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The 5 Most Overused Photography Techniques [video]

Sat, 08/03/2019 - 06:00

The post The 5 Most Overused Photography Techniques [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video, James Popsys discusses what he believes are the 5 most overused photography techniques. Take a look and see if you agree with any or all of these.


1. Water photos using Long Exposures

James points out that photographers who always use long exposures whenever there is water around could be missing out on telling the true story of the scene. They could be missing out on the ripples, textures, etc. that are available in the true scene.

He also states how he likes to imagine himself within a scene, and finds that some of these long exposures all feel too unreal. He knows he could never experience that in real life.

What are your thoughts on that?

2. Panoramas

James loves panoramas and has done many of them himself. The problem he has with them is that he thinks some people who shoot them can’t decide on what their focus point should be so they just try and capture it all.

Do you agree with that?

He believes good photos are all about subtraction and taking things out of the shot to make the message stronger. So to shoot a good panorama, everything you are capturing needs to be of interest. Or else, you need to change perspective and your composition to get a better photo.

Also, they aren’t great for viewing on digital media.

3. Adding foreground interest

James states that always trying to have a point of interest in the foreground isn’t necessary and that sometimes it can dilute what is already an interesting photograph.

4. Golden hour

Jaymes isn’t a fan of shooting during Golden Hour as he believes the color overpowers the subject matter. The light becomes the story rather than the place. The light steals the show. Photos can also become quite similar because it becomes about light and not composition or story.

Shooting at other times of the day improves your composition skills.

5. Sky replacements

Jaymes isn’t a fan of sky replacements. They are becoming too obvious, and they look fake. He thinks it is outdated and disingenuous.

What do you think? Are there other techniques you think are overused in photography? Share with us in the comments below.

The post The 5 Most Overused Photography Techniques [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Texture

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 15:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is TEXTURE!

Image by Glenn Harper

Go out and capture absolutely anything that includes texture. You can photograph anything that has texture, or you can overlay textures in post-processing to create a whole new work of art. They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. Just so long as they include texture! You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Image by Rick Ohnsman

Image by Megan Kennedy

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

Tips for Shooting TEXTURE

How to use Texture to Improve Your Photos

10 Tips for Shooting for Graphic Textures

Texture as a Design Element in Photography

Working with Textures – 8 Ideas to Get You Started

How to Create Your Own Textures

Applying textures in post-processing

How to Add a Texture Overlay to Your Images for a Stunning Effect

Beginners Guide to Creating and Applying Texture Overlays Using Photoshop

How to Apply a Texture Overlay to Your Images to Create an Antique Look

How to Use Textures to Create Compelling Photographs

Weekly Photography Challenge – TEXTURE

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 #DPStexture 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 – Texture appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Photographers, Are Robots Coming for Your Jobs?

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 08:30

The post Photographers, Are Robots Coming for Your Jobs? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Square has just announced a new service, which allows businesses to get product photos for cheap – just $10 USD for a set of three product photos.

The only caveat?

The product photos are all taken by a robot.

Yes, you read that correctly. Square, a company known for its credit-card transaction tools, built a $20,000 USD robot that takes simple product photos with a white background.

Here’s how it works:

You send your products to Brooklyn, where the robot lives. Staff arranges the products on a table surrounded by lights and a white background.

Then an arm moves around your products while holding a Nikon DSLR, snapping away with a single robotic finger.

Square staff then select the best three product photos. They do a bit of post-processing before sending them along to you, the owner.

If you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have product photography skills and can’t afford to spend on a photographer, this may be just what you need.

But if you’re a product photographer who relies on basic product setups for your income, this news doesn’t bode well. If the Square Photo Studio robot is successful, it’s likely that the idea will spread, fast, edging professional photographers out of the more basic product photography markets.

And news of a robot photographer isn’t only relevant to product photographers. It matters to shooters of all stripes.

Automated photography may start with product images, but where will it stop? Will robot photographers expand? What could be the next target for automation?

For instance, might we see robots enter studio portrait photography? How about automobile photography? Sports photography?

They may seem like silly questions, but they’re worth asking.

That’s why this story is so important. It gets at a question that many of us have ignored thus far:

Ten years from now, will most photography be done by humans? Or by robots?

What do you think about robot photographers? Do you think that a product photography robot will catch on? Let me know in the comments!

The post Photographers, Are Robots Coming for Your Jobs? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Make the Most of High Contrast Lighting for Dramatic Street Photos

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 06:00

The post Make the Most of High Contrast Lighting for Dramatic Street Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Street photographers often love the type of light many others seek to avoid. High contrast lighting is favored by many because of the drama it adds to the action, or lack of it, in the streets.

Making the most of high contrast lighting is a matter of being able to see it more as your camera does. It also helps to have a good knowledge of how you can manipulate your photos during post-processing.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Seeing like your camera

Your eyes can see a wider range of tone than your camera can. This is changing as camera technology advances. Soon cameras will be able to record more details in the highlights and shadows over a broader range. For now, your eyes are more capable.

What you see on your camera’s monitor when you review a photo is different than what you’ll see on your computer. On your camera, you will not see so much depth or detail. Learning to discern what your photos will look like after some post-processing will help you take better photos.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taking photos knowing how you will process them later helps you make better decisions while you’re taking photos. The choices you make about exposure and composition can depend on what treatment you will give a RAW image on your computer.

When you look at a high contrast scene, your eyes will see more detail than your camera is able to record. Because the difference between the light value of the highlights and shadows is so vast, your camera cannot record it all. But your eyes will still be able to see it.

Understanding this when you are in high contrast light will help you make better photos.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Expose with intent

Photographing in hard light means you must make careful exposure choices. Do you want to see details in the highlights? Do you want to see details in the shadow areas? You must choose if you want to make the most of the dramatic lighting.

Exposing for the highlights and letting the shadows fall into black is one of the most popular methods. This adds drama and mystery to your street photos.

I prefer to set my exposure manually. This way I know it will not alter until I change the settings myself. I will choose a light area to make a meter reading from. Then I will underexpose it a little to make the effect a little more dramatic.

This will make the shadow areas appear even darker. It also means I am less likely to have bright areas with no detail.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Setting my exposure in this way, I know I’ll be able to push the contrast effect even further during post-production.

If you set your camera to expose for the shadows, the highlight areas will be even brighter. You will lose detail in the lightest parts of your composition. Sometimes you will want this and to keep the details in the shadows. You must make a conscious choice when you are setting your exposure. If you get this wrong, you will find you cannot manipulate your photos so much during post-processing. This is more so if you are taking .jpegs rather than RAWs.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Make use of the shadows

You can hide things in the shadows. You can conceal people or unwanted distracting elements in the darkness of a shadow.

Careful use of shadows can isolate your main subject and draw the viewer’s eye to it.

Use graphic lines of shadows created by architecture, trees or other strong forms. The shadows themselves become graphic elements in your photographs. You can combine them with the solid forms in your composition to create tension or harmony.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Look for how static and moving shadows appear in your compositions. What do the shadows of people look like on the pavements or walls as they walk by? Are there shadows created by trucks, buses or cars passing by? Can you see light reflected off windows back into the shadows?

While you’re out with your camera, think about how the shadows might look when you add more contrast during post-processing.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Find a location and choose your time

Observe how the daylight looks at the places you like to photograph. It will be different at various times of the day and during different seasons.

Look at how the shadows fall on the ground and surrounding buildings. Are people walking in the sunshine or in the shade? At which points to they emerge from the shadows? Is the light in front of them or behind?

Pick a good place to work from and stay awhile. If you can visit the same location on many different occasions, you’ll build up a more diverse set of photographs. Doing this, you’ll be able to compare the photos you take. This can help you learn your favorite time to photograph at that place. Then plan to do it again and take even better photos.

Find a place where the light is how you like it and the background is interesting. Make sure the background will support the style of photograph you are wanting to take. Is the background in full sun or in the shadows? Is the light falling on it pleasing to you?

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Move around and look at the space from different angles. Where you photograph from will look different depending on where the sun is. You might prefer the sun behind you or to one side. Some scenes may look better when your subjects are backlit. These should be carefully made and not left to chance.

If you are including people or traffic in your photos, be observant of how it is moving. Anticipate where it looks best. How does the light look on a person as they walk through your composition? Does the traffic moving in one direction look more interesting than traffic moving the other way?

Once you have decided on a place to work from, stay there. Being patient is one of the most important things to do as a photographer. Wait and watch. Look for patterns of movement and also when these patterns are interrupted or broken. These can be some of the most interesting times to take street photographs.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan


Look at the sunlight and think about how you can post-process to enhance the look you want.

With street photography, you are reliant on the available light. You must look at it and figure out the best place to stand. Then you must make the right choice of exposure settings to take advantage of the high contrast.

Once you have found a good location and made a few exposures hang around. Give yourself time and space to really work a scene. Try going back to the same location at different times of the day and in different seasons. You may be surprised at how different your photographs will look.

We’d love it if you would go out and try some of these techniques and share your photos with us in the comments below.


The post Make the Most of High Contrast Lighting for Dramatic Street Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 08:30

The post How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

Whether you’re working with clients or shoot as a lone ranger, you need to back up your work. As the saying goes, when it comes to hard drives, it’s not a matter of if they will fail, but when they will fail.

Working with image files requires a lot of power and is very taxing for your computer. This increases the chance of hard drive failure. You need to have a system of backing up your images that works for you. This is also important to backup your photos while shooting tethered.

Backup your photos while shooting tethered

There are various programs that allow you to connect your camera to a laptop or desktop computer via a USB cable. This allows you to view a larger and more accurate version of your image on the computer screen. Tethering is crucial in genres like food and still life photography, but also very useful in other niches, like studio portrait photography.

When shooting tethered while on location, an efficient workflow around the backup process will make your life a lot easier and ensure that you have several copies of your image files should an unforeseen incident occur.

If you’re like me and shoot tethered to a laptop but edit on a desktop, you already have the bonus of an extra copy of your images, since you’re using two computers.

If you transfer the images from the laptop to desktop via a detachable external hard drive, there is your third copy. However, if you use a card reader or transfer your images from your camera via a USB cable, you should have at least one more hard copy of your images. Also, what if something happens to your laptop while you’re on a shoot? Remember, it’s a question of when.

Do you use Lightroom as your tethering program of choice? You then have the option of saving your images to your SD cards as you take them. However, Capture One Pro doesn’t offer this option. This makes image capture instant, but it doesn’t give you an extra sense of security by providing additional copies of the images you’ve shot.

You cannot just set up Lightroom or COP to save to two places. You need file synchronization software to make sure that your work is being backed up while you’re shooting tethered. 

Types of backups

There are two types of backup: specific project backup and overall data backup. You need to concern yourself with both.

While you’re shooting, you need to back up every single file. You also need to do a backup of your whole computer. You should create backups on external hard drives and also in a cloud-based system. Don’t simply rely on cloud solutions for your backups.

Storing photos in the cloud basically outsources the storage of your photos. The data in the cloud is not necessarily safe or under your control. Risks with cloud storage are having your data hacked and deleted, being locked out of your account, or having it be closed if you make late payments. Also, these types of online services can suddenly shut down or otherwise cease to exist. 

A word about digital data

The problem with digital data is that storage formats change over time. You might keep your photos “safe,” but they’ll be useless to you if you can’t read or open them. 

Operating systems, software and file formats keep changing, so just because you can see a file on your computer doesn’t mean you can actually load it.

One example is the attempts to replace the standard .jpg file format with JPEG 2000, PNG (Portable Network Graphics) and several others. JPG is fine for now, but you can never say never because this sort of thing actually happens all the time as technology changes.

A word about disk drives

Hard drives are great for storing images because they are relatively inexpensive, they provide fast access to data, and it’s very easy to copy one hard drive to another. 

However, backup drives are not an all-in-one perfect solution. Your data is at risk of being stolen or destroyed by fire, flood or some other disaster.

Also, the data is vulnerable to malicious software and human error.

You can accidentally delete a folder, or make mistakes when copying files. If your PC is infected by malware, it will usually encrypt files on external hard drives as well.

I personally have had several hard drives fail. One time I had a hard drive and a laptop fail at the same time! Some hard drives fail after several years of use, while others fail after only a few months. There is no way of knowing when the case may be.

Therefore, you can’t store your photos on a single drive. A minimum of two is recommended. I have backups on a couple of 1TB external, portable hard drives, as well as on two 4TB hard drives that are plugged into my desktop computer. 

You should keep one of your backups off-site, like at a relative’s home or even in a bank safety deposit box. 

How to back up while shooting tethered

Chronosync is one backup software that I recommend you use while shooting tethered if you use a Mac. If you’re a PC user, check out Bvckup.

Goodsync can be used with either system.

This type of software allows you to look at a given folder and copy everything to another folder on a separate hard drive. For example, you might want to shoot images on your laptop and have them sync to an external portable hard drive. Or you may want to use two separate portable hard drives. Basically what you’re doing is telling it what folder to look at and make an exact duplicate of it to another drive.

You can set it on a schedule or have it running in the background. Setting it on a schedule is great if you always have a hard drive plugged into your laptop.

Here is an example of how to do it with Chronosync.

1. Open up the application and choose, Create a New Synchronizer Document

2. Decide what drives you want to synchronize by selecting >Choose from the Source Target and Destination Target menus accordingly. It will give you several choices of how you might want to back up from the dropdown menu under >Operation.
My recommendation is that you choose >Backup Synchronize Bidirectional. This will ensure that everything that is on one drive will also appear on the other.

3. Click on >Synchronize in the top left-hand corner. It may take a few minutes for the synchronization to take place. Once it’s complete you’ll see the message below.

It’s as simple as that. With synchronization software like Chronosync, you’ll ensure that all your files and folders are backed up for a very low price.

Other backup software

Many large companies offer photo storage services including Amazon, Google, Microsoft (OneDrive), and Apple (iCloud). However, this can be expensive if you need a lot of storage. With some, downloading large files is cumbersome and data such as file names and EXIF Data may not be preserved. Some services don’t preserve your photos as you uploaded them, and others just don’t work very well (Time Machine, I’m looking at you).

Here are some other paid-for options that are worth a look:

FoldersSynchronizer – a popular program for Mac OS which synchronizes backup files, folders, and disks.

Super Duper – great for disk backups on a Mac. It allows you to create a bootable clone of your disk which you can easily copy from one hard disk to another. This makes moving from one computer to another during an upgrade virtually painless.

Smug Mug – an all-in-one solution that allows photographers to display and sell their images, with unlimited uploads.

Backblaze – a cloud-based backup system that will continually back up your data while your computer is on. Use to restore data after a drive failure.

To sum up

To ensure that you have all your bases covered when backing up your files, you should backup specific shoots as well as regularly do backups of your whole computer(s).

Have a couple of backups on hard drives, as well as a cloud-based backup.

When shooting tethered, I recommend backing up your images manually as you’re shooting, one at a time, to ensure that each image exists in at least two places at that time. Once you’re finished shooting, back up your portable hard drive to another one, preferably a larger, more robust hard drive where you store a copy of all your image folders.


The post How to Backup Your Photos While Shooting Tethered so You Never Lose Them appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darina Kopcok.

The Sigma sd Quattro H Camera Review

Thu, 08/01/2019 - 06:00

The post The Sigma sd Quattro H Camera Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

The Sigma sd Quattro H camera is a unique-looking, mirrorless camera with a unique sensor capable of producing sometimes astonishingly crisp images. The technology involved means this camera is not the first choice for everyone, but should certainly be under consideration by landscape, portrait, architectural and lifestyle photographers.

I was loaned a Sigma sd Quattro H and the Sigma 14mm, 50mm, and 120-300mm lenses. I took the camera to Alaska, Washington, and California to test it in the real world.

Quick Stats

First, a few stats from Sigma’s website.

Lens Mount SIGMA SA bayonet mount Angle of View Equivalent to approx. 1.3 times the focal length of the lens (on 35mm cameras) Image Sensor Foveon X3 direct image sensor(CMOS) Image Sensor Size 26.7×17.9mm (1.0in. ×0.7in. ) Number of Pixels Effective Pixels: Approx. 38.6MP T(Top): 6,200×4,152 / M(Middle): 3,100×2,076 / B(Bottom): 3,100×2,076  Total Pixels: Approx. 44.7MP Aspect Ratio 3:2 Storage Media SD Card, SDHC Card, SDXC Card, Eye-Fi Card Type Electronic viewfinder (approx. 2,360,000 dots color LCD monitor) Viewfinder Frame Coverage approx. 100% Viewfinder Magnification 0.96x (-1m-1, 50mm F1.4 at infinity) Auto Focus Type Phase difference detection system + Contrast detection system AF Point 9 points select mode, Free move mode (It is possible to change the size of Focus Frame to Spot, Regular and Large), Face Detection AF Mode AF Operating Range EV -1?EV 18 (ISO100 F1.4) Focus Mode Single AF, Continuous AF (with AF motion prediction function), Manual Focus Lock AEL/AF lock button is pressed or shutter release button is pressed halfway Metering Systems Evaluative Metering, Spot Metering, Center-Weighted Average Metering Metering Range EV 0?EV 17 (50mm F1.4 ISO100) Exposure Control System (P) Program AE (Program Shift is possible), (S) Shutter Speed Priority AE, (A) Aperture Priority AE, (M) Manual ISO Sensitivity ISO 100-6400 Exposure Compensation ±5 EV ?in 1/3 stop increments) The big difference – a Foveon X3 Sensor

Sigma has chosen a different beast of a sensor for its sd Quattro H camera; the Foveon X3. A graphic from Foveon’s site describes it best.

Instead of using a Bayer pattern as most commercially available cameras use these days, the Foveon X3 captures each color, and luminosity information, at each pixel site. It accomplishes this because each wavelength of light is absorbed in different rates in a silicon chip.

Essentially, instead of having red, green and blue pixels side by side, the pixels are stacked on top of each other. This produces a sharper image overall. The overall brightness of the image is recorded on the top layer along with the blues. Here’s another way to look at it compared to the Bayer pattern.

The ‘H’ in ‘sd Quattro H’ represents the sensor size. It is not a full-frame sensor nor is it APS-C, it is in-between. The crop factor is 1.3x, still requiring a 40mm lens to equate to a typical 50mm lens on a full-frame sensor.

The Quattro’s sweet spot – image quality

Before we get to the downsides of the Sigma sd Quattro H, let’s cover what it does so very, very well; details.

No matter the lens (and I tested the camera with a Sigma 14mm, 50mm, and 120-300mm), the amount of detail you can pull out of images is fascinating. Image crispness is helped further by the sensor’s configuration, which does not suffer from moiré like other cameras with Bayer pattern sensors. I tried and tried to shoot and show some moiré, but it’s just not there.

Landscape and portrait photographers will love the amount of detail in every shot. Lack of moiré increase its apparent sharpness without compromise, also making it a quality platform for architectural photographers. Add in the ability to bracket with three or five frames (and ranges from 1/3stop to 3stops between those frames), and the patient photographer will find much joy with this setup.

Below are 100% crops, along with original images, to help you compare.

Sigma sd Quattro H with Sigma 120-300mm lens – ISO 100, 252mm, f/4.5, 1/800

Sigma sd Quattro H with Sigma 14mm f/1.8 lens – ISO 100, 14mm, f/8, 1/500

Sigma sd Quattro H with Sigma 120-300mm lens – ISO 100, 269mm, f/4.5, 1/800

Sigma sd Quattro H with Sigma 120-300mm lens – ISO 100, 206mm, f/4.5, 1/800

The downsides

Upon first using the Sigma camera, you will notice how slow it is. While this is not on purpose, it’s a side-effect of the massive amount of data the camera’s sensor creates. This large amount of data also drains batteries on the order of maybe 200 images shot per 1800 mAh battery (comparable to most DSLR batteries).

Sigma attempts to mitigate the slow processing with an eight-shot buffer and a continuous shooting speed of 4-8 frames per second depending on image size and format. This does a decent job of helping the camera keep up with moderate action. Make no mistake, this is not a sports photographer’s camera, but in a pinch, it can capture fast action.

The buffer is the same no matter the file format (see below for file sizes). Even in JPEG mode, you will get eight shots then have to wait about one second between shots for processing and buffer actions.

Auto-focus is also subpar and often seems to favor the contrast-detection aspect more than the phase-detection aspect of its hybrid focus system. There isn’t much hunting, but in low light, it does struggle more than I would like. I often found myself defaulting to manual focus when I knew the light was not ample.

However, the camera does have a Focus Peaking option which allows live view focusing with a digital zoom for accomplishing precision focus in manual focus mode.

The sensor has a dynamic range of slightly less than 10-stops, giving pause to those accustomed to the growing dynamic range of most modern DSLR cameras.

The camera also struggles with detail in black areas in the frame. It turns on its head the “Expose To The Right” idea held by most DSLR photographers. An example below of a shot exposed to the right to as I would normally shoot it, along with a crop of the darker areas.

File options

In the past, Sigma cameras had two options: their proprietary 14-bit X3F format or JPEG. This meant either using Sigma’s Photo Pro software (currently on version 6) or outputting compressed JPEGS. You don’t spend money on a camera like this for the JPEGs, so it caused some consternation.

The sd Quatro H has a new option which helps open possibilities: DNG files. All of us using raw file editing programs can rejoice and not have to worry about conversions. However, the format has a lower bit depth than the .X3F format.

File sizes vary significantly from format to format. A typical JPEG file will be 10-15MB, JPEG super-fine setting (explained in a moment) 25-35MB, X3F will be 50-60MB, and DNG balloons to 120-150MB.  For a 64GB SDXC card, this nets about 3600 regular JPEG, 1800 super-fine JPEG, 630 X3F images and 410 DNG images, according to the back of the camera.

A full list of various file sizes can be found on Sigma’s site.

Image Quality – Comparing X3F vs. DNG vs. JPEG Super Fine vs. JPEG Normal

This next comparison is a bit tricky because we have to use Sigma’s Photo Pro to process and export the X3F file. I’m going to make all the original files available here (file download size: 210mb) so you can download them and compare without my need to export for web viewing.

There has always been controversy over how many pixels are reported on the Foveon sensors. Sigma says the images in X3F format have 39 megapixels, while the JPEG Superfine has 51 megapixels. Yet, the images that come out of the camera are 6192×4128 or 25,560,576 pixels = 25.5MP. So what gives?

The X3F file contains 25.5MP of data on the top later that records the blue channel and the luminance information. The next two laters each capture 3096×2064 or 6.39MP of information for red and green colors. Add those together and you get 25.5 + 6.39 + 6.39 = 38.28MP (I’ve done some rounding in this calculation).

The X3F has more bit depth and thus more information. However, Sigma Photo Pro is not the most refined program in the world and takes some patience to use. You will get the most out of the camera if you can take it slow and edit in Photo Pro. With that said, the DNG files are excellent (if a bit inflated in MB) and can be edited easily in Lightroom and other programs compatible with the format.

Lastly, what about that Super Fine JPEG format? I have to admit; it’s tempting to lust after 51MP out of a mirrorless camera. Yet, the quality of those shots is juuuusstt off the mark for my liking. Let me give you some 100% crops for comparison. I didn’t include the X3F version because the Photo Pro software is not straightforward on how to perform a crop, even after consulting the manual.


DNG format 100% crop



JPEG Standard Format 100% crop

JPEG Super Fine Format 100% crop

For my liking, that last one has just a little too much pixelation when looked at up close.

Shooting options

The sd Quattro H has all the standard shooting modes you’d expect: Manual, Program (with program shift), Aperture Priority and Shutter Speed Priority.

ISO is selectable between 100-6400, not quite the range we’re accustomed to with modern DSLR bodies. Further, noise becomes quite notable around ISO 800, making it difficult to get used to the higher ISO limits. It does have the ability to use Auto ISO and to limit the range, which I find useful.

While there are only nine focus points, arranged in a standard 3×3 grid, Sigma does give you the capability to change the size of the focus points in three steps, with the larger size covering a decent 60% of the viewing area. You can also select individual points instead of using all nine. This combination allows for a fair amount of control for wide-open scenes down to a need to focus on an individual stamen on a flower.

Useful features

Sometimes my eyes don’t seem to see straight, so I found the onscreen level to be very handy. It can be turned off for those who don’t want it, but for the rest of us, it’s quite useful.

Unexpectedly, the smaller LCD display on the back, highlighting exposure settings, battery level, exposure compensation, ISO, metering mode and shooting mode, is a welcome addition. Especially those using a tripod at eye height, which is when you have to stand on tiptoes to view the top display. Most of us glance at the rear display on our camera more than the front and this easy reference screen is handy. Controls for each of those items are located just to their right for easy, quick access.

As with other mirrorless cameras, having the histogram displayed in the viewfinder is a boon, especially when the dynamic range of the camera is less than 10-stops. Keeping the exposure correct with a histogram to help analyze a scene is very useful.


The Sigma sd Quattro H comes with two control wheels on the top of the camera. When shooting in Manual mode, the different dials, as expected, control shutter speed and aperture for easy shooting. The rear dial does not stand out too far and has just the right amount of tactile response when functioning. These functions can be switched around in the camera menu.

On the back of the camera are multi-directional buttons to assist in menu and control selection. They are well placed and easy to access without removing your eye from the viewfinder.

Also on the rear of the camera is a selector switch for using the viewfinder LCD or the rear camera monitor while shooting. I found the camera was often slow in switching from the rear monitor (on most of the time the camera shutter has been pressed halfway to activate auto-focus) to the viewfinder. This slight lag in switching became annoying in constant use and while quickly reviewing images on the rear screen before commencing further image acquisition.

The solution for me was to use the viewfinder only. However, this slowed down my process as only reviewing of images within the viewfinder is less than ideal. I wish the switching mechanism was quicker.

The camera also has controls for changing what information is displayed on the various screens, adjusting focus points and auto exposure/autofocus lock.

Fit & Feel

Admittedly, the Quattro looks a little odd. It has a weird shape and the viewfinder seems to be in the wrong spot.

The grip is comfortable and makes all-day use easy. While not cupped in like some DSLR cameras, it has enough surface for a solid grip.

The viewfinder is off to the side to allow space for the hotshoe directly over the lens. This tripped me up more than a dozen times as I grabbed the camera, with its DSLR-like feel, and brought it up to my eye in the wrong location. Not a big deal, but it felt a little off at times. Those without a lot of DSLR experience will not notice anything amiss.

The camera feels solid like a quality DSLR while having less weight. It feels like a camera that can handle hard work for years to come.

Menu control

Before we get into the menus, the Quattro has a hand QS button on the top, just next to the shutter release. It brings up a Quick Selection menu (either in the viewfinder or back screen). This is where you’ll want to make most of your image quality and other changes. The menu options are selectable within the camera’s options menu.

You select the camera’s menu by pressing the obvious MENU button on the back of the camera. The top control wheels or the back multi-directional buttons control the menus. Menus are displayed in an over-down setup, much like Canon cameras.

There are six shooting menus, two review menus, and five setup menus.

Do I have to use Sigma’s app?

For those of you happily stuck in your ways with your favorite image processing workflow, the quick answer is “no.” Because of the sd Quattro H’s ability to produce DNG files, the world is your oyster when it comes to editing photos.

However, and this gets into the technical side of things, the DNG file has already had some processing done to it in its creation. There is evidence that the color balance of the original X3F file is easier to accomplish using Sigma’s PhotoPro software than working with the DNG file. This is because of the camera’s need to convert the information it collects from the sensor and craft a DNG file.

Sigma’s PhotoPro software has come a long way and will create better images for you than simply using the DNG file. Think of it this way; the DNG files are higher quality than the JPEG files, while the X3F files are higher than the DNG. Each step, from JPEG to DNG to X3F, allows for more latitude and control when processing your images.

My suggestion if you acquire this camera: take the time to learn Sigma PhotoPro if you want professional quality results.


Sigma sd Quattro H w/120-300mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 171mm, f/3.5, 1/400

Sigma sd Quattro H w/14mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 14mm, f/34.5, 1/1600

Sigma sd Quattro H w/14mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 14mm, f/8, 1/500

Sigma sd Quattro H w/120-300mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 300mm, f/6.3, 1/1600

Sigma sd Quattro H w/120-300mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/1250

Sigma sd Quattro H w/14mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 14mm, f/6.3, 1/400

Sigma sd Quattro H w/14mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 14mm, f/2.8, 1/1000

Sigma sd Quattro H w/120-300mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 300mm, f/4.5, 1/800

Sigma sd Quattro H w/120-300mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 300mm, f/6.3, 1/1600

Sigma sd Quattro H w/14mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 14mm, f/9, 1/800

Sigma sd Quattro H w/120-300mm Sigma lens – ISO 100, 171mm, f/4.5, 1/800

Hidden option: Easy Infrared

One feature not often touted in Sigma’s literature or sales documents is its infrared capabilities. This will undoubtedly appeal to various landscape photographers because of its ease of use.

I was not able to acquire one of the needed pieces to make this system work before I returned the camera, but I was able to test the removal of the infrared filter. It is located front and center on the lens mount when the end cap is removed. After you remove the filter, you need a visible light filter on the front of whichever lens you use.

The combination of removing one filter and adding another adds full infrared capability without an expensive conversion typical with DLSRs these days. The versatility this adds could make it a likely option for those wanting to dabble in infrared photography but not wanting to lug around a whole other camera for the purpose.


The Sigma sd Quattro H camera is a mixed bag with a specific audience. They have made strides in shooting speed and buffering over time (the first iterations of their Foveon sensor cameras were quite slow, almost to the point of uselessness) and that has helped bring up overall usefulness.

If you are a landscape photographer and take things slow, this is a great camera for incredible detail. Travel photographers will enjoy the camera (if they aren’t shooting a lot of fast action) for the lack of moiré in buildings and other patterns found while exploring. I can also see macro photographers gaining a lot from the details and Focus Peeking feature.

However, the speed of shooting and speed of auto-focus can hold this camera back for the average photographer. It can be a bit frustrating to wait for images to appear and battery life is less than most of its competitors.

Have you used this camera? What are your thoughts? Please share with us in the comments section.


The post The Sigma sd Quattro H Camera Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

Sony Announces New Compact Camera With Amazing Features

Wed, 07/31/2019 - 08:30

The post Sony Announces New Compact Camera With Amazing Features appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Are you searching for a pocket-sized camera that packs a big punch?

Look no further than the just-announced Sony Cybershot RX100 VII, which is an all-around amazing camera, from its small size to its impressive zoom to its powerful optics.

First, take a look at its lengthy zoom lens, which goes from 24mm to 200mm in moments. This is perfect for capturing wider landscapes, then zooming in to emphasize a few compelling details.

The Sony RX100 VII also promises stellar image quality, with a ZEISS lens and a 20.1-megapixel sensor.

But where the Sony RX100 VII really shines is in the thick of the action. The RX100 VII shoots at 20 frames-per-second, which is far faster than most competitors on the market. And the autofocus is especially notable, with 357 AF points.

If you’ve worked with mirrorless or DSLR cameras before, then you’ll appreciate the electronic viewfinder on the RX100 VII. This is useful for shooting in bright conditions, or when you’re struggling to see the (touchscreen!) LCD.

Oh, and did I mention the 4K video capabilities? If you want a camera that will get you good images and beautiful videos while remaining nicely compact, the RX100 VII may be the way to go.

Who is the Sony RX100 VII for?

The RX100 VII should appeal to a few groups of people.

First, the RX100 VII is a good camera for beginner photographers looking to buy something a bit more long-term, but who doesn’t want to deal with the complexities or price of a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

And for those of you who have been using your smartphones as a primary camera, the RX100 VII will take your photos up a notch – without requiring much in the way of advanced settings or know-how.

Finally, the Sony RX100 VII is ideal for more serious photographers who want a second, more portable camera body. If you often get frustrated carrying around a DSLR or mirrorless camera/lens combo while traveling, then the Sony RX100 VII may be exactly what you need.

Are you excited about the release of the Sony RX100 VII? What is your favorite new feature? Let me know in the comments!

You may also find the following helpful:

The post Sony Announces New Compact Camera With Amazing Features appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

3 Alternative Post-Processing Applications that Challenge the Adobe Throne

Wed, 07/31/2019 - 06:00

The post 3 Alternative Post-Processing Applications that Challenge the Adobe Throne appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

Adjusting color, recovering highlights, and salvaging shadow detail are just some of the capabilities that make these three software packages powerful challenger to the Adobe dynasty.


ON1 Photo RAW 2019, Alien Skin Exposure X4.5, and Capture One 12


Apples, oranges, and bananas

Yes, they are all fruits, all are natural, and they all taste sweet, but there are differences between each that appeal to different pallets. When comparing these three alternative post-processing applications to the revered Adobe offerings of Photoshop, Lightroom, and Camera RAW, the differences are as noticeable as the similarities.

A little background

When it all began, Photoshop offered digital photographers a simple collection of imaging tools that allowed them to adjust the colors, tones, and sharpness of their pictures. It was all nice and simple.

However, that simplicity got more complicated.

The ’90s was an era that awakened a new generation of photographers. The taste of blood was in the public waters, and it attracted all forms of predators. As users became more sophisticated, demanding more power and software magic, Silicon Valley awoke to the smell of profits. Computer technology companies sprung up everywhere, developing new and faster processors, higher resolution monitors and larger storage devices.

The door to the digital darkroom swung wide open, and the Adobe marketing machine began rolling out yearly updates for their breakthrough photo editing software. Cha-Ching.

Adobe not only started a new industry – they owned it. For the first ten years or so, Adobe wisely kept any imaging software challengers at bay by enlisting them to develop supporting software (called plugins) that added functionality to Photoshop without challenging its command directly. Dozens of very cleaver plug-in technology companies were welcomed to demonstrate their products (and their allegiance) to Adobe within their mammoth booth at all the trade shows.

Adobe Systems became a very extended family and quickly established themselves as the Goliath that nobody dared to provoke.

Adobe booth at MacWorld show in San Francisco.

The Adobe scientists invested in the digital camera manufacturers and Silicon Valley chip wizards. Every year these developers delivered smaller and more powerful image sensors and processors able to capture and deliver incredible levels of detail from digital camera images. Adobe introduced a powerful plug-in package of their own called Camera Raw, able to mine and manipulate the vast amounts of RAW data captured by the sensors.

Early Panasonic PV-SD4090 PalmCam digital camera and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 4K Mirrorless, 2018.

When first introduced, digital cameras were only able to capture 256 levels (8-bits) of color. However, the sensors and processors for the new generation of cameras upped the ante by delivering up to 4 trillion (14-bits) color.

The Photoshop dreadnaught continued to grow and dominate the market. For that first decade, Photoshop was not only the digital imaging Sheriff – it was the law!

However, as it happens with many other products, Photoshop eventually became so gorged with various tools and appliances intended to address every need of photographers and artists, that it began to resemble a cramped and crowded commercial kitchen; pots, pans, and ladles hanging from every conceivable hook. The once swift, svelte and powerful software buckled under its own excesses, eventually being tagged by one industry pundit as bloatware.

But nobody has ever accused Goliath of being either daft or deaf. Adobe listened and learned from its more sophisticated photographer base who demanded a software package streamlined and focused specifically on the professional user. This new software would include filing and database features allowing professional photographers to catalog, label, sort, and shape their images in one arena, and free of most of the fluffy and artsy features of Photoshop. Adobe crowned this new pro-focused software Lightroom. Pretty cleaver… Photo Shop and Light Room. Hmm-m.

(David-Goliath logo.jpg)

Goliath and the David class

All this time, quietly in the background, several talented Photoshop plug-in developers were busy developing their own image-altering software. Software consisting of mostly specialty filters and visual effects tools that worked within both Photoshop and Lightroom as plug-ins. In addition, they operated as standalone software editing applications.

Behind the scenes, a silent revolution existed that would someday rise up and directly challenge Goliath. These same “deep-bit” RAW processing tools once only available in Camera Raw and Lightroom were now available from these independent developers who had quietly amassed millions of faithful followers. The “David” class of software emerged, with the battle lines now drawn. Goliath had some worthy opponents to contend with and some new battles to fight.

Many of the software developers in this “David class” were long-term seasoned veterans in the image editing field with their own stable of brilliant young engineers. They had initially opened their doors for business in the early nineties, just a couple of years after the introduction of Photoshop.

These companies included Extensis, Alien Skin, and Phase One Camera Systems. My own software company, ImageXpress, introduced our Scanprep plug-in product in 1993, so I have known and respected these companies for over twenty-five years. They each offer unique products and have earned long and distinguished records in the industry.

Extensis, Alienskin and Eye Candy

Extensis, founded in Portland, Oregon in 1993, offered several products, including Intellihance. At that time, Craig Keudell was the company’s VP of Sales and Operations and would later become President. Originally developed as a plug-in for Photoshop, Intellihance offered simple image corrections.

Craig went on to found ON1, Inc in 2005. ON1 is the developer of Photo RAW 2019, a dead-serious Lightroom contender sporting a powerful Raw processor, image editor, and DAM (digital asset management) system.

Alien Skin Software was also founded in 1993 by Jeff Butterworth (joined soon thereafter by Finley Lee), on the other side of the country in Raleigh, North Carolina. This company’s first software product was called Eye Candy, an image interpreter that gave users the ability to produce attractive (and sometimes bazaar) special effects from digital images. Alien Skin’s current flagship software, Exposure X4.5, provides RAW processing, image editing, and a nearly exhaustive collection of pre-set filters. These filters simulate the look of just about every film-age photo paper, film emulsion, and toning process.


Phase One – Capture One 12

Phase One Camera A/S is a Danish company founded that very same year (1993). It produced a unique medium format digital camera system for the professional market. The Copenhagen-based camera manufacturer’s latest hardware offering is the XF IQ4 Camera System, now in its fourth generation. Phase One’s precision camera systems require a very sophisticated software product to exploit the massive amounts of spectral data delivered by their cameras.

In 2003, Capture One software first began to support 35mm DSLR cameras from third-party manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, and Fuji. The software now supports 500+ cameras. Capture One 12 is the current version of this advanced editing software.

Products and uses

Most users of Lightroom operate the software for similar reasons – cataloging, organizing, and the basic editing of digital images. In that respect, all of the challengers offer similar services and features.

But not all users have the same needs with their software.

Digital photographers come in all sizes with diverse desires. Many users don’t get beyond the simple primping stages of brightening, straitening, and cleaning up their images – the basic processes that all began thirty years ago with Photoshop. Others are either professional photographers or dead-serious enthusiasts who utilize very advanced features of the software.

With the variety of software available in this field, there is something for everyone.

The Adobe alternatives

Just as these original three “David class” developers focused on different areas of the imaging industry with their initial products back in the ‘90s, each of their current products has established turf in today’s market. While offering the same basic editing and non-destructive RAW adjustment tools as Camera Raw and Lightroom, each product maintains its own personality.

There are similarities with these post-processing applications in the initial “sliders” appearance and the operation of each application, but beyond the basic tonal and color adjustments, the individual strengths become more evident.

Depending on your needs and personal preference, you may find that one of these products appeal to you and draw you away from your Adobe subscription addiction.

Let’s take a look at the strengths and personalities of the software products.

ON1 Photo RAW 2019.5

Purchase price $100 (upgrade from the previous version: $80)

ON1 Photo RAW 2019.5 will give you the features photographers use the most from the Lightroom and Photoshop worlds in a single application. With Photo RAW, you can quickly browse, organize, manage, and catalog photos in your photo editing workflow. The ultra-fast photo browser and organizer are perfect for rapidly viewing and culling through photos without waiting on previews to generate or an import process.

Importing images is not necessary with Photo RAW. You don’t create libraries or catalogs with this software. Instead, you view the images where they reside on your computer. If you want easy access to specific images within specific folders, use the indexing feature. Indexing these folders in Photo RAW keeps track of all thumbnails in each folder. Photo RAW actually moves the image files to a folder that you specify.

Photo RAW key features: HDR, Noise Reduction, Versions (Virtual Copies), Photo Stitching (Merge to Panorama), Keywords, Tethered Shooting, Portrait Retouching, and Layers.

With the addition of layers, ON1 ups the ante by allowing you to blend, mask, replace backgrounds, and more. ON1 Photo RAW also provides 27 unique filters, LUTs, and textures, delivering ample interpretations of each image.

ON1 also includes a Lightroom Migration assistant that utilizes AI-powered algorithms to transfer Lightroom edited photos, keep the non-destructive settings, and move them into ON1 Photo RAW.

Alien Skin Exposure X4.5

Purchase price: $119, (upgrade from previous versions $79-$89), and bundled with Blow up and Snap Art for $149.

Exposure X4.5 offers powerful organizing tools, fast performance, an intuitive design, and a subscription-free approach. With this one piece of software, you can handle all your photo editing work. Exposure X4.5 is best known for its selection of beautiful customizable presets, which span the entire history of film and beyond.

With Exposure X4.5, you choose the image folders you want to organize by adding them as “bookmarks.” Once a folder is ‘bookmarked,’ you can browse the subfolders as indexed and cataloged folders, searching for photos using keywords or image metadata.

Exposure X4.5 key features: Extensive browsing, search, and cataloguing tools (Smart Collections and Bookmarks), Light Effects and Textures, analog film effects, ample LUTs (lookup tables for instant tone and color shifts), Virtual Copies, sophisticated Bokeh effects, transform tools to straighten and correct perspective shots and watched folders.


Phase One Camera Systems Capture One 12.03

Perpetual license: $299, subscription $15/mo.

Capture One offers a lot of everything for just about every level of interest. Delving into its inner workings allows one to tinker with color on a near-molecular level. While it is not a particularly intuitive tool for the beginner, it is a pure delight for those who want infinite control over their adjustments. New users can go to to get started. Capture One offers a very logical and exhaustive array of tools and controls, leaving little need for a wishlist. The learning curve is steep, but the control provided is nearly exhaustive.

Capture One offers two ways to access and file images:

  • Catalog – a full DAM (digital asset management) system which works very similar to Lightroom, and
  • Session – a per project-based image access process.

The Session choice works by clicking on the small folder icon in the upper left-hand part of the original open window and accessing a very simple Mac/finder-type search dialogue. You indicate your image folder and then view the images inside that folder stacked vertically on the right-hand side of the Capture One window. Double-click an image and start working.

Capture One key features: Near-infinite masking tools for Basic, Advanced, and Skin Tone colors, including Hue, Saturation, Lightness, and Smoothness (feathered edges), Color Balance for Highlight, Midtone, Shadow, 3-Way (overall), color channel controlled B/W conversions, Layers (up to 16, each with individual chroma/luma range assignments), and dynamic Histogram readouts that track every adjustment.

Capture One’s extensive masking tools provide unparalleled control over both color and tonal shape with each mask creating its own layer. The variety of masks include Luminosity, Linear Gradient, and Radial Gradients. Each mask is infinitely adjustable and can be tweaked and finessed at any time. You can also purchase additional Styles Packs (essentially, presets that don’t alter the exposure or white balance).

The goal of any image editing software is a successful result. Each of the software packages mentioned herein is capable of delivering just that. I’ll leave it to you to predict which software I chose to rescue and produce this example.


I’ve made no attempt to declare a winner in this article, but most assuredly these alternative post-processing applications are very valid and capable challengers to the Adobe dynasty.

You certainly owe it to yourself to download a trial to each one of these packages and experiment with the possibilities. The alternatives are both diverse and similar in their offerings.

Each of these three packages requires a bit of habit remapping, and you should afford the time needed to draw your conclusions. Your personal requirements and tastes will ultimately deliver your answer.

I should note that no one piece of software; neither the Adobe family nor the challengers, provides a single comprehensive solution for all needs. Whichever addresses your particular needs best will become the backbone of your post-production work.

Fortunately for me, I own (and use) all of these alternative post-processing applications.

Have you used these any of these alternative post-processing applications? What are your thoughts?


The post 3 Alternative Post-Processing Applications that Challenge the Adobe Throne appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Herb Paynter.

How Poetry and Photography are Alike and How it Can Impact Your Photography

Tue, 07/30/2019 - 08:30

The post How Poetry and Photography are Alike and How it Can Impact Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

On the surface, poetry and photography may seem like completely different mediums. One deals with the written word, whereas the other creates images. But as two forms of artistic expression, poetry and photo-making have more in common than one might think. For example, both writing and photography rely on narrative and visual language to operate. Light and space are illuminating factors in both mediums too. Investigating these shared attributes (and many more) can affect our photographic practice. Let’s look at a few ways in which poetry and photography are alike and how the poetic word can impact your approach to image-making.

An empty page is much like the blank canvas or camera sensor in that it holds unlimited artistic potential.

A poem without words

The idea that written language conveys something more than just meaningless scribbles dates back to at least 3500 B.C. However, it was an ancient Roman poet by the name of Quintus Horatius Flaccus (known as Horace) who said that “a picture is a poem without words”.

Poets deconstruct images to form cohesive perspectives. As viewers, we read an image as we would written language, piecing information together to determine a picture as a whole. Through the elements and principals of composition and design, a photographer works in verse, weaving impressions and notions that awaken under the eye of the viewer.

With the careful cultivation of detail, both photographers and poets gain a better appreciation for qualities like color, patterntexture, shape and form. By being deliberately attentive to aspects like light, rhythmnarrative, and emotion, (aspects that are of great importance to both poetry and photography), we can actualize Horace’s observation with deeper, more metered imagery made up of layers of meaning and emotional range.

Though devoid of written language, photography conveys an image that holds meaning – a poem without words

Creating a little picture

While he is best known for his novels The Dharma Bums and On The Road, Jack Kerouac was also an avid writer of westernized haiku. The haiku, a style of poetry originating in Japan, is a small poem traditionally based around images of the natural world.

Kerouac stated that Western haiku “must be very simple and free of all poetic trickery and make a little picture…”.  His statement likens the haiku to that of the photograph, encapsulating a moment in time.

Some examples of Kerouac’s haiku include;

The taste
of rain –
Why kneel?

Morning sun –
The purple petals,
Four have fallen

April mist –
Under the pine
At midnight

As a poem limited to three lines, only the most necessary information may be included in a successful haiku. This approach is not dissimilar to minimalist photography, where select aspects of a photograph are emphasized by the minimization or eradication of others.

Kerouac’s comparison between the haiku and a picture paints the photographer as a sculptor of imagery. By sacrificing superfluous details and conveying a very specific idea, both photographers and poets appeal to an audience with an efficacy that leaves the lasting impression of well-executed artwork.

A change in perspective

Both the poet and the photographer study a subject through many lenses. As an example, here are two poems of Wallace Steven’s Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird;

Among twenty snowy mountains
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird

When the blackbird flew out of sight
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles

These two ways of seeing reflect how perspective is malleable, shaped by individual experience and thought. The gaze of the photographer and that of the poet are both analytical, yet individual. And just as there are many ways to approach single subject poetically, there are as many ways to approach the same subject photographically.

Researching other photography can be useful in gaining insight into how to attempt a subject. Interestingly, having a look at a poetic perspective can prove to be a useful insight in the same way. Studying the observations of poets can help draw out unique approaches to an environment or scenario, revealing useful opportunities and perspectives.


Both poetry and photography have the ability to zoom in and isolate, re-framing a subject and transforming it into something of significance or beauty. Take this excerpt from The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot;

Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of summer nights.

T.S. Eliot paints a story through the listing of refuse that is often found in rivers. By focusing his literary lens on inanimate objects that hinge on human intervention, T.S. Eliot forges strong images in the mind, relating to the reader through simple and concise language. The more the writer lists, the clearer the picture of the water becomes. Yet at the same time, in a separate image, the viewer forms impressions of pollution and waste, an alternative landscape to that which the poet describes.

Poetry gives seemingly mundane subject matter a new significance. This same phenomenon occurs in photography. Under the scrutiny of the camera, a subject takes on a transformation. Through the act of photography, a subject is separated and elevated from the day-to-day, isolating a moment in time.


The fact is that neither poetry nor photography is a complete reality. No art form is. Yet just as a photograph is a painting of light, the poem is a painting of words, and the experiences of both the photographer and the poet are entwined in their intention to express a version of reality that is both shared and unique.



The post How Poetry and Photography are Alike and How it Can Impact Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

The Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for the Shy Photographer

Tue, 07/30/2019 - 06:00

The post The Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for the Shy Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Avoiding photographing people

My dad had a lovely Zeiss camera. The kind with bellows that folded up into a compact unit. It took 120 roll film. I used this camera to photograph my brother’s band, playing an outdoor gig when I was 17. These 12 exposures filled my first roll of film.

Photography became my passion. Having a camera in my hand excited me and taught me to view the world around me in new ways. I would visualize and compose photos in my imagination even when I didn’t have my camera with me.

I photographed old rusty things, beaches, skies, mountains, and flowers, among other subjects – but never people.

Cira. 1983 Scanned from slide film © Kevin Landwer-Johan

People were well outside of my comfort zone – especially strangers.

Dealing with that uncomfortable feeling

“I don’t want to impose on others.”

This is the most common reason I hear from photographers about why they don’t photograph people.

Overcoming the fear of imposing, and settling the butterflies in your stomach is possible. Focused effort is required, but the results are well worth it.

The purpose of this Ultimate Guide is to teach you practical methods for photographing people, no matter how shy you are.

Photography is so much more than choosing the best lens and camera settings. Connecting with your subject is vital, particularly when you’re photographing people. If this is challenging for you, digging deep is essential – deep into your feelings of fear that invade your mind when you want to make a portrait.

Concentrate on the positive. Focus in on what’s attracted you. Why do you want to make that person’s portrait? Before you even approach someone or put your camera to your eye, clear your mind of doubt. Settle your thoughts and have a positive attitude towards what you are doing. Training your mind to think like this you will in time be able to control the feelings of self-doubt and fear of imposing.

Learn to recognize your negative thoughts that disrupt your intentions. Jump on them fast. The more consistently you can do this, the more successful you will be.

Only entertain your positive thoughts. As you do, your actions become automatic and relaxed. You will find it’s not stressful to approach people and to photograph them.

The more you do anything, the easier it becomes.

Practice training your mind to replace the fear of imposing with positive thoughts. Think about having a pleasant interaction with your subject. Reinforce your initial ideas of why you’ve chosen to photograph them. Let your mind fill with the intent to succeed.

Make yourself concentrate on the photo you are planning to make. Zone in on your composition, lighting, exposure, and timing. When you do this, the rest of the world disappears for a while. Be in your own creative space in your head and heart, and nothing else will matter.

This may sound a little abstract and not what you’re used to reading in a photography article, but I assure you, as you focus your mind and practice these techniques, you will become a better photographer.

Focus your mind. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Start with your camera

Knowing how to use your camera with confidence is your first step. If you’re not comfortable using your camera you’re not likely to enjoy photographing people.

Use your camera every day. Make a habit of taking at least one or two photos a day. You’ll find it’s addictive in the very best ways. Having a creative release is good for your soul. Your creative imagination will develop as you use it. The more you practice, the more your artistic style will begin to emerge.

Frequent contact is key. Have your camera in your hands at least once a day. You will become intimate with it. Your fingers and thumbs will feel the shapes of the dials and buttons. You will develop your subconscious memory of where each control is. As you learned fast enough where the on/off switch is, you’ll be able to find all the essential camera controls before long.

Pick a time each day to use your camera. I am sure if you think about it you will fit in ten or twenty minutes to be creative. Perhaps when you commute to work or school, during your lunch break or before dinner. Making it the same time each day helps you to form this good habit. Routine, especially at first, is helpful. I know if you work at this, by the end of the first month you will have a good foundation to build on. You will have developed a positive new habit. Moreover, you will see the quality of your photography improve.

The subject matter is not as relevant at first. Don’t even think about photographing people. Your goal in taking photos every day is to learn to love your camera and use it with confidence.

Experiment. Imagine. Express what you see. This will become a natural time of learning and growth. Sometimes you may feel frustrated at not being able to create the image that’s in your head. This is the time to learn more about controlling your camera so you can make it do what you want it to. Use various lens focal lengths. Choose different angles and composition techniques.

Combining some photography study often will result in more rapid growth. There are so many books, magazines, websites, and courses you can learn from. Find a way of learning that you’re comfortable with and set to study a little and often.

Experiment. Imagine. Express what you see. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Now focus on your subject

Building proficiency using your camera will often prepare you to photograph people. You need to be comfortable and confident you have the settings right.

Concentrating on your camera more than your subject is a common mistake. It’s easy to be distracted by your camera, especially for shy people. Not engaging with someone when you want to make their portrait leads to a disconnect. This is often noticeable in the resulting portrait.

You don’t want to leave the person looking at the top of your head as you peer down at your camera as you make adjustments.

Set your camera as much as possible before you engage with your subject. Then you will be giving them your attention without distraction. Don’t make your camera an excuse not to communicate. It’s not there to shield you from the world. Use it as a bridge to help you connect with your subjects.

Be comfortable and confident. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

How to overcome your insecurities

“One of the easiest ways to overcome shyness is to become a photographer.” – David Hurn, photographer

Years ago, I heard an interview with a photographer saying they thought shy people make the best portrait photographers. This was because the resulting photo will be more about the subject than about the photographer. As a shy person who liked photography, this interested me. It challenged me.

British photographer, David Hurn, talks about being shy in this interview with Huck magazine.

“I’m incredibly shy. Photography is the best thing for shy people because you have something to hide behind. The problem with shy people is that you don’t want to be rejected. So your safeguard is that you go into yourself. But with a camera, you have an excuse to be somewhere. So when you’re walking down the street and looking in a doorway at a whole load of people, being tattooed or something, with a camera, you can walk in and suddenly say, ‘Do you mind if I shoot some pictures?’ And if you show a genuine interest in what people are doing, I have never known anyone to say no. People love you being interested in them. The camera gives you that excuse to be there. It breaks through that barrier.”

Why do you think David Hurn never had anyone say no to him? I believe it’s because of his approach. He has determination and a gentle manner.

He knows what he wants to achieve and the photos he wants to capture. Concentrating on his goal, he uses the camera as his reason to step into people’s situations, and into their lives. He is sure about what he wants, and he works with focused confidence to do it.

Having purpose will push you further, faster, in anything you want to achieve in life. It is no different for photography. If you have a well-defined purpose for what you want to accomplish, it can become a reality. If you drift about without direction, it takes a long time to achieve anything.

Photography is the best thing for shy people. © Pansa Landwer-Johan

Take your time

Taking your time is not a bad thing. If you’re worried you will miss the photo, it means you haven’t started your preparation soon enough. Every genre of photography requires patience and anticipation. The better you know your camera, the faster you’ll have it set and ready in any circumstance. Take time to learn manual mode. This will not only give you more control of your exposures, but it will also help you see life at a different pace.

It is true that automatic settings on your camera can help you take photos faster. You may be able to capture the action, but not the mood. Slow down and take notice of more than your camera settings. This is how you will learn to capture atmosphere.

Don’t think you always have to be fast with your camera. Doing so can be a distraction from truly experiencing photography.

Some of the best street photography appears to have happened in a snap, but this is rarely so. Planning and preparation. Choice of light and location. Waiting. These qualities factor into more great street photos than sheer speed. Those fleeting moments when all the elements align in the viewfinder are anticipated.

Take your time. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Your camera will help overcome your reluctance

Your camera is your bridge to the other side of shyness. It allows you to traverse the distance between your intention to photograph someone and the actual portrait. It not only makes the picture, but it connects you with your subject.

Speaking to a stranger for no particular reason is very difficult for many people. Having a camera in your hands is a wonderful reason to speak with someone. Your camera is the solution to your problem of not wanting to approach people. When you come to realize this and learn to use your camera as a bridge, you will cross over into a whole new world of wonderful, creative experience.

Photographing people when your mind is focused on them, and not on your camera, transforms the experience.

My camera gets me to the other side, away from my insecure thoughts and into a conversation with the person. It is a reason for me to be where I am and to start conversations.

Use your camera as a means to introduce yourself and begin an interesting discussion. Don’t hide behind your camera fiddling with its controls. Be prepared and bold with it. Your camera will fulfill your purpose.

Express your intention to take a photograph with an appropriate amount of confidence. Doing this will open the way for you. Focus on your subject and their response to you.

When you approach someone in a self-assured way, it will be evident. If you appear to be unsure of yourself, your subject will often reflect this behavior back to you.

Self-assured communication with your subjects is important. It is as necessary as being confident with the technical aspects of photography.

Your camera is your bridge to the other side of shyness. © Pansa Landwer-Johan

Choose who you want to photograph based on how receptive they will be

Stepping into the street to photograph strangers for the first time is a daunting prospect.  It is not something many people find particularly easy. Don’t start there. Begin photographing someone you know and who appreciates what you are doing.

Friends or family members can be your best option. Someone you know and who enjoys having their photograph taken. People who like seeing their image are always the easiest to make portraits of. They are relaxed in front of the camera and are more likely to give you expressive feedback on your photos.

Finding someone you can photograph on a number of different occasions will help you learn. You will connect with them more each time you meet for a photo session. As you grow in confidence using your camera, you will find it becomes more natural to connect with people.

Take your camera to social gatherings – birthdays and other celebrations. Weddings, graduations, parties, church barbecues or the pub. Whatever social activities you engage in. Over time, you will begin to get more of a feel for the people who are easy to photograph.

Take your time. Make a start. Remain determined and practice as often as you can. Repetition will build your camera and your communication skills.

As you practice, be aware of how you are connecting, and the types of response people give you. Learn to read and understand the social dynamic having your camera in hand creates. Naturally, people will respond to you differently than if you are only having a conversation. Developing your perception of people’s reactions to your camera will help you when you come to photograph strangers.

Repetition will build your camera and your communication skills. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Communicate well

Communicating your desire to photograph someone in an apt manner is imperative. This is a point of failure for many people. I cringe when I hear photographers speak inappropriately to the people they are photographing. Your portrait depends so much on the relationship you have with your subject. Even if that relationship only lasts a minute or two.

Being pleasant is vital to becoming a good people photographer – particularly if you want to become a wedding and portrait photographer. The way you communicate, your manner, and even your body language are important. Your clients notice these things. If they are comfortable with you, they respond well. Their body language and facial expressions will reflect this back to you.

Your manner of communication depends on your state of mind. When you are worried about camera settings and the lighting, you are not so likely to communicate best. Put the technical thoughts aside before you start to engage with the people you want to photograph.

People love it when you show an interest in who they are and what they love to do. Genuine curiosity is natural in photographers, and you are best to develop this as much as you can. Make this aspect of your shyness work for you. Being keen, but yet a little reserved will endear you to people much more than being too bold will.

Show an interest in who people are. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Develop your camera skills with a project

Once you commit to a photography project, you have a theme or concept to work on. Sticking to your chosen topic and building a body of photographs allows you to track your development. Choosing to photograph a people project helps you build your confidence too.

Working on a long term project, you will experiment more with your camera and photography techniques. Push the boundaries and explore camera settings you don’t often use. This will allow you to produce a more diverse and interesting series of photographs.

As you build up a collection of images, you’ll be able to review and compare them. This will identify the skills you need to work on. It will also encourage you to see the areas where you are improving.

Over time, you will build up a significant collection of photos, both good and bad. Mostly bad. Don’t beat yourself up about this. It happens to every photographer. The more bad photos you take, the more good ones you will also create. Scrutinizing your photos over an extended period allows you to chart your progress.

Keep everything. Do not delete images in camera. The key is being organized. If you dump them all in a folder on your computer, this will not help. You’ll not be able to discern the nature of your progress.

Each time you work on your project, load the photos onto your computer and separate the top 10%-20% of the photos – the ones you are most happy with. Then separate into another folder, the ones you recognize as having potential and that you’d like to work on. Making notes for yourself during this process will help keep you on track and make it more beneficial.

Reviewing and comparing your photos like this can be challenging. You need to acknowledge the areas of weakness. Your photos will show you this. Having a more experienced photographer, someone who can mentor you through this process will be a huge advantage. They will be able to point out to you aspects of your work you may not be able to see so clearly.

Develop Your Camera Skills with a Project. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Develop your relational skills

As you spend time with the same people, the relationship develops. Committing to a photography project involving the same people, you will build a closer relationship. This is true if you are photographing a family member or people at your local market.

Building relationships takes time. With a photography project, you will have to make time for it to be effective. Returning to photograph the same people and/or the same location a familiarity will develop.

On the street

Stand on the same busy street corner and photograph people enough, and you will begin to build some form of relationship. You’ll become familiar with the feel of the place.

Learn to anticipate what’s happening and see the rhythm. Picking the same time of day when the light is right, you will start to see the same people passing by during their daily routines. They may start to notice you. If they see you often enough, they will not likely pay you any attention, unless you want it.

All it takes, when you catch someone’s eye who has become a little familiar to you, is to smile. They will probably return one to you. Next time they see you, they may show interest and inquire what you are doing.

Connecting with people on the streets becomes more natural when they see you with your camera often. Some won’t show interest, but many will. The locals, the regulars, people who frequent the same location, are the most obvious ones to connect with.

These are the ones you can begin building a relationship with. Tell them you’re working on a photography project documenting your local neighborhood (or whatever your theme is). This will endear them because people like to feel included. We are designed to communicate with one another.

Even if you are a shy person, you can learn to use your camera as a bridge to achieve your purpose.

Connect with people. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

With a friend or family member

Photographing a friend or family member as a project, you will also develop your relationship with them. However they respond to you first, and how you relate to each other will change subtly each time you get together.

Show them some of your photos on your phone. They will be more confident when they can see the photos you’ve already taken. Don’t talk too long about what you’re doing; you want the attention to be on them.

You are best to have set your camera as much as possible before you meet with the person. If that’s not possible, ask them to give you a few minutes to set up. Doing this gives you space to scope out good light and background and to make the necessary camera tweaks.

Once you are happy with the light, background and your camera settings, it’s time to give most of your attention to your subject. Straighten their clothes a little, or get them to fix their hair, (unless it’s already perfect). Giving them this attention will help them feel better about themselves and build their confidence in you.

If it’s someone you don’t know well, ask them open-ended questions about themselves. Get to know them a little more. Make sure you start them talking.

If they are extroverts, they will love talking about themselves.

If they are introverts, you can help them get started, and they will feel more comfortable.

Get to know the people you are photographing a little more. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Focus on asking questions that a simple yes or no won’t answer. Pay attention to what they are telling you. Do not be looking down at your camera. Focus on their story. Show them you’re interested.

Compliment what they are wearing or something else about the way they look. Aim to build up a positive atmosphere, especially if you sense they are feeling uneasy. Many people do not feel self-assured when being photographed. It’s an important part of your job to help them relax. The better they feel the more attractive they will look in the photos you take.

Initially, they may be shy also and feel awkward in front of your camera. Don’t worry about this. Make a bunch of photos and concentrate on relating to them. If you screw up and don’t get any decent images, use this as a lesson. Show them. Let them see what you are doing right and wrong.

Include them in your project, make it a team effort. The more they feel part of what you are doing the better photos you’ll end up taking. If you’ve messed up your settings, show them the photos and explain a little about what happened. Then make the same series of photos again.

Learning to communicate in such a manner that you help people enjoy the process of being photographed will benefit you and your subjects. Everybody enjoys seeing themselves looking good. Their feeling must precede their looks in your photos. If they don’t feel good about themselves, it’s likely they will not appreciate the photos you make of them.

At times your subject will be too uncomfortable. You won’t manage to make a flattering photo of them because of their tension. Show them the photos. Explain that the tension shows on their face and if they relax, they will like the photos you make of them.

People don’t usually look nervous when they view themselves in the bathroom mirror each morning. So when they see photos of themselves looking tense, it’s very unnatural to them. They do not perceive the image as a good likeness of who they are.

Working like this and showing off less than your best photos may be challenging, but it will help you grow.

Everybody enjoys seeing themselves looking good. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photograph at social gatherings

Take your camera along to birthday parties, drinks after work, your kid’s sports events, or any place where people socialize. Doing so provides wonderful opportunities for people photography. When you can mix with the same people regularly, they will become accustomed to you being there with your camera.

For many people, this may seem a huge challenge. Think positively about it. Approach the situation and the people with a constructive attitude and with reasonable expectations. You will most likely find people will enjoy what you are doing, particularly when you start sharing your photos with them.

Be determined to work through your feelings of discomfort. Your first experience taking photos at a social gathering might be very difficult. Most of your uneasiness will be in your mind. If you give up after your first attempt, you will not know success. The more often you are present with your camera, the more confident you will become and the better photographs you will make.

Be determined to work through your feelings of discomfort. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Become a volunteer photographer

Do you go to church, a temple or a mosque? Are you or your kids a member of a sports club? Do you help out at a local animal shelter or participate in community events? All of these provide a fabulous opportunity to offer your services as a photographer.

Every group or organization loves to have good photographs. Putting yourself forward as a volunteer photographer can be a great experience. Here your camera really is your bridge.

Providing photos for a group or organization can be one of the best ways to build your confidence. Your commitment is greater because other people are relying on you.

Making it clear you are still learning is important. So long as they know this then you have the opportunity to improve over time. In the future, you will be producing wonderful photographs for the community you are volunteering for.

Offer your services as a photographer. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Travel portrait projects

I teach many people who mainly take photographs when they travel. They join our workshops, and many are too timid to photograph people. Or they prefer to stand well back and take candid pictures with a long lens.

Don’t be concerned if you can’t speak the language. Often this can be to your advantage. Use your camera as a bridge. When people see the smile on your face and even a slight gesture with your camera, they will know your intention. Hopefully, they will return your smile. This is permission to photograph them.

Non-verbal communication like this requires that you watch facial expression and body language. Some cultures may smile and mean ‘no.’ So long as you are observant and polite, you will be okay.

Use your camera as a bridge. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

The candid option

Certain situations are best photographed without communicating with a person. Candid photography definitely has its place.

Choosing to stand back with a long lens attached to your camera and making candid images is okay when the circumstances are right. The photos you create using this technique will usually be void of subject/photographer connection.

Disturbing people who are engrossed in a conversation or their work breaks the natural flow of life. A candid photo will be more suitable than interrupting.

Artists and craftspeople at work are subjects best left to their creative endeavors. They are focused and passionate about what they are doing. A quick recognition and acknowledgment from them that they are comfortable with you photographing are best. A nod and a smile from you and their smile in return will not break their workflow or concentration. So long as you are not disrupting them, you will be able to capture intriguing portraits of them.

Choosing to work candidly should be a conscious decision because it’s going to produce the best photographs. Opting to capture images of people stealthily because you are too shy to communicate is never the best option.

Candid photography definitely has its place. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Those not really candid photographs

At times you’ll find yourself in situations where you want candid photographs, but it’s just not possible. When people know you are there with your camera, truly-candid cannot happen. Capturing natural-looking photos of people in these circumstances is challenging, but not impossible.

When you are ‘the’ photographer

Weddings, portrait sessions, and similar situations do not allow for real candid photos. You have to be able to communicate well and arrange candid-looking images.

Most people like natural-looking photos. The skill is in controlling the circumstances so you get the results you want. This means you must know what you want and be able to relate your ideas clearly to the people you are photographing.

With couples, it’s easy. Just get them talking to each other. Encourage them to forget you’re there and then offer them a conversation starter. Ask them to recall the first time they met, or when they proposed to each other. If you want to lighten the mood and capture some laughter and smiles, ask them something fun.

Once you have them talking, don’t hold back on the photos. You are going to need to take a lot of pictures. What’s happening is more unpredictable, so you need the quantity to get enough quality photos.

Aim to capture natural expression. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

You will throw most of them out, but the ones you keep will be relaxed, natural, and vibrant. I used this technique whenever I photographed weddings. It helped produce the most interesting, un-posed photos.

I would use a longer lens, often my 180mm, so I could stay at a bit of a distance, but not too far away. That way, I could still talk with the couple but be far enough back so as not to be in their personal space.

Another wedding technique I used for semi-candid portraits was to get the groom to stand behind me and off to one side. While photographing the bride, I would get them to look at each other and have a conversation. If the groom was somehow stuck for things to say I would make suggestions, often a little rude. This worked well for getting fun, relaxed facial expressions. Then I would swap the bride and groom, and photograph him while they continued their conversation.

Photographing individual portraits is more challenging as you can’t draw attention away from yourself so easily. If you have someone else with you, an assistant or friend, you can prime them to be the distraction. Before you begin, let them know they will have a role to play when you want some more candid-looking photos. Coach them a little so that they will be prepared. When you’re ready, direct your subject’s attention and conversation to your helper.

Working alone is when your communication skills are the most important. Your ability to converse and take photos at the same time will be put to the test. You have to give full concentration to both your subject and what you are doing with your camera.

The practice is again the key in learning how to build your communication skill so you can get candid-looking portraits. It takes time and effort. As you try certain techniques and figure out what works and what doesn’t, you will develop your communication skill set. You will become more confident and effective.

Develop your communication skill set. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Semi-candid street photography

Semi-candid street photos can be made successfully with a short lens and the right technique. You don’t need to keep your distance and remain in the shadows. Get close, be observant, relaxed, and normal.

People at our local markets know me now. They sell me vegetables, and many of them know I will take their photo some days. They might shy away, or they might pose.

I like to create a mixture of candid and posed photos when I am doing street photography. However, being conspicuous means, I have to employ certain techniques so that I am not the center of attention. Often there are not many other foreigners at the markets, so I stand out.

Often I will engage with someone I want to photograph. Generally, they will stop what they are doing, smile, and pose. This is what they perceive I want. I will take their picture anyway. I’ll make sure it’s well exposed, sharp and flattering. Then I will show them on my camera monitor. Most often they are happy, and we’ll chat a little before I move on.

Once I have moved on, I will wait a short time and then head back near to where they are. They will think my focus is elsewhere because I already have their photo.

Hopefully, they will not pay any attention to me. This is when I get the photos I really want.

Over the years, I have listened to and read of many photojournalists who aspire to be as invisible as possible. It can be a valuable skill to develop. You can learn to do it without actually having to hide your camera or stay a long way back from the action.

Create a mixture of candid and posed photos. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Giving back

Remember, your camera is the solution, not the problem. With your camera in hand, you have a purpose for being where you are and a reason to communicate with people.

You are not only taking a photograph but giving an interesting experience. If you are able to share your photos, then you are truly giving something of value to your subject.

Presenting prints to the people you photograph helps shape the way they see you. A set of small-sized prints is inexpensive and will be appreciated by most. If you capture a photo that’s worthy of enlarging this will have even more of an impact. The cost of an enlargement is insignificant compared to the joy it will bring your subject.

Collecting someone’s email or social media connection will also allow you to give back in a meaningful way. Some people may value this even more than prints because they can share a digital file.

Your camera is the solution, not the problem. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Smile and say ‘hello’

I often walk the same way at the markets when teaching our photography workshops. I’d been noticing this one older man. His face was interesting, but he seemed shy and would not make eye contact with me. He had a small stand selling traditional northern Thai sticky rice. I decided I would smile and say hello to him each time I passed with the hope he would become familiar with me.

I did this for a while, and one day when my wife was helping me teach a workshop, I told her what I had been doing. As we approached him, she smiled and asked if we could make his portrait. She had the charm! He placed his hands on the big bowl of sticky rice, pushed his shoulders back, and smiled warmly for us. We made some lovely portraits of him.

Not long after this, I had another lovely encounter with a woman who was selling sticky rice at the same stall. Each time we visited the markets, we’d have a lovely conversation with this woman. She was friendly and relaxed, quite happy to be photographed. Having not seen the man at the stall for a few months, one day I asked her about him.

Her face dropped, and her eyes looked so sad. I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I felt so terrible. The man was her husband. She told me that he’d passed away suddenly. Then a glimmer of hope appeared in her eyes, and she asked me if I’d made his portrait. I assured her I had and would bring her a print.

Normally when we print photos to give out, we get regular size prints. For this lady, we had an enlargement made and had it framed. She was very grateful. The next time I passed by she told me she had hung the portrait of her husband above her bed.

The moral of the story is, you never know how much you might bless someone by being bold enough to make their portrait. Think of what you do in a positive light. Sure, you will come across some people who do not want their photograph taken. As you practice building your confidence, your success rate will increase.

You never know how much you might bless someone. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

The post The Ultimate Guide to Photographing People for the Shy Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Anytime of the Day

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 08:30

The post How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Anytime of the Day appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Golden hour is famous for being the most ideal lighting for portraits, especially at a beach location. Unfortunately, sometimes, the golden hour isn’t an option. Therefore, it’s essential to know how to photograph portraits at any time of the day. That way, you can always create beautiful photos for clients.

Know where the sun is at all times

First, you’ll need to know where the sun is at all times. The easiest way to do this is to use an ephemeris (I personally use this one). This is a tool that can help you see where the sun will be at any time during the day.

Here you can see where the sun will rise from, set, and the times when these will be happening during the day.

Before, or even while you’re scheduling your session, you can quickly check this tool to see the sunrise, midday, and sunset times.

An ephemeris can give you the details on the direction the light is coming from at a particular point in the world. Simply plug in the location of your session, and you can see all of the important details.

Here we can see where the sun will be on this particular day at the same time on the opposite coast in Mexico from the previous photos.

This is really helpful since no beach is alike and the direction of light differs from one side of the world to another. For example, in California, the sun sets behind the beach. Whereas on the east coast, the sun sets in the opposite direction.

Here we can see where the sun will be on this particular day at the same time on the opposite coast in Mexico from the previous photos.

Also, different beaches may face differently and therefore it’s good to know where the sun will be during your session.

Morning light

Morning light on a beach is magical. It has a whole different color temperature than that of the golden hour and can provide a nice soft glow if you have your session early enough.

The light is a little bluer, and depending on the beach where your session is taking place, the sun can rise overlooking the ocean or peaking through the trees. For example, a beach on the east coast like Cancun can mean during your session in the morning you’ll catch the sunrise behind the beach.

Alternatively, on a beach in California, you’ll catch the sun hitting the water from the land side. This will give you that beautiful yellowish-blue glow if your session is before 9 o’clock in the morning.

On the left we see the sun rising behind the bay and at right is after the sun is nearing midday.

Use a simple reflector to bounce light back onto your subject if you feel the sunrise light causes shadows. This is especially useful if sunrise is behind the water at the beach.

Midday light

Midday light at a beach is pretty harsh and therefore it’s good to have some kind of additional lighting equipment to help with shadows. You can use an external flash, popup flash, or a reflector.

Seeing the shadows in front of your clients means the sun is behind them. This family is lit with an external flash mounted on-camera pointed directly at them.

You can also go without an additional light source. However, it’s good to underexpose your photos a bit so you can bring up the shadows in your editing software. Otherwise, you’ll end up with really blown out skies. Of course, this all depends on your style of photography.

Using the sand as a natural reflector helps to bounce light back onto your clients as we can see in both of these photos.

When the sun is at it’s highest point during the day, it might be a good time to take your clients under the shade of some trees nearby or opt to have more playful photos of the family. Have your client’s walk, run, splash in the water, build sandcastles, or just have a bit of fun together.

The sun is at it’s highest at different times around the world, so make sure to check the ephemeris for your exact location to know the time.

Same session, same beach, one photo with flash and one photo without.

Once the sun passes the highest point, it will be at a bit of an angle as it starts to go down for sunset. This is the sweet spot of photographing during midday sun at the beach!

Flash was used to correctly expose the photo and fill in shadows caused by the sun.

When the sun is at a bit of an angle, you can pose your clients with the sun behind them to alleviate having the sun in their eyes. This means you’ll be in the sun, but it’s better than having your clients facing the sun. This avoids causing shadows, uneven lighting, and squinting. The sand can also work as a natural reflector, bouncing light back into their faces.

After midday light

After midday light can be different in the winter than in the summer given that daylight savings can change the amount of light you have left. Either way, the sun sits lower to be at an angle behind your clients. All while still hitting the sand to reflect some light into your client’s faces.

During this time, depending on the angle of light, you can get some really interesting light. It gets more golden by the hour as you approach sunset.

Still, if you find yourself at a beach where the light is still harsh during this time, try and angle your clients away from the sun. You can also try and use your external lighting to help fill in some light.

Golden Hour (Sunset)

Actual sunset only lasts about 5-10 minutes. However, golden hour is just that – about an hour before the sun dips behind the horizon, which means the angle of the light is pretty low and directional. It can mean flooding your photos with lots of that pretty golden light. However, it also makes it difficult to capture your clients evenly lit against the background.

This is especially troublesome if the sun sets behind the water. It can be difficult capturing the beautiful colors of the sunset while also lighting your clients.

Using a flash or external light source pointed directly at your clients can help light them while capturing the sunset behind. You can also underexpose your photo a bit to bring up the shadows later without compromising the sunset.

Try silhouetting your clients behind with the sunset light to offer a different look to the final images.

Golden hour is also a perfect time to turn your clients toward the setting sun to get that beautiful golden color cast on their skin tones and in the overall look of the photo.

Blue hour (After sunset)

Blue hour is the 20-30 minutes (sometimes less time) after the sun has completely gone from view. Blue hour is nice to photograph in because of the beautiful sunset colors like blue, orange, pink, and purples that come out after sunset. The lighting is a bit darker, so you might need a tripod.

During the blue hour, you can get some additional light on your clients by facing them where the sun has set.

During this time you can attempt some slow shutter speed photos while your clients hold still. Getting the movement in water can create a more fine art approach to beach photos!

During any time of day try these ideas:

Cloudy days are perfect for photographing at any time during the day. However, you might not get the sunset as bright as on a clear day.

It doesn’t matter the time of day, it’s good to get variety in your portraits during beach sessions. For that try some of these ideas:

  • Rock formations/caves as backgrounds and also shelter from harsh light.
  • Trees can provide shade as well if the light is harsh and the day is particularly hot.
  • Around town can also serve as a nice background for photos while you’re waiting for the midday sun to angle a bit.
  • Up high can also serve as a nice way to keep clients out of harsh sunlight. For example, a balcony in their hotel room, a higher terrace with some shade that overlooks the ocean, etc.
  • Photographing more lifestyle-type photos with the family playing, getting in the water, and just having a “beach day”.

If you are waiting for the sun to go down a bit, you can take some portraits near trees that aren’t directly on the beach. This also adds variety to the final images.


Photographing at the beach during golden hour isn’t the only time that you can create one-of-a-kind and amazingly beautiful images for your clients.

Taking cover in caves or using rock formations as backgrounds can also help keep your client out of direct sunlight.

It is incredibly beneficial to learn to photograph at the beach at any time of the day. Moreover, it can mean the difference between a client choosing you and another photographer.


The post How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Anytime of the Day appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Do’s and Don’ts of Putting Together a Photography Portfolio

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 06:00

The post Do’s and Don’ts of Putting Together a Photography Portfolio appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Are you having trouble landing a job? Do you keep showing your work but are not getting any clients? Maybe it’s time to review your photography portfolio. Whether you’re doing a digital or printed portfolio, here are some do’s and don’ts to improve the way you present your photography.

Putting together a portfolio

It doesn’t matter what kind of photographer you are, a good portfolio is the most important tool you have to secure a job. The first thing to understand is that putting together a bunch of nice pictures isn’t enough. Your photography portfolio should be a sample of your work that showcases your technical abilities as well as your personal style.

DON’T put watermarks

Let’s face it, if someone wants to steal your photograph, they will find a way to do so. A watermark can be cropped or deleted. Instead, it will make it more difficult for the viewer to appreciate your image. Also, watermarks give an amateurish look to your portfolio as a whole. See at the difference:

Watermarks can ruin a photo and don’t really protect your rights

To legally protect your images, you can have them copyrighted. To get familiar with this concept, read ImageRights – Finding and Pursuing Copyright Infringement. Another safety measure is to never publish or hand out high-resolution images. For this, I recommend my previous article on How to Understand Pixels, Resolution, and Resize your Images in Photoshop Correctly.

DON’T stick to one portfolio

Another big mistake is to collect all of your best photos and display them in one portfolio. You may think this shows quality, as they are a “best-of,” but it can make you look like a master of none. It is also a waste of time for your client. They want to see relevant examples that show how you would do their job, not how good you may be at other things.

Take these two photos, for example – they don’t even look good together. And let’s face it, someone who needs a food photographer, doesn’t really care about how I can photograph a street fair and vice-versa. If you’re not convinced about limiting your practice, have a look at these 5 Things to Consider Before Deciding to Specialize or Not in Your Photography.

DO feature what you’re selling

I was talking before about the importance of having different portfolios. This means that each one should display a different specialty that you offer. It’s always important to be coherent and properly organize your work. For example, a portrait portfolio shouldn’t just include any kind of photography that features people. Let me illustrate this:

Take the two photos above, the one on the left comes from a photo-shoot I did for the press kit of a theater play. The one on the right is a behind-the-scenes job I was doing for a short movie. If I’m preparing a portfolio for a movie or theater producer I can include both. If I’m preparing a portrait portfolio then I shouldn’t include the one on the right.

DO ask for help

It’s always helpful to ask for opinions once you’ve shortlisted the images you want to use. If you can reach out to a colleague or an expert it would be great, but if you don’t, at least ask a friend. Often we have an emotional attachment to a photo we took that is actually not great. An external point of view can help you sort out your best images.

Try putting two similar images from the same subject and asking them which one they prefer. A friend can also help you decide if you are putting too many or too few images in your portfolio. Keep in mind that you should never include something that is not good enough just to reach a certain number. Also, don’t overdo it – editors are busy people and have many portfolios to review.


To sum up, there is no specific formula for putting together a photography portfolio that is great, but I hope you found these tips useful and time-saving. DO remember that the most important thing is for you to have a strong body of work.

If you still need to work on that, here are some great readings to help you out:


The post Do’s and Don’ts of Putting Together a Photography Portfolio appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ana Mireles.

Canon and Nikon Will Release DSLRs With In-Body Image Stabilization

Sun, 07/28/2019 - 08:30

The post Canon and Nikon Will Release DSLRs With In-Body Image Stabilization appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

In-body image stabilization (IBIS) has long been resisted by the two DSLR giants, Nikon and Canon.

But recent rumors indicate that both Canon and Nikon will be breaking into new territory, with IBIS technology added to upcoming DSLRs for both brands.

Up until now, in-body image stabilization has been confined to Nikon’s mirrorless lineup. And while reports indicate that the followup to the (mirrorless) Canon EOS R will include IBIS, there was no definitive information about DSLR in-body stabilization.

Then, in April, rumors indicated that Nikon would be introducing in-body image stabilization to the D6, Nikon’s future flagship DSLR (with a possible release date in the first half of 2020). This was followed by further reports that the D6 was delayed due to the decision to add in-body image stabilization.

And just last week, Canon Rumors reported that “Canon will ‘definitely’ bring IBIS to ‘select’ DSLRs in the near future.”

Canon Rumors was uncertain “which camera(s) would be getting IBIS,” but explained that “the EOS 90D, which is coming in the next couple of months,” is a strong possibility.

Sources have also discussed the possibility that the Canon 1DX Mark III will have in-body image stabilization, so it can go toe-to-toe with the upcoming Nikon D6. Both the Canon 1DX bodies and the Nikon D6 bodies are direct competitors, catering to professional photographers who require high frame rates and exceptional durability.

Now, Nikon and Canon have always maintained that lens stabilization is superior to in-body image stabilization, due to increased flexibility in the lens as compared to the camera body. This may well be true, but many phenomenal Canon and Nikon lenses don’t include image stabilization. So photographers of all levels will undoubtedly appreciate this move to in-body stabilization.

It will certainly be a boon to those who tend to shoot handheld in low light.

So let me ask you:

Are you excited about the possibility of IBIS in new Canon and Nikon DSLRs?

And would you like to see IBIS in the upcoming Canon 90D?

Let me know in the comments!

The post Canon and Nikon Will Release DSLRs With In-Body Image Stabilization appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Should You Purchase Lightroom Presets?

Sun, 07/28/2019 - 06:00

The post Should You Purchase Lightroom Presets? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

The discussion of using presets or not comes up time and time again on various photography groups and websites. Some people are for them and others are against. Just like camera brands, it seems there is no clear answer, and everyone believes that their way is correct! For or against, it’s undeniable that presets are here and they’re not going anywhere. Many people find them useful in their workflow and so they will keep using them. So, should you purchase Lightroom presets?

The case for buying presets

A quick search online will give you hundreds of places you can buy presets and they will all have varying quality. Before you make your purchase, be sure to read some reviews to see if others are happy with their purchase. Remember that your style of images will heavily affect the way presets look when applied, so expect some trial and error!

But why would you buy presets rather than make them yourself from scratch? Here are some reasons to help you decide if buying presets is for you.

It will save you time

There’s no doubt about it, buying presets will save you time in your workflow. You won’t have to spend time coming up with looks that you like. Instead, someone else has completed the initial hard work for you.

In reality, using presets in this way is no different from choosing what film stock and developer you’d like to use if you’re shooting analog. You’re using someone else’s color toning ideas to achieve the images you want to produce.

Being able to quickly apply lots of different looks to your photo can help you quickly make decisions about how it will look. And then you can set about refining it and doing the fun part of processing.

It gets you away from the computer

Not everyone loves the digital darkroom. During the summer, I’d rather be taking advantage of the good weather than sitting at my computer developing images. Having a set of presets available to me that someone else has created means each shot takes less time to process. That way, I’m spending more time doing the things I love.

I can share stylish images that I’m proud of within minutes of loading my images into Lightroom thanks to my preset library. That’s a big draw for me, and that’s why I love having a bank of presets ready for me to choose from.

You can borrow the best of other peoples ideas

Everybody sees the world differently. You might never have thought to put a pop of pink in the shadows or add just enough grain to make your black and white conversion look like it was shot on fast film.

By purchasing a library of presets, you can see how other people might have chosen to process your images. And that might give you a few ideas for a new direction that you want to head in. Purchasing Lightroom presets really can boost your creativity and help you see new possibilities for your images.

Some people would say this is ‘cheating’ somehow, but I think of it as gathering inspiration. It’s like an artist going to her friend’s studio, finding the most beautiful custom blue paint and then asking if she can have the recipe to use the color in her own work. The two artists won’t be producing the same artwork even if they use the same color paint!

Your photos will still have your own touch and your own style even if you use other peoples ideas to help you shoot or post-process your images.

Some people are just better at post-processing and color grading than you

Face it – you can’t be amazing at everything. Even the best photographers often employ other people to help create their vision. Buying presets is like a real cheap version of having your own digital tech assistant available for your shoots. If you have a vision of light and airy photos but your post-processing skills aren’t quite up to it, then presets can help you get there – just like a digital tech assistant would on a high-end shoot.

Over time, you can learn more about this side of photography. But you can start getting great results now by taking advantage of other peoples knowledge and creativity.

The case for making presets yourself

Of course, if you love working in the digital darkroom, then the idea of buying presets to save time or get ideas might seem completely alien to you. Moreover, if you like spending the time to make your own presets, then that’s great! You should absolutely continue to do what makes you happy.

There are other reasons too that you might want to make your own presets. The most obvious one is that presets available to purchase may not be exactly what you’re looking for. When you make your own, you can have exactly what you want rather than just getting close.

You might have other considerations too. For instance, some camera clubs do not allow you to enter images into competitions where you have used purchased presets in their post-processing. Or you may feel that ethically a picture cannot be truly called your own unless you created every single part of the image.

Perhaps try a combination?

Personally, I use a combination of both. I have a large library of presets that I’ve purchased. I use this library to quickly see what images could look like with different color grading applied to them.

When I’ve found a look that I love, I tweak it slightly to suit the mood of my images even more. If I think I’ll use the preset again, I then save my new custom preset in a folder with the others that I’ve tweaked to suit my style!

I like this way of working because I enjoy getting inspiration from other peoples presets, and then finishing the images off to achieve something that is genuinely my own.

What do you think about buying presets? Should you purchase Lightroom presets? Perhaps you have a library of your own that you’ve already purchased? Or do you prefer to make all of yours from scratch? Maybe you don’t use presets at all, instead preferring to start each time with a blank slate when it comes to post-processing images?


The post Should You Purchase Lightroom Presets? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

Fujifilm GFX100 Camera Review [video]

Sat, 07/27/2019 - 06:00

The post Fujifilm GFX100 Camera Review [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video by Georges CamerasTV, Andrew reviews the Fujifilm GFX100 camera.


Overview of the Fujifilm GFX100

This camera is Fujifilm’s large format size camera, designed for studio, landscape, architecture and any other form of photography to be printed in large format.

On top of the camera:
  • Large 5.76million dot EVF
  • Drive mode dial
  • Three modes on the top dial: Still, Multi and Movie Modes.
  • Top Settings LCD – Back-illuminated and graphical. Easy to use at night.
On the back:
  • A large LCD flip screen. Very well illuminated so that it can be seen well in bright daylight sun.
  • Bottom Settings LCD Screen to see your settings so you can see your settings if the camera is mounted upon a tripod.
  • Has one small joystick to let you navigate through the menu.
  • A feature that the camera is missing is a 4-way joystick that many cameras have, which some photographers may take some getting used to.
  • Has a touch screen for navigation.
Battery Grip:
  • Inbuilt battery grip house two batteries with a total of 800 shots.
  • It has a secondary shutter button so you can use the camera in portrait mode.
  • There is access to a second joystick to navigate through your focus points and your quick menu so you can change your white balance and any other settings.
  • There is no rubberized grip when using it in the portrait mode, so it isn’t as comfortable to hold and may slip out of your hands if your hands are sweaty.
Body Size
  • Quite large – comparable to a Canon 5D Mk IV but feels quite lightweight because of its magnesium alloy construction.
  • Fully weather sealed and gives operating temperatures from -10 degrees to 40 degrees celsius.
  • On the left side of the camera, there are two SD slots and a remote port.
  • The right-hand side has all your video recording inputs and outputs including a 3.5-millimeter audio jack and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack.
  • Below that is a USB-C port for tethering and an HDMI port for output and a 15-volt direct power supply.
Inside the camera
  • Large Format 102MP sensor backed up with an X processor
  • ISO range from 100 to 12,800 or an expandable range of 50 to 102, 400.
  • Shoot continuously up to 5fps
  • 3.76million dot face detection autofocus system which gives you autofocusing capabilities as low a -3EV
Video specifications
  • 4k DCI up to 30fps or full HD up to 60fps
  • Films with a 10-bit color depth
  • If recording to an external device via HDMI, you can get a 10-bit 422 color depth.
  • Shoots in F-log giving you a nice flat color profile to later color grade in post.
  • If filming handheld, the GFX100 has 5-axis in-body image stabilization which is not in the other GFX models. This is also beneficial if shooting with longer telephoto lenses or for general handheld photography.
  • It has wifi and Bluetooth, allowing you to connect straight to your smartphone or smart device to use it as a camera remote or to transfer your photos across to your smart device.
  • Because it is lightweight, the Fujifilm GFX100 doesn’t feel like you are holding a large-format camera.
  • The speed of the autofocus is ridiculously fast – identical to the XT3, if not slightly slower.
    The continuous autofocus works really well.
  • It feels like you are shooting with a standard mirrorless camera or digital SLR because the focus is accurate and lightning quick.
  • Voice memo feature allows you to record a voice memo when you take a picture, and you can download that to your computer when downloading the photos. This is a great reference point for how you took the photo, where, settings etc.
User Experience
  • Andrew predominately uses Panasonic and Nikon cameras and found the transition to be quite easy.
  • Navigating through the menu system feels familiar and easy. Similar to the XT3 and the XT30.
  • If you are a passionate Fuji user, you will notice some things missing from the GFX100.
  • There no shutter speed dial, exposure compensation dial or ISO dial.
  • For exposure compensation, there is a button you can access and press or you can program any function button. It’s the same with your ISO as well.
  • To change your shutter, you have to roll your dial to change that.
Image quality
  • The sample images were shot using the Fujifilm GFX100 with the 110mm and 45mm lenses.
  • The images out of the GFX100 are superb. The detail out of the 102MP sensor is full of color, depth, and detail.
  • The dynamic range on the camera is amazing, and Andrew was able to recover blown-out highlights and shadows without losing detail.
  • The crop value on the photos is excellent. It handled all cropping and post-processing well.
  • All images were edited in Lightroom and not Capture One, which may or may not give better results.
Video Mode
  • In video mode, Andrew found that the GF prime lenses weren’t the best lenses to use in manual focus due to its focus by wire construction. However, they were told that there are a range of senior lenses to come in the future that should improve that experience.
  • The continuous autofocus in video mode is great. One thing to note, however, the IBIS does blip out when panning a bit rough, so keep the camera steady.
  • The image quality and actual video result and flexibility are amazing. All the footage was shot on the Eterna Film Simulation Mode, which gives more room to work within post.
  • They wished it could shoot in 4k in 50fps or give more flexibility in slow motion; however, as far as large-format goes, it is incredible.
  • The Fujifilm GFX100 could be a viable option for cinema users down the track.

The GFX100 is super-impressive in both photo and video mode. It won’t be for everyone because it is quite expensive at $10,000 USD. (They have a cheaper alternative in the Fujifilm GFX50S at $5000 USD with a 51.4MP sensor.)

However, in comparison to other large-format cameras, the Fujifilm GFX100 is well-priced, particularly for the autofocus features, the sensor size, and the potential for it to be a game-changer for cinema users in the future.

It would suit people shooting advertising, cinema or an enthusiast wanting to get large format landscapes without paying for a medium format camera.


Would you like to own this camera?  I know I would! Share with me in the comments below.

You may also like:

The post Fujifilm GFX100 Camera Review [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Water

Fri, 07/26/2019 - 22:08

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is WATER!

Photo by Rick Ohnsman

Go out and capture absolutely anything that includes water. It could be waterfalls, seascapes, puddles, water splashes, people playing in water, etc. They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. Just so long as they include water! You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Photo by Simon Bond

Photo by Jeremy Flint ©


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

Tips for Shooting WATER

8 Ways to Use Water in Photography to Add Impact

Making the Shot: Your Guide to Creating Stunning High-Speed Splash Photos Without Flash

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects

How to Photograph Water Droplets on Glass

5 Fun Tips for Photographing Water

How to Create Colorful Artistic Images Using Oil and Water


Weekly Photography Challenge – WATER

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 #DPSwater 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 – Water appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

How to Achieve Great Black and White Photos in Editing

Fri, 07/26/2019 - 08:30

The post How to Achieve Great Black and White Photos in Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

While every image has the potential to convert to black and white, it is no secret that some translate better. Whether you shoot in color (and convert) or shoot monochromatic, black and white photography is an art form from capture to post-processing. If you see black and white/monochromatic photography as a creative choice though, here are a few tips to consider to achieve great black and white photos.

Before delving into some of the simpler ways to edit black and white images, three things to consider when capturing (and processing) are contrast, texture, and composition.

Note: While the terms “black and white” and “monochrome” are used interchangeably they are not identical. Monochrome means a single color, so may contain a tint (of one color). True black and white imagery have no coloring at all, thus is essentially black, white and gray.

1. Contrast

Thinking with the end result of black and white in mind means thinking in contrasts. Thus look out for high contrast scenes when capturing your image. The interrelation between the light and dark areas allows you to create and emphasize shapes, edges, and forms. These include strong or interesting shadows and extremes between areas of brightness and shadow within your frame.

2. Texture

When you choose monochrome, texture is that element that takes your image to the next level. It gives your image added dimension by providing a variance in the tonal range. Texture lends more realistic detail to your frame when it evokes a sense of touch. Some textures that work well in black and white images include dirt, stone, metals, and wood. Trees, water and aged skin also translate well.

3. Composition

Oftentimes you may find it difficult to pre-visualize your scene without color. Your camera (DSLR or DSLM) most likely allows you the option of shooting both RAW and JPEG images simultaneously. By choosing the setting on your camera for black and white (also called monochrome), the images on your camera’s LCD will appear black and white, so you can revise your composition while shooting. In this scenario, you still maintain your color RAW file for processing later on, but can “see” what you will be working with.

As you work more with black and white imagery, you start to see differently. When color is absent, the other compositional elements of the image become more important. Some of these include lines, shapes, framing, and perspective.

The river as a leading line

One of the strongest compositional elements is leading lines that pull your eyes into the frame. Any line or elements that make up a line, that recedes towards the horizon is called a leading line. There are numerous examples of these and they include rivers, streets, coastlines, railway tracks, and even buildings.

Sometimes when you convert an image to black and white, this compositional element becomes even stronger, which makes you reconsider your final crop or presentation of the image.

Black and white editing

When shooting color images to later convert to black and white, you have many options. The simplest is desaturating all the color and ending up with varying shades of gray. This is sometimes the ending point for high contrasts scenes as it may need nothing more.

Do not be so quick to desaturate everything though! Depending on what you want to achieve, these captured color ranges can be used to your advantage.

A high contrast rainy day image is a good candidate for a black & white

HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminosity)

The HSL Panel can be found in Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw and comparable to using a Black and White Adjustment layer in Photoshop. It is widely used and thus highly probable to find these three adjustments in other editing software as well. These adjustments are worth learning and are not as daunting as they first appear.

The first step in ACR is to check the Convert to Grayscale box

As the name implies, HSL adjusts the hue, saturation, and luminosity of the color in your image. There are individual color sliders for red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta. So why exactly is this a factor when the topic is black and white processing?

With the HSL panel, when you convert to black and white, you still have access to the color information of the image. You are now able to adjust these using the sliders and can end up with a drastically different image. You can control how light or dark each color is and achieve greater separation in your tones.

Using the color sliders, and pushing the blue on the HSL panel

Tonal contrast

Where complementary and analogous colors bring the image to life in a color photo; in a black and white photo, tonal contrast can take that image to the next level.

Unlike color photography, black and white has traditionally been a “contrasty” medium. Contrast is the difference between the light and dark areas in your image. Tonal contrast is the difference in the brightness (light intensity) among the various elements in an image. Thus in a black and white image, it is the difference in the range of white to gray to black.

Tonal contrast is one of the main benefits of shooting black and white HDR (high dynamic range) images. HDR refers to the difference between the brightest and darkest areas of your image, thus it is only fitting that it will translate well as a black and white image.

You can easily take control of your contrast though using the various tools available in your editing software. There are a number of sliders and tools to adjust contrast available in the more popular ones like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. In Lightroom, these include the contrast slider, which adjusts the global contrast of the image. There are also black and white specific sliders and the HSL panel above. In Photoshop, you can use either the Levels or Curves tool.


The thought process of what will help you achieve great black and white photos, to capture and processing them is a great journey to take. Look for contrast and texture and try to visualize your end result. If you captured your image in color, you can maximize the color range for your black and white post-processing.

Feel free to share some of your monochromatic takes below.


The post How to Achieve Great Black and White Photos in Editing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

Canon to Announce the 90D or the EOS M5 Mark II Next Month

Fri, 07/26/2019 - 06:00

The post Canon to Announce the 90D or the EOS M5 Mark II Next Month appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

August is bound to be an exciting month for Canon fans.

Rumors indicate that either the Canon 90D or the Canon EOS M5 Mark II will be announced next month, though it is also possible that we’ll get an announcement for both.

The Canon 90D would likely be the replacement for the Canon 80D, a mid-level Canon DSLR aimed at enthusiasts. The Canon EOS M5 Mark II, meanwhile, replaces the Canon EOS M5, an APS-C mirrorless camera.

The Canon 80D debuted back in February of 2016, and a lot has changed since then in the camera world. For one, the 80D lacks 4K video, and Canon fans expect to see this featured in a new 90D. Recent speculation suggests that the 90D may also be the first Canon DSLR to contain in-body image stabilization (IBIS).

Here are several rumored Canon 90D specifications:

  • A 31.2 (or a 32.5) megapixel APS-C sensor
  • 10 frames-per-second continuous shooting
  • 4K video
  • Dual card slots
  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi
  • An articulating 3.2-inch LCD
  • 45 autofocus points
  • $1399 USD price

Note the 30+ megapixel sensor, which will take Canon APS-C cameras to a new level. And the dual card slots point to this being a slightly higher-end body than the Canon 80D.

The Canon 90D may not be replacing only the Canon 80D, however. Canon 7D Mark II fans have long awaited a 7D Mark III, but may have to settle with a Canon 80D/Canon 7D Mark II replacement hybrid, which will combine both APS-C camera lines into one.

The Canon M5 Mark II, on the other hand, would be an upgraded APS-C mirrorless body. It’s rumored to have an electronic viewfinder like the Canon RP, and enhanced video capabilities, including 4K and high frame-rate slow motion.

Note that the Canon EOS M6, another Canon APS-C mirrorless body, may also see a replacement announced sometime late next month.

Now I’d like to ask you:

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Let me know why in the comments!

The post Canon to Announce the 90D or the EOS M5 Mark II Next Month appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

5 Different Approaches to Photographing Wildlife

Thu, 07/25/2019 - 08:30

The post 5 Different Approaches to Photographing Wildlife appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Grizzly bear, Yellowstone National Park, USA © Jeremy Flint

Wildlife photography is a popular genre of photography that documents various forms of wildlife in their natural habitat. Seeing and photographing animals in the wild has to be one of the most awe-inspiring experiences imaginable. Nothing compares to sighting a lion running across the Serengeti plains of Africa or a bison family roaming the lands of Yellowstone in the USA. Photographing your pets or animals in zoos can also be just as rewarding. Whether you are new to this genre of photography or have had some practice, here are 5 different approaches to photographing wildlife:

1. Shoot from the vehicle

Tourist taking pictures, Yellowstone national park, USA © Jeremy Flint

When viewing and photographing animals in the wild you will want to keep a safe distance. They are wild for a reason and should not be approached. The best way to photograph them is generally from the comfort of your own vehicle.

Encountering animals can be a wonderful thrill, and although there may be an urge to get out of your vehicle for a better look, it is better not to take the risk. You can’t predict the behavior of animals very easily, so it is always safer just to stay in your vehicle and avoid any potential conflict.

Whether you have your own transport or are in a vehicle on a guided tour, they make great places to take pictures from. You can potentially position yourself nearer to the animals than if you were on foot and you can take pictures from a closer range compared with standing out in the open far away from the animal.

Photographing animals from a closer vantage point, and from the safety of your own vehicle, enables the use of a wide-angle lens. This can help to give your images more variety and a different angle to those images generally shot with a telephoto lens.

2. Aim for the skies

Osprey in flight, Yellowstone national park, USA © Jeremy Flint

Another way to photograph wildlife is to keep an eye out for animals above you. Look upwards and aim for the skies. Photographing majestic birds in flight or circling above you are wonderful subjects to capture.

The beauty of birds in motion can be mesmerizing, especially when the light catches their body and lights up their feathers and wings. With so many different species of birds around the world, photographing birds can be inspiring. Birds move swiftly so be sure to select a fast shutter speed to capture the action.

3. Get on their level

Elk, Yellowstone National Park, USA © Jeremy Flint

One of the best options for photographing wildlife is to get on their level. To add interesting shots of animals, crouch down and get yourself on the same elevation as the animal. Whilst taking pictures from the same height as the animal may be more demanding in the wild, it can result in cute pictures of pets, especially if they are looking right back at you.

4. Shoot from an elevated view

Beaver, Yellowstone National Park, USA © Jeremy Flint

Wildlife can be notoriously challenging to photograph, and some wild animals, such as leopards, are renowned for being particularly elusive. Taking shots from an elevated view such as from a tower, the air or from a building can help to improve the sightings of these animals that may be hiding in the long grass.

Also, if you are on higher ground, you are more likely to be at the same height as birds flying past you. Taking photos of birds is surprisingly addictive, and capturing them flying by can produce great results.

5. Shoot from an enclosure

Coyote, Yellowstone national park, USA © Jeremy Flint

When photographing animals in captivity, you will likely have restrictions in terms of where you can take photographs from. For example, visiting zoos, an enclosure, viewing area, or platform are great places to shoot from to capture the animals inside. By practicing shooting animals in your neighborhood or at your local zoo, it will help you to improve your wildlife photography and become more comfortable when shooting in the wild.


Photographing wildlife in their natural habitat can be a great photographic adventure for any aspiring photographer. Different ways to photograph wildlife include shooting from a vehicle, from the same height as the animal, from an elevated view, and an enclosure. Pointing your camera upwards is another great way to give a different perspective to taking pictures from inside your vehicle.

On your next adventure outdoors, whether that is a walk in the countryside, a visit to your local zoo or a trip of a lifetime to see majestic wildlife, don’t forget to take your camera.

Share your pictures with us below!


The post 5 Different Approaches to Photographing Wildlife appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

8 Micro Habits That Will Completely Change Your Photography in a Year

Thu, 07/25/2019 - 06:00

The post 8 Micro Habits That Will Completely Change Your Photography in a Year appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Do you want to become a master photographer

…in only a year?

That’s what this article is all about.

Because in it, I’m going to give you 8 micro habits that will completely change your photography in a year. These micro habits are small adjustments in how you go about taking photos. They take very little effort.

But if you make a real effort to follow them, you’ll be a photography master within a year.

Sound good?

Let’s get started.

1. Check your settings every time you turn on your camera

This is such an easy way to improve your photos.

And yet photographers always forget about it!

All you have to do…

…is check your camera settings before you begin a shoot. And make sure you have the settings you need for the current situation.

Because here’s the thing:

Every photography outing is different. And you absolutely do not want to find yourself using the same settings from shoot to shoot. That’s a recipe for disaster.

But if you don’t check your camera before you start shooting, that’s exactly what will happen. Because you’ll forget about your previous settings, and you won’t realize that you’ve seriously messed up until halfway through a photo shoot.

(How do I know? Because I used to do this all the time! Until I started checking my settings, that is.)

So here’s what you do:

Get in the habit of choosing new settings every time you turn on your camera.

First, make sure you’re shooting in RAW, or RAW+JPEG. This is absolutely key. If you don’t do this, you’re sacrificing a ton of post-processing potential in your images. Fortunately, this can be a ‘set it and forget it’ feature, but it pays to be alert.

Next, think about your camera mode. Do you want to shoot in Aperture Priority mode? Do you want to shoot in full Manual mode? This depends on your shooting situation, but Aperture Priority is a good go-to.

Third, think about your ISO setting. It should sit at a default of around ISO 200, but feel free to raise it if the light is limited.

Fourth, choose your metering mode. I recommend leaving your camera set to evaluative metering mode (also known as matrix or multi-segment metering, depending on the brand). Evaluative metering takes into account the entire scene and determines the best overall exposure.

Finally, think about your focus mode. AF-S (One Shot) focusing is a good default because it locks focus when you press your shutter button halfway.

Checking your camera settings is easy. It takes 60 seconds, tops.

So you’ve just got to get in the habit of remembering to do it!

2. Check the surroundings before you take each photo

You’ve framed up your shot. Your finger is on the shutter button. You’re itching to capture a photo.

But you wait.


Because if you want to make sure your photo is a stunner, then you must check the surroundings.

In other words, you need to look all around the viewfinder, so you can be absolutely sure there are no distractions.

Notice how clean this photo is; it’s a flower, a stem, and nothing else. That’s what you want.

But if you don’t get in the habit of checking the whole scene before taking a photo, you’ll find that all sorts of distractions creep into the frame.

You’ll get stray leaves, branches, and other elements around the edges.

And you’ll get telephone poles, wires, and street signs sprouting out of your subject’s head.

These things are so easy to miss if you’re not looking for them. You get so excited about your subject, so fixated on it, that you miss what’s going on in the surrounding area.

Now, you don’t have to do a long check. It doesn’t have to take more than a couple of seconds. But just flick your eyes over the scene. And make sure there are absolutely no distractions.

Then you can take your shot.

3. Only get out to shoot during the best light

One of the easiest mistakes to make in photography?

Shooting during bad light.

In fact, bad light is probably the number one culprit of lackluster images. Because bad light can break a photo so easily. It can take a beautiful composition and make it into a muddy mess.

That’s why you should get in the habit of shooting only during the best light.

But what counts as the best light?

It depends somewhat on your genre of photography. But it’s pretty hard to go wrong with golden-hour lighting.

You find golden-hour light early and late in the day when the sun is low in the sky. The low sun casts a golden glow over the entire scene, giving you light that’s soft, warm, and just all-around beautiful.

This photo was shot with classic golden-hour lighting:

Golden hour is usually seen as the two hours after sunrise and the two hours before sunset. But there’s no hard-and-fast rule. Instead, just start shooting when the light becomes golden, and you’ll do just fine.

Now, there are a few other types of light that are worth pursuing.

First, just after sunset (and just before sunrise), you get something known as the blue hour, when the sun moves lower and lower over the horizon. This can be great for landscape photos, as long as you remember to bring your tripod!

Second, cloudy light is good for bringing out colors. That’s why macro and flower photographers love clouds; it allows them to capture deeper, richer colors in their subjects.

It took cloudy light to get these stunning red tones:

Here’s the bottom line:

If you can restrain yourself from shooting bad light, and get out to shoot during good light…

…well, your photography will move to the next level, instantly.

4. Shoot every scene from 5 different angles

It’s easy to get stuck in a creative rut.

One where you approach a scene and shoot it head-on, without ever trying different angles.

By doing this, you’re missing out on so many potential shots. So many possibilities for creativity!

That’s where this micro habit comes in.

Here’s how it works:

When you approach a scene, go ahead and take the standard, head-on shot. This can sometimes look good, after all!

But then get into unusual angles. Try finding a vantage point and shooting from overhead. Try getting down low down to the ground and shooting up.

Move around your subject, taking care to capture at least five unique angles, every single time you do a shoot.

And you’ll soon be taking unique photos everywhere you go.

5. Use the rule of thirds to begin every composition

The rule of thirds is a basic composition guideline.

It states that the best compositions put the main elements a third of the way into the frame, somewhere along these gridlines:

In particular, you should try to put your main subject at the power points, which are the four intersection points on the grid.

Here’s an example of a photo that uses the rule of thirds:

I was careful to put the two flowers along the gridlines, and the overall shot came out looking well-balanced (which is exactly what you want!).

Now, the rule of thirds isn’t a hard-and-fast law of composition. You can break the rule of thirds. And sometimes you can create truly unique photos by being willing to break the rule of thirds.

But the rule of thirds is an excellent starting point for all of your compositions.

So here’s what I recommend:

Get in the habit of using the rule of thirds to start off your compositions. Think to yourself: How can I align elements of this photo with the rule of thirds gridlines?

If you ultimately don’t use the rule of thirds for that photo, that’s okay. But if you at least consider the rule of thirds before breaking it, your compositions will improve fast.

6. Post-process all of your good photos

Here’s the thing about photography:

If you take photos, and you don’t do anything with them, they’ll look decent.

But if you do even a bit of post-processing

Well, you can make them look amazing. Because a little post-processing can go a long way.

Which is why I suggest that you post-process every single one of your good photos, even if you’d rather be out shooting.

Now, you don’t actually have to do much to your photos. Take all of the photos from your recent shoot, and go through them quickly, selecting the ‘decent to good’ photos out of the mix.

Then go through these and do a quick processing job.

What should this entail?

You should at least do two very basic things.

First, you should adjust the contrast. Most photos can benefit from a significant contrast boost, so test it out on your photos to see how it looks.

Second, you should adjust the colors. Lightroom has a slider called Vibrance, and it’s amazing. It simply increases the saturation of colors that aren’t yet saturated, so it’s sort of a ‘smart saturation’ option. And it’ll really make your colors pop!

After this, you can go on to make other changes, do noise reduction and sharpening, etc. But you don’t have to. Just a bit of contrast and a bit of Vibrance can do a long way.

7. Take one image every day to increase your photography skills

Do you currently take one photo every day?

For a long time, I didn’t. I went out once a week, took a series of photos, then went home.

And then I decided to take photos every day for a month.

By the time the month was up, I had resolved to continue to take photos every single day, no matter what – because it improved my photography so much.

I started to see compositions where I previously saw none. I started to get a sense of the light that I had never had before.

And this didn’t require any extra learning. It was just from being…aware. From keeping my photography brain awake.

So I urge you:

Start taking photos every day. Even if you can only take one photo, even if you can only take it with a smartphone, you should still do it.

You’ll be amazed by how quickly your photography improves.

8. Look at beautiful photos every single day

Here’s the final micro habit that will drastically improve your photography:

Look at beautiful photos.

Every day.

You see, the more you look at good photos, the more you develop your sense of color, composition, and lighting. You’ll start to notice the way other photographers use the rule of thirds. You’ll start to notice how photographers use contrasting colors to great effect. You’ll start to notice how different angles give different looks.

And then you’ll start noticing how you can use these techniques in your own photography.

Plus, in this day and age, it’s not difficult to look at stunning photos. You can subscribe to the Instagram feeds of great photographers. You can subscribe to high-quality Facebook groups. Or you can join the email lists of top photography websites (such as this one!).

The key is to make sure you look at amazing photos every day, no matter what.

8 Micro Habits That Will Completely Change Your Photography in a Year: Conclusion

Now that you know about these game-changing micro habits…

…all that’s left is to start implementing them in your daily life so you can completely change your photography in a year.

None of them are hard. They take a few minutes, at most.

But look back in a year, and you’ll be so glad you started them.

Also, if you found these micro habits useful, then you should check out our course, 31 Days to Become a Better Photographer. Registrations close on 31st July, so make sure you don’t delay!

The course is full of useful tips and suggestions like the ones I’ve given here. And it’s guaranteed to improve your photography, fast.

So if you’re looking to take your photography to the next level, the course is exactly what you need.

View it here:

31 Days to Become a Better Photographer.


The post 8 Micro Habits That Will Completely Change Your Photography in a Year appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.