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Mastering Color Series – The Psychology and Evolution of the Color GREEN and its use in Photography

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 15:00

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

Spanish dramatist, poet and writer Pedro Calderón de la Barca once said “green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises”. From the perspective of a well-loved frog however, it’s not so easy being green. On the visible spectrum, green occupies the space between blue and yellow. In color theory, it is a secondary color, made by mixing blue and yellow together. Here, we’ll have a look at the evolution of green and its impact in art from antiquity to the present day.

The psychology of green

Green’s strongest psychological associations lie with the natural environment. The word green originates from the Middle English and Old English word grene, which has the same root as the words grass and grow. Many humans respond to nature, and thereby green itself, with a sense of calm and renewal. According to a recent study, exposure to green spaces in childhood can provide significant mental health benefits into adolescence and adulthood. Another study suggests that the “availability and quality of neighborhood green spaces are associated with greater well-being”.

Green’s association with nature has led to the adoption of green as an emblem for environmental movements. Fresh greenery in spring and the steady growth of plant-life has fostered associations with green and rebirth and determination. In contrast, the green text on early computer systems have cultivated associations between green, modernity and the digital landscape. The movie The Matrix has furthered this association.

When the United States government began issuing cash in 1861, bills were printed with a green-black ink. This has fostered associations between green and money. Due to it’s reflective nature, neon green is often used for safety equipment, clothing and signage. Because of it’s vibrational quality, neon green also features heavily in psychedelic art.

A belief held by the ancient Greeks that the overproduction of bile (which is typically a dark green to yellowish brown fluid) was a symptom of jealousy has drawn associations between green, envy and illness. Poeticized by William Drennan as the “Emerald Isle,” Ireland is associated with the color green because of it’s lush green landscapes. In China, green is associated with the east, spring and generative energy. For many Native American peoples, green symbolizes endurance. Green is the sacred color of Islam, representing Muhammad. However, in South America, green can be a symbol of death.

The evolution of the color green Malachite, green earth and verdigris

While prehistoric artists used a pallet made up of reds, yellows, blacks, browns and whites, greens and blues were noticeably absent from early art. Decorative ceramics made by ancient Mesopotamians depict some of the earliest examples of green in visual arts. However, the method used to produce these greens is unknown.

Mined in the west Sinai and eastern desert, ancient Egyptians adorned tombs and papyrus with finely ground blue-green malachite pigment. Referring to the afterlife as the Field of Malachite, the ancient Egyptians wore the crushed mineral around the eyes to ward away evil. Moderately lightfast but very sensitive to acids, and varying in tonal consistency, malachite’s use in art continued up until the 1800’s. The Egyptians also used green earth pigments or mixed yellow ochre with blue azurite to form green hues.

Sourced near Verona in Italy and on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, the Romans used green earth extensively in decoration. According to the blog Eclectic Light Company, green earth pigments have also been found in paintings from North America and the Indian subcontinent. Although lacking in intensity, green earth has seen use right up to the present day. Perhaps its best known usage however, is in the under-painting of flesh tones during the middle ages.

The Romans also used verdigris as a source of green pigment. Verdigris occurs naturally when copper, brass or bronze is exposed to air or seawater over time. Deliberately cultivated by soaking copper plates in fermenting wine and collecting the resulting residue, verdigris was the most vibrant green available until the 19th century.

Scheele’s green

Invented in 1775 by chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Scheele’s green was the first to contain arsenic in its composition. Although it faded rapidly, Scheele’s green was considered superior to previous paints due to its vibrancy. It was used in a range of applications from food dye to artist’s paints. Needless to say, Scheele’s green was highly toxic and carcinogenic. Both manufactures and consumers became ill or died from exposure to the deadly pigment.

Cobalt green

In 1780 Swedish chemist Sven Rinman, developed a process that resulted in a cobalt-green compound of cobalt and zinc. Arthur Herbert Church, a British chemist, published Rinmann’s process in his book, the Chemistry of Paints and Painting where he stated that cobalt green was created by “precipitating with an alkaline carbonate a mixture of the nitrates of cobalt and of zinc, and then strongly heating (after washing) the precipitate formed”.

“When prepared properly,” Church continued, “cobalt green is a pigment of great beauty and power.” However, despite the opportunity to vary the ratio of zinc to cobalt oxides in production, the pigment was never a pure green, taking on a blueish hue instead. In addition, the high cost and poor tinting strength of cobalt green meant it saw limited use by artists.

Paris green

Paris green is also known as emerald green. Becoming commercially available in 1814, Paris green was used as a pigment as well as a rodenticide and insecticide. Offering greater permanence and saturation over Scheele’s green, Paris green proved popular with artists such as Monet, and Van Gogh. Ranging from a pale blue-green to a deep green, Paris green was relativity cheap to manufacture. It was also used as a household paint and in decorative wallpaper. Highly toxic, it was discontinued over the second half of the twentieth century.

Viridian

Electing to keep their methodology a secret, Viridian was first produced by chemists Pannetier and Binet in Paris around 1838. It took another 20 years before chemist Guignet patented a process to manufacture Viridian, making the pigment available to artists.

Viridian takes its name from the Latin word viridis, meaning green. A dark shade of spring green, Viridian sits between green and teal on the color wheel. Viridian’s brilliance, excellent permanence and lack of toxicity meant that it soon eclipsed all other green pigments. Readily adopted by Edvard Munch, Monet and Van Gogh, the rich blue-green hues of viridian remain in use today.

Green in visual arts

Green’s presence in art history is a testament to its evocative associations with nature and life. Cultivated by the flooding of the River Nile, ancient Egyptians recognized the greenery of flourishing crops as a symbol of rebirth. Osiris, the ancient Egyptian god of the underworld and rebirth was depicted with a green complexion and the hieroglyph for the color green was represented by the stalk of the papyrus.

During the middle ages and renaissance, clothing color signaled social rank and occupation. Green was worn by merchants, bankers and gentry. Both the Mona Lisa and the bride in the Arnolfini portrait by Jan van Eyck are depicted in green, an indication of their status.

Taking advantage of greens refined over the renaissance period, Baroque artists conveyed moments of movement and drama with rich green hues. Dreamy green landscapes populated by the well-to-do defined the rococo art movement, while the green hues in 19th century realism mirrored the bleak reality of middle and lower class society. In contrast, pre-raphaelite artists used green to depict resplendent clothing and foliage.

Capturing the interplay between light and movement, green took on a new life under the strokes of the impressionist’s brush. Expressionist artists, in their distortions and exaggerations, valued emotion over reality, using green to convey new artistic possibilities. Cubists used green as a tool to alleviate some of the heaviness of their compositions and later, abstract artists like Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler expressed the immersive nature of green through verdant tones on active canvasses.

Green in contemporary art

Contemporary examples of green used in art are as varied and unique as green itself.  In 1970 Bruce Nauman erected two walls, placed them 12 inches apart and suspended green lights above the gap. Encouraged to walk through the claustrophobic space, members of the public were bathed in green fluorescence as they shuffled along.

In 1998 Olafur Eliasson used a sodium salt variation of fluorescein called uranine to color waterways in Germany, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Japan and the USA a vibrant green. He called his endeavors the Green River Project.

In 2016 Norwegian artist Per Kristian Nygard transformed an Oslo gallery into an organic work of art. Distributing soil and grass seed over a wooden framework covered with plastic sheets, Per Kristian Nygard cultivated Not Red But Green, a contemplative piece investigating the exchange between architecture and nature.

Green in photography

Green’s associations continue to be depicted in both film and digital photographic formats. Australian duo Prue Stent and Honey Long combine photography with performance, installation and sculpture, investigating the relationship between the human body and nature. Stent and Long’s series Bush Babies melds the green of the natural environment with the nakedness of the human body.

An overreaching theme in Narelle Autio’s photography is the study of human interaction within green spaces. Namia Green’s portraits of black and brown subjects against lush greenery reflects the photographer’s rejection of the narrow representation of black peoples in art. Photographed by Steve McCurry, the famously green eyes of the Afghan Girl (Sharbat Gula) are both haunting and haunted, piercing a viewer’s gaze. Ren Hang (link NSFW), known for his sexually expressive imagery, often relied on green for contrast, context and life.

Landscape and architectural photographer Andreas Gursky often applies green as a visual pause within his work. Fashion photographer Miles Aldridge uses green as a surreal brush with the surreal. Signalling time, place and atmosphere, macro photographers like Tomas Shahan feature green as an inevitable backdrop for their minuscule natural subjects. And Pep Ventosa’s dynamic works see green as a prevailing presence in her series In the Round, Trees.

Green has applications on-camera too. In black and white photography, green filters are mainly used for photographing plants, separating green foliage from brightly colored flowers. In landscape photography, green filters lighten organic greens, giving an image a more natural appearance.

Conclusion

Despite its late arrival to the artist’s pallet, green’s versatility is reflected in its many connotations. Associated with renewal and rebirth, green has also been linked with the digital landscape, money, jealousy and sickness. From ancient art to contemporary visual culture, green has shaped our comprehension of the environment around us. Portraying immeasurable depth and abundance, green is the color of nature and life.

Share with us your photos that use green in the comments below.

 

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

How to Take Great Photos with Your iPhone

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 09:00

The post How to Take Great Photos with Your iPhone appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sandra Roussy.

Camera phones have certainly come a long way. A few years ago it was impossible to try to achieve good photos with the camera that came with your smartphone. The quality and resolution were so low that we didn’t even think about post-processing and posting our photos.

The iPhone has had steady updates with new features added over the years including constant improvements to the camera quality. When the iPhone 8Plus came onto the market, photographers were finally ready to take photos that they could be proud of editing and posting. Many professional photographers are now using their smartphone cameras to snap photos during their travels or even on assignments.

Of course, the iPhone is limited and can’t provide all the creative features that a DSLR with interchangeable lenses can. But some days, carrying bulky camera gear is impossible, so the iPhone provides a great alternative.

Learn how to use your iPhone to its full potential, and you too will be taking great photos with your camera phone! We’ll take a look at the iPhone 8plus and newer models in this article because they have some great new photo features like Portrait Mode.

Super helpful tip: Use the slide-left feature from your lock screen to get quick access to your camera.

Learn the settings Set to highest quality

Your iPhone camera can offer some high-quality photos and videos. If you intend to store hundreds of photos on your phone without downloading or transferring them into a cloud-based platform, then you may want to shoot in low resolution, so your phone doesn’t get full.

When you do want to shoot something important and want to edit the photos afterward, it’s best to shoot in the highest quality possible.

Set your focus point

The iPhone has a feature that you can use to set your exact focus point, and it’s quite important to use it to achieve tack sharp images.

  • Compose your shot
  • Tap your screen where you want the focus to be.
  • Slide the exposure up or down (The little yellow sun icon).
  • Press and hold to lock the focus point and recompose your photo if you wish (AE/AF LOCK).
  • Take your photo.

About HDR

HDR means High Dynamic Range and what it does is help provide evenly exposed images. The camera takes 3 shots when you take a photo and stacks them to provide a perfectly exposed image with all components having details in both the highlights and shadows.

Go to your camera setting and toggle off Auto HDR and Keep Normal Photo toggled on. While shooting you will see the HDR icon at the top. If there is a line through it, simply tap it to activate.

Helpful Tip: Your iPhone gives you the option to preserve your last shoot settings. This is especially useful when you plan to do the same type of photography. If these are not toggled on, the iPhone goes back to its default setting every time.

Use the grid lines

Nothing says amateur like a crooked horizon line. One of our pet peeves as photographers is to see a beautiful landscape where the ocean seems to be sliding down the side of the photograph.

Tilt your head to look at the photo? No.

Better, apply grid lines on your iPhone so that you can align the horizon line to get a perfectly straight horizon.

How-to: Go to settings and toggle the Grid option on.

Composition tips and tricks Rule of thirds

Rule of Thirds is the main composition rule of photography that allows the viewer’s eye to flow easily over a photo. This is a good guideline to follow but it is not always the best composition for every situation.

Tip: Having the Grid Lines toggled on will help you achieve the rule of thirds better.

Keep it simple

Sometimes less is more. When you cram too much info into a photograph, the viewer doesn’t know where to look and may not capture your intent. Keep white space and focus on a single subject. This will bring attention to the subject and give your photo more creative meaning.

Get down and raise it up

Shooting from the same perspective and position will most probably create some pretty boring and repetitious photos. Try getting down on the ground and see how the perspective changes. This can sometimes add some drama to your subjects. Also, look up! Look at the contrasts with the sky, buildings, trees, and clouds.

Move in close

Sometimes a small detail can take a photograph from good to WOW!

Observe light, colors, and shadows

Learning to observe how light affects objects and changes throughout the day is key to improving your photos. Observe how shadows get created and how the light hits particular objects and capture those unique events.

Look for contrasts of color or a single color pop in a monotone environment.

Photo modes and special features

The iPhone comes with photo modes for you to choose from. The best feature to have come out in the last few years is Portrait Mode.

Portrait Mode

As of the introduction of the iPhone 8 plus, Portrait Mode has been accessible and has provided some broader creative possibilities. The iPhone Xs and iPhone Xr have the option to adjust the depth of field while shooting in Portrait Mode. Portrait Mode makes great portraits, of course, but can also be used for so much more. Try setting to portrait mode when you want a bokeh effect or a blurry background in your photos.

 

Square

This mode is useful if you want to post on Instagram while keeping your composition intact.

 

Pano

Shoot some panoramic photos to show a greater angle of a landscape.

Special features

Burst Mode: Burst mode is great when you want to capture some action shots. Press and hold the shutter button, and the camera takes a series of photos.

Live Photo: Live photo is a fun feature that records 3-second videos before and after you have pressed the shutter. When viewing your photo, press and hold the photo to see the effect in action. You can activate or deactivate this feature in your camera mode.

Loop, Bounce, Long Exposure: Swipe up on your Live Photo to gain access to a few more features that let you loop the live photo effect, bounce it, or create a long exposure.

Zoom or no zoom – Attachable lens options
  • The newer versions of the iPhone have two lenses that allow you to zoom into your subject without moving in closer. This is practical when photographing wildlife or even when doing portraits.
  • Click on the 1X at the bottom of the camera screen. The zoom will go to 2X. Click your photo. You can pinch your screen and zoom even further, but this can cause shake in your photo and probably create blur.

Attachable lenses have hit the market and can offer some fun alternatives when shooting. They come in a variety of prices and quality. Macro lenses and fish-eye lenses seem to be the most popular.

Try photo apps and filters

Photo editing apps and software are very popular with amateurs and professional photographers alike. Some apps let you add filters to create moods, while others give you access to features that let you edit and fine-tune your iPhone photos.

Some of these apps even let you get out of the automatic iPhone mode and into manual shooting mode. They let you adjust your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture as you wish.

Here is a list of some of our favorite apps available for your iPhone.

Pro Camera

You can shoot in Manual, Semi-automatic, or Automatic modes with Pro Camera. It contains RAW capture, live histogram, and an anti-shake feature. Pro Camera is the app that allows you to achieve super sharp images with your iPhone.

Snapseed

Snapseed is a popular go-to app for every level photographer. It’s one of the most complete free apps offering a variety of functions to edit your photos.

VSCO

VSCO is one of those apps, that when downloaded, allows you to shoot from your camera phone with the option of controlling the ISO, white balance, shutter speed, and other customizable camera functions.

Like a DSLR, you adjust your exposure components before you shoot to get your desired outcome. You can create long exposure photographs and fine-tune your focus points.

There’s a useful active tilt meter to level your phone to achieve a perfectly straight horizon line.

Have some fun with your iPhone

Even if you own an expensive DSLR and shoot in Manual mode, you can still get some great shots with your iPhone. The latest generation iPhones have stepped up the game regarding the cameras, lenses, and shooting options.

Keep in mind a few helpful tips to achieve beautiful compositions and don’t forget to add some useful photo-editing apps on your iPhone.

Your iPhone photos will look more professional, and you’ll be proud to post and show them off.

Feel free to share some with us in the comments section below.

 

The post How to Take Great Photos with Your iPhone appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sandra Roussy.

Gaining Confidence to Charge Properly for Your Photography

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 15:00

The post Gaining Confidence to Charge Properly for Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

Alexander Mils

So many of us are awkward about money – especially asking for it. A few years ago I was just starting out as a “professional” photographer. I did a free session just for the experience. The family insisted on paying me something even though I kept declining. They gave me $20. I couldn’t help but think, “is that all I’m worth?” I was happy to do it for free, yet $20 felt like an insult.

There were a lot of questions tangled up in that $20 session. Are my photos good enough to charge money? What is the right price to charge? How do I tell them my price when I feel so dirty about money? Why don’t they value me more?

I knew that I had to work through these questions or just forget about charging money at all.

Let me share with you how to:

  • Know what to sell (a service, prints, or digital)
  • Set your prices (to fund your hobby or go full time)
  • Get over the dirty feeling you have when talking about money

This was one of my first and cheapest photo sessions, but also one of my most memorable. It rained the whole time and we had to keep ducking back into our vehicles to stay dry.

A riddle

When I first started out and my prices were low, people would tell me that my prices were too high. And now that my prices are five times higher, people keep telling me my prices are too low. Why is that? I’ll tell you at the end.

First, the truth about prices

You will set your prices based on assumptions you have. Many of those assumptions are wrong, which leads to wrong pricing.

I promise you that:

  • The market is not over-saturated with photographers.
  • Cheap photographers have not driven down prices for the rest of us.
  • People do value photography and will spend good money on it.

I charged this family four times more for their next session and they gladly paid because they loved their first set of photos so much. I even got a call from the dad saying how much he liked the photos. And dad’s never want to pay for photos!

What do you really want?

There is little use in discussing pricing if you don’t have an end goal in mind. You need to begin by asking yourself what you really want.

Do you even want money? If so, do you want a little money to fund your photography hobby? Or, do you want enough money to count as income?

Money is a tool to get other things. So the question is, what do you want?

Don’t charge anything at all

Don’t feel as though you must charge for your photography. You might get sucked into the idea of making money with your photography just because so many other photographers do.

If you love photography for it’s own sake, you don’t necessarily need to make money doing it.

Keep your life simple and chase photography for it’s own sake. Go ahead and share your photography as a gift with no concern about money.

Figure out what you’re selling

If you do want to earn money with your photography, you need to decide what you’re selling and why.

You could sell sessions, digital files or prints (or any combination of these).

Don’t let anybody tell you what you must offer. Make your own decision.

Here are some examples of what you could sell.

  • Photograph events and then sell digital files or prints.
  • Do photography sessions (newborn, family, etc) and then sell digital files or prints.
  • Take photographs of your own ideas and then sell fine art prints or digital stock photography.

Create a price list for whatever you offer and then you’re ready when people ask how much you charge.

How to set your prices

I prefer to keep everything as simple as possible, so here is my model for how to set your prices.

  1. What do you want to make per month?
  2. How many sessions would you like to do per month? Or, how many prints or digital photos would you like to be selling per month?

Suppose you would like to earn $1000 per month and you would like to do four sessions per month. You’ll have to charge $250 per session (but also consider your expenses).

Perhaps you want to earn $500 per month by photographing one event and selling digital images. If you price your digital photos at $10 each, you’ll have to sell 50 of them.

How about full-time income? Suppose you would like to earn $4000 per month. You could do 8 photo sessions at $500. Or, you could do a couple of weddings per month.

Play with the numbers based on how much you would like to make and how much work you want to put out.

Hovering on the line between amateur and professional, I just loved the fact that I could take pictures and make a little money doing it.

What should amateurs charge?

Don’t assume that because you are an amateur you should charge less. You could be as fine a photographer as the pros – maybe better.

Just keep in mind how much you would like to make and how much work you want to put out.

Some amateurs like to photograph sporting events and then sell digital files or prints through an online gallery. Others like to do photo sessions for their friends. Some sell a few of their prints here and there. It’s often just a way to make a little extra money to spend on new lenses and camera bags.

Consider how much money you would like to make and set your prices accordingly.

How to get over the dirty feeling you have when talking about money

There are many reasons you might feel awkward about money.

If you haven’t set your prices in advance you’ll feel thrown off when somebody asks you. You’ll feel hesitant or doubt yourself. So set your prices and be ready to tell people what they are.

Confidence plays a role in setting your prices.

Are you ready to charge?

A lot of people just need to know if they are ready to charge money for their photography.

If you take good photos then you are ready. If you don’t take good photos then you’re not.

Get feedback from other photographers about whether your photos are good. Ask them how you could improve. When you get to the point that you feel confident, or almost confident, then offer your services with a price tag.

Photograph an event and sell digital photos. Or offer family photo sessions. Whatever it is, see if people are willing to pay. You’ll know you’re ready when your photos are good and people begin paying.

At this point you may know you’re a good photographer and how much money you would like to make, but deep inside something tells you you’re not worth it.

Are you worth it?

I often see photographers charging low prices for their incredible photography because they don’t feel worthy of charging more. They have many reasons for their low prices, but they’re mostly just excuses. Underneath is a sense of inferiority – a sense that they themselves are no good. If this is you, then you need to get out of your own head and prove yourself wrong.

There are countless photographers doing the work they want and charging what they want. Why not you?

Get out of your comfort zone and make trying new things a part of your lifestyle. You’ll gain confidence more quickly and overcome those voices that put you down.

But will people really pay?

Yes, people will pay. A lot.

You’ll hear a lot of people saying that everybody is running to cheap photographers and it’s putting the higher priced photographers out of business. But it’s not true.

Yes, a lot of people go to cheap photographers. It’s natural to seek out lower prices when we can. But that doesn’t mean that people never spend lots of money.

Have you ever noticed that people have two polar reactions to the money they spend? People love to brag that they got a great deal. But they also love to brag about how expensive something was. People are funny creatures and you’ll learn a lot about us by paying attention to what we do with our money.

My family is even willing to pay more for apples, just for the experience of picking our own.

Cheap commodity or something meaningful?

Remember that curious thing I told you in the beginning? When I first started out and my prices were low, people would tell me that my prices were too high. But now that my prices are five times higher, people keep telling me my prices are too low. Why is that?

In the beginning, I priced my photography as a cheap commodity. Nobody wants to pay a high price for a commodity. We all want the price of things like food, insurance and fuel to go down, not up! I priced my photography to be the sort of thing that is cheap and is found anywhere.

But later on, when my prices were higher, my photography began to appeal to people who thought differently about photography. They valued it as something truly meaningful to them – not as a cheap commodity like toothpaste. They valued it like a fine bottle of wine and were happy to pay more for it.

Some people don’t value photography, and it’s just a commodity to them. However, others do value it and are proud to seek out a talented photographer and pay good money for their work.

The subject of my photography, and the words I use to talk about my photos, speak of meaning rather than cheapness. My prices have come to reflect the true value of my photography.

From a purely business perspective, my prices are probably still too low. Even some of the people who hire me say that I should charge more than I do (and they prove it by giving me generous gratuities).

So why don’t I charge even more? Because, like many of you, I struggle with that voice inside that says, “are you crazy? Nobody will pay that price.” However, the people who hire you and I will keep proving that voice wrong.

 

The post Gaining Confidence to Charge Properly for Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mat Coker.

6 Ways to Plan a Photography Road Trip

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 10:00

The post 6 Ways to Plan a Photography Road Trip appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Monument Valley, USA

Going on a road trip can be an exciting prospect for any budding photographer. There is usually a great sense of anticipation and adventure associated with any road trips where you embark on a journey across familiar or unfamiliar lands.

If you are planning a road trip to a particular travel destination, here are 5 ways to help you plan your getaway.

1. Choose a destination

Arizona, USA

One of the first and most fundamental things to do is to decide where you want to go. You can choose a destination based on a photographic interest you may have such as landscapes or select a location based on somewhere you would like to visit. For example, the Scottish highlands in England are a great place to take a road trip where nature is bountiful and beautiful.

You may prefer a road trip that follows a famous route such as Route 66 in the USA.

2. Do your research

Planning your journey can be a challenging prospect if you have never been to the place you will be visiting. The fear of the unknown surrounding the location can hold you back and even put you off doing any groundwork.

I suggest to just choose a route, research it and go. Researching an area will help alleviate any anxieties about going to a new area. Then it’s simply a case of putting your plan into practice.

Arizona, USA

You need to decide if you will take your own vehicle or hire one depending on your budget and where you are planning to visit. Obviously, if you are going somewhere abroad that is too far away to take your own vehicle, consider which vehicle you will hire. A campervan may be a financially viable option if you would like wheels and accommodation in one.

Alternatively, you may opt to rent a car and stay in local accommodation at your chosen destinations The advantage of a campervan or car and tent is that you can stay overnight near to a place you want to photograph such as beside a river, lake or landscape.

3. Plan time for photography

Plan your trip for the time you have. Figure out which location you want to visit and factor in some time for picture taking. You will also want to allow some time for sightseeing and relaxation. Don’t forget to stop the car during your road adventure to soak in the views.

Namibia

4. Consider your travel partners

A key factor to consider when planning time for photography during your road trip is who you do your grand tour with. Consider who your travel partners will be whether you decide to go with a friend, your spouse or family. Make a clear plan to factor in some photography. Tell the people you are with that you intend to do some photography at a specific time and ask if they want to come with you on your photographic pursuits.

If they decide to join you, advise them to take to take a good book or puzzle to entertain them. These plans will help keep everyone happy and prevent you from falling out with your travel companions.

On the contrary, if your tour is a solo road trip, you will have all the time you need. It will just be a case of choosing where and when to go and which travel destinations to photograph.

5. Plan the gear to take with you

Bryce Canyon, USA

Have you ever been on a photography excursion only to find out when you get there that a vital piece of kit is missing? This could be anything from a piece of equipment to a lens cleaning cloth.

As simple as it may seem, I recommend making a list of things to take before you pack to ensure nothing is forgotten. Your packing list may include a camera, lenses, cleaning cloths, spare batteries and memory cards, tripod, waterproof coat, hat and gloves, walking shoes, map and a guidebook.

6. Consider electricity

Desert road, namibia

Charging your batteries is an essential part of your trip so make sure that wherever you are going has sufficient supplies to charge your batteries. Electricity points are available at most types of accommodation including hotels, B&B’s, hostels and even campsites.

If you’re traveling in a campervan or vehicle specifically set up for road trips, it may already be well equipped with electricity points for charging devices. A solar powered or fully-charged battery charging device will provide additional battery charge capabilities.

Conclusion

When embarking on a road trip, make sure to plan your trip well and be prepared for any potential photographic challenges such as lack of electricity when away from connectivity spots for a certain duration of time.

Choose and research your location. Plan time for photography and make a checklist of the gear you intend to take with you. That way, you ensure nothing is forgotten when packing for your adventure.

The post 6 Ways to Plan a Photography Road Trip appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Review: Pixapro 105cm 16-Sided Easy-Open Rice-Bowl Softbox

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 15:00

The post Review: Pixapro 105cm 16-Sided Easy-Open Rice-Bowl Softbox appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

Studio photographers, and other users of off-camera flash, are living through a bit of a renaissance. New, innovative and (maybe most importantly) affordable lights and modifiers are popping up all the time – and a lot of them are fantastic. One of the companies that is at the forefront of this movement is Godox.

The Rice Bowl is a large softbox with an unusual shape.

It seems that every time you turn around, there’s something new being released. Enter the Pixapro 105cm (41.34″) 16-Sided Easy-Open Rice-Bowl Softbox (Say that five times fast). Pixapro is Godox rebranded for the UK market. As soon as I saw this thing, I was entranced. Not only is it massive, but its shape means that it’s almost perfectly round (for all intents and purposes) and, as such, will shape light quite differently to your bog standard rectangular softboxes and octaboxes. I bought it and as this review will show you, it was not a mistake.

What is it?

To simplify it, the Rice Bowl is a large umbrella softbox. It’s called an umbrella softbox because it opens like an umbrella, but functions as a softbox thanks to two layers of diffusion material that cover the front. The reason this is a big deal, is that it takes away the massive pain that is putting together and pulling apart standard softboxes. I have more than a few that I’ve put together and then vowed that they would stay that way until the end of time. With the Rice Bowl, all you have to do is pull on the metal rod and open it up like an umbrella and screw the reflector plate into place. It takes seconds.

While the shape of an umbrella, the two layers of diffusion make the Rice Bowl an effective and portable softbox.

As mentioned, the shape of the Rice Bowl also sets it apart from it’s cousins. Because it’s 16 sided (That’s called a hexadecagon by the way. If you want to call it a hexadecabox, I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me), it almost appears completely round. This means that the way it shapes the light and wraps it around your subject is quite different to other softboxes, which can provide you with another tool in your lighting kit.

Pros

The Rice-Bowl softbox does do a few things well.

Size

The Rice Bowl is massive which makes the quality of light it produces wonderful for portraiture.

Here, the Rice Bowl is compared to 22″ beauty dish.

At over 41″ (that’s just under four feet), the rice-bowl is a massive modifier that still packs away in a portable package. Sure, there’s always giant octaboxes and parabolic umbrellas for when you need really soft light, but they don’t pack away anywhere near this easy. For fans of large modifiers, this means two things:

  • Once your done with it, you can pack it away and store it neatly with ease.
  • It travels well and is quite light, so it shouldn’t weigh you down in normal circumstances. I probably wouldn’t hike several miles to a location with it, but short distances should be just fine.
Shape

The 16 sides of the Rice Bowl make it almost perfectly round, which will shape the light differently to rectangular and square softboxes.

The Rice Bowl’s unique hexadecagon shape gives you a rounder source of light than your traditional softbox. The light it produces is gorgeous and soft and ideal for all kinds of portrait lighting. If you have a thing against square and rectangular catchlights, then this might be the modifier for you.

Easy to setup

Setting up the Rice Bowl is dead easy. Just pop it open, secure the reflector into place and attach the two layers of diffusion to the velcro.

As mentioned, setting up the rice bowl is as easy as opening an umbrella. Beyond that, you have to screw on a bit at the end of the rod to keep it secure and attach the diffusion panels. It doesn’t take very long. Add to that that there’s no awkward loose rods to bend and manhandle into place and nothing to pop out with great force and hit you in the eye. The Rice Bowl is a real treat.

Carry bag included

Not only does the Rice Bowl come with a convenient carry bag, but it also fits back into it with ease.

Since it’s well suited to location, it should be no surprise that the Rice Bowl comes in it’s own carry bag. An extra bonus here, is that unlike other modifiers that collapse, once it’s out of the bag, it’s easy enough to get back in and it still fits.

Price

At a price of $110, this thing is fairly cheap. Massive modifiers (especially ones this well made) usually come at a massive price. Just compare the Rice Bowl to any offering from Elinchrome and Broncolor if you’re in any doubt.

Adaptability

Because I am invested in the Bowens system (RIP), I opted for the S-mount. Pixapro offer mounts for just about any system that you could want.

Pixapro sell the Rice Bowl with just about any mount you want, so no matter your preferred lighting system, you should have no problem using this modifier.

Cons

Perhaps nothing can be too perfect, and that is the case with the Rice Bowl. Fortunately, the list of cons is a short one.

Depth

Because of its shape, when it’s mounted on a normal light stand, you cannot get much of a downward angle with the Rice Bowl.

In terms of the light it produces, the depth and shape of the Rice Bowl is fine. Where it lets it down is when it’s on a light stand. Because it’s so deep and large, when it’s on a normal light stand you can’t point it in a downward angle very easily. This is quite limiting when it comes to designing your lighting with it. Certain lighting patterns like butterfly lighting will become a challenge.

To get around this, you’ll need to buy (or already own) a light stand with a boom arm. This isn’t that big of a deal, but if you want to get the very most out of the Rice Bowl, you may have to be prepared to make other purchases.

To get the absolute most out of the Rice Bowl, you will want to have a boom arm to ensure that you can place it at any angle that you want.

That one screwy bit

The screw that secures the reflector into place is small and easy to lose.

Remember I mentioned that you had to screw a bit of metal on to secure the Rice Bowl once it’s setup? That one piece is very small and very easy to lose. I’m keeping a very close eye on mine.

Examples

At the end of the day, I can talk about the Pixapro 105cm Rice Bowl Softbox all I want, but what really matters is the proof. Here’s a few examples of what the Rice Bowl can produce in the studio.

That’s it

At the end of the day, I love this thing. Not only does it produce gorgeous light that is flattering to a whole host of subjects, it is light, easy to set up and just a pleasure to use. I would definitely recommend the Rice Bowl to any photographer who wants to add something else to their lighting kit. If you think the 105cm version might be a bit big for you, Pixapro do make a smaller version that comes in at 65cm for $90.

 

The post Review: Pixapro 105cm 16-Sided Easy-Open Rice-Bowl Softbox appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

How to Place an Image Inside Text in Photoshop

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 10:00

The post How to Place an Image Inside Text in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

In this article, I want to share with you one method of creating an image that appears inside text.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Making your photos stand out online, especially when using social networks is tough. Finding ways to enhance your pictures so they will capture people’s attention is a great way to grab more attention to them.

Placing an image inside text can communicate more than the text or the photo will say on their own.

Here are a few easy steps to show how you can make your images have more impact.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Set up your Photoshop file

Create a background layer of a solid color. Above it make a new text layer and then add the photo you want to include inside the text.

The size and font you choose are up to you, and they can be changed during the process if you decide they are not working as well as you’d hoped. You can also use a vector layer to place your image inside.

For this method, you will use a Clipping Mask. This allows you to use the content of a layer to control the visibility of the layers which are above it. This is how the shape of the text will control how much of the photo is seen in the final outcome.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Creating the Clipping Mask

Select your photo. It must be above the text layer. Go to the top menu and select Layer ->Create Clipping Mask, (or press Alt + Ctrl/Cmd + G.)

You will now see your photo within the text. Everything outside the text area will be the solid background layer. You have effectively masked out most of your image.

If this is too much, as it is in my example, the effect is not going to attract many eyeballs. The text is easy enough to read and the effect is interesting, there’s not enough of the image remaining.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Reveal more of your photo

If you want more of your photo to be seen, rather than only what’s within the text area, you can do so.

Duplicate the layer by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + J. Now make a selection of the parts of your photo you want to be seen outside the text area. There are many methods for doing this. Here I have used the Quick Selection Tool.

Once you have made your selection, you can click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. This will reveal only the selected area of this layer.

You can then refine your mask if necessary by using the Brush Tool. Make sure the mask is selected in the Layers Panel. Brush with black to reveal more and white to conceal areas you don’t want to see.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

There are no rules as to how much to show. It’s purely up to what you think is best. Keep in mind that the text will be most legible with less of the image showing outside of it.

You should now have a compelling image with a message.

Experiment to add diversity

Every image and text combination will work differently. If you’re not satisfied with the outcome, change some aspect of it.

Using a different font is easy enough. With the text layer selected, choose a different font.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

If you can’t find one that fits your image exactly as you want it to, manipulate it. With the text selected, bring up the Character dialogue box. Here you can stretch your text wider or higher, or make it more compact. See if you can make it fit your image in a more pleasing way.

You may need to refine your clipping mask further if you make changes to your font.

Adding a shape on a new layer under your text layer will create a new look. Then, by duplicate your original photo layer. Drag it below the shape in the Layer Panel. This creates a background of your original photo.

Now you have a shape containing your text with your image inside and a shape with the image outside it.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

I have moved the location of the text and shape as I didn’t think it looked so good over the main area of interest in my photo. After moving it I dropped the opacity of the shape layer to reveal some of the photo underneath. I also added a stroke around the text (using the fx panel) to help it stand out more.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Conclusion

There are so many variations you can experiment with to place an image inside your text. These are just a few ideas to help get you started.

Remember, if you are using text, keep it legible. If people have to struggle to read it, then it’s not working. Likewise, if the text is not enhancing your photo, try something different.

There are no right and wrong ways of doing this. I hope you found this method helpful.

Try it out with photos for your Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook feeds. Done well it will help your photos stand out from the crowd and get your message across.

I’d love to see how you are making use of placing an image inside text. Please post your photos in the comments and let us know of any additional tips and techniques you like to use.

The post How to Place an Image Inside Text in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Five Steps To Making Better Pictures

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 15:00

The post Five Steps To Making Better Pictures appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy H. Greenberg.

If you’re reading this, you are an aspiring artist and photographer. You might be just starting out or somewhere on the amateur, hobbyist, professional spectrum. Whatever your personal or professional aspirations may be, you might agree that there is room for improvement in your work. The purpose of this article is to suggest five strategies leading to the improvement of your craft. While not an exhaustive list, any single strategy or strategies described below, when practiced regularly, will result in significant improvements in your picture making. You can use this list to establish your photographic goals for this year and beyond.

1. Study photography

There are formal and informal paths to get better at just about everything. Photography is an art form and craft just like many others. If you wanted to learn how to make clothing, paint, or work with wood, you would take classes and lessons to learn how to do those, right? Photography takes time to learn and a lot of effort to become really proficient. You may even decide to go to art school and work towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts or similar academic credential at an accredited college or university. There are many good options in many countries if this is the route for you.

Depending on your situation and other factors, you might take the path that I did that was to pursue a professional certificate in photography online. The online option works well for people who have families, full-time work in another career, or just not enough time, money, or interest to enroll in an undergraduate program in the arts.

Other ways to study may include subscribing to online blogs and newsletters like Digital Photography School and read the material each week. Weekly newsletters get pushed to your e-mail, and you can reap incredible benefits from the wealth of free information online.

Online subscriptions are usually free and so easy to use that every photographer should be exploiting these valuable resources.

2. Go to the show

Art and photography exhibits are everywhere all of the time. We are surrounded by opportunities to view real art and images by rising and established professionals. There is a terrific site called photographmag that hosts information about current photography exhibits and shows across the US and other countries. If you travel from time to time as many of us do, take advantage of the opportunities to see photographs in these places. Use the site above to plan your photography excursions around your travel plans, and check out what is going on. Go and see the show!

Often you can get access to new work closer to home. Purchasing photography books (rather than new camera or lens), attending local museums, and of course reading through the plethora of websites related to photography should be a regular part of your artistic and self-improvement diet. Any or all of these activities, when practiced regularly, should lead to significant improvements in your work.

Seek critique

Looking for and recruiting “likes” will not improve your photography. Social media should work for you rather than you working for social media (unless you are employed by Instagram). Real improvement happens when you make and share your image and then receive a proper critique on your work. What’s a proper critique? The purpose of critique in the art world in its most simple form is about two things 1) describing the work, and 2) making statements about whether or not the image works, doesn’t work, and most importantly, “why.”

Critique isn’t really about whether someone likes or does not like an image. A proper critique goes beyond the obvious and subjective statements about an image in favor of a discussion on what constitutes a photograph that works. When viewing art becomes an objective process, we all benefit and can discuss the piece using more sophisticated vocabulary. This is the purpose of critique, and the process is not only extremely beneficial to the artist, but I would also submit that critique is essential to a photographer’s growth.

Avoid asking your friends and family about your work since they will likely love almost everything that you do. Seek proper critique by accomplished and successful colleagues, or professional photographers if you have access to some. Meetup groups or local photography clubs are an excellent source for periodic critique sessions where the participants aim to provide constructive criticism and proper critique of each other’s work.

Cross train for big gain

There are many interesting genres in the field of photography, such as aerial, events, food, macro, portrait, sports, wildlife, and many more. You might be lucky enough at this point of your artistic existence to be able to say “I shoot weddings and portraits, but I don’t do macro.” Maybe you are still learning what you like and dislike. I would strongly suggest doing a Project 365 and shoot every day to learn over time what you like, dislike, and what you are good at. This helps you narrow down your genre that is the first step in developing your own style.

Somewhere along your personal journey as an artist and photographer, you should experiment. Each genre within photography has its own lessons and techniques that can benefit your work in the area of your preference. Plus, the process of shooting across multiple genres, artistic cross training so to speak, will force you out of your comfort zone. You will have the opportunity to learn new lenses, processes, and techniques. The benefits and lessons learned will benefit your work in your genre of preference. If you prefer to shoot portraits of people, shoot landscapes for a while or vice versa. Try shooting sports, wildlife, or trick photography techniques.

If you really want to mix things up, shooting film and even developing it at home yourself may be the best photography lesson you can engage in. Composing, developing, processing, and scanning images from film teach you everything about the process of making images. Plus, it’s super fun!

Shoot, process, and repeat

I’m reminded of the old adage “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

Practice, practice, practice!

It is self-evident that to improve at anything you must do it a lot. Do you shoot everyday? Do you wear a camera? Perhaps you should. If you do embark on a Project 365, you will wear a camera every day. This provides many opportunities to make images of all types. Shoot with your smartphone if you prefer, but shoot often, and learn to edit ruthlessly. Become your own best or worst critic.

Learn post-processing. Even if you are generally opposed to post-processing images, the techniques at your fingertips these days, are far beyond those of the darkroom days. Post-processing is a terrific way to see your image making through and aids you in the development of images that match your unique artistic vision.

When you think about making images, you have a sense in your mind’s eye of the finished image. Camera, film, and gear may get us close to the final image that matches our artistic vision, but post-processing may be needed to get you there. There are many applications available to us these days, although Lightroom and Photoshop are some of the best for this sort of activity.

Conclusion

In summary, you now have five steps to making better pictures. Each of these five strategies will lead to significant improvements in your photography. If you choose one, two, or all of these strategies, and work on them regularly, your images will improve. However, this will take some time. Start small and work at it regularly. You can only get better over time.

The light is always right.

 

The post Five Steps To Making Better Pictures appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy H. Greenberg.

Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 10:00

The post Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Ever want to create interesting photographs without having to spend so much on equipment? Chances are that you already own ordinary household items that can give your photos that creative lighting twist to make them pop! Read and try these creative light tips using things that are already in your home.

In almost all of the tips, I use my smartphone to light my subject, which is also another item you can use that is already in your home!

1. Shadows and patterns

To create shadows and patterns in your photos, try some of the following items that you have in your home already. Create a dot pattern with a colander. Hold it under the light – it can be a flashlight or natural light over your subject and you’ll see how the shadows form.

Experiment with different items with similar holes like a spatula, cheese grater, or laundry basket. Hold the items close and far away from your subject until you get the look that you want! Another easy way to create shadows is with the blinds on your windows. You can place your subject next to the blinds and angle them so that you get the desired pattern on your subject.

Using one small light like the flash on my phone and a colander works for making patterns.

You can also cut out patterns on paper, cardboard, or other similar materials to get the patterns you want. Hold them over your subject, and under your light source, and you’ll have shadows and patterns for your photos.

2. Color filters

Using translucent paper like cellophane or even document protectors that are translucent can help you add color casts to your photos. Cut them into squares or circles the diameter of your lens and hold each one up as you take a photo. You can also use tape to keep them on the lens while you’re photographing your subject.

I used cut up CD color cases. Document protectors would also work. Anything translucent.

Layer the colors or place them at the edges of the lens to create different color casts in the same photo. Another way is to put the colored paper in front of your light source, like a flashlight or sunlight, in order to achieve the color cast. This way you don’t have to have the paper over your lens and you can mix in different colors in the scene.

You can also use a tablet, laptop, or phone to create color casts as well. Try and aim to photograph your subject in a bit of a darker place so that the color cast shows up a little more. Place your device close to the subject and see how the colors show up onto your subject. Make sure your camera is steady as less light will cause more camera shake if you’re using slow shutter speed. Use a fast lens so that you don’t have blurry photos.

Use the color filter to the side of the lens.

3. Making rainbows

Using an old CD can create a rainbow light when it’s being reflected. Use this to create interesting rainbows on your subject or background. You can tilt it to get different effects.

Another way you can use a CD to create interesting light is to cut it up and glue it to poster board or cardboard and hold it up to the light that way. See what kind of creative light you can get onto your subject!

Try moving it around so that you can angle the rainbow just how you want it in your photo. Get creative with placing the rainbow to highlight different parts of your scene.

4. Fairy or string lights

String lights can give your photos a creative twist all while lighting your subject as well. Place the lights close to the lens to get the blurry orbs of light or place them on your actual subject to get that warm and inviting color on your subject.

Tape the lights to the wall so you can have free hands to photograph your subject.

String lights work best in a darker scene but you can experiment with different lighting situations to see what works best. Christmas lights also work for this but they are bulkier.

Use the fairy light close up to your lens to get the orb effect.

5. Spray bottle

Water refracts light, this means that when the light hits the water, it bends and can give you a unique way of lighting a photograph! Grab a spray bottle and give the lens a little spray. You might have to point your camera toward the light source, like a backlight or the sun in order to get the light refracting.

Using distilled water in a spray bottle gives some really interesting effects too. You could even go another step and use a colored filter over the light or lens to get a mixture of the effects.

In conclusion

Create interesting images by combining all of the tips together. This image has the rainbow from the CD, twinkle lights, water droplets all lit by my smartphone flash.

All of these cool lighting effects will give you more creative lighting to your images all using household items that you already have or can create under a budget. Which one will you try?

Share some of the images you take using these techniques with us in the comments below.

 

The post Creative Lighting Tips Using Household Items appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Can New Gear Kickstart Your Photography?

Sun, 04/28/2019 - 15:00

The post Can New Gear Kickstart Your Photography? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

I’m sure you’ve heard of “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” or GAS for short. Photographers usually consider GAS to be negative; frivolously spending money that you don’t need on equipment that won’t make your photography better. However, I’m here to tell you that sometimes a new piece of kit is exactly what you need to inspire you to do something different with your photography.

Getting out of your comfort zone

It’s easy to become complacent with the equipment that you already own. You’ll get to the point where you know it inside out, and you’re completely comfortable using it to create the kind of images that you love. Many photographers have gone for years always using the same system, the same set of lenses, and just upgrading to a new camera body every once in a while to keep pace with new technology.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that approach. Sticking with what you already know produces results that can be a wise use of your limited time and funds. However, sometimes a piece of new gear can push you outside of your comfort zone, forcing you to experiment with new techniques and styles.

A modernist piece of architecture. © Charlie Moss

New gear for a new style

For me, it was a combination of a new Fujifilm mirrorless camera and a 50mm equivalent lens that forced me into trying new styles. Lugging my dSLR camera around with me always felt like a chore; it was so big and heavy. The Fujifilm X-T20, on the other hand, is small and lightweight. It feels much more like the small Yashica rangefinder that my Grandfather used to bring with him on every family holiday. I found that I would shoot much more spontaneous and joyful images with my new little camera, rather than the “serious” images I shot on my larger dSLR.

But what really changed my photography, and could change yours too, was the investment in a new lens. I didn’t spend a fortune – a secondhand Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 lens found its way into my possession. It is a 50mm equivalent lens (on the Fujifilm X-T20 crop-sensor body), so it’s the classic length for many styles of photography. It’s a great focal length for portraits, street photography, food, and still life. So as soon as it arrived, I began to test it extensively. I should point out that I shot every image in this article with the new lens.

Bright yellow classic cars – a chrome-trimmed wing mirror, and a Humber logo. © Charlie Moss

Do you really need new gear?

I get it; not everyone has the money to go out and pick up a new lens or camera just to see if it helps them be more creative. And maybe it wasn’t even the lens or the camera that inspired me to change the way I photograph. Plenty of people manage to change up their style without spending any money at all.

So with that in mind, I have a few suggestions for breaking out of your comfort zone before you break out your credit card.

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. © Charlie Moss

Look at more photography

I don’t just mean on social media. Get out and about in the real world. Take yourself off to an exhibition of photography or an art gallery with a photographic collection. If you live anywhere near a major city, photography exhibitions shouldn’t be too hard to find. Have an open mind about the kind of work you could see. Try to remember that you’re looking for something to inspire a new way of working!

Take a notebook with you too. Make notes in it while you’re walking around the gallery looking at images. Think about how the works of art make you feel or if there’s a particular detail you love. Perhaps there’s a subject you hadn’t thought about photographing before. Or maybe a new use of color that you hadn’t considered for your own work.

Don’t forget to look up the work when you get home too! Many photographers now have a social media presence so that you can keep up to date with their current projects. Historical photographers often have lots written about them on museum and gallery websites for you to read.

Two street images of Oxford, UK. Left: Botanical Gardens looking through a doorway at a wheelbarrow. Right: a woman walking in front of a science lab. © Charlie Moss

Try a new genre

Pick something you’ve never done before in photography. Do a bit of research online and then go out and try shooting it. Be brave – what’s the worst that can happen?

For me, it was street photography. I read some tutorials, talked to a few friends, checked out some images on social media and then went out for the day and just had a go. If the images were rubbish, I’d still had a nice day out photographing!

It’s too easy to become very conservative with your approach to photography. Staying with what you know works well is an easy approach, but you might miss out on a new kind of photography that you absolutely adore. Becoming more fearless and trying new things is something that can benefit all photographers – from beginners to professionals! We all need a kickstart every now and again with our work.

Follow a trend

Of course, we’d all like to be trendsetters rather than followers. But every once in a while it’s good to experiment with something that is clearly capturing the imagination of lots of other photographers!

Instagram is great for checking out what’s fashionable in the world of photography right now. That could be portraits with out-of-focus fairy lights that create bokeh, or beautiful doors and pretty houses. Even if you don’t love the images that you create, each trend will give you the opportunity to experiment with a new technique. You might learn more about the technical aspects of photography, about composition, or even about styling. The key is to take these new things that you’ve learned and use them in your own authentic way.

A photograph of new buildings on Albert Embankment, London. © Charlie Moss

Whatever you do – do something!

If there’s one thing I’m certain about, it’s that if you never try anything new in your photographic practice, then you’ll come to regret it. So take a leap of faith and try something new.

Start by working out what you’d like to try photographically. See if you can try it without investing in any new gear. However, don’t be afraid to think about if a new piece of gear might bring you a new way of working. A lens, a flashgun, or a new lighting modifier. Perhaps even a new camera.

Also, don’t forget to let us know in the comments what you’re planning on trying out. Or if you’ve changed things up in the past let us know what you did to try and reinvigorate your photography and how well it worked for you!

The post Can New Gear Kickstart Your Photography? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Charlie Moss.

My thoughts on the Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G Lens and the 105mm Macro

Sun, 04/28/2019 - 10:00

The post My thoughts on the Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G Lens and the 105mm Macro appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

I must tell you first of all that before I had the Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G lens, I have always used the bigger and heavier big brother – the Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G Macro. While this article will be about what I think of the 60mm, I feel I must also compare it with the 105mm as I have used both.

Lens specs

Let’s start with the basic similarities: both are prime lenses with an f/2.8 maximum aperture and f/32 minimum aperture, have the same number of diaphragm blades and both rounded blades. Both are autofocus, and being G lenses, have an internal ultrasonic motor type.

In terms of differences, the 105mm has vibration reduction while the 60mm hasn’t. The 105mm weighs in at 720g, much heavier due to the size and optics with 14 elements compared to the 60mm at 425g with 12 elements. Interestingly, both have the same filter thread size at 62mm which I found handy when changing filters.

The main difference, however, for me (and the most crucial one of all) is the focusing distance, which is roughly 6 inches for the 60mm and double that for the 105mm at 12 inches. Why does this difference matter to me?

With the 60mm, I need to be really close to the subject to fill the frame. It can get quite tricky when being so close and sometimes I revert to manually focusing the lens. When photographing rings, to get a really great shot, you have to be extremely close for the ring to take up a lot of the frame. As I usually prop both the ring and lens on a steady surface, I can take my time to focus and get really close.

However, because it’s a wider lens than the 105, sometimes I just can’t fill the frame enough with very tiny objects. I then resort to cropping in post-production for these instances.

The 105mm lens with it’s narrower field of view means I don’t have to get as close to the subject and still can get close enough to fill the frame with it. I find there is less need for cropping in post-production too. Because I am usually photographing still life objects such as rings, movement isn’t an issue. However, this becomes one if you were photographing, say insects, where you can’t be close enough otherwise you disturb them and lose the insects as well as your shot.

When I use these lenses

Generally, and as a rule, when I’m doing smaller and shorter shoots like an engagement session, I bring three lenses – wide, medium and long. Because my shoots are mostly on location and often we walk around quite a lot, I try to pack as lightly as possible. For these types of shoots, I use my three prime lenses: a 35mm f/1.4 G, an 85mm f/1.8G, and a 105mm f/2.8 macro. The 105mm here acts as my longer lens and my macro without the bulk of the 70-200mm zoom and another micro lens being the 60mm.

When I do a wedding that only requires a few hours coverage, I also don’t bring my entire arsenal. Instead, I carefully choose my lenses to make sure I have everything covered for those hours. For short weddings, I pack my 24-70mm f/2.8 G, 70-200mm f/2.8G, 85mm f/1.8G, and 60mm f/2.8G. I don’t need the bulk of the 105mm when I cover that focal length with my zoom but I still need a macro, and the 60mm is perfect.

How I use these lenses

I find the Nikkor 60mm Micro Lens is such a versatile focal length and being a micro lens means I do not have to carry my 50mm f/1.4G along with my other lenses anymore. It fulfills both macro capability – mainly for the ring shot and close-up details like food, table setting, and flowers – and a versatile focal length that allows for natural portraits without distortion and those not-so-close-up details.

When using the 60mm for portraits, I am usually shooting with apertures between f/2.8 – f/5.6. When using it as a micro/macro, I am shooting at apertures between f/7.1 – f/11.

The 105mm, as well as being a macro lens, is also perfect for portraits and gives you that creamy bokeh with gorgeous background compression.

When using the 105mm for portraits (which I love doing), I am usually shooting with apertures between f/2.8 – f/4. When using it as a micro/macro, I am shooting at apertures between f/7.1 – f/8. I find that this lens really sings at f/7.1. I have set my camera to 1/3 stops hence the f/7.1.

Performance

Both lenses have top specs and perform brilliantly. Generally speaking, I find that when shooting with both lenses, more ambient or available light is required.

Both lenses tend to produce more vignetting than other lenses. However, there is one main difference to the performance of both lenses. Provided there is enough light for the subject matter, the 60mm is faster and quicker to grab focus whereas the 105mm is slower and often hunts for focus. The 60mm works better for moving objects without flash than the 105mm in the same scenario. While the use of artificial light such as electronic flashes does away with this issue, I am mainly speaking about natural or ambient light.

Recommendation

In summary, I highly recommend both lenses both in quality and overall performance. I think there is a lens for each purpose. You just need to analyze which lens you require to achieve your aim. I don’t think there is a one lens for all. My preference is for prime lenses because of their cleanness and sharpness of images, and for me, they perform better.

However, they cannot compare with the zoom lenses when it comes to fast-moving and hectic shoots like weddings where I physically cannot be zooming in and out with my feet all day.

If you are looking for a prime that gives you the flexibility to shoot portraits and macro, then the 105mm is your lens. However, if you are after more of a travel, photojournalistic, natural view type of images and need a micro, then the 60mm would be my suggestion.

On family holidays, I used to carry my 50mm f/1.4 G. You can read here an article I have written on 5 creative uses of the 50mm. But that was during my pre-60mm days. Since then, my 60mm has replaced my 50mm for these occasions. If I am only allowed one lens for family holidays and travel, I go for the 60mm. I may have lost the wider aperture of the 50mm f/1.4 G, but as holidays are usually during the summer when light is abundant, the difference it makes is not an issue.

I hope you found this helpful. Do let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The post My thoughts on the Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G Lens and the 105mm Macro appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

Your Photographic Legacy: Realizing Your Power as a Photo Maker

Sat, 04/27/2019 - 15:00

The post Your Photographic Legacy: Realizing Your Power as a Photo Maker appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

I’ve struggled with how to approach the topic at hand and I remain unsure even as I type. How can I begin to talk about such far echoing ideas? I already know that you and I share a common thread: photography.

I’ll further assume that if you’re reading this, you are a person who makes photographs regularly. Perhaps that’s the perfect way to start; by knowing that you’re a camera person, just like me.

Being that we’re the same, I hope you understand the scope of what it means to “be a photographer” in an age when cameras are everywhere. Do you understand the power you hold in your hands? It’s the magnitude of this power that we will discuss.

With any luck, these simple truths about our craft will be nothing new. If anything, hopefully, these ideas will be a gentle reminder of the role you play in the photographic legacy.

On the other hand, if you have forgotten these facts or if you’ve never thought about them before, today is an especially important day for you.

Respect for the work…respect for yourself

It’s oddly paradoxical that photography can be so incredibly personal yet at the same time so impersonal. This is especially true of digital photography when often times the work we produce remains essentially intangible and often untouchable.

Where other creators physically intersect with their craft by either drawing, painting, sculpting or carving, we stand alone in a shared uniqueness. We use a machine to bring our expressions to life. We cannot touch what we capture with any sense of immediacy, and yet photography has become one of the most effective methods for bridging what we see with what we feel.

As photographers, we must grasp the sheer weirdness and complexity of what we do at a basic level. Our work is part science, part soul, part philosophy and as such should be respected for the beautiful oddball of the visual arts that it truly is.

Furthermore, you should have immense respect for yourself and your fellow practitioners of photography. Not through any sense of superiority but rather a feeling of camaraderie.

We compete on occasion, sure. We envy or criticize each other at times. With the internet being the internet, it’s quite easy to pick apart the work of others instead of building it up. We’re only human. Still, the fact remains that we will advance more by positive attitudes and tasteful critique than through thoughtless criticism and negativity.

I can assure you that we’re all in this madness together.

Photography is the servant of history

Imagine for a minute a couple of historic images in your mind. Ali standing over Frazier. That child running from a napalm strike in Vietnam. The aftermath at Kent State. A lone man staring down a tank in Beijing. Einstein sticking his tongue out for the camera.

All these moments, for better or worse, are solidified in history through photographs. Photography carries monumental weight for bringing awareness to the beauty and horrors present in the human condition.

Arguably, photography is the greatest asset for documenting history that the world has ever known.

Every photograph is made by a man or woman who was present at the exact moment these events took place. For better or worse, the presence of a camera has been the catalyst for social, political and environmental change for nearly two centuries.

Where would we be without the photographs which move us to action and change the way we think about the world?

Photographers can strike fire anywhere with a single photograph.

Possessing the ability to potentially impact the entire course of civilization by what we do should fill us with a measure of pride, wonderment and ultimately a sense of apprehension. Think about that the next time you go out with your camera.

You can make a difference through your photography at any time and in any place.

You represent every photographer

If you bear with me, I find it’s necessary to share a quick story about a woodworker friend of mine; a story, which as it turns out, became the reason for me penning this article.

A few weeks ago I witnessed a rather nasty situation play out on social media between my friend and another woodworker. Without injecting my own opinion, it was obvious that the attitude shown towards my friend was met with universal disapproval by most of the commenters.

I was fascinated (and comforted) by the fact that what seemed to trouble people the most was the blatant disrespect which was being exhibited by one craftsperson to another.

My mind immediately jumped to the manner we as photographers conduct ourselves, both on and offline, and how that conduct impacts the public perception of photographers.

As cameras become more and more available to the masses, it’s important to comprehend that we are all practitioners of an art form that dates back to the early 19th century. That’s quite the legacy. What I mean by this is that the way we interact with our subjects and our environment while we practice our craft can be just as important as the photographs we produce.

I have witnessed photographers moving “flying stones” at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley just so their shots couldn’t be replicated. On countless occasions, I’ve watched as cars back up behind a person who parked in the highway to make photos bears.

Perhaps most alarming of all, I have observed shockingly pretentious attitudes exhibited by professional photographers upon those deemed “beneath” their perceived level of skill.

Be courteous and respectful to others, especially fellow photographers. Always be willing to pass on what knowledge you have about the craft. Keep in mind that we are stewards of our art and tend its flame for many generations of photo makers to come.

Never fall victim to the kind of indifferent behavior that would belittle the legacy of photography.

Final thoughts….

So, what’s the endgame here?

The keyword is “realization.”

Realize that the role photography plays in the world cannot be overstated, and your part in that story is just as important.

The way we approach photography is very much a reflection of how we approach life and each share similar outcomes.

Be mindful that you always remember the impact of the photos you make and how far the manner by which you make those photos truly reaches. Photographs carry a unique duality which occupies a cloudy space among other art forms.

Our cameras have the power to make, record and even change history, but without you, a camera is just a camera.

Remember the power you have as a photographer and wield it accordingly.

The post Your Photographic Legacy: Realizing Your Power as a Photo Maker appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

How to Develop a Photography Workflow that Preserves Your Images

Sat, 04/27/2019 - 10:00

The post How to Develop a Photography Workflow that Preserves Your Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

“I love spending time in front of a computer working on my images – sorting them, cataloging them and editing them,” said no photographer ever!

Well, maybe a few of us like to be sitting in front of our desk pouring over image after image, shoot after shoot. But let’s face it, as photographers, we would much rather get out there and photograph in the field than be chained to our desk and computers indoors.

This is where having a good solid workflow that can help you ease the post-shoot process is very important. Workflows are not just for the editing portion of your life as a photographer. In fact, a workflow is something that can help you before, during and even after your photo shoot.

Whether you are a busy professional photographer or an active hobbyist, having a good solid workflow and method of organizing images is crucial.

Having a workflow is even beneficial if you just photograph on your smartphone.

We have all been in situations where your phone runs out of space because you have images from three years ago that you have done nothing with. Sorting through three years worth of data to find images to delete under pressure of missing a key moment is no joke!

I wear many different photography hats as a wedding, lifestyle and travel photographer. So my workflow is slightly different based on the type of session I am photographing. But for the most part, I follow the same series of steps.

Here is my process. Hopefully, you may be able to replicate some or all of these steps to create a process that works for you in your photography.

1. Choice of Gear Camera

My camera of choice is a Canon 5D MKIII. At this point, I only have one digital camera. I used to have a Canon 5D MKII as my backup, but ever since I starting working with a second shooter for my weddings, I didn’t find the need for my Canon 5D MK II. So I sold it.

For commercial shoots or bigger gigs that require multiple cameras and lenses, I just rent what I need. I am lucky in that I have a big camera store close to home that has all the gear I could need. They even have a studio that I can rent out should I need more space.

Batteries and Cards

I purchased two extra batteries when I was a full-time wedding photographer, and because I sold my backup gear, I am now left with extra camera batteries for my primary camera.

This works really well because I carry all my batteries with me when I am traveling or going to a multi-day event. That way I don’t have to worry about finding a plug point or charging my camera battery in the field.

This was a lifesaver earlier in the year when I traveled to Portugal and lost my power converter/adaptor. Try figuring out how to say power adaptor in a part of the world where you don’t speak the language! I drained out my batteries to the very last percent of battery juice during that trip!

Side tip: try shaking the battery to squeeze out every last bit of battery juice if you are running out of battery life. I’m not joking. I have tried this successfully many times in Portugal to get that last shot before the battery died!

I have 5 x 32GB CF cards, 3 x 16GB CF cards and a handful of 8 GB CF cards. For the most part, all these cards travel with me for a multi-day shoot or a personal travel trip that is several days long.

Part of my pre-shoot workflow includes downloading all my cards, charging my batteries and packing my bag with everything I need the night before.

Camera bag

My camera bag is a backpack that I used not just my photography but also for excursions and trips around town. I ditched the proverbial camera bag many years ago when I started traveling with my family of young kids. Carrying a camera bag, diaper bag, and a purse was just not practical. Also, once I got used to carrying a day pack that held all my treasures, it just seems second nature to me to pick that bag up no matter what the occasion.

Since I have just one camera/day pack, part of my workflow is to make sure the bag is empty and ready for the next adventure as soon as I come back home from a shoot/trip or even just going around town.

Luckily, it has enough pockets to store batteries, CF cards and other things like filters, and flashes.

At a recent class I taught, I loved seeing the diversity in terms of camera bags that everyone was using!

2. During the shoot

There is nothing quite like learning the importance of having a workflow than losing data or content in the absence of one. I learned the hard way when I lost all my images from a shoot on a card that failed. Luckily it was for a family shoot that I could reschedule.

So from that point onwards, I change my camera data card with each logical break in the event I am photographing.

For example, if I am photographing a wedding, I have the getting ready activities on one card, the ceremony on another card and the reception on a third card.

Even though the cards are not full, this gives me the security of losing only a part of the day should anything go wrong.

Of course, my backup for weddings is my second photographer who does the same thing.

For non-wedding related client work, I use a backup SD card in my camera. The Canon 5D MkIII has a dual card slot, so I take full advantage of the technology at my fingertips. If I am on a personal assignment, I change out my cards every night and download the photos onto an external drive.

Another thing that is important to note is how you store used and unused data cards. Figure out a system that works for you in how you separate the two. For me, used CF cards from a photoshoot are placed in a separate pouch from unused CF cards. I place those in another pouch in my camera bag.

In terms of the actual shoot, try and come up with a game plan for what you are photographing. As a wedding photographer, one of the key things I make sure to discuss with my wedding couples is a shot list. A shot list is a list of all the key moments and images that the couple absolutely wants to have taken. Typically these are around photos with family members.

With client and commercial shoots, the clients typically have a list of images they want to get from you. Use this concept of a shot list to list down all the ‘must have’ images you want to get out of a photographic excursion.

Shot lists save you effort, and they help you become more efficient with your time in the field.

Wedding photography can be quite stressful. There isn’t really a do-over option if you mess up. Having a workflow is critical and life-saving for a wedding photographer.

3. After the shoot

When I am back home from a wedding or a lifestyle shoot, the first thing I do is pack away my gear. I separate my camera body from my lenses and pack them away separately. All batteries are removed, including those from my flash. I have heard horror stories where batteries, especially AAAs, have leaked into the flash socket, so I don’t want to have to deal with that mess! Plus I use rechargeable batteries for all my flashes and external lights. Once they are out, I put them back in the case ready to be recharged for the next photography gig.

If I am at a multi-day shoot, all batteries are plugged into the charger slots right away.

These are the steps I take with my images:

  1. I download all the images from my CF cards onto TWO external hard drives, that act as a storage for my RAW images. 
  2. Once the RAW images are successfully transferred to my external hard drive, I go through and spot check the images and the total image count to make sure all the images are moved over.
  3. Images are moved over based on the shoot, location or event. For example a wedding will be downloaded as follows on the primary storage drive:

20190101_ClientNameWedding_GettingReady

20100101_FamilyName_LifestyleShoot

20100101_Personal_VacationLocation_Day01

  1. The secondary drive is less formal and has images just based on the event. For example:

2019

WeddingClientCard01

WeddingClientCard02

FamilyLifestyelShoot

Personal_TripCard01

Personal_TripCard02

  1. I then format the cards in camera. This is done on the camera rather than the computer. The reason for this is because I have found that sometimes all the images are not cleaned out and the card still retains some data that occupies unnecessary space.

Treating every client shoot like it was a wedding really helped me nail down a process and workflow that works for me. Now it is second nature and something I don’t even have to think about.

4. After the shoot (remote)

When I am traveling for work or pleasure, I carry one WD My Passport Ultra external hard drive and all my camera data cards. Earlier in my career, I would carry two external hard drives and create primary and secondary backups in the field. Now I have found that I don’t photograph as much because I am more thoughtful about what I photograph.

So now I just carry all my cards, and one external hard drive to back them up in the field. I avoid taking an external hard drive when I am just traveling for pleasure or personal work to reduce my load.

When I get home, the RAW files from the CF cards used during the trip are copied over to both external hard drives (primary and secondary) that house all my raw images. They are deleted from the WD Ultra so that it is ready for my next trip.

Early in my photography career, there were times where I would travel with almost every lens I owned, a laptop, two external hard drives, and many camera cards to be safe. Perhaps it is age, or perhaps it is maturity (I like to think it is a little bit of both), but now I try to travel light and take only what is absolutely needed to get the job done.

If I need something along the way, I either borrow, rent or figure out creative solutions to make things work.

I would argue that personal photos are more important than professional ones – especially as the dedicated photographer of the family. I love documenting our journey for no-one but me!

5. Editing workflow

Eighty percent of my editing happens in Lightroom (LR). Photoshop is used sparingly if I have to make any advanced editing. I have invested in the Adobe Creative Cloud for LR and Photoshop. I’ve installed them on my iMac (my primary editing device), as well as my MacBook Pro (my travel companion).

My Lightroom catalog lives on an external HD. I understand some people have concerns over running a LR Catalog on an external HD, because of potential LR speed issues. So far, I have not experienced any issues with LR in terms of speed by having the catalog on an external HD. However, if you are concerned about speed, then your LR catalog can be put on your computer’s hard drive, and keep a backup on the external HD. A backup of my LR catalog lives on a cloud service that is updated every six weeks.

I used to use iPhoto on my iMac to store all my images and only upload selected images to Lightroom. I tried to use Bridge for a few years to select images that I want to import into Lightroom. Now I use Photos on my Mac to select images that I want to edit and upload them into Lightroom.

I know it is probably easier to just upload all images to Lightroom and sort them via the software to save an extra step. I have one Lightroom catalog that houses all my work since 2012, and so there are quite a few images in the catalog. I had found that when I used Lightroom to sort and select images, it takes forever to load.

My Lightroom catalog is sorted by year, and I use the following naming convention for my Lightroom. I am less worried about the naming convention in Lightroom than I am with my primary and second storage units. This is just my personal preference.

YYYYMMDD_ClientName_TypeoftheShoot.

After editing is complete, I export my client images onto the same WD Ultra external hard drive as my Lightroom catalog.

The client folders get arranged by the date of the session.

This time the naming standard is as follows:

CompanyName_ClientNameEvent_Date

All images have the same naming convention as the folder, along with an image sequence number.

Every few years I go through and delete edited galleries from the external hard drive. I don’t delete client RAW files – just the edited files. I have found myself going back to many client galleries and re-editing images as my style evolves and changes. There is no point in keep multiple copies of the same image.

I use a mix of presets and hand edits for my images. It took me many years to finally come up with a style and method of how I want my images to look. Ninety percent of my edits follow that same process. Every once in a while I drastically change my “look” to keep things fresh.

As a rule, I spend no more than a minute on each image. I would much rather be outside photographing than indoors editing.

Exact same image – two different looks. And I love them both.

6. Editing Remotely

I really avoid extensive editing of images in the field. I prefer to focus on documenting and photographing rather than same day edits. I would much rather take a quick snapshot on my iPhone and edit using phone apps for a quick social media preview than spend time and effort in editing in the field.

A couple of years ago, I traveled out of the country for three months over the summer. This was before Lightroom came up with their cloud version. Because I was gone for so long, I took my Lightroom catalog with me on an external drive and used that for 3 months.

Recently, I started using Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC for my workflow. I primarily used them for working when traveling. When I know I need access to my files for a particular project or a particular job, I upload those files to my Lightroom CC and work on them while on the road. Once back home, I ‘sync’ Lightroom CC as a collection in my Lightroom Classic and have all those edits readily available.

7. Client workflow

I use an external portfolio service to host my images for client work. These client galleries are only online for three weeks, and then they are deleted. My wedding photography packages all include edited images on a personalized flash drive whereas my family portraiture clients have the option of purchasing digital images if they want them for future use.

Every few years I go through and update client galleries and delete old ones. Keep in mind these are just the edited files. My client RAW files are stored indefinitely in case a client comes back after a few years for the images. If you don’t want to delete client images, you can invest in an external cloud storage system.

In Conclusion

While it might seem like a lot, my workflow has simplified over time. Just as I limit the gear I own and use, I also try and limit the images I capture – for both client and personal work. Having 100 photos of a spectacular sunset no longer make sense to me. I also stick to my workflow because it saves time in the long run.

One of my favorite things to stock up on are external hard drives. Every so often they fail, and I have to replace them. As cloud storage gets more accessible and less expensive, I can see myself moving things over to the cloud and simplifying my process and workflow even more.

I encourage you to use this, or some variation of this workflow and tweak it to make it your own. If you do it consistently and often enough, it becomes second nature and saves you time so you can do what you enjoy doing – photographing.

 

The post How to Develop a Photography Workflow that Preserves Your Images appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Karthika Gupta.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Dogs

Fri, 04/26/2019 - 15:00

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

This week’s photography challenge topic is DOGS!

Andreas Wagner

Go out and capture your little doggy friends doing those awesome things they do – like running, jumping, barking, eating your sofa, etc. They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Joe Caione

 

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

Tips for Shooting DOGS

How to Take Better Action Photos of Dogs

Five Tips for Creative Pet Photography

Why Taking Pictures of Your Pets Will Help Make You a Better Photographer

6 Tips for Working with Unruly Animals in Pet Photography

5 Adorable Pet Photos [and How to Make your Shots even Cuter]

4 of the Best Lenses for Creative Dog Photography

 

Weekly Photography Challenge – DOGS

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 #DPSdogs 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 – Dogs appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Which Landscape Photography Camera Should You Buy? [video]

Fri, 04/26/2019 - 10:00

The post Which Landscape Photography Camera Should You Buy? [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video by Mark Denney, he looks at 8 questions you should ask yourself before choosing your new camera for Landscape Photography.

8 questions to ask yourself: 1. What are you solving? What’s broken that you are trying to fix?

The main problem he was having was that he was trying to use his main photography camera, the Sony A7RII for video too, which was fine but it was an inconvenience for him.

So he wanted two separate cameras – one for stills, and one for video.

2. What’s Your Budget?

Set your budget in the beginning (before you start shopping), so you know what to look for.

3. Do you want to go mirrorless or DSLR?

There are pros and cons to both. While DSLRs have great image quality, and good battery life, they are heavier.

Many mirrorless cameras also have excellent image quality but not always great battery life (editor-though this is always being improved upon). They are lighter in weight, but you may have to carry extra batteries.

4. What sensor size do you want?

Think about the sensor size you want. Do you want to go for full-frame, crop sensor or Micro four thirds? Full frame is the most expensive sensor size to go for. Think about the type of photography you will be doing. If you are going to be doing a lot of Astro photography, for example, you may want to go for full-frame as it will allow you to capture the most light.

5. Image Quality

What camera has the best image quality in the brand that you are interested in?

Pixel size – Think about megapixels. Many cameras now have large megapixels. Are you printing your images in large format or just sharing them on the web and social media?

Dynamic Range – the tonality of an image. The difference between the brightest brights and the darkest darks.
The human eye can detect 20-stops of dynamic range. Dynamic range is measured in stops. Mark says the best cameras on the market at the moment in terms of dynamic range are the Nikon D850 and the Sony A7RIII with around 15-stops of dynamic range. Average DSLRs are around 12-stops of dynamic range. The more dynamic range, the better results you get when bringing out shadows in editing.

ISO – Again, it depends on what you are shooting. If you are shooting night skies, you may want to choose a camera that works better at high ISOs with less noise. If you are shooting landscapes during daylight hours or blue hour, most cameras will work fine in these conditions.

6. Overall Lens Ecosystem

You aren’t just investing in the camera, but also the brands’ lens ecosystem. While there are adapters, you may want to still look at the lenses.

7. Video specs

If you are planning to shoot video too, then look at the video specs. For example, do you want 4K, or are you happy with just HD?

8. User interface/User experience

Do some research about the user interface. Is the camera intuitive and easy to use and navigate? Are the ergonomics good? Does it feel good in your hand?
If you are unsure about any of these things, renting a camera is a good way to try it out before buying.

Mark decided that the Fuji X-T3 was the perfect camera for his needs. What will yours be?

 

You may also find the following helpful

The post Which Landscape Photography Camera Should You Buy? [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

How to Make Well Exposed Photos Every Time – Part Three – Post-Processing for Exposure Optimization

Thu, 04/25/2019 - 15:00

The post How to Make Well Exposed Photos Every Time – Part Three – Post-Processing for Exposure Optimization appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Digital photography allows us an incredible scope to work on our computers to enhance and manipulate images. Optimizing your exposures during post-processing can make a dull, flat-looking photograph into a much more vibrant and interesting one.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

My approach to post-processing most of the time is to make my photos look as they did when I captured them or with some variation to the background tone. Because our eyes see more dynamic range than our cameras, this means I am working to balance my exposure and the way the light looks in the photo.

RAW or Jpg?

If your photos are saved only as jpg’s, your camera will have made certain tweaks to them already. It may have added some sharpening, color balance, contrast tweaks and possibly manipulated them in other ways. Jpg images as designed to look good straight out of your camera and may require little or no post-processing.

If you do decide to work on your jpg files, you will face limitations because of the file quality. As your camera saves jpg files, it compresses them and discards some of the information from the photos. Jpgs are technically lower quality which means they do not stand up to as much post-processing as RAW files do.

RAW files contain all the information your camera captured when you pressed the shutter release. They do not look great when you first see them because the camera has not altered them at all during the capturing and saving process.

To make a RAW file look good you must make some adjustments manually or use a preset or Action to make them for you. The technical quality of a RAW file is superior because there is no data lost from what your camera recorded. You have a greater capacity to be able to manipulate these files without losing quality.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Choose your best photos

From each series of photographs you make I hope that you will have a number of exposure options to choose from when you sit down at your computer. Picking the best images to work on is the first part of post-processing.

Naturally, you’ll be wanting to pay most attention to the main subject in your photo. Is it exposed the way you want it to be? Can you see that there’s sufficient detail in those areas of your composition?

In some cases, such as when you’ve made a silhouette or are using low-key lighting and high contrast, you may have little or no detail in your subject. This is okay if that’s what you want.

However, if exposing for detail was your intention, and there’s not enough in your photo, look at the pictures where you used different exposure settings.

Your background exposure is also important. Does it enhance and support your main subject? Is it too bright or too dark? Again, look to see if there is detail. When there’s no detail, because of overexposure or underexposure, it will be more difficult to manipulate these areas.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Make use of the histogram

Your histogram gives you information about the tonal values in your images. It shows you where the most detail is and if you have lost detail in the bright or dark parts of your compositions.

If your histogram is bunched up to the left or the right of the chart, with the graphic touching the top, this means there will be no detail recorded in those areas.

If you can see a histogram bunched to the right and hitting the top, you will have lost detail in the highlights. If it’s bunched to the left and hitting the top, you have lost detail in the dark areas.

If your main subject is within this range and you wanted it to contain detail, you will need to choose a photo with a different exposure setting to work on.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Using presets or manual manipulation

Lightroom and Photoshop come with presets and Actions. These can be used to help balance your exposure. You can also download many more or make and save your own. These tools can enhance and speed up your post-processing workflow.

I often chose one of a variety of presets as I begin to post process a photograph. Rarely do I apply a preset without then tweaking it further. Every exposure you make is different, so to get your photos looking their best some manual manipulation is usually best.

Working your highlights and shadows

Having been careful to expose your main subject well, you may already be happy with its tone value. However, some parts of your composition may still need tweaking to get them looking the way you want.

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Your intention is the most important. How do you want your photograph to look?

Here are two examples of different manipulations made to the same RAW file.

Example one: Dark background

I wanted to make the background darker so the roses would stand out. Using a preset I made in Lightroom, I then made further manual adjustments. I controlled the Blacks, Dehaze, Contrast, and Shadows sliders.

When making this kind of adjustment to manipulate the background of your image, pay attention to your main subject also. These sliders make universal changes to your photos so affect your main subject as well.

With a light-toned main subject and a predominantly dark background, the changes I made did not have much effect on the roses.

I then opened the photo, with the Lightroom adjustments, in Photoshop. At this stage, I darkened the lightest part of the photo to lower the overall tone range.

There are many techniques you can darken or lighten specific areas of a photo. I prefer to use the Dodge and Burn tools set to a low exposure to do this. I also used the Patch tool to remove a few of the brighter areas in the background.

As a result, the background is darker, and the highlights on the rose are not so bright.

Example Two: Light Background

To render a lighter, softer look, I took the Dehaze slider towards the left, and the Shadows towards the right. I added a little more Black and some Contrast, otherwise the image looked too flat.

Next, using Photoshop, I tweaked the highlights a little so they were not so bright.

In both of these examples, my main objective was to enhance the roses because they are my main subject.

The background tone is also important. Between the two examples, there is the most difference in the tone of the background. This has a large impact on the overall feel of the photo.

Conclusion

As with all post-processing, there are a variety of methods you can use to gain similar results. Here I have demonstrated a few techniques I am comfortable using.

Concentrating primarily on the tone of your main subject in relation to the background is a good place to start when post-processing. Once you have made adjustments you are satisfied with, you can then move on and make other changes to your photos if you wish.

Aim to expose your main subject the way you want at the time of making your photos. Doing so allows you more flexibility to make changes in post-production and not lose quality. If you are stuck working with a main subject that’s either underexposed or overexposed, you will be limited in how much you can achieve.

Experimentation is the best way to discover how you like to work with photo manipulation software. There is no right or wrong way to work with your photos so long as you achieve the result you want.

You may also like

 

The post How to Make Well Exposed Photos Every Time – Part Three – Post-Processing for Exposure Optimization appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Makeup Essentials for Photographers Part I – The Tools

Thu, 04/25/2019 - 10:00

The post Makeup Essentials for Photographers Part I – The Tools appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mark C Hughes.

Makeup! Before I took photographs (and as a guy), I rarely used or had to use makeup, so I had very limited personal experience with it. That being said, I have taken portrait photographs of beautiful women that have been professionally made up, and I can honestly say it really makes a difference through the lens of a camera.

The best makeup is always barely noticeable – you only focus on the subject. It is truly a skill to do makeup well. Getting a good makeup artist to help with your portraits will always make the images better. However, in many cases, a makeup artist is not available, so the next best thing is to do it yourself to help deal with specific issues and get better results.

Made up Model

Best results

For the best portrait shooting results, you want subjects that are well rested and healthy. You also want interesting locations, great lighting, and skill behind the camera.

Although the last three are things you have control over, you generally have limited control over your subjects.

Other than suggesting your subjects be well hydrated and rested, there is little you can do to change your given subjects. Makeup can help improve the overall appearance of your subject by balancing skin tones, correcting most skin imperfections and even change the perceived shape of a subject’s face.

Well-applied makeup will also boost the effects of good lighting and minimize retouching.

Same model different makeup

Nothing new

Fashion and glamour photographers have long known the benefits of makeup and often employ a makeup artist on their sets. Most portrait photographers don’t have the budget or benefit of a makeup artist on location particularly if you are only doing one or two portraits.

Usually, the portrait photographer is working with the makeup that the subject shows up with (or lack thereof).

Any corrections are often done in post-production to deal with shine, blotchy skin, and uneven skin tones.

However, with a few makeup items supplied and a bit of practice, any photographer can develop enough skill to apply basic makeup and improve a portrait straight out of the camera (SOOC).

All subjects benefit from a little makeup (female, male and other), as long as they are human.

Even males benefit from a little makeup

Basic requirements

Let’s consider the basics of a useful makeup kit, simple application techniques, and hygiene requirements.  Makeup artists will spend lots of money on equipping their kits, but you only need a few items to apply simple makeup before a portrait session.

There are, however, two important things you need to consider before putting together your own makeup kit.

Makeup will make many women feel special

First, poor quality products generate poor results. You don’t need to purchase the very best products but getting cosmetics from a reputable makeup store, a cosmetics counter at a department store or a pharmacy with a larger cosmetics section will produce better results. You can purchase online, but it is best if you know what you are getting.

As a male photographer purchasing cosmetics, be prepared for comments from some stores about getting stuff for your wife or girlfriend mostly because men buying makeup is less common.

Men will often be unaccustomed with makeup

Secondly, people are becoming more considerate of products that have fewer animal byproducts and are free of animal testing. Most people do not want weird stuff on their faces, and you will want to be respectful of people’s wishes.

Brushes and applicators

Ideally, you should have three brushes – a face brush, blush or powder brush, and a concealer brush. Brushes need to be soft durable and able to be easily cleaned. Generally, it is a good practice to purchase good quality synthetic brushes. Always ensure that the larger brushes are very soft and pliable.

Brushes and Applicators

The face brush is the largest and fluffiest of all the makeup brushes. They are often about 2 inches wide with bristles curves into a rounded shape.  The blush or powder brush is a medium-sized soft brush that is about 1 inch wide with curved edges. The third brush is a concealer or lip brush which is small, about 0.25 to 0.5 inches wide with tapered ends.

In addition to brushes, wedge-shaped disposable sponges are handy for all sorts of things. Cotton swabs are indispensable but buy a brand name because inexpensive bands tend to cause more of a mess than they clean up. Disposable hand towels (thicker than paper towels) are useful for cleaning up. Finally, blotting film or facial blotting paper is the last disposable item you need for a brush/applicator.

The cosmetics

Although there is a lot of makeup out there, this kit is not intended to replace a makeup artist, it is just to help you, so you can get away with a surprisingly small collection of cosmetics to pull it together. There may be additional things but start with the basics.

Cosmetics

Translucent loose-setting powder will have a very light skin tone color in the jar but applies neutrally on almost all skin tones. These powders are often mineral based.

Concealer is an inexpensive staple for any makeup kit. You can get smaller collections, but often you can get a wheel or concealer palette that has multiple colors to adjust for skin tones.

Blush or bronzer is used to give the cheeks a little color and make you look a little suntanned as well.

Rice powder is a very fine, light, loose white or very pale powder use for absorbing excess oils and highlighting features. It should almost be invisible and is not expensive.

Lip gloss can be super simple and does not need to be a bold color. Just a simple stick of clear lip gloss or slightly tinted balms will do the job.

Great results straight out of the camera

Cleaning and sanitizing products

For non-makeup people, the importance of cleaning up hands, brushes, and cosmetics cannot be understated. You really need to keep everything clean, particularly if you intend to use the makeup for more than one person (but even then you need to clean up your brushes).

Key staples are hand sanitizer, a brush cleaner (baby shampoo will do), and a cosmetic sanitizer. Use unscented hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean before and after every makeup application.

The brush cleaner is essential to keep the brushes functional. Finally, the cosmetic sanitizer gets applied to the cosmetics after use. Isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle works but tends to discolor the makeup with repeated use. It is best to get a proper sanitizing mister made especially for cosmetic products.

Makeup as an art

Applying makeup takes skill. To become skilled, you need to practice. Before you start applying makeup to a paying subject, you need to practice on someone who doesn’t mind you practicing on them. There is a reason why makeup artists are paid well for their work. It is hard, and they make it look easy.

Couples will enjoy it too

Conclusion of Part I

With all this equipment you are ready to help your clients look better for their portraits. In part 2, we cover the techniques and basic skills to apply makeup to your clients. The intent is not to make you a makeup artist, but to help smooth features and improve the look of your portraits straight out of the camera. That way, you don’t have to spend a lot of time post-processing your images.

It doesn’t replace a true makeup artist’s work

 

The post Makeup Essentials for Photographers Part I – The Tools appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Mark C Hughes.

How Using Movies Can Inspire Your Photography

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 15:00

The post How Using Movies Can Inspire Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

One of the best ways to “improve” at photography is to look at a lot of pictures. Ask yourself why some photos work and others don’t. This is easy to do with the endless photo books and magazines available. You can also learn a lot from the world of cinema. Use movies to inspire your photography!

The bleach bypass effect originated from movies.

Many of the tricks and techniques used in movies are transferable to stills photography. It might be the lighting, the color contrast, the depth of field or the camera angle that gets your attention. Watch your favorite movies and see what you can learn, but also consider watching films you wouldn’t normally watch. Note the names of directors and observe their style.

Lighting

Lighting is obviously an important part of cinematography, but it’s not always discussed in the same terms that photographers are used to. For instance, there is “motivated” and “unmotivated” lighting. The former uses a light source within the frame, whereas the source of unmotivated lighting is unknown to the viewer.

Photographers often leave artificial light sources out of frame. So not doing so and improvising with various lights (e.g., headlamps) makes your pictures instantly more movie-like.

A classic movie lighting technique is three-point lighting. By lighting the subject from the front, back, and side, cinematographers create modeling and separate their subjects from the background. The strongest light is the key light, while the other light sources are fill lights.

Stills photographers are familiar with the hardness and softness of light. Soft light generally comes from a large light source and hard light from a small one. Soft light is often more desirable, but the harsh shadows caused by hard lighting are useful in horror or film noir-style movies.

A small light source (e.g. table lamp) placed near the subject creates big, bold shadows – film noir-style.

Film Noir

Popular during the 1940s and 50s, and still a reference for today’s movie-makers, film noir uses low-key lighting and often a small light source to create long or bold shadows. You’ll see other tricks, too, like low camera angles to emphasize power in lead actors and instill fear in the viewer. Modern interpretations of film noir are “neo-noir” movies.

Almost film noir with the banister shadow cast onto the wall via an artificial light.

Color

Cinematographers, like photographers, use various tricks to separate elements in the frame. One way to do this is by using complementary colors to create color contrast. A common example is the orange and teal grading seen in many movie and TV scenes.

Orange and teal grading, which can be achieved in numerous ways with varying degrees of subtlety. This is still very common in movies and on TV.

Orange and teal are opposite each other on a color wheel, like all complementary colors. These hues are useful for emphasizing skin tones against a dark background, but they also work well in beach scenes, sunsets and sometimes street views.

Color Contrast in Photoshop CC

The latest version of Photoshop CC includes the Adobe Color Themes extension, which can be used to find perfect complementary colors and paint them into photos. This technique works best in unfussy pictures, where you may want to create eye-catching color contrast between two main elements. You might paint a wall green, for instance, to complement a red subject in the foreground.

The Adobe Color Themes extension showing the complementary color for this Harley Davidson paintwork.

You can also create these color contrast effects at the raw stage using split toning or calibration sliders in Lightroom or ACR. The channels sliders in Photoshop are another possibility, as are gradient maps. Try creating a gradient map by dialing in your own choice of complementary colors!

Camera Angles

Even as beginners, photographers soon realize that camera angles are important. In tall buildings, a sloping camera angle emphasizes height and has a disorienting effect on the viewer. Look at stills from Spiderman movies to see this! Buildings are very often diagonal in the frame. Or there’ll be several converging buildings to create a dizzying effect.

The Dutch angle (or Dutch tilt)

In movie terms, slanting the camera to create a diagonal perspective is called a “Dutch tilt”. You’d use it for the reasons described above, although not only with buildings. It wrong-foots the viewer and creates a feeling of tension, uneasiness or instability. Sometimes it conveys a psychological malaise in the subject. The Dutch tilt is a feature of film noir movies, too, as another means of unsettling viewers.

The Dutch tilt.

Soft focus effect

In old movies, and not-so-old TV series, leading ladies were often shrouded with a soft-focus effect. Then we’d cut to the rugged leading man in sharp relief. Aside from its romantic quality, this effect has a smoothing effect that conceals skin blemishes and flatters the subject. The idea of routinely beautifying women for “the silver screen” is a little controversial today, but use of soft focus isn’t limited to portraits.

Marcel Proust can be my soft-focus model. Note how his bronze skin is smoother in the upper part of the photo. This is a simple Gaussian blur edit.

A subtle soft-focus effect can work quite well with scenery and it’s a useful way of remedying over-sharpening in web photos. Ideally, that shouldn’t happen, but sometimes resizing introduces a slight crunchiness in pictures (as does sharpening without your glasses on).

One easy Photoshop method for a soft-focus effect is to create a duplicate layer, apply Gaussian blur to that layer with a value of about 10 and then reduce opacity. For a dreamy look, you can use an opacity of about 30-50%, but a much lower value will take the edge off sharpening in a web image.

Evoke a film genre

Even if you’re not directly copying a movie technique, you can still try to capture the feel of a movie genre. For instance, a war movie might have somber colors and a grainy look, while you could use a strong vignette and cool or dark tones to suggest a horror movie. Vignettes force the viewer’s eye along a specific path, so they can evoke a nightmarish loss of control if the subject matter lends itself to that treatment.

Heavy vignetting and a somber tone get somewhere near a horror movie feel.

Choosing lenses

Cinematographers choose lenses for similar reasons to stills photographers: image quality, lens speed, practicality. They might use a fast telephoto zoom in less controllable situations (e.g. documentary shooting), but often they use prime lenses.

You can buy into the cinematic look with what used to be called a standard lens – the 50mm prime. These are relatively cheap, though the faster, more expensive models (e.g. f/1.4) sometimes have more pleasing bokeh. And you can close them down a stop or two for sharper results than cheaper lenses at the same aperture. Still, the affordable 50mm f/1.8 is always a great buy. It’s also less prone to focusing problems than ultra-fast lenses.

Shame the modern cars ruin the vintage feel of this photo. I took it with a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens, which was well known for its creamy background “bokeh”. Any 50mm lens is useful.

Other prime lenses to consider include a wide-angle 28 or 35mm (or equivalent) and a fast “portrait” lens of between 80 and 105mm. The ability to use a wide aperture gives you more creative choice and helps isolate subjects, though clearly this is not always a cinematic aim.

Studying movies

You can learn a lot about photography just by closely studying movies. If you watch DVDs or Blu-ray discs, you might have the director’s commentary as an extra feature. This gives fascinating insight into the reasons scenes are shot the way they are. A director has the last say in framing and how a movie looks, although the cinematographer also has creative input (e.g. in lighting a scene).

10 Well-Shot Movies

Here are 10 movies from many that I admire for their photography:

  • Casablanca (1942)
  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • The Shining (1980)
  • Amélie (2001)
  • Children of Men (2006)
  • No Country for Old Men (2007)
  • The Tree of Life (2011)
  • Mr. Turner (2014)

A more extensive list is here. It helps if the subject matter appeals to you, but dedication can overcome this.

An unforgettable movie still and a brilliantly shot horror film: The Shining. I don’t tend to watch horror films, but I’ve seen this many times.

Closing shot

The aim of this article is just to get you thinking about movies and how you can use them to inspire your own photography. Look at the style of different directors, the way they frame pictures and the colors they use. Look for their patterns across several movies. Check out the lighting.

I was taking photos for years before I made a connection between stills photography and movies. I spent my formative years gazing at photo magazines without often reading the accompanying text. Since then, movies and their media have evolved. They’re more accessible.

Everything in life may influence our photography on some tangential level, but if you make a conscious effort to understand and repeat cinematic techniques, those that you admire will ingrain themselves in your pictures.

Has your photography been influenced by movies? Feel free to share some of your shots in the comments below.

The post How Using Movies Can Inspire Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

5 Tips for Shooting Fine Art Photography

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 10:00

The post 5 Tips for Shooting Fine Art Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

Fine-art photography is a term given to describe ‘photography created according to the vision of the artist as a photographer.’

In this context, photography is utilized as a way of bringing to life an image that only exists in the artist’s mind.

Rickshaw rider, Kathmandu, Nepal © Jeremy Flint

In essence, the goal of fine art is to express an idea, a message or an emotion rather than representational photography as found in photojournalism, documentary or commercial photography. Generally, it is more subjective than objective in nature.

With the concept of fine-art photography in mind, here are 5 tips to help you shoot fine art photography:

1. Check the weather

As simple as it may seem, one thing to do when shooting fine-art photography is to check the weather. You will find having good light can help to transform mundane scenes into remarkable images.

On occasion, you may turn up at a location and get lucky with the weather. However, particularly for fine-art landscape photography, weather forecasts help you to decide when the light is right to shoot on a certain day and when to avoid getting caught in heavy downpours.

2. Be creative

Being creative is one of the best ways to develop fine art photography. Putting your unique vision into your work helps you create fine art photos you can be proud of. For example, trying to show the landscapes you witness with the best impact and emotion is a proven method of developing fine art.

I recommend asking yourself what fine art do I want to capture and what do I want to convey in my images?

This is purely a personal choice where you can create an image that connects with how you are feeling at that moment in time or a unique and interesting way of embracing and documenting your chosen subject and showing this as an art form through your photos.

3. Choose a subject to stimulate the viewer

This brings me on to my next tip, choose a subject to enthuse the viewer. Finding a subject that connects with the audience can lift an image from ordinary to great. This could be anything from abstract details such as those found on rustic doors, textures of flowers or water droplets to interesting patterns.

It could also be something that can be challenging to recognize or is easily identifiable. Whatever you choose, select a topic that interests you.

4. Use colors or moods for fine art

The paintings you often see in exhibitions and galleries are considered to be forms of fine art and often demonstrate different themes and moods. Therefore, my next tip is to shoot photographs with a painterly approach using color or moods.

Color can be utilized to evoke emotion and is an excellent way of putting life into your fine art photography. Using colors such as blues and oranges can help evoke cooler or warmer tones, respectively. Bright and warm colors can add energy and an overall positive feeling, whilst cooler tones can be calming and relaxing.

You can achieve different feelings in fine art photography by capturing something dark and moody or bright and uplifting. Reducing your exposure compensation is a great way of making your images darker and more dramatic. Increasing exposure can evoke vitality. Using contrast is also a good way to create mood as it provides variety in tones.

Namibia

5. Use motion blur

Being experimental with fine-art photography is a wonderful way to achieve great pictures, and one way to do this is through motion blur. You can practice this technique in several different ways; you can photograph moving subjects, or you can move your camera when you release your shutter.

Zebras, Tanzania

Capturing moving subject’s over a period of time can create motion in the image. This technique tends to work well where either the subject or background is still, and the other is moving, giving contrast.

You can also develop continuity in an image by physically moving your camera, either up, down or sideways as you press the shutter. You will find that even by zooming your lens in while you take a photograph can create movement in your images.

Hyena Pan, Tanzania

Conclusion

In conclusion, fine-art photography is a great way to express your own ideas and vision in an interesting and subjective way. It offers the opportunity to be creative and stimulate the viewer using themes, moods and motion blur.

With these tips, go out and take some pictures of what you perceive to be fine art and share your images with us below.

The post 5 Tips for Shooting Fine Art Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jeremy Flint.

ThinkTank Vision 15 Camera Bag Review

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 15:00

The post ThinkTank Vision 15 Camera Bag Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

ThinkTank’s Vision 15 camera bag is one in a line of stylish camera and computer shoulder bags built for photographers who want a functional bag that looks good walking down the street. It’s designed for someone who wants easy access to their gear and isn’t looking for a backpack.

Key features

The Vision 15 has a host of features that I enjoyed while testing. These include:

Fits a DSLR mounted on a long lens

I love my 28-300mm L lens (the same size as a 70-200mm f/2.8 or 100-400mm L lens) and this bag does a grand job of storing it while attached. ThinkTank, in their literature, mentions leaving the camera unattached, but I found the combination just barely fits, with easy, quick access.

Canon 6D mounted with 28-300mm L lens alongside Canon 10-22mm lens

Side view with padding removed

Great organization for extras

Inside the spacious main compartment is space enough for a few lenses and speedlights. There are both vertical and horizontal padded dividers to protect your shorter lens stacked one on the other.

All the dividers have velcro on each side, so they can be attached to either long side of the bag or to other dividers. I usually travel with a long lens attached and a wide angle lens stored. This means I have room for: smaller Sony RX-100 V, waterproof cover (included with bag), battery pack for phone and tablet, glasses case, power brick for laptop and DJI Osmo Pocket. And there is still more room in there.

It can handle a portable office

If your bag is not just for your camera, but for all the other items you want with you on a shoot or day out of the office, this bag can carry most of it.

The Vision 15 can manage a 15″ laptop and a 10″ tablet. The laptop sleeve is padded on the back and bottom while the tablet slot is found on the zippered front pocket.

That front pocket has a host of other slots to hold pens, business cards, large phones, cables, and keys (with a tether and clip so that don’t get lost). And it still has ample pocket space for books, batteries, chargers and all the other little things that join you on the road.

An added bit of security to the main compartment

While the generous top flap of the bag keeps the elements at bay, a secondary zippered flap will help keep prying hands away. The flap has velcro to help hold it in place, meaning it will open when the main flap opens and close when it closes. Or zip up the inner flap for an added sense of security. It can also be tucked under the main flap to keep it out of the way for quicker access.

Expandable bottle holder

This little design aesthetic impressed me when I wasn’t expecting it to. Velcro keeps the bottle holder closed when not in use, reducing the chance that it will get caught on something. Plus it looks more stylish this way.

But when you need to hold your coffee or water bottle, just expand the pocket to one of two sizes for a (nearly) custom fit.

Tough, coated bottom

While the bag’s fabric is stylish and does a good job of resisting stains and water, the bottom is made of beefed-up waterproof tarpaulin. This tough option makes for easy clean up when the bag is placed in anything but the most pristine locations. A quick wipe with a damp cloth keeps it clean and your contents dry.

Front and back book/papers pockets

On the back of the bag is a large pocket for books or notebooks. This is a great spot to place quick-at-hand items, and I use it for my calendar and main notebook.

On the front of the bag is a smaller pocket. While you could fit a book in there, it presses against the organizer pocket behind it. While is looks good in photos, it’s not useful for thick items.

Generously padded shoulder strap and carry handle

The bag comes with two main modes of transport: a padded shoulder strap and a carry handle on top. The padding on the shoulder strap is generous and the strap itself has a wide range of adjustment for a variety of torsos. However, the top carry handle only works when you remember to clip the top flap shut. Still, it is a secure way to get the bag in and out of your car for a quick grab.

It fits easily under a seat on a plane

I’ve tested the bag under economy coach seats on 737s and smaller planes with ease. There is ample room and the bag doesn’t scratch along the underside of the seat.

Not so artful tripod holder

On a bag like this, the tripod attachment goes in the only location it can; on the bottom. ThinkTank uses their attachment straps (which can be removed when not in use, as shown above) to allow for a variety of tripod sizes. There’s really no other place for a tripod to go and the clips do an adequate job.

Roller Bag Passthrough

For those who love their roller bags for airports, the back of the Vision 15 has a slot for your roller bag handle to pass through.

Limits

While this bag has a lot going for it, I find the pockets get full fast. Even just throwing a Mindshift card wallet into the front pocket will expand it enough to press on the other pockets. Toss in a charger and Miops cable release as pictured above and you quickly start puffing the bag up, unlike a backpack-style bag.

Vision 15 with rain cover attached

Don’t expect to comfortably carry a full-size tripod on the bottom of this bag. The length would make things unwieldy. Also, with the tripod attached, you suddenly don’t have an easy way to set down the bag.

In use

I tested the bag in use on my job for a month, which included travel on four different flights up an down the West Coast. Its smaller form factor (compared to my normal backpack) is welcome as it packs into my car trunk easily and was effortless to remove, thanks to its clean lines and lack of straps like a backpack.

Opening and accessing contents is straightforward and I left the velcro attachment connected on the inside lid most of the time. Yet, when I had to set the bag down a couple of times in less than ideal situations, that inner zipper was nice to employ. I never did use the rain cover but I am glad they shipped the bag with a black cover to keep it stylish.

Conclusion

The ThinkTank Vision 15 is a very useful shoulder bag. While it can’t quite hold all I like to carry (no space for a drone), it holds all you need on a day-to-day basis when away from the office all day. It easily holds a long lens as well as battery packs, chargers, cards, tablet and laptop. It can easily handle four lenses and a flash, while the padded shoulder strap makes carrying that load bearable.

While the Vision 15 is sized for a 15″ laptop, they have two other, smaller sizes (which cut out the space for a tablet) that might fit your particular setup better.

 

The post ThinkTank Vision 15 Camera Bag Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

A Short Introduction to Basic Photo Editing for Beginners

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 10:00

The post A Short Introduction to Basic Photo Editing for Beginners appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

If you’re a beginner, using editing software can be a daunting prospect. What if you can’t get a handle on the technology? What if it’s too complicated a process? What if it’s just too time-consuming? What if the images turn out horrible? So many what ifs! I get it; I’ve been there. In this article, I’m offering a very simple way of delving into editing if you’re a novice. These are basic principles that I hope will set you in good stead for more fancy editing in the future!

First things first.

You need to be able to see what is a good image and a bad image. The key is in your perception.

If you think heavily edited images are the perfect image, then your editing will lean that way and vice versa. If you think an overly-tinted image is perfect, then that would be your bar for perfection. We all have a bias towards something. However, for editing, I think we need to try and be as neutral as possible and leave our personal preferences for the moment.

To be able to see things objectively, we need to:

  1. See the differences between over-exposed and under-exposed images and decide as to what is the correct exposure
  2. Understand white balance where white looks white, as it should, and not yellow or blue or orange
  3. See the contrast between dark and light
  4. Decide on the noise

Once we have a basic grip of the above, then editing will be a breeze, and we can get more creative from a solid image base or what I’d like to call a clean edit.

But first, a word on shooting format. Shoot in RAW.

The images below are the original RAW images opened in Bridge without any edits applied.

You can see there is a choice of Adobe color profiles. See the difference between the standard profile below left and the color profile used on the image on the right.

You can choose which profile you prefer.

To successfully understand the above, and make the edits towards them, it is important that you shoot in RAW format. If you shoot in JPEG, you are allowing the camera to process the image, discard pixels the camera deems unnecessary, and accept the color adjustments the camera has made. With a JPEG image, you have less control, are working on a great loss and compression of pixels at the very start and an already compromised image color.

You can read more about RAW processing in Bridge here.

Having said that, someone who is a really good, seasoned, experienced photographer may well shoot JPEGS and achieve the desired image they want. I am not there yet!

Secondly, the type of camera you use affects the original images you get.

A full-frame camera gives you the 35mm sensor – wider, more space, more light hitting the camera sensor and more pixels. What you see through the lens is pretty much what you get. A crop-sensor, on the other hand, works in the opposite way. The lens only allows you to use a portion of the sensor so that a 35mm lens mounted on a crop-sensor camera will only give you the point of view of a 52mm lens equivalent – a more zoomed-in longer focal length. You are losing some width, some light and some pixels.

Let’s dive in!

1. Correct exposure

Correct exposure means getting the balance right between the 3 components of the exposure triangle. Namely: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Balancing all three correctly will give you a perfectly exposed image. That means no blown highlights or details are lost entirely in the shadow or darker areas of the image that should still be visible.

A most useful tool in determining whether your exposure is perfect is to look at the histogram when you are editing. Alternatively, you can view the histogram when you have just taken the photo as there is also a histogram on the LCD of many cameras these days. Simply put, a histogram is a representation of the tonal value distribution across your image in the form of a visual graph. Just by looking at a histogram (that graph on the top right corner of the image below), you can immediately tell whether there is an even spread of tonal values on the image judging from the troughs and crests on the graph or a stark contrast.

If the image you shot has incorrect exposure, then editing is your solution. You can move the sliders on your editing software to increase exposure if the photo is too dark or decrease your exposure if the photo’s too bright. You can usually recover some blown highlights in the case of overexposure.

Take a look at the image above. This is the RAW image opened in Bridge. You can see it’s a little bright with the histogram showing a tall mountain almost touching the right edge. When the histogram touches both left and right edges, this would indicate the dark and light parts of your images are clipped and therefore there is overexposure and underexposure in the image. This is an okay image as nothing touches the edges, but it is too bright for me.

The image on the left below shows an overexposed image with the exposure turned up and the image on the right shows an underexposed image with the exposure turned down. See what the histogram is doing in these images.

2. White balance

Simply put, white balance is the adjustment on your camera that reads the color temperature of the light you are shooting in in relation to neutral white. A perfect white balance should show white to be white as perceived in reality and there are no color casts that distorts the whiteness of white. You can, however, go for a warm white or a cool white by adjusting the white balance sliders. Generally speaking, what you don’t want is for white to look too yellow or orange or too cold like with a strong blue cast. Compare both photos below: too cool on the left and too warm on the right.

3. Contrast

There is nothing rocket science about contrast in my opinion. It is simply to do with the strength of the blacks on the photo. After the adjustments above, our photo is still looking very flat. All that’s needed is a fiddle on the blacks, shadows, highlights and light areas. Just remember not to clip your blacks or whites or if you want a bit more contrast, not too much clipping. You can also use the curves tab (the one that shows a grid with a curvy line) for contrast adjustments.

I also played with the other sliders to get the result I wanted on the images above. Just do so gently – a touch here and there rather than extreme adjustments.

Remember, you are only after a clean edit at this stage. The images above show the same edits on the standard and color profiles. The results are different so deciding on your color profile matters.

4. Noise and Sharpening

If you click on to the third tab which shows two black triangles, you get to the panel where you can adjust noise and sharpening. Again, gentle adjustments are needed here.

It is vital to view your photo at 100% so you can see what the adjustments are doing to the image.

Luminance has to do with the smoothness of the pixels. You don’t want to go too much, or you lose definition.

Color has to do with how much the RGB pixels show up and extreme adjustments will either strip your image of color or make the pixels appear too saturated.

Conclusion

Now I have a clean edit, there is still so much I can do to this photo. The eyes are a tad soft so I will need to adjust that. I could add vignettes or change the appearance of the background. I could add sunflares or textures. The possibilities are endless. But most of that has to happen in Photoshop.

I hope this has helped you understand the basics of editing.

Please share your comments below or if you have any questions!

The post A Short Introduction to Basic Photo Editing for Beginners appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

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