rules: then once you have a grasp on those, there’s even more rules and limitations.

Each of these images uses a technique that violates at least one of the rules for portrait photography discussed in this article.

For the most part, these rules (usually more guideline than a rule) are well-intentioned. They force you to pay attention to things you may not have learned to pay attention to yet. They force you to develop habits that you then apply every time you pick up a camera.

For example, the Rule of Thirds (as we all should know is not a rule) forces you to be mindful of your composition in the early stages of photography. This gives you a massive head start when you’re starting out and over time, you will start composing your images without so much as a thought. In these instances, these rules can be a powerful tool while you are learning.

With so many rules out there and so many people coming up with new rules all of the time, sometimes a few get through that make little sense at all. This article discusses five rules for portrait photography that get touted quite a lot. While some of them make sense at first, closer examination should show you that they’re mostly arbitrary and once you have a grasp of what they are trying to point out to you, you should probably, in my opinion, discard them from your rulebook altogether.

Disclaimer: This might be a contentious topic for you. If you happen to like or live by these rules; that’s cool. I’m not here to change your mind. I’m simply asking you to take an objective look at these rules and evaluate why they’re there and if they still have a place. If you feel that way, do discuss it in the comments below. I’m more than happy to engage in any reasonable discussion about this topic and always keep an open mind regarding different views on that matter. The only thing I ask is that we maintain the community guidelines for commenting here on Digital Photography School.

1. Catchlights should only be small and round

This rule almost seems to make sense when you first hear it. Outdoors, in natural light (presuming sunny conditions), the sun will appear as a small, round catchlight in a portrait subject’s eyes. If that’s what the sun does, then it must be more natural to have a catchlight that matches in all of your portraits. After all, natural equals good, right? 

Small catchlights from hard light have their place, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with large catchlights either.

Here’s the thing: how many times have you been told in photography books and articles, or videos that harsh midday sun should be generally avoided for the most flattering portraits? I’m guessing almost every one of them. (Yes, I know that midday sun can be a wonderful light source at times and there are plenty of resources that say so. They’re right too.) Once you remove yourself from the midday sun to a place where you get softer more flattering light (whether that be natural or studio), those catchlights stop being small and round.

Soft light typically means large light sources close to your subject, whether that be a large window or a large octabox, it doesn’t matter. The same applies if you’re photographing your portraits on an overcast day. Catchlights in those conditions often take up half of your subject’s eyes. The catchlight being a reflection of the light source which is everything above the horizon in your subject’s field of vision. 

The catchlight here is the entirety of the sky above the horizon. This is what catchlights look like on an overcast day. According to this rule, you can’t use them.

You can probably see the conflict here. On the one hand, you’re told that you should use soft light for your portraits. On the other, you have this rule that states that your catchlights should only be the result of hard light. It’s difficult to make sense of it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m very much a fan of my large modifiers and diffusers and the soft light that they provide, and I’d rather keep on using them.

Large modifiers close to the subject provide soft light perfect for portraiture. They also make large catchlights.

Now, if you’re like me, I like seeing new types of catchlights in my subject’s eyes. I like the thrill of finding some new lighting combination, or an odd pocket of natural light somewhere and seeing what it does to the eyes in my portraits. Sometimes the results are incredible. If you followed this rule to the tee, you would never have the opportunity for this discovery, and you’d be pretty limited in terms of the light you can use for your portraits.

None of these odd catchlights are acceptable if you follow this rule to the letter.

Finally, there’s the consideration of specialist lighting equipment. The most obvious of these is the ringflash, or ringlight. Lights like these always create a weird-shaped catchlight. With ringlights, the catchlight shows up as a ring. According to this rule, you can never use these light sources.

If you happen to like the effect of ringlights, you’re going to have to ignore this rule.

2) There should only be one catchlight

This rule is one that I’ve been hearing a lot of recently. It’s similar to the previous rule in that its intent is to keep a natural look to your portraits. After all, there is only one sun in the sky. 

There’s nothing wrong with having one catchlight, but it’s better not to limit yourself in terms of techniques that you can use.

My contention with this rule lies with that fact that unless you’re taking portraits outdoors in a very weird place (maybe, but probably not, the Black Desert in Iceland), there is never, ever only one light source. Everything outdoors in sunlight is reflecting light back to your subject. In many cases, the exposure of these secondary sources will never come close to that of the sun. However, in a lot of other cases, the scenery can and does act as a reflector in your images. Light colored buildings, large windows, fields, foliage and green grass can all act as secondary light sources and more often than not will add extra catchlights to your subject’s eyes.

If you’re photographing a person near a light colored wall at their right with the sun at their left, that’s two light sources with two catchlights. You can’t do that according to this rule.

If you’re in the studio using butterfly lighting and you want to lift your subject’s eyes a bit with a reflector, that’s two catchlights. Don’t even think about it if you’re following this rule.

According to this rule, the catchlight from the reflector shouldn’t be there. Not only would the shadows not be filled in without it, but the eyes would be very dark.

If you take that idea a step further and you like to use complicated or creative lighting setups like clamshell lighting or cross lighting, then this rule rules them out. 

If you were following this rule, clamshell lighting would be a huge no-go.

Like the rule about keeping your catchlights small and round, the idea that you should only have one catchlight in your subject’s eyes only serves to limit you in what photographic techniques you can use if you want to do photography correctly. I don’t like the idea of arbitrary limitations, and I don’t like the idea that another photographer might not be using a technique that suits them, or that they would love, because they were told to follow a rule that someone made up.

3) Close-up portraits are technically wrong because the head is cut off

Because the top of the subject’s head isn’t in the frame, this photo is wrong according to this rule despite the top of the head adding no valuable information to the frame.

You will have heard the basis for this one a lot. “Don’t cut off your subject’s head.” This is one of those basic rules that the person who sold you your first camera might have told you. For the most part, this guideline is pretty sound. It stems from a time where you would hand someone a camera, usually a disposable one in my case, and ask them to take a photo for you. Once you developed the film, you could pretty much guarantee that half of your head was missing and the bottom third of the frame was nothing but empty ground below your feet. It makes absolute sense that people would want to avoid photos like that.

Continuing from that, in a wider portrait or even a headshot, cutting into the head at the top of the frame can seem disjointed and make for an awkward viewing experience. This isn’t always the case, but it’s best to avoid it until you understand when it works and when it doesn’t.

With head and shoulders and 3/4 shots like these, it is best to avoid cropping into your subject’s heads.

The issue here is with close-up portraits. It is not uncommon at all to hear someone dictate that close-up portraits are technically wrong simply because the top of the head is missing. Basically, this is taking the guide to not cut off heads to the extreme and completely discounting a not very uncommon style of photography. 

When you’re creating close-up portraits, you are narrowing your point of focus to specific features of your subject and making those the basis of your composition. There isn’t a whole lot of extra real estate in your frame for erroneous details like the top of the head. In fact, the inclusion of those details stops it from being a close-up portrait. 

When the focal point of an image is only a face, erroneous details need to be left out as much as possible. This rule does not allow for that.

I encourage you to ask yourself this question: What would films and television look like if filmmakers followed this rule? 

The takeaway here should be that when you are creating full, three quarters and head and shoulders portraits, it’s a good idea to not cut off your subject’s head. However, when you get in close, throw it out the window. The space you have in your frame for composition is valuable; don’t waste it. 

4) Portraits without eye contact directly to the camera are technically wrong

Eyes are important, but that doesn’t mean you always need them to create evocative portraits.

This rule purports that if you have a person in your frame, their eyes must be facing the camera or your photo is technically flawed. Fortunately, this has seemed to die down in recent years, but I still see it come up with fair regularity.

If your goal is a straight-up portrait, as in a record shot of a person, then yes, you’ll want to ensure that your subject is engaging with the lens. Likewise, if your goal is to create a commercial style image where the intent is to have your viewer feel personally engaged with the person in the photograph, then, again, yes, you’ll want to have direct eye contact with your subject.

Direct eye contact is fine and extremely useful, but it isn’t the only way to do things.

The problem here is that portraiture is such a broad category and there are so many different ways to approach it. For example, if you’re into street photography and you do a lot of candid portraits, there’s probably not going to be a lot of eye contact with your camera. Instead, your subjects will be engaged elsewhere and they will probably be making eye contact with something or someone else. That’s the trick, if you want to convey any kind of emotion or concept to your portraits, one of the quickest and easiest ways to do that is to have your subject engage with something outside of the frame that isn’t the camera. 

If you want to convey that your subject is involved, in any way, with the world around them, they need to be engaged with the world around them. If your thought is to evoke a sense of thoughtfulness, or longing, or any other sort of internal emotion, having your subject engaged with the camera will make that a much more difficult job to achieve. 

Compare these two images taken moments apart. How completely different are they simply based on the eye contact or lack thereof?

Another aspect of this rule is that it firmly rejects the idea that you can have portraits where your subject’s eyes are closed. Having your subject close their eyes can be another powerful way to convey emotion in your portraits. While this shouldn’t be overused, there is no reason why you shouldn’t use it freely when the situation calls for it.

For a real-world example, open up any fashion magazine and look for the beauty ads. You’ll find that when eye makeup is on show, the subject’s eyes are often closed. For me, it’s a hard pill to swallow that these high-end images by some of the best photographers in the world are somehow technically incorrect because they use the tool required to convey a specific message.

I’ll take things one step further and say that you don’t even need a face in your images to create evocative portraits.

Perhaps it would be easier to say that this rule should be adjusted. So, instead of saying that your subject should have eye contact with the camera, your subject should have eye contact with something, whether that’s visible to the viewer or not.

5) There should be no specular highlights on the skin

Specular highlights are often misunderstood, but they are a vital part of images with depth and contrast. Note the three-dimensional appearance of the subject’s head thanks to the specular highlights on his forehead, nose, and cheek.

Of all of the rules discussed in this article, this might be the least obvious one in regard to why it shouldn’t be a rule. If you take it at face value, specular highlights can be seen as a distraction when they show up on your subject’s skin. The most likely place for these highlights to show up is the nose and the forehead. In poor light, these specular highlights can be irregularly shaped and look awful. You should modify and control your light to mitigate their effect on your photos; however, that doesn’t mean that specular highlights are wrong or that they should be avoided altogether.

Even large, soft light sources (in this case a wall of giant windows) create specular highlights. Use them to your advantage.

Like shadows, specular highlights indicate depth and contrast and they help shape and give three dimensions to your subject in the frame. Unless you’re using extremely soft light, the lack of a specular highlight often means that the light is flat. How often have you read or advised to avoid flat lighting? A lot, I reckon. Yet, somehow, we have this rule that insists that you use flat lighting, or that you use light that’s so soft that it removes all contrast in your portraits.

If you want to create images with a three-dimensional feel, with natural looking contrast, you want to avoid completely removing specular highlights from your images. Instead, control them. You can use flags, diffusers, and lighting position to change and control their shape and exposure. The key thing to look out for is that the specular highlights are not overexposed and that they are not an irregular shape. Try to keep the transitions from specular highlight to highlight smooth and graduated just like you would do for shadow transitions. This will help to ensure that you have pleasing and natural looking images full of depth and contrast.

When controlled and manipulated, specular highlights can be a wonderful tool for you to create bold portraits.

As a little side note on specular highlights, it’s important to mention makeup. It is currently popular to use makeup that intentionally puts a large highlight on women’s cheekbones. If you value your working relationships with make-up artists and models or want repeat sales from a client who has her makeup done this way; do not remove that highlight. In fact, consider going out of your way to emphasize it.  Not only is the makeup expensive, but it’s a tricky technique to get right. Removing the highlight with either lighting techniques or Photoshop will delegitimize the effort that went into creating the effect. Please avoid doing this, not because of some arbitrary rule, but because it respects the specific effort that went into putting that highlight there in the first place. 

There you have it

If you’ve made it this far, hopefully, you can see why it’s important to take an objective look at some of the rules we are bombarded with every day. Even if you disagree with my assessment of any of these rules, I still encourage you to carefully consider why each rule you come across came to be, what its intent is and how it fits into what you want to achieve with your photography.

This article has focused on a narrow subset of rules for portrait photography; please feel free to discuss in the comments what other photographic rules you feel have no place in your photography, or which rules you feel must be followed at all costs.

The post 5 Portrait Photography Rules You Should Probably Ignore appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

Simple Yet Unique Ways to Add Creativity into Your Photos

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 08:00

The post Simple Yet Unique Ways to Add Creativity into Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

A lot of us get into a creative rut when it comes to winter time or gets into a winter slump! For some, the start of a new year means new goals and new resolutions which also means trying out everything that they possibly can.  If you are like me, and always love looking for new and creative ways to push yourself further or merely interested in just trying out a new technique, here are some tips. Without breaking the bank of course!

#1 Experiment with double exposures or even triple exposures

Three exposures to indicate multiple personalities of people for an editorial photoshoot.

I own a Canon Mark III and doing double exposures is relatively easy.

You can find the drop-down menu from the main menu screen. Select multiple exposures and then select the number of exposures you want. Get creative with 2, 3, or 4 exposures.

Try shooting the next few frames in live view to see how your images overlap. You can get that cool multiple exposure effect.

#2 Creative images with slow shutter with intention

The use of a slow shutter speed in landscapes is common. However, try bringing that in with portraits or even your everyday lifestyle photos. There are many unique ways you experiment with slow shutter speeds:

  1. Have a subject stand still while everything else is moving in the frame. You can do this with self-portraits, outdoor scenes or even with clients. Keep your shutter speed at 1/50th or even 1/80th. If it drops below that, you might get motion blur even if you are as still as possible.
  2. Use a flowing dress or a scarf to indicate movement by using a slow shutter.
  3. Slow shutter speed shows the movement in the frame. If you use it intentionally to tell a story within your frame, it’ll be your best friend! Shutter speed is powerful. When we are so used to using it always set high to freeze movement, especially with kids running around, the opposite can have a different effect when used intentionally.

If you are super-brave, try combining double exposures with slow shutter speed.

You have just opened up a whole new way to get out of a creative rut and spend hours ‘playing’ with your gear. Yes, we all know some of us really don’t need that! We can spend hours with our gear anyway!

Remember there is no right or wrong here, and experimentation is always for fun. If you get it right, you know what to do next time, and if you think it didn’t turn out the way you like, well you know what not to do next time!

Slowing down the shutter to capture a ghostly effect on the waves and the fog that rolled in.

A slightly unintentional slow shutter speed moment but I love this image of the young monk running.

#3 Try using objects to shoot through

This is one of my favorite techniques when I want to try something new. I don’t know about you, but I crave the creative freedom to experiment – even if they end up being a fail sometimes.

I always find I learn something new when I experiment with techniques, tools and even photography subjects. One of my favorite ways to experiment is by shooting through various objects.

Here are a few options:

  • A fabric cloth
  • Shooting through glass or a window
  • Glass cube or prism
  • Bubble wrap
  • Twinkle lights
  • Leaves
  • Plastic colorful flowers

Your creativity is only limited to your imagination.

This was using fake flowers and I love the light leak effect here, almost similar to old film cameras.

This was more intentional where I was behind a bush and decided to shoot through the leaves

#4 Free lensing

Why not step out of your comfort zone and experiment with a little free-lensing?

Free-lensing is a technique where you disconnect the lens from the camera and use the viewfinder and manual focus to photograph.

I will caution, that depending on the size and weight of your lens, this is a bit difficult to maneuver. Also, be careful not to drop your lens! I would recommend you try this with a lightweight lens or an older lens that you are not too attached. Free-lensing works best with manual focus.

Free-lensing adds much creativity to photos because:

  1. It truly helps you let go of the perfection and you begin to appreciate the beauty in simplicity
  2. If you love dreamy images that tell a story
  3. It helps you with your storytelling
#5 Creative photography projects

Dedicated photography projects are a great way to force yourself to photograph consistently. Sometimes it is committing to photographing every day for a year.

Alternatively, it could be something like a weekly theme.

Both are great ways to channel your creative energy.

Doing something every day is one of the easiest ways to get good at it. Shooting every day is something every photographer can do to get better and better at their craft.

It doesn’t have to be stressful or take laborious effort. You don’t have to worry about models and outfits. Instead, focus on the techniques – shoot at different times of the day, shoot in different lighting conditions, use still objects or moving subjects likes kids and pets, or practice motion blur. The possibilities are endless.

Think outside the box and do something different every day. Maybe even start an exercise like a 365 project (one photograph every day for a year). Soon enough you will find that you are not only better at the technical parts of photography but the creative aspects as well.

I love photographing horses at the barn we visit and often times challenge myself to get action shots with just my iPhone – this was with the burst mode

This is another personal project of capturing sunrise and sunsets just with my iPhone. I love the two runners who happened to come in the middle. Rather than waiting for them to pass, I used them as a creative subject here.

#6 Try a new genre

Trying a new genre helps you reconnect with the basics of photography without the pressures of trying to be perfect at it. Sometimes we get in a creative rut because we are doing the same thing over and over again. If this is you, perhaps try another genre of photography.

I recently took a class on food photography. I am a terrible cook and always thought that food photographers have to be fantastic cooks to not only cook the food but also photograph it.

However, my instructor was super nice and let us in on a secret – store-bought cheesecake is just as good as homemade, and no-one knows the difference. The basics and rules of photography apply to across genres. So go ahead and give yourself permission to experience and experiment with something new to you.

I hope these tips help you add a little bit of fun, creatively and freshness to your photography. Remember, always keep learning and trying something new to keep the fun element front and center of everything that you do.

Do you have other creative tips you’d like to share in the comments below?

 

The post Simple Yet Unique Ways to Add Creativity into Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

Review: Seagate 14tb Ironwolf Disks for all of Your Photographs

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 13:00

The post Review: Seagate 14tb Ironwolf Disks for all of Your Photographs appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

The Seagate 14TB Ironwolf hard disks

Recently I was offered the opportunity to try out a pair of the Seagate 14tb Ironwolf hard disks. If you have read any of my previous articles about storage, drives, and NAS (Network Attached Storage) for photographers, you’ll know one thing about me; I consider spinning media hard drives to be either “Dead or Dying from the moment they’re powered up.” This is mostly true.

These devices have what is called an MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) meaning they can’t just spin forever. While reviewing disks is great, I wanted to find a good use for the pair of storage monsters aside from saying, “yes, they work just like a disk should!” (Which they do, but…)

So, after thinking about having to move house, and how much room I wouldn’t have, I found the PERFECT use! Physical down-sizing of my NAS.

Works well for small spaces

I primarily use a Synology DS1517+ as my main NAS, and a cute little DS216 as my backup. Well, I did until December!

I had to close my office for renovation and move everything into a nook that is only 106cm wide and about 137cm deep. This move meant I had to custom re-make the top of my stand-up desk (I’m getting old, it’s a necessity!), and the shelf for my working storage. My working storage includes my directly connected Promise R8 and my G-Technology 8TB main image drive, as well as my NAS that I use to deliver client images. It also includes backups of all of the computers and devices in the house, as well as for media that streams to the TV. The 1517+ simply wouldn’t fit along with everything else on the shelf.

So, I thought “I need to downsize, but maintain the storage space on my NAS!” Enter stage left, the behemoth Seagate Ironwolf 14tb disks.

I wasn’t joking about the super-small office space!

And my “Storage Shelf”

Spin rate

The Seagate units are a regular 3.5″ internal hard drive, like what you’d have inside your desktop computer. They spin at 7200RPM and have a 3-year warranty. That MTBF thing I was talking about earlier, the 14tb Ironwolf disk is rated at 1 Million hours (Yes, I said that in a Dr Evil voice!) Which is quite a while! (Before you whip out your calculator, that’s 114.155251 years)

So, if you turned the thing on and left it spinning in a controlled environment, not doing anything, it’d be rated to last that long.

Real world, this isn’t how it goes; we read and write to these disks over and over, and they can get jostled around and sometimes even unexpectedly powered off (Dad! What does this switch do?!)

Setting up the Seagate Ironwolf 14tb disks

Moving swiftly on, out came the pair of Seagate Ironwolf 4tb disks and in went the 14tb disks. No mess, and no fuss. The Synology NAS is very well made and easy to work on.

I wanted to have some level of protection (fault tolerance) using the two disks, so they’re set up using SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) which gives me 1-disk tolerance. It pretty much halves my space, but essentially means that if something goes wrong, it can go wrong twice before I cry to the sky and ask nobody in particular “WHY?”!

I worked in I.T. long enough to see grown men (and women) cry when disks failed. It isn’t pretty. So, backup! (You’ve been warned.)

I’m finding the disks nice and quiet, despite being only 15cm to my left. They have not skipped a beat (remember that bit I said about dead or dying disks) to date (They have about 100 years before that nasty MTBF rating even gets close!)

I happily leave the NAS on 24/7 as I’ve found another location for my other network attached storage box, which means the two can sit quietly at night talking to each other via the internet and sync my important client data! Great!

The new 14TB IronWolf drive also supports Seagate’s leading IronWolf Health Management (IHM) software. Designed to operate on enabled Synology DiskStation NAS, Asustor NAS, and QNAP NAS when populated with Seagate IronWolf or IronWolf Pro drives, IHM improves the overall system reliability by displaying actionable prevention, intervention or recovery options for the user.

These specific disks aren’t exactly inexpensive due to their size, but you can get them from 1tb to 14tb based on how much data you produce and need to store and share.

Conclusion

I can’t give a hard disk a rating out of 5 as I typically do, not for at least a year of spinning. However, based on my other Seagate disks, these new ones will do just fine! Also, the Synology DS units are five stars all the way!

 

The post Review: Seagate 14tb Ironwolf Disks for all of Your Photographs appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

How to Edit Silhouette Photos in Lightroom

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Edit Silhouette Photos in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

Clicking silhouette photos is in itself a different kind of experience. Unlike photos where the subject is exposed correctly, here the subject appears completely dark.

However, there must be situations when you are not able to capture a proper silhouette image in-camera. The reasons could be anything from incorrect exposure settings to the insufficient dynamic range in the frame.

Even if you can capture a proper silhouette, chances are the colors might not be as saturated as you desire. Using Lightroom, we can get a proper silhouette with the required saturation.

Achieve ideal contrast

As I mentioned earlier, there can be silhouette images which might not have your subject appear as pitch black. Now to make your subject appear black and preserve details in the backdrop, you need to make a few changes in Lightroom.

As you can see in the photo above, I tried my best to capture a silhouette while maintaining details in the background. You can see the boat clearly, and the clothes are still visible. I have opened this image in Lightroom and made few adjustments, after which I was able to achieve a perfect silhouette.

If you refer to the toolbar on the image above, all I did was adjust the shadows and blacks. Usually while working on I silhouette, I always play with the shadows first and then blacks if needed.

In this situation, I was able to make the subject appear completely dark within seconds. However, this silhouette still lacks saturation, right? Let’s work on that too and make it a perfect silhouette.

Enhancing colors

You might make a colorful silhouette or convert it to monochrome, depending on what you like. If you plan to keep it colored, you might have to enhance the colors present in your frame. You can do this in Lightroom, and it is uncomplicated.

Primarily you have to play with four sliders: Vibrance, Saturation, Temperature, and Tint. Vibrance and Saturation allow you to boost all the color tones in the image whereas Temperature and Tint allow you to adjust the color tones ranging from blue to yellow or green to pink.

Using these four sliders, you can get your desired combination of color tones and vividness. As you can see in the two images shared above, the first one had cooler tones while the second had warmer feel to it.

If you wish to go a step forward and make fine adjustments to each color in the frame, you can use the HSL (Hue, Saturation, and Luminance) slider. Let me take another example at the above image does not have multiple primary colors.

As you see in the comparison above, the image on the right looks much more punchy and vibrant. If I wanted something like the image on the left, I could have simply adjusted the vibrance and saturation. However, I knew that I could achieve more by adjusting the HSL sliders. You can increase/decrease hue, saturation, and luminance of a particular color without affecting other colors in the image. This is the primary reason to use HSL sliders.

In this scenario, I enhanced the saturation of the majority of colors as per my need and reduced where I felt the need. If I had merely increased the saturation from the basic saturation slider, all the colors would have been affected equally. Whereas now using the saturation slider under the HSL toolbar, I can individually adjust the saturation as well as hue and luminance.

So next time if you try to click a silhouette and feel the in-camera file is not perfect, Lightroom is there to take care of it. Just follow these few steps, and I am sure you can achieve your desired results.

Feel free to share your views or silhouette images in the comment below.

The post How to Edit Silhouette Photos in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

How Using the Zone System Can Improve Your Photography

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 13:00

The post How Using the Zone System Can Improve Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Have you ever wondered how some photographers can produce photos that look so radically different than what we can see with our eyes?

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Digital photography allows you to manipulate photos using a computer to make them look surreal. Some cameras include features that can make High Dynamic Range (HDR), multiple exposure and black and white photographs. These are not techniques I wish to address in this article. I like to keep it more natural.

Having a good understanding of certain techniques and the physics of light, you can produce unreal looking images in camera. You do not have to rely on modern camera technology or heavy use of post-processing.

A brief introduction to the Zone System

The Zone System has been around for decades. It was developed by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer based around sensitometry. It’s a tool designed to be used to help photographers plan and control exposure and processing.

Naturally, as it came about in the 1930s, it was created for use with film. Although there are arguments against applying this technique to digital photography, I believe it to be very useful.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Adams and Archer divided tone into eleven zones and designated a Roman numeral to each. Zone 0 is black, zone X is white and V is middle gray. Each zone is separated by one photographic stop.

The Zone System

Photographer Alan Ross, who worked as Adam’s darkroom assistant, tells us on his website the system was created “to give the photographer the ability to effectively evaluate the qualities of a scene and follow through with confidence that the information necessary for the photographer’s visualization would end up on the film.”

Most of what I’ve read over the years about the zone system I consider overly technical. I try not to be. Often the photos published alongside articles expounding the virtues of the system in more recent years are dull. This usually happens when photography tools are used for the sake of it and at the expense of creative expression.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The Zone System – another tool in your kit

More guidelines than actual rules. This is how I prefer to regard the rules of photography.

Many will teach you to learn the rules and then break them. I teach people to learn the rules so well the can apply them intuitively.

The zone system is based on scientific fact, you can’t break it. Learning to apply the technique will give you more freedom to be creative with your camera. Consider it another tool in your kit.

Like any tool, you need to first learn the basics of what it does and how you can make it do what you want it to. I’m not going to get into teaching the ‘how to’ in this article, as there’s already so many books, blogs and videos on the topic already.

My main intention here is to encourage you to check it out and show you some of the benefits of learning the photographic zone system.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Why bother learning the Zone System?

Averaged metering on modern cameras is designed to render a mid-tone across the whole composition. Camera metering is calibrated on everything being middle gray. But everything we see is not middle gray.

Photographing a black dog on a black rug, or a white rabbit in the snow is challenging. Your exposure meter will want to render both scenes as middle gray because that’s what it’s been programmed to do.

Compositions containing a limited mid-tone range do not pose modern cameras any problems. Especially when photographing them in soft, low contrast light. It’s easy to make a good exposure in these circumstances. But they can quite often look dull unless we boost them in post-production.

Learning the zone system will enable you to make decisions on how to get your photos looking the way you want them to. Using this system well allows you to translate your creative desires into technical choices.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Use it in line with your intent

Hard light and contrast always involves making decisions about exposure before you take a photograph.

Cameras cannot see the same way we do. At this stage of technological development, they are considerably more limited. This means we may see a scene different than how our camera will record it.

Your camera does not know what you are looking at. When you use the exposure meter, it’s programmed to give you an accurate reading for middle gray. This is why it was common in times past for photographers to carry with them a small sheet of 18% (middle) gray card. They could make a reading from the card in the prevailing light conditions and set their camera accordingly.

Setting your exposure for middle gray every time will often produce poor results when there’s a broad contrast range.

You are best to decide what part of the image is most important and make a meter reading from there.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

In my outdoor studio portraits, I take a spot meter reading from my subject’s face and set my exposure. I’ll use the same setting photographing against the black or the white background. This is because the light value reflecting off the person’s face is the same.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Having an understanding of the zone system equips you to make the best exposure choices in difficult situations.

It ain’t easy, but it’s not rocket science either

Like learning anything, you must practice to become proficient. To become an expert, you must practice a lot more.

The zone system is not so complicated. When you grasp the basics of it you can apply it as a part of your overall skill set. Then you can make extensive use of it and see the difference in your improved photographs.

The post How Using the Zone System Can Improve Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

5 Ways to Become a Better Photographer this Year

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 08:00

The post 5 Ways to Become a Better Photographer this Year appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

Are you looking to improve your photography this year? Perhaps you want to take your skill level up a notch or even get into a business. If you are already in business, perhaps a more lucrative client roster is one of your goals. No matter where you are at, let’s make this year the year that we run toward our photography goals!

I have been at this photography thing for 9 years now and have found that there are specific disciplines I engage in that really propel my work forward. More often than not, the changes are not major but instead little things that make a difference for me. I am resolving this year to dive into these habits again and am sharing the 5 that I have found make the biggest impact with you!

#1 Photographing often, perhaps even committing to photographing every day

Practice makes perfect and the more you pick up your camera, the more comfortable you will be with the buttons, menus, and functions that make your camera work for you. Even more, committing to photographing often helps you to see what scenes draw you in, what subjects interest you and can allow you to ‘read’ light more quickly. You may notice and develop patterns in your work that can become your style.

I have said this before, and I say it again, there is no such thing as bad light! Light is just different and learning to read light is an important skill to have if you want to improve your photography. You will find yourself getting excited to try out and photograph different lighting situations. The more you practice, the more comfortable you become with light.

Set a loose goal to shoot more often or engage in a project like the 365 Project or Project 52 that give you more concrete deadlines and expectations. Whatever it takes, make this year the year you take more pictures. Even consider sharing your work on social media to keep you on track. Hashtags like #365photos #project52 are great for inspiration and to keep a schedule.

Chicago Downtown Skating Near The Bean © Karthika Gupta Photography Memorable Jaunts

#2 Share your work freely

If you are like me, sometimes it can feel strange to share photos when you are trying something new or experimenting with your photography. Will anyone like it and will they get it? Will they think you lack skills or judge your capabilities? Stop letting these voices of doubt hold you back. The truth of the matter is that sharing your work is a great way to get feedback and keeps you accountable when you are participating in a photography project.

You can share your work freely in many different ways. Sometimes it is as simple as opening a social media account and sharing your photos. Sometimes it is setting up a website and showcasing your work. Alternatively, it can even be as simple as printing a few of your photos and sharing them with your family and friends.

Putting yourself out there might feel scary, but it’s a great way to overcome your roadblocks and to grow.

Collaborating with other creatives is a fantastic way to grow and make friends in the industry plus we all share knowledge, tips and techniques to become better.

#3 Find your tribe of photography buddies

I belong to a few different photography groups and forums. One of the biggest reasons that I advocate this is because it has given me a group of friends who understand me. When I talk photography lingo, they get it. If I am excited about the latest gear, they share in my excitement. When I am stumped about client work or even in a creative rut, they offer advice on how to get over it. Don’t get me wrong, I have a very supportive family, but I can only talk so much photography before their eyes glaze over, and they tune out.

Whether it is a local group of enthusiasts or an online group that is participating in a shared project, find the people who push you and encourage you to be a better photographer. Chances are, they will become more than just photography friends and will become friends that make life that much sweeter.

A bridal shoot that had 8 vendors who all collaborated to create content that could be used across everyone’s portfolios – the best way to make friends!

#4 Critique photos (yours and others)

Getting your photos critiqued is a tough thing to do at times. However, if you take the stance that critiquing is getting objective feedback on what you see versus what others see is a great way to grow. When I first started, a photographer friend told me that she felt my photos were a second too late. Like I had just missed the crucial moment. It took me a bit to accept and react to that statement. Now it is something I remember and keep an eye out for when I take photos. Am I a second too late or did I accurately capture the moment?

If you have a chance to critique the work of others, do it. Critiquing the work of others helps train your eye to see things in your own work. The separation between yourself and the moment gives you a more objective view. It helps you to see flaws and successes in composition, light, and processing more clearly. Then, when you pick up your camera and photograph, you’ll know to pay attention to these things in your own work. However, remember when critiquing the work of others, be objective, be nice and more importantly be civil. The best critiques don’t tear someone down; they open doors to opportunities to improve.

Photographers are people too!

If you are not comfortable giving or receiving critiques (I hope you will be because it is a great way to grow), you can do self-critiques. Pick up magazines and make a note of what you like and what you don’t like.

I love playing with light and shadow especially with horses in a barn we visit. And I love sharing them with my friends who are equestrian photographers just to see how they think the photos turned out.

#5 Commit to learning something new

The best part about photography is that there is no finish line. There is always something new to learn, and I am just not talking about technique. At a recent photo conference, I taught a class about travel photography and also took a class on food photography. I am a terrible cook and always wanted to try food photography. The instructor was amazing and made me realize that you don’t have to be a great cook to take amazing food photos (hello! Grocery store cheesecake!).

Also, the concepts on lighting, the rule of thirds, and the golden triangle are all the same across many genres of photography. There are no experts, and there is no final mastery of photography. Instead, it is an evolving art where there is always something to learn and always more to improve.

My friend, and instructor, Allison Jacobs, photographs food for stock while teaching a class on food photography.

Me trying out food photography on a Sony camera, which was new to me. I have more photos where I missed focus and cut elements out of the frame than I care to admit, but it was a great learning experience.

So this year, be intentional about learning something new to you. Whether it is technique, tool or craft, there are no dearth of options when it comes to learning something new in photography.

This year is going to be great, and I can’t wait to grow and improve alongside all of you.

 

The post 5 Ways to Become a Better Photographer this Year appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

3 Quick Tips for Achieving Moody Portraits with Natural Light

Sun, 03/03/2019 - 13:00

The post 3 Quick Tips for Achieving Moody Portraits with Natural Light appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

If, like me, you are drawn to moody portraits and have been wondering how to take them, read on. Achieving moody portraits with natural light can be quite simple. I hope this takes the mystery our of dark moody portraits in natural light.

Before you start, plan your photo shoot first by keeping the following in mind: mood, tones (light or dark), outfits (colors to complement the tones), and the time of day to shoot. This may not make a difference to you, but to me, with my window north-east facing, I know I get decent light between 10am and 2pm, and after that, light availability deteriorates. This is the limitation of shooting with natural light. You are dependent on the amount and quality of the available light.

1. The importance of background

The easiest way to achieve a natural light moody portrait is by using a medium to dark background. The darkness of the background adds depth and the illusion of space and getting drawn into it. In effect, it also gives the illusion of a three-dimensional space. Not only that, but it also helps provide contrast between the background and the face of the subject which you want to emphasize and focus on. You draw the viewer’s eye to the image, and the background effectively provides context and setting.

There are various types of backgrounds: plain solid color, textured, scenery, and patterns such as wallpaper. Choose one that doesn’t clash with your subject (unless clashing is your intention) so that the portrait subject is the star of the show and the background is just that – background.

With a plain background, you can always add texture in post-production and change the tones up if you wish. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the photo without texture (left) and with a warm texture added (right).

2. The importance of lighting

Because we are limiting ourselves to available natural light, it is a good idea to work with it. In most spaces, especially in homes, natural light comes from a 45-degree angle streaming from a window unless you have skylights in which case light comes from the top. You would want to cover that skylight and limit yourself to one light source coming from one direction, preferably 45-degree angle from the side. You want to place your subject in such a spot where the light hits them at this angle. Beware of placing the subject too close to the window as this tends to illuminate the face too much.

You want just a small amount of light touching the subject to achieve that ambiance and mood you are after. Before you shoot, look at the shadows on the face and especially under the nose. Position your subject by moving them around adjusting to the light and how the shadows fall on the face.

From a 45-degree angle window lighting where the window is higher than the subject, shadows on the face get cast at a slightly downward angle to the side opposite the light source. This is felt to be a pleasing shadow and is also known as the Rembrandt lighting. I have written an article touching on this with both natural and artificial lights on here.

With Rembrandt lighting, you need a reflector positioned on the opposite side of the light. The aim is to reflect some of the window light back onto the subject’s face, so you get a softer gradation of shadows instead of a very sharp drop from light to dark. If you don’t have a reflector, you can use a white sheet or white piece of cardboard.

Reflectors come in different colors which cast a tint on the face so choose carefully. See here for a side-by-side comparison of what different types of reflectors do.

3. The importance of light diffusion

Diffusion is passing the light source through a translucent material so that the light is spread out instead of coming from a concentrated source. Once spread, it touches the subject more softly thus removing the harshness of otherwise undiffused light.

One can argue that, on a cloudy day, available natural light coming from a window is already diffused by the great big clouds above. I agree with this. However, if you have the option to diffuse, I would still do it. On a sunny day where the light is powerful, I would say diffusion is an absolute must.

In the photo above, the window light is frosted at the bottom and covered in a voile fabric at the top thereby acting as a diffuser. From my experience of shooting for more than a decade, I have learned to see the difference between undiffused and diffused light and the former is definitely softer and better for the skin.

Overall, it’s a factor that contributes to achieving the type of moody portrait I am aiming for in this shoot.

I hope you found this helpful! Do share your moody portraits here and any tips you have too!

The post 3 Quick Tips for Achieving Moody Portraits with Natural Light appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

Review of the Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM for Canon

Sun, 03/03/2019 - 08:00

The post Review of the Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM for Canon appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

A couple of weeks ago I got my hands on the Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM for Canon (also  available for Nikon, and Sony) and got to play with it for a couple of weeks. Let me tell you; it was a tough one to give back. This lens is quite amazing in terms of build, weight, and, most importantly, performance.

Ergonomics and build

The Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM is a very standard Sigma lens when it comes to the ergonomics. Many of their primes more or less follow the same formula when it comes to the exterior design. In this case, and with pretty much most cases, there is a large rubber ring that makes up the focusing ring. This rubber ring helps greatly when it comes to the grip and overall ergonomic feel of the lens. The front of the lens has a 77mm filter thread and comes with a lens hood. The side of the Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM has a switch for autofocus control.

The Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM has weather sealing built into the lens. I was able to test this when I took it out in the snow. We have had an unusual cold spell here in Chicago, and when I was walking around downtown with this lens, the temperatures dipped, and it started to snow. I was a bit apprehensive taking out my gear in the snow, but I am glad I did because this lens performed beautifully with my weather resistant Canon 5D MkIII. Photographers who regularly operate in the outdoors with rain and snow will find this beneficial.

When you hold the Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM, you feel a solid lens. My primary everyday lens is a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8. This lens has been in my bag for the past 9 years, and I like the feel of the solid form and am comfortable with the weight. The Sigma 28mm is a bit smaller, and a little lighter than I am used to, so switching to it was a non-issue for me.

The canon 24-70mm f/2.8 is on the left and the Sigma 28mm f/1.4 is on the right.

Technical Specifications (from Sigma) These specifications are from Sigma’s website.
Typical photography applications for this lens is listed as Creative, Travel, Landscape, Wedding & Events, Family. 
  • Best-in-class performance
  • Dust- and splash-proof structure
  • Designed to minimize flare and ghosting
  • Designed to meet all shooting conditions
  • Compatible with Canon Lens Aberration Correction
  • Nikon electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism included
  • Manual Override (MO) capable of switching two full-time manual modes
  • Lens angle is 75.4deg
  • Filter size is 77mm
  • Minimal aperture is f16
  • Minimal focusing distance is 28cm/11in
Performance

I gauged the performance of this lens in three different areas:

  • Low light performance
  • Color output
  • Wide angle
Low light performance

The Sigma 28mm features a very fast lens design at f/1.4. This makes it an ideal low light photography lens. Moreover, the mechanics of the lens also delivers incredible sharpness even at its widest aperture. I love photographing at wide apertures and am generally at f/2.8 or f/4.0. So the f/1.4 was attractive to me, especially in low light. I tested the low light performance at a couple of places in Chicago and was very happy with the results. The lens was also quite fast at focusing in these low light situations.

The Chicago Athletic Club Hotel is beautiful but so dark. The low light was an easy gig for the sigma lens

Thank you to my friend Sandy Noto (www.sandynoto.com) for snapping this photo of me with the Sigma. The wide angle at closeup range did not distort the image at all.

The interiors of the museum of science and industry in Chicago are quite dark but I was at ISO 320 and f/1.4. The 28mm captured the entire shuttle in the frame.

Color output

Sigma’s Art series is known for its superb color rendition, and the 28mm Art lens did not disappoint in this area. I tested the lens in a variety of lighting conditions, both indoors and outdoors, as well as on bright sunny days and overcast days. In each scenario, the lens output was beautiful.

Even at f/1.4 the image output and quality was exactly what I was hoping for. The lens is tack sharp even at f/1.4

Wide angle

The Sigma 28mm f/1.4 is a fixed zoom lens. Unlike my Canon 24-70mm zoom which gives me more flexibility and freedom in the range of focal lengths, the fixed zoom does take a little bit getting used to. But if you were to use this as a walking-around-everyday-travel lens, which is what I use my 24-70mm, the fixed zoom is not an issue. The wide angle does take a little getting used to, but all the other features like fast focusing, low light, and superb color output make up for the wide-angle fixed zoom.

The 28mm focal length was just perfect to get the entire Chicago bean a.k.a as the cloud gate in the frame.

Additionally, I found minimal to no chromatic aberration around the edges of the frame that is predominant in most wide-angle lenses.

Conclusion

Overall, I was very pleased with this lens. It is a good solid lens from the Sigma Art series and well worth the investment, making it an ideal lens for street photography and wide-angle photography.

The post Review of the Sigma 28mm f1.4 Art DG HSM for Canon appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

What’s The Highest ISO You Can Use? How To Find Out For Yourself

Sat, 03/02/2019 - 13:00

The post What’s The Highest ISO You Can Use? How To Find Out For Yourself appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

Do you know the limits of your camera’s ISO?

By limit, I mean the point at which, egads!, it’s just too much noise. If not, or if you’ve never bothered to figure out your camera’s limits, I have an easy experiment for you to try.

Each camera model is different and camera manufacturers are improving ISO performance with every new release. This is why it’s important not to assume that Mark IV version is mostly the same as the Mark III.

What is ISO?

ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization. Do big, long governmental-style names make you fall asleep? I’ll make this quick.

The ISO group sets standards so 100 speed Kodak film is the same as ISO 100 Fuji or Agfa or any other manufacture. It’s good to have standards otherwise you wouldn’t know how to set your shutter speed and aperture.

Carry that concept over to digital and ISO is a measure of the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor. The lower the number, the less sensitive, therefore, you need more light to make an exposure. A higher ISO allows for less light in the same situation, which can result in a faster shutter speed or more optimal aperture setting.

Why should you care?

Increasing your ISO setting has one big drawback: the increased sensitivity can create unwanted artifacts called “noise.”

In the days of film, higher ISO meant added grain in an image, something some of us enjoy in our photos. Noise, on the other hand, is disliked by all. It discolors images, mostly in the dark and black areas. It muddles things.

Let me show you the difference with two shots, the first was taken at ISO 12,800 and the second at ISO 80.

Can you see the green and purple discoloration? That’s noise.

Use the lowest ISO you can

Knowing that a higher ISO can create this ugly noise, it’s a good idea to almost always take photos at the lowest ISO that still gives you a crisp image. For instance, landscape photographers in the days of film loved ISO 50 film and some still return to their film gear for the amazing smoothness that film lends to its images.

There are many DSLRs that can utilize ISO 50, such as the older Canon EOS 5D.

Machermo and the Moon – Nepal’s Himalayas – Canon 5D ISO 50

Unless you can’t

But what about dark situations? For instance, what about when you have a dimly lit auditorium or stage? Parents with kids in indoor sports or drama classes and school plays or holiday programs know this situation well. Here’s an example:

ISO 5000

In situations like this it is good to know what your camera’s maximum useable ISO is. It’s also a great idea to know how much noise you will encounter if you go above that self-imposed maximum, because sometimes the emotions and memories are more important than worrying about noise-free images.

Or perhaps you need a high shutter speed given the current lighting conditions and a flash would ruin the scene.

ISO 5000

A simple experiment

The experiment to find out the highest ISO you should use, without gaining too much noise beyond your tastes, is quite easy.

You will need:

  • Camera
  • Table or tripod
  • A variety of objects, with dark and black colors, maybe some shadows too
  • Ample lighting (but not overly bright)

  1. Set up your camera either on a table or tripod. You’re going to want it steady because some of the photos you take might have a slow shutter speed. Blurring will ruin the results.
  2. On the other end of the table set up your objects. I suggest objects without much gloss and as solid a field of black as you can find. Black fur on your kids’ stuffed animals might hide some noise and so will flecks of fabric in a shirt of the like.
  3. Make sure there is enough light in your scene.
  4. Set your camera to Program mode unless you have a favorite.
  5. Also turn off any in camera noise reduction options.
  6. Set your ISO to 100 or L if it goes lower than 100.
  7. Focus on your black objects and take a photo.
  8. Now change the ISO to 200 and take another photo.
  9. Continue moving up your ISO by one stop (a doubling of the number) while snapping an image each time.
  10. Stop when you reach the highest limits of your camera. This may be ISO 3200 or maybe ISO 512,000.
Examine the results

Transfer your images into a computer so you can pixel-peep the results. As your camera was in Program mode, the overall exposure of your images should be close to the same. If you’re using photo editing software like Lightroom, I suggest turning off any automatic noise reduction widgets.

Now zoom in on your images.

ISO 12,800

As the ISO gets higher you will notice more and more noise creep into the dark areas. As mentioned, it’s discoloration that is often purple and green in color. It doesn’t look right and it is not the grain that was characteristic of high ISO films.

At some point, and the choice is yours, the noise gets to be too much. Each camera model is a little different and in the 18 years I’ve been using digital cameras, the quality consistently gets better and better. This is why this experiment is one of the first things you should do with a new camera.

Examples

Let me give you a few examples of what looks like too much noise. These are just my opinion, but I hope the examples can help you get a better idea of where your camera has its limits.

ISO 12,800

ISO 12,800

ISO 12,800

ISO 40,000

Conclusion

Knowing the ISO limits of your camera is important in any type of photography. There are times that might warrant a higher ISO, such as shooting in very low light. How much noise is too much for your situation and camera is a level best tested before the situation arrises.

One additional note: This experiment does not take into account the wonderful ability of most modern photo editing software to greatly reduce the negative aspects of noise. That’s a whole other article!

The post What’s The Highest ISO You Can Use? How To Find Out For Yourself appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

How to Correct Perspective Distortion in Photoshop

Sat, 03/02/2019 - 08:00

The post How to Correct Perspective Distortion in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

When talking about perspective, you step into a deep and somewhat complicated subject. It has to do with geometry, history of art, viewpoint and so on. However, solving that big issue won’t be the point of this tutorial. Instead, it focuses on solving perspective issues in your photography using photoshop. So keep reading to learn which Photoshop tools can help you out.

Because perspective can be a broad term, in this article, I’m going to narrow it down to one aspect, and that is the way straight lines seem to converge as they get further away. This can be used as a creative element of the picture, or it can help convey a sense of depth and tridimensionality as per this example:

You may be familiar with this effect, such as when you’re walking on the street, and you tilt your camera up to photograph a building. Now, this might be your intention, but sometimes you don’t want or need this distortion. Of course, you can correct this issue by using tilt and shift lenses, or with a large format camera. However, many of us don’t have access to that equipment. This is where Photoshop is handy to fix perspective in post-production.

As usual, Photoshop has different ways of dealing with the same problem. One may work better than others in different cases. However, I find that more often than not, you need to combine them to get the job done. So here’s an introduction to some different approaches:

Lens correction and transformation

One way to correct perspective distortion is by using the Lens Correction Filter. You can find it under the Filter Menu. When you choose this, a new window pops up. To start working on it, ensure you’re in the Custom tab to access the settings and set your grid with the bottom slider so that you can have it as a reference.

For this exercise, you’re only going to need the Transform part of the panel that you’ll find in the bottom right. I find that starting with the center point saves time as the changes you make after happen on both sides simultaneously. So I zoomed in to the center and rotated the angle so that the central line aligned with the grid. Remember, you can make the grill tighter if you need to.

Now you can start fixing the vertical and horizontal lines with the sliders. On the sides of each slider, you can see an icon showing the way the image gets affected. If you pull the vertical slider to the left, the top part gets wider or sliding to the right the bottom part is the one that becomes wider and so on.

As you move the lines around, you may be losing part of the image towards the edges. To bring everything back in, use the scale slider. After you’re done, you’ll have to crop out the blank pixels.

As you can see the Lens Correction Tool can be handy, but sometimes you still have to make some adjustments here and there. For this step, you can use the different Transform tools found under the Edit menu.

In this case, I’m using the Skew tool which allows me to move all the corners and middle points independently. Whenever you’re using any of these tools, you can pull out Guide Lines by clicking on the ruler and dragging. That way you can work more precisely without leaving the transform mode.

For this image that’s all I needed to do. However, remember that all the transformation tools can help to correct perspective, so experiment with them to find the one that works best for you and your image. Here, you can see on the left how I started, and on the right, is the new corrected version.

Perspective Tool Crop

Another way of fixing the problem is with the Perspective Tool Crop. This feature corrects the lines almost automatically. However, I wanted to give you the option of doing it manually first so that you have more control over the perspective. If you want to try it out, draw a rectangle around the image with the Perspective Tool Crop active and then drag the corners to match the grid with the distorted lines.

It usually does a good job, but you might still need to tweak it a little bit with the transform tools. Be aware that the Perspective Tool Crop, as the name says, crops your image. You might lose some information from the borders. In any case, you can give it a try and decide which method is best for you.

If you have any other tips to correct perspective distortion, share them with us in the comment section.

The post How to Correct Perspective Distortion in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Backlighting

Fri, 03/01/2019 - 13:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is BACKLIGHTING!

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Your photos can include anything with backlighting. It could be portraits, street photography, nature, food, objects, silhouettes etc. 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!

© Jaymes Dempsey

 

Some Inst-piration from some Instagrammers:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Anoop K M (@itz_anoop_km) on Feb 13, 2019 at 7:24am PST

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by stefanosalso (@sensofalsato) on Feb 18, 2019 at 10:53pm PST

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ivan Kavaldzhiev Photography (@ivankavaldzhievphotography) on Dec 12, 2018 at 12:35am PST

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Thomas Beckert (@propixelvs) on Feb 21, 2019 at 10:37am PST

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ireneya Irina (@ireneya_) on Feb 21, 2019 at 9:48am PST

 

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

Tips for Shooting BACKLIGHTING

How to Use Backlight to Create Incredible Images

How to Backlight Translucent Objects for Dramatic Effect

Sunshine: My Favorite Light Source

Three Types of Light: Diffused, Backlight and Reflected – What are They and When to use Them

7 Steps to Create Street Photography Silhouettes

 

 

Weekly Photography Challenge – BACKLIGHTING

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 #DPSbacklighting 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 – Backlighting appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Canon EOS RP Full-frame Camera – Why Some People Won’t be Buying this Camera

Fri, 03/01/2019 - 08:00

The post Canon EOS RP Full-frame Camera – Why Some People Won’t be Buying this Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Canon have released their new Canon EOS RP full-frame mirrorless camera, and not without some controversy. The Canon EOS RP is it’s entry-level mirrorless camera that comes in at US$1299.

Find out the reasons why some people won’t be buying this new camera in these great videos by Jared Polen, Matti Haapoja,and SLR Video Shooter.

You’ll be surprised by the results.

 

 

The disappointments of Canon EOS RP for people shooting video:

While this is one of Canon’s lightest full-frame cameras, some people will be highly-disappointed to know that the camera has no 24p video capabilities in HD. It only offers it when shooting 4k. So for many photographers who also like to do video, this will be a major source of disappointment.

The other major downfall is when you use crop sensor lenses on this camera, you lose the ability to shoot in HD. What?!

So, unless Canon comes out with a firmware fix to these issues, you will likely want to choose an alternative camera for video.

However, If you are wanting to use this camera for photography, you will likely find this a great lightweight, affordable, full-frame, mirrorless camera.

So, will you be buying the Canon EOS RP, or will you stick to the Canon EOS R?

You may also find the following articles helpful:

Best Vlogging Cameras for 2019

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

9 Recommended Accessories for Your New Sony a7R III or a7 III Camera

Camera Comparison – The Fujifilm X-H1 Versus the Sony a7R III

Gear Review: Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera Kit

The post Canon EOS RP Full-frame Camera – Why Some People Won’t be Buying this Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

How to Use Photoshop to Resize and Sharpen Images for the Web

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 13:00

The post How to Use Photoshop to Resize and Sharpen Images for the Web appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter Dam.

Do you struggle with getting your images to look super sharp when you use them online? Do they even look blurry? No matter if you share your images on social media platforms or photo sharing sites like Flicker and 500px, you want your images to look as sharp as possible.

Most photographers come across web sharpening issues at some point. But did you know that most of the web sharpening issues you experience come from the resizing process? Resizing your image can make your image look blurry and a lot less sharp than the full sized image. You might have spent a long time processing your image so it would be a shame that it should end up as a less sharp online version.

In this article, you will learn the common pitfalls to sharpening your images for web use, and more importantly, how to sharpen in a way that gives you both full control and the best results.

However, let’s take a look at how not to resize images for online use before we dig into the best way to resize and sharpen in Photoshop.

Milford Sound Mitre Peak © Peter Dam

How NOT to resize and sharpen your images for online use

To get sharp and great looking images online, avoid uploading a full-sized image and relying on the website to handle resizing for you. You don’t have any control over the amount of sharpening (if any) that a website’s upload function add to your image.

You should also avoid just using the export dialogue in Photoshop. Even though it is good, it is not great. You can still end up with blurry images, especially if there is a dramatic size change. Like if you want to resize a 6000px wide image to being only 1200px.

Also, avoid just resizing in Photoshop and then let the export tool do the rest if you want the best results. Even though you resize the image, you have little control of the sharpening process when you only use the export tool.

How to sharpen your images in Photoshop for the best results

To follow along, open a copy of an image that you have already processed in Photoshop, as we go through the best method for resizing and sharpening your photos for online use.

Note: Make sure you use a copy of the image and not the original because you are going to resize your image to a much smaller version. If you accidentally save the image without renaming and close Photoshop, you can’t recover the image back to its full size.

The Chute © Peter Dam

It would be logical to go straight ahead and resize your image to the output size you want. However, this won’t lead to the best results as it may be difficult for Photoshop to properly sharpen an image that suffers from a quality loss when you resize a lot.

Instead, resize in two steps and sharpen in between the steps.

Let’s go through the process step-by-step using the dimensions from above as an example, resizing from a 6000px wide image down to 1200px wide.

The first step is to resize your image down to approx. 1.6 of the final output size that you want to use online. In this case, this would be 1.6 X 1200px = 1920px.

To resize your image in Photoshop, you should go to Image->Image Size and enter the width.

This gives you an image that hasn’t degraded too much from being resized but is still relatively close to the final image size.

Before resizing to the final output size, you should add sharpening. You do this by going to Filter->Sharpen->Sharpen.

If you like to keep track of what each layer does, I suggest renaming the layer to “Sharpened.”

After applying this first layer of sharpening, duplicate the layer. You can do this by pressing CMD+J (on Mac) or CTRL+J (on Windows).

Then apply another round of sharpening by using the menu Filter->Sharpen->Sharpen. Rename this layer to “Extra sharpening.”

Now you are ready to resize to the final image size. You do this by going to Image->Image Size and enter 1200px as the width.

Now that you have resized the image to the final output size, you should see that the image looks very sharp when you view it at its actual size.

If you think that it looks somewhat over-sharpened, you can easily adjust it by just changing the opacity of the of the topmost layer (the one called “Extra sharpening”). Pull down the opacity to around 60-70%.

Now you are done with the sharpening process. However, you should know that there are additional issues that occur when resizing images.

Sharpening an image also tends to make it a tiny bit brighter. If you want to address this, you should add a Levels adjustment layer and pull the midtone point slightly to the right. Usually changing the midtone point to 0.97 brings back the original brightness level. You can also use an Exposure adjustment layer if you prefer to use that instead of a Levels adjustment layer.

The colors in your image also suffer a bit when resizing and sharpening; however, it is not always visible. If you find that your image looks a bit less colorful now that it is resized, you should add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and add a bit of saturation back into the image. About +5 to +9 usually brings your image back to the level it was before resizing and sharpening.

That is the end of the web resizing and sharpening method used by many professional photographers using Photoshop.

If you are familiar with creating Photoshop actions, you can record the process of resizing and sharpening images to the dimensions you most often use online. This allows you to speed up the process significantly.

Exporting your image

The final step is to export your image. You can do this by going to File -> Export -> Export As…

The setting you choose when exporting your image depends on where you want to upload your image. For some sites, like image galleries or your portfolio website, image quality is more important than the file size. Whereas, blogs prefer to have smaller file sizes, but with a bit lower image quality.

One of the most important things, as discussed in this article, is that the result is a sharp looking image. You already took care of this by following the sharpening and resizing workflow above, where you resized the image to the output size you need. This means that you don’t have to worry about resizing the image or what resample method to use during export.

The only thing to worry about when following this sharpening and resize workflow is choosing the file format you want and the quality to use. The file format is most likely going to be JPG for web use. The image quality settings depend on whether you prefer a really small file size (so the image loads lightning fast online), or whether you prefer to maintain the best image quality possible. Usually, you can lower the image quality to 80% without a visible drop in image quality. This is my preferred personal setting for image quality. You can optimize the file size even more by using a lower image quality. However, I would never recommend going lower than 50% to get smaller file sizes. There are also some image optimizing sites you can use, such as TinyJpeg, that lower your file size without compromising your image quality too much.

Conclusion

Admittedly, it is a lot more complicated method for resizing your images than using the inbuilt Export feature in Photoshop. However, it also leads to much better results. What use is it to put much effort into capturing and processing an image, if it doesn’t look as great as it could when you show it online?

What method do you use for sharpening your images before using them online? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

The post How to Use Photoshop to Resize and Sharpen Images for the Web appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter Dam.

Reverse Lens Macro – How to Make Macro Photos with “Backward Thinking”

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 08:00

The post Reverse Lens Macro – How to Make Macro Photos with “Backward Thinking” appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Occasionally a little “backward thinking” can be a good thing, especially when it comes to coming up with an economical way to do macro photography. Sure, you can shell out a few hundred dollars for a nice macro lens. You might give extension tubes or bellows a try, or even buy some closeup diopter lenses. But what if I told you how you could use that old film camera lens and an adapter easily purchased for under $15 to make some nice macro images? Might that not be a great and inexpensive way to explore the macro world? Great… now get ready to “think backwards.”

Yes, literally… You will need to think backward to take advantage of what is called “Reverse-Lens Macro Photography.” You will be mounting a lens backward on your camera so what is normally the front of the lens is the part that attaches to your camera. Before we look at how to do this, let’s first define “macro photography.”

The Reverse Lens Macro Technique is a great way to enter the world of macro photography economically.

What is “true” macro?

Many lens manufacturers indicate their lens has “macro capability” and they might even put the word “macro” on the lens. These lenses indeed allow you to focus closely on your subject. However, in the true sense of the term, a macro photo is one in which the size of the image recorded on the camera sensor is the same size (or larger) than the physical object photographed – a 1:1 magnification ratio or greater.

This might be a close-up, but is not a “true” macro photograph.

Here’s a practical example: A U.S. Quarter is 0.955 inches (24.26 mm) in diameter. A full-frame digital camera sensor measures 24mm x 36mm. So shot with a true macro lens on a full-frame camera, the uncropped image below represents a 1:1 magnification ratio or a true macro photograph. On a crop sensor camera where the sensor is 14.9×22.2mm (Canon) a 1:1 shot of a quarter would more than fill the frame. So, if the lens you’re using cannot focus close enough to fill the frame with a quarter, it might be a close-up lens but isn’t a true macro. Don’t be fooled by cropped images either. An image can be cropped tighter in editing, but that alone does not make it a “macro” photo.

This is a full-frame shot. Notice the width of the shot is about 36mm, the size of the camera sensor. This is a true 1:1 macro shot.

I shot this image with the reverse Pentax 50mm lens. It’s not giving “true” macro magnification

This Is how close I could get with the reversed Vivitar zoomed out to 28mm. Remember, the wider the focal length, the closer you can get to your subject.

Does it matter? No, not really. The fun is getting close to your subject. Close enough to see things you might not be able to see with your unaided eye. Whether it is a “true macro” may not matter unless you are entering a contest where only true macro shots are allowed. How close you can get depends on the equipment you have. How close is close enough? Well, that’s an artistic judgment.

Before we start… some cautions

Anytime you take the lens off your digital camera you expose the sensor and the insides to dust. You will be taking your lens off for this procedure. If you aren’t placing another (reversed) lens onto the camera, use a body cap to keep dust out until you are ready.

When you do put the reverse lens on your camera, know that the back end with its associated controls, connection pins, rear element and such will also be exposed. Use a rear cap on it when you’re not working with your set-up. Practice the same cautions you use with regards to dust and all will be fine.

Ordinary objects like this set of keys become subjects for interesting photos when viewed as macro images.

Macro options

There are several ways to make macro photos.

These include:

  1. A Dedicated Macro Lens – The easiest but the most expensive
  2. Extension tubes or a bellows which increase the distance between the lens and the sensor
  3. Magnifying lenses (diopters) put in front of an existing lens
  4. Reversing a lens on the camera – This is the technique we’ll be teaching here.
What lenses work?

Almost any lens can work for this technique including those you usually use on your digital camera. Do you want to see? Take the lens off your camera, hold it backward and tight to the camera body, turn on the camera and get close – very close to a subject. Move very slightly toward and away from the subject to focus. The focus ring has little impact.

You can see this technique shown on numerous online videos and while it may give you a macro in a pinch, it’s not very practical. Trying to hold the camera with a loose lens and adjusting focus might be okay if you’re in the field and have nothing better, but it’s hardly optimal.

You’ll also note that once you disconnect the lens from the camera, you no longer have autofocus or aperture control. The camera may show a blank where the f/stop would typically be. I’ve seen the technique where you set the aperture with the lens on the camera, push the depth-of-field preview button and then disconnect the lens, so the aperture stays fixed at that setting. Right… funky at best. Let’s teach you how to do this right.

Old film camera lenses are perfect for this technique as they usually have an aperture ring on the lens.

Got an old film camera lens?

If you’re an old guy like me, you remember film. You might even have your old film camera and a few lenses for it kicking around. If not, film camera lenses are cheap at pawn shops, online, or even at garage sales. For this technique, lens brand or mount type doesn’t matter since you’re not going to be connecting the lens to the camera in the usual way. Almost ANY lens will work so long as it has filter threads on the front.

The lenses I used with my old Pentax ME Super film camera are a 50mm Pentax lens with a 49mm filter ring and a Vivitar 28-105mm zoom with a 72mm filter ring. The thing to remember when using reversed lenses is the wider the focal length, the closer you can get to your subject. A zoom lens gives you a “variable macro.”

The biggest reason old film camera lenses work best for this is, unlike most digital lenses, they have aperture control rings on the lens. You won’t have aperture control from the camera, so having it on the lens is perfect.

Reversing rings are what you need to mount your lens backward on your camera.

Setting it all up

Here’s where the “backward thinking” comes in. To mount your lens to your camera you need to attach it backward. You need to use an adapter with male threads on one end and the proper mount type for your camera on the other end.

In my case, I used a Canon EOS mount so I could attach the lens to my Canon 6D. I bought two Reversing Ring adapters, one with 72mm threads on one end and a Canon EOS mount on the other. The second, with 49mm threads and a Canon EOS mount on the other. Mine are cheap Fotodiox rings, at $7.95 US each for the 49mm, and 72mm from Amazon. The things to remember when buying these is to get the proper filter thread size and camera mount type.

They are available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Panasonic, and many other camera mount types.

This, shot with the reversed Pentax 50mm might be a close-up, but is not a “true” macro photograph.

This is shot with the reversed Vivitar at 28mm giving even more than a 1:1 macro magnification. Note how sliver-thin the depth-of-field is

The mechanics of making your macros – a step-by-step approach to making this work Mount the lens

Screw the adapter to the lens filter threads and then mount the lens (backward of course) to the camera. Choose the lens you want by considering how much magnification you want – Shorter focal lengths allow you to get close to the subject with more magnification, longer focal lengths allow you to be further from the subject.

With my lenses, the 50mm Pentax prime gave a little more than a 1:1 ratio. The Vivitar 28-105mm zoom at 28mm was almost a 2:1 ratio. At 105, it was more a “close-up” rather than a macro lens and around 70mm was 1:1.

This is the Vivitar 28-105 reverse-mounted on a Canon 6D.

Use a tripod

The magnification of macro greatly amplifies any camera movement and, with very limited depth of field, trying to work handheld will be frustrating, if not impossible. If there’s any wind, shooting outside probably won’t work either.

Subject Selection

Your depth of field with this technique will be sliver-thin, sometimes only a few millimeters. Beginners might want to start with subjects with minimal depth and shoot them, so they lie in the same “focal plane” as the camera. Stamps, coins, paper bills, or other flat objects are great, especially when you’re learning the technique.

Lighting

You’ll often be really close to your subject and in your own light. You’ll also be wanting to use smaller apertures to get more depth of field, further reducing light. Get creative with how you light your subject.

Camera settings – Use Manual Mode

You will be able to control ISO and Shutter Speed, but not Aperture. Remember, that’s on the lens ring.

Open the Aperture Ring all the way while you focus. Move the camera or subject in tiny increments to get focus (the focus ring won’t have much effect.) If you’re using a zoom, you can use the zoom feature to help you focus. If your camera has Live View, use that. Use the Zoom feature of Live View to magnify your image and check the critical focus. If not, you’ll have to use the viewfinder. Also, remember that autofocus doesn’t work here and so LCD screens where you touch to focus aren’t going to help.
Stop down the Lens with the Aperture Ring once you’ve focused. Smaller apertures (like usual with all photography) give greater depth of field.

You will usually be struggling to get more depth of field in macro photography! Also know that as you stop down the lens, things get darker. It’s sometimes hard to adjust the aperture ring without bumping the focus slightly, so be prepared to refocus.

Making your shots

Shoot, “chimp,” adjust exposure, and repeat. To control exposure typically adjusting shutter speed on the camera should be the easiest. Expect to make LOTS of shots, making adjustments as you go to get that “perfect shot.” Macro photography can be “fiddly,” so get used to it.

A focusing rail, like this one from Neewer, can greatly aid you in making very fine focus adjustments.

Taking it to the next level

If you decide you like macro photography and want to make things a little easier and more precise, you may want to invest in a Focus Rail. Mount this device to your tripod, and mount your camera to it. Using a system of fine gears and adjustment knobs, you can move your camera in tiny increments. Macro is a game of millimeter movements and obtaining more precise control can be a huge help. Taking it up even more, one can buy very sophisticated rails, some with motorized, computer-controlled movement. If you’re ready for that, you’re not as likely to be using the reversed lens technique. I’m quite happy with my Neewer Macro Focusing Rail which cost under US$30.00.

Even at f/22, the depth of field is very limited. Focus stacking would need to be used to get this whole image in focus.

Focus stacking

Sometimes more is better, right? When you can’t get enough depth-of-field with one shot, taking multiple shots (each focused to a just slightly different point), and combining them in editing to get a front-to-back depth of field, may be the answer. Photoshop has focus-stacking capabilities and for a beginner is a good place to start. When you’re ready to dive deep into focus stacking, programs like Helicon Focus or Zerene Stacker are what the pros use.

I have a friend in our camera club who decided to pursue macro photography in a big way. He purchased a motorized, programmable focus rail, a nice macro lens, bellows, extension tubes, and then uses Zyrene Stacker to assemble what are often dozens of images into a single spectacular macro. I’m happy at the moment to use my reverse mounted film camera lenses, (though I did purchase a dedicated Tamron 90mm macro lens too).

A member of my camera club made this shot using the technique of focus stacking. This shot, razor sharp through the shot, (tough to do in a macro image!) is actually 118 shots combined with the program Zerene Stacker. This online image doesn’t do it justice. As a print, it is absolutely stunning! – Photo by Robert Riddle.

Conclusion

One of the attractions of photography is that it teaches you to see and then share through your photos, things people don’t ordinarily notice or see. Macro photography takes that a step further, opening up a tiny and incredible world of detail. The reverse lens macro trick is one that allows you to get a glimpse into this new world with minimal expenditure. I hope you’ll give it a try!

The post Reverse Lens Macro – How to Make Macro Photos with “Backward Thinking” appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

How to Find Great Photography Opportunities Where You Live

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 13:00

The post How to Find Great Photography Opportunities Where You Live appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Prasad Np.

Are you one of those folks who wait to travel to an exotic destination to make photographs? Is your camera nicely packed or gathering dust until you are traveling or on an assignment because you don’t have enough inspiration or subjects? If you are one such photographer, then you are actually missing countless photography opportunities right in front of you. No matter what level of skill and experience you have, the more you take your camera out and make photos, the better you get.

This image of the Gurgaon Metro was taken in the night on one of the busiest streets of the city and clicked from 20-floors above © Prasad Np

Gone are the days when you made images on film, and there was a cost involved in acquiring and processing rolls of films. Now, thanks to the digital cameras, you can take as many photos you want and keep on learning and improving every day.

So there’s no reason to wait until you are traveling to an exotic location to make images. Look around you, and you will find countless opportunities to make beautiful images, test your technical skills and take your game to the next level.

Whether you live in a developing city like Gurgaon (where I live), or in a picturesque mountain town, there are photographs to be made and shared. So the question is, how do you find great photo opportunities when you think you live in a boring location?

Sunset In Gurgaon © Prasad Np

The first step is to believe there are beautiful photographs around you that you must capture. It doesn’t matter what your preferred genre of photography is. Whether you enjoy wildlife, landscape, people or street photography, there are photographs to be made right near your home, in your own city.

Advantages of photographing your city and its surroundings

The advantages of photographing your city and its surroundings include:

  • You get to practice photography regularly and dissect your photographs technically and artistically to take better photos next time
  • You don’t have to travel a lot. You can always take pictures close to your home
  • Unlike when traveling to an exotic, faraway location where you may get only a short window to get the shot, closer to home you can always revisit the place and get the shots you may have missed the first time
  • If you are not happy with some of the photos, you can always go again and click, and you can also plan the shots in a better way, especially in cases like the city skyline, or sunsets

So here are a few pointers for you to find great photo opportunities right where you live. In this post, I am sharing some images I made in Gurgaon – a city I now call home.

Go for skyline and redefine it

Every city has its own iconic skyline that people can identify it with. However, that should not restrict you from trying to redefine or interpret it in your way. You can always go for a different shot; especially if the city is still developing. Capturing it as it develops creates an everlasting record of the change the city went through as it grew.

Even the most mundane of skylines can give a dramatic effect when you combine it with beautiful clouds or a sunset. Because you know the best vantage points from your previous experiences in your city, you can be well prepared and reach the spot in time to get the shot you have always wanted to take.

A Housing Society In Gurgaon © Prasad Np

Photograph seasonal natural phenomenon like blooming of trees

Many cities in Japan are known for the Sakura or Cherry Blossom festivals. Think about what the equivalent may be in your city. Every change of season brings a visual spectacle that is a hallmark of that season. In Gurgaon and most of North India, April to June are months of Golden Shower. The hotter the weather, the more beautiful flowers of Indian laburnum trees you find. Make a point to find out when the local trees in your area are in bloom, so you are prepared to take their pictures. An advantage of this is you can go over an extended period and click pictures of the same tree in various stages of bloom, including being barren in autumn. If you have these trees growing close to local landmarks, then your pictures may be easily identified with your city.

Laburnum blooms Gurgaon © Prasad Np

Local festivals and fairs

Local festivals & fairs are a great way to photograph your local community and happenings around you. Festivals and fairs are excellent opportunities to document the vibrancy and bonhomie of your city and how people connect – more so when a festival is a community event. “Lohri” is one such festival celebrated on 13th of January every year. Here, they light large communal bonfires in various housing communities, and people walk around the fire singing songs and celebrating. Find out what festivals your city celebrates. It could be as big as Christmas or something that could be very local, like a fair. Be there and make images to your heart’s desire.

Lohri Festival Bonfire Gurgaon © Prasad Np

Night photography in your city

A big city is no place for star trails as light pollution may be too much. However, there are other night photography opportunities in abundance. All you need is a good vantage point, your DSLR and a sturdy tripod. Any high-rise with a safe observation area or a balcony can become your vantage point to capture the light trails of vehicles down below.

Look for exciting locations like a curve in the local metro train tracks and wait for the train to come along. You can also click interesting images while incorporating the moon against your city skyline. The photo below of Super blood moon was deliberately clicked with part of it hiding behind the building to give an idea of the size of the moon compared to a normal one you see in the picture with the power towers.

Super Blood Moon Gurgaon © Prasad Np

Power Towers Gurgaon © Prasad Np

Go abstract

Night photography is also a great time to go abstract with some images of your city. While there are no creative limits to what you can do when trying to create a work of abstract photography, it is always a good idea to never overdo it, especially when you are beginning. A creative idea you can try is to move to manual focus and deliberately click out of focus images that render the distant lights with a bokeh-like effect. Use a tripod or keep your camera on a sturdy surface. Also, use a time release button or remote to click images to keep your images sharp.

Abstract Night Photograph Gurgaon © Prasad Np

Be observant of your surroundings

One of the keys to photography is being observant of your surroundings. Even when you are on your apartment balcony or in your backyard, there are enough photography opportunities available to you. If you live in a highrise, look down. You may get an interesting frame like the photo below of the two kids carrying similar umbrellas on the sidewalk. Or perhaps, the cars passing below under the trees that look like a beast under the canopy of the rainforest.

Kids Walking with Umbrellas © Prasad Np

Car under tree Gurgaon © Prasad NP

Conclusion

As you can see, any place can be a good location for making photographs. Don’t miss any opportunity to take photos as it helps in honing your skills both technically and artistically. Most of all, photographing your own city helps you learn much faster. You have an opportunity to click images in various seasons, in many light situations and go back as you need.

Now it is your turn, do share where you live and your favorite image that you made in your own city.

The post How to Find Great Photography Opportunities Where You Live appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Prasad Np.

6 Ways to Easily Improve Your Landscape Photography

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 08:00

The post 6 Ways to Easily Improve Your Landscape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Capturing beautiful scenery is one of the most enjoyable aspects of outdoor photography where you can fully immerse yourself in a breathtaking landscape and record the scene unfolding right before your eyes. There is so much available to shoot when out in the field photographing landscapes, from epic vistas of majestic mountains to lush, and green rolling hills. Here are 6 ways to help you improve your landscape photography:

1. Include a point of interest

Lavendar, Provence, France © Jeremy Flint

Usually, when people are first starting in landscape photography, they take pictures of the countryside to show a view of the land and sky but don’t consider other aspects such as adding an interesting feature to their frame.

One way to bring your landscapes to life is to add a point of interest in your photograph.

Some suggestions for points of interest could be an outbuilding, a fence, gate, tree, hedgerows or anything else you can find that would enhance your images. This extra feature could lift your landscape images from ordinary to excellent.

2. See the light

Namibia © Jeremy Flint

Light is one of the great aspects of photography that can help to improve your landscape images. Have you ever been to a location only to find the weather was cloudy and overcast? While this can be great for some types of photography, such as coastal and seascape scenes, having some light shining on a landscape scene can help to improve your image. Landscape scenes without light can often be flat and uninteresting. So be sure to make the most of the light when the sun is out as it can bring your landscapes to life.

I recommend looking out for changing patterns of light and be aware of how the sun affects your shots. For example, during the middle of the day, the sun is much higher in the sky and lights up most of the landscape from above. Whereas, when the sun sits lower in the sky, shadows can form where some parts of your scene become shaded.

© Jeremy Flint

3. Consider where to place the horizon

Depending on what you are photographing and what you are trying to achieve, it would be advantageous to consider the horizon and where you intend to place it in your landscape images.

Whatever you find most appealing, you may want to consider including more sky or foreground in your frame. If you find the sky more interesting, place the horizon on the lower third section of your image. Alternatively, if you think the foreground is more appealing position the horizon towards the upper third of the frame. Also, placing the horizon line in the middle of your pictures could make a landscape more balanced. It is entirely your choice and comes down to how you want your final image to look.

© Jeremy Flint

4. Eliminate distractions

The elimination of distractions may seem like an obvious aspect to consider when photographing landscapes. However, it is amazing how many photos include distracting elements. Remember that sometimes less is more and that by taking certain eyesores out of your frame, such as unsightly telephone wires or lampposts, can improve your landscape photos dramatically.

5. Time of day

© Jeremy Flint

The time of day you decide to capture landscapes can affect how your images look. I appreciate that you may be limited on time or are only able to take photos at certain times of the day due to work, family or other commitments. Therefore, use this to your advantage as landscape photography can look good at any time of day – daytime, sunrise or sunset.

Don’t limit yourself to the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset as you waste far too much of the day. You can take great pictures at any hour! For example, daytime can be just as good as sunset, especially if it is a cloudy day as the clouds complement the scene and can add drama.

Talybony-on-Usk, Brecon Beacons © Jeremy Flint

6. Focus

The last element to consider when looking to improve your landscapes is the focus. Ask yourself are you looking to get the entire landscape sharp or would you prefer a part of the image to be out of focus?

Using a wider depth of field enables your images to have front-to-back sharpness, whereas using a narrower depth of field renders the foreground or background out of focus. Applying the latter technique can be used for creative effect if you are looking to emphasize a particular part of your image, such as a prominent tree or object.

Conclusion

I recommend putting these tips into practice to see how they may help you improve your landscape photos and share the pictures you take with us below. What methods do you find help improve your landscape photography that you would like to share?

The post 6 Ways to Easily Improve Your Landscape Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

How to Achieve Monitor Calibration on a Budget

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 13:00

The post How to Achieve Monitor Calibration on a Budget appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

Photographers will often tell you to buy a calibration device for your monitor. It’s the pro thing to do. But do you need one? After all, most of the photo world manages without such a device and still enjoys its pictures.

Even among “serious” photographers, many do not have a workflow that fully utilizes calibration. Plus, there are differences between monitors and other devices that calibration cannot always bridge. Color management is not a perfect science.

Calibration versus Profiling Before going any further, it’s useful to distinguish between calibration and profiling. If you use a hardware device (e.g. colorimeter), it will calibrate your monitor. It then builds a profile based on the calibrated state you just created.   A profile describes the monitor so that color-managed programs display colors accurately. Included among calibration settings are black level (brightness), white level (contrast), white point (color temp) and gamma.

A custom profile reflects the output of your monitor. This image shows the gamut of my monitor enveloping (mostly) the sRGB color space.

If you don’t own a calibration device, you can still calibrate a monitor manually, but you can’t profile it.

The disadvantages of calibrating a monitor without a device are as follows:

  • Human eyesight is unreliable, so the more you “eyeball” during the calibration process, the further astray you may go.
  • You cannot physically measure the monitor’s condition (e.g. luminance in cd/m2). That means you can’t return it to the same state with each calibration.

This optical illusion demonstrates how easily deceived the eyes are. Squares A and B are identical in tone. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Do you need a calibration device?

A calibration device isn’t expensive compared to camera bodies and lenses, but the best can cost a couple of hundred dollars or more. The $200 question, then, is do you need one?

Yes: if you use an inkjet printer and want “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” results. In that case, a calibrator is vital. You need accurate profiles for soft-proofing, where you preview print colors before printing.

Yes: if you’re a pro or semi-pro shooting color-critical subjects (e.g. products, fashion).

Probably: if you pay for Photoshop CC, otherwise you are undermining its color capabilities. That said, many Adobe features are not dependent on pin-point color accuracy.

Maybe not: if you’re a stock photographer, since there is no direct client or color-managed chain. One of the world’s biggest libraries, Alamy, has millions of non-color-managed photos on its website.

Maybe not: if you get your prints done at the mall or via the Internet. In that case, the need for a calibration device is less. Why? Because most labs are not color managed. So, a disconnect exists even if you calibrate and profile.

In Photoshop CC, the ability to “proof colors” depends on an accurate monitor profile as well as an output profile. If you identify a need for this feature, you also need a calibration device.

The need for a calibration device might hinge on your approach. Content is almost everything in photos. Most people viewing your pictures will not be privy to the color you saw on your monitor.

Black & white level calibration

The less you do to a monitor, the less you cause problems like banding, and the better it performs. You needn’t adjust all the settings a monitor has. Even when using a calibration device, many people leave gamma and white point in their “native” condition.

You’ll be in a minority if you can view this gradient without seeing any banding, lines or colors (it’s in grayscale). The more you adjust your monitor, the worse this effect will be. But it will only rarely affect photos.

With the above in mind, you could just calibrate the black and white levels. This ensures you can see shadow and highlight detail while editing, preferably in subdued lighting. The process would be something like this:

  • Reset the monitor to default settings.
  • Using black level patches, lower the brightness setting until the darkest patch (#1) is not visible, then brighten it so it is — barely.
  • Using white level patches, adjust contrast if necessary to make the brightest patch (#254) just about visible.

(The #254 pattern on the Lagom site is hard to see except under very subdued light, so #253 will suffice.)

The numbers used to set black and white levels are the same as in an 8-bit image or a levels adjustment (i.e. 0-255). Thus, “0” is pitch black and “255” is the whitest white. All levels in between should be visible.

Most monitors are too bright out of the box. Aside from being poor for editing, this reduces the lifespan of the backlighting.

Free calibration software

There are a couple of free software-only calibration programs. Although they create a profile for you, this profile is not based on the output of your monitor since no measuring takes place. At best, it will be a generic profile taken from your monitor’s EDID data, which may be better than the sRGB alternative.

QuickGamma (Windows)

QuickGamma is a free program that lets you calibrate gamma and black level, but I’d suggest calibrating the latter as described earlier. (I think scrutinizing individual patches is less error prone than squinting at a ramp.) One benefit of QuickGamma v4 is that it can calibrate multiple monitors.

Screenshots of the QuickGamma utility program.

  If you want to adjust gamma, follow the instructions supplied with the download. I’d advise against adjusting red, green and blue levels unless you see a color cast in the gray bands. Stick to adjusting the gray level if possible. Should you want to adjust the red, blue and green levels, try using this page with the software.

QuickGamma creates a profile based on generic monitor EDID data or sRGB. The first should be more accurate. The profile carries the calibration data, which loads separately on startup. (Windows Desktop does not use the profile.)

Calibrize (Windows)

Calibrize is a simple utility for adjusting black level, white level, and gamma. Unlike QuickGamma, it can only handle single monitors. It doesn’t let you set gray gamma, so you are forced to tweak red, green and blue levels. Adjusting these RGB levels is easier than in QuickGamma, but you’ll still need to squint at the screen to do it.

To build a profile, Calibrize also uses the EDID color data within most monitors. If this is unavailable, I’d guess it uses sRGB.

The first and second screens of Calibrize software.

Windows & Mac built-in calibration

Apple and recent Windows operating systems have built-in calibration tools. Personally, I find third-party calibration tools and pages to be better than the Windows utility, particularly regarding the target images used.

I’d suggest these choices for Apple calibration: generic monitor profile, native or 2.2 gamma, native white point. Note again that native settings better preserve the capability of the monitor.

This is the image for setting black level (brightness) in Windows. To me, the black “X” seems too bright, which results in a screen that’s too dark.

A paradox exists in calibration in that, the less you do, the better a result you may get. Ironically, you often have to pay for the privilege of doing less in calibration software. Basic programs don’t always allow it.

DisplayCal

Another way you can save money is to buy a basic calibration package and pair the included device with DisplayCal software. In some cases, it’s the complexity of the software that dictates the cost of the calibrator. DisplayCal is one of the best calibration programs, so you’ll gain all the features you need for less money. Be sure to check its compatibility with any device you intend buying.

(DisplayCal is free, though you may wish to contribute towards its upkeep.)

Screenshots from DisplayCal, which pairs with many calibration devices on the market.

Your call

The aim of this article is not to talk you out of buying a calibrator. If you’re just starting out in photography, you needn’t rush into buying one. Equally, if you don’t like color management or can’t get to grips with it, there is less need to gauge monitor output.

Calibration devices aren’t so expensive, but anyone on a budget has my sympathy. Photography isn’t so cheap. I can also understand the desire to keep things simple. If you can identify with any of that, I hope this article has given you some useful low-cost calibration ideas.

The post How to Achieve Monitor Calibration on a Budget appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

Review: Filterbooth Preset Collection for Lightroom and Photoshop

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 08:00

The post Review: Filterbooth Preset Collection for Lightroom and Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Stacey Hill.

When it comes to post-processing, I have to admit, I like to use presets as part of my workflow. So when I came across this collection of filters from Filterbooth, I was keen to test them out and see if they were a pack I would benefit from using in my day-to-day editing.

The Filterbooth Preset Collections

Filterbooth has 12 collections in total, and each collection holds between 11-15 individual presets. The preset packs are available for both Lightroom and Photoshop ACR. For the purpose of this review, I have used the Filterbooth Professional Package which consists of:

Amber – rich warm autumn tones with a vintage touch
Azure – shades of seaside blue
Clean/Standard – clean standard finish
Emerald Forest – give landscapes and foliage and other greens some pop
Faces – adding impact to portraits
Night Owl – inspired by starry skies and deep nights
Food – for food
Golden Hour – warm and inviting tones to enhance sunrise/sunsets
Moody Vibes – what it says on the tin
Monochrome – black and white filters for all subjects
Urban Vibes – street scapes, city scenes, architecture
Interior – for inside of buildings

Mostly, the names are relatively descriptive concerning the intended use.  The names of the individual presets are similar, in that they mostly describe what the effect they can do.  If you would like to see examples of the effects, there are some Before/After slider examples on the website, which is always helpful to get an idea of the outcomes.

The whole collection has some common styles; Clean, Classic, Lucent, Vintage, and Warm are some examples that pop up in several collections.  The style and result of the preset seem to be reasonably consistent for these as well, so if there is one style you particularly like, it may be repeated across different collections for some variations.

System Requirements – Filterbooth requires Lightroom CC, Classic CC, 6, 5, or 4 and for ACR requires Photoshop CC or CS6 to work properly.

Pricing

There is a free sample of 5 Presets to try out (which is a lucky dip of sorts as the website doesn’t tell you which ones they are).  However, this is a nice touch, as a lot of the expensive professional preset makers don’t always offer a free sample.

Next, there is a Starter Kit (US$45) which includes 5 samples from each of the 12 collections (again, it doesn’t tell you the specific ones).

Lastly, there is the Professional Kit (US$115) which gives you every preset.

Keep an eye out on their website for special offers too, because, at the time of writing this, some discounts were on offer.

Testing out the presets

Presets use all the settings within Lightroom to do their job.  Depending on their design, they may edit key things like exposure, white balance and so on.  Some do, some don’t. Any image you are using should already have had your basic edit applied to correct for White Balance, Exposure, Lens Correction, Horizon Angle, Crop, etc.  Therefore the preset affects the other editing tools.

As a result, some presets can be ‘stacked’ on top of each other to build up layers of effect.  This works if the presets alter different settings from the previous one, and only those elements are selected to be active in the preset.  I found it isn’t generally obvious until you try them out.  The image at the head of this article did have several presets applied for a stacked effect, and then some manual edits to finish it off.

In general, most of presets don’t adjust the exposure when you apply them – however, some do, and it varies by the amount.  So keep that in mind when you are applying them to your image.

Testing Technique

The example image I used for this review was edited in Lightroom from a RAW file so that the finished image was suitable for having presets applied.

After the preset was applied, I did NO FURTHER EDITS – all you see is the result of applying the preset.  Once the I exported and saved the file, I removed the current preset from the Lightroom image.  Therefore each time a new preset was applied, it was against a clean copy of the Base Image to maintain consistency.

I chose to use the flatlay food image because of it’s color range and texture. It also provided a good comparison on a close-up shot.

The second image I chose to use is a landscape with a bright blue sky, snow, grass, and rocks.  This offered a larger scale scene with a typical contrast range of a landscape on a bright sunny day — typical of many landscape images.

I have noted the Collection Name, and the Preset Name in the captions and examples are in Alphabetical order of Collection Type.

BASE IMAGE FOR TESTING

 

Amber -Classic

 

Azure- Blues

 

Emerald Forest – Rich

 

Faces – Clean

 

Food – Classy

 

Golden Hour – Soft

 

Interior – Dim

 

Monochrome – Ageless

 

Moody Vibes – Blog

 

Night Owl – Crimson

 

Standard – Moody

 

Urban Vibe – Chilly

 

 

Next we have a Landscape shot of the New Zealand high country, taken from the rocks at Castle Hill. It has a nice blue sky, highlights in the snow, quite a lot of mid tones and it lacks a little contrast making it interesting to see how the presets work with it.

BASE IMAGE FOR TESTING

 

Amber- Warm

 

Azure – Mystery

 

Emerald Forest – Air

 

Faces – Warm

 

 

Food – Pop

 

Golden Hour – Pink

 

Interior – December

 

Monochrome – Ageless

 

Moody Vibes – Blog

 

Night Owl – Colour

 

Standard – Moody

 

Urban Vibes – Film

 

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a lot of variation in effect here.  While crafted for specific uses, the collections can also be used outside of that as well.

In general, I found there was enough variety to make these useful, and enough similarity to feel comfortable in getting consistent outcomes by using Presets of the same name.  While the full collection gives you everything, it may be outside the budget for some. In that case, the Freebie pack, or Starter Collection may be a better option.

The presets themselves, felt crafted for a modern, slick styling similar to what you might see in high-end magazines, or portrait and wedding studios.  So if that is your thing, these are probably worth checking out.

For landscape, food or other photographers, I would recommend trying the free sample pack (what have you got to lose?) and then decide if you want to invest further.

As I mentioned, I use a lot of presets in my work and have many from a range of creators.  This offering from Filterbooth is probably the most modern and professional set I have used. While the preset styles don’t suit the styling I have used for my photographic brand, I did enjoy the Moody and Vintage options, as well as the ones with a bit of desaturation and matte finish.

If you are a general purpose photographer, and considering presets, the Filterbooth Preset Collection is a great, professionally produced, collection with a wide range of options to suit many styles.  So give the free sample pack a try and take it from there.

Review 4 and a half /5 stars  (the extra half for having a Free Sample Pack)

The post Review: Filterbooth Preset Collection for Lightroom and Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Stacey Hill.

Full Moon and Eclipse Photography: Your Guide to Where They Are in 2019 and How to Capture Them Effectively

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 13:00

The post Full Moon and Eclipse Photography: Your Guide to Where They Are in 2019 and How to Capture Them Effectively appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Jongsun Lee

Full moons and eclipses are a unique time to capture some interesting photographs.

Full Moons

Full moons usually happen once a month, with the occasional second full moon falling in the same month. This second full moon is called a Blue Moon.

Solar and Lunar Eclipses

A solar eclipse happens when the new moon passes between the earth and the sun, casting a shadow over the sun.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the full moon and the sun, causing the moon to fall into earth’s shadow. Lunar Eclipses occur only at the full moon.

To give you the opportunity to shoot the moon, below is a calendar of Full Moons and Eclipses for 2019, followed by some articles that will help you to capture the moon or eclipse effectively.

Full Moon and Eclipse Calendar Full Moons

New York, N.Y (US/Eastern)

Date Time Jan 21 00:17 Feb 19 10:53 Mar 20 21:43 Apr 19 07:12 May 18 17:11 Jun 17 04:31 July 16 17:39 Aug 15 08:31 Sep 14 00:35 Oct 13 17:10 Nov 12 08:37 Dec 12 00:14 Eclipses Date Type July 2 Total Solar Eclipse July 16 Partial Lunar Eclipse Nov 11 Mercury Transit Dec 26 Annular Solar Eclipse

 

Full Moons

Sydney, Australia (AEST)

Date Time Jan 21 00:17 Feb 20 02:53 Mar 21 12:42 Apr 19 21:12 May 19 07:11 Jun 17 07:38 July 17 17:38 Aug 15 22:29 Sep 14 14:32 Oct 14 08:07 Nov 13 00:34 Dec 12 16:12 Eclipses Date Type July 17 Partial Lunar Eclipse

 

Full Moons

London, England, UK

Date Time Jan 21 05:16 Feb 19 15:53 Mar 21 01:42 Apr 19 12:12 May 18 22:11 Jun 17 09:30 July 16 22:38 Aug 15 13:29 Sep 14 05:32 Oct 13 22:07 Nov 12 13:34 Dec 12 05:12 Eclipses Date Type July 16-17 Partial Lunar Eclipse Nov 11 Mercury Transit

 

How to Achieve Better Full Moon and Eclipse Photography

20 Dos and Don’ts for Shooting the Moon

Beyond Full Moon Photography

Moon Photography: 6 Tips for Better Moon Photos

How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

Tips for Photographing a Lunar Eclipse

How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse

 

 

The post Full Moon and Eclipse Photography: Your Guide to Where They Are in 2019 and How to Capture Them Effectively appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

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