Back to Top

Corel AfterShot 2

Expert Tips & Techniques

Subscribe to Expert Tips & Techniques feed Expert Tips & Techniques
Digital Photography Tips and Tutorials
Updated: 10 hours 48 min ago

Weekly Photography Challenge – Travel

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 15:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is TRAVEL!

Ross Parmly

Let’s face it; we all love to travel – especially as photographers. So, go out and take some of your best travel photography images and share them with us all. As usual, they can be color, black and white, moody or bright. They can be people, iconic travel landmarks, stunning landscapes, aerial shots etc. You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Steven Lewis

Alan Hurt Jr.


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

Tips for Shooting TRAVEL images

The dPS Top Travel Photography Tips of 2018

5 Ways to Photograph Travel Icons

8 Elementary Travel Photography Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Out

How to Find the Best Kinds of People to Photograph While Traveling

The Best Fujifilm X-Series Kits for Travel Photography

How to Travel Light With Your Photography Gear


Transcending Travel


Weekly Photography Challenge – TRAVEL

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 #DPStravel 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 – Travel appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Tips to Take Better Photos in Direct Sunlight [video]

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 10:00

The post Tips to Take Better Photos in Direct Sunlight [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Sometimes, as photographers, we don’t always have the luxury of shooting in the lovely early morning/late afternoon light. We just have to shoot in the middle of the day where the harshest light of the direct sun exists.

In this video by Peter McKinnon, he shares his tricks on how to take better photos in direct sunlight so you don’t end up with a bunch of photos that are super-contrasty and leave your model with harsh shadows around their eyes etc.


Tips to Take Better Photos in Direct Sunlight 1. Bounce the light

You could use a reflector or bounce card. Consider using natural reflectors such as light-colored concrete. Concrete acts as a natural reflector for the sun.

2. Diffuse the light

Have someone hold a diffuser in the line of the light source coming from the sun. This will defuse the harshness of the direct sun and soften it on your subject’s face.

Find areas of shade and if

3. Use the shadows to your advantage

If you don’t have a diffuser or a friend to hold one for you and you just have to shoot in the direct sunlight, take advantage of the shadows.

Find great spots (like a staircase) that have interesting patterned shadows to create interesting effects on your subject.

4. Move your model around

Keep in mind the direction your model is facing. Have them move around, and watch how the sunlight hits their face. Have them move until you get the most flattering/even light.


You may also find the following helpful:

The post Tips to Take Better Photos in Direct Sunlight [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

How to Nurture and Build a Child’s Interest in Photography

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 15:00

The post How to Nurture and Build a Child’s Interest in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

One of the most important things you can do as a photographer is to help guide, nurture, and inspire the next generation of artists. It’s a humbling experience to know that you might be the person who inspires the next Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz. It could come from something as simple as sharing some pictures with a young person or helping them figure out how to use their camera. You never know when you might have the opportunity to make an impression on a child, or anyone for that matter.

But if you’re not careful, these moments of creative awakening can quickly die before even given a chance to blossom. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can help and build a child’s interest in photography instead of accidentally snuffing it out.

It’s not about you

Before I get into some specifics, I want to make it clear that the important thing here is to realize that it’s not about you.

When you’re helping kids explore photography (especially this generation of digital natives), there’s going to be many times when you might be inclined to sigh, roll your eyes, or tell them that the latest filter, effect, or trend isn’t real photography. Or it’s not how you do things.

I’ve got kids in elementary school, and I also help out with my church youth group. One of the things I’ve had to come to terms with is that kids today are not learning photography how I did. My first camera was a Kodak that shot 110 film. It cost money to buy and develop each roll.

Today, like it or not, most young people get introduced to photography via mobile phones. They seem to snap away without any care for composition.

They would rather use filters, effects, and apps instead of learning about aperture, shutter, and ISO.

And that’s just wrong! It’s not real photography!

If you’ve ever shown a child how to fix things, you know it’s not about the end result but about passing on something special to the next generation. The same holds true for photography.

Or is it?

Who am I to say that a child using Instagram filters is any less worthy of creating meaningful images than me with my big chunky DSLR?

Just because mobile phones and photo apps aren’t my tools of choice it doesn’t mean other people, especially children, can’t find joy and creative outlets when using them.

There are two choices when faced with the dilemma of what to do when working with kids who are interested in photography.

You can make it about yourself and tell the kids what you think they should be doing. Show them the tools you think they should be using, and explain how to get pictures you think are interesting.

Or you can help young people find what they like. Explore photography in a way that is meaningful to them, and even (gasp!) learn to use apps and filters to create images they think are beautiful.

My wife and I were with a group of kids at the local botanic garden. One of them shot dozens of pictures of this outdoor train set.

The former can easily lead to apathy or resentment, while the latter often gives way to a whole new creative outlet for the child. It’s about them, not you. If that means you have to leave your comfort zone and explore photography in a way that makes you uncomfortable, then do it for the sake of the child and his or her learning and growth. Who knows…you might just learn something new along the way!

Give compliments instead of criticism

When a youngster invites you to look at a stream of pictures from his or her phone, you might have an initial tendency to offer unsolicited advice or, worse yet, outright criticism.

You might find yourself thinking things like:

  • The lighting in that shot is all wrong.
  • I don’t get it. What is this picture supposed to be about?
  • Your picture is way underexposed!
  • What’s with all the selfies?

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

A lot of people may react similarly, but remember that children’s egos are fragile things. One word from an adult they admire or respect can be all the difference between sparking enthusiasm and causing depression.

Most of the time, when a child wants to show you their photos, what they are seeking isn’t criticism but validation. They want to know that they are doing a good job. That their efforts are worthwhile, and that they are on the right track.

The kid who took this photo thought it would be really cool to have the rope cut across the frame. I thought about telling him to shoot it differently, but instead, I just said “Nice job on those colors!” He was really really happy to hear that.

As an adult, you might think you’re helping if you offer what you think is constructive criticism, but there will be a time for that later. The most helpful thing you can do is offer compliments and words of encouragement. Even if you don’t find their photos entirely compelling, find something nice to say.

Try tactics such as:
  • That’s a really interesting lighting choice!
  • I like the colors in this photo.
  • Can you tell me how you got this shot?
  • Look at those fun selfie filters you’re using! Can you show me how to do that?

Give children compliments instead of criticism, and ask questions to show them you are interested. It sends a strong message that you care about their creativity and value their work. This could help set them on a lifelong photography journey, and you might be just the person to do it!

Shot by a seven-year-old who thought this dinosaur was really fun to look at. Fun enough to take over two dozen photos of it.

Encourage experimentation

As someone who grew up with analog cameras and physical rolls of film, there’s a lot about modern photography I don’t quite understand. This goes double when it comes to mobile phones. Especially with filters, effects, stickers, and other image-altering features found in a lot of photo apps.

But for kids today, these types of alterations are just enjoyable ways to explore photography. Just because I, and others my age, didn’t grow up with all this technology doesn’t mean we should spoil it for the next generation!

One of my young relatives loves playing with color-inversion filters. I think the results look awful, but he loves this picture that he shot and others like it. And if he likes it, then who am I to tell him otherwise?

Instead of dwelling on what we might not comprehend, try the opposite approach when dealing with budding photographers. Don’t run away from filters if you’re with kids who are excited about them, and instead get them to try even more.

Some might seem silly, and you might never choose to willingly give yourself cat’s ears or apply an over-saturated look to your nature shots, but there’s no harm in trying things like this when you’re with a child who wants to experiment for fun.

My son took this picture of me sharpening a lawnmower blade. He used a night-time mode which, as he discovered, made the shutter stay open longer and capture some spark trails.

You can also encourage kids to try new techniques like time-lapse photography, look at accessories like the OlloClip which lets you take macro shots with a mobile phone, and experiment with basic editing and image processing. Photography today, especially with mobile devices, allows creative possibilities light years beyond what we had when I was a youngster.

Just imagine what kids can create with a few encouraging words from an adult photographer whom they admire and respect!

Another one of my young relatives was really interested in shooting familiar objects from different perspectives. This was the result of one of his recent experiments, and while it won’t win any awards, he was thrilled to try something new. I happily encouraged his experimentation.

Give advice, but only if they ask for it

This is one of the hardest but most important parts of helping a young person nurture their interest in photography. To illustrate it, I’ll share an example from a visit with my out-of-town family.

My 14-year-old niece is constantly snapping pictures with her phone of anything that she thinks is interesting: insects, flowers, fences, cars, and, of course, her friends. During their stay, she bombarded me with requests to look at her pictures. She couldn’t wait to show me the photos she took even just out in the backyard.

While this happened, it was difficult for me to hold my tongue and just let my niece bask in the glow of her newfound love for photography. I wanted to give her advice about lighting, offer tips about composition, show her how to hold her phone at different angles to get better pictures, and so on. However, I held my tongue and just tried to be a voice of encouragement and validation, telling her I liked her pictures and asking if I could see more.

My niece loves taking pictures such as this one using portrait mode on her phone. I wanted to tell her she could get better results with a real camera. But that kind of attitude is toxic and hurtful for a child who just wants to experiment with photography.

What my niece (and most young people) aren’t looking for are instruction and advice. They’re seeking validation, often on a personal level, that their work is good and that they are pursuing worthwhile goals. When you, someone whom they respect and admire, can only tell them why their work isn’t good or instruct them on how to fix what they are doing, it sends the wrong message even if you have good intentions. You could inadvertently stifle the very sense of creativity you are hoping to inspire.

What you should do instead is play the long game. Use opportunities like this to build a sense of trust and goodwill. That way, when young people do want you to help them with their photography, they will ask you.

Later that same weekend, my niece asked if she could use one of my cameras. So I let her use my old Nikon D7100.

We talked about lenses, apertures, and how to control the camera to make the background get all blurry. Then we went out to take pictures of flowers as the sun was setting. She was eager to learn all about how to control the camera settings to get photos she could never pull off with her cell phone and some filters.

When she showed interest in some of my camera gear, I let her try it out and gave her some advice about composition, lighting and controlling the aperture. But only after she asked me for help.

After putting her photos into Lightroom, I showed her how to do some basic cropping and adjustments. She told me repeatedly that these were some of her favorite shots she had ever taken. If I had started the weekend by chastising her for not using a real camera, or told her what I thought she should be doing differently with her photography, she would probably not have wanted to go out and get flower photos later on.

This is the result of her efforts, and she was extremely pleased with the results. Hopefully, this is just the start of a lifelong photographic journey!


Young people are finicky, and their moods and tastes change as quickly as the wind. Today their interest may be in photography, and by next week they have moved on to archery, pottery, or guitar. You never know what’s going to stick with them in the long run.

If you want to nurture an interest in photography and help make sure it’s not just a passing phase, you have to be careful what you say and do. Make it about them and not about you. Hopefully the photography seeds you help plant will take root in good soil to produce a lifelong appreciation for the art.


The post How to Nurture and Build a Child’s Interest in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Learning to See Like an Artist – 7 Powerful Techniques to Help You See More Compelling Images

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 10:00

The post Learning to See Like an Artist – 7 Powerful Techniques to Help You See More Compelling Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anthony Epes.

Being an artist has nothing to do with your camera, your kit or your photo knowledge.

It has nothing to do with how long you’ve been taking photos or if you shoot on manual or automatic.

Being an artist is totally and completely about the mindset you inhabit when you are out shooting, and what you create from this state.

It’s about looking at the world in a way that is different from how we usually see it. It’s ridding ourselves of the habits to ‘get somewhere,’ to accomplish and tick things off our to-do lists.

It’s all about immersing ourselves, our senses, our beings in this beautiful, wild, chaotic and amazing world.

It’s diving deeper, seeing more and finding new and interesting ways to capture what we discover.

What you get from bringing this artistic approach into your photography are unique images.

Your photos become about expressing who you are, encompassing everything that you have seen and experienced in your life.

This to me is the joy of photography. So I have some simple, but immensely powerful tips that will help you connect to your inner artist.

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” – Ernst Haas

7 Powerful Techniques to Help You See More Compelling Images First – ignore everyone

We spend so much of our lives in contact with other people. At work, our efforts are analyzed by our colleagues, boss or clients.

At home, our children, partner or family will comment on how we live, wash clothes, what we eat etc. We post something on Facebook and someone comments; everyone has an opinion.

As we are in constant contact with other humans, we find ourselves playing a role, fitting into expectations or rules or ways of living. We probably don’t even think about how the constant stream of people in and out of our lives makes us adjust and alter our behavior.

Creating art operates in a very different space – completely outside this interaction with other humans.

Being in the space of creativity is about forgetting what other people might think of our work, what other people are doing, literally everything that connects us to other human beings.

We need to release ourselves from our ‘normal lives’ and the way we live.

Because art can never be created by a committee. And what is completely unique and interesting about you is what will make the most compelling photos.

2. Know that we aren’t seeing the world as it really is

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift

Did you know that your brain processes two billion pieces of visual data per second? And yet we only see about 50 bits of this information.

Of course, our brains are doing us a massive favor. If it didn’t block out most of what was happening around us, we couldn’t focus.

What’s interesting here is what 50 bits of information are you seeing, and what 50 bits am I seeing?

If we are seeing such a small selection of what’s available, then it’s highly unlikely we are all seeing similar things.

Which makes our personal world highly selective.

I find this so exciting because it shows how we are always able to create something new if we only open up our awareness.

This explains why we can all stand in front of the same scene and take different photos (this happens all the time on my workshops.)

Let’s celebrate that there is so much more to discover in the world around us.

3. Take your time to really observe the world around you

One thing I constantly see in my workshops is when people find a subject they love, they shoot it, then move on way too quickly.

I think it’s a natural response to how we live in this modern life. We are very driven by results. We shoot something, then we move on to the next thing. Almost like we are ticking a box.

But the way to be more creative in your photography is to forget about where you want to go next.

In fact, forget about everything that is not totally related to the present moment you are inhabiting, and the subject you are facing.

Take your time. Watch the light. Maybe wait for the light to change to see what would happen to your subject.

Look at the shadows. The people that are passing. What’s happening around your subject? Feel the atmosphere, and maybe how it is changing.


As you see more and get to know your subject more, new angles will open up on how to shoot. Maybe the weather will change, making more dramatic images, or the light will soften creating a totally different feel to the mood of the shot.

The more you observe your subject the more it will reveal different qualities to you. You will notice more subtleties.

There is no rush. Allow yourself all the time you need to observe and shoot your subject.

4. It’s all about the light

“I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical.” – Trent Parke

When people ask me what I photograph, I always say the same thing – light.

My biggest passion and main subject in photography is light. I love light in all of its forms.

The joyful, effervescent light of a spring morning; the deep, brooding, metallic grey light before a storm; the deep, deep blues of twilight in the city; the misty, melancholic light of a winter’s afternoon.

Light is always changing. Each day brings us something different and each part of the day has different qualities. And when you have interesting light it makes your subject so much more compelling.

Your job is to play with light and your subject, seeing what happens when the light changes.

What qualities are revealed in your subject in different light?

“Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” – George Eastman

5. Photography is all about feeling

When we see a photo we really love it’s rarely only because it’s nice to look at.

Beyond the composition, color, light and all of the things that we can organize, there is a more important element to a photograph that is more elusive and hard to capture.

This element is emotion.

“Photography’s a case of keeping all the pores of the skin open, as well as the eyes. A lot of photographers today think that by putting on the uniform, the fishing vest, and all the Nikons, that that makes them a photographer. But it doesn’t. It’s not just seeing. It’s feeling.” – Don McCullin

When a subject stirs emotion in us – joy, love, fear – it will transfer into our photo. And when the viewer sees that image, we want that emotion to be evoked in them too.

Capturing emotion is an art, and it’s not automatic. But it’s totally worth focusing on. Find subjects that stir your emotion, and try to capture that feeling in your images.

The most iconic photos that we remember for years, or the ones that really speak to us personally, will be communicating a powerful feeling.

6. Be in awe

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” – Mary Oliver

If we think that photography is all about feeling then the most sensible option when deciding what to photograph is to find subjects that fill you with emotion.

I like to ask myself – what fills me with such deep excitement I am in total awe when I see it?

You can probably guess that light is what makes my heart burst with excitement and makes me want to get my camera out.

But there are other things too.

Exploring nature is always something that excites me. Spending days walking through the hills near where I live in Southern Spain, or through the pretty English countryside of my adopted homeland on a beautiful summer’s morning.

Cities too, especially at sunrise when they are empty and beautiful. I like to explore, wander and see what I come across.

It doesn’t matter though what your subject is, the most important part of your decision of what to photograph is that it has to be something that stirs your soul. It has to thrill you. It has to fill you with awe.

Otherwise, what’s the point of taking the photo?

7. Stop thinking

Now, the last step is often the hardest. We are trained from an early age to be in our heads. To be thinking and doing all the time.

However, if you want to hit that artistic mindset where you are present, connected to the world and in total creative flow, you will not be thinking or analyzing what’s happening around you.

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things” – Ray Bradbury

Once you have made the choices of when and what to shoot, then you can let yourself go.

Being an artist is losing yourself and becoming part of this magical and amazing world.

It’s daring to lose yourself to see what you can find. It’s being prepared to forget all the things that you have to do or worry about.

For this we have to be a little courageous, we have to experiment and try, we have to make mistakes and trust that we will take good photos (eventually). But –

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” – Vincent Van Gogh

I hope you enjoyed these ideas.

I’d love to know if these sparked ideas or inspiration for you. Let me know in the comments below. Thanks!


The post Learning to See Like an Artist – 7 Powerful Techniques to Help You See More Compelling Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anthony Epes.

Tips for Achieving Minimalism in Photography

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 15:00

The post Tips for Achieving Minimalism in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

Minimalism seems to be a hot topic of discussion these days in almost every facet of life. It has made its way into a lifestyle that is often associated with a particular way of living, of creating and even a certain way of traveling. Even though the interpretation is subjective, the Webster dictionary defines it as a “style or technique that is characterized by extreme sparseness and simplicity.”

Many of us are drawn to the ‘less is more’ concept, with simple lines, geometric patterns, clear shadows, colors, and isolated subjects. Sometimes these elements occur automatically in our surroundings and at other times requires some manipulation in terms of decluttering and removing elements from the frame.

The key is to train your eye to assess what is required to create a strong story. Here are a few tips and examples to get you started in your quest for minimalist imagery.

Tips for achieving minimalist imagery 1. Composition techniques

One of the key elements of minimalism is the concept of less is more. Keep it simple, light – concise.

However, keeping it simple does not mean keeping it boring.

Contrary to popular belief, a minimalist approach requires a lot of creativity. Well-placed subjects and key elements that help communicate a story are all challenging to get right all the time. These concepts often require much practice until it becomes the way you see.

Start asking yourself these questions even before you bring the camera to your face to take the shot. Take your time in composing and don’t be in a rush to click and move on. Put some thought into it. Sometimes if it is not obvious, look through the viewfinder and see the shot instead of cropping unwanted distractions in post-processing.

I did not have room to move back and take a wide-angle shot. So in post, I just added a few layers and made the scene appear further than it actually was, and added negative space.

In situations where it is not possible to remove distracting objects from the frame, use depth of field to isolate your subject from the background by shooting with an aperture as wide (smallest number) as your lens allows. This, in effect, blurs the background, distracting elements and gives a sense of minimalism. You will need a lens that can effectively give that bokeh effect.

2. Colors and textures

Bright colors or even contrasting colors help with the minimalistic approach by adding the right amount of contrast. The key is not to go extreme but to pick one or maybe two colors that work well with each other and use them prominently in the image. Sometimes even adding a little texture in the image can assist in improving the visual appeal like the lines of sand in the image below.

Initially look at the color wheel and familiarize yourself with contrasting colors. But don’t just focus on that. Trust your eye to catch situations like this one to practice minimalism – even if its on your phone (like this shot).

3. Leading Lines and Patterns

Lines and patterns, if done correctly, can also assist in the minimalistic approach. However, aim to keep it simple. Leading lines and other geometric shapes can make great backdrops for minimalist pictures.

But if there are too many elements in the frame, it can make the image appear chaotic and busy, which is not the minimalistic clean way.

Sometimes all it takes is to find a creative angle to photograph. Experiment with different angles – straight on, high up, or low down until you get a shot that showcases your vision for the image.

A typical leading line lead the eye and the camera to this lady drying her rugs (which add a pop of color in an otherwise monotone scene).

4. Negative Space

Learning to use negative space is a huge advantage when embracing the minimalistic movement. Negative space allows the main subject matter to breathe freely. It conveys a sense of lightness in both place and space. Negative space is a great way to isolate your subject so that the viewer can easily interpret the story you are trying to convey.

Remember negative space does not always mean a single subject and nor does it mean always photographing in the rule of thirds. It means allowing less clutter in the frame. Negative space, along with the posing, can add a lot of drama to an otherwise simple portrait.

5. Concise Storytelling

One of the best ways to practice and perfect minimalistic photography is to tell a story. Ask yourself if the elements in the frame help move the story forward or are hindering the story. Sometimes a human element is needed to tell the story, and other times, it is not needed. Symmetry, lines, patterns, and shadows take on the role of telling the story.

In the above image, the lack of a human subject is overcome by using the yellow median as well as the curve in the road to communicate the feeling of going off the beaten path. There really was not a single car for miles, and we had this magnificent landscape all to ourselves.

Sometimes the story and the environment come together spontaneously, and it’s the photographer’s job to see it and respond quickly. Other times it requires a bit of patience for the right subject to walk through the frame.

The good thing is that a minimalist approach to photography can be applied in nature as well as in an urban environment. You can practice anywhere, so get out there and open yourself to a different way of seeing with your camera – no matter the genre.

6. Post-Processing

Minimalistic photography doesn’t end once you take the shot. You can extend this concept into post-processing as well. The easiest way to approach minimalistic photography in post-processing is to keep the image treatment simple. Avoid highly saturated images, a lot of contrast, and intense color corrections.

With portraits, don’t correct all the skin and tone imperfections. Let the subject’s natural beauty show without too much retouching.

The image below uses grain and emulates a film look. This adds to the minamalism.

A simple lifestyle editorial that focused on solitude and idleness was the epitome of minimalism. The post-processing here supported the story with a very light and airy look and feel.


In photography, minimalism is a visual statement where the story of the photograph is simplified, elements reduced, and clean space added. Not only has minimalist photography become its own genre, but photographers specializing in the discipline have come into their own. They have created an attractive space of art and creativity for us all to enjoy. As industry professionals, it behooves us to pay attention to this trend and see how we can apply this in our own body of work.

Feel free to share some of your minimalist images with us in the comments below.


The post Tips for Achieving Minimalism in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

Mastering Color Series – The Psychology and Evolution of the Color ORANGE and its Use in Photography

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 10:00

The post Mastering Color Series – The Psychology and Evolution of the Color ORANGE and its Use in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

Situated between yellow and red on the visible spectrum, orange has a long history in visual culture. Dubbed the “happiest color” by Frank Sinatra, we’ll take a look at the color orange and its significance from antiquity to contemporary art.

The psychology of orange

Named after the citrus fruit, the word orange is derived from the old French phrase orenge. The earliest use of the word orange in English dates back to the 1300s. However, orange’s use as the name of a color didn’t occur until the early 1500s. Before that, orange was simply called yellow-red.

The distinctive orange color of many fruits and vegetables comes from carotenes, a photosynthetic pigment. As a result, the orange pigmentation has fostered associations between orange and nourishment, refreshment and energy. Autumn leaves also get their orange color from carotenes, forging links between the color and Autumn, beauty, preparation, and change.

Orange cultivates optimism, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, and warm-heartedness. Orange’s boldness denotes confidence and creativity. Manifested in fire, orange can be associated with heat and destruction. Eye-catching and vibrant, orange is often used to direct attention. Furthermore, as the complementary color to azure, orange has the greatest contrast against sky blue tones. This means orange (or safety orange as it’s known) is often used in marine safety devices like life rafts, life jackets, and buoys.

In European and Western countries, orange is associated with harvest time, frivolity and extroversion. For Indian cultures, orange is considered to be lucky and sacred. In Japanese and Chinese cultures, orange denotes courage, happiness and good health. Buddhist monks’ of the Theravada tradition and Hindu swamis wear orange robes. Orange is the national color of the Netherlands, but in many Middle Eastern countries, orange can be associated with mourning.

The evolution of the color orange Ocher

The history of orange pigment begins with ocher. As a family of natural clay earth pigments, ocher ranges in color from yellow to red, sienna and umber. Orange ocher is composed predominantly of limonite. Thanks to the pigment’s excellent light fastness, some of the worlds best-preserved cave painting sites still feature orange ocher today. The pigment continues to see application within modern art, in both traditional and contemporary practice.


Made with ground cinnabar, the use of vermilion pigment dates back to 8000–7000 BC. Produced artificially from the 8th century, the orange-red pigment was used by painters up until the 1800s. However, the cost, poor light fastness, and toxicity of vermilion led to it being superseded by modern synthetic pigments like cadmium red.

Realgar and orpiment

An arsenic sulfide, realgar is an orange-red mineral that saw artistic use in ancient Egypt, China, India, and Central Asia. Prized for its richness in color, realgar most commonly occurs as a low-temperature hydrothermal vein mineral. Highly toxic, realgar was the only pure orange pigment available until modern chrome orange.

Orpiment, also a sulphide of arsenic, was found in the same locations as realgar. Producing a golden yellow-orange pigment, orpiment was just as toxic as realgar and was also used as a fly killer and to taint arrows with poison. An important item of trade in the Roman Empire, orpiment was ground down and used in paintings up until the 19th century.

Chrome and cadmium orange

In 1797, French scientist Louis Vauquelin discovered the mineral crocoite. This led to the invention of the synthetic pigment chrome orange. Ranging from a light to deep orange, chrome orange was the first pure orange pigment since realgar. And while it’s no longer in production, chrome orange can be viewed in Renoir’s Boating on the Siene

As a by-product of zinc production, cadmium, was discovered by Friedrich Stromeyer in 1817. While heating zinc in his laboratory, Stromeyer observed a sample of zinc carbonate that formed a bright yellow oxide. Stromeyer realized the results of his experiment could prove useful to artists, but it wasn’t until the 1840s that cadmium pigments entered production industrially.

Quickly becoming popular among the Impressionists and post-Impressionists, the scarcity of cadmium meant that the availability of cadmium pigments was fairly limited up until the 1920s. Today, pigments like cadmium orange set the standard for coverage, tinting, and light-fastness.

Orange in visual arts Prehistoric to pre-raphaelite

From prehistoric periods to the present day, orange has had a continuing presence in visual arts. Figures sketched into rock by neolithic artists were often filled out in orange ocher. Orange was present in the elaborate art and hieroglyphics of the ancient Egyptians. In ancient Rome, the orange-red vermilion was used to paint frescoes, decorate statues and color the faces of victors in Roman triumphs. Vermilion was also used by North and South Americans to paint burial sites, ceramics, figurines and murals.

In medieval art, shades of orange were used in the coloring of illuminated manuscripts. During the renaissance, orange was featured in lustrous drapery. Creating dramatic contrasts between brightness and shadow, Baroque artists used orange to illuminate detail and light. For instance, in The Abduction of Ganymede, Rembrandt centered on the boy Ganymede’s orange tassel as a visual pendulum, indicating momentum and resistance. Depicting lush landscapes and well-to-do inhabitants, rococo art featured light, airy oranges. And the red-orange hair of Elizabeth Siddal, model and wife of the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, became a symbol of the pre-raphaelite movement.

Impressionism to abstraction

In 1872, Claude Monet painted Impression, SunriseFeaturing a luminous orange sun sprinkling light onto a hazy blue landscape, the painting lent its name to the impressionist movement. Post-impressionist Paul Gauguin used vivid oranges for backgrounds, clothing and skin color. And Vincent Van Gogh balanced rich blues and violets with bold oranges saying “there is no blue without yellow and without orange”.

Fauvists believed color should operate free from physical reality. Mountains at Collioure by André Derain expresses a landscape made up of patchwork oranges, an active contrast against the blues, greens and deep pinks that complete the image. Expressionist Edvard Munch used the visual activity of orange to suffuse his paintings with density and crowded movement. Later, abstract artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Robert Motherwell took advantage of orange’s internal buzz, generating movement and emotion within their canvasses.

Orange in contemporary art

As the possibilities of art have evolved, so has the application of color. As a color of great visual density, orange continues to have a significant role in contemporary art. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, painting in both traditional and contemporary styles, continue to use orange ocher in their artworks today.

Wilhelm Roseneder’s Orange Expansion uses orange to exaggerate a separation between art and setting. Roelof Louw’s Soul City (Pyramid of Oranges) invites viewers to take and eat one of the oranges that make up a pyramidic sculpture of citrus fruit. With each orange taken, the sculpture changes form and is eventually consumed in its entirety by the sculpture’s participants. Anish Kapoor’s Mirror (Pagan Gold to Orange to Pagan Gold) is a large concave dish that reflects the viewer within the orange haze of the artwork itself, re-expressing the self through materiality. And artist Alexander Knox chose orange as the prevailing color in his Moth Ascending the Capital, capturing the energy of a Bogong moth bursting into flight.

Orange in photography

Orange’s associations conveys a rich photographic landscape. Photojournalist Ozier Muhammad’s photograph Marines Move through Sandstorm is an insight into the nature of war. The density of orange, though natural, significantly dampens visibility, creating a palpable tension. Depicting humans and objects as things to be studied, Martin Parr’s ultra-saturated oranges pair with his inquisitive photography. And Uta Barth’s …and of time series documents the quality of light and the passage of time, an orange hue feeling out the dimensions of a room with ephemeral softness.

On the bucket list of many a photographer, Antelope Canyon, located just outside of Page, Arizona, is a natural photographic wonder. The warm orange tones of the canyon are captured in countless images online. Nevertheless, photographers still flock to the spot to make their own photographs of the beautiful eroded Navajo Sandstone.

Occurring during the golden hour, orange-to-yellow light floods the atmosphere, creating ideal opportunities for landscape and portrait photography. Often manifested in steel wool photography, photographers can create effervescent trails of burning orange light with a few kitchen items. Orange filters are also a popular general-purpose tool for black and white photography. Balancing out the extremes of red filters and the subtlety of yellow filters, orange filters add a moderate degree of contrast to an image, darkening skies and emphasizing clouds. Furthermore, orange filters deliver a warm, smooth skin tone, reducing the appearance of freckles and blemishes.


Wassily Kandinsky once said, “orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow.” Energizing the viewer, orange conveys optimism, enthusiasm, and cheerfulness. Capturing attention, orange imparts vibrant emotion and illuminates detail. Found in food, orange also communicates nourishment and health. And reflected in nature, orange can be a signal of seasonal change, fire, and heat. A color of tenacity, endurance, and impact, orange reflects bold emotions, its historic presence and versatility inspiring and energizing audiences at the same time.

We’d love for you to share with us and the dPS community your photos that make use of the color orange in the comments below.

See other articles in the Mastering Color Series here.


The post Mastering Color Series – The Psychology and Evolution of the Color ORANGE and its Use in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

K&F Concept TC2335 Carbon Fiber Tripod Review

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 15:00

The post K&F Concept TC2335 Carbon Fiber Tripod Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

I’ve worked with a quite a few products from the folks over at K&F Concept in the last couple of years. Quality has ranged from great to average to the not so spectacular. When I was asked to have a look at their TC-2335 carbon fiber travel tripod, my expectations were at most cautiously optimistic. That being said, I’m happy to report that this little carbon fiber tripod from K&F Concept offers a lot in terms of performance. So, lets talk about K&F Concept TC-2335 carbon fiber tripod; what I liked, what I didn’t like and what you need to know if you happen to be in the market for a lightweight travel tripod.

First appearances

When the box first arrived my immediate reaction was “this is tiny…really tiny.” Not only that, but the entire package was alarmingly lightweight. After opening up the box I realized the logical reason for this: the TC-2335 is really tiny and incredibly lightweight. In fact, it is the most feather-like, compact tripod I have ever evaluated. The tripod itself is housed in its own padded carrying bag.

After removing the TC-2335 from its carrier, I was met with a surprisingly attractive carbon fiber tripod.

In terms of aesthetics, the TC-2335 proves to be one of the better-looking tripods I’ve entertained from K&F Concept. The carbon fiber is well done and is a default matte gray. This particular model comes with a matching orange color scheme, which looks great, But it is also available in an unlikely “thunder” version which features blue lighting graphics on the leg’s of the tripod…yes, really.

All leg locks are the twist type and are rubberized. I was honestly surprised with just how cleanly the leg locks are executed and would compare them to some higher-end tripod models I have handled.

Overall, the appearance of this tripod looks fantastic. But how would it perform in the field? Let’s find out.

In operation

Before we get rolling with how the TC-2335 performs, let’s have a look at a few specifications that you will want to know.

Practical technical specifications
  • Folded Height: 13.6 inches (34.54cm)
  • Maximum Height: 53.1 inches (134.9cm)
  • Minimum Height: 12.9 inches (32.8cm)
  • Weight: 1.85lbs (839g)
  • Maximum Weight Supported: 26.5lbs (12kg)

For such an admittedly small form factor, the TC-2335 is very stable. The terminating leg sections are quite small in diameter and this would lead one to assume that the legs are flimsy. But this is not the case. When locked down, this little tripod is reasonably stable even in high wind and awkward positions.

Speaking of the legs, I’ve mentioned already how impressed I was with the leg lock mechanisms, but there’s more. I was concerned, given the slender legs, that the overall stability would be compromised. However, the leg locks do an excellent job of arresting almost all leg movement.

The leg angle locks are something that I dislike about this tripod. They are not spring loaded; meaning that after you pull out on the locks, you must manually press them back into place to lock the legs. Again, I’m sure this is a weight saving measure, but the added convenience would have been worth the small amount of bulk, in my opinion.

The ball head

I used this tripod with three separate camera’s, ranging from lightweight crop-sensor mirrorless to full-frame DSLR. The ball head had no problems supporting the weight placed on it throughout my tests. K&F states that the tripod is capable of supporting virtually fourteen times its weight. While that may be extreme, I do not doubt that the ball head mechanism could support a camera system upwards of five to six pounds should the circumstances present themselves.

The ball head itself sports only a single adjustment knob which controls both panning and the ball head articulation. I’m sure this is a weight saving measure but can lead to complications when adjusting your camera at times. While panning is silky smooth, the ball head seems to be somewhat rough and quite audible when moved. A small amount of lubrication may help in this area. I feel I should also note that the ball head features not only a bubble level – which is quite useful – but also a magnetic compass.

Again, yes…really.

What’s great

In terms of packability, the TC-2335 from K&F Concept is superb. It’s extremely lightweight and doesn’t take up much room anywhere. It would be ideal for those who do a lot of flying or for anytime space comes at a premium. It looks great and is more than capable of supporting most camera systems that you’ll likely want to be carrying around. The twist locks on the legs also secure with extreme solidity. Overall, for a tripod of this size, the entire platform is oddly stable.

What’s not so great

I can’t get past the angle locks for the legs not being spring loaded, and this is the major gripe I have with this tripod. Granted, this is the first tripod I recall using which doesn’t have this feature. At the same time, I’m sure this would be something that could be a personal preference. Also, the quite serviceable ball head is not exactly smooth in operation, and I would have liked to have seen a secondary knob for panning.

Final verdict

For a tripod which is intended to be a travel companion for the highly mobile photographer, the K&F Concept TC-2335 is a wonderful low-cost option if you are in the market for a compact carbon fiber tripod. It’s good looks and solid stance will be completely adequate for most shooters who understand it’s uses and limitations.

Don’t look for a workhorse tripod here. Rather, I would suggest you view the TC-2335 as a wholly capable shooting platform that will come in handy when weight, size, and portability take precedence over the subtle functionalities found in larger, more dedicated camera support systems.


The post K&F Concept TC2335 Carbon Fiber Tripod Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Image Resolution Explained – Seeing the Big Picture

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 10:00

The post Image Resolution Explained – Seeing the Big Picture appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

The very first thing you must understand about photography is that it is totally based on illusion; you choose to believe what you perceive. This concept didn’t originate with photography’s pixels and dots; it is the very basis for human sight. Your brain chooses to believe something to be true well beyond what your eyes can verify or recognize to be true. The very word “resolution” gives light to this concept. The resolving power of a lens is its ability to distinguish small elements of detail. This same issue is true concerning the human eye and its perception of images on a computer screen and the printed page. Each of these “interpretations” relies on a mechanism to carry out an illusion. The eye’s mechanism is rods and cones, cameras use photo receptors, computer screens use pixels, and printing machines use spots and halftone dots. The degree to which each device succeeds in their illusionary quest is dependent upon the resolution of the mechanism and the resolving power of the device.

Each system requires two elements – a transmitter and a receiver. Just as a magic trick requires both a salesman (the magician) and a customer (the viewer), each “visual” process requires a good presenter and a willing observer. The common phrases, “seeing is believing,” and “perception is reality,” pretty much define the benchmark of success. Now let’s get image resolution explained and show you where it’s is most effectively used.

Image resolution

There comes a finite distance when viewing any image where your eye can no longer distinguish individual colors. Beyond that point, your brain must sell the idea that detail indeed exists beyond that point of distinction. The detail you see when viewing an object at close range continues to be perceived long after that object is too far away to verify that detail. There are limitations to the normal resolving power of the human eye with “normal” defined as 20-20 vision.

In the image reproduction process, delivering an image with excess resolution becomes useless when the result of that extra resolution has no purpose. Thus, the gauge of all visual resolution must ultimately be framed by resolving capabilities of the human eye. Producing more image resolution than the eye can perceive doesn’t increase the detail or improve the definition, it just creates bigger files.

While you feel more confident when you pass massive amounts of pixels on to your printer, your printer doesn’t appreciate the excess. It throws all those extra pixels away. More ain’t better; it’s just more.

Dots, Pixels, Lines, and Spots

Beware of the numbers game that is played by manufacturers in the imaging industry. There is ample misinformation and misused terminology floating around that causes significant confusion about imaging resolution. Allow me to clarify some very foggy air beginning with terminology.

DPI (Dots per inch)

The term DPI is probably the most misconstrued acronym in the digital imaging world as it is loosely cast about in digital imaging and applied to just about every device. DPI, or dots per inch, is a reference to printing device’s resolution and describes the dots and spots that each technology uses in various combinations to simulate “tones.” Dots are neither pixels nor halftone dots. We’d all be a bit better off not using this term as it has little practical application.

PPI (pixels per inch)

The basic structure of every digital image is the pixel. Pixels are the square blocks of tones and colors that you see when images are enlarged on computer screens (see the Eye illustration below). The measure of those pixels (typically in a linear inch) determines an image’s resolution and should always be addressed as PPI, or pixels per inch. This setting is affected by the Image Size dialog box in editing software. The higher the number of pixels in an inch, the higher the image resolution. Scanners, digital cameras, and paint programs all use the PPI terminology.

Of all the resolution terms in the industry, this is one that deserves top billing. While the rest of the terms need to be recognized, rarely will they have to enter the conversation.

When viewed in imaging software, these squares are referred to as pixels and should be defined in values of pixels per inch (PPI). This particular dialog defines the size of the “Eye” picture in this article. Internet images are defined by pixel count and concern the linear measurement of horizontal pixels in the image.

LPI (lines per inch)

LPI refers to the halftone dot structure used by laser printers and the offset printing process to simulate the continuous tones of photographic images. LPI refers to the number of “lines” of halftone dots used by various printing processes. “Lines” is a throwback reference to the days when actual lines were etched in glass plates to interpret photographic tones in early printing processes.

This LPI number is specific to the printing industry. Lower numbers refer to larger, more visible halftone dots (newspapers) while higher numbers refer to much smaller and less visible dots (magazines and artwork). I’ll get into the numbers later.

Spots and SPI (spots per inch)

A spot is a rarely used term that refers to both inkjet and imagesetter processes. With inkjet, it is the measure of micro-droplets of ink sprayed during the inkjet printing process. SPI, or spots per inch is a User-Selectable issue concerning the resolution choices when using some inkjet printers. Higher SPI also affects the quality of the printing process by slowing the speed at which the paper is fed through the printer. The spot “marking” size of both plate and imagesetters determines the quality of the shape of halftone dots produced and only applies to high-end lithographers and service bureaus.

Device real-world requirements for optimal resolution

Now we’ll look at each device’s real-world requirements for optimal resolution. How much is too little and how much is too much? The answers require a bit of explanation because there are some variables involved in the projects and the printing devices. First I’ll clarify some misconceptions about digital camera files, then I’ll address three specific printing technologies and give you some concrete examples.

Digital Cameras

The most common reference to camera resolution relates to the camera’s image sensor. These sensors contain a grid of cells called photosites, each cell measuring the light value (in lumens) striking it during an exposure. The actual number of cells contained in an image sensor varies depending on the camera model. When the number of horizontal cells gets multiplied by the number of vertical cells on the sensor, the “size” of the sensor is defined. The Nikon D500 sensor measures 4,288 x 2,848, or 12,212,224 pixels, making it a 12.3 mega (million) pixel camera.

The individual cells in the image sensor are covered by either a red, green, or blue filter called a Bayer array. Each cell records the filtered light, converting the combined values into individual pixel colors.

These pixels can produce any number of different size pictures for various purposes. Each printing process requires a different number of pixels per inch (PPI) to deliver optimal quality prints at a given size. This is because the technology used for each type of printing is different. For example, high-quality inkjet printers spray liquid inks onto paper using very small nozzles (usually 1440 spots per inch).

Laser printers

Most laser printers are either 600 or 1200 dpi devices meaning that a solid line printed horizontally will be composed of either 600 or 1200 dots. Type is printed using all these dots while halftone images can be effectively reproduced from 220-300 pixel-per-inch (PPI) images.

Inside these laser printers is a raster image processor (RIP) that generates halftone dots from square pixels. The value of each image pixel gets transposed into a halftone cell. The formula for exchanging this grid of square pixels into a diagonal pattern of variable-size dots goes way beyond explanation in this article, but it’s kind of like magic.

Laser printers simulate gray tones using the halftoning process provided by the printer’s RIP.

Inkjet printers

Inkjet printers use totally different technology to translate color pixels into printed images. Tiny spray nozzles distribute ink to specific parts of the image to deliver their version of the imaging illusion. The resolution (PPI) required to deliver accurate inkjet images differs from laser printers. This is because they do not use the geometric mechanism of halftone cells but instead, spray microscopic amounts of each ink to precise locations as determined by the pixel values.

Inkjet printers require significantly fewer pixels per inch (PPI) than laser printers to carry the illusion. Typically 150-200 PPI is quite sufficient.

Lithographic printing

Offset printing includes newspapers, magazines, and brochures. Each requires a slightly different lines-per-inch (LPI) pattern of dots. Newspapers are typically 85 LPI, magazines are 150 LPI, and high-end brochures and other collateral material require up to 200 LPI resolution.

Each line screen value is produced by a different PPI formula. While all these types of printing can be produced from 300 PPI files, all that resolution is certainly not required and is technically overkill. Even those high-end brochures technically don’t require this much resolution, but the early-adopted myth of 2xLPI persists yet today. The actual requirement for all high-end printing is only 1.4xLPI. Any more resolution simply gets discarded by the platesetter’s RIP.

In this calculation, newspapers (85LPI) need only 120 PPI, magazines require only 212 PPI, and even the best quality print is ideally produced with just 283 PPI.

In case you’re thinking that this is splitting hairs and irrelevant, consider this… using the 1.4 rule totally meets the mathematical requirement and saves a whopping 50% of the file size in storage real estate and transfer time.

I fully expect to hear some pushback about these numbers, but science and math don’t lie. Phobias about resolution are long entrenched, respected, and expected. However, in the end, it really doesn’t matter that much.


There are two unforgivable sins in preparing your images for proper resolution. Low-res and up-res.


The biggest sin of all is sending files to the printer/publisher with too little resolution.

That is a certain formula for poor results and shows up in the form of soft detail and bitmapped edges caused by normal sharpening.

Every form of print technology requires a minimum of pixels to produce fully-detailed and sharp images. So do not shortchange your project in this respect.

Remember, size your images for the final appearance and assign the PPI at that final size. If you want to see an 8”x10” image appear in print, make sure you address the issue of PPI in the Image Size dialog and before you save the file.

Monitor the Image Size dialog carefully when you make changes. Resample an image while watching the Image Size figure at the top of the dialog. Try to never let it increase. You can get away with a small increase but do so only when necessary.


Make it a rule never to increase your image size as it is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. You can’t create detail; you can only destroy it. Whatever size file (pixel count) you begin with is the largest pixel count you should print unless you’re okay with soft images.

Pixels are not rubber, and you cannot stretch them to a larger size without sacrificing the sharpness of the image. Your digital camera most likely provides you with ample original pixels to print most projects, try to stay within that original ratio.

You can increase the image size, but you can’t increase its detail. Every time you enlarge an image, you distort the pixels. So if you want to print sharp images, don’t enlarge them!

The major advantage to maintaining higher resolution files for an archive is that if an image ever needs to be cropped or enlarged, that extra resolution will undoubtedly come in handy.

It remains standard operating procedure in the printing industry to send all files to the printer with 300 PPI resolution. Cloud services, backup systems, and storage media sales folks certainly want you to continue the 300 PPI trend and rent more parking space on their sites.

Final thought

Make it your goal to make the best of this visual illusion called photography. Your camera, your computer, and your printer provide all the tools you need to perform your magic with great success. Enjoy.


The post Image Resolution Explained – Seeing the Big Picture appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

How to Mix Lifestyle and Posed Photography Styles to Add Variety

Mon, 05/27/2019 - 15:00

The post How to Mix Lifestyle and Posed Photography Styles to Add Variety appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

As photographers, we take time to hone in our craft and practice many hours getting it right. When it comes to photographing people, there are two main approaches in directing clients to get the photos you want. I’ll explain the difference between both, and how to apply the two during the same session to get the most variety in the final gallery that your clients will absolutely love!

Mixing posed and lifestyle can add variety to your photos.

What is lifestyle photography?

Lifestyle photography is when you capture your clients a little more naturally than you would if you were posing them. It’s all about letting the session unfold naturally all while you photograph your couple, family, or individual being themselves.

Lifestyle can mean going for a walk through a botanical garden with your clients.

It’s also about showcasing the person in their daily life or routines too. For example, joining a family as they casually hang out at their home and bake together. Or joining a couple for coffee and a stroll through the park.

Going for coffee while you photograph your clients can also be considered lifestyle.

Lifestyle photography can be both natural or styled. Styled simply means curating the look so that even though the person is hanging out drinking coffee on their sofa, they are dressed and using items that make the photos have a cohesiveness.

Using a styled home can also offer a great location for lifestyle photos of a couple hanging out in the living room.

Much of what you see on Instagram can be considered lifestyle photography.

What is posed photography?

Posed photography is when you are directing your clients to sit, stand, and well, pose exactly how you would like them to. This gives you a more controlled and directive role in addition to being the photographer.

Directing people to pose a certain way is posed photography.

Posed photography can be really beautiful and usually lies in the editorial, fashion, or fine art styles of photography. However, posed photography can be used in every session where you want to control the final pose in your photo.

How to mix both styles to get variety

In a portrait session, it doesn’t matter if it’s family or just one person, mixing the two styles can really help add variety in the final images that you deliver to your client.

Mixing styles

When you’re starting the session, begin with posed photography because most clients are nervous at the beginning of a session. Getting them comfortable posing, and being more direct in how you want them to stand can help them to feel more comfortable in front of the camera.

The photo on the left was lifestyle, and the right is posed. Same family, same session, two different styles that add variety to the final images.

While you’re posing, show your client exactly how you want them to pose rather than merely instructing, which can get confusing.

For example, instead of saying “put your left hand on your right elbow,” you would instead go over to where they are standing and show them how you want them to put the left hand on their right elbow.

This is a quicker way to help your client visually see what you want them to do.

After you’ve posed your client enough, and they seem a little more comfortable in front of the camera, go for the lifestyle approach.

Tell your client to relax and walk around the area. If it’s a family, for example, ask them to walk and talk to each other while telling a funny joke. Make sure to keep your camera at the ready during these times. That way you can achieve photojournalistic style photos that make lifestyle so meaningful.

With children, you can capture them playing with their toys and also get posed photos during the same session.

As you go through the session, keep alternating between posed and lifestyle. You can also pose your clients, a couple, for example, so that they’re facing each other, take a few photos and then ask the couple to say one nice thing about the other.

This is a great way to transition from posed to lifestyle. You will get authentic expressions from the couple because you are putting them in a particular pose then giving them something to do that will seem natural. It’s a perfect mix of the two styles at the same time.

If you’re more comfortable with lifestyle and candid photography styles, don’t be afraid to stop your clients in mid-walk, hug, or whatever they are doing naturally to hold the pose. This is a transition from lifestyle to posed.

Mixing the two styles offers your clients more variety as well as an overall great experience. They will feel more comfortable being in front of the camera because they were allowed to be themselves while you also stopped to make sure to get posed photos as well.

Using both styles will give the session a more fluid flow and also allows your clients to have a good time during the session. This is especially important when photographing children. Letting them play and have a good time while mixing in posed photos will give them a fun experience.

In conclusion

Mixing the two styles, lifestyle and posed photography, will add variety to your client’s photos and will also ensure that they have a great experience without feeling stiff or uncomfortable in front of the camera.


The post How to Mix Lifestyle and Posed Photography Styles to Add Variety appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

How You Treat Your Subject in Photography Affects Your Photos

Mon, 05/27/2019 - 10:00

The post How You Treat Your Subject in Photography Affects Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

A great subject does not necessarily make a great photograph. The way you treat your subject will reflect in your photographs.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Don’t be a travel snapshooter. This is advice I frequently give people during our travel photography workshops in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There’s an abundance of interesting subject material here. As is often the case when you are outside your normal environment, it’s easy to think that grabbing a quick photo will suffice.

Returning home with thousands of impulse photos will be a disappointment. If you don’t pay attention to creating an interesting photograph, the results will be lacking. Temples, monks, tuk-tuks and the likes are all interesting but can make rather boring pictures if you don’t treat them well.

How to treat your subject well

I watched this video about renowned Magnum photographer Elliot Erwitt recently. About halfway through he makes an interesting statement saying, “It’s not the subject, it’s how you treat the subject.” Unfortunately, he does not go on to expand this thought, but he certainly provoked curiosity in me.

This idea is one I believe is very important to the development of your photography. The way you treat your subject influences the potential impact your photos will have.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Grabbing quick snapshots will typically produce lackluster results. Treating your subject with more attention and intent will compel you to make more interesting photographs.

“Treat” is an intriguing word. Particularly in the context, Erwitt uses it in the video. It can be taken to mean the way you chose to artistically represent your subject. It could also mean the manner with which you:

  • Communicate with them
  • Act or behave towards them
  • Consider or regard them
  • Or, if you give them gifts

Any of these will affect different responses from a living subject.

Artistic treatment in photography

Choices you make will influence the way your photos look and how your subject is represented.

Photographing a beach on a sunny day when it’s full of activity, will look significantly different than on a winter’s afternoon with an overcast sky. Your choice of when you take a photograph is part of how you treat your subject.

Timing when you photograph someone speaking can make them look attractive or not. Those open-mouthed, contorted faces we often see politicians with are used by news editors to portray them negatively. This treatment may seem unkind, but it is certainly intentional.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Lighting choice between soft or hard light alters the artistic treatment a subject is given. A wrinkled face will become more exaggerated using hard lighting at certain angles. The choice of a softer, more diffused light will be kinder to your subject.

Composition is without a doubt influential on the way viewers will understand the main subject of any photograph.

You can crop in tight, showing little or no context. This limits any relationship of your subject to its environment.

A looser crop, made with careful intention, can include or exclude elements. This will influence the look and feel of your photographs.

Contrast in color and tone within your photos helps a viewer determine the meaning of a photo. Pastels or soft tones provide a gentleness. High-contrast black and white or color combinations will induce a different look and feel.

Your awareness of these aspects of photography allows you to make intentional use of them.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Relational treatment of your subjects

This has more influence on subjects that can respond to you. The way you talk to a rock or flower will not have so much impact on the photos you make of it. Talking to your pet dog or goldfish will also elicit different responses.

Doggie treats given during pet photo sessions can provide huge assistance to a photographer. Offering more food to your goldfish will not likely arouse a more favorable response from it.

Speak politely to the person you want to photograph you’ll be more likely to receive a positive response. If you approach a stranger with uncertainty their response may not be so conducive to you getting a good portrait of them.

Treating someone with a smile and an air of respect will provide you a more positive opportunity. Most people will respond well. Projecting a positive attitude during a portrait session will enable you to make more attractive photos. Your subjects will be more relaxed and assured.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Even when you’re traveling and may not be able to verbally communicate, a smile often does the trick. Approach someone with an open, happy look on your face with your camera in hand. This usually communicates your intention clearly enough. Add in a few appropriate hand gestures and watch for the person’s response.

Take time to observe your subject

When you’re not sure how to treat your subject, step back and observe for a while if you can. Don’t rush to capture your photo.

Look at the environment and how your subject relates to it. Is it a prominent or a minor part of the location? Does it interact significantly with the surroundings? Can you find an angle that will suit the intention you have for your photo?

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The more you understand about your subject, the better photos you will make of it. Understanding can affect the way you relate to any chosen subject.

If you see someone who is shy and reserved, treat them in a similar manner. They’re more likely to appreciate it than if you boldly get in their face with your camera.

A more extroverted person may require a different treatment. Be bolder. Be more effusive in your approach. Mirror back to them how you are experiencing them.

Take some time to research. Engaging in longer-term projects, or even before heading away on holiday to somewhere new. Find out as much as you can about what you want to photograph.

Do you want to photograph monks in Thailand? Is it okay to do so politely? Is this culturally fitting? Can you safely photograph beggars in San Francisco? Is street photography including people welcome in Paris? Knowing the answers to pertinent questions before you set out will enable you to treat your subject appropriately.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan


The right treatment of your subject will result in more compelling photographs.

Think about both aspects of treating your subjects. Considering the methods you use with your camera is one aspect. Communicating well with living subjects will influence the response you receive from them.

Take your time to practice. Apply yourself well. You will see an improvement in your photographs.


The post How You Treat Your Subject in Photography Affects Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Tips for Styling and Photographing Interiors

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 15:00

The post Tips for Styling and Photographing Interiors appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

On Instagram, I run a page called Layered.Home that’s focused on interiors: design, styling, home improvements and lifestyle in an interiors setting. Here, I work with brands on their brand awareness campaigns and product placements. All these involve styling and photographing products and spaces, sometimes with a specific brief to adhere to and at other times I have the freedom to style as I wish.

The unprecedented rise and popularity of social media platforms has paved a way for a new photography niche: personal brand photography. This is where photographers shoot content for brands to use on their website, promotional materials and social media posts. Whilst this is not my niche, I have photographed businesses, interiors and products both for clients and for my own social media page and continue to do so.

Here are some articles I have written on this topic before: shooting interior spaces , taking better photos for Instagram and photographing mixed lighting for interiors.

Whilst I hope the above articles will give you some photography techniques, this article will focus on some techniques when styling interiors for photoshoots and some tips for photographing them at the end. Let’s dive in.

Purpose of the photoshoot:

Before you can style interiors successfully, first you have to ascertain the purpose of the photoshoot. Who is it for? What is it for? Are there any targets to meet? Regardless of the answer, bear in mind that the styling must always be on-brand.

Whatever the purpose may be, it is imperative that you understand your client’s branding first and foremost and that you style to strengthen the brand, not to dilute it.

Some purposes of styling might be for the following:

  • client’s website – images for landing pages, blog posts, slideshows etc.
  • social media feed – styling content for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc
  • seasonal promotions – spring, summer, autumn, winter, etc
  • advert in a magazine
  • feature in a magazine – magazines also have their own niches and styles so stylists match interiors to appropriate magazine brands
  • product placement
  • brand awareness campaigns

The latter two usually allow scope for styling off-brand. It may be because the client wants to reach your audience. Therefore, they may want you to style the product for your brand instead of theirs to reach your audience and as a result, expanding their customer base.


There are many styles with now trendy names coined to describe them such as Scandinavian or Scandi, Bohemian or Boho, Scandi-Boho, Modern, Mid-century modern, Minimalist, Maximalist, Eclectic, Mediumalist(!), Retro, Vintage, Contemporary, Traditional, Transitional(!), Industrial, Country, French-Country, Rustic, Shabby Chic, Hollywood Glam, Period (eg. Victorian, Edwardian), Coastal. And it goes on.

Play it safe by reading up on the style or mixtures of style and nailing down the accessories and pieces that are appropriate for them.

Understanding both purpose and style will help make you an effective stylist.

Styling Tips 1. When it comes to styling, there are two general camps: hero or layer?

Hero styling is putting a piece in the spotlight, the piece that takes all of the attention. Nothing else surrounds it that might take away any of that attention and make the piece disappear. The aim is to evoke a strong response from the viewer and create maximum impact.

Layering is the opposite type of styling. This is where you carefully style a piece within an arrangement of various other pieces, often varying in texture and form. Layering creates a cohesively styled space that evokes a strong response – the same aim as hero styling, but as opposed to hero, it doesn’t do so alone.

If you think about it, the aim for many, if not all images, whether viewed on print or digital media is the same: the scroll-stopping, track-stopping, breath-taking response from the viewer. I’m sure there are many other ways to get there, but the aim is the same.

2. Evaluate what goes on the 6 walls!

In a space, there can be up to 6 walls; the latter two are almost always forgotten! When one walks into a room or space, the first things we see are usually eye level surfaces and spaces, and that means the walls in front of us and around us. We notice pictures, mirrors, tall lamps, and accessories at eye level.

A successfully designed space invites the viewer’s eye to wander everywhere and notice, not just eye-level design, but all-levels design. This includes the 4th and 5th walls – the floor and ceiling. A rug can do wonders to a floor in the same way a statement light or a painted/wallpapered ceiling can draw attention upwards.

Regardless of the style you are creating, bear in mind the 6 walls in your space.

3. Play with scale

Whether you are styling a Minimalist Scandi space or a Maximalist eclectic interior, do not underestimate what playing with scale can do to a space. You may be designing an all-white Scandi minimalist room with only six pieces in the room. Imagine having all of those six pieces at all the same scale – all small, medium or large.

Alternatively, imagine playing with scale using those six pieces so that you are putting an oversized light arching towards the center of the room or hanging low from the ceiling and an oversized rug on the floor. The rest of the pieces are a mixture of medium and small. Immediately you are upping the interest level and increasing the dynamic of the space.

4. Arrangement

In a Maximalist interior, it is easier to play with scale because you are dealing with so many decorative items often in varying sizes. The challenge is not so much the “what” as it is the “how.” How do you group and arrange together all these items so that there is order in the madness? Or so a full room does not look cluttered, and somehow there is a tidy structure to it all?

You can arrange by size, color, theme, in rows, or you can mix-and-match and group items, so a busy space gets punctuated by quieter spaces in between. I find that having such a structure helps with how the space is received.

Photographing interiors

Finally, you have finished styling. It is now time to photograph your space.

Photograph wide so that you show the entire space. Be careful of going too wide where distortions are disturbing or cannot be corrected, especially when shooting at 24mm and wider. A focal length between 35mm – 50mm is easy on the eye and won’t give you distortions.

Although interiors favor a wide-angle view of the space, close-ups are just as important. Use them to focus on specific features of the space or product. Get closer in and photograph vignettes and interesting compositions. Use mantle pieces or shelves for horizontal bases and alcoves or chimney breasts or sofa arms for vertical lines. Think of strong compositional framing and use elements in the space to achieve them.

Spaces look better when there is a contrast between light and shadow. This is why the use of flash (especially head-on, and flash that creates flat light illuminating an entire space) is often frowned upon and natural light is more favored. Choose a time of day where the light is at an angle, and you can photograph light and shadow. It looks natural and evokes emotion from the viewer.

That is what really makes an image successful.

I hope these tips help you style and photograph spaces and interiors.

Do comment below if you have tips to share, or if you would like to share some of the spaces you style after using these tips.


The post Tips for Styling and Photographing Interiors appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

Are Early 2000s Digital Cameras Secondhand Bargains?

Sun, 05/26/2019 - 10:00

The post Are Early 2000s Digital Cameras Secondhand Bargains? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

Today, digital photography is ubiquitous, but there is still a demand among enthusiasts for classic film cameras. By all accounts, the analog medium has made a comeback over the last 2-3 years. What you don’t often hear of is people hankering for older digital cameras, even for the sake of nostalgia. Technology has moved on, but has it moved on so much that they are obsolete? Or are early 2000s digital cameras secondhand bargains? We’ll find out.

There is still plenty of love out there for old film cameras. This is an Olympus OM10 (c. 1978-87).

Inescapable truths

Those of us that have been shooting digitally for over ten years probably don’t miss the early days of post-processing. The sensors were noisier and there was no in-camera dust removal. One way or another, a lot of time was spent trying to clean things up. Less advanced, too, was the software we used to process photos. Trying to recover highlights or remove noise, for instance, was harder than it is today. Photos were abandoned that might be saved with modern editing.

The original Canon EOS 5d (c. 2005) had no dust-cleaning capability. Neither did I. Whenever I had the sensor cleaned, dust spots quickly reappeared.

Aside from noisier, dirtier sensors and editing limitations, exterior hardware on cameras was also inferior in the early days. LCDs were smaller with a lower resolution, and electronic viewfinders weren’t as clear. The benefit of a bright viewfinder shouldn’t be underestimated, and it’s still a feature of higher-end cameras today over entry-level models (e.g., pentaprism vs. pentamirror optical viewfinders).

Sensor resolution

With camera age comes the question of sensor resolution. Modern cameras have high-res sensors. More resolution gives you more freedom to crop pictures after the event and still end up with a decent-sized print. It’s like having an extra lens. Many photographers prefer not cropping pictures, but it’s a luxury that didn’t always exist. In the “old” days of low sensor resolution, there was more discussion among photographers on interpolation methods. People wanted to make their digital files bigger so they could create larger prints. That subject is now almost archaic.

The CCD sensor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 (c. 2008). Despite having a smaller sensor than the earlier FZ30, the FZ28’s resolution was higher. Advances in sensor technology are frequently used to increase resolution rather than substantially decrease noise.  Photo: Thomas Bresson [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Glimmer of light

Despite the drawbacks of using old digital cameras, some had useful features that are rare or even extinct today. And the minuses are mostly surmountable. Let’s examine three cameras that are all 10+ years old and see what we can do with them. All of the following are eminently affordable on the secondhand market: more so than many classic film cameras.

Old camera #1: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1

Even by today’s standards, the 2005 10.3-megapixel Sony DSC-R1 is an innovative camera. It never sold well, but it had a unique combination of a fixed 24-120mm Carl Zeiss lens, an APS-C sized CMOS sensor, full-time live-view LCD display (a first at that sensor size), and live histogram. The technical quality was/is excellent.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 is a bridge camera with a large APS-C sensor. It was unusual in 2005 and remains so today.

The main limitation of the Sony R1 is a sensor that gets noisy above ISO 400 combined with an absence of image stabilization. This is not a camera you can easily use for high-quality interior photos without a tripod. You have to employ old-school sturdy shooting methods with controlled breathing, a good stance, a steady hand, and a camera braced against pillars or posts if necessary.

This is a Sony R1 JPEG with a bit of fill light from the built-in flash. I persist with the raw files despite their slowness in writing.

At ISO 160-200, Sony R1 pictures are clear with great color. At ISO 400 they’re still good. When viewed at 100%, the images are satisfying with lots of detail. On the minus side, raw files take a long time to write on the R1 (several seconds, typically). This was never a rapid-fire camera for those aiming to pull the most quality from it. The R1 takes CF cards or Sony memory sticks – no SD cards.

The quality of the R1’s Carl Zeiss T* 24-120mm lens doesn’t disappoint. Exposure: 1/160th sec, ISO 160, f/8, approx 40mm equivalent focal length.

The R1’s WLF (waist level finder)

The flip-out 2″ LCD of the R1 didn’t appeal to everyone as it swivels upwards, effectively making the camera bigger. It’s already quite a bulky bridge camera. Personally, I love the fact that the LCD screen can slot flush into the top of the camera, turning it into a waist-level finder. That’s great for candid portraits or street photos, even if you have to wait for those big Sony raw files to write (you can shoot JPEGs). The camera has an electronic viewfinder that’s dimmer and lower resolution than you’d expect from today’s cameras, but it’s usable.

I’m not aware of any other digital stills camera that allows this. The LCD is only 2″ wide, but that allows it to slot neatly into the top of the camera like a WLF.

Of all the digital cameras I’ve used, the Sony R1 is one of the few that I haven’t sold over time. I can’t bring myself to get rid of it because of its quirkiness and quality. For those familiar with him, well-known US photographer and blogger Kirk Tuck was still singing the praises of the R1 just a few years back. This is a secondhand bargain if you can cope with the cons.

Old camera #2: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30

The main problem with the 2005 Panasonic Lumix FZ30 is the noise from its 8-megapixel CCD 1/1.8″ sensor. Even at ISO 80, it’s there. That aside, there are many appealing features. The 12x Leica-branded optical zoom lens with image stabilization is sharp across its whole range. Despite its age, the electronic viewfinder in this camera isn’t bad, even if the dioptric dial nudges out of place too easily. I tend to use the EVF more than the 2″ flip-down LCD.

The 12x optical zoom of the Lumix FZ-30 is fairly modest by today’s standards and isn’t very wide at the wide end. But still, you get good long-lens versatility that doesn’t seem to exceed its Mega O.I.S. ability (Optical Image Stabilization).

Offering all the exposure control you’d expect from an SLR, the Lumix FZ30 also allows raw shooting – a strong point in its favor. With today’s processing, and by restricting your photography to base ISO where possible, you can achieve good results. Limiting? Yes, but you get 36-432mm versatility for your trouble. The stabilization is effective, allowing you to make use of that long zoom at relatively low speeds with good technique.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 feels well made and gives you as much control as you want. Aside from allowing raw files, it captures modest VGA res video (typical for its age).

This is a camera that yields detailed pictures, is quick to handle, has long battery life and doesn’t hold you up with big raw files. One frustrating aspect is the need for 2GB SD cards to run it, which many people will not have in this day and age. It doesn’t accept SDHC cards (4GB+).

This is a 100% section of an FZ30 file with Adobe’s “enhanced details” and some basic masked capture sharpening applied in Lightroom. The detail isn’t at all bad at base ISO and unsharpened noise is unimposing. (Best viewed full size @ 1500 pixels.) Exposure: 1/500th, f/5, ISO 80.

Although noise is an issue with the Lumix DMC-FZ30, that is less important now than 14 years ago when the camera came out. Software like Topaz AI Sharpen, though not perfect, is good at suppressing noise and bringing out detail. The tools in Lightroom and other programs have also improved no end. Old cameras become more viable as processing technology advances.

Exposure: 1/160th @ f/4 – ISO 80. The focal length is 52mm, equating to around 250mm in 35mm terms. Image stabilization is probably helping a little here.

Old camera #3: Canon EOS 450D/Rebel XSi

I wouldn’t recommend early digital SLRs to anyone based on dust problems alone, but that becomes a non-issue four generations in. The Canon EOS Rebel XSi (450D in Europe) came out in 2008. It was an entry-level DSLR offering many benefits over previous models. Among them were a sizeable 3″ LCD, Live View with phase and contrast detection AF, spot metering and a bigger, brighter viewfinder.

The lightest camera among the three even with its lens is the EOS Rebel XSi (450D). The kit lens is good, but a cheap 50mm f/1.8 would make even more of the camera’s excellent sensor.

The Rebel XSi is small and light by SLR standards and won’t give much satisfaction to metal-loving traditionalists. It doesn’t feel substantial. However, it’s understated and functional, and lets you go about your work stealthily. No-one is going to think you’re a pro, no matter how well you hold the camera. The most noticeable flaw is some wacky white balance results from time to time, especially under artificial light. Shooting raw, that’s not a deal-breaker.

This 100% view (with capture sharpening) shows good detail from the 18-55mm Canon kit lens. A 50% view creates more of a real-world impression, so this is okay at full size.

As you might expect from a Canon CMOS sensor, noise levels are low with the EOS Rebel XSi (lower than the Sony R1, for instance). Obviously, they’re not as impressive as a high-end camera from today or even yesterday, but you can risk ISO 800 or even max ISO 1600 images for some indoor shots and polish them up later. Better still, you can make use of live view, manual focusing and a tripod if circumstances allow.

Topaz Sharpen AI is good at sorting out detail from noise, though you have to check over the result for artifacts. This is an ISO 800 shot viewed at 100% with Topaz sharpening and noise suppression. This type of software is only going to improve.

A question of balance

If you’re using heavy “L” series lenses, they may not sit well on the Rebel XSi. It doesn’t have any heft. The original 18-55mm kit lens is sharp, lightweight and has good image stabilization. A modern equivalent of the Rebel XSi would give you more resolution, more advanced processing (a little quicker, less noise at high ISOs), a higher res LCD and video. All this was available in the camera that superseded it in 2009 – the EOS Rebel T1i (500D). But the stills photographer looking for a bargain DSLR might find an answer in the Rebel XSi. It has just enough and a bit more.

This 50% crop gives you a good idea of what the 2008 18-55mm kit lens can do, albeit through a compressed JPEG. There’s not much to complain about quality-wise, even if the sensor promises more.


With modern processing at our disposal, digital cameras from the early part of this century have more potential now than they had when new. Especially those that shot raw files. Yes, you’ll find it hard to go back to them if you’ve spoiled yourself with ultra-high-res LCDs and mega-bright EVFs. But some of the downsides in old cameras have upsides of their own: less brightness and resolution means better battery life. Low-res sensors mean not editing football-pitch-sized files.

You wouldn’t use old cameras if your living relied on the best high-ISO performance. Still, any of the three models I’ve discussed can easily produce a publishable, high-quality photo if you accept their constraints and process the files carefully. Other than the Sony R1’s slow write times, the cameras are quick and easy to handle.

So, with one or two caveats, I’d say early 2000s digital cameras can definitely be bargains.

Do you use any of these cameras, or have any to add to this list? Please share with the dPS community in the comments below.


The post Are Early 2000s Digital Cameras Secondhand Bargains? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 15:00

The post 7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you want to improve your nature photography skills? Do you want to take stunning nature photos, consistently?

Don’t worry.

In this article, you’ll discover 7 photography exercises all designed to get you capturing unbelievable nature images.

(Plus, the exercises are a lot of fun!)

So, if you want to improve your nature photography…

…keep reading.

1. Shoot a single nature subject from 9 different angles

Here’s your first nature photography exercise (and my favorite):

Choose just one nature photography subject.

And shoot it from at least nine different angles.

This will force you to stretch the boundaries of your creativity. It will force you to start looking at your subjects in many different ways.

The first five angles might be easy enough. But the last four will be a struggle – as it should be!

A few excellent angles to try:

  • Shoot on a level with your subject
  • Shoot from directly above your subject (if you can)
  • Get below your subject and shoot upward

Then, once you’ve finished the exercise, pull up the photos on your computer. Take note of the different angles and how they gave your subject slightly different looks.

And next time you’re doing photography, use those angles!

2. Shoot a subject you normally avoid

This exercise is all about getting you out of your comfort zone.

Because if you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you’ll never grow as a photographer.

So here’s what you do:

Think about the subjects that you normally shoot.

And then…

Pick a subject that’s radically different. And shoot that subject, instead.

If you normally photograph birds, shoot flowers for a day.

If you normally photograph landscapes, shoot wildlife.

Just pick something that you don’t normally like shooting.

If you want to make this exercise extra useful, then don’t just shoot another subject for a single outing. Instead, do it for a week (or even a month).

You’d be amazed by the tricks you pick up from learning another area of photography.

3. Bring just one lens into the field

Here’s the thing:

When photographers go out for a photoshoot…

…they tend to take multiple lenses (and even multiple cameras).

And while this will give you a lot of flexibility, it won’t force you to think outside the box.

But I want you to think outside the box. I want you to think in new ways.

So the next time you go out to shoot, leave all your normal lenses behind.

Instead, bring just one lens.

And (if you’re feeling adventurous) make sure it’s a lens that you don’t use very often.

This will force you to take nature photos that you would’ve never even considered.

4. Shoot a Scene With Four Types of Light

Nature photography is all about the light.

Which means that, as a nature photographer, you must learn to master the light.

This exercise is designed to help you do that.

You start by picking a scene.

Then you photograph that scene with four types of light:

  • Cloudy light
  • Midday light
  • Sunrise/Sunset light
  • Shade

This will undoubtedly involve coming back several days in a row.

But it’s worth it.

Because once you’re done, you should look at all the photos you took.

And note how the different types of light gives you different types of nature photos!

5. Take both still shots and action shots of your subject

Oftentimes, we get in the habit of shooting the same type of subject, over and over again.

I’ve already given you one way of avoiding this problem.

But another way…

…is to keep shooting that same subject. But shoot it in a different way.

Specifically, try to take a combination of shots:

Still shots.

And action shots.

For those of you who shoot birds or wildlife, this shouldn’t be too difficult.

But for flower and landscape photographers?

This will be tough.

If you generally photograph still subjects, you may have to get creative. Try to take some intentional camera movement photos. Or see if you can get some sort of action to happen in the frame (e.g., flowers blowing in the wind, waves crashing on the beach).

And that’s it! This will force you out of your comfort zone. And get you taking some fresh photos!

6. Edit your favorite nature photo in 5 different ways

One thing that you need to know:

Post-processing is a significant part of capturing stunning nature photos.

Even small adjustments go a long way.

So for this exercise, you should start thinking about different post-processing options. And edit your favorite nature photo in five distinct ways.

You should experiment with edits in Lightroom, Photoshop, or another high-quality editing program. See what happens when you increase the saturation. See what happens when you drop the contrast.

And try to do some new edits. Things that you haven’t done before.

For instance, try some yellow/blue split toning. And try playing with the HSL options.

You’ll be amazed by what you can do!

7. Take a nature photo every single day for a month

This last exercise is a classic – but that doesn’t mean it’s any less useful!

One of the absolute best ways of improving your nature photography…

…is to photograph constantly.

Because practice really does make perfect.

And if you take a nature photo every day, you’ll find that your mind starts to open up. You’ll start to see photography opportunities that you didn’t even know were there.

Your skills will increase rapidly.

And you’ll start to take stunning nature photos, consistently.

Nature photography exercises: next steps

Now you know 7 great exercises – all designed to improve your photography skills, fast.

You don’t have to do them all at once. But try them out whenever you can.

That way, you’ll become better, faster.

You’ll soon be taking nature photos like a pro!

Feel free to share some of the photos you take with the dPS community in the comments below.


The post 7 Photography Exercises to Take Your Nature Photos to the Next Level appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

How to Achieve an Airy, Light and Bright Look in Photography

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 10:00

The post How to Achieve an Airy, Light and Bright Look in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

The beauty of photography is that there really is no right or wrong way to take pictures (excluding any technical camera issues). It is such a subjective medium – what someone may consider a bad photograph, others might consider artistic. There are many different styles of photography. Dark and moody versus light and bright, or HDR and oversaturated versus desaturated and selective coloring. And there’s many more. But no matter your imaging preference, there is bound to be a market for that particular style of photography.

Having said that, I gravitate toward images that have a clean, natural look. My aesthetic style lends itself toward light, soft pastels, and bright images that have a sense of freshness. I find that I am my most creative self when I put myself in situations that give me the ability to photograph in this way.

Give me a dark room, or a scene with lots of bold, warm colors and tons of contrast, and I feel mentally bogged down. I almost start to feel claustrophobic with all that color and contrast. Now perhaps this might seem a little silly, but that is my personal preference. It also goes back to my earlier comment about photography being a very subjective art form.

I get asked quite frequently about how I achieve this “light, pastel, and airy” look in my photographs. It’s not that hard. It boils down to a few simple tips. These tips will help you to better visualize your intended photograph, and thus help you to achieve the light, pastel look.

1. Lighting

I can’t stress enough how important the lighting is when using it to achieve a particular look for your photography. Not all lighting is equal. And I have to say that there is no such thing as bad light. Light is just different at different times of the day. Sometimes the light is perfect – that warm, soft glow that translates beautifully in pictures. Other times, the lighting is harsh and strong. I wouldn’t say that type of lighting is always bad; it is just not the same every time.

Once you train your eye to read the different types of light, and what the light can do to your images, you will be able to analyze your imagery better. You’ll also get photos closer to the style you like without wasting too much time in post-processing. No amount of editing can really fix an image taken in poor lighting.

a. Golden Hour light

For outdoor photography, if you want those warm, creamy tones, then schedule your photo sessions as close to sunset as possible. That last hour, the Golden Hour, is when you will get some of the best light. This is because as the sun sets closer to the horizon, the range of light is broad and spreads more evenly.

This type of light also lends itself well to the light, bright, and airy look that so many of us love in photographs. One thing to be aware of when you are using the Golden Hour lighting (a.k.a. shooting around sunset), make sure that you don’t photograph directly into the setting sun. This leads to a lot of sun flare entering your frame. It can also make the shot appear muddy and blown out to the point of not being able to see the subjects clearly, as shown in this image.

When all else fails, a little bit of editing in post-production can fix it.

b. Soft morning light

Soft morning light is another favorite lighting scheme of mine because the light is subtle and soft. It tends to be more even-toned than when the sun is high up in the sky.

c. Harsh midday sunlight

High noon lighting can be thought of as a spotlight directly over your head. This overhead lighting tends to create unflattering shadows. These shadows result from the angles and protrusions on your face, like your nose and eyebrows. If you wait until the sun hits the horizon, you will be pleasantly surprised to see how soft the tones are and how beautiful and even the lighting is. At this time of day, you can open up your aperture to smooth out the background.

Sometimes when you are traveling or taking landscape shots, you cannot always control the time of travel. Here, you must make the best of the lighting situation and photograph scenes that will lend themselves to the light and airy look when tweaked in post-processing.

I added a bit of contrast and brought down the blues in post-production just to keep with my style. I have nothing against blue skies but maybe not so much blue in my photos!

d. Overcast light/diffused light

This type of light is also great for images where you want an even tone. The clouds act as a natural diffuser and help to balance out the light falling from the sun. However, this light does tend to be a little flat. But the good news here is, when there is cloud cover or an overcast sky, you can shoot at any time during the day without worrying about harsh, strong shadows.

This day in the marina was overcast with a lot of clouds. Considering most of the boats were also white, I had to blow out the sky a bit and use the accessories (like the yellow kayak) to add a pop of color.

e. Backlighting/open shade lighting

The bright, even lighting of open shade plays well into the light and airy style of photography. However, playing with backlit sunlight is another way to get that bright, fresh look. Light and airy photographers shoot backlight about 80% of the time.

This means the sun is somewhere behind the subject. This is the tricky part. It’s more than just having the sun behind your subject. If you only do this, you’ll find that your images have a lot of sun flare – to the point of haze – and your camera autofocus may have trouble grabbing focus, resulting in out-of-focus shots.

The trick here is to block the sun from actually hitting your lens. My favorite way to do this is the use of trees. The branches and leaves act as a type of diffuser that filters the sun’s light rays from hitting your lens.

What you will get is called rim light from the rear of your subject. In front of your subject, you will achieve an even unshadowed lighting scheme. You might have to look for a natural reflector to bounce light back onto your subject’s face. Sometimes it is as simple as wearing something white so you can act as a natural reflector.

Yup, being a photographer also means being aware of fashion and color trends!

Another trick is to overexpose the skin tones by at least half a stop. Your highlights may blow out a little, but your subjects’ skin tones will look great. Of course, if you have a very interesting sky that you want to retain, you may not be able to overexpose your image. Most light and airy style photographers are okay with blowing out the details in the sky because this slight overexposure lends itself to a brighter image that is part of the light and airy look. If the background is important, you must consider that in your exposure calculations.

90% of my shots have the sky blown out and I am okay with that. My style is consistent with what my personal preference is with my images. To each their own.

2. Scenery or background

Personally, I feel like scenery or background is as important as the lighting for a great image – no matter what the style. Gorgeous mountainous backdrops with tall pine trees will look more majestic than a messy backyard with overgrown grass and a swing set in the shot.

But don’t let a simple background deter you from taking a shot.

Every place has hidden treasures, and it is up to you as the photographer to seek them out. I have been known to clear out a client’s home if I feel some furniture or clutter is getting in the way of the shot.

For outdoors and travel photos, I wait patiently for crowds to clear if I feel all the other elements are there to make a great shot. After you’ve established where the good lighting falls, you can then search for the pretty scenery.

For light and airy photos, look for backgrounds that are white or have pastel colors. White or light colored backgrounds add even more “airiness” to the image. It is hard to achieve a light, bright look if you have a dark or black wall in the background.

Remember that both the lighting and scenery combined make for a natural recipe to that “light and airy look” that you want to achieve in your image.

When in doubt, choose a clean neutral-colored background that can make the subject pop even more by eliminating any distractions.

3. Details

Often, as photographers, we tend to only focus on the lighting, location, and subject. We feel that once we have these three elements, all else will magically fall into place.

However, remember this; every single detail that is a part of the frame helps to make or break the image.

If you have the perfect soft light, perfect background, and perfect subject, but they happened to show up wearing a graphic t-shirt with neon shoes, then that is not going to get you that light and airy image! In fact, details like the clothing, accessories, and props play a huge part in the overall look and feel of an image.

For my portrait and editorial work, I am not afraid to send clothing and prop choices to my clients. It is there for them to use if they need it. This gives them an idea of “the look” that I am going for, and it helps me to get the images that I want for my portfolio based upon my style and my brand aesthetics. Props don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Sometimes it is the little things like a simple off-white napkin that can do the trick.

Clothing choices and color preference is given but my clients have the freedom to choose what they want to wear at the end of the day!

4. Camera settings

If you are shooting digital and have a camera that allows you to photograph in RAW format, then definitely do so. Images created in RAW format retain more of the original details than a JPEG file format. The RAW file format also provides the most leeway for making edits to the image in post- processing when looking to achieve a specific “look.”

Avoid extreme bright spots in your photograph by using the histogram feature on your camera. Digital images don’t handle the result of huge overexposure very well, so you’ll want to watch for that.

Having said that, I tend to overexpose my images by about 1/2 a stop about 95% of the time. I find that editing an underexposed image to the “light and airy look” is more difficult than adjusting a slightly overexposed image. I am less concerned about blown-out highlights than I am about dense shadows.

5. Consistency in photography and editing styles

Consistency in photography and editing styles is huge, and not something that too many photographers pay attention to. Photographic style develops over time. It takes a lot of practice, continuous shooting, and consistent editing procedure to make our pictures look a certain way and convey certain emotions. This is my 9th year in business, and my style has taken time to develop. After a lot of trial and error, I know what I like and how I want my images to look and feel – even if it is just for me!

Some people jump on the latest editing bandwagon and are all over the place in terms of trying everything out there. Tempting as it may be, I have found that it just leads to more frustration and anxiety when finding one’s style. When you are just starting out, go ahead and try out all the different styles of photography. See what you like and dislike. Once you have narrowed down your personal style, stick to it. That way, it becomes second nature and helps you develop a consistent and strong portfolio.


The post How to Achieve an Airy, Light and Bright Look in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Funny

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 15:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is FUNNY!

Ben White

Go out and photograph your pets doing something funny, kids laughing or doing something funny, laughter in general, or anything that is funny or quirky at all (as long as it isn’t distasteful). As usual, 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!

Jakob Owens


Dominik Vanyi

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

Tips for Shooting FUNNY IMAGES

5 Non-Posed Ideas For Photographing Kids

How to Capture Authentic Photos of Children with These Simple Tips

21 Fun Images of People Laughing

7 Fun Photography Tricks to Try on Your Smartphone

Unposed Posing: Tried and True Tips for Photographing Families in Natural and Fun Ways

6 Tips for Photographing Dogs in Action

How to Shoot a Composite Image

Weekly Photography Challenge – FUNNY

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 #DPSfunny 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 – Funny appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

7 Ideas for Creative Lens Ball Photography [video]

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 10:00

The post 7 Ideas for Creative Lens Ball Photography [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video by our friends over at Cooph, you’ll learn 7 great ideas for creative lens ball photography to have fun with.

The 7 ideas for creative lens ball photography include:

1. Typography

Type some text and print it out (or find some text you already have) and photograph the lens ball on top. The ball acts as a magnifying glass and distorts the edges of the text.

Look for large letters on signage and displays and photograph the lens ball in front of it for a cool effect.

2. Split World

Look for corners with contrast to create a yin/yang effect.

3. Altering Structure

Find interesting flat structures to photograph the sphere against. The sphere will alter its structure and give it form.

Scan your lawn for flowers and photograph them through the sphere.

4. Inner Circle

Find round shaped objects that support the shape of the lens ball. Crawl into a tunnel (only a safe one, of course), set up your lens ball for the perfect shot.

5. Elements

Fill up a bucket with water. Set up your camera with a high shutter speed and have someone throw the lens ball out of the water bucket. You capture all the action.

Prepare lighter fluid and a spark (Editor note: actually, I don’t fully recommend this one unless you can absolutely do this safely. Fire is dangerous!!)

6. Portraits

Play with nature and your model for capturing cool portraits using the lens ball.

You can also have fun in the studio with this.

7. Abstract Spheres

Create custom backgrounds (cool wrapping paper or printouts will work great). Find interesting patterns too. These make for awesome shots using the lens ball.

Grids also work well. Place your grid in front of a colored wall and light it up. Put your lens ball in front and take some shots.

Bonus Tip:

Use light sabers and your ball for cool effects.


You may also find the following helpful:


The post 7 Ideas for Creative Lens Ball Photography [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Mirrorless Users Will Switch Back to DSLRs, Ricoh Executive Claims

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 02:00

The post Mirrorless Users Will Switch Back to DSLRs, Ricoh Executive Claims appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

The Pentax K-1 Mark II 36MP Weather Resistant DSLR.

Imaging Resource recently released an interview with a group of executives from Ricoh, the company that produces Pentax cameras.

When discussion turned to mirrorless cameras versus DSLRs – and decreasing DSLR sales – things got especially interesting.

Said Hiroki Sugahara, General Manager of the Marketing Communication Department:

Currently, mirrorless is a newcomer, so of course many users are very interested in the new systems, they want to use [them]. But after one or two years, some users who changed their system from DSLR to mirrorless [will] come back to the DSLR again.

When questioned by the interviewer, Sugahara further explained:

The mirrorless camera is very convenient to shoot, because users can [preview the final] image before shooting. But I believe the DSLR has its own appealing point, because users can create their own image from the optical viewfinder. People can see the beautiful image through the optical viewfinder, and then think how they can create their pictures–for example, exposure level setting or white balance or ISO [sensitivity]–and then imagine how they can get [the result they’re seeking].

Sugahara concluded:

So the DSLR market is currently decreasing a little bit, but one year or two years or three years later, it will [begin] getting higher.

Could Sugahara be right? Might DSLRs soon be making a comeback?

Personally, I don’t think so. While some people do follow the latest trends, mirrorless cameras have the specs to back up their popularity: they’re lightweight, they’re compact, and they produce top-notch images. And mirrorless systems will just keep getting more and more appealing, as electronic viewfinders improve and mirrorless lens-lineups expand.


Of course, there are reasons to stick with a DSLR. For one, DSLRs tend to be more rugged than mirrorless cameras. And electronic viewfinders can have lag issues. But mirrorless technology is improving, and how many photographers will switch back to DSLRs for a more rugged body?

Not to mention the questionable reasoning employed by Sugahara. Sure, the occasional photographer may not be happy with an electronic viewfinder. But will photographers really prefer the greater challenge provided by a DSLR optical viewfinder, as Sugahara seems to be implying? In my experience, capturing stunning photos is hard enough. Photographers won’t want to make it harder on themselves.

What do you think? Will DSLRs rebound? Or is mirrorless the system of the future?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

The post Mirrorless Users Will Switch Back to DSLRs, Ricoh Executive Claims appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Don’t Create Detail, Just Reveal It – How to Reveal the Hidden Details in Your Photos

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 15:00

The post Don’t Create Detail, Just Reveal It – How to Reveal the Hidden Details in Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

Just as cleaning the lenses of your eyeglasses clarifies what you see, cleansing your pictures of dull lighting will put the sparkle in your photos.

Have you noticed how many individual tools are available in your favorite editing software for changing the values of pixels? The array is dazzling, and most of this editing involves “localized” procedures (dodging, burning, painting, cloning, masking, etc.) affecting specific areas.

But here’s something to consider.

Unless the image you are working on is either damaged (either completely blown-out highlights, plugged-up shadows) or just contains too much unwanted clutter, you rarely need to create specific detail with these tools. The detail is usually right there just below the surface waiting for discovery. You need only make global adjustments to the tones within the darker and lighter ends of the range to achieve pretty amazing results.

When I took this shot of my wife Barbara fifteen years ago, I put it in the reject file because it was so dark. But carefully adjusting and lightening the shadow and middle tones in the picture separated the deep shadow tones from the middle tones. Now both she and the picture are definite keepers. No local editing was necessary, and there is no tell-tale evidence of a touchup. The image contained all the necessary lighter tones – they simply had to be uncovered.

Push tones instead of pixels

Post-processing digital images is usually a process of subtraction; removing the visual obstacles that are covering the underlying detail in a photographic image. This detail will reveal itself if you merely nudge the tonal ranges instead of the pixels.

The fact is…all the detail in every subject has been duly captured and is hiding in either the shadows or the highlights, waiting to be discovered.

The digital camera’s image sensor sees and records the entire range of tones from black to white within every image it captures. What is hiding within this massive range of tones is the detail. Unfortunately, the camera sensor has no way of knowing the detail that may be under (or over) exposed within that range. It simply captures everything it sees inside the bookends of dark and light.

Camera image sensors can capture a range of tones up to 16,000 levels between solid color and no color. This doesn’t mean that all 16,000-pixel values are actually present in the picture; it just means that the darkest to the lightest tones are stretched out over the significant detail that is hiding in the middle.

Adjustments made to the image in Alien Skin’s Exposure X4.5 revealed detail in the sunlit walkway and darkened archway that appeared lost in the original capture. No painting or cloning tools were necessary.

The purpose of this article is not to get geeky about the science, but to assure you that there is an amazing amount of detail that you can recover from seemingly poor images.

A basic JPEG image can display more than 250 tones in each color. While that doesn’t sound like much, you should know that the human eye can only perceive a little over 100 distinct levels of each color. No kidding! Technically, 256 tones are too many.

The balancing act

Here’s a sobering truth. Your camera can capture more detail than your eye can detect and more tones than your monitor can display. As a matter of fact, it can capture up to 16,000 levels of tones and colors. That’s more than any publishing resource (computer monitor, inkjet printer, Internet, or even any printed publication) can reveal. Each of these other outlets is limited to reproducing just 8-bits (256 levels) of each color. The camera’s light-capture range is even beyond the scope of human vision. The range (light to dark) of your camera is immense compared to any reproduction process. What this means is that the editing part of the photography process needs MUCH more attention than the image capture process.

This introduces a complex but interesting phenomenon. Your post-production challenge is to emphasize the most important details recorded inside the tones captured by your camera and then distinguish them sufficiently for the printer, your monitor, or the Internet to reveal.

Your camera captures an incredible amount of detail in each scene that isn’t initially visible. However, with the right software, this detail can be uncovered just as an electron microscope can reveal detail buried deep inside things that the naked eye cannot perceive.

Image editing is all about discovering and revealing what is hiding in plain sight.

Image clarity

Bringing a picture to life doesn’t always require additional touchup procedures. Sometimes, just massaging the existing detail does the trick. The Highlights, Shadows, and Clarity sliders were all that were required to transpose this shot from average to special.

Clarity is the process of accentuating detail. The dictionary defines clarity as “the quality of being easy to see or hear; sharpness of image or sound.” When we clarify something, we clear it up. We understand it better. We view an issue from a different perspective.

Many image editing software packages have a slider called “clarity.” The function of this slider is to accentuate minor distinctions between lighter and darker areas within the image. Each of the other tone sliders (Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks, Clarity, and Dehaze) all perform a clarifying process on specific tone ranges.

The real beauty of shooting with a 12/14-bit camera is the level of access you receive to the detail captured in each image. If you want to think “deep,” you can start with the editing process of your digital images. You’ll be amazed at what you will find when you learn to peel away the microlayers of distracting information in well-exposed photos.

Just as cleaning the lenses of your eyeglasses clarifies what you see, cleansing your pictures of dull lighting will put the sparkle in your photos.

Adobe Camera Raw controls reveal significant detail in the darker portions of the image by simply adjusting the Basic slider controls.

Learning to expose images correctly

The information you learn from excellent teaching resources like Digital Photography School teach you how to correctly set your equipment to capture a variety of subjects and scenes. Study the articles in this amazing collection and learn to shoot pictures understanding the basic tenets of good exposure. Poorly-captured images will hinder your discovery of detail. However, correctly exposed images will reward you with, not only beautiful color but, access to an amazing amount of detail.

Learn to harness the power of light correctly for the challenge that each scene presents by balancing the camera controls of ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. The more balanced your original exposure, the less post-processing will be necessary.


Every scene presents a unique lighting situation and requires a solid understanding of your camera’s light-control processes to capture all possible detail. Any camera can capture events and document happenings, but it takes a serious student of photography to faithfully capture each scene in a way that allows all that information to be skillfully sculpted into a detailed image.


The post Don’t Create Detail, Just Reveal It – How to Reveal the Hidden Details in Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

Understanding Broad and Short Lighting in Photography

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:00

The post Understanding Broad and Short Lighting in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

There are a lot of lighting patterns for you to use in your portrait photography. Some of these are covered quite well. Rembrandt and butterfly lighting are two that are both easy to set up and yield great results a lot of the time. Of course, you can use just one lighting pattern all of the time and build a fantastic portfolio; however, if you want to have a full skillset with a variety of techniques to use in your portraits at any time, you will want to learn and understand as many of these lighting patterns as possible.

Broad and short lighting are often clumped together because of the similarities in how they are implemented and described, but they couldn’t be more different in how they affect your images.

This article will introduce you to the broad and short lighting patterns and explain when and why you might want to use them and what you can expect to achieve while using them. These are two very easy lighting patterns that can seem confusing at first, but once you get your head around them, they give you powerful tools to help shape the light and your subjects in your photos.

What is a lighting pattern?

First, let’s start with the very basics. A lighting pattern is any named lighting setup that gives you specific results. There is a fair list of these established lighting patterns for you to learn outside of the broad and short patterns discussed here. These include Rembrandt, Butterfly, split, cross, clamshell and more. Learning and understanding these lighting patterns can act as a shortcut to helping you get great results in your portraits. These lighting patterns apply to both natural light and artificial light, so it does not matter which you prefer.

Broad and short

The names of the broad and short lighting patterns refer to which side of the subject’s face is being lit first.

Sometimes, understanding what broad and short mean in terms of lighting can be confusing. To make it as simple as possible, imagine a face turned slightly away from you. That face now has two sides divided by the nose. The side of the face that is closest to you is the broad side because you see more of it than the other. The other side, the one that’s furthest from you, is the short side.

With broad lighting, your light is going to hit the broad side (or the side that’s closest to you) of the face first.

With short lighting, your light is going to hit the short side (or the side that’s furthest from you) of the face first.

Broad lighting

Broad lighting can be used to great effect to help widen faces or give you more contrast than some other lighting patterns.

When you choose to light the broad side of the face, it has several effects on your image. These include:

  • Broad lighting widens the face.
  • Broad lighting usually throws the short side of the face in shadow (dependent on light placement).
  • Broad lighting provides more contrast than some lighting patterns like butterfly lighting.
When you want to use it

Because broad lighting tends to broaden (go figure) the face, you’ll want to use broad lighting when you’re photographing subjects with a narrow face. Using it on subjects with a wider face can exaggerate that shape and you’ll want to avoid it there.

If there’s a feature on one side of your subjects face that you want to take the emphasis away from, you can pose your subject so that feature is on the short side of their face and use broad lighting to ensure that it’s in shadow, taking the emphasis away.

How to set it up

Setting up for broad lighting couldn’t be easier. Just have your subject turn away from the key light until you have the desired effect.

While there is no one way to set up broad lighting, here is a basic method to get you started.

As in the diagram above, place your light forty-five degrees from your subject. Ensure that you have your subject’s face posed away from the light source.

It really is as easy as that. Just remember that you can control the transition from highlight to shadow by changing the distance of the light from your subject and by using different modifiers.

Next steps

Adding fill to your broad lighting can help with extreme contrast while still retaining shadows for depth.

Lighting patterns are a starting point. This isn’t a zero-sum game. To take your broad lighting setups further, feel free to experiment with fill light. You can use reflectors or a second light to lift up the shadows and reduce the contrast in your images for more flattering portraits. Conversely, you can also choose to emphasize the shadows and the contrast for darker, bolder portraits. The best advice here is to know what result you are after before you start.

With a reflector as fill, you can now control the overall contrast in the image.

Short Lighting

Short lighting (depending on variables like your modifiers) tends to lend itself to dark, shadow-heavy imagery. This makes it the perfect lighting pattern when creating low-key images.

When you choose to light the short side of the face first, it also has several effects on your portraits:

  • Short lighting narrows the face.
  • Short lighting will throw the broad side of the face in shadow.
  • Short lighting provides heavy contrast and is ideal for low-key images. It is also useful when you are trying to create images with a lot of depth.
  • Short lighting can be used to hide imperfections.
How to set it up

Again, there is no one way to go about a short lighting setup.

Short lighting is trickier to set up than broad, but take your time and be deliberate in where the light is hitting your subject.

For this example, start with your light source forty-five degrees to your subject just like you did for the broad lighting setup. This time, have your subject face towards the light. If you have a modeling light, or you’re using natural light, watch the highlights on your subjects face carefully. Either move the light or your subject until the brightest part of your subject’s face is the short side.

Tip: If you’re having trouble seeing the contrast with your eyes, you can squint. I can’t even begin to tell you why this works, but it does. Squinting makes it far easier to see the contrast in a scene with your eyes.

That’s it. While short lighting is slightly trickier than broad lighting, it is still easy to accomplish. Once you have it figured out, it will become second nature.

Next steps

Because short lighting tends to be heavy on the shadows, you can use as much fill as you want to control them. Use a reflector for a gentle lift, or a second light to bring them close to the other tones in your images.

Since short lighting is so shadow-centric, you will almost certainly want to use fill light to control the contrast in normal situations. You can use a reflector, but if your shadows are quite deep, you may want to opt for fill light. Try exposing your fill light three stops less than your key (your main light) to retain your shadows while ensuring that all of the details are still there.

Using a reflector lifts the shadows in this example, but retains enough contrast for depth.

End matter

There you have it; two basic, but powerful lighting patterns that you can use to create bold dynamic portraits. I encourage you to go out and practice with each of these set-ups. Experiment liberally with your distances between your light and subject and try as many different fill lighting techniques that you can come up with. Once you have the basics down; if you want a real challenge: use the short lighting pattern to create a high key image.


The post Understanding Broad and Short Lighting in Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

How to Build a Bench Prop for Great Portrait Photos

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 15:00

The post How to Build a Bench Prop for Great Portrait Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

When I got started with family and child photography, I thought I had all my bases covered. Between my cameras, lenses, locations, and shot lists, I figured I was all set to create some amazing portraits that families would treasure for generations. Then I ran head-first into a practical problem for which I didn’t really have a good solution; where do people sit? All the camera gear in the world won’t help on location with no place for parents, kids, or high school seniors to sit and pose for their pictures. I finally made my own solution, which has performed flawlessly, and it’s something you can make in an afternoon with a few tools you might already have in your garage.

Before I built benches like this, I tried to use things I had around, such as bar stools, folding chairs, and even our living room coffee table. None of these really worked well or looked very professional. Once I realized I could construct my own bench props, my portraits improved almost immediately.

This tutorial is going to cover a sturdy single-person bench 16 inches high, 16 inches deep, and 18 inches wide. This design is easy to customize if you want something wider, deeper or shorter, but it’s a great place to start if you’re looking for a simple one-person option.

This boy is on a wider version of the bench you’ll build in this tutorial.

Materials needed

The wood and hardware you need to construct a photo bench are pretty minimal:

  • Two 2×4’s, 8-feet long
  • 3/4-inch thick wood, 8-feet long and 11-inches wide. I like to use low-grade utility shelving but any similar wood will work just fine.
  • 1.5-inch Deck Screws
  • A saw to cut the wood

The boards on the right, plus some screws, are all you need to build the bench on the left. It’s an easy afternoon project and your clients will appreciate having this highly practical prop. I spent about $40 on the four pieces of wood at a local lumber yard.

The following tools will help you with the construction process, but your own situation might be different. These are what I used, but feel free to adapt as necessary. For instance, you could use a circular saw instead of a miter saw. This is a fun project to do with someone else, so if you don’t have any of these tools, you could ask a friend for help.

  • Miter saw
  • Table saw
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper or electric sander
  • Kreg Jig*
  • Kreg Jig screws 2.5-inches in length with coarse threads*
  • If you don’t use a Kreg Jig, you will need additional deck screws 2.5-inches in length.
  • Wood glue (optional)

A table saw is really useful for ripping the utility shelving to a uniform width of 3 inches.

*A Kreg Jig is a staple of a lot of DIY projects, but if you don’t have one already you probably don’t need to buy one just for this photo bench. Traditional wood screws will suffice just fine.

A view of the bench from below. You could probably construct it out of thinner, lighter materials but it would be far less durable.

Phase 1: Cut the wood

For this photo bench you will need to cut the following pieces of wood in the lengths listed below.

A miter saw makes this project a lot easier, but other cutting tools would suffice just fine too.

  • 2×4 boards, 7.5-inches long – 5 pieces
  • 2×4 boards, 15-inches long – 4 pieces
  • 2×4 boards, 15.5-inches long – 4 pieces
  • 3/4-inch thick boards, 3-inches wide and 16-inches long – 8 pieces
  • 3/4-inch thick boards, 3-inches wide and 18-inches long – 12 pieces

It’s a lot easier to cut everything first and then assemble the bench all at once.

Phase 2: Build the frame

If you have a Kreg Jig, you can use it here to construct the frame of the bench. But if not, you can just use traditional screws. If you want to have an extra-secure hold, you could use wood glue at the joints as well, but it’s not necessary. I would recommend against using nails though, as they’re going to wiggle loose over time and you want this bench to be as sturdy as possible.

A Kreg Jig is really useful but not necessary.

If you’re going with this method you’ll need to use your Kreg Jig to drill two pocket holes in each end of the 15-inch, 2×4 boards.

15-inch boards with two pocket holes in each end.

When you’re done putting pocket holes in the 15-inch boards you’ll repeat the process with the 7-inch boards.

7-inch boards with two pocket holes in each end.

Once your pocket holes are ready you can start assembling the frame of the bench. Secure a 15.5-inch board to each end of one of the 15-inch boards to make a U-shape.

This shape will form one side of the bench.

Repeat the process with the other two 15.5-inch board and another 15-inch board. When you’re done you will have two identical U-shapes.

Both sides of the bench, not yet attached to each other.

If you don’t have a Kreg Jig, or don’t want to go to the trouble of using pocket holes, you can use regular screws to attach the 15.5-inch boards to the 15-inch board. As long as you end up with two U-shaped pieces as shown above, you’ll be just fine.

After you get the U-shapes constructed, attach the other 15-inch board on the open end, but rotate it 90-degrees as shown below.

Attach the second 15-inch board to the open side of each U-shape.

Repeat this step with the other U-shape, which will give you two of these square pieces as you can see in the following image.

These form the sides of the bench, and you’ll need to attach them by first securing all the 7-inch boards to one side.

I find it easiest to attach all five of the 7-inch boards to one side, and then attach that entire assembly to the other side.

Again, I like to use a Kreg Jig and pocket holes, but you can just as easily use regular deck screws to do this. Don’t worry too much about appearances either, as if you use deck screws you won’t really see them in the finished product. They will be covered up with the slats you will attach in Phase 3.

The finished frame, upside down on my table saw which doubles as a small workbench.

If you do end up using pocket holes, you might find yourself working in some really cramped conditions when you insert the screws. A right-angle attachment for your drill can be a huge lifesaver in this step! Once you’re all done, flip the contraption over, and you’re all set for attaching the slats to the sides.

The brace in the middle gives the bench an extra measure of support. Kids can jump on this thing all day long and it won’t be harmed.

It’s important to know that this bench is designed to be sturdy as well as aesthetically pleasing, as you can see in the photo above. You might be able to find something similar at a store but it probably won’t be built this solidly. Also, it won’t stand up to years of use and abuse.

Note also the extra 7-inch board on top, which you can see in the above photo. This helps give even more structural support to the bench so it won’t buckle under the weight of people using it over the years.

Phase 3: Attach the slats

Once you have the basic frame built, you can get a little creative in how you want to finish everything off. I like to attach the boards about 1/2-inch apart, but you can space yours closer or farther. I wouldn’t go too far though, especially on the top where people will be sitting.

Attaching the boards is pretty simple: just place them where you want them to go and attach with deck screws. Other types of screws would work too, but I like deck screws because they are self-tapping and hold very firmly. Nails might work for this step, but I prefer deck screws because of their firmer hold.

I like to use four slats on each side as well as the top and space them about a 1/2-inch apart. But, this is also up to you. You might use fewer boards and make them wider. Or you may use several thin boards, or one giant board covering the entire surface. It’s up to you, and don’t be afraid to get a little creative. In this example, the 18-inch boards get attached to the front, top, and rear while the 16-inch boards go on the sides.

Drilling pilot holes will extend the work time required for this step, but it helps ensure the wood doesn’t crack and split when you insert the screws. When finished, all the basic work is done.

In the background, you can see a bench with some holes I cut out to make it easier to carry.

I recommend sanding the entire bench to smooth out any rough edges. If you have a jig saw you can cut holes for carrying as you can see in the photo above.

Phase 4: Finishing

Now that you’ve constructed the basic bench, the sky is your only limit in terms of how you want the final product to look. I like to use tea-staining, which is inexpensive, non-toxic, and gives a lovely aged look to the wood. The results are inconsistent though, so you might prefer actual wood stain or even paint.

This is your chance to customize the look of your bench, so have fun and get creative!

Your clients will appreciate having a nice place to sit, stand, or otherwise pose when you are taking their pictures. And as a bonus, they’ll be doubly impressed when you tell them you made the bench all by yourself!

We’d love to see some pictures of your bench once you build it. Please share with us in the comments below.


The post How to Build a Bench Prop for Great Portrait Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.